By Plane -- From North America, the cheapest flights to Venice tend to route through Rome or Milan via Alitalia, though Swissair (via Zurich), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt), KLM (via Amsterdam) and Air France (via Paris) usually offer cheap fares in low season (code-sharing with US carriers). If travelling in the peak spring and summer seasons however, it’s worth considering far more convenient seasonal non-stop flights, which are often priced competitively (assuming you buy far enough in advance). Delta Airlines (www.delta.com) flies from Atlanta (late June–Aug only) and New York-JFK (Apr–Sept only), United Airlines (www.united.com) from Newark (June–late Sept), and American Airlines (www.aa.com) from Chicago and Philadelphia (May–Oct). For those already in Europe, numerous budget airlines serve Venice, offering rock-bottom prices. No-frills easyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies from Amsterdam, Berlin, London-Gatwick, Manchester, Paris, and Zurich, while Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies from Bristol and Barcelona, with many more of its flights routed through nearby Treviso (a 1-hr. bus ride to Venice).
Flights land at the Aeroporto di Venezia Marco Polo, 7km (4[bf]1/4 miles) north of the city on the mainland (www.veniceairport.it; tel. 041/2609260). There are several alternatives for getting into town. The cheapest is by bus, though this is not recommended if you have heavy luggage; you’ll have to walk to or from the final stop at Piazzale Roma (the closest point to Venice’s attractions accessible by car or bus), to the nearby vaporetto stop for the final connection to your hotel. It’s rare to find porters who’ll help with luggage, so pack light. The ATVO airport shuttle bus (www.atvo.it; tel. 0421/594672) connects with Piazzale Roma not far from Venice’s Santa Lucia train station (and the closest point to Venice’s attractions accessible by car or bus). Buses leave for/from the airport about every 20 minutes, cost 8€ (15€ return), and make the trip in about 20 minutes. Buy tickets at the automatic ticket machines in the arrivals baggage hall, or the Public Transport ticket office (daily 8am–midnight). The local ACTV bus no. 5 (tel. 041/2424) also costs 8€, also takes 20 minutes, and runs between two and four times an hour depending on the time of day; the best option here is to buy the combined ACTV and “Nave” ticket for 14€ (valid for 90 minutes), which includes your first vaporetto ride at a slight discount (the “vaporetto” is the seagoing streetcar of Venice, which goes to all parts of the city). Buy tickets at machines just outside the terminal. With either bus, you’ll have to walk to or from the final stop at Piazzale Roma to the nearby vaporetto (water bus) stop for the final connection to your hotel. It’s rare to see porters around who’ll help with luggage, so pack light.
It’s also possible to take a land taxi (www.radiotaxivenezia.com; tel. 041/5964) from the airport to Piazzale Roma (where you get the vaporetto) for about 40€, but while this is more convenient and a bit faster (15min) than the bus, it still doesn’t take you to your hotel (unless it’s right by Piazzale Roma) – you are better off spending the extra euros on water transport.
The most evocative and traditional way to arrive in Venice is by sea. For 15€, 14€ if you buy online, the Cooperative San Marco/Alilaguna (www.alilaguna.it; tel. 041/2401701) operates a large motoscafo (shuttle boat) service from the airport with two primary routes. The Linea Blu (blue line) runs almost every 30 minutes from 6:15am to 12:30am, stopping at Murano (8€) and the Lido before arriving, after about 1 hour and 30 minutes, in Piazza San Marco (this service continues on to the cruise ship terminal). The Linea Arancio (orange line) runs almost every 30 minutes from 7:45am to midnight, taking 1 hour and 15 minutes to arrive at San Marco, but gets there through the Grand Canal, which is much more spectacular and offers the possibility to get off at one of the stops along the way. This might be convenient to your hotel and could save you from having to take another means of transportation. If you arrive at Piazza San Marco and your hotel isn’t in the area, you’ll have to make a connection at the vaporetto launches. (If you’re booking a hotel in advance, ask for specific advice how to get there.)
A good alternative is the Venice Shuttle (www.venicelink.com; daily 8am–10:30pm; minimum 2 people for reservations), a shared water taxi (they carry 6–8 people) that will whisk you directly from the airport to many hotels and most of the major locations in the city for 25€ to 32€ (add 6€ after 8pm). You must reserve online in advance.
