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Venice is a city in Italy. The city itself is a collection of islands. You will probably arrive and leave through Mestre.
Leaving the city can be a drag so better prepare the whole day for that. You can catch a ride from the start of the bridge, but avoid short rides to Mestre. Hitching out of Mestre is really hard.
Take bus 6 to the Via Petro Paleocapa in Marghera, walk to the roundabout, through the Via Cesare Begharia and through the Via de la Ponte on the right. At the very end, there's a path on the right to the AGIP petrol station. It's far from perfect but at its exit you can hitch both people from the petrol station or try to get someone over from the roundabout. Also possible to go east here if you are already in the eastern part (e.g. stayed at Camping Jolly, 500m from there). However my girlfriend and me stayed there for 7 hours waiting for a ride towards Trieste. Not a good place for hitch-hiking. If you get caught by the night, go to the nearby Camping Jolly: []
Alternatively, you can take a local train from the station in Mestre to Padova for around 2 Euro. It takes 40 minutes and will put you in the center of Padova. From there, see the article on Padova. The petrol station/truck complex is huge and busy, a great place to hitch from in either direction.
If you are already in Marghera, see above.
Otherwise from Venice, take bus 2 to the last stop, Viale don Sturzo, go to Via Vallon and go to the end of the street where you will find a small path leading to the AGIP fuel station on the motorway.
Here is the right location of the Agip gas station: [] However, my girlfriend and me waited there for 5 hours until someone gave us a ride towards Trieste. Not good place for hitch-hiking and poorly visited station!
- Warning: "We tried to get to the Agip petrol station, walked for 20 minutes and didn't found anything (the village was looong). Eventually slept in field. Are you sure you can get there easily?"
Update&Answer: We've been there and it is quite hard to find the AGIP station. However it is true that you have to go to the end of Via Vallon - but you need to know that Via Vallon is not a straight street and is not short. It turns, goes under the rails and then goes through fields (you need to walk for about 40 minutes) and finally leads to the highway. Walk about 200 metres along the highway and there is the AGIP station.
(You might want to try taking bus #14 towards the motorway.)
South to Greece
There are ferries between Italy and Greece from Venice.
- Do all the snack-shopping in Mestre before you go on the islands.
- Internet-cafés in Venice are ridiculously expensive. In Mestre within 10-minute walk from railway station you'll find places entitled "Internet Point" run by Chinese or Bangladeshi guys, where Internet is around €1.50 for 30 minutes. You'll need an ID if you want to use the Internet (by Italian law).
- If you know exactly when you are going to arrive in Venice, buy tickets in advance on Venice Connected.
- You can go inside Basilica San Marco for free - large bags and rucksacks are not allowed. Lnx, however, managed to sneak in with a small rucksack, SLR camera bag and a tripod case.
- The Snack Bar in the square by the university (Campo Santa Margherita) is not too overpriced - sitting charge is €1.50, and the portions are decent. Also, take advantage of free breadsticks (i.e. included in that €1.50)
- If you want to experience a Gondola ride and don't want to spend €80/hour, you can cross the Grand Canal in a Gondola for €0.50 (yes, 50 eurocents). The Traghetto runs between the west side (market) and the east side (just north of Rialto bridge) and crosses the Canal Grande in various points.
Venice offers a wide range of accommodation. Most of it is highly overpriced. If you are trying to find a host on Couchsurfing, it's nearly impossible in Venice itself, so use the option "expand search within ... miles"
There is a campsite called Camping Jolly. I wouldn't go as far as to recommend it, but you can rent beds in lockable tents there for less than 15 euros a night. Everything else there is highly overpriced but there's a supermarket nearby and maybe you can ask to use the kitchen in one of the bungalows. Takes you 10-15 minutes to walk to the bus which brings you to the Piazzale Roma in 15 minutes.
You can camp on the beach in Lido. Take the bus along Via Sandro Gallo for a few stops and walk to the beach on the adriatic side, then walk along it until you find a spot away from the resorts, then make camp. There are also some little huts you can squat for a day or two. It is accepted to make a fire in the evening, although not really in the daytime. Make sure to visit the excellent dumpsters  in Lido before you go, so you have plenty of food to eat.
