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Venice’s Vaporetto Ferries: prices, routes, and guidebook for using them

Learn about the most used means of transportation to travel around the island of Venice by water.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

7 min read

Venice’s Vaporetto Ferries: prices, routes, and guidebook for using them

Boats in Venice | ©Teo Zac

Gondolas may be the quintessential symbol of Venice, but they are also expensive. Fortunately, there is a way to see the floating city from the water without paying a fortune, simply by hopping on a vaporetto.

In this post you will learn how to get around Venice by vaporetto, the routes to consider, the price of tickets and various tips accompanied by useful information that will surely be useful for your trip.

Why take a vaporetto?

Vaporetto in Venice| ©Helge Thomas
Vaporetto in Venice| ©Helge Thomas

You are in Venice! This means that you only have two ways to get around the city: on foot or by boat. Mind you, as much as you might like the idea of walking, constantly moving from island to island is bound to wear you out, especially if you're determined to explore the more remote corners of Venice. Not to mention that a trip back to your accommodation can offer great relief to your irreplaceable feet.

Besides, if you wish to reach the splendid San Giorgio Maggiore or other islands of Venice you will have no choice but to resort to the services of the vaporetto.

The vaporetto is the basis of the city' s water bus network. The word itself means "small steamer", although nowadays the vaporetti do not run on steam, but on diesel. You will see them all over the city, cruising the Grand Canal, traveling from island to island and stopping at some stops to allow passengers to get on and off.

How much does the vaporetto cost?

Money in Euros| ©cottonbro
Money in Euros| ©cottonbro

Although cheaper than a gondola, public transportation in Venice is quite expensive compared to that of many other major cities. A single vaporetto ticket costs €7.50 (£6.45) and is valid for 75 minutes, children under six travel free and people with reduced mobility receive significant discounts.

If you plan to travel by vaporetto all day, travel cards can be an interesting investment. Actv, the vaporetto company in Venice, sells one-day travel cards for €20 (£17) and also two-, three- and seven-day travel cards for €30 (£25.75), €40 (£34.40) and €60 (£51.50) respectively.

Visitors aged six to 29 are entitled to the Venice Rolling Card, which grants a reduction in ticket prices for both vaporetti and museums. For example if you are going to Venice for three days and you are young you might want to opt for a 3-day vaporetti pass priced at €22 (£18.90) instead of €40 (£34.40).

If you visit the city quite frequently or are in Venice for 7 days or more you can also opt for the Venezia Unica City Pass, which costs € 100 (£ 85.90) for non-residents and drastically reduces the price of vaporetti tickets (this card is per trip and the number is usually updated, on the same company's website you will find more information).

Where to buy vaporetto tickets

Vaporetto stops| ©Marysalome
Vaporetto stops| ©Marysalome

Tickets are available for purchase in all major areas of Venice, not just at water bus stops. Look for them at places displaying the Actv logo including kiosks and supermarkets.

However, be aware that some small shops only accept cash, so make sure you have some coins. You can also buy vaporetto tickets at tourist offices (such as those in Piazzale Roma), online or even through the official AVM Venezia app.

Main routes and where they go

Vaporetto at Rialto Bridge Station| ©Son of Groucho
Vaporetto at Rialto Bridge Station| ©Son of Groucho

-Vaporetto lines 1 and 2 are very touristy, as they stop along the Grand Canal. However, they are very busy during the tourist season. Vaporetto line 1 stops at almost every stop along its route, while 2 is more of an express. Both terminate at the Lido and both pass under the Rialto Bridge, one of Venice's most important bridges.

  • Lines 4.1 and 4.2 cover the same ground as the other lines, but counterclockwise and clockwise, respectively. These are ideal for touring the main islands of Venice including the interesting island of Murano.
  • Lines 5.1 and 5.2 are similar to 4.1 and 4.2 with the exception that the former do not go to Murano. It should also be said that lines (5) are faster than (4), the latter are perfect for a tour of Venice by vaporetto, as they also tend to take fewer tourists than line 1.
  • Line 7 runs directly from S. Marco S. Zaccaria to the north of Murano. However, it only operates during the tourist season.
  • Line 10 is a short ride between the Lido, St Marks and Zattere.
  • Lines 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20 and 22 are all local vaporetti used between the area east of the lagoon and northeast of the city and are therefore more for residents than tourists.

