Venice with the Water Bus (Vaporetto)


The Vaporetto is the only real public transport in Venice. It is a passenger ship, which is similar to a bus used in other places. There are about 20 water-bus-lines in Venice. The ferries are used within the island of Venice. But they also connect the main island with other islands and Venice with the mainland.

The fares for the water buses of Venice are relatively high. Single tickets cost from 7.50 euros (early 2018). 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.

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.

Tip: 3-island tour for only 20 euros

For Venice almost unbelievably cheap is a guided boat trip to the 3 islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. The trip is suitable for tourists who have little time and still want to see several islands. Durning sailing you one is informed in several languages (also English) about the islands and the lagoon. The islands are visited without a guide. The boat ticket is already included at the price of 20 euros. The trip is a real bargain. The tour starts near St. Mark's Square in the old town.

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.

The ferries operate where are no roads, but wide channels. In summer you often have to wait long to get on a crowded ship. In winter you often get a seat by the window. The ships are heated in winter, as a rule there is no toilet on the vaporetto. You can also sit outside. In smaller ships you will find about 50 seats. The size of the water buses in Venice is therefore comparable to a regular bus, but there is more standing room. On some lines you can also find larger ferries, some of them are also big car ferries. These also have a toilet.

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 recommendation to and from Venice airport: sharing s water taxi with other people

Water buses are much cheaper in Venice than water taxis. But they have disadvantages. They only go to certain piers in Venice. Your hotelcan be very far from there. Above all, they are often very crowded. A narrow standing space (travel time often over 1 hour) on a ship after a long time in the queue at the port of the airport is not a great holiday start. On the other hand, a private water taxi with much more comfort can cost 100 euros or more.

There is a great alternative. You can only book seats in a water taxi, so you share the comfortable water taxi with other passengers. This service you can book between the airport and Venice. You buy the ticket in advance on the Internet. You go without porters 800 meters from the airport to the airport port.  You get more information on the following English-language website. You can book the service on this webpage.

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 Canal 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 Canal Grande is one of the tourist highlights of Venice. Important stops on the Canal Grande are Ferrovia (the train station) and Piazzale Roma (buses, trams, parking garages). The ships also stop at great sights, like at the famous Ponte di Rialto Bridge and at St. Mark's Square in San Marco near the end of the Canal Grande. Both ferry lines 1 and 2 are very frequent during the day, every few minutes.

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!

A trip from Venice to Murano is very popular among tourists

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 (spring 2018) 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.

You just have to hold the ticket to the device and wait for the green light

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

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.


Important: This article was translated by a non-native English speaking person. We apologize for mistakes.




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