There are no roads on the island of Venice, so the public transport in Venice works a little differently than other cities. However, once you have figured it out, getting around Venice is pretty easy although it can be expensive. I’ve written this Venice transport guide to help you figure out how to navigate Venice like a pro – you’re welcome!
Where to Stay in Venice
When choosing the best place to stay in Venice, it is vital to consider how you will get there. Hostels and hotels on the island of Venice are more expensive than the mainland and are harder to get to with luggage than hostels in Mestre on the mainland. However, staying on the mainland means you need to take the train, bus or tram to Venice every day you want to explore, although you won’t be burdened with heavy luggage!
As the #wombatsTraveller ambassador for wombat’s Hostels, I stayed at the new wombat’s Hostel in Venice Mestre, which is right next to the train station. I loved staying here, it is a brand new hostel with friendly staff and great facilities, with dorms or private rooms to choose from. Being right next to the station it is really convenient for arriving from the train or airport, and easy to get to Venice whenever I wanted. I’ll publish a full review of the hostel soon, but you can check out the pre-opening sneak peek here, or visit the wombat’s Hostels website directly.
If you decide to stay in Mestre, getting from Mestre to Venice is easy. Public Transport from the mainland at Mestre to Venice Island includes buses, trams and trains. If you stay close to Mestre train station (at the wombat’s Hostel for example) the train to Venice is easy and convenient, and air-conditioned! Buses to Venice from Mestre are crowded and uncomfortable, and there is only a direct tram to Venice from the centre of Mestre, so for me, the train is definitely the best option!
Public Transport in Venice
In Venice itself, the only way to get around is on foot or by boat. There are no cars, buses or bikes to get around, and you can forget that Uber ever existed. There are several ways of getting around Venice by boat, and of course, the best way to see Venice is from the water.
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The most common public conveyance in Venice (remember that for a popular crossword puzzle answer), Vaporetto water bus services have several lines crossing the city and connecting Venice with the other islands in the lagoon. They are a convenient and scenic way to get from one side of the city to another. Vaporetto is singular, vaporetti is plural, so don’t worry if you see both written down.
Vaporetto Lines & Routes
At every vaporetto stop in Venice, you will find a map with all of the vaporetto routes, or you can see this one online.
You can also use google maps to tell you which line to get from where, but be sure to check the exact departure point as some vaporetto stops have several different docking stations. Most of the vaporetto stops have electronic departure boards which list the upcoming departures and key stops along the route.
The table below has details of all the Vaporetto routes and timetables from the ACTV website. The key routes you will probably be interested in are Line 1 along the Grand Canal and the lines to Murano and Lido.
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Vaporetto Water Bus 1 is a great way to see the Grand Canal if you take it from Piazzale Roma (Venice bus station) all the way to St Mark’s Square. Try to get a seat at the front (or back if the boat doesn’t have front seats) for some ot the best views in Venice of the beautiful buildings all along the Grand Canal.
Lines 11 and 17 are Vaporetto Water Bus Car Ferry lines between the Tronchetto and Lido, Pellestrina or Cavallino. These are the only vaporetti which allow you to take bicycles on board.
