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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:
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.
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).
You can buy waterbus tickets or one- to seven-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.
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. (In recent years, many stations have added gates or turnstiles that are locked until you swipe your tickets.)
(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.
Look for a boat timetable near the ticket reader.
Be sure to enter the waiting area (not the exit, which is usually marked with a red-and-white "no entry" symbol).
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.
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 may be given priority at busy stations.)
You won't need to show your validated ticket or pass unless an inspector asks to see it.
Next page: More tips and warnings
|Venice Vaporetto Water Buses|
|Types of Water Buses|
|Traveling by Vaporetto|
|More Tips and Warnings|
|Venice Transportation Index|
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