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How to get to Venice

A Simple Guide for arriving in Venice, Italy

Venice – The city of gondolas and romance and magic. If you’re reading this you’re probably planning, thinking of planning, or dreaming of someday…maybe taking a trip to this amazing little island. One of the first questions that you need an answer to is – how do we actually get to Venice??

Whether you’re staying overnight or making a day trip this guide will give you the clarity you need to make sure you know exactly how to arrive on the island of Venice.

Let’s get started!

Venice Geography 101

You really need to know this.

There is Venice the municipality that includes Mestre and Lido and some other nice places and then there is VENICE. The famous Venice, the one everyone wants to visit and that you’ve heard so much about, is the historic center highlighted in the map above. The mainland and other islands on the lagoon are lovely (if you have some time you should definitely visit them too!), but not what you have in mind when you think Saint Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, Gondolas etc so when you plan on arriving in Venice your goal is to get to that historic center. (Just to eliminate any possible confusion – Venice is Venezia  in Italian) Now that you know where you’re going let’s go over your transportation options.

Getting to the center of Venice

For an island well over a thousand years old it’s surprising how many ways there are to arrive in Venice.

Here are your 6 options. The Map above shows you all of the important arrival points:

1. Train

2. Car

3. Airplane

4. Bus

5. Cruise Ship

6. Special Section – How to get to Venice from Mestre (The mainland town which is used as a budget alternative to the island of Venice)


Now that you’ve seen the list, here is the info that you’ll need:

1. How to Get to Venice by Train – Santa Lucia Railway Station (Venezia Santa Lucia in Italian)

Santa Lucia Railway Station is the only train station on Venice
Santa Lucia Railway Station






Of all the trips I’ve taken in my life no moment stands out like the first time I stepped out of Santa Lucia Railway Station and saw the Grand Canal in the early spring as the sun was setting. I had heard all about Venice, but it was like living in a dream and I’m convinced that first impression is the reason I keep coming back. (Let me know about your first impression of Venice and if you think anything tops arriving by Train.) Venice is connected to the mainland by the Liberty Bridge (Ponte della Libertà) and as you’re going over the bridge you almost get the feeling you’re traveling back in time.

What You Need to Know

There are 2 train companies in Italy that will take you to Venice:

A) Trenitalia – The have a variety of offers and price ranges. You can take the less expensive and less comfortable regional train (Treni Regionali) or the more expensive high-speed trains (Le Frecce – literally “the darts”). If you traveling from Verona or Padua and you want a budget option the regional trains are fine. Otherwise, considering the length of time it takes to travel to Venice from Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples or any part of Italy other than the northeast I would recommend the high-speed Trains.

B) Italo  – This private company only offers high-speed options and is similar in service to the high-speed service from Trenitalia.

Bottom Line – I generally hear that Italo offers better service, but I have had both good experiences and delays with Trenitalia and Italo so my best advice for those looking for a high speed option is to check both companies for the dates of your travel (ahead of time if possible) and choose based on how long the ride is and price. For budget travelers the regional trains of Trenitalia are your best bet.


2. How to Get to Venice by Car and Where to Park your Car in Venice

Liberty Bridge Venice is the one bridge by which trains, cars, buses, trams, and pedestrians reach Venice
Liberty Bridge to Venice

Surprisingly comfortable all things considering. I’ve driven to Venice and I was impressed that it was so easy to drive my car onto an island.

What You Need to Know

You’ll have to drive over the Liberty Bridge (Ponte della Libertà) and you have 2 choices for parking:

A) Piazzale Roma – this is the absolute closest you can get to Venice with your car. From here you can walk or take the vaporetto / water bus all over the island. There are a few options here , but the largest garage is is the City Parking Garage where you can get really convenient express lane (riservato abbonati) access if you book in advance with MyPass Venezia. I have seen really long lines at garage entrance so I definitely recommend reserving in advance. The daily rate is 23 euros.

B) Tronchetto – This is the slightly cheaper option (21 euros as opposed to 23 at Piazzale Roma) and offers hourly parking rates, which is an advantage for those staying a shorter period. To get from Tronchetto to the center you can take the #2 vaporetto / water bus into Venice or the people mover ( a cool above ground cable car), which will get you to Piazzale Roma. For those who need to know – buses, campers and vans can park at Tronchetto but have a separate lot and higher prices.

Bottom Line – If you are staying in Venice and need to park for 3 hours or less then Tronchetto is your best bet, otherwise parking in Piazzale Roma makes more sense because it is so conveniently located. Just make sure you reserve in advance because the garage does fill up!


