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 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 Europe to explore.

If you’re heading 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. Drop by the observation decks north or south of the terminal to catch sweeping views. 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)

What is closest to a sightseeing bus in a City of 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 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 the queuing time for admission tickets, pre-book tickets online.
  • Getting There: Getting here by taxi is a quick 15-minute ride. Take the bus or ferry (both around a 50-minute journey) for public transport options.
  • 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 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 unique experience.

Your guide will take you by boat to both islands to watch artisans 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, starting at 8:30, 9:00, and 9:30 AM.
  • Getting There: With the departure point 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 tour information, booking options, and rave reviews, visit TripAdvisor.

Airport Transportation

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

Your public transit options:

  • Bus: The ATVO express bus is an excellent, cheap and fast transport 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 being the City of Water, ample water transport is available to get you from the airport’s docks to the center (anywhere between 30-50 minutes). Visit the airport’s official website to find out more.

Your private transit options:

  • Taxi: Outside the Venice Marco Polo Airport terminal, plenty of 24/7 taxis are available for a fixed fare, depending on your 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, you can just 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? 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 extended security wait times, so be sure to 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, 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: