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Accessible Travel In Venice - Is Venice An Accessible City?

June 17th, 2020 by Roberta Bianchi

The year 2020 has been a tough year for tourism, there is no denying that. During the long months of lockdown, the industry has started reflecting more on communities and environment, finally realizing that there is a huge need for more sustainability and quality. Among sustainable and quality requirements, ensuring accessible travel to people with disabilities is simply the right thing to do, as much as it is important to receive valuable and detailed information about the cities' ability to welcome people with disabilities.

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When taking Venice into consideration as a destination for a trip, the city has to be carefully evaluated: accessible travel in Venice is possible - with a few caveats.

And remember that if you need help in the city, you can always get in touch with Prontopia for in-person tailored assistance.

Accessible Travel In Venice

When one thinks of Venice, the first thing that comes to mind is that the city is built on 121 small islands connected through canals and 435 bridges that cross them. It may then seem like an impenetrable city for those people with disabilities (especially those in wheelchairs)!

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Instead, it is possible to find paths for accessible travel in Venice. The city, in fact, has implemented quite a few measures to guarantee access to all: for example, on public transport, trains, buses and the ferries are all equipped to carry disabled people.

Nonetheless during the most crowded periods of the year, Venice is packed with people and mobility becomes challenging for everyone, not to mention people with walking impairments.

Summer 2020 sounds like a great moment to re-discover accessible travel in Venice!

2020 is the year to spark a serious talk on accessible travel in Venice as the crowds have become less frequent and the city is calmer and nice for everyone. We're even witnessing an explosion of Venetians walking with a cane and going the extra mile to reach Saint Mark's Square to sink in the beauty of a city they haven't been able to enjoy in years.

To get a better idea of how accessible Venice is, let's list some facts:

  • the 70% of surface of the historic centre is accessible to people with disabilities;

  • Buses and ferries are suitable for people with disabilities;

  • Train stations and airports offer specific services to those who need special assistance on arrival;

  • since 2018, Anffas (the National Association of Families of People with Disabilities) has been working closely with local tourist organizations and agencies to develop advantageous offers for people with disabilities.

How To Arrive

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Marco Polo Venice airport is located in Tessera, about twenty kilometers away from the historic center of Venice. It is connected by line 5 of the ACTV bus (accessible to wheelchairs) and with the bus line 15 (also accessible). The former goes to Venice historic center, the latter is the right pick if you need to reach the center of Mestre (10 minutes from Venice by bus). If instead you want to arrive by sea, the only connections are the Alilaguna motorboats (keep reading for more details on accessibility).

The airport also has free parking for the disabled (with the badge) and there are elevators specially equipped for wheelchairs (instead of using escalators).

Assistance to passengers with disabilities is provided by the airport manager and must be requested when purchasing the ticket and no later than 48 hours before departure. It is not possible to book the service directly at the airport.


RFI (rete ferroviaria italiana) is the Italian Station Manager. Among its tasks, it guarantees the accessibility of the stations to all citizens on departure, transit and arrival, with particular attention to people with disabilities or people with reduced mobility, providing adequate assistance services in the station and targeted information and progressively eliminating physical obstacles. RFI provides assistance services and organization points (open every day from 6:45 to 21:30) to travelers with disabilities and reduced mobility .

RFI offers a 24h service, relating to:

  • reception at the station at an agreed meeting point or, for arriving travelers, or at the occupied seat on the train;

  • accompanying on board of the departing train or the arrival train at the station exit or, for those who continue the journey, boarding to another train;

  • provision, upon request, of the wheelchair to accompany you to / from the train;

  • boarding and alighting to / from the train by forklift for wheelchair travelers;

  • possible service, on request, of hand luggage (1 bag).

If you need further assistance in the city, get in touch with Prontopia for in-person tailored assistance. Learn more.

How To Get Around The City

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Barrier Free Itineraries

The Municipality of Venice has decided to remove the stairlifts placed on the bridges since they do not guarantee the service they were intended for, but in the meantime they have created a map that shows how you can access different parts of the city without barriers.

Vaporetti - Ferry Ships

All public transport jetties are accessible to disabled people. The docks (over 55 jetties located along the entire Grand Canal and along the external foundations of the historic center)and ferries are the only fully accessible Italian public transport system. Only in the event of very high tides does the access ramp take on an excessive slope that prevents access to the docks. Remember that the ferries in Venice of lines 1 and 2, the main lines of the Grand Canal, carry up to 4 wheelchairs at a time.

The municipality invites people with disabilities to use ACTV public water transport. The public transport navigation services in Venice are managed by ACTV and for information on timetables, routes and routes we recommend consulting the app "CheBateo!".

In addition, ACTV has also set up a discounted rate reserved for wheelchair users and the ticket includes any accompanying person.

NOTE: difficulties could arise from the influx of passengers, which could discourage and inhibit access on board wheelchairs.

Motorboats And Motorboats

The motorboats of the LN line that connects the city to the Lido of Venice and the Cavallino - Punta Sabbioni coast are accessible, but keep in mind that motorboats are equipped to transport only one wheelchair at a time. The ferry ships, from Tronchetto to Lido of Venice, are equipped with a lift and toilets according to the standard. The keys of which are available from the ACTV staff.

If you need further assistance in the city, get in touch with Prontopia for in-person tailored assistance. Learn more.

©Photo Credits: Photo by Josh Appel; Photos by Roberta Bianchi

Roberta Bianchi

Roman living in Venice. Plant lover, avid reader and seasonal yogi

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