The gondola is a staple in the romantic city of Venice. Between the timetables, the routes, the different prices, many questions arise, especially for a first stay in our magnificent city. In this article we give you our complete guide to gondola rides in Venice!
The history of Gondolas
The Venetian Gondola is a traditional vessel that has been around since 1094 and is easily recognizable because it is made of black wood. The gondolas are made of wood in Venice, with 280 pieces of wood from 8 different woods (oak, larch, walnut, cherry, linden, cedar, mahogany and fir) and two metal blocks located in the bow and stern. The ship is 10.8 meters long, 1.38 meters wide and weighs 600 kilograms. Low and light maneuverability is propelled by a rower which stands at the left rear while rowing on the right side, which is why the asymmetry of the gondola was introduced in the 19th century.
In addition, you can visit the gondola-making workshop in the Dorsoduro district not far from the Church of San Trovaso. In the 17th and 18th centuries there were between 8,000 and 10,000 gondolas in Venice (the Duke of the Doge’s Palace once brought them to the palace), today there are hardly more than 400.
They have become a symbol of the city and a unique means of transport (and therefore have a very tourist significance), and for us it is essential to visit our beautiful city Venice by gondolas on your first stay. You won’t be able to do this anywhere else, so make the most of it! When you are in Venice, a gondola ride is definitely an experience not to be missed, and especially an activity that you can certainly do when you are a couple.
What is the gondola ride in Venice?
The goal is to be transported by the gondola on the canals of Venice. You’ll see Venice in different ways – on the water – and enter the far corners of the city. The presentation lasts about 30 to 40 minutes for the lucky ones. During your gondola ride, you will make a loop, that is, you will return to the starting point. Obviously, this is a canal walk and not a city tour. That’s why the gondolier don’t always give you directions!
Please note that there are many routes and some are more amazing than others, like the Grand Canal. Even if the show only lasts half an hour, it will not prevent you from seeing the most beautiful places in Venice, such as Rialto Bridge, Mozart’s house, Punta Gana square, Marco Polo’s house, the Palace of Papadopoli, Santa Maria della Salute, the Fenice Theater, San Zulian Church and Bridge of Sighs.
This activity will also allow you to take beautiful photos of Venice, especially if you can photograph the end of the gondola in the foreground.
Where should we embark on a gondola ride in Venice?
You will recognize the boatman by his beautiful sailor jacket (red and white or black and white), black pants and a straw hat decorated with ribbons. They are standing in the stern and move the basket forward with an oar of 4 meters!
Yes, the job of a gondolier is very difficult. In addition, you must pass a competition to be able to exercise this profession! The sign “Servizio Gondole” in the street indicates where the platform is.
There are several places in the city, especially not far from Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace (at Bacino Orseolo station or near Campo San Moise bridge), and very close to the Rialto Bridge. Yes, these are the most popular tourist areas of Venice (and therefore the areas most disturbed by waves)!
Otherwise, walking away from Piazza San Marco you will often find the gondoliers working alone or in groups, which will provide more privacy. You can of course take a gondola to other parts of Venice. This is why, for less touristy excursions, we advise you to choose a gondola ride in the San Polo district, and of course to avoid the Saint-Marc district.
When is the best time to take a gondola ride?
Ideally, take the gondola at sunset. This schedule will allow you a most romantic gondola ride. However, this is the most popular schedule, especially on the Grand Canal. We advise you to book online.
Otherwise, we advise you as another alternative to choose off-peak hours, preferably in the morning, or at noon!
The prices of a gondola ride in Venice
The price of the gondola ride depends on whether you pay locally or if you book in advance.
Prices without reservation
First of all, please note that the gondola rides are run by the same company. The prices are official, so they are the same in all areas of Venice.
The cost of a “standard day trip” is 30 to 40 minutes and costs
The “Standard Night Trip” costs 100 euros, takes 30 to 40 minutes, and starts at 7 p.m.
