Venice Transportation for First Time Visitors: Getting Around Venice is Easy Once You’re in the Know

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Venice Transportation for First Time Visitors: Getting Around Venice is Easy Once You're in the Know

The Venice transportation system can be confusing.

Updated: August 2019. When I first started planning our three days in Venice, figuring out the Venice transportation system was a little overwhelming. Getting around Venice seemed needlessly confusing. I had no idea how to get from the Venice airport to Venice, how to buy ACTV tickets, deciding whether or not I needed a vaporetto pass, and navigating to the Venice train station. To save you the hassle, I’ve put together this concise and helpful Venice transportation guide. You have lots of things to plan for your upcoming Italy travels, so this is one less thing that you’ll need to worry about.

Venice transportation system - Riding the vaporetto in Venice

Getting Around Venice: Buying ACTV Tickets

You’ve reached the Venice Marco Polo airport and collected your bags. Now what? Walk out towards the main hallway from the baggage collection area and turn left. Walk almost as far as you can go, and go to the booth on the left hand side at the very end. This is where you can purchase your bus ticket to Venice, along with your ACTV ticket to ride the vaporetto (water taxi) in Venice. You might find it easier to purchase your bus ticket to Venice in advance so save yourself some time.

Vaporetto in Venice - Getting around Venice by water taxi

We were in Venice for 3 days, so we purchased the ACTV 3 day ticket (72 hours) and airport transfer bus (1 way) for €46. Since Justin was under 30 years old, he was able to take advance of the youth discount card called the Rolling Venice card. By purchasing the Rolling Venice card for €6, his ACTV 3 day ticket and bus transfer was only €28. There are other benefits and advantages to buying the Rolling Venice card, such as museum discounts.

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Venice transportation - ACTV vaporetto - Water taxi Venice

There are other options for riding the water taxis, such as purchasing a ticket valid for 75 minutes (€7,50). This should only be used if you have a limited amount of time in the city. Otherwise, here are transit ticket prices by day. You’ll most likely be using the vaporetto fairly often, so I recommend purchasing a transit ticket according to the amount of time you’ll be in the city:

  • ACTV 1 Day Ticket – €20
  • ACTV 2 Day Ticket – €30
  • ACTV 3 Day Ticket – €40
  • ACTV 7 Day Ticket – €60

How to Get from Marco Polo Airport to Venice

It’s very easy to get from the Venice Marco Polo Airport to Venice. Once you have your Venice card / ACTV tickets / vaporetto pass, as well as your Venice airport transfer, you can be on your way. Take the Line 5 Aerobus, which you catch just outside the arrival lounge (exit B). There’s lots of room to bring your luggage onto the bus with you, plenty of places to sit, and the Venice airport transfer bus runs regularly.

You can catch a bus every 20 minutes from 8:20am to 10:20pm. The buses also have free Wi-Fi. If you happen to be traveling from Venice to the Venice airport, you catch the bus from Piazzale Roma from 8:50am to 10:50pm. There are buses outside of these time slots, but you’ll have to consult the official schedule for additional times. The first trip from Marco Polo airport starts at 5:20am, and the last bus operates at 1:20am (12:50am from October to March).

Getting from the Marco Polo Venice airport to Venice

It takes about 20 minutes to reach the main bus terminal at Piazzale Roma. As you can see, getting from Venice Marco Polo Airport to Venice is simple and you’ll be there in no time. where you can ride the vaporetto to your hotel or accommodation. You’ll already have your Venice vaporetto tickets for your entire visit to Venice, so it’ll be a total breeze from here on out.

Transportation in Venice: The Vaporetto

With your 3 day ACTV tickets, or however long your Venice vaporetto tickets last, you can use the vaporetti as much as you’d like within that particular time frame. It starts from the first moment that you scan it before boarding a vaporetto.  At each taxi stop, you’ll see a white electronic card reader. This is where you need to tap your card each time before boarding. Hold your card close until you hear a beep. Don’t forget to do this. There are hefty fines for those who forget to scan their cards or don’t pay at all. Also, don’t tap your card on any green machines that you see, as these aren’t the proper ones to use before boarding a vaporetto.

ACTV Tickets in Venice - White Vaporetto ticket machine

Venice Vaporetto Map and Getting Around Venice

There are several transit lines that take you around the perimeter of the islands, through the Grand Canal and towards the smaller neighboring islands of Lido, Murano, and Burano. It’s a good idea to consult the route map. Become very familiar with this map. Some vaporetti go in one direction, and some go in the opposite direction. Make sure you get on the right one!

Venice transportation system on the vaporetto - Water taxi Venice

You might have to transfer to another line to get to certain destinations, like Burano and Murano. All of these transfers are completely included in the price of your transit card, as you have an unlimited amount of rides within those 72 hours.

Venice vaporetto map of the routes - ACTV Venice Map - Waterborne Routes - Water taxi Venice

Enjoy the ride. This is the cheapest boat ride in town, and you’ll be able to see some very interesting sights while drifting along the water. I highly recommend that you take a vaporetto ride down the Grand Canal just to check it out. Seeing Venice by boat offers a different perspective of the city that’s entirely unique to anywhere else that I’ve ever visited.

Gondola Ride in Venice

Couples Venice gondola ride - Justin & Lauren riding a gondola

It was our first time in Venice and we just had to take a gondola ride. Some people don’t think it’s worth it for the money, but you have to decide for yourself if you think it’s worth it. We were traveling there as a couple, and it’s a romantic thing to do. I think it was definitely worth doing as it was a fun experience to share together. Plus, I think if it’s your first time in Venice, you should indulge in those classic, bucket list types of activities.

