Venice Excursions for Cruisers - Top 5 Basic Venice tours

Booking Venice excursions online ahead of your cruise is a great way to maximize your time in port. And for way less you would pay on board!

If you are visiting Venice city for the first time you have three options:

  • to see the typical Venice sights by yourself
  • book shore-excursions through your cruise line (can be very expensive)
  • book one of the local-tour operator organized Venice tours with an agency that ensures their Venice tours prices are 100% guaranteed to be lower than the ones you would pay when booking through your cruise line, i.e. Viator.  

As we have mentioned before, if you are at least a little bit adventurous and have enough time on your hands, seeing the top Venice attractions like Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco, Doges palace, Bridge of Sighs, Venice Grand Canal, caffe Florian Venice, Rialto bridge in Venice, Venice bridges or taking a ride in a gondola in Venice can be done in your own arrangement. 

That way you will save yourself some money, and if that makes a difference to your European cruise budget, definitely go with it. 

However, if you want to be accompanied by a knowledgeable local, someone who will take a considerate stress off of you during your Mediterranean cruise vacation, we do understand you might feel more comfortable taking one of the organized Venice excursions. 

And this is exactly what this page is dedicated to: tours for cruisers coming to Venice for the first time, staying here for a day and wanting to see Venice highlights.

If you have visited Venice before and seen all the top places, you have more time in Venice (staying here before or after your Europe cruise)...or you would like to do something more unusual like learning how to make Venetian masks, learn about Venetian food or take a Venice photo session with an experienced guide, check out our Venice Italy tours page. 

Most Viator Venice excursions do not start too early in the morning so you can also take advantage of the absolutely free option of getting to Venice: walking! (which we gave you instructions on on our page Walk Venice).

Although Viator has recently  started advertizing specialized tours/shore excursions for cruisers those still aren't picking up cruisers from the cruise port or dropping them off there. The only difference seems to be that you are sharing tours with other cruise guests. 

So if their regular tours seem to finish well before your cruise ship's departure time and you know how to get back to the cruiseship on your own, we don't see the reason why you wouldn't book one.

We have talked about the benefits of booking a tour through Viator on our page about Venice tours (one of them being better pricing compared to your cruise line) so all there's left now is to explore what you'd like to see in Venice and chose one of the tours (at least two weeks ahead so they don't sell out!) here:  

Keep in mind that the tours booked through Viator don't depart from Venice port but from different locations around Piazza San Marco.

However we have described getting from Venice cruise terminal to Piazza San Marco in detail on our page Port of Venice.

1. Venice Excursions - Skip the line: Venice in One Day Including Boat Tour (3 hours)

Venice Boat Tour ViatorVenice In a Day Including a Boat Tour
  • Over 3300 people have actually rated this tour on Tripadvisor which tells you how popular it is!
  • This is the right tour for you if you don't want to rack your brains over compiling information on what to see in the few hours you have in Venice. 
  • Do you just want a tour that will give you a nice little overview of what's there, from both land and water (a ride down the Venice Grand Canal included), get you into Basilica di San Marco without waiting for too long in the sun, hear many interesting histories and legends from your passionate tour guide and then give you some time off for mindless wandering around and shopping? 
  • Sounds like this tour will be a perfect introduction to Venice if you don't mind walking and getting your own way to Piazza San Marco (it's easy peasy, we have explained it all here on our Port of Venice page) and meeting your tour guide a few minutes walk from there. 
  • What do people say about this tour?

'This was a fun and quick way to see Venice both from land and from the canals. There was a nice break in between where we got to wander around which was great. Both of our guides did a great job. If you want a lot packed in to 3 hours while you are in Venice, this is the way to go!'

  • For more info, reviews, departure times and departure point, dress code for Basilica di San Marco, availability and making a booking check here: Skip the line- Venice in a Day.
  • Book this tour as soon as you find out you will be visiting Venice, it is very sought after and it does get sold out!

2) Venice Excursions - Skip the Line: Best of Venice Including Basilica di San Marco and Optional Gondola Ride (2 hours)

venice gondola on grand canalHaving fun on the Best of Venice Tour
  • Over 460 people actually took time to rate this amazing tour with whooping 4 1/2 stars on Tripadvisor!
  • If you don't care about the ride down the Venice Grand Canal but just want to get a short introduction to Venice and admire the views from the terrace of St Mark's Basilica you will like this tour. 
  • It starts from  Rialto bridge which means you will make your own way from Venice port as we have explained on our Port of Venice page.
  • This tour makes it possible for you to upgrade to either: taking a gondola rideas well or seeing the Doge's palace (that's a tough choice as both are great!)
  • What do other people say about this tour?

  'Great tour! Just what we wanted! Not too long, not too short! Our tour guide was great and so knowledgeable! We walked through many of the main sights in Venice and then finally into St Mark's Basilica! We were able to go to the top and see the panoramic views of all of St Mark's Square. Our tour ended with a wonderful Gondola ride! I would highly recommend this tour!'

3) Venice Excursions - Small Group Tour: Best of Venice Walking Tour and Grand Canal Water Taxi ride (duration varies)

Views from the water taxi boat
  • Stellar 4 1/2 star review is what travelers gave to this tour which is a perfect combination of land and water exploration
  • if you have enough time on the afternoon of your visit to Venice and would like to have a more personalized approach you will like this tour: it is limited to 10 people only (and often there are less than ten participants).
  • It also includes a one hour ride down theVenice Grand canal. Perfect to take a good look at the most famous Venice bridges and palaces.
  • It includes visiting Basilica di San Marco from the inside, too. 
  • Here's what some travelers said about this tour: 

'Tour guide was excellent and made the experience so much more than had I been alone. Without a guide, you'd miss too many subtle pieces of history and information, detracting from the visit. As usual, Viator/City Wonder Tours exceeded my expectations!'

4) Venice Tours - Venice Walking Tour and Gondola Ride (2 hours)

venice gondolier in striped t-shirtThis tour gives you the real Venetian experience!
  • Over 2400 people rated this tour! It is extremely popular!
  • If you are not into brushing elbows with hundreds of other tourists and a pumped-up atmosphere inside the churches, museums and other Venice sights but prefer  Venice excursions in a form of a relaxed romantic stroll around less known streets you would never find on your own, you will enjoy this tour.
  • And guess about a 30 minute breathtaking Venice gondola ride that comes with it too? Considering the price of gondola rides in Venice, the reviews mention this tour as a really good value for money.
  • What do other travelers say about this tour?

'This was an outstanding experience. I was worried that the gondola ride was going to be a huge group experience, but I was pleasantly surprised how wonderfully it was done. We enjoyed every moment!'

5) Murano, Burano and Torcello Sightseeing Half-day tour - (4 hours)

'High recommend for such a cheap price! Short time on each island (45 mins) but this was perfect for us enough time to look around and have a drink and pictures'.


  • VENICE ITALY TOURS - for those who have more time for Venice excursions
  • VENICE TRANSPORT - Organized transport from the Marco Polo airport to your Venice hotel
  • TRANSPORT VENICE - Organized transport from the port of Venice to your hotel and vice versa


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