Sleeping in Airports

Venice Marco Polo Airport Sightseeing Layover

This article includes links to our travel partners at TripAdvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Venice.

Venice Airport Layover Sightseeing
(photo credit: canadastock / Shutterstock)

Called “the most serene” in the days it was a republic, Venice has a reputation that loudly speaks for itself. But this city of “the sublime” is so much more than its snapshots of gondolas drifting on canals. Its rich history, unique architecture, and environment make it one of the most fascinating cities in all of Europe to explore.

If you’re heading over to La Serenissima and wondering what to do in Venice on a layover, we’ll have you covered with this quick guide. With the airport being just an 8-mile stone-throw away from the center (a 15-minute taxi ride away), it’s easy to reach downtown to explore the iconic City on Water.

Airport Overview

Can’t make it outside the airport during your stopover? Venice Marco Polo Airport (code: VCE) might be a small airport, but it’ll have all the conveniences to prepare you for the next leg of your journey. You’ll be covered for free WiFi (up to 6 hours), duty-free shopping, food choices (from gelato to pizza, cafes, and bars), and options for paid lounges. To catch some sweeping views: drop by the observation decks on either the north or south of the terminal.  For more details of what you can do at the airport, check out our Venice Marco Polo Airport Guide.

Venice Sightseeing Attractions

Venice Full-Day Tour by Gondola

Venice Gondola
(photo credit: eskystudio / Shutterstock)

The closest thing to a sightseeing bus in a City on Water? A classic gondola cruise, of course. Travel the picturesque canals admiring the architecture and some of the city’s top attractions San Giorgio Maggiore, Torre dell’Orologio, Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco, and Doge’s Palace.  Tours vary from the pre-recorded commentary via apps to tours led by art historians.

  • Time Required: Cruises vary from 30 minutes to a full day with walking and sightseeing.
  • Getting There: With the tour departure point being at Campo San Giacomo di Rialto (at the central fountain), an 18-minute taxi or 45-minute bus ride will get you here from the airport.
  • Plan Your Visit: Check out TripAdvisor for more details, visitor reviews, and ticket reservations for a gondola tour.

Doge’s Palace & Basilica di San Marco

Doges Palace
(photo credit: AlexAnton / Shutterstock)

Two sites that are hard to beat in Venice for their wealth of history, stunning architecture, and sheer uniqueness are Doge’s Palace & Basilica di San Marco. When Venice was a trading power, Doge’s Palace was the residence of its supreme ruler, the Doge. It’s a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, Renaissance art, and some very eerie (but must-see) prisons.

Basilica di San Marco, once the church of the Catholic Patriarch of Venice, will leave you speechless for its immensity and grandeur. With five massive domes, artwork & gold everywhere, and beautiful views from the bell tower—this church is a perfect exhibit of the craftsmanship of Italian artists.

  • Time Required: 1-2 hours for each location (though easily more too!) To save yourself the queuing time for admission tickets, simply pre-book tickets online.
  • Getting There: Getting here by taxi is a quick 15-minute ride. For public transport options, take the bus or ferry (both around a 50-minute journey).
  • Plan Your Visit: For more information on each historic site, visit the TripAdvisor pages for Doge’s Palace and Basilica di San Marco.

Murano & Burano Islands Private Tour

(photo credit: karamysh / Shutterstock)

Just a ferry ride away from Venice, the islands of Murano & Burano are home to traditional glassblowing and lace-making workshops that have been open for centuries. While the two arts have been dying out, seeing them preserved here by locals, around their colourful homes, is a very unique experience.

Your guide will take you by boat to both islands to watch craftsmen in their workshops, listen to their stories, and have the chance to buy directly from them, before roaming around yourself to shop, eat, and explore. A perfect tour to both learn and relax!

  • Time Required: 5 hours, with starting times at 8:30, 9:00, and 9:30 AM.
  • Getting There: With the departure point being at the Victor Emmanuel II Monument, getting here will be a longer 50-minute journey by either taxi or bus & ferry.
  • Plan Your Visit: For more information on the tours, booking options, and rave reviews, visit TripAdvisor.

Airport Transportation

With Venice Marco Polo Airport being just 8 miles away from the city center, Venice is perhaps one of the best cities to explore during a layover.

Your public transit options:

  • Bus: For a transport option that’s both cheap and fast, the ATVO express bus is a great option. It takes just 20 minutes to downtown, comes by every 20 minutes, and will set you back just under $9.
  • Water Bus: Courtesy of it being the City on Water, there’s ample water transport available to get you from the airport’s docks to the center (in anywhere between 30-50 minutes). Visit the airport’s official website to find out more.

Your private transit options:

  • Taxi: Right outside the terminal at Venice Marco Polo Airport, you’ll find plenty of 24/7 taxis that are available for a fixed fare depending on your specific location. Expect to pay between $37-47 to reach prime places downtown.
  • Car rentals: Although Venice is probably the last ideal place to rent a car, there are still several car rental options for when you arrive here. Visit TripAdvisor to search for car rental deals.

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited about your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for long security wait times, so be sure to do a bit of research in advance and factor that into your overall time budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights.   Check out our Venice Airport Guide for information on luggage storage.

Other Useful Resources

Want to plan out your layover in Venice Marco Polo in more detail? Here are a few more resources to help you get inspired and ready: