Venice water taxis

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

Venice's taxi acquei, or water taxis (often called motoscafi), are essentially just speed boats—of the genteel, burled-wood variety—put to public use.

They provide an excellent and speedy—but very expensive—way to get you and your luggage down the canal without the headache of crowds on the slower public vaporetti.

You may not be the only passenger on board, as captains take on as many travelers as they can fit who are going in the same direction (most taxis fit up to 10, some as many as 14 passengers).

They also charge dizzyingly steep fares:

To put that in perspective, you can also get from the airport to downtown Venice by public ferry for €15 ($17) (Alilaguna.it), by shared boat for €32 ($35) (Viator.com), or by private boat starting at €56 ($62) per person (also Viator.com). » more

That said, it is the same fare in a water taxi covers up to five people; each additonal person beyond five tacks just €10 ($11) onto the price. So while for a single person a water taxi is insanely costly, for a family of four it almost starts getting reasonable.

Standard taxi fares in Venice

Up to four passengers, the fare remains unchanged. Five or more people pay an additional €10 ($11) per person.

For more than 5 bagseach piece of luggage costs €5 ($6) (total max pieces of luggage: 12).

The night supplement (for rides between 10am and 7am) is €20 ($22).

Where to find a water taxi in Venice

Just make you patronize an official taxi boat (with a yellow stripe down the side and a registration number).

There are taxi stands/docks near every major tourist destination:

You can call ahead for a taxi, but it'll add another €6 ($7) to the rates.

When to bother taking a taxi acquei

Unless you're in a monstrous hurry, getting to and from the airport with luggage is really the only time you might even consider indulging in the overpriced splurge of a Venetian water taxi.

Sure, it's way pricier than the airport bus (€110 ($121) versus €8 ($9)), but for sheer romance you can't beat arriving in Venice by boat. (Plus, the bus lets you off in Piazzale Roma, so you would still have to catch a vaporetto to get you and your luggage to your hotel.)

  • However, do note that there is a far chepaer way to arrive by water: the public Alilaguna ferry is just €15 ($17) (versus €110 ($121)), albeit it is slower (45–100 minutes versus 30–40 minutes).

I've done the math for you. When it comes to aiport transfers, Viator.com's shared transfer is still cheaper for two or three people—and the public ferry remains cheaper in every situtation. See, for five people, a water taxi costs €100 ($110) and the ferry €75 ($83). Once you get past five, you pay an extra €15 ($17) for either another ferry ticket or for each additonal person plus his/her bag. That means with the ferry you always come out at least €25 ($28) ahead of the game.

Honestly, I have only ever twice used water taxis in Venice.

Once, it was free. I bumped into a couple at my hotel who were also headed to Murano for the day, and they invited me to ride with them then wouldn't let me chip in to pay. (I gave them some free travel advice instead.)

The other time, a water taxi was sent by the chic Hotel Danieli to pick me up at the airport and take me downtown. (I don't normally run with the Danieli crowd, but I was on assignment.)

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Tips

Do not use a taxi for the airport

Do not use a taxi cab to get to or from a Paris airport. The service is great, sure, but it is incredibly expensive—and wholly unneccesary.

For example, a taxi to or from Charles de Gaulle will run you €50–€55 (that's $64–$121). You can get the same airport-to-hotel service for just €12–€82 ($19–$52) per person by booking a private transfer from Viator.com ahead of time—or take the fast RER train for €9.75.

 

General tips of similar interest

Watch that meter! (Photo by Chris Goldberg)

Always use official, licensed cabs or trusted car services—and watch that meter