My husband and I will be in Venice Saturday, July 23-Monday, July 25, as part of a 16 day trip to celebrate our 30th anniversary. What is the best way to experience a gondola ride? How do we find a reasonable price? What time of day is best? What area is best to start from? Do we need a reservation?
We took a nice gondola ride last May. We were staying near the Frari Church and caught the gondolier for his last trip othe day around 7 pm. We had a bottle of wine and really enjoyed the "less traveled" areas of Venice before going out on the Grand Canal. You don't need reservations, but I recommend scouting the gondolas as you wander around Venice. Find a good location and go from there.
Negotiating prices with them may get you a few euros discount but not much. To reduce the price per person look for other people to share the ride.
I'd say stay off the Grand Canal, as the amount of traffic (vaporettos, water taxis, work boats) will make it a bumpy ride. Stick to the inland gondola docks where you can get a quiet romantic ride through the back canals of Venice. They are pretty much on a fixed rate fee, but ask the price before you get in.
We were in the St. Mark's area and it was very busy on the canals even in late September. Midday can be bad if there's a cruise ship in town. I'd suggest trying later in the day toward sunset (or early morning if the temperatures are okay). Maybe best to scout the situation the first day and pick a good time.
Bill in SoCal
As you wander through Venice, you will see clusters of gondolas lined up along canals, you can't miss them. For example near the Rialto Bridge, the Hard Rock Cafe, near the big cluster at San Marco, some near the Piazza Roma as I recall. Some people think sunset is the most beautiful time of day, some like daylight- up to you. Singing is an extra expense and possibly not worth it. Prices are 'fixed" like Taxi rides are- agree before you board, and relax- take the one that appeals to you. Have a lovely time.
Skip the gondola ride! To really experience the canals of Venice do a kayak trip down the canals. There are day time and night time canal tours. My wife and I did a 4 hour night time canal tour in 2012 with Venice Kayak https://www.venicekayak.com/
It was the highlight of our time in Venice and one of the best parts of our European vacation.
We happened across a lone gondolier on a side canal at nearly 7pm. He explained that each gondolier owns their own gondola, but they work for companies that manage the business. They are allowed to run their gondolas on their "off" hours, however. He gave us an excellent 30 minute ride, during which he sang and gave information about Venice, how the streets and canals are named, history, etc. He also said that when you get a gondola from the crowded stands on the Grande Canal, often much of your time is spent grid-locked on the canal. He had a sign up stating prices, but we negotiated (actually, he offered) 70 euro. It was a deal!
Forgot to mention - when they are on "company" time, the price is pretty much fixed. On their own time they are able to negotiate.
Julie, don't skip the gondola ride! Sure its a touristy thing to do, but its the one thing everyone knows and will ask you about Venice. It would be like going to San Francisco and never riding a cable car.
I think it is best at dusk or later, when the lights are on, and you must go out on to the Grand Canal. Traffic not so bad then, and seeing all the restaurants and shops lit up is worth it. Some of the side canals are like driving through back alleys - dark, not so scenic, tight and smelly.
There are "gondola stands" in several places. Or ask you hotel for locations. What I would do, is scout one out early in the day, talk to the "dispatcher" about what you want, and arrange for the ride later that evening. The gondolas sit more than one couple, so it is less expensive if you have more people with you. Not sure if true about every or most gondolas, but the ones we saw, all only had one "couples" seat - for two people in the back, and the other seats were on the side facing each other, so make sure you get the good seat as the anniversary couple. I think we paid 100 euro per couple but we had a big group and had a musician and singer too. The music was worth it if you have a group, as kitschy as it might be.
I've been to Venice more times than I can count and have never stepped foot in a gondola - and have no regrets about that. They're so expensive, and I'd much rather be out and about exploring the nooks and crannies wherever they may lead. Take a traghetto across the Grand Canal for .50 Euro if you really must be in a gondola. It's a quick and cheap ride that's actually useful (crossing the Grand Canal).
I don't think the traghettos are 0.50 EUR anymore unless you have a residents card. In fact, its 0.70 EUR for residents. Tourists pay 2 EUR.
We just visited Venice last week.
80 Euros--30 min ride daytime and 100 Euros is night time starting at 7pm
The time is based on travel in the canal too. Daytime is busy.
Sunsets are around 8pm so plan for a sunset ride, it's more money but worth.
As far as reservations i would check with your hotel, they might be able to help you.
you an also check out Viator, they packages with a gondola ride.
I used them for my game of throne tours in Dubrovnik and it was great!
Also if you want to go St Marks buy your tickets online-it will save you a headache. Make sure you wear something that covers your shoulders. I had to buy a scarf to enter. Once inside you'll need buy a tour- otherwise you are can't go in much further.
hope that helps.
We took one at night that started briefly in the Grand Canal and passed under the Rialto Bridge then disappeared into the quiet canals all by ourselves for 35 minutes. It was worth every cent, it's just as amazing and romantic as they say. I'm glad I didn't skip it. In the grand scheme of things it's not much money at all.
