The islands that make up the city of Venice are simply one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. From following the snaking Grand Canal to taking in the beauty of St Mark's Square, the city truly offers distinct architecture and natural beauty. You'll also be able to take in mainland Venice and the rest of the beautiful Veneto area if you have a hire car.
Venice can serve as a fabulous base to explore north-east Italy. That’s why we’ve got a selection of convenient car rental locations in and around Venice, including the International Airport. Whether you’re visiting Venice for business or a holiday, we’ll be able to provide you with a hire car quickly and efficiently.
You can hire a car from us at one of our pick-up points and take it back to another if that suits your travel plans better.
The ancient city of Venice stands on a group of marshy islands just off Italy's Adriatic coastline. This vast moat has helped preserve the ancient buildings like an extraordinary medieval time capsule. But it also means there are inevitable restrictions on cars driving on San Marco.
You’ll find you can drive across the lagoon via the SS11 causeway, known as ‘The Freedom Bridge’. You can park at Piazzale Roma on Santa Croce Island or the Tronchetto man-made island, then proceed to Piazza San Marco on foot.
Away from this small protected area, the Venice road system is normal. If you have a hire car you can, of course, explore all the surrounding parts, like the beaches and hotels of the Venice Lido, the international airport and the large parts of Venice that are on the mainland.
The A4 motorway runs northeast to Portogruaro and Palmanova, the A57 leads southwest to Padua, and the A27 heads north towards Treviso. It means that attractive cities like Vicenza, Verona and Ferrara are all within reach for day trips and you can visit the beautiful Italian Lakes to the west.
Generally, you’ll find the roads and traffic in northern Italy are very good. It’s quick and easy to get around and Italy’s driving rules are very similar to the rest of Europe.
The speed limits are 80mph on motorways (68mph in the wet) and 68mph on dual carriageways (55mph in the wet). In built-up areas the limit is 31mph.
You’ll be captivated by what seems to be fairy-tale palaces and churches floating in the sea when you explore the heart of Venice. But there’s plenty to see away from the central islands and Venice serves as a wonderful base for exploring the Veneto region.
The islands of Venice
If you have a hire car in Venice you won’t be able to drive much closer than the car parks on Santa Croce Island. But from there it’s easy to reach the main sights and simply wander through the maze of pedestrian walkways to find ancient churches, palaces, and houses around every corner.
The highlights include St Mark’s Square, the magnificent open space at the heart of the city and flanked by the finest buildings and an inspiring waterfront. The landmarks here include The Doge’s Palace, the ornate home of the former ruler of this once-powerful city-state. Next-door is St Mark’s Basilica, which is full of artifacts gathered by Venetian sailors from all over the Mediterranean. The 16th century Rialto Bridge, one of the city’s most recognizable sights, is nearby too. It’s a treat of delicate arches and decorations swooping over a canal.
The gondolas sweeping along waterways between these landmarks will have you reaching for your camera. And when you need to escape the crowds, explore the back streets to find traditional family restaurants, colorful shops, and tempting ice cream parlors.
The best of the mainland
Many visitors are surprised to find that the majority of the city is on the mainland, without canals or gondolas. You’ll find shops that are not geared to tourists and even quiet open parks to relax in – it can be difficult to find a spot of peace and tranquility on the islands.
The narrow island that separates the Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea is the Venice Lido. This can be reached by car ferry. Once there you’ll find there’s a seven-mile long sandy beach, grand hotels, and restaurants. The atmosphere is more laid back compared to the mainland, and you'll find it much less tourist-driven.
It's easy to drive to the spit of land to the north-east of the Lido. Resorts like Lido di Jesolo and Cavallino make great bases to explore the lagoon.
Taking in wider Veneto
It’s a short drive to the city of Padua to the southwest of Venice and you’ll be in for a treat; it’s one of Italy’s great unsung wonders. Padua is full of historic attractions like the 13th-century Basilica of St. Anthony, but not the crowds you’ll find on San Marco Island.
The highlights include the beautiful Palazzo della Ragione, which stands between two elegant squares at the center of the city. The Palazzo is an ornate three-story courtroom dating back 800 years. The Cappella degli Scrovegni is another example of the city's fine artistic architecture - experts talk of it in the same tone as the Sistine Chapel ceiling. It’s a series of 14th-century paintings by Giotto across the walls of an atmospheric private chapel.
The walled town of Treviso to the north of the city is the ideal place to escape the bustle of inner-city Venice. Tourists rarely arrive to appreciate its own meandering waterways and labyrinth of narrow streets with covered walkways.
Opening hours: Mo-Sa 0830-1230 1500-1900, Su closed
Address: Viale Venezia 31
Phone: 0421 270387
Opening hours: Mo-Fr 0830-1230 1430-1730, Sa-Su 0830-1230
Effective 31 October 2017: Mo-Fr 0830-1230 1430-1730, Sa 0830-1230, Su Closed
Address: Piazzale Roma, 496
Opening hours: Mo-Su 0800-2400
Address: Marco Polo Apt
Opening hours: Mo-Fr 0830-1230 1430-1800, Sa 0830-1230, Su closed
Address: Viale Stazione 18/F