VENICE TOURS AND MSC SHORE EXCURSIONS


It is fair to say that everyone should visit Venice, Italy, at least once in their lifetime. Other destinations may not live up to the hype, but even the most hardened traveler will be swept away by the sheer beauty of this lagoon city. Look closely and you’ll see that art and history are everywhere – in the glorious Renaissance façades, the ornate churches, the ubiquitous statues (winged lions being a particular favourite) and, more conventionally, the endless choice of galleries and museums.
 
There is something for everyone on a trip to Venice: walk the Doge’s Palace and admire the grand state rooms and ornate chambers where decisions were made that shaped the course of history in the Mediterranean. Pause to take a picture of the iconic Bridge of Sighs, which once gave prisoners a glance into the outside world before being ushered into a cell, usually provoking a heavy sigh (hence the name).

Excursions in Venice

Have you always dreamed of watching the sun set over the Venice Grand Canal, seeing a master glassblower at work or seeking out winged lions in St Mark’s Square? Venice attractions are not in short supply, to say the least. Our Venice tours lead you to Renaissance art, domed churches and golden mosaics, past the cafes where the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Lord Byron spent their evenings and across the canals that inspired so many of the world’s great thinkers.
Venice tours, gondola tour | MSC Cruises
Venice tours, gondola tour | MSC Cruises
Venice tours, gondola tour | MSC Cruises

See Venice the old-fashioned way: on a scenic gondola ride

The gondola is one of the first images that springs to mind when we think of Venice. A gondola ride is a Venetian rite of passage: to truly know the city, you need to watch its majestic palazzi and monuments drift by from the water.

 

Pass under centuries-old bridges and glide gently down picturesque waterways serenaded by a gondolier in a trademark striped shirt. Romantics and honeymooners should know that, as legend has it, sharing a kiss under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset is the key to a lifetime of eternal love and marital bliss.

Venice tours, Murano | MSC Cruises
Venice tours, Murano | MSC Cruises
Venice tours, Murano | MSC Cruises

Immerse yourself in Murano’s artisan riches

The sight of one of the few remaining master glassmakers of Murano at work is poetry in motion. This tradition remains a closely guarded secret, passed down from craftsman to apprentice ever since the furnaces were moved here in the 13th century to prevent fires in the city.

 

Any trip to the island (a short boat ride from Venice) should include a visit to the Museo del Vetro (glass museum), which traces the history of glassmaking and displays some choice examples of Murano glass alongside far older pieces dating back to Roman times.

Venice tours, St Mark's Square | MSC Cruises
Venice tours, St Mark's Square | MSC Cruises
Venice tours, St Mark's Square | MSC Cruises

Wander the elegant colonnades of St Mark’s Square

No visit to Venice is complete without a stroll around the magnificent, colonnaded St Mark’s Square, the only square in the city deemed important enough to gain the title of piazza rather than campo. At one end stand the glittering mosaics of St Mark’s Basilica and the Torre dell’Orologio with its fascinating antique clock.

 

Meanwhile, Museo Correr traces the history of the Venetian Republic. The bell tower (Campanile di San Marco) is one of the city’s tallest buildings and offers a 360-degree view over the rooftops.

BOOK YOUR Cruise to Venice – Marghera

Around every curve of its canals, Venice unveils something fantastic in typically dramatic fashion. Stroll its alleys in silent appreciation, take in St Mark’s Square and Burano’s colourful houses, and contemplate the absurdly high number of globally famous monuments surrounding you. The city is the ideal starting point for a cruise to Italian sister ports Naples and Genoa, or to Greece’s Ionian Islands. Book your Venice cruise today to chart a course through Mediterranean history.

why choose msc shore excursions to venice

Whether you want to lose yourself in more than 1,600 years of history, hit some world-class art museums or simply escape for an hour or so on an indulgent gondola ride, Venice excursions can deliver what you need. Our Venice tours let you see this powerful city like a local.

Venice Access Fee

How does it work?

Starting 25 April 2024, daily visitors entering Venice between 8:30 and 16:00 are required to pay €5 before entering – guests travelling to and from the Stazione Marittima cruise terminal to complete the embarkation or disembarkation procedures are not required to pay, as long as they do not enter Venice.

 

Please visit the map: https://cda.ve.it/

 

Please note that the following categories are exempt from paying the fee:

-Embarking/Disembarking cruise lines guests travelling to Venice just to join the cruise terminal on embarkation and disembarkation day, do not have to register (if they do not enter the Ancient City);
-Tourists spending the night in Venice, Marghera, or Mestre (already subject to the tourist tax that applies to overnight visitors) and MSC Stay&Cruise guests;

-Guests going from Venice Santa Lucia Train Station directly to Maritime Station, do not have to register (if they do not enter the Ancient City);
-People born in Venice, for instance, must show only their identity card (or other document showing the place of birth);
-Under 14 years old must show only their identity card;

-People resident in Veneto Region;
-Holders of the European Disability Card and their accompanying person;

-People accessing Venice for school, work, or medical care.

 

How do I pay the Entry Venice Fee?

