The Vaporetto - The Most Affordable Way to See the Grand Canal?

What is a Vaporetto, can I use it when I come to Venice as a cruise guests, where can I buy a ticket and where to catch one?

Keep reading to find out all that!

Why use a Venice vaporetto?

When it comes to these special Venetian water buses, there are two main reasons why you would use this kind of Venice transport and incorporate it into your cruiser's limited day:

Grand Canal palazzos seen from the VaporettoTaking a vaporetto ride is one of the best ways to take photos of the Grand Canal palazzos
  • PURELY FOR PLEASURE - Although it might not be necessary when getting around the main islands of Venice (remember, it is possible to walk into Venice from Piazzale Roma), taking a water bus is simply part of the experience and probably the best, the lengthiest and the most affordable way to enjoy the Venice Grand Canal, which is "the main street" of this city.
  • FOR BOTH PLEASURE AND PRACTICAL REASONS - you can use the Vaporetto to get to Piazza San Marco from Piazzale Roma or to the neighboring islands like Murano, Burano, or Lido, without having to pay for expensive cruise transfer boats from Marghera cargo port where your cruise ship will dock.

Before you start further exploration of Vaporettos, please make sure you read our article on getting from Marghera cruise port to Stazione Marittima and using People Mover from Stazione Marittima to Piazzale Roma. 

A lot has changed in Venice regarding cruise ship visits since 2022 and you should be well informed if you want to go about Venice on your own, which is always more affordable than using pricy cruise line services.

What is a Venice vaporetto?

After many years of working on cruise ships and advising people on how to go about getting around La Serenissima, we have noticed something interesting: first-time cruisers to this popular cruise destination tend to call ALL Venice boats - 'water taxis'!

If you're making the same mistake, here are a few tips on how to discern water buses from Venice water taxis and when to use which:

Vaporettos or water buses are elongated boats that used to be run on steam in the past and are:

  • a public means of transportation in Venice which have pre-designated stops, routes, and times of departure (just like local buses do in any other land city)
  • bigger boats that can take on more than a hundred people at a time
  • much more affordable than water taxis

To find out what makes water taxis different from any other Venice boats, read our article Venice water taxi

Where can I catch a Venice water bus?

There are numerous stops around the city and you will recognize them by a yellow line with the name of the particular stop on them. They are mostly run by the ACTV company.

All water bus stops have a floating landing against which boats will dock once they arrive.

Some stops will have more than one landing and you will need to verify which one to take by looking at overhead indication boards or electronic displays that tell you in how many minutes the boats arrive and what their final stop is.

As you are boarding the boat check with the on-board attendant in which direction the boat is headed, too. Usually, they will be shouting out the final destination of the vaporetto anyway.

Ferrovi ACTV vaporetto stopStanding on the floating landing of the Ferrovia Vaporetto stop

Where to buy a Venice vaporetto ticket or pass?

You can buy Venice water bus tickets or passes at ACTV water bus ticket booths.

You will find them at any major Vaporetto stops that you as a Mediterranean cruise ship guest are most likely to use (San Marco, San Zaccaria, Piazzale Roma, etc...).

If you happen to find yourself at a water bus stop whose ticket booth is closed (it often happens on the isle of Murano), you can check in the closest tobacco shop (tabacchi) or ask to purchase one as soon as you get onboard the boat.

If you purchased your ticket or pass at the ticket booth, don't forget to validate it on the electronic card reader before your first ride.

You don't need to punch your card. Simply slide it against the screen until it shows a green light.

If looking to catch Vaporetto when coming from the direction of Stazione Marittima and walking out of the People Mover, the first stop on the Grand Canal will be Piazzale Roma, and you will see big ticket booths as you cross the street.

Piazzale Roma vaporetto ticket boothWalk out of the People Mover, cross the street and buy your vaporetto tickets in the ticket booth on the left

Venice vaporetto tickets, fares and prices

A regular single water bus ticket is €9.50 per person. It is valid for 75 minutes (it includes one piece of hand luggage) In that time you may change lines but not take a reverse direction.

The other water bus tickets that might be of interest to you as a cruise guest in Venice are:

  • 24-hour pass for €25 
  • 48 hour pass for €35 etc.

You can pre-purchase these ACTV Tourist Travel Cards online, too. You will get a code and print the actual tickets out at the ACTV ticket machines in Venice without waiting in lines. 

Read more here:

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As a cruise ship passenger, do not rush to spend money on multiple-use passes before you make an exact plan of where you will be going on the days of your visit to Venice and when.

Remember, this city is perfectly walkable on foot and you can reach every church, museum, and historical sight within the center of Venice by walking. You just need to get to the center (Piazza San Marco) somehow.

The cost of water bus passes for multiple uses will pay out only if:

  • You are staying in Venice for a few days before or after your cruise
  • You will be visiting the islands in the Venice lagoon (eg. Murano, Lido, Burano) on your own.

Venice vaporetto routes and lines

Venice Vaporetto lines schemeAt every Vaporetto stop you can study the lines and their stops

Want to see all the Vaporetto lines and their stops before your arrival in Venice? Check this interactive ACTV vaporetto map!

ACTV Venice water bus routes are organized into an easy-to-use system with three main types of lines:

  • CITY CENTER ROUTES - along Venice Grand Canal. The most popular one with the Europe cruise guests is line #1 which zig-zags between the stops on the Grand Canal.
  • Its sluggishness might be annoying for all the commuters on their way to work - the longer it takes, the less time they have for their first-morning espresso. But for you, it will be just perfect as it gives you just enough time to take photos of all the beautiful palaces you will be gliding past.

  • CITY CIRCULAR ROUTES- around the main Venice islands and to Murano or Lido islands
  • LAGOON ROUTES- use them to reach Burano or Torcello island.

You can consult a fantastic interactive map of lines on the ACTV official page!

Venice vaporetto timetable

If you are a cruise guest visiting Venice for a day or two and using water buses during the daytime, you won't really need water bus timetables.

They normally leave every 15-20 minutes, so you can just wait for a few minutes at the stop and catch the next one.

But if this port is where you embark or disembark your cruise ship and you are arriving/departing from early in the morning or late at night, you can find the Venice water bus timetables here.

At the top of the list you will see the lines of most interest to cruisers (#1 and #2 to San Marco and #3 to Murano)

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