|1||P.LE ROMA – FERROVIA – RIALTO – S.MARCO – LIDO S.M.E.|
|1/||P.LE ROMA – FERROVIA – RIVA DE BIASIO – S.MARCUOLA – S. STAE – CA’ D’ORO – RIALTO MERCATO – RIALTO|
|2||S. MARCO / S. ZACCARIA – GIUDECCA – TRONCHETTO – P.LE ROMA – FERROVIA – RIALTO – S.MARCO – LIDO|
|2/||P.LE ROMA – FERROVIA – RIALTO – S.MARCO GIARDINETTI – RIALTO – P.LE ROMA – TRONCHETTO – S.MARCO GIARDINETTI
|3||P.LE ROMA – FERROVIA – MURANO – FERROVIA – P.LE ROMA|
|4.1||MURANO – FONDAMENTE NOVE – FERROVIA – P.LE ROMA – GIUDECCA – S.MARCO/S.ZACCARIA – F. NOVE|
|4.2||MURANO – FONDAMENTE NOVE – S.MARCO/S.ZACCARIA – GIUDECCA – P.LE ROMA – FERROVIA – F. NOVE|
|5.1||LIDO S.M.E. – OSPEDALE – FONDAMENTE NOVE – FERROVIA – P.LE ROMA – S.MARCO/S.ZACCARIA – LIDO S.M.E.|
|5.2||LIDO S.M.E. – S.MARCO/S.ZACCARIA – P.LE ROMA – FERROVIA – FONDAMENTE NOVE – OSPEDALE – LIDO S.M.E.|
|6||P.LE ROMA – ZATTERE – GIARDINI – S.ELENA – LIDO S.M.E.|
|7||SAN MARCO / S. ZACCARIA – MURANO|
|8||SACCA FISOLA – GIUDECCA – GIARDINI – LIDO||VIEW|
|9||BURANO – TORCELLO|
|10||LIDO S.M.E. – S.MARCO GIARDINETTI – ZATTERE – LIDO S.M.E|
|11||LIDO S.M.E. – ALBERONI FARO ROCCHETTA – S.MARIA DEL MARE – PELLESTRINA – CHIOGGIA|
|12||VENEZIA (F.te Nove) – MURANO – MAZZORBO – BURANO – TREPORTI – PUNTA SABBIONI|
|13||F.TE NOVE – MURANO – VIGNOLE – S.ERASMO / S.ERASMO -TREPORTI|
|14||VENEZIA (S. Marco-S.Zaccaria “A”) – LIDO S.M.E. – PUNTA SABBIONI|
|15||VENEZIA (S. Marco-S.Zaccaria “A”) – PUNTA SABBIONI|
|16||FUSINA – VENEZIA (Zattere)|
|17||SERVIZIO FERRY BOAT TRONCHETTO – LIDO S.NICOLO’ – PUNTA SABBIONI|
|18||MURANO – LIDO – SANT’ERASMO|
|20||S.MARCO/S.ZACCARIA – S.SERVOLO – S.LAZZARO – S.SERVOLO – S.MARCO/S.ZACCARIA|
|22||PUNTA SABBIONI – OSPEDALE – F.TE NOVE – TRE ARCHI|
|N||S.MARCO / S.ZACCARIA – CANALE GIUDECCA – CANAL GRANDE – LIDO S.M.E.|
|NLN||NOTTURNO LAGUNA NORD F.TE NOVE – S.ERASMO – BURANO- PUNTA SABBIONI|
|NMU||NOTTURNO MURANO F.TE NOVE – MURANO – F.TE NOVE|
Smaller vaporetto stops may have boats travelling in both directions, so ask the conductor before you board if it is going to the station you want. Some routes and stops are seasonal, so if you are unsure then ask. Bear in mind that you may be fined for simply being on the boarding platforms without a ticket, so it is best to buy your ticket before you board if you can.
Larger vaporetto stops like Piazzale Roma and the Ferrovia (Train Station) have multiple boarding platforms at the same spot. These are marked A,B,C,D and so on. If you come to a vaporetto stop and can’t see the destination you want on the departure board, check for other boarding platforms nearby.
When the vaporetto arrives, the conductor opens the gate to allow the passengers to depart before allowing new passengers to board.
A one-way ticket on a Vaporetto costs €7.50, which is for journeys of up to 75 minutes, and includes changes to different lines. You can also buy a 24-hour ticket which covers the trams and buses around Mestre and all the Vaporetto lines for €20, or you can also buy 48-hour, 72-hour and 7-day travel tickets for €30, €40 and €60 respectively. You can buy the tickets online in advance, or from the ticket offices or machines at the main vaporetto stops. If there isn’t a ticket machine at the stop you want to get on, you can also buy tickets from the staff on board the boat, but remember you could get fined for being on the platform without a ticket.
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Please note, the 24/48/72/week long tickets do not include the journey to/from the airport to Venice, that has to be bought separately.
