Want to go on a gondola ride? Here’s everything you need to know!

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    A few quick words about gondolas and gondola rides in Venice:

    Gondolas are one of the most iconic symbols of Venice. The entire world knows the silhouette of these elegant Venetian boats plying on the water of the canals of Venice, rowed by the renown gondoliers.

    It is true that if there are many reasons for which Venice is famous in the whole world, few are as well known and evocative as the Venice Gondola.

    This is probably why taking a gondola ride is on the bucket list of most of the visitors to Venice. But how much does a gondola ride cost? is it worth it? do Venetians ride gondolas?

    Here are the answers to all the questions you might have about gondola rides.

    We know that some of you will be happy to just admire and take pictures of these beautiful Venetian boats. But we also know that many visitors are thrilled to experience a gondola ride in Venice, Italy!

    We hope that this info and tips will help you decide if a gondola ride is for you, and if yes, how to get the most out of your ride on Venice most iconic boat.

    Gondola Ride in Venice, Italy

    We created this article to give you all the information you need to understand whether to tour Venice canals in a gondola as well as tips and hints you need to best enjoy your first gondola ride!

    In a hurry or looking for something specific? Use the interactive index below to jump to the Venice tip which interests you most

    What is a Venetian gondola?

    A Gondola is a traditional Venetian boat. In other words, it is just one of several types of traditional rowing boats.  However, it is by far the most renown.

    The gondola has some qualities that characterize traditional Venetian boats. Firstly, it is handcrafted entirely using wood. Secondly, it has a flat bottom. Thirdly, it is rowed with a long wooden oar that pivots on a “forcola, a Venetian oarlock made of wood.

    However, the gondola has also distinctive features that make it unique. For example, it is the only Venetian boat with the “fero da prova”, its typical bow ornament. Also, unlike most Venetian boats, it is asymmetric. Lastly, it is still used daily for work – by gondoliers offering gondola tours in the canals of Venice.

    Most people think that gondolas are black. While it is true that all gondolas used for work are black, gondolas are also used for sport and leisure. The latter – over a hundred as of June 2018 – are painted in bright colors or keep the natural color of the wood.

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    A quick curiosity: “gondola”, in Italian, indicates that traditional Venetian boat. In other languages, however, the word “gondola” has also other meanings. See here the other meanings of the word “gondola.”

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    The Venice gondola in numbers:

    Gondolas are made by hand and consist of 280 pieces of 8 different types of wood: oak, fir, cherry, larch, walnut, linden, mahogany, elm.

    The dimensions of a gondola can vary slightly, but they are typically  around  11 m long, 1,45 m wide, less than 1m deep, and have a total weight of 600 kg.

    Why do gondola makers use several different types of wood? Because different woods have different proprieties. 

    How does a gondola tour in Venice work?

    First, a gondolier helps you boarding his gondola. Then, you are invited to sit down on a comfortable double-armchair. The tour then starts and take you on a ride on the canals around your point of departure.

    Most gondoliers aren’t just exceptionally skilled rowers. In fact, most are also capable and happy to give you information about the fantastic scenery unraveling in front of you. In general, a gondola ride in Venice lasts~30 minutes and ends back where it started.

    How much does a gondola ride in Venice cost?

    Standard gondola rides in Venice have a fixed cost 80 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour.

    At night, however, the cost of a gondola ride is 120 euros for a private 25-30 minutes tour. If you desire to stay longer, tell the gondolier and ask for the price before the start of the tour.

    Can I negotiate the price of my gondola ride in Venice?

    We’re sorry to tell you, but no, you can’t negotiate the price of a normal gondola ride in Venice. However, if you ask for a much longer tour, you might have the chance to discuss the price and duration of the tour with the gondolier.

    Keep in mind, however, that gondoliers have plenty of work. Therefore, gondoliers don’t really feel the need to compromise much on their price, especially during the warmer season.

    Gondola Ride Experience in Venice

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    How many people can take part in a gondola ride?

    A gondola ride in Venice can be enjoyed by 1 person up to a total of 6 passengers, plus the gondolier. Often, a gondolier will ask people to switch seats to best balance the gondola.

