By train (Santa Lucia station), Venice
We took the 11-hour overnight Euro Railway trip from Venice to Vienna via Salzburg and it was the worst we've ever experienced. On boarding at Santa Lucia we struggled to get our 2 large suitcases onto the train and into our sleeper berth (403 -42/46). The cabin was just big enough to accommodate 3 people sitting, a small wash closet with smaller sink for a cat-wash and a locker to place shoes and hang coats and 2 small gift bags with slippers, water, a snack and 2 sets of earplugs, but no room to swing the proverbial cat. Two single beds folded down (unlocked by the steward later) and a small fixed table between opposing seats completed our 'train-room'. The toilet was shared by all at the end of the train corridor.
On boarding we first noticed the lack of air-conditioning, the carriage was stuffy and hotter than the outside temperature (30+ C). The steward assured us, when we asked, that the air conditioning would kick in later. It did but was so minimal it made no difference to the temperature. We asked the people in the next sleeper cabin if their air conditioning was working (suspecting ours was faulty) but they too were in the same sauna. On leaving the station we opened the window to cool the cabin but the resulting noise gave us a choice - stay hot or be deafened. We choose our hearing.
The good news - our carriage had 2 toilets located at one end. The bad news - both were out of service for the whole trip so we all had to leave our carriage and visit the 1 toilet used by the next carriage occupants. This meant 2 carriages = 1 toilet that, at the start of the trip, was already 'pungently high'. You can only put off going to the toilet for so long. Even a short visit entailed dexterity, nimbleness and an ability to hold one's breath for long periods. Fluids pooled and ran across the floor as the train lurched, one tried to avoid touching any fixtures and all this while trying not to breathe or pass out.
Sleep. What sleep? Between the oppressive heat, all the continuous regular train noises plus the irregular mechanical clunk/screech/whine in the roof and high-pitched whirring while stopped at stations only one of us managed to snatch small moments of sleep.
Slightly better? The breakfast was filling and the stewarding okay.
We'll never do it again!
There is only 1 direct train from Venice Mestre, leaving 1.30 am to Klagenfurt arriving 4.40 am, and on to Vienna arriving 8.34 am and 1 1rain from Venice St. Lucia at 9.05 pm via Salzburg arring at Vienna at (8.22 pm), this you can book online on the OeBB site
from € 19 to Klagenfurt and € 29 to Vienna, but in the train you you have to find first the austrian conductor in the sleeping car to validate your ticket (or validate it if you are earlier in Austria at a OeBB train station). It is € 69 to Vienna if you book with Trenitalia.
OeBB has also several daytime buses leaving from Venice Tronchetto, last stop of People Mover (the bus stops also in Venice Mestre), from € 19 online, no problem of Validation there.
If you want to go by train in the daytime there is a new regional train company from Udine (leaving 7 am and 5.15 pm, 2 hours) to Villach (leaving at 9.40 am and 7.9 pm for Udine), no need to book for the connecting train to Udine but from Villach it will be cheaper if you book online (from € 19).
We spent a couple days in Vicenza before continuing our trip east to Venice. The quickest and most efficient way to get to Venice was by train, so we purchased our tickets at the station in Vicenza, hopped on the train and spent 45 - 50 minutes relaxing in comfort.
We did not come to Venice in an overnight train but instead left Venice to go to Frankfurt, Germany in an overnight train. It's a long train ride, about 8 hours. We left close to midnight and arrived in Alstadt station. We were in a tiny, tiny room with "bunk" beds. It had a sink but the toilet was out in the corridor. Breakfast was provided but it wasn't much of a breakfast. Just a couple of rolls. The train ride goes through the Alps and you could feel the inclines and the declines the train had to travel through. This was not our first option of traveling to Frankfurt. We wanted to rent a car and drive leisurely. But, the car rental rate and drop off in another country was super expensive! For 1 day rental would cost €1,400.00. The train ride with the sleeping quarters for the two of us cost €470. Still not cheap but was the most reasonable cost of getting to where we wanted to go. Next time, we will be a little smarter about traveling between the two countries. Maybe, arrive in Germany, drive to Italy and go back to Germany would have been more cost effective.
Understanding the Billboard Train Times in the station.
The photo shows the train number, the time it leaves and where it makes stops. They are all listed by the 24 hour clock time.
Listed in the photo is the medium priced with some stops, the cheaper one that takes longer and then the fast train that costs more. Notice they are in different colors.
The track is called binario and is listed on the right side in a blue circle. Be sure and check the televsion monitors overhead in the station to see if your train might be changed to another binario.
Also, at the bottom of the listing you might find dates that the train does not run, or changes to another binario.
