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Venice: to water taxi or vaporetto

Curious how many of you have taken the water taxi to and from your hotel in the center of the island and recommend or regret vs. how many take/took the vaporetto and same opinions.

Given we will have some luggage and hotel already booked is kind of in between San Marco and Rialto I am thinking of biting the bullet and just coughing up the super pricey water taxi fees for both arrival and departure.
Arriving from piazzale roma car rental drop off area and departing to VCE airport.
Party of 3 with myself, wife and 3 year old daughter could struggle moving 2 roller bags over bridges especially with unpredictability of mood of daughter at the time (will likely have her in a stroller as well as the 2 roller bags, backpack and large purse ; that is packing extremely light for us and will struggle to limit it to that)
Hotel is in Campo Santa Maria Formosa (castello) and claims to have the ability of water taxi directly to the hotel. Think they have a loading dock on a canal so sounds super convenient but is it worth the 200 euros or so total cost to take a water taxi arriving and departing? Guessing the arrival midday should be 80 euro or less and departing to the airport from hotel around 8:30 AM about 120?

To late for me to change and I do love the hotel I did book, but definitely having some buyers remorse on not just booking a hotel in close walking distance to Piazzale Roma. When I booked I was not really thinking in my head about adding another 200 euro to the hotel cost.

I would feel better if many who took the water taxi loved the experience and thought it was luxurious and worth every penny.

Posted by
607 posts

If you arrive by car at Piazza Roma, take the vaporetto from there to Rialto and walk from there to hotel in less than 10 minutes. Will save you over 60 Euros (does anybody here know if have to pay vap fare for 3 year old?) money saved will buy your family a nice dinner. The vap ride down the grand canal is fun (see same stuff as on expensive water taxi). You may be able to use google streetview to see what the walk is like from Rialto to hotel.

Departing, i would probably spring for the water taxi and not have to stress over walking, bussing or cabbing, etc to airport in the early morning.

Regarding luggage, are you using two carry on sized rollers? If so, i would suggest use a single larger 25" roller. Now you only have to contend with just one (albeit larger) piece of luggage with about the same total volume and your wife can deal with the child and stroller. Check in the bag. No need to pull carry ons onto plane. Help with the kid at the airport. Your wife will thank you.

Posted by
1724 posts

Our luggage is a little more daunting than that.
Both rollers are more like 24" rollers, so were planning on checking each.
We have a larger 29" or so size rolling bag but getting everything into that might not be possible and/or think we will exceed airline weight limits if we cram everything into this one.
Good idea to try that as it would lighten our load overall if we can make it work.

I read somewhere that large pieces of luggage during busy times are charged a full price vap ticket?

My backpack is more of a camera/hiking daypack so fairly sizeable so will be my airline carry-on ; hopefully moving some clothes to that will help packing and my wife's purse I think will count as her carry-on.

Posted by
15694 posts

Here is the website and estimator for the Water Taxi Consortium:
Piazzale Roma to Venice hotel 75 euro, Venice Hotel to airport 100 euro.

Where is your hotel? If it is close to a vaporetto stop, it is only 7.50 euro per person on the vaporetto. You could also look at taking the Alilaguna boat to the airport for about 15 euro per person.

I've used them when traveling with a large group. A water taxi split between 8 people is only 15 euro per person. It is a very convenient and exciting (in the good sense) way to enter Venice. I don't know if I would spring for it for two unless I absolutely had to. But it is always an option, especially if your hotel is far from the Grand Canal.

Posted by
607 posts


Two 24"s plus kid and stroller may just be a bit much. You may have to spring for the water taxi on arrival too. Streetview and see if you can handle the terrain between Rialto and hotel. The walk from Piazza Roma to the vap stop is easy and level. Getting on and off vap is also easy.

I would probably consider taking the single 29" if i could fit everything into that single bag. A young child and stroller is a handful. One of you will probably end up having to deal with the luggage. Pulling one really big roller is still easier than handling two rollers by one person, imo.

Edit: you may also consider the one big roller plus a full carry-on back pack in which you can put in your camera stuff plus other clothes etc that you cannot fit into the checked luggage. Then when you are on the ground, you will have the carry on backpack on your back and 2 hands free to lug the big roller. Your wife can then deal with stoller and child and maybe a light backpack. You will end up being the sherpa, but that is part of the job of being the nice husband and father.

