The city’s main mode of public transport is the vaporetto. Azienda del Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano runs public transport in the Comune di Venezia (the municipality), covering mainland buses and all the waterborne public transport around Venice. Although the service is efficient and generally punctual boats on main lines get full fast and can be overcrowded during Carnival and in peak season. One-way tickets cost €7.
Some lines make only limited stops, especially from 8am to 10am and 6pm to 8pm, so check boat signage. If in doubt, ask the person charged with letting people on and off the boat.
Inter-island ferry services to Murano, Torcello, the Lido and other lagoon islands are usually provided on larger motonave (big inter-island vaporetti).
Vaporetti can get crowded, and visitors anxious about missing their stops tend to cluster near exits. If you’re standing near an exit, it is common practice to get off and let passengers behind you disembark before you get back on. Passengers with disabilities are first to embark or disembark, and offers of assistance are welcome. On smaller boats, leave luggage in designated areas or risk local ire.
From Piazzale Roma or the train station, vaporetto 1 zigzags up the Grand Canal to San Marco and onward to the Lido. If you’re not in a rush, it’s a great introduction to Venice. Vaporetto 17 carries vehicles from Tronchetto, near Piazzale Roma, to the Lido.
Frequency varies greatly according to line and time of day. Vaporetto 1 runs every 10 minutes throughout most of the day, while lines such as the 4.1 and 4.2 only run every 20 minutes. Night services can be as much as one hour apart. Some lines stop running by around 9pm, so check timetables.
Keep in mind that routes, route numbers and schedules can change, and not all routes go both ways. Here are the key vaporetto lines and major stops, subject to seasonal changes:
No 1 Runs Piazzale Roma–Ferrovia–Grand Canal (all stops)–Lido and back (runs 5am to 11.30pm, every 10 minutes from 7am to 10pm).
No 2 Circular line: runs San Zaccaria–Redentore–Zattere–Trochetto–Ferrovia–Rialto– Accademia–San Marco.
No 3/DM 'Diretto Murano' connects Piazzale Roma and the railway station to all five stops on Murano.
No 4.1 Circular line: runs Murano–Fondamente Nove–Ferrovia–Piazzale Roma–Redentore–San Zaccaria–Fondamente Nove–San Michele–Murano (6am to 10pm, every 20 minutes).
No 4.2 Circular line in reverse direction to No 4.1 (6.30am to 8.30pm, every 20 minutes).
No 5.1 & 5.2 Runs the same route, Lido–Fondamente Nove–Riva de Biasio–Ferrovia–Piazzale Roma–Zattere–San Zaccaria–Giardini–Lido, in opposite directions.
No 6 Circular line, limited stops, weekdays only: runs Piazzale Roma–Santa Marta–San Basilio–Zattere–Giardini–Sant’Elena–Lido.
No 8 Runs Giudecca–Zattere–Redentore–Giardini–Lido. May to early September only.
No 9 Runs Torcello–Burano and back (7am to 8.45pm, every 30 minutes).
No 11 A coordinated, hourly bus+vaporetto service from Lido to Pellestrina and Chioggia.
No 12 Runs Fondamente Nove–Murano–Mazzorbo–Burano–Torcello and back.
No 13 Runs Fondamente Nove–Murano–Vignole–Sant’Erasmo–Treporti and back.
No 16 Connects Fusina Terminal with Zattere.
No 17 Car ferry: runs Tronchetto–Lido and back.
No 18 Runs Murano–Sant’Erasmo–Lido and back (infrequent and summer only).
No 20 Runs San Zaccaria–San Servolo–San Lazzaro degli Armeni and back. In summer it also connects with the Lido.
N All-stops night circuit, including Giudecca, Grand Canal, San Marco, Piazzale Roma, and the train station (11.30pm to 4am, every 40 minutes).
NMU (Notturno Murano) Night service from Fondamente Nove to Murano (all stops).
NLN (Notturno Laguna Nord) Infrequent night service between Fondamente Nove, Murano, Burano, Torcello and Treporti.
HelloVenezia is main reseller of public transport tickets, and you can purchase vaporetti tickets at their booths at most landing stations. Free timetables and route maps are also available at many of these ticket booths. Tickets and multiday passes can also be pre-purchased online through VèneziaUnica (www.veneziaunica.it).
If you're going to be using the vaporetto frequently (more than three trips per day), instead of spending €7 for every one-way ticket, it is advisable to consider a Tourist Travel Card – a pass for unlimited travel within a set period beginning when you first validate your ticket in the yellow machine located at vaporetto stops. Swipe your card every time you board, even if you have already validated it upon your initial ride. If you’re caught without a valid ticket, you’ll be required to pay an on-the-spot fine of €59. No exceptions.
People aged 14 to 29 holding a Rolling Venice card can get a three-day ticket for €20 at HelloVenezia/VèneziaUnica ticket outlets.
