The water bus service in Venice is run by ACTV. A vaporetto, as locals call the crafts, is convenient, frequent, comfortable but scarily expensive. In fact, for a non-Venetian a single ride costs €7.50 and we gave tips on how to save in another post.
Here, we present a set of rules to follow in order to experience your trip best.
1. Get a ticket in advance. Don’t wait to buy one at the booth because you might find a slow queue and risk missing your boat. Buy a pass to travel as much as you need or purchase your single-ride ticket at one of the many sale points, like a tobacconist’s.
2. Always validate your ticket or pass. Just place it in front of the validating machine, even when there are no gates, every time you get on a boat. The machine also displays information when you press the yellow button before you place the ticket near it.
3. Get onboard through the proper entrance. Follow the signs to get in and once the boat arrives, let people disembark first.
4. The jetties are not the vaporetto. It could sound obvious but I happened to hear many times people wondering why the boat didn’t leave while we were still standing on the jetty.
5. Once onboard, get inside. It’s nice to stay out and enjoy the view but vaporetti are not sightseeing buses and people get on and off at every stop. More importantly, let the staff do their job so do not stand too close to the gates (on both sides) or to the bollards, where ropes are wound up.
6. If you travel with bags, avoid peak hours if you can and always listen to the personnel’s suggestions. All types of vaporetto have areas for luggage.
7. The timetables are displayed at the stops. However, you can use the ACTV site or the map apps to find your way on the network with the updated times. The staff is usually helpful, too.
8. If you want to enjoy the view, take vaporetto 1 along the Grand Canal, possibly one with seats in the front, at off-peak times. Most boats have an open area at the stern as well.
9. You can walk anywhere in Venice so you can do without water buses. On the contrary, they are essential to the many islands where they go around the clock and even during a strike. All the more so, islanders depend on the service and won’t view highly those who do not behave correctly.
10. In case of an emergency, vaporetti are suspended or diverted. For example, when there’s fog or a high tide, some lines do not work as scheduled.