How to get around in Venice

From the Metro (subway) and the bus to taxis, shared bikes, and other transportation options in Venice

Venice is the only city in Italy where you will not be constantly menaced by speeding Fiats, barreling buses, clattering trams, and swarms of scooters because Venice is the only city in Italy with absolutely no cars.

It's awfully hard to drive on canals, see.

There are only two ways to get around Veniceon foot, or by boat. Both are painfully slow, but only one requires you to buy ridiculously overpriced tickets.

My advice on getting around in Venice

As a practical matter walk whenever possible. Take the vaporetto for long hauls and to visit the outlying islands. Splurge on a water taxi perhaps only when arriving or departing the city with your luggage (though there are other, cheaper options to get into Venice from the airport, including a public ferry).

Here's more on each method:

Vaporetto no. 1 motoring down the Grand Canal (Photo by Cycling Man)

Instead of public buses, Venice has the vaporetti, a flotilla of public water ferries

 
Make sure to wave your ticket past a ticket validation machine or risk a fine (Photo courtesy of ACTV)

Tickets and passes for riding the vaporetto and city (land) buses in Venice's public transit system

 
When you see a sign pointing to a major tourist destination, just go the other way and discover your own Venice. (Photo by Lorna Mitchell)
By foot
Venice

Walking around Venice

 
 (Photo )

Making sense of the tangle of canals, calle, campi that make up the sestieri (neighborhoods) of Venice's city layout

 
Taxi (Photo Public Domain)

How to take a motoscafo taxi acquei (water taxi) in Venice

 
 (Photo by Peter K Burian)
Traghetti
Venice

The traghetto da parada is the cheapskate's gondola ride in Venice: €4 to cross the Grand Canal

 
Venetian artist Livio De Marchi (Liviodemarchi.com) driving his hand-made wooden Ferrari in the Bacino San Marco. Kids, don't try this at home (or in Venice). (Photo courtesy of Barcroft Cars)
By car
Venice

You cannot drive in Venice's historic center. Too many canals, see.

 
 (Photo courtesy of AIGA)
By boat
Venice

Ferries, water taxis, and cruises in Venice

 
Autobus (bus) (Photo icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com)
By bus
Venice

The land bus system of Venice—or, more accurately, how Bus #5 usefully connects the airport, parking lots, and Mestre with Venice

 
Venice tours
 
More tours
 
 

Tips

Be prepared to go slow

Venice is a labyrinth of twisting narrow streets and innumerable blind alleys where many streets turn a corner only to bump into a brick wall or suddenly end in a few algae-clad marble steps that descend into the murky waters of a canal. Charming, yes, but frustrating and time-consuming for anyone trying to navigate their way across town. [» more on the layout of Venice]

You should know that the walk from Piazzale Roma and the train station neighborhood to Piazza San Marco to ogle the golden mosaics carpeting St. Mark's cathedral and grand Renaissance decor of the Doge's palace will take about an hour.

Even on the vaporetto (a public ferry—think of it like a bus on the water), the slow chug down the Grand Canal from the train station to San Marco takes 20 to 30 minutes. What's more, it costs a whopping $7.50 for a single ticket!

Don't get me wrong: for what amounts to a cut-rate cruise past the Gothic palaces and grand old homes of the Grand Canal, $7.50 is a pretty good deal. As a daily commute, though, it can get to be a pricey pain.

Considering you often have to wait 10 to 20 minutes for a vaporetto, the practical upshot is that, no matter what your mode of transportation, you'll be lucky to get anywhere in Venice within an hour. So just plan for that, and take things slowly.

 

General tips of similar interest

Touring Club Italiano makes the best maps of Italy (Photo courtesy of the publisher)

A good road map of Italy can save you time and help you discover places and things not in your guidebook

 
 (Photo )

The interactive maps on ReidsItaly.com