Riding a gondola through the canals of Venice is the classic fantasy of a romantic Italian city break but does it actually live up to the hype? Before you travel, here are a few things to know about gondola rides in Venice.
They are expensive. Italy in general is not a cheap country but as for the biggest tourist trap that Venice has to offer? You’ll pay through the nose for the experience. For this reason alone, I went to Venice intending to go without – before caving on arrival! As ours were arranged through Contiki, we paid 22 euro each which was even more than the advertised rate of 80 euros for up to six people. Ouch. This will get you a 40 minute ride but note that after a certain time, the price gets higher.
The ride itself depends very much on the route you take. The Grand Canal is crowded but offers beautiful views, perfect for taking those snaps for the scrapbook, while the less common routes are quiet and serene. One of my favourite things about riding through the canals was seeing where the water is creeping closer the former front doors of houses!
Not all gondoliers are created equal. Some sing (expect to pay extra), some give you a great insight to the history in Venice. Most simply shout to their friends. But hopefully you’ll be too busy enjoying the ride to notice.
Want a unique and far less common experience? There are a few companies that actually teach you how to row Venetian-style for around the same price as a ride would ordinarily cost. You’ll be steering a gondoletto – wider and therefore more stable than a gondola – but if you’re in Venice for longer than a couple of days, this could be a great experience to check out.
Still want the experience of a gondola without the hefty price tag? Luckily there are a couple of options. Take a Vaporetto, a water taxi that offers a sturdier experience than a gondola – No. 1. serves the Grand Canal!
Otherwise, take a Traghetti across the Grand Canal for just 2 euros. You’ll still be paying around three times more than the locals for this commuter service but these boats are basically large gondolas without the fancy decoration. The ride is only around five minutes but for the price, it’s a no brainer.
Have you ridden a gondola in Venice or would you use an alternative?