Venice has been voted one of the most pedestrian-friendly Italian cities. This is due to the fact that there are no motorized cars on the streets. It is also small, but it can be deceivingly small. Visitors are often surprised by how long it takes for them to get from one side of the city to another.
Yes, you can still walk around the canal city. However, you should also learn more about Venice’s public transport system.
There are many public transportation options in most Italian cities. They are very limited in Venice. They only run as far as Piazzale Rom (near the train station), however, there are many other types of boats. Below, I will go through each one.
Tickets for Public Transportation in Venice
Only the vaporetti boats are valid for tickets in Venice. (More info about these boats below). All other boats require direct payment. Prices vary depending on distance and duration. If you plan on staying in Venice for a while and using the vaporetti frequently, you can purchase individual tickets.
Before you board the vaporetto, you will need to validate your ticket after purchasing it. The validation machines are located near the walkway leading to the vaporetto stop. They will leave a timestamp on the ticket which starts the clock ticking. Yes, there have been cases where people tried to hide their ignorance by reusing one ticket multiple times, but they are also penalized severely when caught. I have validated my tickets and recommend you do the exact same.
There are many ticket options available:
- Single Ticket (Biglietto Navigazione) – EUR7.50 – A ticket good for a single trip. It is valid for 75 minutes from the time of the first validation via vaporetti (operated ACTV). However, it cannot be used on Alilugana (boats crossing the lagoon to/from airport), ACTV routes 16, 19 or Casino.
- 1-Day Ticket – EUR20.00 – A vaporetto card valid for 24 hours after the initial validation. Valid on local buses.
- 2-Day Ticket – EUR30.00 – A vaporetto card valid for 48 hours after the initial validation. Valid on local buses.
- 3-Day Ticket – EUR40.00 – A vaporetto card good for three days starting from the initial validation. Valid on local buses.
- 7-Day Ticket – EUR60.00 – A valid vaporetto card good for seven days after the initial validation. Valid on local buses.
- Rolling Venice Card – EUR22.00 – For those aged 6 to 29, you can apply for a Rolling Venice cards, which are valid for three days of travel by ACTV vaporetti or local buses. You get round-trip bus transportation to/from the airport for an additional EUR12.00.
These prices may seem high-brow to you. You might be comparing them with public transit tickets in other cities. A vaporetto ticket is quite expensive compared to, for example, a Rome bus ticket. The lower ticket prices for Venice residents are justified. It also helps to keep fragile city afloat . It is not my favorite thing to hear people complaining about the difference in ticket prices between locals and visitors. You can always walk if you feel it’s too costly. Ahem.
A vaporetto can be described as a bus boat. There are 21 lines that run through the lagoon, some of which also serve other islands like Murano Burano and Torcello. Because they run the length the Grand Canal, Lines 1 and 2, are the most popular. Line 1 is the slowest, and stops at most of the stops. This allows you to treat it as a tour. Line 2 is faster and stops at less points. If you’re trying to get from St. Mark’s Square to the train station (or vice versa), line 1 is better. A vaporetto map can be found on the ACTV website. I recommend that you also pick up a paper map when you arrive to make it easier for future reference. (Also, maps of Venice are a bit useless.
Although there are only four bridges that cross the Grand Canal, you don’t need to stay at those bottlenecks. Instead, you can climb into a Traghetto just like the Venetians did at one of seven traghetto stops along this canal. Traghetti are a less expensive version of gondolas and can be operated by two people. The cost of EUR2 euros in cash is payable when you board. You’ll notice that locals prefer to stand than to sit. It’s a short trip from one end of the Grand Canal.
You can find private motorboats all around Venice. There are also many water taxis. These boats are much faster than the vaporetti but also more expensive. The water taxis in Venice don’t have flat rates so the prices I am quoting are only estimates. A trip from the airport to central Venice will cost EUR100, while a trip between St. Mark’s Square and the train station can cost EUR50-70. Splitting the cost may be more appealing if you have a large group (water taxis usually hold up to 10 persons).
Many people desire to ride in a Gondola on a trip to Venice. Gondola rides are a great way to experience Venice. Gondolas are not the best way to travel around Venice, but I am including them because someone is going to ask. There are official gondola fare that are set each year. These fares are per ride, not per person. It’s a good idea to research the official rates before you talk to a gondolier if you plan to take a gondola ride on your trip.