I highly recommend paying more for the night ride, it's so quiet and there is virtually zero traffic.
Is it generally easy to find other couples in line to share the ride/fare in the evening?
A late-evening vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal can be sorta romantic, too -- not that many people, lighted buildings reflecting on the water ...
You might try and find another couple at the hotel breakfast who will share the gondola. Yes, it might be cheesy and touristy, but it is a different view that is not the same from the land. I have been To Venice lots of times and no gondola ride, and finally went with my grandson because he wanted to and we had a great time. We actually have an amazing image taken from the gondola, and we still can't agree on who actually took that image, as I would hand off my camera to him.... I have taken the actual credit for it, but he always tells me he thinks he took it!
Another time I went along with some friends who wanted to go.... while it's not life changing, I certainly don't regret spending the money... fun little memories.
It's their anniversary. You can't pass up the opportunity. It would be like shaking hands on the Kiss Cam.
Thank you all for your help! I feel much better prepared to make an informed choice. On our previous visit to Venice (20 years ago), we didn't go on a gondola as we were with our four year old daughter. We can't skip it this time!
I was in Venice last month and we couldn't say no to a gondola ride. I would highly recommend walking around and finding the right gondolier. One the seems upbeat, friendly, and happy to be there. I saw many that were on their phones and looking like they were just trying to get their gondola empty and reloaded with some more tourists. We spent over an hour walking around and looking for the right gondolier and area to take our ride. The price is set through a company at 80 euros before 7:00 pm and 100 euros after 7. Depending on the time of year, you can do as we did and go at 6:30 just as the sun is starting to set and save a few bucks. You definitely do not need a reservation, as there is no shortage of gondoliers in Venice. Also, the price is per boat so if you have another couple in the boat it will cut the price in half, but of course that will take away from the romantic experience. Enjoy Venice!
Does the price always go up at 7:00 or is that only in the summer? Someone told me sunset in November is at 4:30.
Everybody would think I am crazy if I told them we did not take a gondola ride in Venice. Eighty dollars is too expensive IMO but it is a "must do" for anyone visiting Venice.
Actually many people who have been to Venice totally understand why other people don't take a gondola ride when they go. Usually the ones who are surprised when you don't do one, are those people who have never been there.
We were in Venice on our 25th anniversary and will return this year for our 35th. Didn't do one then and don't intend to this time.
Different strokes .... :)
I gave been to Venice three times, never been on a gondola and lived to tell the tale.
I have also never been on a gondola in four visits to Venice. I have used the traghetto. This looks like a gondola, and you ride it across the Grand Canal for a Euro. It is the cheap, quick alternative for non-romantic cheapskates like me.
We spent 5 nights in Venice 30+ years ago and didn't do a gondola -- we were far too cheap-- what I remember vividly is wandering though the back streets and tiny bridges and little paths to the water far from SAn Marco. You don't need to be in a boat to appreciate the charms of the nooks and crannies of Venice. (if we every go back we will probably do it though)
I'm with the "have never taken a gondola ride and never intend to" group. Just does not do it for us, even after spending many months in Venice.
I could literally write a novel on my experience on a gondola. It was me and my sister so obvi no romance but the experience is just something no one should pass up!! We checked around while we walked around the city during the day, just to get an idea, but we actually did the ride just after sundown. We had wanted to return to man we met earlier, but forget where and got lost (in a good way!) so just found someone else. I couldn't tell you where exactly we found the man, but there were about 5-7 of them lined up and we ended up paying 50 euro total (this was 2009, mind you). No reservation needed. He showed us the Grand Canal, we went under Rialto Bridge and he showed us Cassanova's house (what he said was anyway - how would I know if he was lying). I far outweigh my little sis so there was a potential of the boat tipping several times, but he was a very good gondolier and always told us which way to lean to avoid drowning... When helping me out the boat he said a friendly "mama mia"' regarding my ...um... hefty-ness :)
I would personally suggest doing it at night. Those side canals mixed with the darkness of the water are a smidge scary, as if the Creature from the Black Lagoon is going to reach up out of the water and drag you under. But that's probably because I can't swim and so that's where my mind goes. But the sky looks like a black velvet blanket with tiny sparkling dots, and there is a certain vibe during a city at night that I can't describe but you just feel it. Don't overthink the ride - walk around, get lost, chat up some random gondoliers and pick your favorite. Then get lost again.
Happy Anniversary!! My husband and I were in Venice on our 25th anniversary. We didn't do the gondola ride, as we felt it wasn't worth the money. I was back in Venice less than 2 weeks ago with a friend. We met up with two other friends who happened to be in Venice at the same time (Hi Laura B.!) and we shared a gondola. That made it only 20€ each. If I was in your shoes I would spring for a gondola without sharing. Much more romantic. The price does go up at 7:00 p.m. to 100€. Definitely go on the back canals. Some are more crowded than others, so pay attention to that as you walk around. Some canals look like a Disneyland ride. Others don't.