Gondola Tour in Venice: What You Need to Know

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Un tour in gondola a Venezia it is certainly one of the most fascinating experiences to do if you have decided to visit the Serenissima.

It might sound cliché, but I assure you it's really worth it. I mean that taking a gondola tour in Venice is an unmissable experience, a bit like going to Rome and visit the Vatican Museums or go to Barcelona and see the Sagrada Familia.

So even if you have it available one day in Venice, a gondola tour is absolutely one of the experiences not to be missed!



Venice from the water, in fact, shows his best face: the one made up of elegant buildings that are reflected on the canals, bridges that pass over your head and glimpses that you would not have been able to admire if you were just walking through the streets.

Whether during the day or in the evening, taking part in a gondola tour means totally immersing yourself in the Venetian atmosphere. Gondolas are the real symbol of the city.

Just think that these characteristic boats were once the means of transport for the wealthiest families in Venice. They were used to move comfortably, but also and above all to show their wealth.

ARE YOU IN A HURRY? HERE ARE THE BEST GONDOLA TOURS

  • Tour in gondola con audioguida (shared)
  • Shared gondola ride
  • Gondola tour on the Grand Canal
  • Gondola tour to the Rialto Bridge (private tour)
  • Gondola tour to the Bridge of Sighs (private tour)
  • Private evening tour

If you are wondering if a gondola tour is worth taking, how much it costs, when to go and which one to choose then read on. In this article, I share some useful tips and information that should help you avoid disappointment and have a truly unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience.



Below I will also recommend you 10 of the best gondola tours in Venice: from the cheapest ones to some complete experiences to better discover the city.

  • How much does a gondola tour cost?
  • Is a gondola tour worth it?
  • Where do the gondola tours leave?
  • When to take a gondola tour?
  • What to expect from a gondola tour
  • 10 Tour in gondola a Venezia

How much does a gondola tour cost?

So let's face it, a gondola ride is still considered a very expensive thing. Not that it's totally cheap, but there are ways to save and be able to live this fantastic experience without necessarily having to take out a mortgage.

Generally the price for a gondola ride is 80 euros if you book it before sunset or 120 € if you want it after and during sunset.

Rides typically last between 25 and 40 minutes. If you want to stay longer, you will pay € 40 for every extra 20 minutes on board - or € 50 after 19:00.

But BEWARE! The price is not per person but per gondola. This means that if the gondola costs 120 euros but is "shared" with other travelers, the price per person will be much lower.

The gondolas can accommodate up to 6 people. The price is fixed for the boat, so the more people you share, the cheaper it gets.


The cheapest tours start at 25/30 euros each. If you think about it it's not that unattainable. Obviously you will have to share the gondola with other people and you will not be able to have it all to yourself, but anyway if you don't want to spend a lot this is definitely the only option available.


When I was in Venice, with Massi we went around a bit asking all the gondoliers for the price (booking directly from them on site)

Don't believe those who say you can bargain, that's not the case, or at least, I couldn't. THE tour prices are standardized so the price they ask you that is.

Obviously if you decide to make a private one, perhaps long-term, you could have a discount, but don't count on it too much.

You shouldn't have any problem finding a gondola tour directly on site.

However, it is also worth taking a look at the online tours (to book in advance) in case you have little time in Venice (and therefore you would not have time to waste walking around and looking for your gondola) or if you want to save something.

At the time of writing (June 2021) online prices are discounted compared to those on the spot. Offers don't last forever, but they're worth a look.

TOUR ONLINE

ATTENTION: unless you decide to book online, you will have to pay cash for your gondola ride. So make sure you have enough money with you.


Is a gondola tour worth it?

Gondolas allow you to see Venice from a completely different perspective and to better appreciate how this city lives much more on its canals than on its streets.

perhaps the price might seem excessive to you, I understand.

But think that there is only one Venice in the world, and the only one in which you can sail on an authentic gondola through the canals of a city that is more than 1200 years old.


If you think that in any way you can regret not having taken the gondola tour, listen to me: do it even if it costs.

If you are wondering if it is worth spending 80 euros maybe for 30 minutes think if you would like to see Venice from the water, on its most famous and luxurious traditional handmade boat, lying on soft cushions and, perhaps, in the company of your sweet half.

Where do the gondola tours leave?

The places from which the gondolas depart are distributed throughout Venice, and are called "stazi".

