Arriving in Venice via Air: Marco Polo Airport to the City Center

A question that’s popped up lately has been for those travelers headed to Venice by plane. How do you get from the airport to the city center? You should first know that there are two airports that are reasonably close to fly to: Venice’s Marco Polo Airport and Treviso Airport. If you are arriving by a budget carrier, odds are you will be utilizing Treviso Airport. If you are on a full service carrier, you will most likely arrive at Marco Polo. Of the two, Marco Polo is much more accessible and the one I would recommend.

What transit connection options do I have at Marco Polo Airport?

Marco Polo Airport (VCE) is located about 16 miles from Venice. It is situated right on the water and makes for a beautiful landing when your plane flies above the city of Venice. Once you gather your luggage, however, you will want to have an idea of how to get from the airport to the city itself. Depending on your time constraint, budget and where your hotel is located you are able to take the bus, taxi, train, water taxi, water bus, car or ride sharing service.

You should know that is you are in a car or bus, however, you will still need to take some sort of water based transportation to reach your final destination. Venice is in the middle of a lagoon and cars can’t reach it (nor are they allowed). The furthest you will be able to get is to the transit hub of Piazzale Roma near the cruise ships or to take your car on a ferry to the island of Lido di Venezia.

Venice By Bus and Car

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Piazza Roma image from Venice for Visitors

If you decide to take a taxi or rent a car, you will find that it takes about 25 minutes from Marco Polo to the transit hub of Piazzale Roma. Venice as previously mentioned has no parking options available other than in this main square. Take note that parking in a garage here will run you anywhere from 20 to 40 Euros a day. Parking spaces can be in high demand. Make a reservations if you are able to and especially if you are traveling during peak travel times. It may save you a lot of money to return your rental car here then pick it up again when you are leaving Venice.

If you are staying on the Lido sandbar, the car ferry information can be found here. The ferry is operated by Venice’s official transit company, the ACTV and is the 17 Line. The cost will vary depending on the size of your car, truck, moped, etc. You will end up paying for the vehicle and tickets for each person in your party. The boat can only accommodate a certain number of cars so book in advance. Also ensure your hotel on the Lido can accommodate cars! Tickets can be booked at any ACTV office or through their website.

Taxi can be a good option if you are with a larger group and lots of luggage. The cost can range from 35 to 45 Euros. From the Piazzale Roma you have the option to connect to private or public water buses or water taxis. If you want to make it a quick journey directly to your hotel, take a private water taxi. It will save you a lot of time and effort. Prices are worth it if you are in a group. Not all water buses (vaporetto) will be able to accommodate large luggage.

The bus option will end up costing you about 8 Euros from the airport to Piazzale Roma. Busses are operated by the ACTO company. Total travel time is about 35-45 minutes. Bus tickets can be purchased from the ACTO counter near baggage claim or by machine. You will have to remember to validate your ticket when you board the bus by stamping it in the bus’s ticket machine. Look or ask for the Express Bus. It’s going to be your best and fastest option.

Venice by Boat

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Image from the Alilaguna website

If you are looking to take public transit from the airport, look for the Alilaguna boats. This water shuttle operates 3 lines (red, orange and blue) that connect the airport to Venice to the cruise terminal (Piazza Roma) and the outlaying islands like Murano. If you are looking for a quick service, the Alilaguna boat is not the best option. It will make multiple stops and take about 45 minutes to reach the first stop from the airport. The benefit is that it is cost effective (15 Euros one way), scenic and saves the hassle of getting on and off a bus or out of a taxi. In other words it is a direct service to the city of Venice.

Alilaguna ticket information can be found here. They will sell round trip, single journey and multiple day tickets. The best ticket if you are planning on traveling a few times after your check into your hotel is the single journey ticket. I didn’t realize myself how long it would take to reach my hotel in the Giudecca canal (1 hour and 45 minutes) and was really tired by the end of it. I also was unaware of the difference between the Alilaguna and ACTV vaporetto water bus tickets. More on this in a moment.

If you are at the airport, Alilaguna tickets can be purchased before you follow the long walk way outside baggage claim, or at the end of the walkway near the boarding area for the boats. In Venice, you will learn to be ready to get off any boat as soon as it approaches the dock stops. It really helps to know your stop ahead of time to prepare yourself.

Now if you are connecting in Piazzale Roma to public transit boats, you CAN catch an ACTV boat to your destination if you are looking for an alternative to the Alilaguna boat. ACTV boats to not run directly to the airport, but Piazzale Roma is a major stop and most likely you will be able to catch a boat here that will get you to your stop. ACTV boats routes are numbered, You will want to be aware that Lines 1 and 2 run on the Grand Canal and are the slowest and more popular vaporettos. ALso be aware that based on the time of year, vaporetto service may end earlier than your flight arrives in Venice! My flight was delayed and I didn’t have the option for an ACTV vaporetto.

Ask your hotel ahead of time what route they are on, or use Google Maps to figure out your routing. There are not always ACTV employees around and not all of them speak English or other languages (unless you are in a popular tourist area like San Marco). Routes will have stop names and maps listed near the waiting area, however, if you have never been to Venice, it is very confusing as to where everything is. Ticket information can be found here. Now for ACTV tickets your best deal is going to be the 24, 48 or 72 hour passes. Passes are not activated until you officially go to use it for the first time.

You should buy your ticket from the airport ahead of time, or at the Piazzale Roma station window. The workers there have the best chance of getting you the right ticket and in the right direction. The special passes are only available at the more popular stops like Piazzale Roma, San Marco and Rialto. You will have the 24 hour pass 24 hours from the first time you use it. To activate it, you will tap the ticket on the scanner near the floating dock entrance.

If you have the money, take a private water taxi to your hotel until you have the opportunity to learn your bearings. It is expensive and can cost you upwards of 150 Euros, but booked ahead of time, you will get to your home away from home hassle free and quickly. Streets in Venice can be very confusing to navigate. Let the experts take care of you! Next time I go to Venice this is what I’ll be doing. My time is something I highly value. If you don’t book your taxi ahead of time, make sure you agree on an amount with your driver before leaving the airport or Piazzale Roma.

Venice by Train

Venice has 2 train stations that service it: Saint Lucia and Mestre. If you are looking to take the train into the city, catch the bus to the Mestre station. Mestre is the city located right outside of the city. Of the two stations, Saint Lucia is the most centrally located. You would be able to connect right to an ACTV bus from there. Locals call Saint Lucia station Ferrovia. The 20 minute ride from the train station is about 6 Euros plus the cost of a bus.

What Is the Best Option?

There isn’t one answer to this question. What do you value most? Time, saving money, directness? Only you can answer the question, as many other bloggers may say, your mileage may vary. Of the recommended options, I would take a taxi from the airport. If I didn’t budget for that, I’d take the Alilaguna service. Many factors as to the time of year, time of day can also pay into this. I hope this guide help you figure out how you are going to get form Marco Polo Airport to your hotel in Venice.