How to Get Around Venice: Navigating the City of Canals

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Venice, Italy, is a city like no other, with its labyrinth of canals, narrow alleys, and historic architecture. 

But navigating this city on water can be a unique challenge for visitors. 

In this guide, we’ll explore how to get around Venice Italy, from the moment you step off the plane at Marco Polo Airport or Treviso airport, to your exploration of the city center and the iconic Grand Canal. 

So, let’s dive in and discover the best ways to navigate the enchanting city of Venice.

Read my full guide on taking a tour of Prosecco from Venice!

traditional venetian boat

Arriving in Venice

Whether you’re touching down at Marco Polo Airport, Treviso Airport, or pulling into the Santa Lucia Train Station, your Venetian adventure begins the moment you arrive. Here’s what you need to know to make your transition into the city as smooth as possible.

From Marco Polo Airport

Marco Polo Airport is the main international gateway to Venice, serving a range of inter-Europe flights and some long-haul destinations. Upon arrival, you’ll find yourself in the arrivals hall, where you can find rental car desks, a water taxi transport desk, and bus services to take you into the heart of Venice.

To reach the water-based transport options, simply follow the signs to the Moving Walkway from the arrivals terminal. This will bring you to the dock where you can catch the Alilaguna water bus or a water taxi from the taxi stand immediately at the bottom of the escalator from the terminal.

The Alilaguna water bus is a popular choice for many travelers. 

Alilaguna ticket office at Marco Polo aiport

It offers several routes, including the Blue Line to San Marco. This line to San Marco takes approximately 1 hour and 12 minutes, and the Orange Line to Rialto, which takes about 57 minutes. The cost of a one-way ticket ranges from 8 to 15 Euros, depending on your destination.

For Marco Polo airport travelers who prefer a more direct route and the most exciting form of transport in Venice, water taxis are available. These can be booked at the water taxi transport desk in the arrivals hall. While they are more expensive than the Alilaguna, they offer a faster and more private service.

If you are traveling as a group, you can split the costs since the price is a flat fee for the taxi. 

I have a full guide on taking the water taxis here for more detailed information and another of all your options for getting to Venice from Marco Polo.

water taxis at marco polo airport

If you’re looking to travel by land, the ATVO and ACTV bus services are located in front of the sidewalk immediately outside the arrivals terminal of the airport. 

These buses will take you across the bridge connecting Venice to the mainland, where you’ll arrive at Piazzale Roma, the main bus terminal in Venice. The journey on the ATVO line takes 20-25 minutes.

From the Treviso Airport

facade of the treviso airport (TSF)

Treviso Airport, though smaller than Marco Polo, is another gateway to Venice, especially for budget travelers and those using low-cost airlines. There are several options for getting from Treviso Airport to Venice:

  • Train: You can take a train from Treviso Centrale to Venezia Santa Lucia. The journey takes about 40 minutes and trains run every 30 minutes. Tickets cost between $2 and $6. You can buy tickets online or at the station. Keep in mind that you will need to take the city bus to the train station which departs right outside the airport to the right. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get from the airport to the train station by bus. 
  • Bus: ATVO S.p.A. and Barzi Bus offer bus service from Treviso Airport to Venice. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. Buses depart three times a day, every day. Tickets cost between $10 and $14. 
  • Taxi or Car Service: If you prefer a more direct and comfortable journey, you can take a taxi or book a car service from Treviso to Venice. This is the most expensive option, but it offers the convenience of a door-to-door service.
  • Shuttle: There are shuttle services available that can take you from the airport in Treviso to Venice. This is a quicker option, taking about 24 minutes, but it is more expensive, with prices ranging from $10 to $55.
  • Driving: If you have rented a car, the drive from Treviso Airport to Venice is about 32 minutes. However, remember that cars are not allowed in the historic center of Venice, so you will need to park at one of the parking garages on the outskirts in Mestre and continue by public transportation. Or, you can book a parking space in one of the garages in Piazzale Roma, which can fill up well in advance. 

From Mestre to Venice

If you’re staying off the island in areas like Mestre, you still have easy access to Venice thanks to the city’s efficient public transportation system. Both bus lines and tram services connect Mestre to Venice, offering a frequent and reliable means of reaching the city center.

Mestre bus stop in front of train

These services are not only convenient but also cost-effective, making them a popular choice for visitors staying outside of Venice. Whether you choose the bus or tram, you’ll find yourself in the heart of Venice in no time, ready to explore all that the city has to offer.

Santa Lucia Train Station

Santa Lucia Train Station is a major gateway to Venice for those arriving by train. As you disembark, you’ll be immediately greeted by the stunning view of the Grand Canal, a sight that truly signals your arrival in this unique city.

baggage check at the train station

For travelers burdened with heavy luggage, the station offers a convenient baggage check service. This is particularly handy for day visitors, allowing you to explore the city unencumbered.

porter service for heavy bags in venice italy

For those staying overnight in Venice, a porter service is available to help transport your luggage from the station to your hotel. 

This service can be a lifesaver, especially considering Venice’s many bridges and cobblestone streets. You can find the porter service right outside the station, ready to assist you with your bags.

Getting Around Venice: Modes of Transport

Navigating Venice is an adventure in itself. The city’s unique geography and transportation system make getting around an experience unlike any other. Here’s what you need to know about the various modes of transport available to you.

Venetian Public Transport Boats (Vaporetto)

The Vaporetto, or water bus, is a primary mode of public transportation in Venice. These boats operate just like a bus does on land, with different lines and designated stops. They connect distant parts of the city and also provide connections with the islands. 