As you stroll around the city, you will notice that there are several stations where you can take a gondola ride, especially as you approach St. Mark's Square. You will therefore have no problem finding one.

However, keep in mind a couple of things.

  1. Most people want to take a gondola ride near St. Mark's Square or on the Grand Canal because they think they will have the best experience. This means that you may find a lot of other gondolas here. In short, traffic also on the water.
  2. If you take a gondola ride near St. Mark's Square, you will have to travel a part of it in the open sea, where you may find the sea a bit rough due to the boats.
  3. Some gondoliers, especially in the more crowded areas, will have maybe desire to return sooner to grab other customers so the tour could last less than the agreed one.

Personally I think there is much more beauty to take a ride away from the busiest areas, perhaps navigating on quieter canals.

You can find the gondola ride for example from some main stations:

  • San Toma: in the San Polo district, along the Grand Canal, next to the vaporetto stop of the 1 and 2 vaporetto lines.
  • Academy: in front of the Galleries and the Accademia Bridge, along the Grand Canal, next to the vaporetto stop of the vaporetto lines 1 and 2.
  • Santa Maria del Giglio: 200 m from Piazza San Marco in front of the Church of San Moisè.
  • Orseolo basin in San Marco: from Piazza San Marco with your back to the Basilica, turn right at the end of the square into Calle Salvadago.
  • San Marco Danieli basin: in front of the famous Hotel Danieli. San Zaccaria stop of vaporetto lines 1 and 2.
  • Dogana Ca 'Vallaresso station: in San Marco, in front of Punta della Dogana and next to the Giardini. Line 1 vaporetto stop of the same name.

When to take a gondola tour?

The gondola is practically the luxury car that in the past the inhabitants of Venice used to move from one part of the city to another.

Most of the gondolas are richly decorated and have comfortable seats and blankets which ensures that you will be truly comfortable and enjoy it to the fullest.

But the gondolas don't have awnings, so on a hot summer day you'll be traveling in full sun, which could be annoying.

Even if it costs more, at sunset or after sunset, a gondola ride is romantic and unconventional.

Even the cool temperatures and the soft light of the early morning they are the best time to do the tour and thus you will avoid meeting too many other tourists.

What to expect from a gondola tour

As early as the XNUMXth century, Venice began banning horses in the busiest areas of the city. Gradually, gondolas became a popular means of transportation, especially among the upper classes of society.

Modern Venetians, that is, those of today, no longer use gondolas to get around but boats.

Nowadays, gondolas are mainly used for the entertainment of tourists: for sightseeing, romantic evenings or simply to experience Venice in a similar way to how people have done it over the centuries.

To guarantee tourists the most authentic experience possible, regulations have been made.

For example, gondoliers must wear the same “uniform”: black trousers, a striped shirt, dark closed shoes and a straw hat with a band (which they don't always wear).

An image of a gondolier singing apart from some tour with serenade, it's more a romantic movie idea than reality. In fact, singing is not a requirement for a gondolier and although some may sing, it is best not to expect it. Some gondoliers tell about the things they see on the tour, but that's not always the case so don't take it for granted.

The shape, size and color of the gondolas are also regulated. For example, as early as the early XNUMXth century it was decided that all Venetian working gondolas should be black. The current shape of the gondola has remained unchanged since the beginning of the XNUMXth century ...

The only thing that differs is how each gondolier chooses to decorate their gondola.

First, a gondolier helps you get on his gondola. Then, you are invited to sit in a comfortable armchair and all you have to do is relax, pick up your camera and enjoy the ride.

In general, a gondola ride in Venice lasts around 30 minutes and ends at the starting point.

10 Tour in gondola a Venezia

1 - Economic gondola ride (20 - 25 minutes)

This short tour is one of the cheapest and will give you the opportunity to experience a gondola ride without having to open a mortgage!

The route starts from Saint Mark, crosses the Grand Canal and enters the canals around the Teatro La Fenice.

This is not a guided tour so you will not receive any explanation on the buildings you will see, but it is still a good solution to enjoy the city from the water.

Il tour is shared and on the gondola there can be a maximum of 6 people.

SEE SHARED TOUR

2 - Gondola ride with audio guide (1 h)

If you prefer a tour in gondola con audioguida, then this is for you.

The tour lasts about 1 hour and you can download the audio guide on your smartphone for free.

You can also request a small brochure explaining the main attractions you will see along the way.