Sunset Serenade Gondola Ride

Sunset gondola ride - Romantic gondola ride in Venice

I recommend reserving your gondola ride ahead of time for the least amount of stress. Justin and I took a sunset serenade gondola ride for the most romantic journey. You could choose from one of two times (6:30pm and 7:30pm), and you’ll experience riding the gondola together as the sun goes down. Furthermore, you’ll be serenaded by an Italian singer and musician as you glide along the canals. It was a very magical experience that I highly recommend.

Venice gondola ride for couples - Romantic sunset gondola ride down narrow canals
Gondola ride with music - Musicians and singing - Accordion player - Traditional Italian gondola ride

Regular Gondola Ride Without Music

If you’re looking for a typical gondola ride without musicians at any time of the day, you’ll save a little bit of money by doing so. Please note that both the regular gondola ride and the one at sunset are both shared experiences. Up to 6 people can fit in one gondola, so you’ll be experiencing the journey with a few strangers in tow (unless you are traveling with a larger group).

Romantic gondola ride in Venice - Venice transportation system

Private Gondola Ride

It is possible to book a private gondola ride for a couple (and up to 6 people). If you want a private experience or you have a larger group, you could save money by booking an entire gondola to yourselves.

Gondola ride down the narrow canals of Venice
Private gondola ride in Venice - Gondola at the Bridge of Sighs

Booking a Gondola on the Spot

If you’re doing this in the moment and didn’t book a gondola in advance, don’t worry. You can negotiate to ride a gondola on the spot at a number of places in Venice. The rates tend to start around 80 Euros, climbing to 100 Euros after 7:00pm. Up to 6 people can sit inside a gondola. You can haggle with the gondoliers for the amount of time in the gondola, the price, and whether or not you’d like music or singing with your ride.

Gondolas near St Mark's Square in Venice
Gondola ride in Venice - Transportation in Venice

Cheapest Gondola Ride: Traghetti

If you’re interested in riding a gondola for much cheaper (and much less time), you can ride one of the public gondolas called traghetti. These are used to shuttle people across the Grand Canal where there aren’t bridges to cross, and cost only €2. The trip is very short, but it’s a cheap way to experience a gondola.

Walking in Venice

Most of the time, you won’t need any transportation in Venice at all. Simply use your own two feet. Getting around Venice is a breeze when you walk around and explore it on your own. Walk around, get lost, and explore the alleyways, bridges, and canals. I highly recommend getting lost in Venice. I mean, you won’t actually be lost because there’s only a limited amount of places to walk. After all, you’re on an island! But, it’s the best way to see the hidden and quieter areas around Venice that you won’t find in any guide. It’s Venice transportation at its finest: when you don’t take any real transportation at all.

Wandering down the narrow alleys of Venice - Getting lost in Venice Italy

Where to Stay in Venice

We loved spending each night at our apartment in the Dorsoduro district. It’s a quiet neighborhood where you can easily walk to area attractions or take the vaporetto all over the city. Justin and I spent three nights at our spectacular apartment that even had its own balcony overlooking a peaceful courtyard. Learn more about our experiences at the apartment, book your stay there (highly recommended!), or check out more reviews by fellow travelers.

Where to stay in Venice - Venice apartment with private balcony

Leaving By Train and the Venice Train Station

At the end of our glorious three days in Venice, it was sadly time to go. We bid the city farewell and ventured by train to Florence. We purchased our high speed train tickets ahead of time. You can purchase train tickets in Italy up to 6 months in advance of your travel. I recommend buying them as soon as possible to get the best price. Also, it’s possible that they will sell out.

Venice train station - Arriving in Venice and departing Venice by train
Venice by train - leaving Venice with our suitcases - Venice transportation

To get to the Venice train station, take the vaporetto to the Ferrovia stop. Then, you’ll see the Venezia Santa Lucia station where you’ll catch your train out of town. This will be the last water taxi in Venice that you’ll wake before leaving the city. The Venice transportation system is one thing that makes the city so unique. You won’t find anywhere else in the world quite like it.

Justin and I were sad to leave Venice as we really loved it there so much. We’ll have to return to Venice someday in the future. Until then, we’re very happy with the wonderful memories we made in this unique and beautiful island city.

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Have you taken any forms of transportation in Venice?

7 Responses

  1. Lyndall
    | Reply

    What an excellent resource for first-timers to Venice! We were certainly pleased to had done some research before we arrived there – as you say, their system can be quite confusing. Once you get over this hurdle, isn’t Venice just magical? :-)

  2. Anna
    | Reply

    Very useful information! I admit I’ve used most of the transportation available! Walking is my way to go though!

  3. Tanja
    | Reply

    very informative! I’ve been to Venice many times, I wish there was this kind of guide when I visited the first time!

  4. Corinne
    | Reply

    Getting around Venice can be tricky, so this is a great guide. I love the water taxis!

  5. Lyn
    | Reply

    I so enjoyed the water taxis in Venice and this would have been a great resource to have when I was there.

  6. annette charlton
    | Reply

    I’ll tell you a secret… the one thing I am jealous of my sister for, is that she has already been to Venice :) It is on my short list, she just got there before me! Great post.

  7. Andy Gerard
    | Reply

    Right where the points are, Traveling is all about the experience starting from the planning and traveling during the trip. I get more out of the planning and the actual visit of seeing the place rather than going for a catered holiday package. Thank you for the tips and making my trip even better with these information about transportation in Venice

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