In Venice itself, you can stealth camp in construction sites or abandoned buildings (at your own risk). Pick out of the way spots and wake up early (suggested anyway as Venice is most beautiful in the dawn light, before all the tourists wake up).
From the main train station in Mestre, there is a perfectly nice stealth camping spot only 2 minutes walking. Exit the station through the underground corridor, heading AWAY from the city center (it's obvious what is the 'front' of the station and what is the 'back'.) Go out the back and once you ascend to street level, immediately look to your right and you'll see an old fence. Get behind the fence, walk along the tracks about 50m, and you'll come to a couple of open lots with trees and bushes. Plenty of relatively discreet places to lay your sleeping bag.
As I lived there 2 yrs, Mestre is not the best option for free camping specially near the railway station, like all railway stations in italy, pretty ones of the worst spot to spend the night (e.g. Milano Centrale or Roma Termini). If u go in the historical centre, at night is almost dishabited, no tourists around (very charming as well) and specially in less touristic quarters(sestiere) like "Castello" or "Cannaregio". just crash on one of the hundreds bench u see or even some green areas u may find, churches stairs might be also an option. Of course u ll be wake up by someone but its so much more safe than mestre station. Lots of backpacker and homeless also do sleep right outside of SantaLucia station.
If u go at evening time 5-6p.m till 23p.m in Campo S.Margherita (check on maps) one of the largest square, is full of universitary and young people. If u are nice and smart u can easily find some cool people host u. Fedecicco
2011 update: I found the place easily and went to the inside of the trees. There were so many syringes, belts, and rubbers in there so it's a little uncomfortable. Bushes side are better but only in nights. People cross near there in daytime. Cagatay 22:57, 19 March 2012 (CET)
2012 update: Following Cagatay's instructions I didn't go to the inside of the trees or to the bushes but stayed at some bushes that come up on your left. That part is not that isolated and it is close to a parking lot but there are no syringes or anything similar. The place is really easy to find but it doesn't seem to be especially safe. Not for the faint-hearted. ;) sholky 11:42, 28 July 2012 (CET)
It's very hard to find a decent map of Venice. Even harder to find a free one. The option which worked for Lnx - in Mestre, opposite the railway station there is a Best Western hotel. Often they have a pile of maps available at the reception; if not you can *very politely* ask for one. (Please do not abuse this option).
--It is very easy to get a decent map from one the five star hotels. Just turn right after Ponte Scalzi (the bridge) and walk the opposite direction from the train station. After about 50-100 meters on the right side of the street (Rio Terra Lista di Spagna) there is a luxurious hotel lobby. Walk in and ask for a map. It is free, nicely colored and detailed (Global Blue - Venice Tax Free Shoppin Map). (If you agree, please delete the previous mumbo-jumbo as it contradicts this info completely.) --Astikain 23:23, 28 April 2011 (CEST)
Walking around the main collection of islands is possible without a problem. The places you'll need to get public transport to include Mestre (unless you enjoy walking 5km on the bridge observing a swamp on one side and an oil refinery on the other), and the islands of Lido, Murano (glass museum), Burano (lots of brightly-coloured houses) and others.
You can get bus tickets for local buses for 1,30 euro (in the bus they cost 2,50 euro) - valid 75 minutes, changing lines is allowed, return trips are not. The boats to get to other islands are ridiculously expensive (6,50 euro for 1 hour). You could risk going without a ticket on one stop, the fines are at 44 euros (July 20th 09). Little ticket controlling on the boat, but the ticket controllers often want to see a ticket before you board at "popular" stops -- Piazzale Roma, Railway Station etc.
There are also long-term tickets that are valid on all the local boats and buses: 12 hours = €16; 24 hours = €18 etc. You can buy a lot of tickets with discount if you pre-book them at least a week in advance online at Venice Connected
For those between 14 and 29 years the Rolling Venice Card  may be cheaper, it's valid 72 hours for the price of 22€ (18,- for the ticket and 4,- for the card, which stays valid for a year and gives you additional discounts).
A train ticket from VE Mestre to Venice Santa Lucia costs 1 euro. There at the Venice S. L. railway station you can leave your bags (left-luggage) for 4 euro per bag for 5 hours (prices checked: October 2011).