PS. How big is your camera which requires a carryon camera bag? If you are carrying a DSLR, please see the long thread regarding the discussion about whether to buy a Nikon D3300 or Canon SL1. Conclusion: Don't buy either. Bring a smaller camera instead.

Posted by
1724 posts

Good points.
staying at Hotel Palazzo Vetturi
the hotel website mentions to get off Vap at either Rialto or San Marco and have a 10 minute or less wlak, but I assume that is if you know where you are going and don't have luggage
Hotel website is also where I read that a water taxi can bring you to the front door but then in another place on same site states you can get a water taxi almost to the front door without any bridges to cross so maybe not using the dock and canal in the back of the hotel to access, I am not sure.

The below website, has a very handy tool for many hotels where they list the walk from stops with least number of bridges for those with luggage even if not the fastest route.
They are showing the best stop as San Zaccaria
but that is based on the Alleghini from the airport not the Vaporetto from P. Roma, so not sure if that is a stop on the Vaporetto as well?

Posted by
16809 posts

I hate to admit it, but I have more than once gotten myself lost trying to walk between San Zaccaria vaporetto stop and Campo Santa Maria Formosa. Be sure to map it out well before you go. Looking at Google maps, the route from the Rialto stop looks more straightforward, if you turn left off the vaporetto, walking past restaurant La Busa and through the Sotoportego de la Bissa.

P.S. Staying near Piazzale Roma is not the most popular solution, although staying closer to any vaporetto stop can be more convenient.

Posted by
11905 posts

On our last two trips to Venice (2013 for a month and 2015 for a week, both times in October) we did not have a single vaporetto ride I would call "fun". Each time it was so crowded I could not see out unless I stubbornly stuck to the rail---but often that is impolite or impossible.

This last trip we were treated to a water taxi ride from Piazzale Roma to Ca'd'Oro when my brother-in-law arrived. It was indeed a pleasure. My husband sat up front with his brother and chatted with the driver (hubby speaks passable Italian) and we three ladies sat in the back and pretended we were famous. It was a fun trip down the Grand Canal, so much more pleasant than the vaporetto. I think it was 60€.

Would I do it again if we were paying? in your situation, with the small child, would use the water taxi to arrive at the hotel. For the return to the airport, you can decide on that after you spend a day or two in Venice and experience getting around on the vaporetto. Count the number of bridges you would cross from your hotel to the closest Alilaguna stop----probably Rialto, but I need to check the Alilaguna route map as there may be a better one. I suggest the Alilaguna over the vaporetto for getting to the airport as you do not have to change to a land bus. It takes an hour so check the schedule carefully to see if there is one early enough for your flight.

On second thought, I would probably take a water taxi to the airport too.

And do not regret your hotel choice. Campo Santa Maria Formosa is a lovely area. Enjoy Venice.

Posted by
909 posts

In 2012, we stayed at the Hilton on Guidecca Island. We took a water taxi from the airport. This was a great choice because we arrived around noon and had about an hour boat ride in bright sunshine with a nice breeze - perfect for dealing with jet lag! We took a train from Venice to Florence, so there wasn't a return trip for us. In 2015, we arrived by train and stayed in an apartment near the Frari Church. We walked from the train station to the apartment. We flew home from Venice on this trip and walked to Piazzele Roma (10-15 minutes over several bridges) and took a taxi to the airport. Both were easy in my opinion, but I wasn't traveling with a 3 year old either! If you can afford it, spring for the water taxi - at least from the airport to the hotel. You can always ask your hotelier for options on the return trip.

Posted by
1724 posts

Thank you Laura, Stephen and Lolo,

laura: I will definitely get lost then, thank you for commenting. Without luggage getting lost I am sure can be quite enjoyable.

lolo you definitely brought up my fears of relying on the Vaporetto with it being over crowded and glad you did enjoy the costly Taxi ride at least and glad to here you recommend the location.
Without being there it is hard to envision a taxi being a luxury trip, on land it is a way to get you from point a to point b only.
Have to hope the wife understands there is no money in the budget for a gondola ride because we spent it all on water taxis, lol. I will tell her she can take unlimited rides on the traghetti instead!

funpig: I will look for the thread but we are unlikely to agree on this topic as I do have a full frame camera, multiple heavy lens as well as a tripod that go or I don't go. Not on day trips in the sun will I need all of this, but I shoot at dawn, dusk and dark almost exclusively when the larger sensor help greatly and tripod is required and make some money off of photography so it is a very important part of the trip. I plan on returning from this trip completely exhausted since I will be a tourist with the family all day and add to that up an hour before sunrise and shooting most every evening as well. The right light is worth the sacrifice for me.
Not sure how many others will be at the Accademia bridge an hour or so before the sun rises, but that is tops on my list of things to do in Venice.
San Marco at dawn when it is empty is also a goal to shoot.

