Venice's main waterway is best seen by boat.
The Canal Grande, or Grand Canal, follows the S-shaped course of an ancient river between the two halves of Venice's historic center.
Three sestieri or districts lie on each side of the canal:
- Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, and San Polo on the left;
- Cannaregio, San Marco, and Castello on the right.
Seeing the canal from shore or bridges:
The Grand Canal is lined by palazzi for most of its length, but a number of places offer good views:
- The waterfront across from the Santa Lucia railroad station.
- Various small squares and stretches of pavement along the canal, usually near
ACTV vaporetto stops
and traghetto piers.
(Look for Campo San Simeon Grande, Campo San Marcuola, Campo San Stae, the Sant'Angelo ACTV stop, the Campo San Samuele, the open campi at both ends of the Accademia Bridge, and the Campo San Vio.)
- The waterfront promenades on both sides of the Rialto Bridge.
- The three main bridges across the Grand Canal (the Scalzi Bridge near the station, the Rialto Bridge, and the Accademia Bridge closer to Piazza San Marco).
Enjoying the canal by boat:
For an up close and personal view of the Canal Grande, take to the water. Try one of these:
- ACTV No. 1 vaporetto, which follows a zig-zag route up or down the Grand Canal.
- A traghetto gondola ferry ride across the Grand Canal (quick, but fun and relatively cheap).
- Alilaguna's Linea Arancio (Orange Line) airport boat, which follows the Grand Canal on its way to San Marco from
- A gondola ride (although we prefer gondola rides in quieter back canals).
- A water taxi (expensive).