3. How to Get to Venice by Plane and how to get to the Historic Center of Venice from Marco Polo Airport

Marco Polo Venice Airport is the located north of Venice and is the best airport for reaching the island
Marco Polo Venice Airport

When flying to Venice the Marco Polo Airport is by far the closest option. Some regional flights might go through the Treviso Airport, but that is a separate case.

What You Need to Know

When landing at Marco Polo you have 2 options (aside from car rental since that would be the same as arriving in Venice by car):

A) Alilaguna Water Bus – Alilaguna is a private company that runs long distance water bus / vaporetto services around Venice. ACTV, which is the public transport authority, does not have vaporettos that go to the airport. There are blue, orange and red lines and you should decide which line to take based on where you’re going in Venice ( Alilaguna map here ). Tickets cost about 15 euros with a small discount when you buy a round trip ticket. If you get your tickets in advance  make sure to get them converted into a paper ticket at the offices listed in the link. Also, note that there is a 1 euro additional charge if you purchase your tickets on the Alilaguna boat.

B) ACTV Autobus – This is the public transport authority and they offer the most affordable route to the historic center. The cost is 8 euros for a one-way ticket and 15 for a round trip and the ride is about 30 minutes. A smart choice is to get a day or multi-day ticket package with your airport transfer so you can take the vaporetto without needing another ticket when you reach Venice. You’ll arrive in Piazzale Roma and from there you can take the vaporetto or walk to your destination.

Bottom Line – There isn’t a huge price difference between Alilaguna and ACTV Buses so it depends on your taste. If you’re someone prone to motion sickness and you’ve already had a long flight I would avoid the hour long boat ride. However, Venice is best experienced by boat and there is something special about approaching the island by sea so considering who you’re traveling with when deciding.


4. How to get to Venice by Bus

Piazzale Roma is the Venice entry point for those arriving by bus, car and tram
Piazzale Roma – Venice Entry Point for Buses

For those looking for a super budget option especially from countries outside Italy where the Trenitalia regional trains might not be available.

What You Need to Know

There many bus companies that operate around Italy and Europe that have stops in or near Venice. I have often used a German Bus Company called Flixbus, but they only bring you to Mestre (mainland) or Tronchetto.

Bottom Line – If you choose to take a bus make sure it gets you to Piazzale Roma or at least Tronchetto. If not, you’ll have to take another bus, boat, tram or something to get to Venice.


5. How to get to Venice by Cruise Ship and how to get to the Historic Center from the Cruise Terminal

Marittima Cruise Terminal is the entry point for those arriving by cruise ship
Marittima Cruise Terminal Venice

There are all kinds debates around cruise ships entering into Venice. Those in favor point out the economic benefits, while those against fear that the size of the ships would make a crash catastrophic and that the number of visitors overwhelms the city. I bring this up because there are ongoing discussions about moving the docking area of the cruise ships. For the time being most ships arrive at the Marittima Cruise Terminal.

What You Need to Know

There is a shuttle bus that runs from the cruise terminal to Piazzle Roma every 20 minutes. If you want to go directly to St. Mark’s Square take the Alilaguna Blue Line.

Bottom Line – Many cruise lines will arrange transportation to Venice for their passengers, but if you want to explore on your own Piazzale Roma is a good starting point with a walk to the Rialto Bridge 20 minutes and St. Mark’s 30 minutes. If you want to go directly to St. Mark’s take the Alilaguna Blue Line, which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes


6. Special Section – How to get to Venice from Mestre (The mainland budget alternative to the island of Venice)

Mestre is a great budget option for a trip to Venice. Hotels are much more affordable. If you can afford to stay in Venice I would recommend that because at night the crowds disappear and the sound of small waves splashing against the canals and boats is special, however, for a variety of reasons Mestre can be a good option.

What You Need to Know

ACTV Bus – from Mestre Train Station take line 2. From the Center of Mestre you can take lines 4 or 5. All buses cost 1.50 euros. Takes about 15-20 minutes.

ACTV Tram – From the Mestre train station you can take line T2 to Mestre Center where line T1 will take you to Venice. Price is 1.50 euros. Takes about 20-25 minutes.

Trenitalia Train – From Mestre Train Station to Santa Lucia Venice Central Station. Takes about 15 minutes.

Taxi – takes about 15 minutes to get you to Piazzale Roma and should cost about 20 euros.



What do you think about these tips for getting to Venice? Do you disagree with anything here? Something to add? Let me know what you think!

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