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Venice Water Buses

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Beagle on an ACTV vaporetto

ABOVE: A beagle enjoys the view from a No. 2 vaporetto.

Traveling by vaporetto

Riding a vaporetto, motoscafo, or motonave in Venice isn't any more complicated than riding a subway or city bus. (Unfortunately, it's quite a bit more expensive, as you'll see when you read our Vaporetto Fares article.)

Here's what you need to know before traveling on a public water bus:

1. Look for an ACTV stop.

San Marco ACTV stop

ACTV waterbus stops are shown on most Venice maps, and you'll often see signs pointing to vaporetto stops when you're walking around the city. The stops are easy to recognize by their yellow-and-white floating platforms.

Note: Be sure that you're at a stop for the line that you want to take. At larger stops, which have multiple platforms, look for signs that indicate boat numbers and direction of travel (e.g., No. 1 toward San Marco or Piazzale Roma).

2. Buy a ticket or pass.

ACTV biglietteria at San Marco Vallaresso

ACTV ticket machineYou can buy waterbus tickets or 12-hour to 7-day Tourist Travel Cards from any ACTV/Hellovenezia biglietteria (ticket booth) or from the ACTV ticket machines at larger boat stops.

Another (and more expensive) option is to buy a Venezia Unica city pass (tourist version), which offers additional services such as city museums and public toilets.

If you plan to be in Venice for more than a few weeks during the next five years and expect to use public transportation often, the Venezia Unica city pass (long-term version)--which allows you travel at cheap resident fares--may be worth the hefty upfront fee.

3. Validate your ticket.

ACTV iMob ticket reader

At every ACTV stop, you'll see a white electronic ticket reader near the entrance to the floating boat platform. Hold your ticket or pass up to the ticket reader, and listen for the beep or wait for the green light to flash. At an increasing number of boat stops, you'll also encounter gates or turnstiles that are locked until you've swiped your ticket.

Green iMob ticket reader(Note: At larger ACTV stations, you may also see green ticket readers. These are "read-only" devices that let you check how many trips are left on your ticket. They won't deduct a fare or validate your ticket for your current trip.)

If you don't have a ticket and there's no booth or machine at the ACTV stop, read this and proceed at your own risk.

Tip: Look for a boat timetable near the ticket reader.

4. Cross the walkway to the platform.

Walkway to ACTV floating platform

Be sure to enter the waiting area (not the exit, which is usually marked with a red-and-white "no entry" symbol).

Note: ACTV platforms float up and down with the tides, which means the platform and the boat are on the same level. This makes water buses easier to board than water taxis, especially if you're traveling with a wheelchair, stroller, or wheeled suitcase.

5. Wait for the water bus.

ACTV waiting area

When the water bus arrives, stay behind the yellow line until disembarking passengers are off the boat and the sailor indicates that you can board. (Venetians are often given priority over visitors, despite paying only a fifth of the normal tourist fare.)

Note: You won't need to show your validated ticket or pass unless an inspector asks to see it.

Next page: More tips and warnings

In this article:
Venice Water Buses
Types of Water Buses
Traveling by Vaporetto
More Tips and Warnings

Related articles:
Vaporetto Routes
Vaporetto Fares
Vaporetto Line 1 (Grand Canal)
Directory of ACTV and Alilaguna Waterbus Stops
Buying Vaporetto Tickets
ACTV Ticket Machines
ACTV Tourist Travel Cards
Venezia Unica pass for tourists (formerly VeniceConnected)
Venezia Unica pass for long-term visitors and residents (formerly imob.venezia)

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