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Venice

Europe > Italy > Venice

See: Why rent a car in Venice ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

(All of these pages will look a lot nicer when they are tidied up later in the spring)

Your key questions for any destination:

Do I need a car in Venice?

Strictly speaking, there are very few travel destinations anywhere in the world where it's absolutely essential to rent a car in order to see the main points of interest.

That's why we give you loads of ratings scales from 1 to 10, rather than just yes or no answers!

  • The need question is generally answered by looking at public transport (transit) options. Is it good enough for visitors who are happy to consider using it?
  • How many public transport routes are there, and are they mainly rail or road (bus) based?
  • Is public transport fast, frequent, safe, reliable and cheap?
  • Does public transport actually take you to the places you'll probably want to see?

Is it worth hiring a car in Venice?

This question is usually more about value for money. For this, we look at Venice car hire options, and consider how rental costs compare with using transit.

How far are you likely to drive anyway, and how much might you expect to spend on fuel, road tolls, parking and any other charges. We compare Venice with other destinations locally and around the world.

This is obviously much more of an issue if you are planning a longer road trip than it is on a small island.

Should I rent a car in Venice? 

This is basically a merging of the two questions. Everything else might be about giving certain facts about the costs of car rental or using public transport in Venice, but answering this question is very much a matter of opinion.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2022 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. 

We do not intent to include detailed covid information, nor do we intend to suggest hiring a car, just because public transport might still have a mask requirement. Our advice will be based on the same criteria we've always used, ie whether or not you can get a better travel experience, or at least a better value one, by choosing not to hire a car.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Venice is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Venice? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Venice between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 10/10

Non car score:10/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

When I first looked at the list of cities on this site, I thought you were joking to say people should hire a car when visiting Venice. Of course, I soon realised you were talking about the area around Venice, rather than just the city itself, but you gave some really useful suggestions about other places, especially up in the Dolomites.

Hiring a car at Venice airport

By hiring a car at Venice airport, we also then decided to stay in a hotel in Mestre which had free parking, so in the end we saved quite a bit of money compared to staying in the centre of Venice. It’s easy enough to reach the historic areas by taking the short hop in from Mestre by train or bus. Thanks for some really useful advice – hiring a car at Venice airport shouldn’t be dismissed so easily!

Surely, when it comes to considering whether or not to get a hire car, it doesn’t get more obvious than Venice? Well, actually, we happen to think that getting a hire car in Venice is an extremely good idea.

Why? Visiting Venice using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Venice ?


Why get a hire car in Venice?

  • Dolomites — quite simply there is so much more beyond Venice than canals and gondolas, and the Dolomites in particular are absolutely stunning. Whether you want to go hiking, skiing or climbing, a hire car is going to make everything much easier.
  • National Parks — If you head up the A27 autopista to Ponte nelle Alpi, you will then find the Dolomiti Bellunesi national park on your left and the Dolomiti Friulane national park on your right. Further to the northwest, you can also visit the Pale di San Martino natural park.
  • Slovenia – with a hire car, you can easily pop across into neighbouring Slovenia and explore the Triglav National Park. Given how bad public transport is at the top end of the Adriatic, continuing in to Croatia isn’t such a bad idea either – although one-way rentals will cost you.
  • City tour — architecture pundits will also want to visit cities like Padua and Mantua. Mantua in particular has notable works by Alberti, and is rated as one of the most “liveable” cities in Italy. Although these can be done by train, a car gives the flexibility to enjoy the cities and landscapes and villages between them.
  • Beaches — there are plenty of great beaches around Venice, and a hire car is good for getting around here to.
  • Easy hire car access — Venice Marco Polo airport is a short ferry journey from the city, so it is easy to combine a trip into Venice itself with getting a hire car for the rest of your stay. Alternatively, hire cars are also available near to Santa Lucia station, or at Mestre station, the first mainland stop. Check about picking up in one place and dropping off somewhere else, it may well just be cheaper to pickup and drop-off your hire car at the airport.
  • Plan B – Venice is one of those cities that everyone should visit at least once, but at the wrong time of year it can be quite literally overloaded with people, or sometimes Venice quite literally stinks! Whilst Venice is too good to miss, even if you are then heading on somewhere else, it is worth having other options available in case you get fed up after being there for a couple of days. In this respect, it is at least worth having a hire car as an option.

Why not? Visiting Venice without a car

Why don't you need a car in Venice ?


  • Obvious isn’t it? Venice is a city of canals and narrow back streets. It goes without saying that as there is no room in Venice for cars, then if you are only planning on staying within the city itself, there is of course no need to even contemplate getting one.
  • Getting around – Although a gondola ride will set you back a good few euros (haggle hard), getting around Venice is actually surprisingly easy, whether by water bus (vaporetto) or simply on foot. If it is gimmicks that you are after, you can evn take a ride on the Venice People Mover, which connects Tronchetto Island with Piazzale Roma.
  • Lido – Venice isn’t just about the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square, you may also want to get out and explore around the Lido. Many of these islands are also car free, so you are still best off without one.
  • Central Train – any visitors arriving in Venice by train will appreciate that they are already in the heart of the city when they disembark at Santa Lucia station. Simply walk through the station concourse and you exit straight onto the Grand Canal. It doesn’t get better than that! For anyone with an interest in modern aswell as classical architecture, take a brief detour to the right and there you will see the highly controversial Constitution Bridge. This was designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, altough its simple arch structure is a lot less flamboyant than many of this other works.
  • Tour by train — you can easily visit nearby towns and cities by train, and you can also combine a visit to Venice with other major northern Italian city such as Milan and Florence. Those three cities make a nice triangle.
  • Adriatic by boat or bus – you can take ferries to various points in Croatia from Venice, or you can take bus connections via Trieste. Although these are nothing like as convenient as having a hire car, you can at least travel along the coast in one direction, so you might get to see a lot more. Depending on your itinerary, you could head towards fantastic Dubrovnik via Split, or perhaps end up in the stunning Plitvice Lakes, and head out via the Croatian capital Zagreb.

Ratings: How does Venice compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Venice? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Venice, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Venice? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Venice (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Venice? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Venice airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Venice car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 7

2019 - 8

2021 - 6

Average score - 7

Notes:

 

Conclusionto enjoy the numerous attractions which are within the hinterland of Venice itself, a hire car is an extremely good idea.

Verdict — yes

Note — although Venice is not a major intercontinental hub airport, a good network of flights to Venice is available from across Europe. Some budget flights will use Venice Treviso airport, which is around 30 km to the north. If you are getting a hire car anyway, it won’t make that much difference which airport you are using, but for a short break in Venice itself without getting a hire car, it is much easier to use Marco Polo airport. The nearest major hub is Malpensa Airport outside Milan, from where regular trains are available to Venice, with a change in Milan Centrale.

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Venice ?

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