Where should we go in Venice to catch the best nighttime gondola ride for 3 couples? And what temperature can we expect at night?
When are you going? Temperature will be different spring, summer, or fall. As for where, there are gondolas all over, with the gondoleers offering rides. You might walk around in the daytime and figure out an area you would like to see by gondola. Do you want a ride down the Grand Canal or a quieter side canal? Going past restaurants or more residential?
We are going in mid-late April. I think we would want the best for ambiance after walking around all day. We only get 1 night, so I want the ride to be spectacular. Extra cost is worth it for a better experience.
I would say skip th grand canal and have your gondolier take you in some back areas. Don't stress about whether you are getting the best gondola experience in the world, and rather enjoy the time with your friends and soak in the ambiance etal. This will ensure a good time! I spent a lot of time worrying about how to make sure we didn't overpay etc. before the ride. Once on the gondola, it was all about relaxing and enjoying!
Grab a bottle of prosecco (or two) and some glasses and bring them on the gondola with you. Ask the gondolier if he will sing, many of them do (some will charge extra, they love to gouge tourists for every euro).
Take a bottle of Aperol and some sparkling water to go with that Prosecco and make Aperol Spritz's. Have the gondolier take you on the back canals and avoid the Grand Canal...too many water taxis and other boat traffic.
I remember walking around Venice during the daytime, pricing various gondoliers in preparation for the ride we planned to take that night. Romance was not a factor as it was me and the little sister, but we wanted a good price, a good gondolier, and a good route. We did find one! ...and darned if I was able to find him again later that night. Venice is such a maze haha. So we just found whoever along the grand canal, rode under Rialto bridge, saw Cassonova's house (was it factual? It could have been a former dentist's office for all I know but it didn't matter), the Opera House, etc... Between all that and trying not to tip the boat over and/or drown, I had a very enjoyable and memorable adventure! I am not sure if there is any real rhyme or reason to getting the "best" gondola ride. But I am positive you will enjoy it, whoever you find.
Just know the official rate/time so that you don't get overcharged or short-changed on the time. Altho, I just read a few days ago that the official rates will be posted in all the gondola piers because of the dishonesty of some gondoliers. I don't think that anyone really gets a discount, however, just less money for less time. Have fun!