101 Italy Northern Italy Venice

Venice 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Canal Grande @ Venice
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Venice… what can I say? Yes, it’s super touristy, overcrowded, overpriced… But it’s still worth a visit! With the historical Republic of Venice lasting for more than a millennium (697-1797), La Serenissima is steeped in history and culture, in a truly unique setting. Go, see and experience this special city for yourself. Don’t just write it off as another tourist trap.

With that said, here’s what you need to know for planning a hassle-free trip to Venice, the capital of the Veneto region:

ARRIVING in Venice

THE AIRPORT

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If you arrive by plane, you’ll land in Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE), 15km away from the city center, a.k.a Piazza San Marco, for the sake of this article.

The fact that the airport is on the mainland, while the definitive point of interest and historical center is an island, makes transportation slower and more cumbersome, generally. Consequently, you’ll be able to choose among a few different options to reach Piazza San Marco. The most convenient ones are below, in order of cost/benefit:

  • Ferry A

Alilaguna operates a water bus connecting the airport directly to the center, stopping also at Rialto Bridge. Departures are every 30min (see timetable), with a journey time of roughly 1h15. Tickets cost €15 each way or €27 for the roundtrip. You save €1 and €2, respectively, if you buy online, but don’t forget you have to exchange the voucher for a regular ticket before getting on board.

Tip! Even if you are going to Piazza San Marco, it’s more time-efficient to disembark at Rialto (cutting 20min off journey time) and walk the remaining 500m of the way.

  • Venezia Express + vaporetto or 20min walk

ATVO operates a non-stop (or diretta) bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma, a stone’s throw from Venezia Santa Lucia, the city’s main rail station. With departure intervals ranging from 20min to 1h (see timetable) and a journey time of 20min. Tickets cost €8 each way or €15 for the roundtrip. If you prefer to purchase online, follow this link and choose from Aeroporto Marco Polo and to Venezia – Piazzale Roma.

Secondly, from Piazzale Roma, you can take a vaporetto, which will take you 20-30min or just walk for roughly the same time (2km) until you reach Piazza San Marco.

  • Regular Bus no. 5 + vaporetto or 20min walk

Similar to the arrangement above, but with the regular ACTV bus. The standard ticket from/to the airport costs the same €8 each way or €15 for the roundtrip. As stand-alone, I wouldn’t recommend it, but you can purchase it as an add-on to your time-based tickets, for €6 each way or €12 for the roundtrip.

Read more about how to go forward after reaching the island and the Airport bus add-on on the Getting Around section below.

  • Water taxi

This is definitely the most comfortable option but also the most expensive. Expect to pay around €110-130 each way, with some companies offering a 5% discount if you book a return journey from/to the airport. Here’s a list of the water taxi companies offering this service.

Venezia Santa Lucia and Santa Maria di Nazareth Church
Venezia Santa Lucia + Santa Maria di Nazareth Church

RAIL

The easiest arrival in Venice is by far with the train. International connections will arrive at either Venezia Santa Lucia or Venezia Mestre. If you can choose, go with the first, as it’s already on the island, as opposed to Mestre, on the mainland.

From Venezia Santa Lucia, if you have heavy luggage, you can take a vaporetto to reach the center at Piazza San Marco. Remember that it’s more time-efficient to get off at Rialto and walk the remaining 500m of the way. Otherwise, just walk all the way.

In contrast, coming from Venezia Mestre, you need to first reach the island. The most convenient way is to hop on a train (purchase with Trenitalia) and with a journey time of 10min and costing only €1.35, you’ll reach Venezia Santa Lucia. Alternatively, you can take regular buses that will take you to Piazzale Roma, next to Venezia Santa Lucia.

BUS

Venice’s main Bus Terminal is also at Piazzale Roma, next to the main rail station, Venezia Santa Lucia. If you are starting from here, read more on the Getting Around section below.

FERRY/CRUISES

Although it doesn’t fit with the idea of weekend travel, in case you reach la Serenissima by sea, you’ll arrive at Marittima, the passenger terminal of the Port of Venice. From there, you can hop on the People Mover, a shuttle light train, until Piazzale Roma. Tickets cost €1.50 each way. Alternatively, you can just walk, the distance covered is just 870m.

From Piazzale Roma, follow the advice on the Getting Around section below.

GETTING AROUND Venice

Vaporetto with Rialto Bridge in the background
Vaporetto

The public transport system is operated by AVM/Actv and includes the vaporetto (waterbus), bus and tram. On the island itself, only the vaporetti are available.

It’s important to note that if you are staying in the city center proper and will only visit the main spots, you will barely need to take any transport: just from/to airport. I particularly avoid using transport here and just walk as much as possible. The reason is simple: the vaporetti are slow, noisy and crowded. Additionally, half of the fun is getting lost in the small alleyways and running into unexpected scenes.

However, if you prefer to get this topic out of mind and always be covered, you can purchase time-based tickets:

  • ACTV 1, 2, 3 or 7 days: valid from first validation, costing €20, €30, €40 and €60, respectively.
  • ACTV 1, 2, 3 or 7 days with (one-way) airport add-on*: €26, €36, €46 and €66, respectively.
  • ACTV 1, 2, 3 or 7 days with (return) airport add-on*: €32, €42, €52 and €72, respectively.

*The airport add-on must be used within the period of validity of the respective ticket.

But if this is too much for your needs, a single ticket (valid for 75min) costs €7.50.

You can use the AVM Venezia App (Android/iOS) to purchase, save and validate tickets. Don’t forget to validate it each time you board.

Venice Waterbuses Network

See also:

Milan 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Florence 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Turin 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Rome 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Trains in Europe: Get The Best Deals


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