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 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. The infograph at the end summarizes your options and shows you in a glimpse which transportation is most appropriate for you.
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.
INSIDER TIP: A first important element to understand is that the transportation from and to the airport is run by different companies than the transportation within Venice. This implies that you have to buy separate tickets for those.
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 have to collect your voucher from the desk at the arrivals hall. If you haven’t booked in advance, you can also go directly to the dock if the line is too long and buy a ticket there. To go to the waterfront, go up one level and follow the signs. The 750 m walk on the walkway of the new airport building takes approx. 5 – 10 minutes. By the time you arrive at the dock, the taxi will be waiting for you. There are 2 different ways to take a water taxi: privately or shared.
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, but I always book in advance with Venicelink. I have been very happy with their service. When I take the evening flight of Brussels Airlines, I arrive after 11 PM at the dock. By then, it’s dark and desolate but the driver is (usually) already waiting to bring me to the hotel.
PRIVATE WATER TAXI
Price: approx. 110 euros (TIP: add TVI_2018 as coupon code during checkout to receive a 2 euros discount)
Transfer time: approx. 25 minutes (depending on the location of your hotel)
How to buy a ticket: online or at the airport
Alternatively, you can book a shared water taxi or shuttle (for minimum 2 people) with Venicelink. This means that other people will sit in the same boat. After baggage claim, you have to present yourself at desk 71 in the arrivals hall. They might ask you to wait for the other guests, or, if you are lucky, they will be waiting for you. These taxis do not stop everywhere but use a set of 16 drop-off points spread over Venice. The water taxi will bring you to the one closest to your hotel. The advantage of sharing a water taxi is not only the price. You might also enjoy a free ride across the canals of Venice if you are the last one to be dropped off. We had this pleasure once and really enjoyed it.
SHARED WATER TAXI
Price: 25 euros per person (6 euros supplement after 20.00)
Transfer time: waiting time at the airport (10-45 minutes) + 25-40 minutes on the boat (depending on the number of passengers and the drop-off order) + walk to your hotel
How to buy a ticket: online
First/last departure: 8.00 / 22.30
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. Booking through Venezia Unica gives you a discount, so you pay respectively 14 euros for a single ticket or 25 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: 6.15 / 0.30
First/last departure from Venice (e.g. San Marco) to Marco Polo: 3.50 / 22.55
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.
BUS FROM MARCO POLO
Price: 8 euros for a single ticket, 15 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), 5.20 / 00.50 (ATVO)
First/last departure from Venice (Piazzale Roma) to Marco Polo: 4.35 (5.40 on Sunday) / 00.40 (ACTV), 4.20 / 23.30 (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.
TAXI FROM MARCO POLO
Price: 40 euros (TIP: add theveniceinsider as discount code during checkout to receive a 2 euros discount)
Transfer time: approx. 20 minutes to Piazzale Roma + connecting vaporetto, water taxi or walk to hotel
How to buy a ticket: online or outside 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 land 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 and Barzi 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.
BUS FROM TREVISO
Price: 12 euros for a single ticket, 22 euros for a return ticket (ATVO and Barzi), 11 euros for a single ticket, 20 euros for a return ticket (Terravision)
Transfer time: 70 minutes (ATVO) or 40 minutes (Terravision, Barzi) + connecting vaporetto or walk to hotel
First/last departure to Venice: 8.10 / 21.55 (ATVO), 8.40 (8.00 on Tuesday) / 20.30 (21.30 on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) (Terravision, Barzi)
First/last departure from Venice to Treviso: 5.30 / 19.00 (ATVO), 6.00 / 19.30 (Terravision, Barzi)
Your last option is to take a land taxi from the Treviso airport. The taxi service is run by the Cooperative Radio Taxi Treviso.
TAXI FROM TREVISO
Price: 76 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.
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.
INSIDER TIP: Make sure you have a good map of Venice before your arrival and clear directions on how to reach your hotel. You can very easily get lost in the maze of small streets.
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. Personally, I usually walk almost everywhere and I tend to group my trips to the islands on consecutive days. I then only buy a pass for the days that I need it.
Price: Single ticket: 7.5 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)
Ferry ticket (for crossing the canal or lagoon: Lido S.M. Elisabetta-S.Elena or Giardini; St.Mark’s S.Zaccaria-S.Servolo; St.Mark’s S.Zaccaria-S.Giorgio; Zattere-Palanca; Murano Colonna-Cimitero or Fondamente Nove and Chioggia-Pellestrina): 5 euros
Travel card for 1 day : 20 euros
Travel card for 2 days: 30 euros
Travel card for 3 days: 40 euros, 22 euros with a Venice Rolling Card
Travel card for 7 days: 60 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 50 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 online. You also receive a reduction on the Alilaguna and the buses from the airport.
How to buy a 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 timetable:
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. You need to add another 2 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 45 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 (or 0.70 euros if you have a Venezia Unica Pass). 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.
Get the help from a local
I hope I made the complicated transportation system in Venice a bit clearer. However, if you still fear you won’t find your hotel, you can use the new service ‘Prontopia’ which was launched a couple of months ago. The Prontopia app allows you to ask for immediate assistance for help getting around the city. Prontopia connects you to locals who can guide you for instance to your hotel upon your arrival or help you get a specific product at the pharmacy. You pay 20 euros per hour, but it’s calculated per minute that you use them (with a minimum of 5 euros). A transfer from Piazzale Roma to a hotel would cost approx. 14 euros, whereas the example of the pharmacy would be 5 euros.
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 visit 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. I will try to update on a regular basis, but I cannot guarantee this is the most recent information. The current information is valid on December 9, 2018. 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.
Enjoy your trip!
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