Arriving in Venice by air at Venice airport

Venice's main airport, Aeroporto Marco Polo (VCE), lies less than 3km N of the city

Most people still arrive in Venice by train, but with the rise of no-frills airlines, more and more can get here by plane.

There are now several weekly Delta flights from JFK direct into Venice, but for most connections from North America you will have to change planes (usually in Rome or Milan).

There are plenty of direct flights into Venice from the U.K. and Europe.

Venice's Marco Polo Airport is in the northern reaches of Venice's landlubbing suburb, Mestre. From here, you will need to get "downtown" to the historic center of Venice—you know, the bit with all the islands, canals, palaces, and gondolas (see below).

The best way to get from Marco Polo airport to downtown Venice

Note: This page assumes you want to get to the historic center of Venice for some sightseeing. If you're trying to get between the airport and the Stazione Marittima ship port for a cruise or ferry, see this page.

There are two ways to get to Venice from the airport: by water—private water taxis or the public ferry, both of take you straight downtown—or by land.

I prefer going by water—even though it is more expensive and actually slower (40–80 minutes versus 20–30 minutes) than going by land. However, taking a ferry or water taxi is way more romantic (and didn't you come to Venice for that?), plus it is usually way more convenient.

  • The best option: the Alilaguna public water ferries (€15 ($17)), which stop at several key points around the historic center, allowing you to walk to your hotel.
  • Water taxis (€110 ($121)) take you as close to your hotel as they can get (for an obscene price, yes). That €110 ($121) covers up to five passengers with one piece of luggage each. Additional people pay €10 ($11) plus €5 ($6) per bag.
  • Far better: Book a shared boat transfer to a central stop from around €32 ($35) per person. (You can also sign up for a private motorboat transfer right to your hotel, but the lead price "from €56 ($62)" assumes you are traveling with a full boatload; this can get pricey for just 2–4 people.)

I've done the math for you. When it comes to aiport transfers, Viator.com's shared transfer is still cheaper than a water taxi for two or three people—and the public ferry remains cheaper in every situtation.

(The math in detail: For five people, a water taxi would cost €110 ($121) and the ferry €75 ($83). Once you get past five, you pay an extra €15 ($17) in both cases: either for another ferry ticket, or for each additonal person plus his/her bag. That means with the ferry you always come out at least €35 ($39) ahead of the game.)

If you go by land by public bus (now €8 ($9))—it will only get you as far as Piazzale Roma, which is the only part of the historic center accessible by car (just over the causeway from the mainland).

So, unless you're staying very close to Piazzale Roma (not really recommended), you'll still end up paying an additional €7.50 ($8) for a vaporetto from Piazzale Roma to get to your hotel—bringing the total cost for the "land" option to €15.50 ($17)—more than the ferry (though you can get a bus-plus-vaporetto ticket for €14 ($15)).

All things being equal—and even though I'm a cheapskate—I'd go by water.

How to get between the Venice airport and downtown Venice by water

The best option: Alilaguna ferry from the airport to Venice (45–110 min; €15 ($17))

My #1 option: Go with the slower (45–110 minutes), cheaper (€15 ($17)) Alilaguna traghetto public ferry.

You still get to arrive in Venice that oh-so-Romantic way on the water (truly, the only way to come to Venice), at a fraction of the cost of a private water taxi.

Note that you do have to walk about 500 yards outside (with your luggage—though if you pack light, that's not a problem) from the arrivals hall: leave the building, turn left and follow signs for "Water Bus/Alilaguna" beneath a canopied walkway, across a street, and down to the boat landing stage (past the water taxi stand). Buy your ticket from the kiosk before getting on the boat (or from the blue machine in the airport).

The Alilaguna traghetto runs two main lines (plus three seasonal ones), all of which are identified by color. Most tourists will use only Arancio (orange; which goes down the Grand Canal), or Blu (blue;  which stops at Murano, then goes around central Vencie the long way, including a stop at the Lido, ending at the the cruise docks), or the summertime Rossa (red; which makes fewer stops than the blue en route to the cruise docks).

If your hotel is near St. Mark's, take the blue line. The ride will take 45–100 minutes, depending on where you get off.

If you're staying closer to the Rialto, grab the faster Arancio (orange) line, which stops at Fondamente NoveMadonna dell'Orto (30 min.), Guglie (up in the hinterlands of Cannaregio above the train station; 42 min.), San Stae (for S. Croce/S. Polo; 51 min.), Rialto (57 min.) and S. Angelo (61 min.)—both ideal for hotels in the San Marco or San Polo neighborhoods—and Ca' Rezzonico (for Dorsoduro; 67 min.) before ending at Santa Maria del Giglio.

