Last Updated on December 23, 2022 by Suzy McCullough

I remember going on the Vaporetto Waterbus to visit the nearby island of Murano when I visited Venice as a child. I remembered that it was a good way to get around and we found it invaluable on our family holiday to Venice.

We learnt a fair bit about it while we were there and a lot of it I wish we had known in advance. So I hope that you will find this post useful if you are planning a holiday to Venice someday soon.

Vaporetto Waterbus Information

So what exactly is the Vaporetto Waterbus? Well, basically it’s Venice’s water equivalent of the London Underground. There are different lines that you can catch from different stops. Some stops go one way then the other stop next door will go the other way. Confused? Sorry! I will try and explain more.

Venice Vaporetto Waterbus - Recommendations
Vaporetto Waterbus

Top tip – Pick up a map of the Vaporetto travel system. When we bought our 2-day travel ticket we weren’t given a map. I subsequently saw many people with one and I am sure it would have helped us loads rather than all the time we wasted winging it.

Islands around Venice

Venice has more than 100 islands. Obviously, the only way to them is on a boat. A lot of the cheaper accommodation can be found off mainland Venice and so can some really beautiful islands.

The Vaporetto is also a great way of cruising down the Grand Canal as if you have a day ticket it is easy to hop on and hop off if you see something that takes your fancy. It’s also invaluable when you have tired legs, especially when you are reaching the end of your day with a little person in tow.

Vaporetto Waterbus recommendations Venice
Waiting for the Waterbus on one of the many floating platforms

Tickets for the Vaporetto

The tickets you buy for the Vaporetto are electronic and you must scan them before you get on at each stop. There is not always a barrier. If you catch the boat at a stop without a ticket machine you must buy a ticket from the boat conductor.

The more days you buy your ticket for the greater the savings. Children under 6 travel for free.

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Jamie enjoying his free travel

Stops on the Vaporetto Routes

At most main stops there is a map of the waterways and an electric sign stating what route the boat is approaching and when they estimate its arrival. This can be a little confusing at times but you soon get the hang of it.

If you are dropped off at one stop usually the stop right next to it will take you back in the direction you came in or where you were dropped off will carry on in the direction you were heading. So long as the boat is the same route number! But many route numbers stop at the same stops.

Vaporetto Waterbus recommendations Venice
Electronic destination display

The Vaporettos were generally very busy as we were visiting Venice during an extremely busy period. It was each for their own and don’t expect a seat at the front of the boat. Jamie was often bashed about, I do so wish people would take big bags off their backs and consider the little people.

Where can you go?

The first place we headed was Murano. I was actually hoping to go to Burano as it looks so pretty with its different coloured buildings. But we got all confused and just went for the boat that was arriving the soonest and looked the emptiest.

Murano is the island where they make their famous beautiful glass. I think Jamie appreciated it as he had no clue how they make these ornaments. There are many places on the island offering free displays in their furnaces. I do recommend a visit, but if you have time for Burano too then please pop over there for a while.

Venice Vaporetto Waterbus - Recommendations
There are many opportunities to watch glass being made in Murano
Venice Vaporetto Waterbus - Recommendations
Venice Vaporetto Waterbus - Recommendations
One of the many Murano glass shops

It is really easy to find a boat heading to the Lido. This is where many of Venice’s shops are and of course, its beach that I mentioned in my other post –

We also took the water bus over to the island cemetery of San Michele. This is free to visit and it was an interesting place to spend some time.

Venice Vaporetto Waterbus - Recommendations
Looking out over to the Island Cemetery of San Michele

Cruising down the Grand Canal

You can’t walk down the full stretch of the Grand Canal. There are many waterways that link to it but there isn’t a pathway going right alongside it. There are only four bridges that span it so if you want to be on the other side you may have quite a walk to find a bridge to get over to the other side.

This is where we really appreciated our Vaporetto tickets. We could get on a water bus next to Saint Mark’s Square and easily cross over to the stop for the Santa Maria Della Salute.

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The Santa Maria Della Salute. There is a stop right in front of this fine church.

Then further down we got off on the other side again to walk over the Accademia bridge.

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View from the Accademia Bridge

Then we hopped back on and went on further down to the Rialto bridge. All while taking in the sights of the Grand Canal that we wouldn’t have seen from the side streets.

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It was also great for us late one day when we’d ended up back at the Rialto bridge by accident. Jamie was really tiring by now so we just hopped on a water bus back to Saint Mark’s. Perfect.

Other reviews of Venice are:

Doge’s Palace – Exploring the Palazzo, Venice

Venice 15 Must Do’s With Kids – Top Tips

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