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April 2011

The pros and cons of Venice water taxis

Dog in a Venice water taxi

ABOVE: Inside a water taxi with Maggie of

Water taxis are a great way to travel between Marco Polo Airport and the city of Venice--or are they? Let's look at the pros and cons:


  • They're fun. (See our video of a water taxi ride from Venice's city center to the airport.)
  • Sometimes they can get you directly from the airport to your destination, without the need for a long walk after you disembark.


  • Water taxis are expensive: Expect to pay 100 euros or more for a ride between the airport and the city, which is steep unless you're splitting the fare with friends.
  • Sometimes they can't get you directly from the airport to your destination, because most hotels and apartments don't have private water gates and smaller canals may not be accessible by water taxi.
  • Getting in and out of a water taxi can be awkward, especially if you're traveling with heavy luggage. (See "A warning about water taxis.")

For more information about water taxis, please read our Venice Water Taxis article at

An illustrated guide to Venice water buses

We've just published a four-page article titled "Vaporetto Water Buses" at our travel-planning site, Venice for Visitors. The article discusses:

Observant readers of the four-page guide may wonder where we got aerial photos such as these:

ACTV motonave near Venice Biennale

ACTV Linea LN boat in Venetian Lagoon

No, we didn't rent a helicopter or a hot-air balloon: We took the photos from an upper deck of MSC Poesia, which was leaving Venice for a 7-day Eastern Mediterranean cruise. Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect, and the light conditions made it easy to grab decent images as we passed the ACTV water buses.

Long lines at Venice Marco Polo Airport

Lost luggage line at Venice Marco Polo Airport

ABOVE: In January, we stood in this line at VCE for three hours to report a suitcase that hadn't shown up on an Air France flight.

We hate to be seen as nattering nobobs of negativism, but the truth must be told: Venice's Marco Polo Airport is too cramped and understaffed for the crowds of tourists and locals who use it, at least during weekends and holiday periods.

Marco Polo Airport lost luggage office For years, we've put up with annoyances at VCE, but our worst experience at the airport came last January when we stood in line for three hours--on a quiet Saturday afternoon, when the arrivals area was otherwise mostly deserted--to report a suitcase that had missed a Delta-Air France connection in Paris. (The lost-and-found office had one clerk representing a dozen or so airlines, and the clerk had to fill in a lengthy online questionnaire for each person with a missing bag.)

Maggie at Venice Marco Polo Airport A recent 5:30 a.m. check-in wasn't much better: Even before sunrise, the airport's departure lobby was jammed with people, and the woman who was turning people away from the long line for Air France's check-in counters had the personality and demeanor of a dyspeptic prison guard. (We were traveling with our dog and couldn't check in with the automatic kiosks, and we might still be trying to storm Air France's barricades if a more helpful airline employee hadn't come to our aid.)

Our advice:

  • If you're flying out of Marco Polo Airport, avoid peak travel times (such as Friday evening or Saturday morning).
  • If you need to check in at a counter, or if you're planning to check luggage, allow time for a long wait in line. (Even if you don't have luggage to check, you may have to wait in line, because the major airlines don't have enough automated check-in kiosks for travelers at peak times.)