Italy cruise package – combine Venice, Florence, and Rome with a Mediterranean cruise

Combining a trip to Venice, Florence, and Rome as part of your Italy cruise vacation is easier to plan and book than you may think.

Start your journey in Venice, where you can explore the city’s famous canals and stunning architecture. Then travel by train to Florence, where you can admire Renaissance masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s David or experience the Tuscan countryside. Finally, use the fast train to visit ancient Rome, taking in all the iconic sights like the Colosseum and the Vatican.

Plan and book your own vacation

Our Italy cruise package suggestion to visit Venice, Florence, and Rome is entirely customizable. You can even reverse the package to visit Rome before traveling to Florence and Venice to begin your cruise from the port of Venice, Ravenna, or Trieste.

We have traveled extensively in Italy and cruised the Mediterrenean with many different cruise lines. We offer expert advise and detailed itineraries giving suggestions on what to see and do in each city, how to get there, where to stay and what to think of before you plan your cruise vacation.

2 days in Venice, 2 days in Florence, and 4 days in Rome before your start your cruise

If you are visiting Italy for the first time, or even a returning customer, we recommend at least two days in each destination and ideally three or four days in Rome if time and budget allow.

With at least two days in each, you will have time to explore and experience the best of these exciting cities. Enjoy taking things at your own pace by opting for walking tours or using local buses or trams. If you prefer a knowledgeable guide, join small group tours to world-famous sights or even day excursions to see the surrounding countryside.

Arrive in Venice

Grand Canal. Venice

Flights

Book a flight from your nearest international airport to Venice, Italy, for your outbound flight. For your inbound flight (your journey home again), book a flight from the final destination city of your cruise back to your nearest international airport.

If you are doing a closed-loop cruise (departing from and returning to the same port), your departure airport for your inbound flight will be Rome for this package.

For example, if you are flying from New York, then you would book a flight as follows:
Outbound: New York to Venice VCE
Inbound: Rome ROM to New York (flight home)

If you are traveling from London, you will book:
Outbound: London LON to Venice VCE
Inbound: Rome ROM to London LON
(flight home)

And so on. Check the date of your chosen cruise, then work out which date you want to fly out and which date you will fly home after your cruise. Leave plenty of time to get to the airport at the end of your cruise. We recommend a minimum of 5 hours from when your ship docks to when your flight home departs.

This type of ticket is called an open-jaw ticket. So your international flight will be into Venice and home from Rome. Venice Marco Polo Airport (Venezia Airport VCE) is the international airport in Venice. It is located on the mainland, about 16 km from Venice Island.

The international airport in Rome is Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Fiumicino (L’aeroporto di Roma-Fiumicino FCO), located 35km southwest of Rome.

Transport from Marco Polo Airport in Venice

From Marco Polo Airport in Venice, many transport options are available to get to Venice Island. The central transport hub on Venice Island is called Piazzale Roma. You can walk or transfer onto a Vaporetto (waterbus) from Piazzale Roma to get to your hotel. 

We recommend taking cash in euros with you, as not all buses and taxis accept credit cards (even though they should!)

Bus

Buses are located outside the arrival terminals. You can buy bus tickets from machines in the luggage collection area or the ticket office in the arrivals lounge. The fare is around 2 euros per person and takes about 35-40 minutes. Note that any “express” bus will be more expensive but will get you there quicker with fewer stops.

Taxi

There are plenty of taxis outside the arrival terminals at the airport. The official taxi company at the airport is Cooperativa Artigiana Radiotaxi. Confirm the price with your driver before you start. It is a fixed fare and costs around 40 euros for a one-way journey from the airport to Venice Island. The journey time is about 25-30 minutes. If you arrive late in the evening, the taxi fare may be higher.

Water taxi

Water taxis are available from the airport to Venice Island. After luggage collection, look for the signs for “Water Transport.” You will find a moving walkway on the terminal’s first floor. Take this straight to the dockside.

Purchase tickets at the ticket machines at airport baggage collection or onboard the water taxi. Have some cash in euros with you if you want to pay onboard.

