Perhaps one of the most frequently asked question for travelers in Venice is whether they should take the water buses or not.
And the answer to these questions, as always, is that it depends. On what exactly, you might ask? Here’s a list of factors for you to consider:
1) Are you able to walk for long periods of time? Navigation is one part of the equation. Given the maze like layout you are likely to do a lot of walking back and forth.
2) Do you have the money? A single journey costs €7, and a day pass €20. Even for a Londoner these prices are pretty steep. If the answer is yes, then no problem for you! But if it’s no, then consider finding accommodation in a centrally located area.
3) Where is your hotel? If your hotel is central, then getting one ride there and walking the rest of the trip might be a good idea. However, the train station Santa Lucia is a good 40 minutes’ walk from St Marks Square that is the center of Venice. This should give you an idea of how far you need to walk. It’s also extremely easy to get lost on your way so make sure you know where your hotel or hostel is before you arrive. I stayed at a hotel on the top right corner of mainland Venice. It was super easy to find but also means I had to do a lot of walking.
4) Can you navigate? This might sound like a silly question, but it’s a valid one. Venice is maze of a city with dozens of canals connected by bridges and hidden alleyways that look rather dodgy. It’s virtually impossible not to get lost and getting from point A to B is not as simple as it is in normal cities. On my trip I had to use google map to navigate and to know where I am – this is how hard it is.
5) How many journeys do you plan to make that day? If you are planning to hit a few islands on the day, then perhaps it’s worth getting the day pass. Note, however that you should check the routes and timetables on the website as going from island to island might not be an easy option.
What did you do? Some of you might ask, and I walked throughout my entire time on Venice. Was it tiring? Yes – but you get to see so much more of Venice’s beauty on foot than by boat. Not all canals are reachable by water bus, and maybe the view is different on the water but I enjoyed crossing beautiful bridges and breezing pass little alleyways.
Second of all, the canals are not exactly what you call clean. Though regulated by the city to maintain a certain standard, the water is still a green-blue opaque that you do not want to get into close contact with.
Thirdly, I saved a whopping €80 by not taking the water bus for four days. There are moments when I genuinely regretted my decision, for example when I had to walk 40 minutes back from St Mark’s Square to our hotel with a bursting bladder. So to boat, or not to boat, that is the question that only you can answer.