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Getting Around Venice: A Complete Guide to Using Water Transport

Venice is the world’s only pedestrianised city, and with no vehicles on the streets, you can have an enjoyable walking experience. But what are the different water transport options for getting around and which one is going to be right for your requirements?

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Boats driving along a canal

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How to get from Marco Polo airport to your hotel

Private Water Taxi 

Step aboard your vessel and be dropped directly at your hotel.  Costs for the privilege can vary, so plan on paying around €150 for the boat per way.  A private taxi is fine if you are in a group, but if not, then this is an expensive option. You can pre-book, pick up from the airport dock or get your hotel to make prior arrangements for you.

Venice Shuttle / Shared Water Taxi

Costing around €25 per person each way this is a quick option. You will share with up to 7 other people who, in turn, will be dropped at their respective hotels. Pre-book a return journey and prices will be slightly less. I booked with Venicelink and found their service to be good although you may have to wait up to 45 minutes in the airport terminal, for the arrival of other passengers, before you can leave. Once aboard I was taken to my Hotel Nani Mochenigo Palace in a manner akin to a movie star!

Alilaguna Public Waterbus

The waterbus has a service connecting the Marco Polo Airport terminal to the centre of Venice. It is the cheapest option at €15 each way, but also the busiest and the longest.  You can pre-book your ticket or for a few euros more, buy a ticket aboard the boat. You will need to know which water bus stop to alight from that is nearest to your hotel.

These methods of transport all depart from the airport dock. It is a ten-minute walk, by a covered walkway, from the terminal building. Water Taxi signs will show you the way and remember that while there are luggage trolleys at the airport when you arrive in Venice, there won’t be any.

venice watercraft

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How to get around Venice by Water Transport?

Vaporetto / ACTV Water Bus

A Vaporetto is a quick, easy and reliable service to use costing €7.50 for a single journey, anywhere around Venice. The ticket is valid for 75 minutes after purchase.  Buy your ticket from the kiosk at your water stop, validate your ticket before embarking and off you go. You can also buy tickets outside the train station, by Rialto and near St Mark’s Square.

If you are going to be using the service more than once then tickets for 1-day, 2-days, 3-days and 7-days are all available at reasonable prices starting at €20.

For a tour of the Grand Canal then hop aboard the No 1 Vaporetto (Linea Uno) that leaves from the Piazzale Roma every 10 minutes during the day, with a slightly longer wait at night.  The ticket price of €7.50 takes you along the Grand canal passing beneath the Rialto Bridge and enjoying stunning views. There is only standing room outside, but it’s the place to be to experience all the sights and sounds.

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Should I travel around Venice by gondola?

When in Venice it would seem that a gondola ride is on everyone’s bucket list.  Prices are set at €80 a boat for a 40-minute daytime ride and then €100 in the evening. This might explain one of the interesting facts about Venice – that being a gondolier is one of the best-paid jobs you can have in the city! (Prices correct in 2019)

You can barter with the gondoliers for lower prices but it could mean that you will have less time aboard the gondola. Share with others, and your cost per head will be reduced but let’s be real here, who wants to share a romantic gondola ride with strangers? If you require a longer journey, then prices will increase accordingly.

Some of your time may be taken up in a “gondola traffic jam” with multiple vessels all lined up trying to get down the narrow canals. The gondolas also travel along the Grand Canal which is extremely busy with boats of every size and description but is the place to be for sightseeing.

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How to cross the Grand Canal

Head to a Traghetto stop, and you will pay around €2 to be ferried across the Grand canal. Traghettos are ferry gondolas without decoration, rowed by two oarsmen, one at the front and one at the back. They cross the canal at seven different points between the train station and St Marks Square.

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How to travel to the Islands of Murano and Burano?

To get to Burano from Venice, you will need to catch the number 12 Vaporetto from Fondamenta Nove. A one-way ticket takes around 45 minutes.

Another option is to take a Vaporetto to Murano where you could join a glass factory tour. Afterwards, wander along the main street towards the lighthouse and catch the number 12 to Burano. If you want to visit all three islands of Burano, Murano and Torcello then buy a day ticket.

Murano, Venice

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How to find water tour operators in Venice?

The Hop-On Hop-Off sightseeing boats operate around Venice and give you another option to see its magnificence from the water without the crowds associated with the public water buses.

rooftop view of grand canal venice
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Rialto bridge with water taxi and gondola on the canal
Read Next: Your Ultimate 3 Day Guide to Venice
About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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Annie H
3 months ago

Fascinating. I’ve never been to Venice, but did wonder about how you would get around there. Now I know!

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