You can also see the time that the train is supposed to arrive at each new station, right after the name of the stop.
You cannot drive in the heart of Venice. It is not possible or even allowed. Even bicycles are limited to where they can ride. So, at a certain point you can commute to Venice by car and then you have to take the train. After exiting the train station you have options to walk, take the ferry (with designated stops and travel patterns) or a personal water taxi (very expensive) to get to where you want to go.
It was raining when we arrived (the only day it rained on our 3 week trip). So, walking to the hotel with our luggage did not seem appealing. The personal boat taxi wanted €60 (or US$90) to take us to the doorstep of our hotel. We opted the ferry for €8 (I think that's what it cost for the two of us) and we had to walk from the closest drop off point for what seemed like 10 minutes. Walking with luggage on cobblestones is not easy and especially in the rain. We did have to walk over one bridge - not easy. But, over all, was worth saving the extra money we would have spent.
It was a little frustrating booking a ticket on Trenitalia's website so here are a couple of pointers:
First, you may need to type in the Italian spelling of the city although Venice worked in this case, the Italian spelling is Venezia.
Second, I didn't click on the International tab so the train schedule was showing up with "No" under the "Buy" column. So I figured it wasn't available online. Once I clicked the International tab, you could purchase the tickets.
Third, you must book well in advance if you want to get the Smart Fares. You need to change the class to 2nd class to get the Smart Fares, in our case the one way ticket would have been 15E instead of 25E. I booked almost 3 weeks in advance and the Smart Fares were not available. The Smart Fares are for reservations made 7 days in advance but limited in amount.
The Santa Lucia train station might very well be the ugliest building in all of Venice, but of course that shouldn't stop you from traveling by train! I thought trains in Italy were very comfortable, safe and reliable, and it's one of the most convenient and cheapest ways to get around the country. One of the nice things about the Santa Lucia station is that it's located in Venice itself, in the Cannaregio area. If you're traveling with heavy luggage and need to get to a hotel that's located in another area, it might be a good idea to hop on board the vaporetto (there's a station right in front of Santa Lucia). There are several daily connections available between Venice and most Italian cities, including Verona, Milan, Bologna and Florence. In general, you don't need to book ahead of time, which is nice because it gives you more flexibility. However, if you absolutely need to leave at a certain time, it might be a good idea to buy your ticket a couple days beforehand. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office or from the ticket machines: instructions are available in several languages, cash and credit cards are accepted, and you can even pick your seat - it's that easy!
I travelled by train from Mestre to Padua - then later from Peschiera (Lake Garda) to Venice Santa Lucia (Ferrovia) station.
It was quite an experience to alight at Santa Lucia, and walk through the doors to the view of the Grand Canal in all its glory!(pic 2)
The Italian State Railway (Ferrovie dello Stato, or FS) prides itself on an extensive and efficient service - the trains are usually punctual and reasonably priced.
There are various trains to each destination, with different lengths and prices.
I was pleasantly surprised to find it only cost me 2.20 euros to travel from Mestre to Padua (20 minutes) and 7.50 euros from Lake Garda (Peschiera) to Venice!
Tickets can be purchased from the ticket offices or from automatic machines. Instructions are in 6 languages. Travel agents also offer a free booking service .
Eurail and InterRail passes are valid on the FS services. There is a supplement for the high speed Italian Eurostar.
The Italy Rail card and Italy flexi Rail Card are available to non residents for unlimited travel for a determined period. The web site gives info about tickets, timetables etc.
For a journey of less than 200kms, the biglietto a fasce chilometriche (short range ticket) may be issued - the destination is printed on the ticket, and this must be validated before boarding the train, by punching it in machines which are near the platforms.
Leaving Peschiera, my train to Venice was about to leave - there was a queue at the machine, so I decided 'to risk not validating my ticket'.
2 ticket inspectors boarded the train. I had a few minutes panicking that I was going to be charged a hefty fine.
Luckily the young officials spoke good english -I explained what had happened, and they said it was ok, they'd validate my ticket (by writing on it) - Pheeeew!
If You find that You've not validated Your ticket, it's best to admit this sooner rather than later! - same on the Vaporettos etc, if You've not a ticket - find the conductor and explain - cheaper in the long run.
Outside the station, you'll find Vaporetto stations (pic 3) where you can buy tickets and get a free map of the waterbus routes.
Located right on the Grand Canal in the Santa Croce sestieri is the Santa Lucia train station. It makes arrivals or departures from Venice extremely easy. You can step off your train, exit the station and get on a vaporetto in just a few minutes time.
