There are various ways of approaching the villas, and you can base yourself in Padova, Venice, Malcontenta or other places on the Venice-Padova route. However, the main consideration in planning a trip is that Villa Foscari (Malcontenta) is only open on Tuesday and Saturday from 09.00-12.00 from 1 May to 31 October (10 euros).
Villa Pisari (Stra) has more extensive opening hours: Late March-late Sept 09.00-19.00 (exit until 20.00), Oct-March 09.00-16.00 (exit until 17.00), (7.50 euros adults, 3.75 euros for EU 18-25s, free for EU under 18s and EU over 65s).
The maze is open late March-late Sept, 09.00-13.30 (exit to 13.45) and 14.15-19.15- exit to 19.30, with more limited opening hours late Sept-early Nov. I’m not sure what happens if you don’t manage to get out by the closure time! It also closes on certain dates for maintenance as well as during very hot or wet weather. Up to date information on the maze and on all aspects of visiting Villa Pisari can be found at:
I approached the villas by staying in Malcontenta on a Friday night, so I would be able to get into Villa Foscari on the Saturday morning. I stayed at Hotel Palladio, http://www.hotelpalladio.it/ which is a fairly standard, modern hotel, with a reasonable breakfast and quite good value at 48 euros for a single including breakfast. The hotel is used by most people as a base for visiting Venice and there is a free minibus, although they charge 3 euros for luggage- more expensive than taking the public bus.
Malcontenta itself is a sleepy little town, without much going on, but for eating dinner, there is a nice restaurant serving traditional Italian dishes and pizzas, with friendly waiters about 100 metres away from the hotel- turn right as you exit the hotel and continue down the main road. The hotel also mentioned another place which I never found.
It’s possible to visit several villas on a boat tour. http://www.ilburchiello.it/en/ . However, it’s quite straightforward and a lot cheaper to do it by public bus, as I did, albeit not as romantic. Malcontanta is served by ACTV bus 53, which runs approximately hourly from Venice Piazzale Roma to Padova. You have to look for the “Padova via Malcontenta” buses, as there are other buses which run from Venice to Padova via a northerly route avoiding Malcontenta, which are also number 53. The 2 routes merge slightly beyond Malcontenta, so either is good for going from Venice to Stra.
In Malcontenta, there is a bus stop right next to Hotel Palladio. Villa Foscari is about a 10 minute walk and not particularly easy to find. Here’s the link on google maps:
Or you could just do things the old fashioned way as I did, and ask for directions.
To get from Malcontenta to Stra, you simply pick up bus 53 again, continuing on its journey to Padova. It’s a nice journey along the Brenta and you pass a lot of villas. The bus stop in Stra town is just beyond Villa Pisari, which you will pass on your right. So you double back and it’s about 3-5 mins walk to get to the villa entrance. If you are coming from the Padova direction, you will need to keep awake and get off in Stra, before continuing in the same direction to reach the villa.
The full schedule for Route 53 (Venice Piazzale Roma- Padova, both via Malcontenta and avoiding Malcontenta) can be found here:
Feriale = Mon-Sat; Festivo = Sun and public holidays.
For the feriale section check also the top of the columns. Nes = not Saturdays (short for non effetuata al Sabato), Sab = Saturdays only, sco = only during school terms, sns = not Saturdays during school terms; sss = runs on Saturdays during school terms. The numbers refer to variations in the route, but these are mostly irrelevant for the purposes of visiting Malcontenta and Stra.
Here is the fare table.
However, it’s slightly confusing as it seems to show a fare of 2.50 from Piazzale Roma to Malcontenta, and I paid 1.30. Piazzale Roma-Stra seems to be 4 euros.
I bought tickets at the ticket office in Piazzale Roma when starting from there, but on the return from Stra bought from the driver.