A private water taxi (20–30 min. to/from the airport) is the most convenient option but costly—a trip to the city costs 107–120€ (discounts at www.venicelink.com) for up to four passengers with one bag each (10€ more for each extra person up to a maximum of 10, 5€ for each extra suitcase, and another 20€ for trips 10pm–7am). It’s worth considering if you’re pressed for time, have an early flight (taxis run 24 hrs.), are carrying a lot of luggage (a Venice no-no), or can split the cost with a friend or two. It may be able to drop you off at the front (or side) door of your hotel or as close as it can maneuver given your hotel’s location (check with the hotel before arriving). Your taxi captain should be able to tell you before boarding just how close he can get you. Try Corsorzio Motoscafi Venezia (www.motoscafivenezia.it; tel. 041/5222303) or Venezia Taxi (www.veneziataxi.it; tel. 041/723112).
By Train -- Trains from Rome (3[bf]3/4 hr.), Milan (2[bf]1/2 hr.), Florence (2 hr.), and all over Europe arrive at the Stazione Venezia Santa Lucia. To get there, all must pass through (although not necessarily stop at) a station marked Venezia-Mestre. Don’t be confused: Mestre is a charmless industrial city that’s the last major stop on the mainland (some trains also stop at the next station, Venezia Porto Marghera, before continuing to Venice proper). Occasionally trains end in Mestre, in which case you'll have to catch one of the frequent 10-minute shuttles connecting with Venice; it’s inconvenient, so when you book your ticket, confirm that the final destination is Venezia Santa Lucia.
By Bus -- Although rail travel is more convenient and commonplace, Venice is serviced by long-distance buses from all over mainland Italy and some international cities. The final destination is Piazzale Roma, where you’ll need to pick up vaporetto no. 1 or no. 2 to connect you with stops in the heart of Venice and along the Grand Canal.
By Car -- The only wheels you’ll see in Venice are those attached to luggage. No cars are allowed, or more to the point, no cars could drive through the narrow streets and over the footbridges—even the police, fire department, and ambulance services use boats. You can drive across the Ponte della Libertà from Mestre to Venice, but you can go no farther than Piazzale Roma at the Venice end, where many garages eagerly await your euros (and in high season are often full). The Autorimessa Comunale garage (www.avmspa.it; tel. 041/2727301) charges 26€ for a 24-hour period, while Garage San Marco (www.garagesanmarco.it; tel. 041/5232213) costs 32€ for 24 hours. From Piazzale Roma, you can catch Vaporetti lines 1 and 2, which go down the Grand Canal to the train station and, eventually, Piazza San Marco.
Getting to Your Hotel Via Vaporetto -- Whether you’re arriving by train, bus, or car, your first challenge upon arriving in Venice will be to take a vaporetto (water bus) on to your final destination in the city. Here’s how to do it right.
Finding the right boat is a little easier if you’re arriving by bus or car, because you’ll be in Piazzale Roma, the vaporetto terminus, and all the boats will be going the right direction. Exiting the train station, however, you’ll find the Grand Canal immediately in front of you, with the docks for a number of vaporetti lines to your left and right. Head to the booths to your left, near the bridge, to buy tickets, then head for the docks farther to your right.
The most useful routes are the two lines plying the Grand Canal: the no. 2 express (from bay “D”), which stops only at the San Marcuola, Rialto Bridge, San Tomà, San Samuele, and Accademia before hitting San Marco (30 min. total); and the slower no. 1 (from bay “E”), which makes 13 stops before arriving at San Marco (a 36-min. trip). Both leave every 10 minutes or so, but before 9am and after 8pm, the no. 2 sometimes stops short at Rialto, meaning you’ll have to disembark and hop on the next no. 1 or 2 that comes along to continue to San Marco.
Word to the wise: The vaporetti go in two directions from the train station. Those heading left go down the Grand Canal toward San Marco—which is the (relatively) fast and scenic way. The no. 2 route heading right also eventually gets you to San Marco (at the San Zaccaria stop), but takes more than twice as long because it goes the long way around Dorsoduro (this line serves mainly commuters). As for the no. 1 line going to the right from the train station, it will go only one more stop before it hits its terminus at Piazzale Roma. Make sure the vaporetto you get on is heading to the left.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.