A practical how-to guide on transportation in Venice

When you book a trip to Venice, you dream of boat trips on the canals. However, when trying to figure out how to reach your hotel, the whole transportation system might seem very intimidating and confusing. I can assure you this is totally normal on a first visit.

I receive plenty of questions on this topic, so I decided to create this post to make the preparation of your trip to Venice a bit easier. I will first tell you what the appropriate terminology is of the different transportation modi. I will then guide you along the different possibilities for transportation upon arrival in Venice (by plane at Marco Polo or Treviso airport, by train or car, by cruise), and for moving around the city. For each one, you will find the price, transfer time, links to the time schedule as well as tips on how to buy a ticket.


Which types of boats are used for tourist transportation in Venice?

It seems that part of the confusion of first time visitors is due to the names of the different boats and services. So, before you set off to Venice, here are the basics you need to learn. If you don’t use the correct term, people might not understand what you are after.

Vaporetto: This large boat is the standard water bus. It can be used to travel within Venice or to go to the lagoon islands. Similar to a land bus, it has a fixed schedule and many stops.

Alilaguna: This water bus takes you from and back to the airport. It has also a fixed schedule, but a limited number of stops.

Water taxi: This sleek wooden boat carries up to 8 people (depending on the amount of luggage) along the small canals of Venice. It brings you wherever you want, either from or to the airport, within the city or to the islands.

Gondola: This traditional boat sails on the canals of Venice and is only used for sightseeing. It has a (more or less) fixed route so you cannot ask to pick you up to bring you to a specific location.

Traghetto: This boat looks like a large gondola. It can only be used to cross Canal Grande from a few dedicated stops.


Arriving at Marco Polo airport

When you arrive by plane at the Marco Polo airport, you can choose to travel to Venice via the lagoon (by water taxi or Alilaguna) or over land (by bus or land taxi).

The water taxi is the most glamorous way to arrive in style in Venice. When you arrive at the airport, you can go directly to the dock and buy a ticket there. To go to the waterfront, go up one level and follow the signs. The 750 m walk takes approx. 5 – 10 minutes.

When you book a private water taxi, the driver will bring you as close as possible to your hotel. The price depends on the time of arrival (e.g. night supplement) and the company you use. If you book a return ticket, you usually receive a discount. There are several water taxi companies to choose from. Wen I arrive during the day, I just take the first one available. However, when I arrive late at night, I usually book in advance with Venicelink as I want to be sure there’s still a taxi when there’s a delay.

Price: approx. 125 euros
Transfer time: approx. 25 minutes (depending on the location of your hotel)
How to buy a ticket: online or at the airport

The Alilaguna (water bus) is cheaper than a watertaxi, but takes much longer. It runs on 3 different routes: Blu, Arancio and Rossa (from April to September). It makes several stops in Venice, on Murano and Lido. If none of these stops is close to your hotel, you will have to change to the vaporetto or walk the last part.

Pay attention to the following points. The Alilaguna tickets cannot be used on the vaporetto. There is a 72 hour Alilaguna ticket, but it doesn’t make sense unless you want to travel multiple times to the airport during that time span. The green line is an organized touristic trip of 4.5 hours to the islands, so cannot be used for transportation only.

Price: 15 euros for a single ticket (one luggage and one piece of hand luggage included), 27 euros for a return ticket. If you have a Venezia Unica CartaVenezia, you will pay 8 euros for a single ticket. Children under 6 travel for free.
Transfer time: 75 minutes to San Marco (see timetable for all the stops) + connecting vaporetto or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: online, in the airport at the ticket office, at the ticket machines located at baggage claim and on the dock, on board
First/last departure to Venice: 6.20 / 0.20
First/last departure from Venice (e.g. San Marco) to Marco Polo: 3.48 / 21.48

If you prefer to travel over land, the cheapest option is to catch a bus. These will bring you to Piazzale Roma. This is the last point in Venice where vehicles are allowed. From there, you can either walk to your hotel or change to a vaporetto. The ACTV bus (line 5) is a local bus, which stops at different locations. The ATVO airport express bus goes directly to Piazzale Roma.