This is the price for a gondola ride. Because of this, you have to pay 80 euros or 100 euros, it doesn’t matter if you are 1, 2 or 6 people (the maximum number of passengers in the gondola). Therefore, if you decide to take a gondola at random, these prices will be the same throughout the romantic city of Venice.
At this rate, nothing prevents you from sharing the costs with other tourists. In fact, before you even head to the city of Venice, don’t hesitate to find someone who is also interested in taking a gondola ride! All you need to do is go to a forum on Venice and suggest your date of stay. All you have to do is go out with your future travel companion.
You can also stay longer on the gondola, but you will have to pay the boatman around 40 euros for an additional 20 minutes during the day and 50 euros at night for the same times.
You can also try to negotiate with the gondolier and negotiate the gondola ride for 65 to 70 euros. However, we advise you not to be too persevering, Italians will quickly get annoyed, which could ruin your vacation. The best time is between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. when tourists leave for lunch. Therefore, the gondoliers do not hesitate to offer you a gondola ride at a lower price. You can take advantage of this opportunity by negotiating a suitable price. We advise you not to go below 65 euros. So these off-peak hours are the best time to try and negotiate the prices of gondola rides. Of course, during the high season, i.e. from April to September, due to the large number of tourists, negotiations will be more difficult!
Please note that these prices only include basic gondola rides. Any additional service will incur additional charges.
You can save money by booking online. But how is this possible?
Quite simply because you pay according to the number of passengers. It costs around 30 euros per person, so if you are a couple this option will be advantageous. This is also true if you have a child under the age of 2, as the ride is free if they remain seated on your legs.
To take advantage of it, all you need to do is make a reservation, wait for the confirmation by e-mail and print the voucher (with the name of the gondola company and the reservation number) or scan it with your phone portable. All you have to do is show it before boarding the gondola. As a result, everything is prepaid, you just need to show your voucher a few minutes before the departure time.
Note, however, that this type of trip will reduce the feeling of romance, as you will have to share the gondola with other people you don’t know. Indeed, the booking platform only offers the possibility of walks from the San Marco district. You cannot book a trip where there are few other people.
The main advantage is that online booking allows you to avoid the queues. With this skip-the-line service, you don’t have to wait your turn. However, during the high season (April to October and during the carnival), the waiting time can be very long …
Finally, by booking online, you will know above all what to expect because everything has been planned in advance. As a result, you can turn your classic walk into one of the most beautiful romantic experiences;
Most importantly, booking online allows you to add more options when you take the cable car. So, for example, if you are considering a marriage proposal, this is a perfect choice.
In addition, there are many sites that offer such services: romantic walks, walks with Venetian singers, rose petals, and gondola rides lit by lanterns or candles at night … For example, on Getyourguide, you can book this private tour for a price starting from 67.50 euros per person. But also note that you can hire Venetian singers on the boat for around 45 euros per person.
The same site also offers a combined package containing two or three activities. The Ceetiz site offers a private gondola evening and a romantic dinner in an elegant restaurant (3 courses + 1 dessert) for around 40 euros. Within 3 hours you will have a very romantic evening.
On GetYourGuide, you can take a 60 euro guided tour to visit Venice (Saint Mark’s Square, Saint Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge …) by gondola!
Finally on different sites you can carry out various activities with attractive prices such as having a singer on your gondola, a multilingual guide, a personalized guided tour, etc.
In conclusion, to fully enjoy the romantic atmosphere of a stay, we advise you to avoid tourist areas with heavy traffic. Stay away from places of interest like the Rialto Bridge or Piazza San Marco, and prefer small private canals like Castello, Dorsoduro or Cannaregio.
However, if you really want to visit the Grand Canal, consider taking a vaporetto, which is used as a sea bus. At sunset, the spectacle is just as astonishing: the lights playing on the water, the view and the atmosphere of the palace are as much worth the detour as on a gondola. Especially since the value of a vaporetto ticket costs only 7.50 euros!