Young people from 6-29 years old can buy a ‘Rolling Venice’ card for €6 which offers huge discounts on the 72-hour travel card (€22 instead of €40), as well as further savings on the Venezia Unica card, entry to various museums and other activities. Check the website for details.
Remember to Validate your Ticket
Every time you board the vaporetto you need to validate your ticket at the machine by the vaporetto stop. Simply hold your ticket close to the sensor, and you should get a beep and a green light to show that you are good to go. Some of the larger stations have gates which won’t let you through until you swipe your ticket.
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Alilaguna Water Buses
Alilaguna also has boat services to the other islands and offers combined trips to Murano, Burano and Lido among others, as well as boat transfers from Marco Polo Airport to Venice. However, they are more expensive than the ACTV Vaporettos although they can be quicker.
Traghettos are large gondola-type boats which ferry people from one side of the Grand Canal to the other. They cost €2 per person per trip and are a cheap way to get a gondola fix without paying for a full gondola ride! There are traghetto stations at various points along the Grand Canal where it isn’t easy to cross by bridge. Be aware though that the traghetto services usually stop around 6 or 7pm, so if you are in Venice at night then you’ll have to walk to the nearest bridge or Vaporetto stop to get around.
The People Mover
I didn’t use this at all, but if you are driving to Venice and parking your car at Tronchetto, or taking a cruise ship to Venice, this is the most convenient way of getting into Venice itself. The shuttle train connects Piazzale Roma with the city’s Tronchetto island car parking facility, via a stop above the Marittima cruise terminal. Journeys on the People Mover are included in the 24 hour or multi-day transport tickets or cost €1.50 from the ticket machines for a one-way journey.
Other Forms of Transport in Venice
Venice on Foot
Walking is obviously the cheapest way to get around Venice, and you can wander the streets to your heart’s content, finding narrow alleys and hidden corners that you won’t find any other way. However, if you are walking around all day in the heat it does get very tiring, so you may be glad of a vaporetto ride on the way home!
Bikes in Venice
Bikes are not allowed on the main island of Venice, but you can hire bikes in Mestre and take them by ferry to other islands such as Lido. Alternatively, you can also hire bikes once you are in Lido. Note that you can’t take bikes on the vaporettos, only on ferries to or from Lido.
Driving in Venice
Cars are not allowed onto the island of Venice as there are no roads! There is car parking in Mestre and close to the bus station in Venice if you are driving to Venice and need somewhere to park. However, if you are planning to hire a car in Venice, make sure you do it at the end of your trip so you’re not paying hefty parking charges while you are here!
Water Taxis in Venice are extremely expensive, so I don’t recommend taking those. I asked a water taxi driver how much it would be from Rialto Bridge to St Mark’s Square and he wanted to charge us €60, so that actually works out more expensive than a gondola!
If you arrive in Venice with lots of luggage, you can take the vaporetto as close as you can get to your hotel or hire a porter to wheel your luggage with you. Venice has lots of bridges which have lots of steps, so getting around Venice island with a heavy suitcase is not anyone’s idea of fun.
Gondolas in Venice
Although Gondolas are not public transport, they are one of the most popular forms of tourist transport in Venice. However, they are not cheap, and cost €80 for a 30-minute ride per gondola, which is a fixed price. It is per gondola not per person and you can fit up to 6 people in a gondola, so if you really want to do it then join up with some fellow travellers to share the experience. Singing gondoliers charge significantly more! If you want more information about how to get the best gondola ride for your budget, check out my article all about gondola rides in Venice.
Learn to Row your own Gondola
You could also take a lesson in how to row a traditional Venetian boat (similar to a Gondola). Row Venice is a non-profit organization offering 90-minute private lessons from €85 for 1 or 2 people, teaching you the skills passed down through generations. Although it is possible for women to become gondoliers, there are currently no women who row gondolas in Venice. The women who founded Row Venice are dedicated to preserving the traditional Venetian style of rowing, for everyone. Read more.
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