Posted by
607 posts


I just read your other thread regarding your planned itinerary. Yikes. If itinerary is still the same, by the time you hit Venice, you and your family will be pretty tired! And you plan on getting up at the crack of dawn the next morning to go to the Accademia bridge for a photo of AFS ("another _______ sunrise") and plan on departing Venice early the next morning. So, you will probably need the water taxis both ways to avoid total physical collapse. At least, the water taxis are pretty classy looking. Take a photo of the water taxi. Clooney used them for his wedding.

Posted by
1724 posts

Yes, quite exhausting. I did modify my plans quite a bit though, originally I think I had posted it was an 11 or 12 day trip, it is now 19 with everything now booked.
Didn't really make things easier as Paris was added to the end but added some days here and there to give us slightly more downtime.

My sunrise/sunset are a little ambitious and represent best case scenario.
I won't miss one if the weather is right but fact is if I recognize no chance for good light, I will sleep in or enjoy a long dinner with the family instead.
Totally clear day without a cloud in the sky probably is not worth my time and if it completely overcast that won't be either in most cases.

Posted by
607 posts

LOL. I was posting at same time as your last several posts.

I am a photog with all that heavy gear, film and digital. And i used to lug that stuff on vacation along with a Sony camcorder back in the day. No use trying to talk you out of it. Wives just have to put up with us guys and our hobbies and gadgets, whether it is photography, fishing, golf, cars or whatever, until we outgrow them. Just remember, if the boat capsizes, save the kid before the damn camera. LOL.

Posted by
1724 posts

Yes, camera is replaceable with a new camera daughter is not!
Funny thing is funpig we actually both gave the same camera recommendation on the other thread ;the Rx100 model.
I have owned the M2 and M3 and used it exclusively on a trip to Yellowstone. I regret that decision now as I am more serious(addicted) but at the time got some great images that could never have gotten with my IPhone and have a couple of large (20" x 30" printed images from that trip and camera on walls at home)

Size does play a large factor in my camera gear purchases, so is small by professional standards but my gear would be considered ridiculous for a casual observer.
Consisting of a Sony A7r camera and I am down to only 3 lens in my travel bag. One stays attached with 2 others in the bag. along with a handful of filters. All fit in just the swivel section of a very cool backpack that is completely pickpocket proof (as far as where the valuables go).
Oh and of course a carbon fiber tripod which is amazingly light but still not easy to travel with since I fear TSA will take it away from me if I don't pack it into my checked luggage.

Posted by
3696 posts

I have done both the taxi and vaparetto... however, I was splitting the cost with 3 other people... but we are all photographers and had clothes and equipment, so the taxi was so much nicer.

And being a photographer myself, I would leave home my clothes before I would leave my camera. Although, I have consolidated my stuff and made it much simpler... one camera with zoom lens, and no tripod for me these days, but I have taken tons of equipment, film, big tripod, Hasselblads, etc... so you do what you need to in order to get the images that you want.

Venice is magic at sunrise... make the effort to get up... its worth it.
Sunset, not so much... too busy and too many people. I do my serious photography before most people get up.
Have a great trip.

Posted by
1724 posts

Thanks Terry ; I had that impression that Sunrise and even the hour before and after was the time to photograph Venice and sunset would never be not filled with masses of people and my tripod could even be considered a public hazard at that time.

Other regions on this trip are more sunset destinations than Venice though Venice it seems like Sunrise can be extended far longer into the morning when photographing unique gondolas, buildings and canal traffic before the masses finish their breakfast.

Packing issue is mainly twofold: one is the trip is a surprise for my wife so hard for her not to over pack without knowing the destination - I am still trying to figure out what to tell her to pack and more importantly not pack - and other even bigger factor is the Dolomites are in the plans and will be much colder than the other places requiring some cold weather gear to take up space in bags that will otherwise be useless. Sunrise at 10,000 feet is bound to be freezing so gloves, hat, lightweight down jacket, etc... for me are going to necessary.

