Getting Around Venice

Last Updated on November 4, 2023

St Mark’s Square from the water bus

This short blog is about how to get around Venice using public transportation, especially from the airport.  Here we describe how to purchase a public transportation ticket and how it works.  The information in this blog is based on our August 2023 trip.

No Rideshares in Venice

We were surprised to find out when we opened our Uber and Lyft apps that it did not find any rides at the Venice airport and in the city.  There are taxis but those would cost you.  Unless you are one of those travelers who bring everything but the kitchen sink, public buses should take you where you need to go.

From Airport to Town

We bought our bus ticket at the counters inside the airport that have signs you can purchase your bus tickets there. It costs 10 EUR. Just exit the airport and you will see the bus stops in front of you.  You can also buy your bus ticket at the machine right at the bus stop. The bus stops should show the bus numbers that would stop at that location.  Use Google Maps > Directions > Public Transportation feature to find the bus number to take to get to your destination.

Venice public buses have the “Actv” sign.  So just make sure the ticket dispensing machine has that sign if you are not at a bus terminal or station.  There should be a bus ticket dispensing machine at or near the bus stops.  The ticket is valid for both buses and light rails. 

The bus and light rail rides in Venice cost 1.50 Euros for a 75 minute window.  You can ride as many buses and light rails as you can within that 75 minute window.  The clock starts ticking when you first scan the ticket on the ticket scanning machine on the bus or on the light rail.

Buying Bus Tickets

We bought our tickets from ticket machines and from ticket offices. Here we show how to purchase from the ticket machine.

Step 1. Select the language.
Step 2. Select “Buy Your Ticket”.
Step 3. Select “Confirm” on the legal stuff.
Step 4. Select ticket type (we select bus).
Step 5. Select Bus service for 75 minutes.
Step 6. Select payment type, cash or credit.

The next screen will show how to pay with cash or credit card. Just follow the instructions.

Bus Stop Information

The bus stops list the buses that would stop at that location.  There is also a bus schedule of each bus showing the approximate time the bus would arrive.  Along with the bus schedule, there is also posted information of the intermediate bus stops along the route.

Typical bus stop information. Red numbers indicate the bus route. Direction of travel is from bottom to top.

One of the challenges of riding the bus for the first time is knowing if the bus is going in the direction you need to go.  Buses show the end destination above the windshield.  If your destination is not the bus end destination, then you may end up getting on the bus that is going the other way.  Fortunately, the intermediate stop information is posted at the bus stops (picture above).  The direction of travel is also shown with an arrow.  Generally, the direction of travel is from the bottom to the top of the list as shown in the photo above.

For buses that go on a circular route, you will see that the starting and ending bus stations have the same name.  Plus there would not be a direction arrow.  In this case, better ask the driver which direction the bus is heading to make sure that you are in the right direction.

Water Bus

Water bus route information

Water bus is also run by Actv. It costs 9.50 Euros for a 75 minute ride.  Just like the land buses, you can ride as many water buses as you can in 75 minutes.  You also need to scan your ticket to get in the floating water bus stop.

Floating water bus stop
Inside a water bus

A water bus is a convenient way of getting around Venice because the part of the city that has the famous waterways is big.  Most day visitors arrive at Piazza Roma which is where the bus and light rail stations are located.  From there, it is approximately a 30 minute walk to the Rialto Bridge and then another 10 minutes to St. Mark’s square.  There is a water bus that runs from St. Mark’s square to Piazza Roma so you can skip the long walk back after a day of walking.

Seeing Venice

We visited Venice in late August and came back mid September 2023.  It was scorching hot during the day and uncomfortably humid. There was pretty much no difference in the number of people between the two times we were there which was insanely a lot.  It was not elbow to elbow but it was crowded.  We had to bob and weave while walking to avoid running into people. Taking that most sought after picture without having extra people in the background was impossible.

It is quite different at night.  We estimate that the number of visitors at night was cut down to about a fourth of visitors during the day.  In our opinion, it is much nicer to visit Venice at night for three reasons – less people, cooler temperature  and the colorful store lights.  Some of the restaurants at St. Mark’s Plaza even have a small orchestra (four to five musicians) playing wonderful music for people dining under the stars with a candlelit table.

We estimate that most day visitors start leaving Venice around 4 PM.  The restaurants and shops along the water’s edge (by the sea) start closing around 9 PM while the shops in the interior part of Venice were still open when we left at 10 PM. It is a good thing that there are still buses, though limited in numbers, that run at night between Piazza Roma and the mainland neighborhoods.  If you cannot score an accommodation within the touristy part of Venice, then just find an accommodation near the route of the evening buses.

In our opinion, it is more enjoyable to explore Venice by just getting lost in its maze of narrow streets.  The streets are pedestrian only.  Who knows what interesting store or shop you may find at the next corner. 


Venice is one of the popular destinations in Italy.  It is a charming city with its collection of shops and restaurants.  It feels overcrowded during the summer days with the throng of people walking its narrow streets.  

Getting around Venice by public transportation is easy and convenient.  The Actv company operates both land buses and water buses.  It costs 1.50 Euro for a ride on the land buses and 9.50 Euro for the water buses in 2023.  Both tickets are valid for a 75 minute window though we are not sure if you can use a water bus ticket on a land bus or light rail if you are still within the validity window.

It is fairly easy to purchase a bus ticket at the airport. Just exit the airport, look for the bus stops and find the ticket dispensing machine.  However, you can only purchase one ticket at a time, meaning if you need five tickets, you have to do the transaction five times.

Finally, visiting Venice at night is more enjoyable than during the day.  You avoid the crowds, the temperature is much cooler and the evening lights just make it more vibrant.