Moving around Venice, and between the city and airports, can be a costly business, though numerous passes and special offers help to keep prices down. There are so many cost-cutting options, though, that finding the one that best suits your needs can be bewildering. The best deals are explained here. Before buying any single ticket, check carefully that it’s not included or discounted on your pass.
It can pay to organise your travel and other passes before you arrive: the http://www.veneziaunica.it/en website gives considerable discounts at non-peak times, but you must book your pass at least four days before your arrival in Venice.
Remember too, that once you’re on island Venice, you may hardly need transport at all: in fact, your best bet for getting around could be walking. You’ll need to muster all your map-reading skills in this maze of a city. But setting forth, getting lost and somehow, against all the odds, reaching your goal are important elements of the Venice experience.
Arrivals and departures
Visitors flying to Venice may arrive through one of three airports: Venice-Marco Polo at Tessera, Verona-Villafranca or Treviso. For information on which airlines fly where, and on how to reach Venice from the airports, see my Venice flights page.
You certainly won't be needing a car if you're only planning to visit Venice: there's water where the streets should be. There are roads and motor vehicles on the Lido but it's such a small island, and parking is a nightmare, that you'll undoubtedly find a car is more hindrance than help. The only instance in which a vehicle is vital is if you're planning to explore the mainland Veneto region. For information on car hire, see my Venice car hire page.
If you arrive in Venice by car, you will have to leave your car at one of the car parks on the mainland, at Piazzale Roma or on Tronchetto island. Many hotels have special deals with a car park: you should ask your hotel before choosing one at random.
ASM Venezia (+39 041 272711; www.asmvenezia.it) operates the 2,200-vehicle Autorimessa Comunale in Piazzale Roma (Santa Croce 496). Rates for 24 hours or part thereof vary from 24 euros to 28 euros depending on demand. For online bookings, the range falls to 21.60 euros to 25.20 euros.
Venezia Tronchetto Parking (+39 041 5207555; www.veniceparking.it) on Nuova Isola del Tronchetto has 3,500 places for cars and specially equipped spots for camper vans too. The rate for 24 hours or part thereof is 21 euros.
To take your car to the Lido, take the ferry from the Tronchetto-Ferry Boat stop (departures at 10.50am, 11.40am, 12.30pm) to San Niccolò on the Lido. Departures from San Niccolò are at 11.25am, 12.15pm, 1.05pm. A single ticket costs 10 euros for a standard size car, plus 6.50 euros per person.
Venice has two railway stations: Venezia-Mestre on the mainland and Venezia-Santa Lucia which is on the Grand Canal. Many trains terminate at the latter. You can take a vaporetto or water taxi to your final destination from right outside.
Some through-trains stop at Mestre but not Santa Lucia, in which case you’ll need to hop on a local train (or any train which stops here and continues to Santa Lucia) to cross the bridge to Venice proper. These leave about every 15 minutes throughout the day.
In the city
Moving around Venice with mass public transport is expensive. By private means (ie water taxi), it’s exorbitant. If you’re only planning on taking one vaporetto (water bus) or two in the space of 12 hours, then single 6.50 euros tickets are worth buying. Any more than that, and you’d do better to check out passes. As of 1 April 2011, tickets and passes must be swiped at the machines at all vaporetto/bus stops each time you board: failure to do this will get you a €6 fine should an inspector pass by.
Vaporetti (water buses)
ACTV (www.actv.it) runs Venice’s waterborne mass transit system, with vaporetto routes going along the Grand Canal, the Cannaregio canal and the Giudecca canal; around the outside of Venice and to other islands in the lagoon; to the huge car parks at Tronchetto; and to the bus/boat and train/boat transport hubs at Piazzale Roma and Ferrovia respectively.