Among the points of interest that the tour will touch there are the Mozart's house, La Fenice theater Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Ducal Palace and bell tower of San Marco.

SEE TOUR with AUDIOGUIDE

3 - Gondola tour on the Grand Canal

Another interesting alternative is this gondola tour on the Grand Canal during which you will have the opportunity to admire the largest and most important canal in the city.

You will see bridges, historic palaces and Byzantine buildings scroll by your side and above your head.

One of the most interesting moments of the tour is the stop in the area of Church of Santa Maria della Salute, a true masterpiece of the Baroque.

This tour offers several booking options: a shared tour that lasts about 30 minutes, a private tour always lasting half an hour or another one that is always reserved for an hour. The choice is yours!

TOUR on CANAL GRANDE

4 - Gondola ride through the hidden canals

For an alternative tour I suggest this gondola ride through the hidden canals.

You will move away from the busy Grand Canal to discover the romantic quiet of hidden corners and little beaten by the usual tourist routes.

The tour, also in this case, lasts from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the option you choose.

TOUR among the HIDDEN CANALS

5 - City walking tour and gondola ride

A beautiful way to explore Venice and discover its history and main places of interest it is by participating in this walking tour which is also added a final gondola ride.

An expert guide will take you to know places like the T.hours of the Clock, the Procuratie Vecchie, Bell tower of Piazza San Marco, Piazza Santa Maria Formosa, the House of Marco Polo Church of San Giovanni e Paolo and the Rialto Bridge.

After the walking tour you will have the opportunity to continue exploring the city through its canals.

In all, the visit lasts around 3 hours.

WALKING TOUR + GONDOLA

6 - Doge's Palace and Gondola Ride or Guided Tour of St. Mark's Basilica + Gondola Ride

If during your visit to Venice you intend to visit the Basilica of San Marco or the Doge's Palace, consider booking these two tickets which also include a tour through the channels:

DUCAL PALACE + GONDOLA

SAN MARCO + GONDOLA

In the first case the ticket includes skip-the-line admission to the Doge's Palace (and also at the Correr Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and the Marciana Library) and a shared gondola ride of approximately 30 minutes.

In the second case, however, before starting your gondola navigation you can take advantage of a full guided tour of St. Mark's Basilica to discover its secrets.

You will have the opportunity to admire the famous one as well Pala D'Oro.

7 - Private gondola ride to the Rialto bridge

For an exclusive experience, this private gondola tour to the Rialto Bridge could be for you.

The tour starts from Orseolo basin, behind San Marco and continues on Rio dei Barcaroli and on Rio dell'Ovo to the Grand Canal. From here you can admire the grandeur of the famous Rialto Bridge.

Please, look around and admire Grimani Palace, the largest and most majestic building overlooking the canal.

The journey continues on Rio San Luca to Manin Palace, residence of the last doge of Venice.

RIALTO BRIDGE TOUR

8 - Private gondola ride to the Bridge of Sighs

This also private gondola ride it's a nice idea to spend half an hour among the Venetian canals.

In particular this tour will allow you to pass under the famous Bridge of Sighs.

You will leave in the surroundings of St. Mark's Square and you will sail on the Rio del Palazzo to admire what is one of the most famous bridges in the city. You will continue on Rio di Santa Maria Formosa and then Rio di San Severo before concluding with a tour in the Basin of San Marco.

BRIDGE OF SIGHS TOUR

9 - Private gondola ride in the evening

If during the day the canals are fascinating, when the sun goes down they are even more so.

This private gondola ride in the evening will allow you to enjoy a tour immersed in silence among the reflections of the lights that are reflected on the water.

An undoubtedly romantic tour that could be a great idea for a surprise for your sweetheart.

PRIVATE EVENING TOUR

10 - Venice: food and wine tour with cicchetti tasting and gondola ride

Finally, among the best gondola tours in Venice I absolutely had to enter this experience especially suitable for the sweet tooth.

On foot you will reach typical restaurants and bars to taste the gastronomic specialties of the city: cicchetti (Venetian appetizers), cheeses and buranelli (sweets) are just some of the tastings you will do.

You will stroll through calli and bacari in the company of an expert guide that will tell you anecdotes, curiosities and stories related to the places you will see and the dishes you will taste.

The experience will end with a pleasant one gondola ride along the canals to discover again a different and unique side of Venice.

FOOD AND WINE TOUR + GONDOLA

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