Santa Maria della Salute, Venice Santa Maria della Salute, Venice – Image courtesy of viator.com

How to get around Venice

The best way to get around Venice is on foot and by vaporetto. Vaporetto services are frequent and run 24 hours a day, with stops located across the city.

At just 5km by 2km (3mi by 1.2mi) Venice is easy enough to explore. You can easily walk from one side of the island to the other in one hour – excluding time for sightseeing.

Four bridges cross the Grand Canal but you can also cross by traghetto (public gondola). Journeys are cheap and short.

However, if you want to get somewhere quickly or visit one of the islands, you'll need to use a vaporetto. These water buses have several routes with a fixed timetable. Being quite large, they don’t enter the smaller canals.


Water transport options in Venice

There is a wide choice of water transport in Venice, from vaporettos and motorboats to ferries and battelli foranei – a larger type of vaporetto used for transportation to outer islands. These are mainly operated by Azienda del Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV) (actv.avmspa.it/it).

Vaporetto: These passenger ferries or water buses are the main public transport in Venice. Comparable to a land bus, vaporettos have a fixed schedule with many stops.

Single rides cost €7.5, valid for 75 minutes travel time (free for children under 6); and €1.5 for people in a wheelchair (accompanying person travels for free).

However, for frequent use consider buying an ACTV Tourist Travel Card – a pass for unlimited travel within a set period beginning when you first validate your ticket at the yellow machine located at vaporetto stops.

The ACTV Tourist Travel Card allows unlimited travel on vaporetti and Lido buses within the following time blocks: 24 hours, €20; 48 hours, €30; 72 hours, €40; and one week, €60.

Note: Visitors aged six to 29 holding a Rolling Venice card can get a three-day ticket for €22 at tourist offices.

Tickets and multiday passes are available online as well as dockside from ACTV ticket booths and ticket vending machines. The ACTV travel pass itself is valid for 2 years. Free timetables and route maps are also available.

Note: If you’re caught without a valid ticket, you’ll be required to pay an on-the-spot fine of €59 (plus the €7.50 fare). No exceptions.

Frequency varies greatly according to line and time of day. Vaporetto 1 runs every 10 minutes throughout most of the day, while lines such as the 4.1 and 4.2 only run every 20 minutes.

Vaporetto 1 – one of the most popular routes and a great introduction to Venice – runs from Piazzale Roma up the Grand Canal to San Marco and on to the Lido, from 5am to 11.30pm, every 10 minutes from 7am to 10pm.

The night service for Giudecca, the Grand Canal, San Marco and Lido operates from 11.30pm to 4am, every 40 minutes. Other night services can be as much as one hour apart, and some lines stop running after 9pm.

Vaporetto timetables are available online at Venezia Unica (www.veneziaunica.it/en/content/public-transport).

Vaporetto stops can be confusing, so check the signs at the landing dock to make sure you’re at the right stop for the direction you want. At major stops like Ferrovia, Piazzale Roma, San Marco and Zattere, there are often two separate docks for the same vaporetto line, heading in opposite directions.

Interisland ferry services to Murano, Torcello, the Lido and other lagoon islands are usually provided on larger motonave.

Alilaguna: This water bus operates to and from the airport, taking around 15 minutes to San Marco. It has also a fixed schedule, with a limited number of stops.

Tickets are available online and in the cruise terminal. Prices range from €8 for single ticket (one luggage and one piece of hand luggage included), to €15 for a return ticket. Booking online gives you a discount: €7, single or €13, return.

Or €4 for a single ticket in combination with a Venezia Unica travel pass. The Alilaguna tickets cannot be used on the vaporetto.

Water taxi: These sleek, wooden boats provide taxi services along the small canals of Venice, and carry up to 8 people (depending on the amount of luggage).

Licensed water taxis – identified by a yellow strip with a licence number displayed – are fast and a comfortable way to get to your destination, if somewhat expensive. Fares can be metered or negotiated in advance.

Official rates start at €15 plus €2 per minute, €5 extra if they’re called to your hotel. There's a €10 surcharge for night trips (10pm to 6am), a €5 surcharge for additional luggage (more than five pieces) and a €10 surcharge for each extra passenger above the first four. You should ensure the meter is working when boarding. Tipping isn't required.

Water taxis run by the Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia (www.motoscafivenezia.it) can be ordered in advance. Taxi points are available at main locations, including at the airport, Piazzale Roma, Rialto, San Marco and the Lido.

Gondola: These traditional boats are mainly used for sightseeing, and have a (more or less) fixed route – you cannot ask them to pick you up to transport you to a specific location.

