First-time visitors may at first be surprised that the main way of getting around Venice is on foot. It is not a large city, and it is quite possible to walk from one end to the other in an hour. In fact, one of the many joys of visiting Venice is simply walking through its traffic-free streets and alleyways, catching sight of the canals as you cross the characteristic Venetian bridges.
The only other way of getting around is by boat, and for everyday travel you will generally use the vaporetto and motoscafo water buses. Water taxis are more expensive – in fact, probably the most expensive taxis in the world – but are very fast and are able to take you along back routes that offer an alternative view of the city. Gondolas are hardly a practical way of getting from A to B, but will take you on the most romantic of journeys along almost any canal in Venice. Finally, if you would like to experience a gondola ride for next to nothing, try crossing the Grand Canal by traghetto – a short but memorable experience!
The ACTV vaporetto and motoscafo waterbuses run frequently. To see maps of selected routes, click here.
Tickets are available from ticket offices at some stops as well as some tobacconists, newsagents and bars. If you board a waterbus without a ticket, go straight to the crew member who will sell you one. If you are caught travelling without a ticket, you will have to pay a fine on the spot.
You can save money over the duration of your visit to Venice by buying an unlimited travel tourist ticket, available from any vaporetto ticket office. Armed with one of these, you can jump onto waterbuses as and when you please – the perfect solution for tourists.
You should also consider obtaining a Venice Card which you can buy at the airport or online. It is valid for 1,2,3 or 7 days for all travel on the ACTV buses and waterbuses and gives the holder either discounted or free entry to several of the museums and churches, depending on whether they buy the orange or the blue version. You can also include the cost of the Alilaguna trip from the airport. More information can be found at www.venicecard.com.
You can see details of fares on the ACTV website.
These are much more expensive than the water buses. However, for speed, luxury and convenience they just can’t be beaten, especially for that wonderful journey from the airport to (almost) the front door of your apartment!
Perhaps the ultimate in romantic adventures, and an opportunity to travel down some of the tiny canals that are inaccessible to other craft. Gondolas are not cheap, and you will have to pay even more if you want the privilege of a singing gondolier! You are advised to confirm the rate before boarding, and to hire gondolas only from the official stands which are clearly marked.
These are gondola ferries which cross the Grand Canal at several points. They are very convenient and allow you to experience a ride in a gondola, if only for two minutes. The fare is very cheap, but it is customary to stand during the crossing!