The slower Blu line stops first at Murano (an outlying island; 30 min.), Fondamente Nove (on the north side of the Cannaregio neighborhood; 38 min.), the Lido (Venice's beach; 60–65 min.), the Arsenale (convenient for the few hotels way out in the eastern reaches of the Castello neighborhood; 77 min.), before arriving at Piazza San Marco (get off at either the San Zaccaria stop, 82 min., or San Marco Giardinetti stop, 87 min., for hotels in San Marco or the western Castello), then zipping around Dorsoduro to stop at Zattere (convenient to hotels in Dorsoduro; 102 min.), the Hotel Molino Stucky Hilton on Giudeccaisland (107 min.), and finally the cruise terminal (114 min.).

The classy cheapskate option: Shared boat transfer (50–60 min; €32 ($35))

This is the best semi-private boat deal for 2–3 people—still cheaper than a water taxi.

It makes up to nine scheduled stops (whichever ones the passengers need), and can alter its route to accomodate those with different destinations:

The overpriced option: Water taxi (30–50 min; €110 ($121))

private water taxi from the Venice airport to a downtown destination will take about half an hour and costs a flat €110 ($121) to any destination in central Venice.

To find a water taxi, exit the airport arrivals hall turn left and follow signs for "Water Bus/Alilaguna" beneath a canopied walkway, across a street, and down to the kiosk (about 500 yards total).

How to get between the Venice airport and downtown Venice by land

You could opt for one of two cheaper land methods to get from the airport into Venice.

Until 2014, the city bus was way cheaper than the airport shuttle busbut now they both cost €8 ($9), so my advice: take the faster shuttle.

The shuttle buses are usually blue or green and say "ATVO" on them.

The local city bus no. 5 (and others) are orange and off-white and say "ACTV" somewhere on them.

ATVO shuttle bus from the airport to Venice (20 min.; €8 ($9))

There's an ATVO airport shuttle bus which leaves every half-hour for the 20-minute ride to Piazzale Roma, the car parking lot near(ish) the main train station, Stazione Santa Lucia.

Tickets (a pointlessly pricey €8 ($9)) are easy to come by: at the ATVO ticket window in the arrivals hall, or from the automated blue ATVO machines located in the baggage claim area and also outside by the bus departure point.

Still, for that much money (€8 ($9) for this, plus another €7.50 ($8) for a vaporetto—assuming you aren't staying near Piazzale Roma), I'd advise just to take the Alilaguna Ferry for €15 ($17).

City bus #5 from the airport to Venice (30 min.; €8 ($9))

Since the price was raised to match the shuttle, ther is no earthly reason to take the ACTV public bus no. 5, which doesn't have handy luggage storage underneath, like the shuttle buses do, and also makes stops along the way, prolonging the arrival in Piazzale Roma to about 30 minutes.

(On a personal note: I was on this bus once and it got into an accident with a Mercedes. Since our bus was full—as were all the other no. 5s that whizzed by us while we sat by the roadside with our luggage—we had to wait more than an hour before they dispatched an empty bus to pick up the stranded passengers.)

How to get from Treviso Canova airport to Venice

Some no-frills/low-cost flights land at another regional airport near Treviso called Canova—including those on popular Ryanair. Yes, it's only about half an hour from Venice—so pretty convenient—but the fact that some airlines try to pass it off as "Venice-Treviso" is misleading.

The airport in Treviso is about a 70-minute, €12 ($13) bus ride from Piazzale Roma in Venice—don't get of at the Venezia-Mestre suburban rail station, since you'd then need to board a train for the short hop into Venice proper. Buses are timed to meet incoming flights on low-cost carriers.

Buy tickets on board the Ryanair flight, or in the airport arrivals hall before leaving the building. Return tickets from Venice are available at the ATVO office on Piazzale Roma.

You can also book a private transfer for 1–6 people from around €240 ($265):

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Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for air travel

English (inglese) Italian  (italiano)   Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is... Dov'é doh-VAY
the airport l'aeroporto LAHW-ro-port-oh
the airplane l'aereo LAIR-reh-oh
terminal terminal TEAR-me-nahl
flight volo VOH-lo
gate uscita d'imbarco oo-SHEE-tah deem-BARK-oh
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
keep going straight sempre diritto SEM-pray dee-REE-toh
departures partenze par-TEN-zay
arrivals arrivi ah-REE-vee
delayed in ritardo een ree-TAR-doh
on time in orario een oh-RAH-ree-yo
early in avanti een ah-VAHN-tee
boarding imbarco eem-BARK-o
connecting flight la coincidenza la ko-een-chee-DEN-za
check-in accettazione ah-chet-ta-zee-YO-nee
immigration controllo passaporti cone-TRO-lo pah-sa-POR-tee
security check controllo di sicurezza kohn-TRO-lo dee see-kur-AY-tzah
customs dogana do-GA-na
shuttle la navetta lah na-VET-tah
boarding pass carta d'imbarco kart-ta deem-BARK-o
baggage claim ritiro bagagli ree-TEER-oh bah-GA-lyee
carry-on luggage bagaglio à mano bah-GA-lyo ah MA_no
checked luggage bagalio bah-GA-lyo

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).

 

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