    In some rare cases, a gondolier might decline boarding 6 people if the total weight of the group could make navigation difficult and therefore put passengers at risk. Safety comes first!

    Where is the best place to start a gondola ride in Venice, Italy?

    That’s a tough question to answer! All of Venice is beautiful, and it is worth going on a gondola ride in every part of the city.

    Of course, if you want to see specific landmarks such as the Bridge of Sighs or the Rialto bridge, you should take a gondola in the stations next to these famous areas.

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    At Saint Mark’s square, there is one station facing the basin and, on the opposite side, one on the Bacino Orseolo. At 3 minutes from the square, there is one more gondola station just in front of the San Moisè church.

    However, from April until October many visitors coming to Venice share the desire to take a ride on a gondola. And many desire to do so precisely around Saint Mark’s and the Rialto area. Also, several tour guides also bring their numerous groups to those touristy areas to make them board gondolas.

    As a consequence, you might have to wait in a queue for hours before getting on a gondola at the Saint Mark’s and Rialto’s. Moreover, you will then end up sitting on a “gondola train,” with gondolas in front of and behind you, all doing the same tour. For this reason, we recommend you to board a gondola at a station that is not crowded.

    It will feel more private and exclusive, you won’t feel like part of a carousel of gondolas, and your gondolier will have more energy and passion during your ride.

    Below, a few Gondola Stations where you could get your gondola ride in Venice:
    Santa Sofia, San Toma, and Gondolas 4 all at Piazzale Roma, with its unique wheelchair friendly dock!

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    Do Venetians ride gondolas?

    No. Commonly, the only occasion in their life in which Venetians might take a gondola ride is on their wedding day.

    However, Venetians regularly board a “gondola da traghetto,” or gondola ferry, to quickly cross the Canal Grande and save time. Such crossings are a shared ride that lasts 30 to 40 seconds.

    Most Venetians who take the ferry do it standing, while the majority of visitors prefer to sit down. It’s a matter of balance.

    Why are gondola rides in Venice so expensive?

    It’s true, gondola rides in Venice are not cheap. The reason why gondola rides cost 80 euros for a private tour of 25-30 minutes is probably a simple matter of demand and offer.

    Venice is a city unlike any other in the world, visited by millions of people every year, a significant number of which desire to go on a gondola tour.

    There are, however, only 260-290 work gondolas in Venice, making it possible to set a high fixed price and barely see a drop in demand. That was our “economic” explanation.

    Read on to the next question for further considerations.

    Is it worth it to spend a minimum of 80 euros for a gondola ride?

    That is a question that only you can answer.

    Would you like to see Venice from the water, which is the way the city was meant to be seen, on the most famous and luxurious hand-made traditional Venetian boat, with soft pillows and golden decorations?

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    Would you like to explore tiny little canals that cross this ancient city, while being rowed by an expert gondolier, one of the few hundred people in the entire world capable of rowing a gondola in such challenging spaces?

    If both your answers to these questions are affirmative, and 80 euros is a price that you can afford paying with no second thoughts, then yes, a gondola ride in Venice is worth its price.

    Gondolas and gondoliers in numbers:

    • Handmade with 280 pieces of wood.
    • 8 different type of woods: Oak, Fir, Cherry, Larch, Walnut, Linden, Mahogany, Elm.
    • 6 months for the making of a gondola
    • Final price of around 40.000 euros
    • Average dimensions: length: 11 m; width: 1,45 m; depth: 1m.
    • Weight: 600kg
    • 433 gondoliers
    • 160 substitute gondoliers
    • 280 work gondolas
    • 400+ gondolas in the Venetian Lagoon

    Don’t forget to check out our article about the Venetian gondola to find more information about this beautiful Venetian boat. For example, do you know why they are traditionally black or why they are asymmetric? Read it, to find out!

    And since you’re interested in precious insights to plan your next trip to Venice, make sure to check out the resources below:

    I'm visiting Venice. Why should I follow your recommendations?

    The way you visit Venice has an impact both on the quality of your experience and on Venice itself.  Chilling, exploring, shopping, eating and drinking where the locals do, can make a huge impact both on the memories you bring home and on the local economy and community.

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