However, they can only go along the bigger canals and on open water, so for many destinations, you may need to walk or take a private boat. Also, routes will change during the acqua alta or Venice floods.

Tickets for the Vaporetto can be purchased at ticket booths around Venice or online. If you buy your tickets ahead of time, you can validate them using your phone by placing it against the reader. 

This makes it easy to hop on and off the water buses as you explore the city.

A normal single ticket lasts for 75 minutes from when you validate it at a reader upon entering the ramp. You can get on and off within that time, but if you are traveling a long distance, say from Piazzale Roma to St Mark’s Square, your time will be limited. 

I recommend getting a one day pass for the day trippers and a multi day pass if you are staying overnight. You will end up saving money and be able to take the vaporetto without worrying about timing. 

Gondola Rides

gondola ride isn't great for transportation around venice

While a gondola ride is a quintessential Venetian experience, it’s important to note that it’s not a practical mode of transportation. You can’t get on and off at will, and you’ll end up back where you started.

However, it’s a wonderful way to see the city effortlessly and enjoy the unique charm of Venice.


A traghetto is a type of gondola that’s used to cross the Grand Canal at points where there’s no bridge. It’s a quick and inexpensive service, taking only a few minutes and costing 2 Euro per person. This can be a handy way to get across the Grand Canal when you’re exploring on foot.

Water Taxis

Water taxis offer a more private and direct mode of transport. A private water taxi can be a bit pricey, but it provides a quick and convenient way to reach your destination. You can book a water taxi at various points around the city, including at the water taxi desk in the Marco Polo arrivals hall.

Land Taxis and Car Services

While the Venice city center is car-free, land taxis and car services are available in parts of the city like Piazzale Roma to get to the mainland. These can be useful for getting to and from the Venice airport or for trips to areas outside of Venice, such as a day trip to an area like the Prosecco Road.

Walking: The Best Way to Explore Venice

Venice, with its compact size and pedestrian-friendly layout, is a city best explored on foot. Walking is the cheapest option to get around and allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s unique atmosphere, take in the sights at your own pace, and discover hidden gems that you might miss when traveling by water.

One of the joys of visiting Venice city center is the chance to get a little lost. The city’s winding streets and narrow alleys can be a bit of a maze, but that’s all part of the charm. So don’t worry too much about sticking to a strict route – let yourself wander and enjoy the experience.

That being said, if you’re trying to reach a specific destination, using Google Maps can be a big help. You can pick up a local SIM card at the airport to ensure you have data access during your stay. 

sim card desk at venice marco polo airport

This will allow you to navigate the city with ease, whether you’re trying to find your hotel or a particular attraction.

As you walk around Venice, you’ll also notice signs pointing the way to major sights such as the Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto), St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), and the Santa Lucia Train Station (Ferrovia). These signs can be a useful guide if you’re trying to orient yourself or find your way back to a familiar location.

Venice Transportation Passes

Venice offers various transportation passes that can provide unlimited travel on the city’s public transportation network for a certain period. These passes can be a cost-effective option if you plan to use public transportation frequently during your stay. Here are some options:

  • ACTV (Water Bus) Travel Cards: These cards offer unlimited travel and can be purchased for 1, 2, 3, or 7 consecutive days.
  • Venice Unica City Pass: This pass includes not only unlimited travel but also free or discounted entry to various museums and attractions. (See more info here)
  • Venice Connected City Pass: This pass can be customized to your needs, allowing you to choose the services you want, such as public transportation, parking, and toilet access (Public toilets cost between 1.5 and 2 euros without the card).
  • Rolling Venice Card: Designed for young people aged between 6 and 29, this card offers discounts on transportation and major attractions.

Practical Tips for Visitors

Navigating Venice can be a unique experience, but with a few practical tips, you can make your journey smoother and more enjoyable.

Finding Cheaper Paid Parking

If you’re driving to Venice, you’ll need to find a place to park your car as cars are not allowed in the city center. Parking in Venice can be expensive, but there are ways to find cheaper options.

Websites like ParClick offer comparisons of parking options and prices, which can help you find the best deal. All of the parking structures on Venice island are located either on the Piazzale Roma or the island of Tronchetto. Those parking options are quite expensive during the day but cheaper in the evening so try to time your trip for cheaper parking options. Either that, or find parking in Mestre and take the bus or tram.

Remember, once you park your car, you’ll likely be relying on public transportation or walking to get around.

Ticket Windows and Ticket Machines

Tickets for public transportation in Venice can be purchased at ticket windows and machines located at major vaporetto stops and transportation hubs. These machines are easy to use and offer instructions in multiple languages. Remember to validate your ticket before boarding a vaporetto or bus.

Here is a list of all the ticket points to get tickets for all the Venice public transport options.   

Tips for Visiting Venice

When visiting Venice, it’s important to pack light. The city’s narrow streets and bridges are not designed for heavy luggage, and you’ll have a much easier time getting around if you’re not weighed down by bags.

avoid heavy luggage walking around venice

If you’re unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to ask for local assistance. Venetians are generally friendly and helpful, and they can provide valuable insights and advice.

Wrapping It Up

I hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights on how to get around Venice, Italy. Remember, Venice is more than just a destination; it’s a place where every turn can lead to a new discovery. So take your time, embrace the city’s unique transportation system, and let the magic of Venice unfold around you. 

Whether you choose to explore on foot, glide through the canals on a water bus, or cross the Grand Canal on a traghetto, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories in this city of water and light.

If you need more practical tips and information to help you plan your ideal trip to Venice, make sure to click the links below. 

Sal Presti

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