Price: 10 euros for a single ticket, 18 euros for a return ticket. Children under 4 travel for free on the ACTV bus
Transfer time: approx. 20-25 minutes to Piazzale Roma + connecting vaporetto or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: online, in the airport at the ticket office, at the ticket machines located at baggage claim and at the bus stop
First/last departure to Venice: 4.08 / 1.10 (ACTV), 6.00 / 01.10 (ATVO)
First/last departure from Venice (Piazzale Roma) to Marco Polo: 4.35 (5.40 on Sunday) / 00.40 (ACTV), 4.20 / 00.40 (ATVO)

The last option is to take a land taxi from the airport, run by Cooperativa Artigiana Radiotaxi. Similar to the bus, they drop you off at Piazzale Roma. This is a convenient way to travel, but you do still need a vaporetto or water taxi for the last part in Venice. If your hotel is nearby, you can of course also walk.

Price: 40 euros
Transfer time: approx. 20 minutes to Piazzale Roma + connecting vaporetto, water taxi or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: online or outside at the arrivals hall


Arriving at Treviso airport

The Treviso airport is located approx. 30 km from the city of Venice. From there, you can only go to Venice over land by bus or taxi. These drive you to Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto. From there, you can either walk to your hotel or change to a vaporetto.

There are several bus companies which operate between the Treviso airport and Venice. You can catch a bus to the right of the airport exit, at Via Noalese. The ATVO bus is a local bus and has several stops along the way. It stops at Piazzale Roma. The Terravision buses are semi-direct buses, with one stop in Mestre, so you will quicker you set foot at Tronchetto (which is near Piazzale Roma) in Venice.

Price: 10 euros for a single ticket, 18 euros for a return ticket. Children under 4 travel for free on the ACTV bus
Transfer time: 70 minutes (ATVO) or 40 minutes (Terravision) + connecting vaporetto or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: online (ATVO, Terravision), in the airport at the ticket office, on board
First/last departure to Venice: ATVO: 7.45 / 22.20 (22.00 on Monday and Friday); Terravision: 8.40 (8.00 on Tuesday) / 20.30 (21.30 on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday)
First/last departure from Venice ATVO: 7.45 / 22.20 (22.00 on Monday and Friday); Terravision: 8.40 (8.00 on Tuesday) / 20.30 (21.30 on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday)

Another option is to take a land taxi from the Treviso airport. The taxi service is run by Taxi Treviso.

Price: approx. 80 euros (excluding supplements for night or public holidays)
Transfer time: approx. 30 minutes to Piazzale Roma + connecting vaporetto, water taxi or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: online or outside the arrivals hall


Arriving by train or car

When you arrive in Venice by train (at the Santa Lucia train station) or by car (at Piazzale Roma), you can immediately jump on the vaporettos or the water taxis which are waiting there. Or, if your hotel is nearby, you can walk.


Arriving at Stazione Marittima or the cruise terminal

The cruise terminal is located on the west side of Venice and still in the area where cars are allowed. To reach your hotel or explore Venice, you have a wide variety of choices: either directly over water (water taxi) or combining land (land taxi, people mover) and water (vaporetto) transportation. If your hotel is not too far, you can also just walk.

A water taxi is the easiest way to reach your hotel, but also the most expensive one. It will bring you directly from the cruise terminal to your hotel or a nearby platform. There are several water taxi companies. The price depends on the time of arrival (e.g. night supplement) and the company you use. If you book a return ticket, you usually receive a discount.

Price: approx. 80 euros
Transfer time: approx. 15 minutes (depending on the location of your hotel)
How to buy a ticket: online or at the cruise terminal

The cruise terminal is quite large, so the distances differ depending where your boat is moored. If you don’t want to walk, the easiest option is to take a land taxi to Piazzale Roma. You can use the Radiotaxi Venezia Mestre.

Price: 20 euros (excluding supplements for night or public holidays)
Transfer time: approx. 5 minutes to Piazzale Roma + connecting vaporetto or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: online or at the cruise terminal

If you don’t mind walking a little bit, you can easily take the people mover which stops in front of the cruise terminal. This monorail brings you in a few minutes to Piazzale Roma. Don’t forget to validate your ticket before entering.

Price: 1.5 euros
Transfer time: 4 minutes to Piazzale Roma + connecting vaporetto or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: at the terminal
First/last departure to Piazzale Roma: 7.10 (8.00 on Sunday) / 22.50 (21.50 in summer on Sunday, earlier in winter)
First/last departure from from Piazzale Roma to Stazione Marittima: 7.10 (8.10 on Sunday) / 22.50 (21.50 in summer on Sunday, earlier in winter)


Traveling on the vaporetto in Venice

Once you made it to Venice, you will want to explore the city as much as possible. Venice is not very big (5 km on 2 km) so you can easily walk from one side to another. Crossing the entire Island takes you approx. 1 hour, assuming you don’t get lost or are distracted by the beauty of the city. However, if you are tired, if you don’t want to lose time or if you want to visit one of the islands, you will have to use a vaporetto. These water buses can be compared to land buses and have several routes with a fixed timetable. They are quite large, so they don’t enter the small canals. This implies that you always have to walk the last part of your itinerary.

Compared to other European cities, public transport is rather expensive in Venice. It’s therefore important to take some time to figure out what the best formula is for you. If you plan to use the vaporetto on a daily basis, I suggest you buy a travel pass.


Prices

Single ticket: 9.5 euros, valid for 75 minutes travelling time (free for children under 6)
Single ticket for people in a wheelchair: 1.5 euros (accompanying person travels for free)
Travel card for 1 day: 25 euros
Travel card for 2 days: 35 euros
Travel card for 3 days: 40 euros, 27 euros with a Venice Rolling Card
Travel card for 7 days: 65 euros


Visitors between 6 and 29 can use the Venice Rolling Card. Besides a reduction on the vaporetto, it can also be used for reductions in museums. The card itself costs 6 euros and can then be loaded with additional tickets or passes.

You can also order a Venezia Unica City Pass, which functions as an electronic wallet. You can load your ACTV travel card as well as other services such as entries to museums, guided tours, wifi access. You can order it online (for free), add the services that you are interested in and pick it up at ACTV ticket machines or Venezia Unica ticket points. You can also buy it directly from the machines if you didn’t order it in advance. The pass itself is valid for 2 years.

If you travel frequently to Venice or you stay for a longer period, it might be interesting to buy a Venezia Unica CartaVenezia. It costs 100 euros for non-Venetian residents and is valid for 5 years. This is a personal document so you have to present yourself with your passport at a Venezia Unica office to create the card. Once you have the card, you can load vaporetto tickets on it (14 euros for 10 single tickets) or a monthly pass for 37 euros (valid for a calendar month, starting on the first). Afterwards, you can recharge these tickets and passes. You also receive a reduction on the Alilaguna and the buses from the airport.


How to buy a vaporetto ticket

Tickets and travel cards can be bought all over the city, but not necessarily at your vaporetto stop. Make sure you have a ticket before you go to the platform. You can buy them online, at Venezia Unica agencies or ticket points, self-service ticket machines, authorized retailers such as newspaper shops or supermarkets or via the Avm app.

The validity of a ticket or pass starts to count from the moment you first activate it, so not from when you buy it. However, they need to be validated every time you board a vaporetto, even if you have a pass for a couple of days. This needs to be done before entering the boat. You can scan your card at the machine and a green light will blink and beep to indicate that it’s activated. If you don’t do this, you can receive a fine on board.


Stops and timetables

Vaporetto tickets are valid on all vaporetto lines within Venice and to the lagoon islands, as you can see on this map. You can also use them for the land buses in Mestre and Lido. They can however not be used to travel from or to the airport. The most important lines start around 5 o’clock in the morning until 11 PM. During the day, you usually don’t have to wait more than 20 minutes. There are also night lines to bring you all over the city and the islands. These continue all night, but on a limited schedule of 1 vaporetto per hour. You can find the official timetables here or consult them on the Avm app.


Other transportation modes in Venice

Of course, you can also take a water taxi within Venice. This is however not as easy as in other cities, as you cannot hail a taxi to stop wherever you want. They can only dock at specific places, so you have to arrange a location for pick-up with them. Standard taxi fares in Venice start from 15 euros, but you need to add a few euros for each minute of travel, counted by the meter. Hence, if you want to book a fancy ride of 15 minutes along the canals, it will cost you at least 50 euros. You can book by calling the Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia. Gondolas used to be taxis in the past, but they are now only used for sight-seeing. You cannot book them to take you from one place to another.

Your final option is the traghetto. This flat boat looks like a gondola but is used as a ferry to cross Canal Grande. It is a short ride and costs 2 euros for tourists. You will notice that most locals keep standing as it’s such a short ride. There are currently 6 locations where you can catch it, but not all of them are fully operational and the schedules are not consistent. Some run from 7.30 until 19.00 while others only operate until 14.00. Your best option to find one up and running is at Pescaria / Santa Sofia, San Tomà / Sant Angelo or Santa Maria del Giglio / Salute.



You can find more tips on how to prepare your trip to Venice in my post ‘How I prepare my trips to Venice as a frequent visitor‘. Once you arrived safely at your hotel, these additional tips might also be useful: ‘Insider tips for your first trip to Venice‘. It is now also a good time to get lost on purpose in this beautiful city. This post will bring you to some of the most stunning locations: ‘9 insider tips to escape the crowds in Venice’.


Disclaimer: This post has lots of information on prices and timing, which can change at any time. The current information is valid on April 10, 2024. I suggest that you always check the latest details via the links in the post to avoid any unpleasant surprises. If you notice any error, please let me know. Thanks.

Recent posts

Interesting topics

ORDER MY BOOK

STAY IN TOUCH

Newsletter

* indicates required

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Katia,

    I’ve just found your website, and I know it will be helpful!

    I’ve been to Venice many times, but never for more than a week. I’ll be there for a month in the fall, and am trying to decide whether it makes sense to spend the 100 Euros for the Venezia Unica card. I’ll definitely be using the vaporetti, but probably not every day. One question: if I buy the “carnet” of 10 vaporetto trips and use them up, can I buy more of them?

    Thanks,
    Marcia

    • Hi Marcia,

      Glad you like my website 🙂

      You can indeed charge the Venezia Unica card on the go. The ticket machines also allow you to add additional credit/tickets to this card, so you don’t need to pass by the ticket counter for this. I usually add more once I have only 2 or 3 tickets left. You never know that you are in a hurry when it’s at zero or when you’re at one of the stops without ticket machine. When you validate the card, you can see on the display how many tickets you have left.

      Enjoy your trip!
      Katia

      • Hi Marcia,

        In reply to your follow up question (which I copied below): you can’t buy this 5 year card online as they need a copy of your ID. You can buy it at the Piazzale Roma station of at Rialto (which is where I went). They can then add the 10 tickets for you. As for loading extra tickets, there are several machines around town at the larger vaporetto stations such as San Marco, Zattere, Piazzale Roma, Rialto, Fond Nove, and probably more where I didn’t pay attention to it. So you don’t need to go back to Piazzale Roma for this.

        I hope this helps.

        Best regards
        Katia

        Hi Katia,

        Thanks so much. Just a few more questions: Does it make sense to buy the card online, or does that not save any time, since you have to get to a machine to validate it anyway?

        It sounds like there’s a validation machine somewhere near Piazzale Roma—is that right? And then, when you want to add vaporetto tickets to your card, do you also need to find one of those special validation machines?

        This is all new to me, as I’ve always used the regular vaporetto passes in the past. But of course, they’re really expensive!

        Thanks again,
        Marcia

  2. Hi again Katia,

    Just to clarify, as other folks may be as confused as I’ve been. There are two cards called Venezia Unica: one that you can buy on line, and another (the 100 Euro one that’s good for 5 years) that you need to buy in person so that you can show your passport. Correct?

    Thanks,
    Marcia

    • Hi Marcia,

      The Venezia Unica card is the one which you can also use for tickets for museums etc. The 5 year pass of 100 euros to travel cheaper on the vaporetto is called the CartaVenezia but the Venezia Unica offices distribute them as well, which is why there might be some confusion. If you mention CartaVenezia and 5 years and 100 euros at the desk, they will certainly give you the right one.

      good luck
      Katia

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here