Fancying a trip to Venice? If there is no pandemic and the lagoon city is empty, hotel prices in central Venice are typically quite painful and let you think about other options. Even though I would always suggest to try to find a good stay in Venice itself (also because it typically gets less crowded on the evenings), one of the options is to have your nights in Mestre, the mainland borough of the city. One of the less well-known transport options are the trams between Mestre and Venice. During my summer 2020 trip to Italy, I checked them out.
The Venice / Mestre Tram – Rolling Stock
You might see in the first picture that the Mestre Tram is special: it just runs on one rail. The rationale behind it is that it is a rubber-tired tram system: while the tram is controlled by the single rail, similar to an “ordinary” train, two wheels in a 90 degrees angle. The company behind it is the French Translohr, which is a joint venture of Alstom and the French FSI. I highly recommend the corresponding Wikipedia article about it – they explain the way the tram works much better than I could ever do.
The Venice-Mestre tram system owns 20 Translohr STE4 trains. The trains are 32 meter long and can hold up to 170 people in four train sections. The trains are bidirectional, so that they do not need to take a loop at the terminus station. Inside the trains, the cars are quite okay. They however do not feature any special amenities like USB charging ports.
The Venice / Mestre Tram – Network & Fares
There are two tram lines in Mestre / Venice. T2 might be less interesting for most tourists. It connects Salamonio, which is located South of mainland Mestre, with Mestre Centro, where it offers a connection to line T1. T2 also connects to Mestre Rail Station (Mestre Stazione F.S.), which may be interesting for some of you (also as there are a couple of hotels around). T1 starts an Monte Celo Favaro North-East of Mestre (interestingly, not that far away from the airport…) and is taking a bend through central Mestre, finally connection to San Guiliano and Piazzale Roma in Venice. This place is really a great connection to explore the Venice lagoon, as it is for example the starting point of the public boat Vaporetto Line 1, which cruises along Canale Grande (see my posting about sightseeing with the public boats).
The tracks around Mestre Main Station are also very interesting, as they are Underground tracks (especially as they have to pass the rail tracks). The tram (and the buses) are the cheapest way to commute between Mestre and Venice. A single trip ticket, which you need to buy in advance, is 1.50 EUR. The tram is also very interesting as most tourists typically have time period tickets for Venice including the boat rides (i.e. 24 to 72 hour tickets) – the whole tram system is included in that ticket, even though this is not that overwhelmingly advertised.
Riding The Venice / Mestre Tram
I took a ride from Venice to Mestre, transferred to Mestre Main Station and went back. The most impressive part is when you pass the bridge – there is no stop somewhere (how could it?) before the tram is on the Italian mainland. It is cool to enjoy the views. Mestre itself, especially between the shore and main station, is not overwhelmingly attractive. You majorly pass residential areas. Only the very heart of the borough is really quite nice.
The Venice / Mestre Tram – Alternatives
There are two alternatives, if you want to commute between mainland and the lagoon: first of all, there are public buses. They are also included in the public transport system. Whether you like them more or not finally depends on the location of the hotel. Of course, there are local trains as well for which you need to pay an additional ticket. The ticket prices do no vary that much from the tram tickets – but especially during peak visiting times, even the regional trains (typically you won’t go for the fancy ones, if they allow you the transfer at all…) may be really packed with Venice visitors.
The Venice / Mestre Tram – My View
Not just due to the fascinating one rail technology, the trams around Venice are definitely a good travel option. Over the bridge itself, they are fully competitive to all other train and bus options – finally, it also depends on where your hotel is located or your car is parked to select the most convenient transport for you. Many hotels are located around the main station so that you might favor rail. I definitely loved the ride.
“Rides on Rail” Postings
Here is everything about trains, trams and other rail vehicles:
Flyctory.com in Venice
Here are all my postings related to Venice: