A trip to Venice just isn’t complete without a gondola ride. This quintessential Venetian pastime may attract tourists by the dozen, but it’s popularity is definitely not unfounded. A centuries-old tradition, Venetian gondola rides are treated by locals with a reverence and respect often lost in modern day tourist attractions. Master gondoliers don their traditional uniform of striped shirts, a black hat and black pants to navigate their prized carved wooden boats, its façade gliding through Venice’s tepid aqua waters peacefully. Indeed, its easy to see how this age-old practice has become the romantic symbol of this timeless Italian city, keeping alive one of the culture’s most simple pleasures. Take no notice of the tourist naysayers, more than a little bit of Italian magic occurs on one of these scenic rides around Venice’s floating city.
Go solo. You don’t have to be with a significant other to enjoy this experience. Shrug off those boring stereotypes and enjoy a Venice gondola ride solo-style or with a friend, a camera is all you really need for this iconic trip anyway.
But, for the romantics ... Organise for your gondolier to pass under Venice’s famous ‘Bridge of Sighs’. Legend has it that partners will be granted eternal love if they kiss under the bridge while the bells of the Campanile toll.
Take the road - or canal - less travelled. Ask your gondolier to take a lesser-known route through the back alley canals to uncover a more secret side to Venice.
Good to know
Best time to visit
Venice gondola rides run year-round, although the rain and wind of Venice’s winter months leave much to be desired. Try to snag a ride, picking up your Venice gondola tickets for during the summer or spring seasons for the most idyllic experience. No matter what the season, prices rise as evening unfurls, so be sure to enjoy your gondola ride before 7pm.
Venice gondola rides can be undertaken from many places throughout the city. Venice’s hub, the Grand Canal, offers tours from day to night, although depending on price and preference, you may choose to start your ride away from the city’s busiest canal. A few canals further afield offer cheaper, more peaceful and serene gondola experiences.
Money saving tips
It’s no secret that Venice gondola rides are one of the more expensive activities in Venice. Save yourself the hassle of negotiating prices and book your Venice gondola tickets in advance. We offer epic prices ideal for those on a tight budget.
Did you know?
Impress your fellow travellers with these interesting titbits on Venice’s gondolas…
The earliest recorded use of gondolas dates back to the late 11th century, with this graceful boat used ever since. Gondolas peaked in popularity in the late 16th century, when more than 10,000 gondolas created aquatic traffic jams throughout the city. Today there are around 450 working gondolas in Venice.
It takes more than 400 hours of on-boat training and a passing of a rigorous exam on Venetian history and landmarks to become a gondolier. Considered a noble profession, only three or four new gondolier licenses are awarded to patrons each year.
The first female gondolier was officially licensed in 2010 at the age of 24.