11 Wheelchair Travel Tips for Venice Italy
By John Sage
Wheelchair Accessible Travel in Venice – Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world, and also one of the most challenging for disabled tourists to figure out how to get around. These Venice wheelchair accessible travel tips should make it a little easier for you.
1. Don’t buy the vaparetto pass – Most tourists buy the vaparetto daily or multi-day passes, but disabled tourists should stick with the one-way tickets. Disabled travelers get a discount and only have to pay 60 cents for a one-way trip. One person traveling with them also gets this discount. You can buy them from the ticket machines on the docks, the ticket window in front of the train station, or from a staff member onboard the boat.
2. Maximize the use of the vaparetto or water taxis to avoid the bridges – The #1 vaparetto route stops at nearly every dock along the Grand Canal and is the easiest way for disabled travelers to avoid the bridges (shown in the picture on the right). The #1 boat comes roughly every 10 minutes so you won’t have to wait too long.
3. Use the vaparetto as much as possible to save money – There are two options for wheelchair accessible travel in Venice: the vaparetto water buses or the accessible water taxis. When possible use the vaparetto boats instead of the taxis. You’ll save a significant amount of money that can go towards great shopping or dining experiences!
4. Beware of the low floating boats – When the vaparetto boats are full of people, they float lower in the water. When this happens, the floating vaparetto docks can be as much as 1 foot (30 cm) higher than the boat (shown in the image on the right). Boats are least crowded very early in the morning and very late at night. Electric wheelchair users and mobility scooter users should determine if their hotel is located along a popular route and make sure they have a water taxi with a wheelchair lift that they can call if they need it.
5. First on, last off – When a vaparetto boat stops at the dock, the boatmen will let everyone who wants to get off disembark the boat before they let people get on. During this process the boat will be floating highest in the water when some people have gotten off but no one has gotten on yet. Get yourself to the front of the line to be the first one to get on the boat (shown in the video below). When you want to get off the boat, let everyone else get off the boat before you disembark. Make sure the boatmen know that you want to get off so that can tell the people getting on to wait for you to get off.
6. Stick with the large accessible neighborhoods – Minimize the number of times that you need to use handicap accessible travel in Venezia by sticking with the big neighborhoods. The largest neighborhoods have over 20 accessible restaurants to choose from and a dozen accessible shops to visit. The smaller neighborhoods will have no accessible restaurants or shops.
7. Use accessible water taxis instead of the vaparetto to help you with bags – Getting on and off the vaparetto can be difficult if you’re carrying bags. I recommend arranging for one of the Venice wheelchair accessible water taxis to meet you at the train station, airport, or cruise dock to bring you to your hotel. The water taxi staff can help carry your bags.
8. Dinner/drinks on San Marco Square – The picture on the right shows one of the restaurants on San Marco (St. Mark’s) Square that have accessible outdoor seating. These restaurants are very easy to find and convenient because they are located so close to St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. Consider eating at one of these restaurants before or after you do you sightseeing in the San Marco neighborhood.
9. Not all vaparetto stops at San Marco are accessible – The San Marco neighborhood is a hub for several vaparetto lines, and they leave from different docks. Only the San Marco Vallaresso and the San Marco Giardinetti docks are easy to reach in a wheelchair. The San Zaccaria Danieli dock can only be reached by going over a partially wheelchair accessible bridge; and the San Zaccaria Jolanda, San Zaccaria Monumento, and San Zaccaria Pieta docks require going over bridges with steps to reach them. Make sure that the vaparetto line that you want to take leaves from one of the accessible docks.
10. Visit the fish and fruit markets – Nearly every day, fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish are brought into the Rialto Mercato neighborhood and sold to locals to cook in their kitchens. Take the time to buy some fruit to snack on and have a look at the types of fish that you will be eating in the Venetian restaurants. Both the fruit market and the fish market are wheelchair accessible. The picture on the right shows the fish market on the Grand Canal.
11. Arrange for assistance at the train station – There are steps to get on and off the trains at the Venice Santa Lucia train station. Wheelchair accessible travel to Venezia by train is possible if you arrange for staff members to get you on and off the train using a wheelchair lift (shown in the image on the right). Go to the Disabled Customer Assistance Service office in the train station to arrange for this service.
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Venice Accessible Travel – main page
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