Vaporetto lines 1 and 2

The Vaporetti along the Grand Canal| ©SBA73
The Vaporetti along the Grand Canal| ©SBA73

These two lines run along the Grand Canal for a distance of 4 kilometers, and are the lines that you will use the most and that tourists use the most.

Line 1 of the water bus stops about 15 times, the travel time on the Grand Canal is about 45 minutes. Line 2 is a kind of direct line and only stops about 7 times on the same route. Travel time is only 30 minutes. If you want to enjoy the ride take line 1 and if you want to get ahead quickly, take the vaporetto line 2.

A vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal is one of Venice's tourist highlights. The most important stops on these two lines are Ferrovia (the train station) and Piazzale Roma(bus area, streetcars, parking lots). These lines also stop at places of great interest, such as the famousRialto Bridge and St. Mark's Square.

In addition, vaporetto lines 1 and 2 have the advantage of being very frequent, every few minutes.

Useful information when going by vaporetto

Vaporetto Line 1| ©Son of Groucho
Vaporetto Line 1| ©Son of Groucho

The vaporetto routes can go both ways except for the lines that carry a point, for example 4.1 and 4.2, as they are specific. Therefore I recommend you look at the final destination shown on the vaporetto or, if in doubt, ask before boarding.

Carry your backpack in your arms on the vaporetto, never on your back. The locals hate this and even have signs telling people how to do it.

Watch out for rush hour, especially in the summer. Sometimes, especially in the busy tourist season, the vaporetti are full and crowded. Be especially careful if you have a specific train to catch, be calculating.

At night in Venice, all routes change, with fewer routes than in the morning. Not all stops are included in the night vaporetto routes, so be sure to choose the right stops after 11 pm.

The N night vaporetto service starts around 11 pm and runs until around 5.30 am.

You can tell if your vaporetto will stop at a pier or not by checking the map. If the route line passes over the stop, the vaporetto will not stop there.

Vaporetto timetable

The water bus system covers numerous routes on a fixed schedule. Most lines start running at 5 a.m. and end at 11 p.m., with an average frequency of about 20 minutes between each trip. and with an average frequency of approximately 20 minutes between each trip.

Tips on vaporetto tickets

Vaporetto Ticket Sales Station| ©Dimitris Kamaras
Vaporetto Ticket Sales Station| ©Dimitris Kamaras

Single tickets are valid for an hour and a quarter of travel and cost 7 €. If you are in Venice for one day or you are in Venice for two days, buy 24 or 48 hour tickets, you will save much more than with single tickets, as it is very common to use the vaporetto.

Remember that the tickets only start to work once they are validated, so you only have to validate long term tickets when it is convenient for you, otherwise you will be losing money.

It is very important that you validate your vaporetto tickets before boarding, otherwise you will be committing fraud. To validate your tickets you just have to shake them near one of the small validation machines, once you do it the lights will turn on to indicate the correct completion of the process, that's all you have to do!

Not all vaporetto stops have lockers, but they all have validation machines.
One more detail to note is that you will not be asked to show your ticket every time you board a vaporetto, unless there is an inspector on board.

How to behave on a vaporetto

Vaporetto, Venice| ©Son of Groucho
Vaporetto, Venice| ©Son of Groucho

While tourists are always welcome, Venetians would be much happier if everyone respected their city (hence the recent tourism campaign, #EnjoyRespectVenezia). While the city may seem like an earthly paradise, its residents tend to live a normal, routine life.

Most of the recommendations or rules you'll see on the vaporettos are the same as you might see on other local modes of transportation. Among the rules are: Don't push, remove backpacks, be mindful of other people, don't get in the way of the vaporetto and, above all, be courteous and grateful.

My personal recommendationis: Don't lean too far over the railing while trying to take that perfect photo as falling into the canals is not a great way to start your Venice vacation.