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How to Take the Vaporetto in Venice

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This is how I took the vaporetto from Santa Lucia train station to the neighborhood of Castello (where my hotel was). The vaporetto is a water bus (AKA boat) you share with other riders. It’s a common way that locals get around the islands. Basically, it’s Venice’s public transportation.

The vaporetto is the cheapest way to get to the Venice city center. Private water taxis are pricey. The vaporetto, by contrast, is shared and cheaper.

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Note: The vaporetto does NOT go from the Marco Polo Airport. You must first take a bus to Piazzale Roma, THEN you can take the vaporetto to the Venice city center.

How to Take the Vaporetto (From Santa Lucia Station)

Vaporetto Venice_ How to Get Around Venice on Public Transportation

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    Walk out of the front of Santa Lucia Station and turn right. You will cross a large bridge with glass sides. Once you pass over the bridge, look to your right. You will see booths with bright yellow signs lining the canal. Walk up to the booth next to the yellow signs. You will see signs advertising vaporetto tickets. If you don’t speak Italian, don’t worry. Venice is so touristy that they will understand English, or at least they will understand what you’re asking for. I attempted Italian, but the vendor switched to English on me.

    To take the vaporetto to Castello, turn right out of Santa Lucia station and keep walking till you cross the bridge with glass sides.

    On your right, you’ll find a little stand by the water taxi stands that sells magazines and drinks and has a big yellow sign that says “WATERBUS TICKETS.”

    Here you can buy a single ticket or the 12-hour or 24-hour card. They accept CASH ONLY.

    When you buy a ticket, they will hand you a little card that looks like this:

    How to Take the Vaporetto in Venice - Vaporetto ticket

    After you get your ticket, go left and look at the black and orange lit-up board announcing departures. Look for the line you want and check the stops to make sure it stops at yours. It will show the end of the line name and then beneath it will scroll all the stops. Look for yours.

    To get to Castello, take the #1 to Rialto Bridge.

    Walk up to the turnstiles. Validate your paper ticket by touching it to the little white machine before you enter the gate. When you touch your ticket to it, it should beep and the gate will open. You’re validated!

    How to Take the Vaporetto in Venice - How to validate your vaporetto ticket
    You validate your vaporetto ticket by touching it to the turnstile. Sorry for the blurry photo…things get hectic in Venice!

    You then step onto a floating waiting lobby where you wait for your vaporetto. The vaporetto may be full so you to have to wait for the next one.

    How to Take the Vaporetto in Venice - The vaporetto pulling up
    Waiting for the vaporetto…

    IMPORTANT NOTE: The boat will likely be full. You must fight to get a spot! No dilly-dallying. Push your way onto the boat.

    ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have a backpack on, you MUST take it off of your back and carry it by hand onto the boat. They will NOT let you board the boat if your backpack is on your back (as I learned the hard way).

    How to Take the Vaporetto in Venice - Boarding the vaporetto
    Boarding the vaporetto. Remember to take your backpack OFF your back and hold it in your hands.

    Pay close attention to your stops. You will easily be able to know when you’re at the Rialto Bridge stop, because you will pass underneath the Rialto Bridge, a large white bridge with tons of people on it, so it’s hard to miss. Here’s a photo of it:

    24 Hours in Venice - Rialto Bridge
    Rialto Bridge is the big white bridge with lots of tourists standing on it. This is also a vaporetto stop.

    How to Buy a Vaporetto Ticket from a Machine

    You can also buy a vaporetto ticket at a machine at the stop.
    How to Take the Vaporetto in Venice - Automated vaporetto ticket machine
    Select “Waterborne service” > “Ordinary” if you want just one ticket.
    Then select cash or credit.
    Next, insert your cash or card. If you use a card, check the instructions on the terminal. It will flash through some announcements that are only in Italian. Just wait. It is processing your card and if you try to remove it you won’t be able to. Wait until you see the words “Retrare“. Then pull your card out.
    After that, the screen returns to the start screen. DO NOT PANIC! It takes several seconds for the screen to show “Printing ticket.” Just wait. Count to 10. Then the ticket will be printed and distributed in the plastic gate thing at the bottom of the machine.
    Take your card and your ticket.

    How to Take the Vaporetto in Venice - Vaporetto ticket from machine


    And that’s how you take the vaporetto in Venice! Enjoy your trip. :)

    Alternate Ways to Get From Marco Polo Airport to Venice City Center

    Things to Do While You’re in Venice


    Want tips on what to do in Venice? Check out my guide to 24 hours in Venice.

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