"Which Venice transportation pass do I need?"
Here's how to pick the right vaporetto pass (if any) for
riding public transit in Venice, Italy.
ABOVE: An ACTV
Line 1 vaporetto cruises under the Ponte dei Scalzi on its way to the Rialto
Bridge, the Piazza San Marco, and the Lido.
People often ask us whether
they should buy Venice transportation passes or city passes. The answer, as with
so many things, is "It depends."
Here are some things to consider:
Venice's public water buses charge outrageous prices for single tickets:
The single-ticket tourist fare is a staggering €9,50, which is six
times what local residents pay to ride the vaporetto. (It's also
several times what you'd pay for a transit ride in most other cities.) By
purchasing a transportation pass, you'll begin saving money after you've taken two
or three rides per day.
At the same time, you may not
need to ride water buses regularly
during your visit. Venice's historic center is compact, and walking is often
the fastest way to get from one point to another.
During high season (April
through October), at holiday times, and on busy weekends, the boats may
simply be too crowded to enjoy. When crowded, the vaporetti are also
impractical for getting to and from your hotel if you're traveling with more
than minimal luggage. (See Picking the Right
Hotel Location to avoid frustration and needless expense.)
There are times when water buses are necessary: e.g., to visit
the Lido di Venezia or the glassmaking island of
Murano, to take our
self-guided Venice Islands Tour by public transportation, or if you're staying on
the island of Giudecca, which is across the Giudecca Canal from Venice's
Finally, no visit to Venice is complete without an evening ride up the
Grand Canal on Vaporetto Line 1, so you
should factor that into your plans when deciding whether to spend money on a
Note: If you're staying on the mainland in
Mestre or Marghera, you'll be
traveling into the city by train or public bus, depending on your hotel's
location. Railroad and bus tickets are extremely cheap compared to vaporetto
If you do expect to use water buses regularly, here's a
guide to choosing the right pass:
"I'm visiting Venice for seven days or
For short stays, ACTV (Venice's transit agency) sells
ACTV single- and multi-day travel
passes that allow
unlimited travel on public water and land buses for periods of one, two, three,
or seven days at a cost of 25 to 65 euros. The longer the period of validity,
the lower the cost per day.
You can buy these passes from any ACTV
vending machine or ticket booth.
If you have a generous budget, we suggest
buying an ACTV travel pass for the duration of your visit. This way, you can
hop on and off public water buses whenever you wish, without worrying about the
If you're watching your euros carefully, consider buying
a shorter-duration pass and bunching your waterbus trips into the period of
For example, with a two-day pass, you could tour the islands of the
Lagoon and visit the Lido on the same day, followed by a visit to another island
location (such as Giudecca) on the next day with an evening boat ride up the
You can buy the ACTV one- to seven-day ticket as part of a
Venezia Unica for Tourists "city pass,"
which may be worth considering if the city pass has other features that
For slightly more than the basic price, you can buy a Tourist Travel
Card with roundtrip transportation into the city from
Venice Marco Polo
Airport on the No. 5 public "Aerobus."
If you're between the ages of 6 and 29, you can get
substantial discounts on 24-hour to 7-day ACTV travel passes by purchasing a
Venice Card for €6--. (The card also offers discounts on specified museums
Venice land buses & tram fares article for a description of the
Mestre Daily Pass, a cheap electronic
pass that covers ACTV land buses, the People Mover, and Trenitalia regional
trains within the Comune di Venezia.
"I'm visiting for longer than seven days" or "I plan to come back in the
next few years."
If you're staying for a relatively short time (say, two or three
weeks), you can simply buy ACTV travel passes as you need them. For example, if
you're in Venice for two weeks, you might buy a seven-day ticket for the first
week and a two- or three-day pass toward the end of your trip.
For extended stays, or if you expect to
return to Venice from time to time, we suggest investing €100 in the
Venezia Unica city pass for Frequent Users.
This is a plastic stored-value card (personalized with your name and photo) that
lets you ride public transportation at cheap residents' rates. A carnet
of 10 fares will cost you only €1,40 per ride, compared to €9,50 per ride at the
The card is
valid for five years, and you can add value whenever you wish--either online or
at any ACTV ticket machine.
Another option, for longer stays, is to buy a "Rete
Unica" monthly commuter pass and have it loaded onto the card. (The commuter
passes are sold from day 20 of the preceding month. They're available directly
from the ACTV or at many tobacco shops or newsstands.)
About the author:
Durant Imboden has
written about Venice, Italy since 1996.
He covered Venice and European travel at About.com for 4-1/2 years before launching
Europe for Visitors (including
Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl
Imboden in 2001.
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