Discover the Venice Canals: 6 tips before going on a gondola ride on the Venetian Canals

Discovering Venice and its ancient canals means you will come across one of the symbols of the city for centuries navigating through the narrow channels and Venetian lagoon: the gondola. It used to be the main of transport for centuries, nowadays it has become one of the main attractions of Venice that tourists experience when they visit the city. In this article, we will answer the common questions that people have before embarking on a gondola ride. 

Picture of the Grand Canal of Venice where gondolas ride navigate.

The Venetian gondola is a black wooden boat with a flat bottom that gondoliers drive with a single long paddle. The peculiar geography of Venice, with more than 100 islands and far from the mainland, gave rise to the gondola due to the need for communication and transport with the outside world and within Venice itself. 

An average boat was not capable of navigating the shallow waters. Thus the Venetian fishermen and merchants progressively adapted their boats to the lagoon, as well as to the goods that needed to be transported. Lastly, it established the figure of the gondolier, whose arms would become the “engine” of the boat.

Over time, the number of gondolas has decreased, with approximately 500 gondolas now operating, most of them intended for tourism. These refined boats can be up to 11 metres long and shaped asymmetrically at the bow and stern for comfort and stability. Gondolas are also a symbol of luxury and elegance, they are often decorated with thin gold leaves. 

A gondolier ride across the Venice Lagoon.

Going on a gondola ride is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, there is some valuable information and advice that could help you have a flawless experience. 

How much can a gondola ride cost? 

There is a wide range of gondola rides, depending on the duration, itinerary and boat capacity. The price can range from less than 50 euros for a 30-minute shared gondola trip to 60 euros for a 2-hour walking tour and shared gondola ride. There are also more exclusive private gondola rides starting from around 150€ for a 30-minute ride for a total of 5 people. 

It really comes down to your budget and preferences, but luckily there are plenty of options to choose from! Also, keep in mind prices may vary depending on the season, day of the week or even time of the day.

Which famous canals can you visit?

The Grand Canal is the main waterway of Venice. This 4km long canal spans between San Marco Basilica to Santa Chiara Church, it is a busy watercourse where you will see the most iconic bridges, palaces and landmarks of the city. Nonetheless, there are other canals such as the Giudecca Canal, Cannaregio Canal, Venetian Lagoon and Canal of Saint Peter which are just as enchanting and remarkable. 

Do you need to book in advance?

We recommend booking in advance since you can secure your ride through our website, You can select a day and the time of your preference, and easily compare gondola rides to find the best one for you. This can be done quickly and fast, and it will probably save you time, headaches and getting ripped off trying to look for a gondola ride on-site. 

Do you tip gondoliers?

You are not required or expected to tip gondoliers. However, if you enjoyed the ride and service, you can definitely tip a 5 to 10 per cent tip, just keep in mind that it is not mandatory at all!

A gondola navigates across Venice canals.

How early do gondola rides start?

Gondola rides start as early as 9 in the morning and continue all day and into 9 in the evening. There are also sunset trips which are worth seeing, and even night rides with dinner included. 

Is taking a gondola ride worth it?

Considering Venice is one of the few floating cities in the world, it is a truly immersing experience where you will access the most difficult parts of the canals, and get a captivating perspective of the city from the water. Also, it is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience, so if you visit Venice consider it twice because it’s definitely well worth it!

As an alternative, there are also boat tours that offer day trips to Murano, Burano and Torcello, famous for their colourful houses and history of glassmaking. These hop-on hop-off boat tours last between 4 and 7 hours and enable you to get on and off as you wish. This way you can sightsee at your own pace, making this experience much more relaxed and fun.

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