Official daytime rates are €80 for 40 minutes (six passengers maximum) or €100 for 40 minutes from 7pm to 8am, not including songs (negotiated separately) or tips.

Additional time is charged in 20-minute increments (day/night €40/50). You should agree on a price, time limit and singing in advance to avoid unexpected surcharges.

Gondolas are found at stazi (stops) along the Grand Canal and near major monuments and tourist hotspots, but you can also book a pick-up by calling Ente Gondola (www.gondolavenezia.it/home.asp).

Gondolas 4 All (www.gondolas4all.com/) offers gondola rides to wheelchair users in a specially adapted gondola. Embarkation is from a wheelchair-accessible pier at Piazzale Roma.

Traghetto: This boat looks like a large gondola but is used as a ferry to cross the Grand Canal from a few dedicated stops. It's a short ride and costs €2 for non-residents (or €0.70 if you have a Venezia Unica Travel Pass) and operates from 9am to 6pm, although some routes finish by noon.

You'll find traghetto crossings at Campo San Marcuola, the Rialto Market, Riva del Vin, San Tomà, Ca' Rezzonico and beside the Gritti Palace.

Hire-boat: You can also hire a boat to explore the lagoon (but not the Grand Canal or canals in the historic centre). You don’t need a license, but you will be taken on a test run to see if you can manoeuvre and dock (park) without incident.

Boat rentals are offered with and without a pilot by Brussa (www.brussaisboat.it/en/) in Cannaregio. Hourly and daily rates are both available; expect to pay €43 per hour or €196 per day, including fuel.

Classic Boats Venice (www.classicboatsvenice.com/) on Murano hire out restored San Pietro flat-bottomed boats, equipped with eco-friendly electric engines.

The wooden boats come with an easy to use GPS to help you navigate through the Lagoon of Venice. Prices vary – 1hr, €80; 2hrs, €130; 3hrs, €180; 4hrs, €225; and 8hrs, €295.


On land

No cars are allowed in the centre of Venice. Drivers only get as close as Piazzale Roma, where there are a number of parking options and vaporetti stops.

Venice Rental Services, situated on the Lido, offers scooters, bikes, e-bikes, fat-tyre e-bikes, cars and boats for hire.

Bikes and e-bikes cost €10 and €20 per day respectively, while scooters, cars and boats cost €35/60/200 per day.

Car hire: Car hire is available at the Piazzale Roma, but you can only use cars to drive out of Venice or on Lido island. The minimum age for hiring a car is 23 years old and drivers must carry and EU licence or International Driving Permit.

All the makor car-hire companies, including Avis (www.avis.com/en/locations/it/venice), Hertz (www.hertz.com/p/car-rental/italy/venice) and Europcar (www.europcar.com/location/italy/venezia-ve), have offices at Piazzale Roma, Marco Polo Airport and at Mestre train station.

Scooters are available for rent on the Lido at Venice Rental Services. In other Veneto towns, bicycles rather than scooters are the preferred mode of transport.

Bicycle: While bikes are banned from central Venice, on the larger islands of Lido and Pellestrina, cycling is a pleasant way to get around and reach distant beaches.

Lido on Bike (www.lidoonbike.it) and Venice Rental Services (www.scooterrentvenice.com/) are both located near the vaporetto stop. ID is required for rental.

At the Lido SME vaporetto stop, you'll also find an electronic, self-service bike-sharing scheme, Bike Sharing Venezia (www.bicincitta.com/default.aspx). There are two more stations outside the Palazzo del Cinema and in Malamocco. You'll need to register online or by phone in order to use the service.

Nearby, the scenic Brenta Riviera makes for easy and enjoyable cycling, with around 150km (93mi) of cycle routes.

Veloce (www.rentalbikeitaly.com/) offers bike hire with branches in many Veneto towns, with mountain and city bikes, plus pre-loaded GPS units (€10), guided tours (€80 per person), roadside assistance and advice in English on itineraries and local restaurants. Bikes need to be pre-booked.

Bus: Services only operate in Mestre on the mainland and on the islands of Lido and Pellestrina.

Monorail: Venice’s wheelchair-accessible People Mover monorail connects the car parks on Tronchetto with the cruise-ship terminal and Piazzale Roma. Tickets are available from vending machines near the station.

Taxi: Taxis only operate in Mestre on the mainland and on the Lido.

Train: The only train service in Venice is the connection between Venice Santa Lucia and Mestre.


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Latest update: How to get to Venice: 19 June, 2020


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