1. Travel
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Gondola Rides in Venice

How to Get the Most from your Venice Gondola Experience

By

Gondola by bridge on canal, Venice
Sami Sarkis/The Image Bank/Getty Images
venice picture, gondola, canal

Gondola on a Venice Canal

Martha Bakerjian
venice picture, venice gondola picture

Venice Gondola Picture

© by Gail Lipson Photography, used by permission

Taking a gondola ride through the canals of Venice can be very romantic, but it can also be costly. Here's some information to help you get the most out of your gondola ride.

Gondola Fares

  • Gondola fares are standard and set officially. These are the minimum fares for a standard gondola ride but rates can go higher.
  • A standard gondola ride is 40 minutes so if you negotiate for a lower fare, you'll end up with a shorter ride.
  • Gondola fares are higher at night.
  • Gondolas hold six people and can be shared without affecting the fee so you can save money by sharing a tariff with several people.
  • If you book a gondola ride through a hotel or agency, there's likely to be an additional fee built in to the price.
  • If you'd like to arrange your gondola ride ahead of time (and pay in US dollars), Select Italy arranges gondola rides with or without music.
  • Here are current gondola fares.

What to Expect from your Gondolier

  • Gondoliers must be officially licensed.
  • Gondoliers must wear black pants, a striped shirt, and closed dark shoes. They usually have a special hat but don't always wear it.
  • Singing is not a requirement for a gondolier. Although some may sing, it's best not to expect it. Some may also give information during the ride.
  • Gondoliers stand up to row and use only one oar as this is the best way to row through the narrow canals of Venice.
  • If you want to go to a particular place, be sure to discuss it with the Gondolier before the ride.
  • Most gondeliers speak some English.
  • It is extremely rare for a woman to become a gondolier.

Where to Go on a Gondola Ride

Most people recommend taking a gondola ride on the quiet, back canals rather than on the crowded Grand Canal. If you want to ride on the Grand Canal, a vaporetto is much less costly. Riding on canals outside the main tourist area lets you see a different view of Venice and there won't be bumper to bumper gondalas.

Choose a gondola stop in the area you want to visit. If you want back canals, walk a few blocks off the main street (and away from San Marco) to look for a gondolier. Our Venice sestiere map and information can help you choose what neighborhood you want to explore.

A gondola is like a luxury car. Although black is the official color, many are ornately decorated and have comfortable seats and blankets. You can stroll around and look for one that suits your fancy.

Traghetto Crossing on the Grand Canal - Cheap Gondola Alternative

If all you really want to do is get into a gondola, you can take a traghetto across the Grand Canal. A traghetto is an empty gondola used to ferry passengers back and forth across the canal. While it might not be so romantic, it's much cheaper (currently 50 Euro cents) and you get a great view of the Grand Canal. Take a look at this video of crossing the Grand Canal on Traghetto Santa Sofia.

Gondola Pictures

Take a look at gondolas in Venice with Europe Travel's Venice Gondola Pictures.

More about the Venetian Gondola

While gondolas were once regularly used by Venetians, especially of the upper classes, today vaporetti have become the main form of water transportation in Venice. A couple hundred years ago there were about 10,000 gondolas but today there are only about 500.

A gondola is flat and made of wood. It's 11 meters long, weighs 600 kg and is hand built in special workshops called squeri of which there are still a few today. Gondolas are seen in festival parades and in regate or rowing competitions.

Find out more by visiting the Venice Naval History Museum.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.