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Gondola ride in Venice. Any tips?

Where is the best place to get it. What types of rides do they offer? What time of day is best? Do they do different routes?

I know it's a tourist thing, but I've just gotta do it :D

Posted by
5109 posts

Theresa if you don't do it, you'll regret it. There are a few places where the gondolas congregate, maybe someone can pinpoint one for you, or your hotel can direct you. Make an arrangement for a time and route with the guy in charge there. Best time in my opinion is in the evening when it is dark, and you can see the lights from all the restaurants and buildings on the Grand Canal shimmering on the water.

Posted by
354 posts

Yes, you do have to do it. My suggestion would be to find a gondolier who will take you down the small canals and avoid the Grand Canal. There is so much traffic, i really didn't enjoy it. But - I had to have the experience. If I were to do it again, I would avoid areas with lots of boat traffic.

Posted by
77 posts

A gondola ride is definitely worth doing. Here's what Rick says about gondola rides in Venice in his guidebooks:

Gondola Rides
Riding a gondola is simple, expensive, and one of the great experiences in Europe. Gondoliers hanging out all over town are eager to have you hop in for a ride. While this is a rip-off for some, it's a traditional must for romantics.
The price for a gondola starts at €80 for a 40-minute ride during the day. You can divide the cost--and the romance--among up to six people per boat, but only two get the love seat. Prices jump to €100 after 19:00--when it’s most romantic and relaxing. Adding a singer and an accordionist will cost an additional €120. If you value budget over romance, you can save money by recruiting fellow travelers to split a gondola. Prices are standard and listed on the gondoliers’ association website (go to www.gondolavenezia.it, click on “Using the Gondola,” and look under “charterage”).
Dozens of gondola stations (servizio gondole) are set up along canals all over town. Because your gondolier might offer narration or conversation during your ride, talk with several and choose one you like. You’re welcome to review the map and discuss the route. Doing so is also a good way to see if you enjoy the gondolier’s personality and language skills. Establish the price, route, and duration of the trip before boarding, enjoy your ride, and pay only when you’re finished. While prices are pretty firm, you might find them softer during the day. Most gondoliers honor the official prices, but a few might try to scam you out of some extra euros, particularly by insisting on a tip. (While not required or even expected, if your gondolier does the full 40 minutes and entertains you en route, a 5-10 percent tip is appreciated; if he’s surly or rushes through the trip, skip it.) Don’t be surprised if your gondolier answers mobile-phone calls during the ride (have you ever called your loved one at work?).
If you’ve hired musicians and want to hear a Venetian song (un canto Veneziano), try requesting “Venezia La Luna e Tu.” Asking to hear “O Sole Mio” (which comes from Naples) is like asking a Chicago lounge singer to sing “Swanee River.”
Glide through nighttime Venice with your head on someone’s shoulder. Follow the moon as it sails past otherwise unseen buildings. Silhouettes gaze down from bridges while window glitter spills onto the black water. You’re anonymous in the city of masks, as the rhythmic thrust of your striped-shirted gondolier turns old crows into songbirds. This is extremely relaxing (and, I think, worth the extra cost to experience at night). Suggestion: Put the camera down and make a point for you and your partner to enjoy a threesome with Venice. Women, beware...while gondoliers can be extremely charming, locals say that anyone who falls for one of these Venetian Romeos “has slices of ham over her eyes.”
For cheap gondola thrills during the day, stick to the €2 one-minute ferry ride on a Grand Canal traghetto. At night, vaporetti are nearly empty, and it’s a great time to cruise the Grand Canal on the slow boat #1. Or hang out on a bridge along the gondola route and wave at romantics.

Posted by
192 posts

Tipping?? I thought that it was insulting to tip. Any suggested routes?

Posted by
5109 posts

Don, I think you need to confirm the route with the gondoleer before committing, but I think you have to do the Grand Canal to get the whole experience. Some of those back canals are not scenic at all, and don't exactly smell like romance. Again, I think best at dusk. Tipping, since its a tourist-only business and they are used to Americans who can't seem to stop handing people money.

Posted by
145 posts

Thanks, everyone!! I'll definitely be signing us up!

Can you usually sign up the same day? Or should we do it the day before?

Posted by
7180 posts

RE: Sign up the day before?? There are gondoliers at every major water intersection just WAITING to take your Euros so a reservation is really not necessary. I've been to Venice more times than i can count and have yet to give my hard earned and well spent euros to a gondolier. Now the traghetto...they're worth every penny they charge!

Posted by
192 posts

Are the gondolas owned by the gondoliers or are they just employees??