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Getting around in Venice – Lonely Planet

A woman in rubber boots walking over St Mark's square in Venice during acqua alta in venice

One of the many reasons Venice is such a popular city to visit is its unique infrastructure and layout. Public transport and getting around on foot will never be run of the mill in a city with canals instead of roads.

It takes some getting used to – a relaxed attitude and the knowledge that moving around Venice and the islands of the Lagoon doesn’t come cheap certainly help – but our top tips are here to help you find your way. Here is everything you need to know about the floating city’s vaporettos, buses, tickets and everything in between.

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If you’re here in autumn, pack your rubber boots in case of acqua alta © nullplus / Getty Images

The easiest and cheapest way to get around Venice is on foot

Walking remains the best way to get around the six sestieri of Venice. The city on the Lagoon is relatively small – going from the Santa Lucia railway station to Piazza San Marco will take you around thirty minutes on foot, for example – and its main sights are usually well-marked and easy to find. Although you should probably arm yourself with a good GPS and a nice map, the unconventional layout of Venice’s streets and alleyways can thwart even the best sense of direction.

Walking along the canals is the perfect way to get to know the city and will allow you to discover hidden corners and squares you might otherwise miss. There’s no need to worry about acqua alta – the city deploys walkways in case the streets get flooded, but it’s always wise to have some rain boots ready to go if you plan to visit in autumn.

Who needs a bus when you have a vaporetto

Vaporettos are one of the staples of the Lagoon. Where “normal” cities have buses (Venice included – in its mainland area), the Serenissima has what are essentially floating buses. The vaporetto service is run by Venice’s municipal public transport system, ACTV, and it connects all main points of interest in both the six sestieri and the other islands of the Lagoon. There are several lines of vaporettos divided into four main categories, the most relevant to tourists being the “city center lines” 1 and 2, which sail along the Grand Canal. 

Vaporettos are quite expensive, and it’s better to buy your ticket beforehand and validate it at the machine next to the stop to avoid the additional fee for purchasing onboard – a single ticket, valid for 75 minutes, comes…

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