Known as the vaporetto, Venice's water bus system is the city's major form of public transportation. These buses (called vaporetti in the plural) take visitors along the main canals, to the islands and around the lagoon. Although often crowded, they are by far the least expensive way to get around (other than walking). If you're visiting Venice, sooner or later you'll find yourself on a vaporetto.
The cost to take the vaporetto isn't static. Just like bus fare in any other city, it fluctuates with time, but you can check the current prices. The good news is that if you plan to spend much time on the water bus system, you can buy a tourist travel card at any vaporetto ticket office or online through Veniezia Unica. Tourist travel cards are good for both water and land transport in the Venice area (land services on the Lido and in Mestre). They allow for more flexible travel plans, because you can buy a one-, two- or three-day pass, or even a weeklong pass.
There's also a three-day youth card for young people ages 14 to 29; a Venice city pass, which includes free and reduced admissions and transportation; and a beach ticket for a round trip from Venice to Lido.
The ticket or travel card must be validated (stamped) upon first use at the vaporetto stop entrance. Hours start when the card is validated (not when it's purchased), so it can be paid for ahead of time.
Be sure to validate it in the machine before boarding the water bus. The price of a ticket or travel card includes one piece of luggage up to 150 cm (total sum of its three dimensions).
Venice's Grand Canal is its main thoroughfare. The No. 1 vaporetto route runs up and down the Grand Canal, stopping in each of the six sestiere, or neighborhoods.
Since it also stops in the Lido, it's a good way to see Venice. Although it's pretty crowded during the day, an evening on the No. 1 vaporetto can be scenic and romantic. Try taking the No. 1 in the evening when the lights are on (see "Tips for Eating in Venice").
Other routes most commonly used by tourists are:
- No. 2: Also runs on the Grand Canal and connects the Tronchetto with the train station, Piazzale Roma, Lido and Guidecca.
- Route N: Night bus; follows the No. 2 route but skips the Giardini stop.
- Routes 4.1 and 4.2: Go around the outside of Venice, serving the train station, Piazzale Roma, and Guidecca, and traveling to Murano Island from Fondamente Nove.
- Route 12: Goes to Murano and Burano Islands from Fondamente Nove (see "Visiting Venice's Islands").
Alilaguna lines serve the Venice airport and are not included in the above tickets or travel cards (except the Venice card). For more information about the bus routes, timetables and an interactive map are available on the ACTV website.
Venice Vaporetto Maps
Venice vaporetto maps that can be downloaded and printed are available in three sizes. See Vap Map Pocket Venice Vaporetto Guide on the Living Venice blog.
Gondola Rides in Venice
Taking a gondola ride is a much more upscale way to get around Venice.
Use these tips to find out more about gondola services.