The new payment system requires visitors to obtain a QR code showing proof of payment of the access fee or their exemption (check https://cda.ve.it/en/faq#persons-exempt for info).

 

To obtain your QR code ahead of your arrival, please visit  https://cda.ve.it/ and follow the instructions.

While there are no physical barriers to enter Venicethe local police may approach you and ask you to show your QR code or any other proof of payment/exemption at any time during your stay. Failure to provide this could result in a fine ranging from €50 to €300.

 

Please note that MSC Cruises cannot be held liable for non-compliance with the above.

MSC Excursions

Guest booked on Venice shore excursions managed by MSC Cruises do not need to pay this fee directly, as we will process this on their behalf and debit their onboard account. We strongly advise all visitors who are planning to visit Venice on their own to obtain their QR code before entering the city.

MSC Stay & Cruise Venice

If you have booked a hotel stay in Venice through the MSC Stay & Cruise programme, you are exempt from paying the Venice Access Fee. However, you still need to register for the exemption and obtain your QR code.

VENICE TOURS & EXCURSIONS FAQ

In which language Venice excursions are conducted?

Take part in MSC Shore Excursions in Venice, available in 5 languages (English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian) depending on guide availability. The final language will be confirmed for your cruise.

Are Venice tours always available to be booked?

Venice excursions are in high demand and may not be always available, so we highly recommend securing availability by booking your Venice tour in advance.

Can Venice excursion programme be changed?

While the excursion programme for Venice provides an overview of the tours that can be arranged, the final tour descriptions and prices will be confirmed on board. Please note that MSC Shore Excursions programs and itineraries are subject to change due to local conditions or unforeseen events, which may impact the timing of the tour.

What can I see during the gondola tour?

MSC Cruises’ ‘Gondola Tour and Guided Walking Tour’ shore excursion involves a gondola ride through Venice’s iconic canals, allowing visitors to take in the views of the city’s most impressive sights, including its bridges, royal palaces and traditional Venetian streets and alleyways, known as calli.

 

Leading the way will be an experienced gondolier, a navigational expert who knows the centuries-old art of traversing the waterways. After this bucket list-worthy activity, guests will have free time to explore St Mark’s Square – the world-famous area that houses St Mark’s Cathedral – before a guided walking tour of the surrounding calli.

 

There is also the ‘Gondola Experience’ excursion, offering all of the above plus the chance for an independent visit to Doge’s Palace, a superlative example of Gothic architecture and a symbol of Venice itself.

Does MSC offer a tour of Venice’s other islands?

MSC Cruises offers a ‘Panoramic Boat Trip, Murano and St. Mark’s Square’ excursion, which involves a boat trip from the main island of Venice to Murano, one of the other islands in the lagoon and known around the globe for its artisan glassblowing. On the way to Murano, a tour guide will share the history of neighbouring islands San Giorgio Maggiore, San Servolo and La Certosa.

 

While on Murano, guests can visit a glassworker’s workshop and explore the St Donato Basilica, known for its Byzantine mosaics and the supposed bones of a mythical dragon. As the excursion name suggests, a visit to St Marks’ Square on the main island is also included, where visitors will have free time to explore.

What is involved in the Murano glass tour?

The ‘Panoramic Boat Trip, Murano and St. Mark’s Square’ excursion involves a boat ride around the main island of Venice (look out for sights including St. Mark’s Square, the Venetian Arsenal and other nearby islands) before docking at Murano.

The island is arguably the most famous of Venice’s outer islands and is known for its high-quality glassblowing. During the tour, guests can visit the workshop of a local glassworker to understand a little more about this delicate craft and its heritage. There’s also a chance to visit St Donato, a beautiful church first built in the 7th century and nowadays known for its 12th-century mosaic pavement. A boat then takes visitors back to St Mark’s Square to enjoy some free time to explore on their own.

What is the weather like in Venice?

Although Venice sits in a lagoon on the Mediterranean, its climate is typically more continental than it is Mediterranean. Although the city does enjoy hot and humid summers, it can get cold in the winter. Spring in Venice is typically warm and pleasant, while autumn can be fresh and crisp.

The hottest months in Venice tend to be July and August, with average daily high temperatures of 28°C, while the coldest month is usually January, which has average highs of around 7°C and average lows of 0°C. It is not unusual for it to snow during the winter in Venice, which makes for a beautiful scene around the city.

Levels of rainfall are fairly constant throughout the year, although it typically peaks in late spring and early summer.

Is Venice expensive?

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in both Italy and the world, Venice can be expensive. The millions of people that visit its streets and canals ensure that prices are typical of a cosmopolitan European hotspot. For example, a meal in a mid-range restaurant can often cost around £30, but you can make significant savings by heading to Marghera, on the mainland (and where the MSC Cruises’ port is located), for meals.

It is entirely possible to explore Venice on a smaller budget. Some of the city’s most famous and most impressive sights can be enjoyed for free from the outside. These include the grand St Mark’s Basilica and the vast, iconic Piazza San Marco, as well as the flora-filled Giardini Pubblici (public gardens), one of Venice’s most alluring green spaces.