The price for a one-way journey with a water taxi from the airport is around 100-120 euros, and the journey time is about 70 minutes. If you are traveling in a group, share the cost to make it cheaper per person. Tell the water taxi driver which hotel you are staying at so he can get you to the closest stop.

A City Pass for convenience

A convenient way to travel in Venice is by prepaying your public transport. Do this by purchasing a Venezia Unica City Pass. You can use this pass for your transfers, bus, and water bus transport and even save on entrance fees for museums, guided tours, palaces, and churches. The transportation costs much less per person using the city pass. Purchase your pass before you leave home.

Alternatively, you can book private airport transfers and have a driver waiting for you in arrivals if you do not want to be bothered or are unsure about finding your way to the airport.

Where to stay in Venice

We recommend staying on Venice Island. It’s the best option if you want to discover the beauty of Venice when you only have a few days there.

The alternative is to stay in Venice Mestre on the mainland, but you must take a local bus each time you want to get to Venice Island as it’s too far to walk. It’s just more convenient and charming to stay on Venice Island.

Here are some of our favorite hotels in Venice. We have included top-rated hotels and more affordable ones, so there is something for everyone.

We recommend staying in a hotel that is at least 4-star. This way, you will get a good standard of room, convenient amenities, and good service. The concierge can advise on local transport and provide city maps.

Hotels in the Santa Croce district

The district of Santa Croce is close to the transport hub Piazzale Roma on Venice Island. This is located at the entrance to the island and is very popular with travelers booking cruises from Venice as the hotels are easy to get to, and the logistics to get to your ship are simpler.

From Santa Croce, St. Mark’s Square is a 25-minute walk through the winding streets, or you can hop on a Vaporetto water bus outside the hotel. 

  1. Carlton on the Grand Canal
  2. Santa Chiara Hotel
  3. Hotel Canal Grande

Hotels in Cannaregio (close to Santa Lucia train station)

  1. BW Premier Collection CHC Continental
  2. Radisson Collection Hotel, Palazzo Nani Venice
  3. Ai Mori d’Oriente Hotel

Hotels in the San Marco district, close to St Mark’s Square

If you want to be close to the historic heart of Venice Island, then stay close to St Mark’s Square at one of these recommended hotels:

  1. Hotel Cavalletto & Doge Orseolo
  2. Hotel Casanova
  3. Baglioni Hotel Luna
  4. Hotel le Isole
  5. Star Hotels Splendid
  6. Hotel Bonvecchiati

To get to these hotels from Piazzale Roma, take a Vaporetto to Saint Mark’s Square (the stop is San Marco/Vallaresso).

Alternatively, a water taxi from the airport can take you to the hotel’s private landing. And from this private landing, your hotel can book your Gondola ride.

The best way to spend two days in Venice, Italy

Use the links below for two days of sightseeing in Venice to pack as much as possible during your time there.

Day 1: The best of Venice island

Day 2: Visit the outlying islands in the Venetian lagoon: Murano, Burano, and Torcello

Getting from Venice to Florence

The next stop is Florence (Firenze), the beautiful Renaissance capital of Tuscany. From Venice, the easiest and quickest way to travel to Florence is by train.

Travel from the train station on Venice island called Venezia Santa Lucia (Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia), located in the Santa Croce district close to Piazzale Roma.

Book tickets with Trenitalia ticket office at the station, or with our travel partner Omio before you leave home. Choose Venezia S. Lucia to Firenze S. M. Novella which is the main station in Florence and your preferred date of travel. Click for more help about how to search, compare and book train tickets in Italy.

The journey time is around 2.5 hours. There are several different routes, so look for the shortest journey time. Choose the option “Le Frecce” (and not “regional train”). Le Frecce is the high-speed train giving you a direct, non-stop route. Economy tickets start at around 40 euros per person, with discounts for seniors. There are food and drinks available for purchase on the train. Be sure to choose the English language on their booking site so you can read and understand all the conditions of purchase before you pay.

Upon arrival at Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence, your city-center hotel is within walking distance. If you prefer not to carry your luggage, taxis are available outside the train station.

2 fantastic days in Florence, the heart of Tuscany, Italy

Florence is one of the most beautiful and well-known cities in the world and a popular tourist destination for a good reason. The city is packed with historical sites and cultural attractions, including some of the most famous art museums in the world. There’s also plenty to do in the picturesque surrounding area of Tuscany.

