A gondola ride offers a view of Venice that is anything but pedestrian. Official daytime rates are €80 for 40 minutes (€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 and near major monuments and tourist hot spots, but you can also book a pick-up by calling Ente Gondola.
Gondolas 4 All, supported by the Gondoliers Association, offers gondola rides to wheelchair users in a specially adapted gondola. Embarkation is from a wheelchair-accessible pier at Piazzale Roma.
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. You'll find traghetto crossings at Campo San Marcuola, the Rialto Market, Riva del Vin, San Tomà, Ca' Rezzonico and beside the Gritti Palace, though note that service can be spotty at times at all crossings.
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 (€43) or a day (€196), 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.
ACTV runs all public transport in Venice, including the waterborne. Although the service is efficient and punctual, boats on main lines get full fast and can be overcrowded during Carnevale and in peak season. One-way tickets cost €7.50.
Inter-island ferry services to Murano, Torcello, the Lido and other lagoon islands are usually provided on larger motonave.
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.
The key vaporetto lines and major stops are as follows:
No 1 Runs Piazzale Roma–Ferrovia–Grand Canal (all stops)–Lido and back (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.
The following vaporetti connect Santa Lucia train station and Piazzale Roma (the bus terminus and shuttle drop for cruise ships and car passengers) with all parts of Venice:
No 1 Plies the Grand Canal to San Marco and Lido every 10 minutes.
No 2 Follows the same route as Line 1, with fewer stops, returning via Giudecca.
No 4.1 & 4.2 Circle the outside of Venice’s perimeter in both directions.
No 5.1 & 5.2 Follow the same routes as 4.1 and 4.2 but with fewer stops and adds in Lido.
N All-night local service for Giudecca, the Grand Canal, San Marco and Lido (11.30pm to 4am, every 40 minutes).
Vènezia Unica is the main seller of public transport tickets, and you can purchase vaporetti tickets at booths at most landing stations. Free timetables and route maps are also available. Tickets and multiday passes can also be pre-purchased online.
If you're going to be using the vaporetto frequently (more than three trips), instead of spending €7.50 for every one-way ticket, it is advisable to consider a Travel Card – a pass for unlimited travel within a set period beginning when you first validate your ticket at 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 (plus the €7.50 fare). No exceptions.
People aged 14 to 29 holding a Rolling Venice card can get a three-day ticket for €20 at tourist offices.
The ACTV Tourist Travel Cards allow for unlimited travel on vaporetti (small passenger ferries) and Lido buses within the following time blocks:
24 hours €20
48 hours €30
72 hours €40
One week €60
Vaporetto (small passenger ferry) 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.
Venice’s wheelchair-accessible People Mover monorail connects the car parks on Tronchetto with the cruise-ship terminal and Piazzale Roma. Purchase tickets from the vending machines near the station.
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, €5 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 four. Note: if you order a water taxi through your hotel or a travel agent, you will be subject to a surcharge. Tipping isn't required.
Make sure your water taxi has the yellow strip with the licence number displayed. There are official water-taxi ranks at the airport, outside the train station, in front of Piazzale Roma and at Tronchetto.
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.