The Venice Vaporetto is by far my favorite public transportation. The stop is a dock and the vehicle is a boat. The breeze and spray make it a great way to cool off in the summer. Some people may be intimidated by the system, but it really is efficient and much more affordable than a gondola or taxi. I do have to warn you that it is not as handicap-friendly as public transportation we might see in the states. Then again, Venice is not very handicap-friendly in general. If you are looking for a how-to or some simple tips, read below for more information.
Getting Ready for the Vaporetto
Finding a vaporetto stop is typically easy unless you are nestled in the back canals. It can be handy to pick up a map that contains the city layout along with the vaporetto routes. Even if you aren’t staying in a hotel, you can probably sneak in to pick one up. Their website also has a downloadable copy of the map.
You can purchase tickets at some vaporetto stops, the airport, or online. If you are coming in from the airport, it might be easiest to just purchase it there since you will also probably have to purchase a bus ticket to get to Venice. Actv (the vaporetto company) offers tourist cards that will most likely work best for your travels. There are different options based on the length of your stay. Once you purchase a card, you have unlimited use until the time expires. Make sure you validate your card, or you might be paying for some bigger fines!
How the Vaporetto Works
You’ve got your ticket, now what? This is where having a vaporetto map can be helpful in creating a plan ahead of time. If you don’t have a map, there are maps posted at the vaporetto stops. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the vaporetto map, but you can click the link so you can follow along. Let’s do this step by step:
1. Find the vaporetto stop you are currently at.
2. Find the vaporetto stop you want to go to.
3. If it is on the same line (color/number), then this will be really easy. Simply look in the direction you want to go until you find the last stop. You will use the last stop to help you determine which direction you will go. When you arrive at the vaporetto stop, you will want to find the sign that indicates that direction. For example, if I was at San Marco-San Zaccaria and I wanted to go to San Giorgio, I would get on the line 2 boat in the direction of Tronchetto. The vaporetto system is nice because most of the stops list all places the boat will visit. This is a good way to double check that you are going the right direction.
4. If you need to change lines, don’t fret. Let’s say I’m at my home vaporetto stop of San-Marco-San Zaccaria and I want to go to Burano. I look at the map to see how I can make the fewest connections possible. I notice that I will take line 41/42 or 51/52 to Fondamente Nova to get on line 12 and exit at Burano.
Want some practice scenarios? Check these out and look for the answers at the bottom of the post. Remember, there is more than one way to get where you want to go, but typically we want the most straightforward approach.
1. Rialto to Salute
2. Ferrovia to San Toma
After entering the boat, make sure you put your ticket in a safe place. I have never been on a vaporetto where they check your tickets, but I’ve heard from others that they do check. Hold onto it to verify you paid your way so you won’t be paying more later.
One of the most important points to remember is to watch your valuable items. The vaporetto is a common place for pickpockets because we are easily distracted and the boats can become quite packed. Try to keep your hand over your purse or pocket with your wallet, or wear a moneybelt. Zippers and buttons are no match for pickpockets. To learn other tips, check out my blog post about the topic.
Using the Vaporetto
Now that we have a better idea of how to use the vaporetto, we will be ready for the first installment of Venice by Vaporetto tomorrow. The first post will feature the Rialto stop and all of the wonderful sights within a kilometer.
1-Look for Line 1 in the direction of Lido.
2-Look for Lines 1 or 2.