Posted by
1446 posts

We used a private water taxi to get from FCO to our hotel (near San Marco) and again to get from our hotel to Piazzale Roma on our last day in Venice. We will use a private water taxi again this coming August for the same routes. After flying for 12+ hours, the last thing we wanted to do is fight to get our luggage on a vaporetto and then sit (or stand) on it for an hour to get to San Marco and then hassle getting our luggage over bridges, etc. to our hotel. We feel it was well worth the money. Our hotel had a water landing so we were able to go directly to the hotel. Unfortunately my husband & I aren't able to pack very light as we both are amateur photographers and we each insist on traveling with our own DSLR's and our own gear (we both end up taking the same pictures & then argue over who took it best after we get home! LOL). So, we each have a check-in piece of luggage for our clothes, a carry-on for our electronic gear, meds, tripods, etc. and then a camera backpack for our DSLR & lenses. It was SO much easier to take the private water taxi instead of the hassle of trying to get all of our luggage onto the vaporetto (which probably wouldn't happen during peak season). In your situation, I would definitely spring for the private water taxi; it makes the most sense from a convenience standpoint, especially since you are traveling with a little one.

Like you, we will also be up every morning before sunrise to photograph the popular sites without the throngs of tourists. We'll see you on the Accademia bridge at sunset too! Happy travels & photography!

Posted by
1724 posts

Thank you Sheron,
Good to hear, in our case our day arriving and leaving are not too hectic since we have about a 90 minute drive before reaching Venice and a short flight to Paris when leaving but everything you said makes perfect sense.
I fear if our experience reaching our hotel is miserable than I risk ruining our short stay in Venice so it is not worth the risk and will spring for the pricey water taxis.

Question: Any issues with airline security keeping your tripod in a carry-on?
Do you take the head off and pack that in the checked bag or elsewhere in the carry-on. Fear it being perceived as a weapon and not being allowed on the flight.

I did not book a long time in Venice because I have heard mixed feedback from friends who have been and we don't like seafood. If we love it we can always plan a return trip and stay longer.
Main loss is going to be I really will not want to also pay for a Gondola ride while there if booking the water taxi on both ends which I am sure the wife will want. We have taken gondola private rides at the Venetian in Las Vegas, does that count?
Best of luck on your trip this year as well!

Posted by
1724 posts

Re: Terry
I visited your online gallery, very nice photos and love the way you seem to enjoy exploring and showcasing the back streets and alleyways that make Europe so unique and memorable.
One word of advise though, please check into your music settings, I think a nice idea but would recommend no music. If you want to keep the music that is fine for the landing page, but needs to have a simple way to stop the music from playing. When visiting you site even though I initially clicked stop music each gallery will still start up and play a track, requiring clicks to stop music each time I look at a different part of your site? I assume you have it setup to play a different track for each section but there is no master on/off for the user that I could find.
With the current move to mobile I think that is going to turn off many visitors. I know I exited out quicker than I would have otherwise.
No offense intended, lovely site otherwise and happy travels!

Posted by
2023 posts

I would not hesitate to take the water taxi considering your bags and small child. We have been to Venice four times and never used water taxi and each time was a huge hassle getting to hotel and dealing with luggage and bridges. On one visit the vaporettos were on strike. We managed to have a local get us to P Roma and from there we crossed seven bridges to hotel. Last trip we found that porters were available to help with luggage on the big bridges. Have a great trip. You will love Venice!

Posted by
861 posts

Arriving in Venice by train, we take a vaporetto and then hoof it to wherever we are staying. Arriving at Marco Polo, we take the shared water taxi which costs about 25 euro. Departing via Marco Polo, we take the Alilaguna ferry.

Next trip, I am travelling solo, in Venice for only two weeks, so travelling light. I'll take the bus from Marco Polo to P. Roma, and then walk to the Frari where the accomodation is. That's only half a dozen bridges, easy.

Posted by
567 posts

Sounds like a water taxi is warranted. If your finances allow for it, it is worth the expense.
We used a water taxi to and from our destination with our 4-year old granddaughter in tow and lots of luggage.
Our kids haven't learned to pack light!
I havent't stayed at Santa Maria Formosa Hotel, but I loved the location. Lots of locals and kids playing in the piazza. The hotel looked nice from the outside. I love Castello!

