Getting Around
n this section, I offer some hints and tips for getting around the main island of Venice, that is those areas that make up the six main sestieri (see City Layout). There are two main options for exploring Venice: on foot and by vaporetto (water bus). (If you are posh enough to be able to hire a water taxi, you're probably not going to need this information anyway...). 

Trust me. This is the best way to see and experience Venice. 
The first thing to say is that if you are not familiar with Venice, it is highly likely that you will get lost. On my first trip to Venice, I walked for hours one evening trying to find the way back to my hotel and passed by the only Burger King in town five times over. 
The thing is not to panic and here's why. Central Venice can be considered as two large islands separated by the Grand Canal, and the Grand Canal has some wonderful reference points. These are the vaporetto (bus) stops. They are all clearly named and are in the main visible from wherever you are on either side of the canal. So, if truly lost (and sometimes it's great to be lost because you make some fantastic discoveries) all you have to do is find the Grand Canal, see which vaporetto stop you're near and mark yourself on your map. 
In anticipation of the next question, the Grand Canal is either to the West of you or to the East depending on which sestiere you are in. There is a great app to download called Maps.Me that is great for navigation and seems to work with the GPS satellites very well. Download it before you go and install the Venice map. 
If you don't want to resort to orienteering, navigation is also aided by various signposts put up by the good citizens of Venice. These are all over the place indicating routes to the major locations. Look for, "Per San Marco" (for San Marco), "Per Rialto", "Vaporetto" with arrows indicating the way. Occasionally, they run out but just wander to the next junction or two and you'll pick up another. 
Don't be afraid to explore the narrow alleyways and the narrow canal side walks. Venice is a safe city. In all of the years that I have been visiting, I have never seen any trouble or felt in any way threatened. The worst problem is pickpocketing in high season but this tends to happen in the crowded tourist areas. Actually, I love being in Venice in October and November and wandering the streets in the evening mist. Eerie, yes, but also peaceful. Enjoy the nip in the air, glowing lights in the windows and then settle down for a good meal and some warming wine. 
Good walking shoes are highly recommended and don't forget to keep hydrated. Bottled water is available in most newsagents and grocery stores. 
I have one plea. The residents of Venice act as hosts to millions of tourists every year and find some peace and quiet in their residential areas. Please respect their privacy and their homes particularly with regard to cameras. 
I give some more information about the nature and character of the various districts in the City Layout section and I recommend you plan your excursions to maximise the benefit. Once again, I cannot recommend too highly the Dorling Kindersley guide with its walking tours of each area graphically set out and easy to follow. But don't be a slave to the walks - if something looks interesting, go and explore. 
I suspect that you will end up walking far more than you expected and the time will come when you want to take the weight off your feet. For me there is nothing better than walking my feet off then picking up a vaporetto and floating down the Grand Canal at a leisurely pace. This is one of the reasons for recommending the tourist pass as you can treat the whole thing as a hop-on hop-off bus service. 

There are two main transportation services in Venice - Azienda del Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV) which is the public transport company and Alilaguna that operates a ferry service between the City and the airport. ACTV operates the vaporetto service that runs around the islands making up the historic centre. This includes the vaporetti that service the Grand Canal. ACTV also operate the services between Venice centre and the outlying islands of San Michele, Murano, Burano and Torcello. 
If you intend to use the services more than a few times during your stay, it really is worth purchasing the tourist ticket. The 72 hour one (unlimited travel for the whole period) comes in at the price of 5 single tickets (€45) . Note: always validate your ticket regardless of its type. ACTV have recently introduced a system that uses RFID which means you simply touch it against the electronic reader to be found at all stops. When the machine "beeps" your ticket is validated. 
Printed maps are available at the ACTV ticket offices and also feature in most guidebooks. The ACTV online map is available here
Some things to bear in mind and which can be confusing when first using the service: 
Tickets can be purchased from ticket offices at the larger stops (eg Rialto, San Marco) but not every vaporetto stop has a ticket facility. When boarding at these smaller stops you should purchase a ticket from the conductor immediately upon boarding (see below about the consequences of travelling without one). For discounted tickets check out in the "Day to Day" section of this site.Believe me a tourist pass is worth it for the money and the lack of hassle. 

The vaporetto stops are easily identified by their bright yellow livery with the name of the stop clearly identified. The major stops have two channels and you need to check the map high on the wall to ensure you're in the right channel for the direction you want to take. At smaller stops you need to check you're getting on the right boat (the number and final destination are displayed at the front and the conductor usually shouts "San Marco!" or whatever). A quick glance at your map should make it clear whether you're expecting a boat coming from the left or one coming from the right.Once the boat arrives, the conductor lets passengers disembark before allowing you to embark. Some locals ignore all the normal conventions and "No entry signs" to board quickly. Nobody seems to mind but I'd stick to the rules if I were you.  A typical vaporetto stop is shown in the picture at the top of this page

The two main routes for the Grand Canal are the No1 and the No2. Both ziz-zag up and down the canal but only the slower No1 stops everywhere. Again, check the map in the vaporetto stops. 

There are two stops for San Marco - San Marco Vallaresso and San Zaccaria. The No1 and No 2 boats both stop at Valaresso which is marginally closer to St Mark's Square. Also, Harry's Bar is directly in front of you when you disembark. 

San Zaccaria is more of a hub with several stops spaced several metres apart. You'll need to examine the various indicators to choose the right one depending on where you want to travel to and in which direction. Yes, it is confusing! 

Some people are tempted to avoid paying for a ticket as inspectors are not always to be seen. Be advised, they are around and they can impose an on-the-spot fine. Being an ill-informed, innocent tourist is NOT an acceptable excuse....
Vaporettos to the islands depart from the Fondamente Nuove on the Eastern side of Canareggio. Buy your ticket at the ticket booth and then you need to walk to the departure stop which is about 300 metres to the North. At busy times, it is worth allowing 30 mins to buy your ticket and get to the vaporetto stop. A tourist pass is valid on this service and so you don't need to buy a separate ticket. The ferry designation (number) is "LN" for lagoon. 
Using a car in the centre of Venice is tricky as there aren't any! You can find them on the Lido and at Piazzale Roma but that's it.