On my previous trip to Venice, I traveled solo, so I did not indulge in a gondola ride. However, I have an upcoming trip with my niece and we will be going on a gondola ride. Does anyone have a favorite route worth taking? I would like to stay off the Grand Canal except for maybe passing under the Rialto as a grand finale or starting off point. I know they are pricy and I should set a price, time and route with the gondalier in advance. But what else should I know? Do I tip above the agreed upon amount? If it takes longer because of traffic, etc, does the price increase? Any advice or comments on your own experience would be helpful.
I booked an early evening walking tour of Venice which included a Gondola ride. The walking tour was wonderful and the guide was excellent. There were about 12 in our tour and we were then divided up among 2 or 3 Gondolas and we had a nice ride for about 45 minutes thru the canals of Venice. Lovely evening.
I used viators
Don't book in advance. You'll pay more if you do. You absolutely do NOT tip above the price they charge you. Gondoliers are a monopoly and a gondolier's license is a license to print money. Gondoliers are all over the place and they seem to be friendlier away from San Marco and the Rialto. Have a map with you and have him show you where you're going to go after you tell him you don't want much time on the Grand Canal. But if you want to finish near the Rialto, do poke around within a reasonable distance from there. There's no real bargaining over the price. It's less obscenely expensive during the day.
It is less expensive in the day and the earlier in the day the more likely a better price you can arrange. Don't book in advance, they are plentiful. The farther from San Marco and off the Grand Canal you should be able to get a better price too.