Like it or not, more and more tourists choose to stay overnight in Mestre. As obviously different the experience is, I can understand them.
Sleeping in Venice, in the surreal silence of the absence of city traffic noises, is a unique emotion, but it is also true that the costs are certainly higher – it is obvious – than those of the mainland structures.
If I strongly recommend to the visitor who comes for “the journey of a lifetime” staying overnight in the historic center in order to really enjoy Venice, for those who have to pay attention to the budget, for young people, for those who plan to return other times, for serial travelers, Mestre represents an acceptable solution.
Let’s be clear, I recommend paying close attention to the reviews before booking in Mestre, too (I had awful experiences with cheap hotels here).
For those who choose to stay overnight in Mestre but without intending to visit its interesting touristic places (M9 Museum, Piazza Ferretto, Porto Marghera, …), I suggest to choose a hotel near the railway station. From July 2018 this area has returned to be safe and easily livable, and in my opinion it represents the best compromise between the cost of the facilities and the convenience to reach the Venice historic center.
How to reach the historic center from Mestre by train
If you stay around the Mestre Train Station area, my dispassionate advice is to use the train. With 1.35 euros each way (so 2.70 euros for a round trip) you will have a huge number of “regionale veloce” and “regionale” trains that connect Venezia Mestre to Venezia Santa Lucia.
Tickets can be purchased, as well as at the automatic machines of the Mestre station, also in the never crowded newsstand or at the tobacconist next to it.
Please note that these ticket gives access only to Trenitalia “regionale” and “regionale veloce” trains: you cannot use it on Frecciarossa, Intercity or Italo trains. But it will take only 10 minutes, and there is a train every few minutes.
When you buy the ticket you have to ask for which day you need it and, if you also need the return, you have to specify it, because you will be given two different ones.
For example: suppose you are in Venezia Mestre Station and you want to buy tickets to go to – and from – Venezia Santa Lucia today. You will need to specify “a round trip to Santa Lucia for today”. In fact, tickets are valid until the midnight of the day for which they are issued and they specify the precise route on which they must be used (the Venezia Mestre – Venezia Santa Lucia ticket is different from the Venezia Santa Lucia – Venezia Mestre one)
The ticket must then be validated before boarding the train, and it is valid for one hour after validation. Be careful to validate only the right ticket if you have purchased both the roundtrip couple of tickets!
If you choose to buy the ticket on the Trenitalia app or on their website, be aware that you can jump on any regionale or regionale veloce train starting from the one for which you purchased the ticket up to a maximum of 4 hours later, but NOT those before. Don’t ask me why, but it’s one more complication to keep in mind. Obviously, the ticket that you will receive by e-mail does not need to be validated and can be shown directly on the mobile phone to Trenitalia staff.
At the Mestre station, a small panel next to the general one highlights the timetables of regionale veloce and regionale trains going to Venezia Santa Lucia, simplifying their identification.
Regionale veloce trains do not usually make intermediate stops, and in 10 minutes they take you directly to Santa Lucia, while some regionale trains also stop in Marghera (and some in Ospedale too), so you need to keep attention when returning.
ACTV bus and tram
You can also reach the historic center of Venice by bus, but this is a solution I really do not recommend, unless you have chosen to stay overnight in areas far from the Venezia Mestre train station. The buses are super crowded not only by residents, but also by tourists, and sometimes they are forced to skip stops because they are too full and not in a position to pick up other passengers.
There are several ACTV lines that connect Mestre to Piazzale Roma (the bus terminal in the historic center of Venice), and I advise you to check on Google Maps or on the ACTV website which is the most convenient for you.
The land transport ticket costs 1.5 euros, is valid for 75 minutes from when you validate it (please, it is mandatory to do so!) and can be purchased at newsstands and tobacconists, as well as at the ACTV counters in Piazzale Roma and Santa Lucia.
Please be careful! The land transport tickets are NOT valid for waterborne services! The ticket for the ACTV water lines costs 7.5 euros.
ACTV day tickets
If you plan to stay at least a full day in Venice, I highly recommend you to buy full-days tickets.
There are different solutions, depending on the length of your stay, and they are valid both on the ACTV water lines and on the ACTV buses and trams, for an unlimited number of trips (but you must always validate them either before getting on the vaporetto, or as soon as you get on the bus or tram):
- 24 hours from the first validation: 20 euros
- 48 hours: 30 euros
- 72 hours: 40 euros
- 1 week: 60 euros
These tickets can be used for any waterborne services (excluding routes 16 and 19, the Alilaguna and Casinò services), the Mestre urban network (excluding journeys to and from Venice Marco Polo Airport and the People Mover) and Lido di Venezia buses.
As said, please remember that this ticket is NOT valid for reaching the airport with bus 15, unless you ask for it at the ticket issuer. In this case, you will pay 6 euros more for a trip to / from the airport, or 12 euros for a round trip.
ACTV tickets do not give access to ATVO vehicles for the Airport (the single route costs 8 euros and can be purchased at ATVO ticket offices, newsstands, tobacconists or online) or Alilaguna water lines.
The VeneziaUnica card
If you – like me – are a serial traveler, I strongly recommend you to get the VeneziaUnica card.
If you are not a resident of Venice or Veneto, it costs 100 euros, but lasts 5 years and allows you to travel both on the ground network and on the vaporetto, at a cost of 1.5 euros per trip, like residents. If you do the math, considering the cost of the navigation ticket of 7.5 euros, you will see that just a few trips are enough to cover the cost…
You can request it in just a few minutes at the ACTV counters in Piazzale Roma, guaranteeing you significant savings.