Jul 31 2008

From the airport to central Venice

Published by at 9:46 am under Venice Transportation

The question I am asked most frequently is how to get from the airport to central Venice. There are 3 basic options: water taxi, Alilaguna, bus.

A water taxi, a small motor boat, takes you and your party directly from the airport dock to your hotel. This is the most fun, the fastest and the most expensive way to go — about 90 to 100 euro. The price is set by a dispatcher and is for your group (not individually.) Your driver may offer a scenic route, generally up the Grand Canal, for an extra 10 euro. Your choice. If your hotel has a canal entrance, it is also great fun to arrive that way; you will get assistance with your luggage. My friends and I no longer take the water taxi from the airport but we find it a sad and sweet way to leave Venice for the airport.

The Alilaguna is a largish boat that leaves from the airport and makes a few stops. There are different lines with different destinations; make sure you take one that stops at a place convenient to your hotel. http://www.alilaguna.it/  This site is in English and should prove helpful in planning your use. The cost is about 15 euros a person. The Alilaguna ride is long and languid (I almost always fall asleep for a few minutes) but it provides great views of the lagoon. You will have to judge whether your hotel proximity to a stop and your luggage toting ability make this a reasonable option.

Then there is the bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma. This is an economical way to go and may be suitable if your hotel is near the bus station (Piazzale Roma) or the train station (Ferrovia.) It costs about 3 euros. I have never used this option but it is certainly a bargain.

Once in Venice:
If you like to walk and do not plan to leave central Venice, you can easily get by without any other means of transportation than your own feet. However, if you plan to go to the outlying islands or enjoy travelling on the water, you will need to use a boat. Since this is a city built on waterways, the choices are extensive.

The vaporetti are the Venetian equivalent of subways. There are vaporetti that go through the Grand Canal, around the fish shaped central Venice as well as to the nearby islands. The vaporetti follow regular schedules that are quite reliable; the ones that ply the Grand Canal run very frequently and can be as crowded as the NYC #4 train during rush hour. The prime seats are in the front where you can see the Grand Canal opening before you with no tourists standing in your way trying to take photos. One of the vaporetto lines that goes along the Grand Canal, the number 3, is limited to cittadine (citizens) of Venice only.

The vaporetti that go to some of the outlying islands are less frequent but the timetables are posted at the stops (covered docks in the canals that look a bit like bus shelters) and are usually available from your concierge.

Tickets for the vaporetti are sold as single tickets (6.50 euros), day tickets, 3 day tickets and 7 day tickets. The 7 day ticket is about 55 euro, so if you plan to take the vaporetti frequently, the economy of the longer ticket interval really comes to be a good deal. Tickets are available at the stops, must be bought in advance and must be date stamped using the machine there the first time that they are used. The fine for being caught on a vaporetto without a ticket is exorbitant so unless you are very fond of gambling and like the idea of trying to game the system, buy a ticket. If you run to catch a vaporetto without a ticket, immediately tell the conductor that you don’t have one and you can pay the usual amount directly to him/her.

Water taxis are expensive. However, if you like to arrive and dine in style, you will enjoy taking one to your destination. Plan on about 30 euro for a relatively short trip.

The Grand Canal is filled with gondolas taking swarms of tourists for a ride. The cost is about 60 euro for a 45 minute ride. You are advised to establish the price before you get into the gondola. I personally have never been even vaguely tempted to try this; it is just too touristy. However, for about 50 cents, you can take a traghetto across the Grand Canal and, to my way of thinking, have the gondola experience without the tourism aspect. On a crowded day, I found it a bit scary, but I’m not at all fond of amusement park rides either.

If you would like to try rowing yourself, like in a kayak, be advised to bring your own. The local clubs charge about the cost of a kayak for a day’s rental.

On the Lido and on Sant’Erasmo, you can rent a bicycle for a reasonable fee if you would like to tour either of these islands that way. Both islands have other, motorized vehicular traffic. Bicycles are not permitted in central Venice except that you will see toddlers wheeling around a bit in the campos. I’m not sure that this is strictly permitted.


2 responses so far

2 Responses to “From the airport to central Venice”

  1. noel fairon 26 Jul 2009 at 2:06 pm

    what is a traghetto? how about a picture.

  2. srcabralon 26 Jul 2009 at 2:13 pm

    A traghetto looks just like a gondola but without any fancy seats. There are traghetto stations all along the Grand Canal that ferry passengers from one side to the other. The oarsmen look like gondolieri but sometimes less fancily dressed.

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