Traveling to Venice is at the top of many traveler’s bucket lists. Venice is one of those places that is almost unbelievable if you’re not seeing it with your own eyes – full of world famous sites and hidden gems. A city made of more than 100 islands, connected by around 400 beautiful bridges, with some alleys so tight, you’ll have to turn sideways to get through. Getting around Venice, Italy can be a little tricky, though, so here’s all our tips for arriving to and getting around this enchanting city.
Getting to Venice
While Venice is a world famous city, the nature of its geography makes getting to the city is a bit more complex than getting to other cities. Before we start, know that, in the historical city, there are no cars, so there will be no options for a drop off right at the door of your hotel. Prepare to have to walk your luggage to your hotel at least a little bit.
With that said – and I can’t stress this enough – quality wheeled luggage is a must in Venice, the roads are very old uneven stone, and you’ll be lifting them up and over at least a few bridges. You do not want a wheel breaking off of a cheap suitcase and having to drag or carry it the entire way to and from your hotel (I speak from experience…). A few tried and true to check out; TravelPro are the go-to suitcases of the airline industry for a reason – no nonsense and built to last, Rimowa is the definition of quality and class for those looking high style and a little luxury, and Away Travel’s suitcases are fun, sturdy, and durable. Any of those will take you through Venice and your travels for years and years to come.
Getting to Venice by Train
If you’re traveling around Italy or other parts of Europe, chances are, you’ll be arriving to Venice by rail. If you’re looking to explore the historic city, you’ll want to make sure you’re taking the train into the Venice Santa Lucia Station (Stazione Ferroviaria Santa Lucia), and NOT the Venice Mestre (Venezia Mestre station). Venice Mestre station is a through station on the main line that you’ll stop at on routes going north and south. If that’s your stop in Venice, be sure to plan your connection to Venice Santa Lucia to get to the historic city center.
There are two major intercity rail systems operating in Italy, and both can easily get you in to Venice, as well as a few other privately owned systems. Trenitalia, the government owned network, and Italo offer both traditional and high-speed options. Easier still, use an aggregator like Omio that will show you all of the different options in one place so you can easily choose which route is right for you.
Getting to Venice by Plane
If you’re flying in, you’ll land at Venice Marco Polo Airport, located on the mainland due north of the historical city. It’s about 13 KM away from the island, so you’ll need to consider some form of transportation to get there. While taking a train is, technically, an option, it’s not recommended. You’d have to take a bus out to the Mestre Train station, then a train in. For about the same price, you can easily take a direct bus.
Getting to Venice from the Airport
Once your flight has landed, and you’ve got your Euro in hand, there are a few options for getting from the airport into the historic city. Her’s a roundup of the options so you can pick what’s best for your party, timeline, and budget.
Getting to Venice by Bus
There are two super convenient bus lines that can take you into the city.
ATVO busses depart every 30 minutes from Marco Polo and go directly to Piazzale Roma in Venice (the main bus depot in the historic city). The ATVO busses take about 25-30 minutes door to door, and offer wi-fi and luggage compartments under the bus. Price is about €8 one way, and tickets can be purchased in the ticket machines in the baggage area, the ticket office in the arrivals hall, or ahead of time on the website here.
Similar to ATVO, ACTV buses offer express service from Venice Marco Polo straight to Piazzale Roma, but they depart every 15 minutes. You’ll be looking for the #5 bus, and one way will cost you about €8 for the 25-30 minute ride. While more frequent departures are convenient, be aware that there are only overhead luggage racks on these busses, there’s no under bus luggage compartment, so if you’re traveling with larger baggage, you may want to opt for the ATVO bus.
Tickets can be purchased at the self-service machines located in the airport. Fare and rate info can be found here on their website.
Getting to Venice by Taxi/Rideshare
Taxis and Ubers are easily available at Venice Marco Polo Airport. They can get you into the city in about 15 minutes, and will run you about 50€, plus additional surcharges for luggage. It will be the fastest, most direct way to get to the city, if you don’t mind the cost.
Getting to Venice by Boat
This is not an option for those on a time crunch, but if you’d like a scenic, unique way to get from the airport to the historical city, check out the Alilaguna boat service. The fare is about €35, and the walk to the dock is about 10 minutes from the airport. The boats depart once an hour, so be sure to check the timetables, and allow yourself time to get to the dock.
Getting to Venice by Water Taxi
For those who want to start the traditional Venetian experience as soon as they’re off the plane, water taxis are available to get you to the historical city. Be forewarned that this is, by far, the most expensive way to get to the city coming in at between €100 – 150 each way, but as they’re private, and can get you as close to your lodging as is possible via the canals, it might be a fun experience to kick off your trip!
Do I need a Visa for Italy?
If you’re traveling to Italy from the US, you’re able to visit for up to 90 days without a Visa. You will, of course, need to have a valid passport that is valid for at least three months after your departure date from the area, and to keep that passport on you during your visit.
Many countries will, indeed, require visas to enter Italy, so check out the current specific requirements for your home country and reason for travel at the Italian government’s website. Be sure to check as early as possible to allow you time to gather whatever documentation is needed.
What to Pack for Venice
Venice has four seasons, so as a baseline, be sure to pack for the season you’re in. In the summer, when the majority of travelers visit Venice, it can be quite hot and humid, so dress accordingly. Bring a light jacket as the nights can get a bit cooler, but during the day, you’ll want to dress for the heat (don’t forget the sunscreen) .
Due to its coastal location, Venice can also get quite a bit of rain, so a compact umbrella or raincoat will come in VERY handy when the skies open up. If you’re there during the rainy season, consider a pair of waterproof or water friendly shoes.
We’d advise against heels in Venice. Between the amount of unavoidable walking, the old, uneven streets, the steps and bridges, you’ll regret heels pretty quickly. Stick to comfortable shoes that you can walk for miles in. The locals dress, generally, conservatively and stylishly. You won’t see many of them in activewear, so if you want to blend in, stick to dark, well tailored clothing.
Getting Around Venice
Getting around Venice on Foot
When it comes to getting around Venice, as mentioned before, there are no cars in the historical city, so you’ll, for the most part, be getting around on foot. The streets can be very maze-like, so have a map available, either via your phone’s data, a downloaded offline map, or a paper map.
Getting around Venice by Vaporetto
Think of the Vaporetto as the public bus system, but on water. Run by ACTV – same as some of the buses from the airport, there are 19 routes that can get you close to most everywhere in the city of Venice, and the islands of Murano, Burano, and Lido. Dollar for dollar, this will be your best value. You can purchase single ride or day passes for easy on-and-off riding. You can see timetables, app info, and route maps here at the ACTV website.
Getting around Venice by Water Taxi
Water taxis are private and will get you as close to point A to point B as is available in the city of Venice, but be prepared to pay up for the service. Consider using a water taxi on nights of special events, or if you’re running late to an important engagement, but if you’re already pushing a budget and can avoid using a water taxi, do so. There are FAR better ways to spend your money in Venice.
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