A wonderful way to admire the Grand Canal is on board a vaporetto (public transport in Venice). The channel will be abuzz with commercial boats laden with goods, but still is the main "street" of Venice, and just a little imagination is needed to understand its historical importance.
The trip of about 3 kilometres from the train station to San Marco and offers a superb introduction to the city, which will make understand more about how it works Venice – and it has always worked – than any other old town.
Every important family must had had a Palace here, and this was not only for reasons of social snobbery. The palaces are undeniably beautiful, but first were solid commercial enterprises and their architecture was both practical and appealing.
Vaporetto Tickets can be purchased on almost all the stops, at authorized retailers (tobacconists, newspapers sellers, etc. ..) and at Hellovenezia offices.
On board, you can only buy single tickets. Tickets are for individual trips (€ 6.50 – 60 minutes on any valid way), 12 hours (€ 16), 24 hours (€ 18), 36hrs (€ 23), 48 hours (€ 28), 72hrs (€ 33) or seven days (€ 50).
The rate for a ferry trip (i.e. a stop along the Grand Canal, or from St. Elena to Lido) is € 2.