I always take the train to Venice. Parking can be a pain in the neck and costly. Average $20 euro. If you are flying to Venice then no problem, but if you are driving I recommend going to the train station in Padova, Mestre or Vicenza and taking the train to Venice
Walking around is the best way to see things, but the water taxis will give you a good view of the city from the water and you can be dropped off at San Marco Square. I've done this and then wandered around on foot back to the main train station.
Good info for getting around Venezia - www.veniceairport.it
My first trip to Venice was from Geneva by train, via Milan, which was efficient (and also cheap, seing as I was a student in possession of an InterRail Pass).
Milan is 2.5 to 3 hours, with trains taking about one hour longer to reach Florence and from there Rome and the cities of Southern Italy. As with all longer-distance trains, do reserve seats as it can get *very* crowded
There are also plenty of 'local' connections which allow for a few nice day trips if you decide to base yourself in Venice -
- Padua (about 30-40 minutes, several trains an hour)
- Bologna (just under 1.5 hours on the fastest trains)
- Verona (roughly the same time)
Do not be a sucker for the sub standard hotels in Venice where the bathrooms are so small where you cannot evene soap you back. Stay in Mastre and take the train in..... its only 1 Euro with almost 5 or 6 trains each hour till mid night for getting back.
If you choose to hang out even later just hop the bus. Do not be a stupid tourist and pay for sub standard service & quality....
Fight the Venice inflation.
If you want to travel between Milan and Venice and you are looking for budget, reliability, and peace of mind than the 2nd Class, 14.50 Euro, Regional Train is the best available option for you.
Budget: There are plenty of options available on this route: Regional Trains (2nd Class: 14.50, 1st Class: 21.85) take three and a half hour, Euro Star City, EScity (2nd Class: 27.60, 1st Class: 38.50) takes slighly more than two and a half hour, and ES* (2nd Class: 32.30, 1st Class: 44.70) takes less than two and a half hours. For typical tourists - tight budgeted with an appetite of local experience - Regional Train is the best option as it is more than just being the cheapest and provides with an opportunity to see how ordinary Italians travel. Although trains other than Regional Trains offer various discounts, most famous of which is the 20% Amica discount on booking 24 hours in advance, Regional Trains are by far the cheapest even after taking into account the most generous of the discounts.
Reliability: Italina train system is more reliable than other modes of transportation, unless there is a rare railway strike, and is the transporatation of choice for commom Italians. However, this is not to say that other modes are unreliable. And among trains, Regional Trains are the most reliable as far as punctuality, frequency, and consistency in schedules are concerned. Their fair system is comparitively straight forward and is void of marketing gimmicks like discounts and complicated fare classess.
Peace-of-Mind: Purchasing a ticket for Regional Trains is as easy as anything. And most importantly, it does not require - although one can - advance booking, so that one does not worry about making a timely connection. Among many ticketing options - online, agencies, ticket counters, and vending machines - vending machines provide with the most convenient solution. These easy to use and 'english speaking' machines can easily be located at any Italina train station. Tickets remain valid for two months from the date of purchase and require validation stamp form one of the yellow machines installed on every platform before boarding on. Now here you go: reach the train station with complete peace of mind without any after thoughts of missing the train, buy the ticket from one of the vending machines, validate the ticket from the yellow box-like machine installed at your platform and board on the first available train of your fair class.
While doing trains, it is importnat to note that there are two trains stations in Venice: Venice Mestre and Venice St. Lucia. If you intend to go directly into the Venice island itself then go for Venice St. Lucia station which is located right at the entrance of the island. From here, you may get water buses, taxis, etc for your journey onwards. The other train station, Venice Mestre, is located in the mainland i.e. in Mestre and not in the island. Though they both are close by and there are many easy transportation options available between these two, one should always go for Venice St. Lucia, unless there are specific reasons, to save time and money. On the railway track, Venice Mestre comes before Venice St. Lucia, and as a rule of thumb, a typical train that goes to Venice Mestre also goes to Venice St. Lucia where it actually terminates.
Lastly, do check www.trenitalia.com, the official website, with your desired parameters for fares and timetables to have a clearer picture of your journey.
Keep smiling and enjoy your journey!
If you are coming to Venice from other parts of Europe especially nearby places, trains are the best way to reach Venice. This is because the Santa Lucia train station of Venice is located just next to the entrance of this water city, so once you walk out of the train station, you will see the Grand Canal infront of you and you are in Venice itself.
If you were to take a plane, you will still have to travel from the Venice airport to Venice itself either by buses or taxis.
The Santa Lucia train station also has trains to other parts of Italy, especially nearby sights such as Verona, Padova and even the Dolomite mountains region (take a train to Calalzo De Cadore town). More information on Dolomite region of Italy are at my VT Calazo De Cadore & Cortina d' Ampezzo pages.