10 Days In Italy: How To Ride The Vaporetto (Water Bus) In Venice

Here’s a recap of previous posts and a list of what’s upcoming for our recent trip to Italy.

Venice isn’t a city you want to catch a “taxi” in.  The prices of private boat rides are quite high.  The vaporetto (water buses, if you will) are the best accompaniment to short walks, as there are plenty of stops/docks around the city and over 20 different “lines” (think subway).


The city has a pretty good website with information about vaporetto service, but I’ll outline most of the important stuff below:

  • If you’re staying in Venice for any length of time, you’re going to want to buy a pass.  A single ride is 7 Euro, where a 7-day pass is 60 Euro.  These are called Tourist Travel Cards and are your best bet.  At 7 Euro a ride, you only need 9 one-way trips to make it a good value.  That’s awful easy to do.
  • For families traveling with young kids, you don’t need a pass for kids under 6.
  • Consider buying your passes ahead of time via the website above.  We’ve always arrived in Venice via train and, while the lines to buy passes aren’t horrible, you’ll likely spend at least 20 minutes waiting.  There are two places to purchase tickets near the train station, down the steps on the left and right.
  • You’ll need to activate your card after purchase but before you ride.  When we first came to Venice, this used to be a stamp, but it’s now computerized.  I had a picture of one of the readers but it seems to have turned into vapor on the way home, so I found a picture on the Europe for Visitors website that should give you an idea:


  • While I’ve never had this enforced, the vaporetto authority website clearly states that you’re only allowed one piece of luggage that measures up to 150 centimeters in total dimension (about 60 inches).  For frame of reference, your standard carry-on is likely somewhere around 20-22 inches high by 14-15 inches by 9 or 10 inches, with a total linear dimension of under 50 inches.  Larger checked bags likely would be over this size requirement although we’ve boarded with more than one bag each time we’ve visited Venice.




  • In many cases, the boats operate in both directions (call it clockwise and counter-clockwise) on a specific line.  This means that you need to pay attention to signs that guide you to the proper platform on each dock.  It may seem backwards (it did to me), but boats traveling East-West will generally stop on the West end of the dock as opposed to the East end, needing to cross over boats coming in the opposite direction to get to the dock.  If you’re in the wrong place, you may not be able to quickly move from one platform to another given bridges and walkway routing.
  • Most boats will have a seating area in the back (aft) and/or downstairs.  There’s usually standing-room only near the gates and at the front.  Most of the employees manning the boats don’t speak English, so be prepared with translations if need be.  Thankfully, most of the stop names are easily pronounced in Italian.  Stops are usually very quick (1 or 2 minutes at most), so you need to be ready to get on or off when it’s your time.
  • The waters have generally been calm for us in and around the Grand Canal.  However, if you head around the South side of the island (near Guidecca) you may experience more chop.


Bottom Line

Riding the vaporetto is a part of Venice we truly enjoy.  Venice can be an easy city to walk, though crowded at times.  The vaporetto make a nice break from the day when you’re dragging kids around the city for sightseeing.  Given the price of taxis, I highly recommend taking advantage of the vaporetto when you can.


The post 10 Days In Italy: How To Ride The Vaporetto (Water Bus) In Venice was published first on Pizza In Motion.

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