One of the best ways to get around Florence is by foot to see many of the sites during your visit. You can also use the city buses or take a taxi.

Where to stay in Florence

A huge accommodation choice is available in the city’s heart—everything from apartments and villas to hotels of all standards and all price ranges. We recommend the following hotels, all of which offer good front desk service, a great breakfast, and an excellent location.

  • Hotel Brunelleschelli
  • NH Collection Palazzo Gaddi
  • Mercure Firenze Centro
  • Morandi alla Crocetta

Day 1: The Best of Florence

Florence on another perfect day

Start at the heart of Florence, at Piazza del Duomo.

Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo is Florence’s main square in the center of town, next to the famous Duomo (cathedral). This is one of Europe’s most iconic buildings with its crowning glory, Brunelleschi’s noble dome, visible from afar. The Basilica – or Dumo – is called the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower (Basilica Di Santa Maria Del Fiore). It is a major tourist attraction due to its size, architecture, and exciting history.

It’s also the location for many important events in Florence. On one side, you will find the Baptistery, with its glittering Gates of Paradise, and Florence’s City Hall on the other.

While at Piazza del Duomo, there are two ways to get your first spectacular bird’s eye view over Florence.

First, you can climb between the dome’s layers 186 steps to reach the top; your kids will love this too. Queues can be long to get inside – especially during the peak summer season – so we recommend buying tickets ahead.

Or enjoy the view from Giotto’s Bell Tower. At 90 meters tall, it stands just across from the Duomo. From here, you will get an amazing 360-degree view.

From the Duomo, walk along Via de Martelli, turning onto Via de Gori to reach the excellent food market of Florence, Mercato Centrale.

Mercato Centrale

At Mercato Centrale, you will find Florence’s most famous food market, where all the locals go to buy their groceries. It opens daily from 10 am until midnight. Stop here to visit the many food booths to sample Florence’s finest treats. On the next level, find the food court and sample fresh Italian food and its best.

Next, we recommend that all art and history enthusiasts visit the Uffizi Gallery. Take your time walking there via Piazza Della Signoria. Built in 1565 to celebrate the Medici family wedding, this square is surrounded by great shopping and often hosts musical entertainment.

Try pastries or stuffed focaccia bread at Cantinetta del Verrazzano. If you prefer street-side eating or a sandwich on the go, there is a tiny traditional fiaschetteria called I Fratellini, just a 2-minute walk from Cantinetta del Verrazzano.

Galleria Degli Uffizi is a fantastic gallery and museum next to Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. It is Italy’s most visited art gallery, and many cultural exhibitions are also held here. You will find an extensive collection of sculptures, paintings, and artifacts from Florence’s past. Botticelli’s work, including Primavera and The Birth of Venus, is best known.

Our tip is to visit the ticket office outside of the Uffizi as soon as it opens in the morning. There will be a line, tickets cost around 12 euros each and you will have to book a time during the day to visit. Note! The museum is completely closed on Mondays! And if you want to visit on a public holiday or on a Saturday, you will need to purchase your tickets at least one day in advance. Use their website for buying tickets and get them sent by epost.

From the Uffizi Gallery, it takes two minutes to walk to the start of Ponte Vecchio. Cross the bridge to get to Pitti Palace.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence’s most famous landmarks; built-in 1345, it has survived two major floods. Many tourists love to shop at the quaint little shops here, with jewelry being the most popular item on sale.

Pitti Palace

The former residence of the Medici family, Pitti Palace is now Florence’s largest museum and home to some of the world’s best art collections. The gardens are gorgeous and perfect for the kids to run around.

After your visit, head back across Ponte Vecchio. Walk towards the Basilica of Santa Croce to see the burial place of Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo. After having lunch at one of the many local eateries, walk via the Duomo to Galleria dell’Accademia, about 10 minutes away.

Galleria dell’Accademia

The Accademia Gallery of Florence (La Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze) features the original Michelangelo David statue, Florence’s most famous work of Art. For me, it is worth the visit to see this.