The ACTV vaporetto Travel Cards allow for unlimited travel on vaporetti and Lido buses within the following time blocks:
24 hours €20
48 hours €30
72 hours €40
1 week €60
New in 2012, the Vaporetto dell’Arte provides a luxurious hop-on, hop-off ride down the Grand Canal. Unlike the public vaporetti, which can be jam-packed, the Vaporetto dell’Arte offers seating in plush red armchairs complete with seat-back monitors screening multilingual information about the attractions en route. Most people don’t bother with these, as the view out the windows is far more arresting.
To get the best value from the service, buy the ticket in conjunction with your Tourist Travel Card, when the +ARTE add-on will only set you back €10. What’s more, the ticket will then be valid for the same length of time as your Tourist Travel Card.
Vaporetto stops can be confusing, so check the signs at the landing dock to make sure you’re at the right stop for the direction you want. At major stops like Ferrovia, Piazzale Roma, San Marco and Zattere, there are often two separate docks for the same vaporetto line, heading in opposite directions.
The cluster of stops near Piazza San Marco is especially tricky. If your boat doesn’t stop right in front of Piazza San Marco, don’t panic: it will probably stop at San Zaccaria, just past the Palazzo Ducale.
A gondola ride offers a view of Venice that is anything but pedestrian. Official daytime rates are €80 for 30 minutes (it's €100 for 35 minutes from 7pm to 8am), not including songs or tips. Additional time is charged in 20-minute increments (day/night €40/50). You may negotiate a price break in overcast weather or around noon. Agree on a price, time limit and singing in advance to avoid unexpected surcharges.
Gondolas cluster at stazi (stops) along the Grand Canal, at the Ferrovia stop at the Venezia Santa Lucia station, the Rialto and near major monuments (such as I Frari, Ponte dei Sospiri and Accademia), but you can also book a pick-up by calling Ente Gondola.
You can book a cheaper, non-exclusive gondola ride at a designated time with Tu.Ri.Ve, either online, through a number of travel agencies or at the tourist office. These rides all depart from the waterside in front of the Palazzina Selva Pavilion. In summer rides depart at 11am, 3pm and 5.15pm; in winter at 3pm only. Boats carry a maximum of six people.
Non-profit organisation Gondolas 4 All, supported by the Gondoliers Association, is raising funds to create a new wheelchair-accessible dock at Piazzale Roma. Once up and running the service will be bookable online or by phone.
A traghetto is the gondola service locals use to cross the Grand Canal between its widely spaced bridges. Traghetti rides cost just €2 for non-residents and typically operate from 9am to 6pm, although some routes finish by noon. For major traghetto crossings, consult the main map section, though note that service can be spotty at times at all crossings.
Licensed water taxis are a costly way to get around Venice, though they may prove handy when you’re late for the opera or have lots of luggage. Fares can be metered or negotiated in advance. Official rates start at €15 plus €2 per minute, €6 extra if they’re called to your hotel. There's a €10 surcharge for night trips (10pm to 6am), a €5 surcharge for additional luggage (above five pieces) and a €10 surcharge for each extra passenger above the first five. Even if you’re in a hurry, don’t encourage your taxi driver to speed through Venice – this kicks up motoschiaffi (motorboat wakes) that expose Venice’s ancient foundations to degradation and rot. Make sure your water taxi has the yellow strip with the licence number displayed. Illegal water taxis can be an issue on the Isola del Tronchetto, where there is no taxi stand. If you're arriving here and want a taxi, prebook a pick-up.
Private water taxis are available for hire at Marco Polo Airport. These can be booked at the Consorzio Motoscafi Venezia or Veneziataxi desks, or directly at the dock. Private taxis cost from €110 for up to four passengers and all their luggage. Extra passengers (up to a limit of 12 or 16) carry a small surcharge. Note: all taxis are metered and you should never be quoted a per-person fare.
If you don't have a large group, there is also the option of a shared Venice Shuttle. This is a shared water taxi and costs from €25 per person with a €6 surcharge for night-time arrivals. Seats should be booked online at www.venicelink.com. Boats seat a maximum of eight people and accommodate up to 10 bags. Those opting for a shared taxi should be aware that the service can wait for some time to fill up and has set drop-off points in Venice; only private transfers will take you directly to your hotel.
Aspiring sea captains can take on the lagoon (not the Grand Canal or canals in the historic centre) in a rented boat from Brussa. You can hire a 7m boat (including fuel) that can carry up to six people for an hour (€42.70) or a day (€195.20), or make arrangements for longer periods. You don’t need a licence, but you will be taken on a test run to see if you can manoeuvre and park; be sure to ask them to point out the four boat-petrol stations around Venice on a map.
Designed by the architect Francesco Cocco, Venice’s wheelchair-accessible People Mover monorail now connects the car parks on Tronchetto with the Stazione Maritima and Piazzale Roma. Purchase tickets from the vending machines near the station.