Airport review: Venice Marco Polo, Italy

IATA CODE

VCE

THE FLIGHT

V7 1344 to Bilbao, economy class

THE ARRIVAL

There aren't many airports accessible via water taxi direct from your hotel, but Venice Marco Polo is one of them. Departing passengers have the option of a private watercraft to the airport, or a shared – and much cheaper – "vaporetto" ferry. Marco Polo is on the mainland, about 10 kilometres from Venice; several buses and normal taxis run there from Piazzale Roma. I'm arriving from north of the city, which means a private transfer is the only way to go.

THE LOOK

Venice's airport is much like the city it services: very, very busy. Marco Polo's single terminal is relatively new, having opened in 2017, but it had already hit capacity on flinging its doors open, and extensions will be added, bit by bit, over the next 10 years. As it stands, the airport has 11,000 square metres of space under a grid-shaped roof that lets in plenty of natural light. It will eventually have more than 110,000 square metres to work with.

CHECK-IN

The atmosphere is frantic as we arrive at Marco Polo and try to figure out where we're checking in. People are either walking or running in all sorts of directions. Information screens are difficult to spot. Once we find the right area there's a long queue for our low-cost Volotea flight to Bilbao, but we're travelling with a baby, and are ushered through the preferential queue.

SECURITY

Again, plenty of queuing here, but the presence of a grumpy baby helps speed our passage. There's no passport control, as we're staying within the Schengen area.

FOOD AND DRINK

Airside, a mezzanine level with a food court and ample seating, is the obvious dining option. Here you'll find Rustichelli & Mangione, which serves everything from pizza to pasta, sandwiches to salads – all of which share a similar air of sadness. Each is accessible via a baffling ordering system which requires joining a different queue for each dish, and then another queue to pay for them all.

RETAIL THERAPY

This is Italy, so you can pick up the latest from Hugo Boss, Bulgari, Valentino and Ferrari if you so desire. You can also swing by Sunglass Hut or The Fashion Place if you've burned out the credit cards. Airside in Marco Polo there's also a pharmacy, bookstore, newsagent, souvenir store, and plenty of duty-free.

PASSING TIME

There are two main lounges at VCE: the Marco Polo Club VIP Lounge, and Alitalia's Tintoretto Lounge. Entrance at both is free for members, and non-members can enter for a one-time fee. There's free Wi-Fi available throughout the terminal, multiple charging points for electronics, and smoking lounges because, again, this is Italy.

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ONE MORE THING

The vaporetto and water taxi pier at Venice Marco Polo is located a good 15-minute walk from the terminal. Fortunately for those with heavy luggage, there are travelators that cover pretty much the entire distance.

THE VERDICT

Given the insane popularity of the city it serves, it's no wonder Venice Marco Polo is crowded and chaotic, and the extensions planned for the next 10 years will be warmly welcomed. Until then, this is a functional hub with ferry or private boat access to Venice, Murano and Burano, which is a novel way to begin a stay here.

OUR RATING

3 out of 5

Ben Groundwater travelled at his own expense.

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