If you lack a car in the Veneto, you can still visit Stra and the Villa Pisani (recommended by others and it is absolutely worth the trip). The SITA bus line goes direct to Stra from Padova - the autostazione is right next to the train station making this trip easy if you are staying in Venice or another nearby town with train connections to Padova.
The bus cost 2,10eu each way and tickets are available at the trailer ticket booth in the autostazione (get the ritorno also as Stra is a town that closes up for long periods mid-day so you may not find an open tabacchi to buy tickets for the return trip). Buses run back/forth between Padova & Stra every 1/2 hour and the SITA trip planner website can be found below.
From the final stop (near the clock tower in Stra) walk out to the main road, turn left, and continue down that road (at some point it is called via Doge Pisani) for about 5-10 minutes. The villa is on the left side - you can not miss it.
For the cruise we were booked onto the Il Burchiello ®. A comfortable boat with onboard facilities of air conditioning (essential in summer) toilets and a bar to keep its clients happy for the day. The lower deck is mainly for the bar and the upper deck for passengers - there is limited space to sit outside - right at the front of the boat but this is the best place to be. Several variaitons of the cruise exist - half or full day trips can be taken. The boat sails from Venice to Padova one day and makes the reurn journey the following day - so trip can be taken in either direction.
The full cruise from Venice to Padova (or vice versa) does not include entrance fees or return bus journey but the one that ends in Stra (just outside Padova) does - and this is the one that we took. Lunch is also an optional extra. Some people opt to stay over in Padova and return under their own steam the next day.
We booked on-line prior to our arrival in Venice and had an e-voucher.
Check the web link below to use this option and to see programme and prices.
Upon request by larger groups and at fixed times during the high season you may also get one of these boats that offers stops at Villa Pisani, Villa Foscari , the Dolo Watermill, and Villa Recanati.
The price for such a full-day-tour is 62,- Euros,
EXclusive the entree-fees to the villas, but
INclusive a lunch.
On my picture you also see, how close the street will mostly be led by the Brenta-canal.
When you click on my picture, you will see the timetable of the public ships doing a cruise on a regular basis during summer.
I took this pic in Stra in spring 2003 - BUT of course I am not sure, wether the times are right or not.
While driving along the Brenta with my car I saw several boats of different size on the canal.
I know there are organized tours to go there ... if you're against that the best way is probably by car ( very close to both venice and padua) but there are lots of buses too from these cities... (I'll try to find out some more...)
Watch out for the traditional boats on the Brenta-canal.
They are similar to the gondolas - built a bit assymetric - and watch these 2 people rowing their boat with high speed down the canal.