Posted by
1724 posts

Thanks, unless we can pull off a packing miracle, I did decide to build the taxi cost both ways into the budget.
The budget has some flexibility but trying to make it a give and take so will mean a couple more meals at Pizzerias or similar along the trip and/or staying firm on not taking a overpriced private gondolas, etc...

I choose the hotel partially because the rooms have balconies overlooking the piazza which I thought would be nice so glad to hear others liked the immediate area.

Posted by
861 posts

Roght near Campo Santa Maria Formosa is the Querini Stampalia Foundation. You can enter and visit the cafe (and toilets) without paying. We have eaten lunch there a few times, outside tables that overlook a very special garden.

We have visited Venice several times, and not yet taken a gondola ride, and it seems that the more time we spend in Venice, the less likely we are to get gondola'd. But we use the Rialto traghetto frequently.

Posted by
1724 posts

Thanks Peter, I am writing that down in my phone notepad to be referenced when we are on Holiday

Posted by
11905 posts

A Venetian water taxi is much more a luxury experience than a Yellow Cab or other land taxi. There is no comparison. The motor boats are lovely wooden boats ---think Chris Craft from the 1950's. There is a small covered cab behind the driver ( who stands to navigate) and an open seating area at the back. The driver will help with your luggage in and out, and will help your wife and child board.

I would choose a water taxi ride on the Grand Canal over a gondola ride any day ( in fact I will never do a gondola ride as it is way too touristy, and the gondola passengers are on public display in a way I think most people find embarrassing). Your wife should count herself fortunate to get a water taxi ride. And hopefully when she sees what a gondola ride is really like, watching others as they pass along the small canals and under bridges, she will appreciate the choice and thank you for your good sense.

Have your camera out to photograph the view from the taxi and your family in the taxi.

I am curious where in the Dolomites you will be that is at 10,000 feet. Not many locations that high.

Posted by
1724 posts

Thanks Lola
It does sound like a cool experience (taking the water taxi)

I exaggerated on the elevation think I will not taking any photos higher than 8000 or 9000 feet
Still enough of an elevation to make quite a temp change

Posted by
1446 posts

Our last trip abroad was in 2013 & we didn't have any problems with our tripods in our carry-ons but things might be more strict now. You made me think though...I will have to consider whether to pack them in our carry-ons or not for our upcoming trip. We each carry carbon fiber tripods and I'm always paranoid about packing anything too expensive in our check-through luggage for fear it will be stolen. For our last trip, my husband wanted to pack 1-2 lenses in his check-through luggage and I had a cow & made him pack them in his carry-on. I've heard a lot of stories about things being stolen out of check-through luggage.

Don't worry about the seafood issue. I can't eat seafood due to mercury poisoning but didn't have a problem finding things to eat. Two restaurant recommendations: Try Rosa Rossa (Johnny Depp ate there a lot while filming a movie in Venice years ago). We ate there several nights on our last trip and loved it. Prices were decent and quality was good! You might also try La Zucca (they have a lot of vegetarian dishes & is pretty popular but you need to make a reservation about a week ahead of time).

Terry Kathryn is right about sunset. If you intend to take pictures from the Rialto bridge at sunset, you need to get there way ahead of time to stake out a spot. It was covered with tourists at sunset taking pictures down the Grand Canal. We got there early enough to stake out our spots but then the masses arrived and we were scrunched in like sardines. Be sure to ascend the tower of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore for some great pictures looking towards St. Mark's Square. If you can get out to Burano for a few hours, there are a lot of nice photo ops to be had. On one of your early morning photography jaunts, you might also swing by the fish/vegetable market for some interesting pics of the colorful fruits/veggies, etc.

As for the gondola ride, you're really not missing out on much. We hired a gondola on our last trip just because it's the thing to do in Venice but I probably wouldn't do it again. Definitely have your camera ready on the private water taxi ride to your hotel as you can stand up and stick your head out and take some pictures that way instead of from a gondola.

Have a great trip. I hope you enjoy Venice as much as we do. We obviously love it as this is our 3rd visit to Venice. We explore all the back canals and lanes and stay away from St. Mark's Square during the day. We try to get up early every morning and take pics in St. Mark's Square or the Accademia/Rialto bridges and then vacate the area by 7-8 am and spend the rest of our day in the less touristy areas. We enjoy returning to St. Mark's Square again at night with a gelato in hand and listen to the orchestras.