Venice buses and vaporettos

The Venice Vaporetto map can be download and stamped. Just click on it.

The Venice water bus – The Vaporetto.

It’s really quite simple: On the Grand Canal there are two lines, you can go this way or that way. The Vaporetto always stops at the closest pier. That means if there are two landing platforms, you walk left to go to the right, and you walk right to go towards the left.

The City of Venice has two main Vaporetto lines: 1 and 2. They both run the Canal Grande. Line 1 stops everywhere, while line 2 only stops at some of the stations, and therefore it’s a bit faster. Circumnavigating the City, there are smaller boats, like mini-Vaporettos, called Motoscafi.

Something about the Venice Vaporetto.

Line 2, when it arrives at Piazzale Roma, going west, it continues to Tronchetto, around the city on the outside, into Canale della Giudecca and ends up at Saint Mark’s Square from the other side.

Line 1, arriving at Piazza San Marco, going east, it continues to Arsenale and finally ends up at Lido di Venezia.

After that, you have all the smaller boats, the once we call Motoscafi. They are faster than line 1 and 2 and they run on the outside of the city. Line 3 for Murano and line 4.1 and 5.1, or 4.2 and 5.2 depending on in what direction they sail.

Then you have a whole lot of other lines going in all directions of the Lagoon. Look at the Venice Vaporetto map to get the idea.

Well, you need a ticket.

For the buses, you buy it before getting on. The driver can sell one to you but it’s really only evenings and holidays and even if he ignores that and sells it other times as well, it’s awkward and the price is higher than from the regular sales places. The regular sales places being tobacconists. Not all of them sell tickets. There should be an ACTV-sticker, like the one up in the left corner of the Venice Vaporetto maps on the top of the page, but you can also just ask.

actv rialto

In Venice, you buy the tickets at the Vaporetto-stop if there is a manned ticket office or if there’s a machine. At Piazzale Roma, there are several places where you can buy them from the ACTV-offices. Tickets can also be bought from the sailor on board without the increased price and without any other inconvenience. Or you can buy them at the tobacconist, just as in Mestre.

Venice Vaporetto Map
ticket machine

Anyone selling tickets can sell you any ticket. That means that ticket machines and ticket offices in Venice can sell you Bus tickets as well as tickets for the Vaporetto, tourist cards, anything. The little paper cards are all the same. They just fill it, electronically, with what you want.

Keep the receipt. Sometimes things go wrong and then it’s good to have proof of your purchase.

The QR code machine for Venice holding app
QR-code validating machine

The Venice transport App.

You could also install the AVM Holding app. With it, you can buy tickets and pay for your parking in the street, blue lines. You validate your ticket yourself, in the app. Then you stick your phone with the QR-code into the machine next to the normal ticket machine, face up. 

This app is subject to bugs. It doesn’t really work very well. Me, for example, can’t use it cause my Venezia Unica-number isn’t valid… for some reason. So maybe you’re better off with a real paper card. 

There is another App.

MyPass Venezia. With it you can buy tickets for the water bus online and then transfer your purchase into paper tickets at your first bus stop, to avoid any issues. It has a great selection of museums and events too, so definitely check it out.

venice vaporetto

The public transport in Venice

It’s all operated by ACTV, Azienda del Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano. They run all the buses in Mestre, the orange or white-green buses and all the water buses in Venice.

Prices for the land buses are the same for everybody. 1,50 euros single fare and 14 euros for a “carnet” with 10 rides.

The water buses in Venice are different, though. The Venetians still pay 1.50 euros for a single fare while you will have to put up 7.50. That is 15 euros for a return ticket. Many people buy the time-ticket, 20 euros for 24 hours, 30 for 48 hours and 40 for 72 hours or 60 for a week. Valid on the buses too. If you do more than one or two Vaporetto rides a day then that would be convenient.

Venezia Unica

Worth mentioning is the possibility to purchase the Venezia Unica-card certified for water transport within Venice. Not to be confused with Venezia Unica City Pass, which is more of a tourist-all-together-card that gives you discounts on museums and events but does not make traveling any cheaper.

venezia unica

The Venezia Unica I’m talking about is a card that the residents in Venice have. With it you can buy tickets at 1.50 euros just like the locals, you can buy a monthly or an annual pass and it gives you lots of additional discounts The card is 100 euro if your not living here, but the benefits are huge if you’re staying for more than a week, and it lasts for five years, if you would like to come back.

Update. Feb. 2019. The Venezia Unica travel document should exclude you from having to pay the new tourist tax. Click here for more about the tourist tax. I will update a soon as the City updates the info.

You need a photo and an ID-card and you get it from an ACTV sales office… for example at Piazzale Roma.

If you’re under 29 there are additional discounts. Here is the complete price list.

When you got the ticket, you step on the bus.

Here you find the ticket-machine. You hold your ticket in front of it up close, the machine goes beep, there’s a green light and you’re good to go. 

If it goes bloop and there’s a red light, then the ticket is not valid for this bus or you’ve run out of tickets on the card… Or it’s just already validated. In that case, it reads Titolo già validata. You just have to look closely to the little window of the machine. If so, you can sit down and enjoy the ride… if you find a free seat available, that is. 

On the bottom of the page, there is an informative Youtube-video on the subject.

Validating multiple tickets

actv tram venice

One thing that is a source of major confusion, is people trying to validate more than one ride on a carnet, a single card that contains 10 tickets. Let’s say you’re a group of 4, you have the 10 rides-ticket and you need to validate four of those. So you hold up the ticket, the machine goes beep, green light, and you’re done. Then you hold it up again and the machine goes bloop, red light cause you’ve already confirmed your ticket, and here you’re stuck.

What you need to do is press and hold the + button. While holding it approach the card. The machine goes: Accompagnato da?, accompanied by?. Now you press + or – ’til you reach 3, that is one card-holder accompanied by three. Then OK and your good to go.

But you have to do this procedure before validating it the first time. Otherwise, it will block any attempt to do anything at all.

The Vaporetto is slightly different.

Here you will probably have to pass a gate to get out on the pontoon. The gate is activated by your ticket and that way you can not really avoid validating it. Unless the gate is broken which happens. If you for some reason hold the card against the machine, confirm your ticket but do not pass the gate. Then you have to wait 1 minute to be able to get through again. Theoretically, you have already bleeped the card so you are authorized to board. It’s just the door that will not open.

(…. You could try entering through the exit, but don’t tell anyone I said so) ( I have a friend… A very politically and socially engaged friend and colleague. He never validates his ticket. Well, he has an annual subscription just like me so he has the authorization. But he claims that it is illegal to force someone to confirm an already valid travel title. If it’s good, it’s good. And he always enters through the exit. It’s a protest-thing I think.)