Venice with the Water Bus (Vaporetto)
Travel comfortably without queues, buy tickets online beforehand:
The fares for the water buses of Venice are relatively high. Single tickets cost from 7.50 euros (early 2019). But there are day passes. Such tickets are valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours. Tickets for several days are much cheaper than for one day. >>> On this link you can buy tickets for the water buses (vaporetto)
Alternative water taxi: The public water buses are often extremely crowded in summer. More comfort, but higher prices, offer water taxis. Taxi boats are popular for trips between Marco Polo airport and hotels. More about Water Taxis in Venice you find here.
Some Vaporetto lines go in both directions, other lines
run in a kind of roundabout. As a tourist you should be
careful not to go in the wrong direction. At larger
stops there are several piers
side by side.
High waves are rare in the well-protected lagoon of Venice, but other ships sometimes produce waves. Especially when standing you should watch out.
There are hardly any ferries to Mestre on the mainland because there is a bridge for buses, cars and trains. Vaporetto means translated steamer. The plural is vaporetti and not, as many tourists believe, vaporettos.
The Vaporetti run until late in the evening. There are even three night lines.
Our map of Venice
Some important lines of water buses (vaporetti) in Venice
On the main island of Venice
If you just want to avoid a long walk, you can take one of the ferries within the main island of Venice. Some lines use the famous "Canal Grande", others circle the island of Venice.
Line 1 and 2: These two lines run along the
Grande for about 4 kilometers. The main difference is the
frequency of the stops. The water bus line 1 stops about
15 times, the travel time on the Canal Grande is about 45
minutes. Line 2 is a kind of express line and only stops
about 7 times on the same route. The travel time is
only 30 minutes. Who wants to enjoy the ride takes the line 1. If you want to get ahead quickly,
take vaporetto line 2. Number 2 is the most used line by tourists
in Venice at all. A boat
trip on the
Other lines: Some lines circle the island of Venice. These lines are useful if you want to move faster. The romantic trip through the island on the Grand Canal takes often a bit longer.
By vaporetto to other islands
Very popular are trips by public ferry to other islands. Many ships operate between Venice and Lido. Lido is a long island with roads and cars. There is a long sandy beach and many hotels. Lido is actually a typical Italian seaside resort. It is only 10 minutes by vaporetto from Lido to St. Mark's Square in Venice.
Many boats also operate to Murano. The island is known for glassblowers and glass art. Murano, like Venice, is criss-crossed with canals, old and free of cars. A beautiful destination!
Many other smaller islands in the lagoon of Venice can be reached by vaporetto. Departures are frequent, the ferries are pretty fast.
By vaporetto to the mainland (Airport etc.)
There are ferries to Marco Polo Airport. But there are also buses from Venice via the bridge to the airport, which are much cheaper. The waterbus line to the airport is significantly more expensive than other Vaproretto lines. Very comfortable is the direct arrival between airport and hotel by water taxi (see: water taxi Venice).
For the beach town of Jesolo you can take a boat to Punta Sabbioni on the mainland. From there you continue by bus. In the season, there are also ships in the city of Chioggia in the south of the lagoon.
Bus to and from Marco Polo airport
From the large airport to Venice there are water buses (15 euro one way). Buses ae cheaper (8 euros). The modern buses with Wi-Fi etc. sail several times an hour during the day. Of course, they only go to the hus station at Piazzale Roma near Santa Lucia Central Station. The rest of the way to your hotel you have to use a water bus or walk. >>> More about airport buses in Venice
Prices and tickets for water buses
Unfortunately, a trip on a vaporetto is not cheap. A single ticket now (2019) costs at least 7.50 euros. It could be the most expensive ticket within a city in Europe. The ticket is valid for 75 minutes, you can also change ferries. Even more expensive are tickets to the airport.
Fortunately, there are better tickets. These are ideal for tourists who want to see some of the lagoon. There are tickets for one day, cheaper are the popular tourist tickets for 48 hours and 72 hours. The ticket for a week (60 euros) is particularly cheap. Of course, in no other city in Europe you would call a weekly ticket for 60 euros cheap, but Venice is something special.
The prices also include buses and trams in Mestre and Lido. The local trains of "Tren Italia" between Mestre and Venice are not included, they cost only 1.25 euros per person one way.
To our knowledge there are no family tickets or similar things in Venice. Even children pay the full price. For families with several children, the public transport in Venice is really expensive. 2 adults with 3 children pay for a day ticket incredible 5 x 20 = 100 euros. Even at this price, rides to Marco Polo Airport are not included.
Children under 4 years can be taken free of charge. Within Venice, the age limit is 6 years, according to some sources, but you should ask better.
Buy and validate tickets for the ferries in Venice
There are ticket machines. Here you can pay by credit card or debit card. Many people who are facing such a machine for the first time have problems. It is better to visit one of the many points of sale for the tickets in Venice and get advice, where you can also pay in cash. English is spoken in many ticket outlets.
A lot of kiosks and tobacco shops sell tickets for vaporetti, buses and trams. There are ticket counters at the big stops. If you are staying in Mestre and want to buy a day ticket or multi-day ticket for the ships, you should buy the ticket right away in Mestre. When you take the tram or the city bus from Mestre to Venice, you save the 1,50 Euro for the ticket.
The modern tickets are held to the device at the entrance (see picture). If tthere is a green light, you can enter. If the red light is on you have a problem. Then the ticket expired, empty or broken.
The same devices are available in the trams of Venice and in the buses (inside the vehicles, not at the stops). Not having a valid ticket is very expensive in Italy.
You just have to hold the ticket next to the device. We were told that you should do this with time cards on every trip.
Short video Vaporetto ferry mooring and driving through the Canal Grande
Map: City of Venice
Other important information Vaporetti (water buses)
In the Italian language the ships are called Vaporetti (singular: Vaporetto). Vaporetto means in English steamer.
Not infrequently, the public water buses at peak times in the season are heavily overcrowded. Even on longer distances to distant islands you often get only a standing space. It is best to sail to the islands before the big tourist stream in the morning or back late in the evening.
Caution: Larger stations have many piers, for example at Piazzale Roma bus station, at the railway station Santa Lucia or at San Marco. Locals and the staff of the ferries are happy to help. Some speak good English.
Do not go in the wrong direction: Some lines run in both directions and use the same number.
Operator of the water buses is the company ACTV. The water buses to the airport are operated by another company (Alilaguna). You need other tickets to the airport.