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco is a lively square just a short walk from Galleria dell’Accademia that connects you to the rest of the city and beyond with local buses. It is one of the best places to meet if you are in a group and need a common meeting point during the day. From here, hop on a number 7 bus that takes you to the hills to visit Fiesole. Once there, you can see Florence in full glory in front of you. The best view is from the grounds of the monastery of San Francesco.

Fiesole is also the location of Florence’s Maggio Musicale. This is a collection of outdoor concerts, and if you are lucky enough to see one during your stay, we can assure you it’s an unforgettable experience. Check out their website for concert dates and times.

Piazzale Michelangelo

We recommend a local bus or taxi to Piazzale Michelangelo in the evening. Located high on a hill on the other side of the Arno River, this square is ideal for beautiful panoramic views of Florence. Benches allow you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the city below. Choose a clear day and try and get there at sunset for a spectacular view.

You can walk from the city center, but it’s a long climb. Take a taxi or bus there and walk back into town afterward. It’s much easier walking down the hill and a great way to spend the evening, finishing with shopping in the town center.

Day 2: Choose Your Day Trip from Florence

Vernaca Bay, Cinque Terre, Italy

It’s almost impossible to recommend one place over another when visiting Tuscany. With so much to see, only you can decide how to spend your second day. If you have not seen enough of the center, stay and do everything you didn’t have time for on day one.

Otherwise, book a small group tour with a local guide. Choose from our personal favorites below. All the transfers will be included in the price of your tour.

The best day trips from Florence

  • Siena, located nearly 80km south of Florence, is known for its 5-century-old horse race, Palio di Siena, and Gothic architecture. Palio di Siena is held in the historical center in July and August amid a festive atmosphere. Competing neighborhoods meet in the center, Il Campo, which is transformed into a race track.
  • Cinque Terre – the five colorful seaside villages on the Italian Riviera are located on the coast 175km northwest of Florence. Hiking trails are fantastic, or for the less energetic, visit the villages for quaint shopping and stunning views.
  • Chianti – famous for its vineyards, castles, market towns, and monasteries, the region of Chianti, located 50 km from Florence, offers iconic views of the Tuscan landscape straight out of a Renaissance painting. Chianti is one of the main reasons why visitors flock to Italy.
  • The northwest Tuscany towns of Pisa and Lucca are doable in one day. Visit the famous leaning Tower of Pisa and the small elegant city of Lucca.
  • The hill town of San Gimignano is a picture-perfect medieval Tuscan town. After walking the center of the city and stopping for Gelato, visit a vineyard that offers wine and olive oil tasting, a truffle hunt, or a Tuscan cooking class with a spectacular view of the unique skyline of the town’s 14 stone towers.

It is possible to book a day tour to Pisa, Siena, and San Gimignano, all in a day. We did this, and it was a fantastic, memorable day. Be prepared for a long day; bring plenty of bottled water and good walking shoes.

How to get from Florence to Rome

Colosseum at night, Rome, Italy

Depart Florence by high-speed train and head to Rome. Buy tickets online via the Trenitalia website or at the ticket office at the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station.

Using the high-speed train Frecciarossa the journey time is 1 hour and 35 minutes, costing around 40 euros per person. The journey finishes at Rome’s central station, Rome Termini.

How to get from Rome Termini (train station) to central Rome

The main train station of Rome, Rome Termini, is centrally located. But we would not recommend walking around the area at night. The best, safest, and quickest way to get to your hotel is by using one of the official taxis outside the train station. It will be a fixed charge. If you are approached, do not accept a ride from anyone else offering a taxi.

Where to stay in Rome

Here are our best recommendations for hotels in Rome for cruise guests:

  • Hotel Savoy Roma
  • Hotel Mancino 12
  • Augustana House
  • Hotel Forum Roma
  • Hotel Accademia
  • Bettoja Hotel Mediterraneo
  • Pantheon Hotel
  • Hotel Barocco
  • Napoleon Hotel Roma
  • Relais Fontana Di Trevi

4 ways to see the best of Rome before your cruise from Civitavecchia cruise port

Our daily itineraries cover four primary areas of Rome, each of which you can explore as much or as little as you have time. And in any order you like. There is so much history and architecture to admire; it’s a good idea to pack a pocket guidebook so you don’t miss anything.