Its vaporetti work to a timetable which is posted at each stop and they are generally on time. Services are less frequent between midnight and 5am. You should have a ticket before boarding the boat. If you don’t, seek out a member of staff and purchase one on board: checks are not particularly frequent, but if you’re caught without a ticket, you will be fined 50 euros on the spot. For transport information check ACTV’s rather confusing website or Hellovenezia’s more user-friendly one (www.hellovenezia.com). Alternatively, contact the Hellovenezia helpline on +39 041 2424.
The following ACTV tickets and passes can be bought from Hellovenezia offices and at larger vaporetto stops. Prices in brackets are the lowest discounted prices for the same passes if purchased in advance through www.veniceconnected.com.
3 euro tourist-shuttle tickets for going from one stop to the next only: useful for crossing from one side of the Grand Canal to another, or to an outlying island.
6.50 euro ticket valid 60 minutes
16 euro 12 hour pass (12 euro)
18 euro 24 hour pass (13.50 euro)
23 euro 36 hour pass (17.25 euro)
28 euro 48 hour pass (21 euro)
33 euro 72 hour pass (24.75 euro)
50 euro weekly pass (37.50 euro)
Hellovenezia offices also sell the VeniceCard–Transport pass which includes use of all public transport and public toilets, plus reduced entrance at some museums and galleries.
48 euro three-day pass
68 euro seven-day pass
Note that the VeniceCard which also includes free entrance to museums is much better value.
Only four bridges span the whole two-mile sweep of the Grand Canal. When they’re far from a bridge but need to cross, Venetians – and tourists in the know – take a traghetto. From many strategic points along the waterway, and more often than not at the end of streets called Calle del Traghetto, these large two-oared gondolas ferry people back and forth regularly between around 8am-6pm. As well as being eminently practical, at 50 cents a ride they are a great substitute for a hugely more expensive gondola experience. Look out for ‘traghetto’ and an arrow, painted on corners of palazzi near the Grand Canal.
Taking a (water) taxi in Venice is an expensive business. They are, however, very handy for visitors with limited mobility (or too much luggage) if you opt to stay in a hotel with its own water entrance.
Consorzio Motoscafi (+39 041 5222303; www.motoscafivenezia.it) water taxis charge 60 euros for up to six people (including their luggage) from the station or Piazzale Roma to the Rialto or San Marco area. For tours of the city, the rate is 100 euros per hour, 380 euros for four hours and 750 euros for eight hours, in each case for up to eight people.
All gondolas operating in Venice come under the jurisdiction of the Ente Gondola (gondola board; www.gondolavenezia.it) which sets rates which are – whatever gondoliers or hotel concierges may tell you – not negotiable. You can, however, haggle for the (extra) services such as an on-board crooner or waterborne snacks.
Day rate: 80 euros for 40 minutes for up to six people; 40 euros for each additional 20 minutes.
Night rate (7pm-8am): 100 euros for 40 minutes for up to six people: 50 euros for each additional 20 minutes.
Gondolas can be picked up at the following points:
Santa Lucia railway station
San Marco-Vallaresso vaporetto stop
Piazzetta San Marco jetty
Santa Maria del Giglio
San Moisè (near Bauer Hotel)
Fondamenta Bacino Orseolo
Riva degli Schiavoni (in front of Hotel Danieli)
Campo Santa Sofia (near Ca’ D’Oro vaporetto stop)
San Tomà (near vaporetto stop)
Riva del Carbon (southern end of Rialto bridge (Ponte di Rialto))
ACTV (www.actv.it) runs the Venice area’s land buses as well as the water buses. You won’t use buses unless you’re staying on the Lido, or in Mestre on the mainland. From the Lido, you’ll take a vaporetto from Lido-Santa Maria Elisabetto to reach Venice proper. From Mestre, on the other hand, many bus services cross the bridge to Venice’s transport hub at Piazzale Roma, from where you can pick up a vaporetto.
Passes for vaporetti are also valid on buses. Single bus tickets, however, cost 1.10 euros and are valid for 75 minutes. They should be bought at tabacchi (tobacconists’), major bus stops or from windows or machines in Piazzale Roma before boarding the bus.