Use the links below to read where to go and what to see in the Eternal City.

Alternatively, book at least one guided tour before you leave home. A guided tour is a great way to explore imperial Rome to see the best and most famous sights.

Getting from Rome city center to Port of Civitavecchia

The Port of Civitavecchia, where most cruise ships depart, is approximately 78km northwest of Rome. Plan accordingly because it is quite a distance and takes time. To get there from your hotel in Rome, you have these alternatives:

Private Transfer

If you are more than four people, I recommend booking a private transfer for pick up at your hotel before you leave home. Tell them when you want to check in at the cruise port, and they will calculate your pickup time from your hotel to get you there in good time. You need to get dropped off at the port service center, Largo Della Pace. It is the main terminal for all shuttle buses that will take you to your cruise ship. The shuttle buses are all free of charge within the port.

Taxi

Ask your hotel about pre-booking a cab. Allow plenty of time to get to the port. Traffic and queues are unpredictable, especially in the high season. Taxis charge a flat rate; establish this with your driver before you start. The cost is high – around 120 euros from the city to the port. You need to get dropped off at the port service center, Largo Della Pace. It is the main terminal for all shuttle buses that will take you to your cruise ship. The shuttle buses are all free of charge within the port.

Train from Termini Station

Trains will save you money. You can buy tickets to board a local train from Rome’s Termini train station for around 5 euros to Civitavecchia train station. You can pay with a major credit card. There are ticket windows (be prepared to queue) and automated machines at the train station.

There are shops and cafes in Termini station, a tourist office, and a shopping center on the lower floor. The name of Italy’s train system is Trenitalia, and if you want to, you can book tickets online before you leave home. Choose “Rome Termini to Civitavecchia Porto

Remember to get your ticket stamped at a machine before boarding the train. If you forget to do this, you risk a heavy fine and show an invalid (unstamped) ticket on board.

From Civitavecchia train station, take the local bus for 2 euros to get to the port’s service center, Largo Della Pace. The journey takes about 10 minutes, and buses leave every 20 minutes. Tickets can be bought from inside the train station.

Alternatively, you could walk from Civitavecchia train station to Largo Della Pace to save money. It is about 1.5km and takes about 15 minutes, but remember you have your luggage too. Taxis can be hard to find from the train station, but this is an option if you succeed.

Largo Della Pace is the main terminal for all shuttle buses that will take you to your cruise ship. The shuttle buses are all free of charge within the port.

Cruises from Rome – which cruise line suits you best?

All major cruise lines offer fantastic itineraries and cruise ships for Spring and Summer cruises.

For example, Royal Caribbean has four cruise ships out of Civitavecchia Port – Wonder of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, and Brilliance of the Seas. Itineraries include the Greek Isles, Italy, and the Adriatic; Western Mediterranean and Holy Land Cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line offers cruises from Rome to the Mediterranean (Italy, France & Spain), Greek Isles and Italy, and Greece & Croatia. Unfortunately, we won’t see their latest ship Prima in Mediterranean waters yet, but these cruises are available on board Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Epic, and Norwegian Gem.

Celebrity Cruises have seven and 8-night cruises in the Mediterranean (Italy, France & Spain), Italy, and the Greek Isles. And longer voyages including Florence, Portofino & Venice; Greek Isles and Malta; Italien Riviera & France; Greek Isles & Malta; Italy, Croatia & Montenegro; and an 11-night cruise including Italy, Turkey, and the Greek Isles. Which one is on your bucket list? Celebrity has ships offering these cruises from Rome: Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Constellation, and the fabulous newer ships Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Beyond.

MSC Cruises have put some of the best cruise ships on great itineraries from Rome: MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia, which we recommend you choose over the older MSC Splendida. Cruises starting in Rome are to the Western Mediterranean with slight variations in ports of call depending on when you cruise and which cruise ship you choose.

Extending your vacation after your cruise

If you plan on spending more time in Rome or the surrounding countryside or even heading further south onto Naples and the Amalfi Coast, using the regional trains is easy, cheap, and convenient.

To learn more about traveling from Civitavecchia cruise port to central Rome, we have great tips and information in our Civitavecchia Port to Rome article.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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