Are you thinking of doing a gondola ride in Venice?
A gondola ride in Venice is a dreamlike experience that tourists and travellers from all over the world wish to live at some point in their lives.
The gondola is a symbol of the city and an icon of romance, one of the first things you look for once you get to Venice.
The gondola is nothing short of a charming sight to see as it gracefully glides the Grand Canal with its black silhouette and the sparkling gold and red velvet details.
It is only by riding a gondola in Venice that can you fully experience how unique and magical it is to move around in the city’s most ancient lagoon boat.
Gondola Ride in Venice
For those travelling to Venice for the very first time, it is worth knowing that riding a gondola is not exactly the cheapest activity you can do in Venice.
Keep reading this guide if you’re planning to ride a gondola in Venice so you can understand how much it costs and if it’s worth paying for this experience.
What is a Gondola in Venice?
The gondola is the most ancient means of transport to navigate the countless Venetian canals. Gondolas were once the means of transport of wealthy families.
They were used to be able to move around the canals comfortably, but also to show off rich Venetian families’ wealth. Today they are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Venice and are mainly used for sightseeing.
Gondolas are traditional rowing boats along with the lesser known lagoon boats, the mascarete and sandoli.
You can spot gondolas crossing the smallest canals of the city as well as the Grand Canal, the largest S-shaped canal in Venice.
They are black-coloured, have a sinuous long shape, and an iron-prow head that looks like a comb with six teeth facing outwards. There’s no gondola without its gondolier!
The gondolier drives it masterfully in the maze of small canals and knows quite well the best kept secrets and stories of the Lagoon city.
Is it worth taking a gondola ride in Venice?
Absolutely! While you’re in Venice, it’s worth going on a gondola ride to see the city from a completely different perspective yet the best one of all: the water.
Navigating the narrow canals in an elegant Venetian gondola is a romantic and memorable experience that you’ll cherish for years to come when thinking about your trip to the Serenissima.
But before riding a gondola, it’s better to be fully aware of what will be included in the price that you pay, so you don’t run into any disappointments or ‘scams’.
Where do you get gondolas from in Venice?
Unless you’ve booked your gondola ride beforehand, you can try to go on a gondola ride in Venice from some of the main stazi.
See this handy map of the main stazi in Venice:
The stazi are the gondola piers and the official stations that you can find located in various different parts of the city.
There’s a higher chance of finding a gondola in the most touristic areas of the city which are: San Marco, Bacino Orseolo, Rialto, Ferrovia and Piazzale Roma.
These are the starting points for most of the gondolas, but also the most touristic places to get a gondola from in Venice, so be ready to queue for sometime.
If you haven’t booked you gondola ride in advance, I would suggest heading over other piers, lesser known by tourists to increase your chances.
The other gondola piers in Venice are:
- Dogana Vallaresso
- Santa Maria del Giglio
- Santa Sofia
- San Tomà
If you want to avoid waiting in the queue for hours, you can book this popular private gondola ride or the shared gondola ride (in advance) for the starting point, either during the day or at night, that you feel suits you the best.
Generally speaking, I recommend going for a gondola ride early in the morning or after sunset because most tourists in Venice tend to go during the day.
What is the price of a Gondola ride in Venice?
The price of a gondola ride in Venice is 80 euros during the day (from 9am to 7pm) and 100 euros at night time (from 7pm to 3am).
The price is for up to 5 people and the gondola ride usually lasts 30 minutes but it’s possible to extend it by paying a surcharge calculated by reference to the time.
You can either share the gondola ride with other people, so you’ll pay around 25 euros per person. Private gondola rides are obviously much more expensive than the group gondola rides but in this case, you’d have the gondola all for yourself.
The private gondola ride is ideal if you’re travelling as a small group of friends or family, so you can not only be with your nearest and dearest but also split the cost.
Note that if you book a private tour, the price is per gondola and doesn’t change based on the number of people; for shared tours the price is per person.
Finally, as you choose the right gondola ride for you, you should know that there are some additional services you can book with your ride.
If you’re not interested in either of those extra services, you can also book a sightseeing or tour package that includes a gondola ride.
For example, if you’re planning to visit St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, you can book this Doge’s Palace, Basilica, and Gondola Ride guided tour or if you’re here to celebrate your wedding anniversary you can renew the wedding vows on a gondola ride (which believe it or not is becoming more popular here).
Getting a Gondola Ride in Venice
When you get on a gondola, don’t expect the gondolier to take you to a location of your choice. Many first-timers to Venice don’t realise that gondola tours follow set routes, even if small variations to the path can be arranged with your gondolier.
Getting a gondola ride from Venice airport
You can’t get a gondola ride from Venice Marco Polo airport.
There are no gondola piers whatsoever, but you have alternative options to get to Venice from the airport by water: the Alilaguna water bus or a water taxi.
The blue line stops in Murano, Fondamenta Nove, Lido of Venice, Arsenale and St. Mark’s Square. The orange one stops in Guglie, Rialto and Santa Maria del Giglio (click on the links above to see all stops).
The water bus leaves every 30 minutes and the ride can last even 1 hour and 20 minutes. There’s also a red line but it’s available only over the summer.
The one-way ticket costs 15 euros and the return 27 euros. You can purchase the ticket online from the Alilaguna website or at the arrivals area at the airport.
Water taxi: the water taxi is the most expensive yet comfortable way to arrive in Venice in style. Unlike the Alilaguna water bus, the water taxi can take you to your accommodation or any location around Venice and the lagoon.
It costs 110 euros to get from Marco Polo airport to Venice Santa Lucia. Take some time to read this Venice water taxi guide where you can find more information about how to get a water taxi, useful contacts and prices.
Getting a gondola ride from Venice train station
The gondola stazio located in front of Venice Santa Lucia train station is known as San Marcuola/Ferrovia.
The pier is across the Grand Canal from the train station and just in front of the San Simeon Piccolo church. Alternatively, you can head over the stop Gondole San Marcuola/Piazzale Roma from where private tours depart.
The private gondola tour from the stazio San Marcuola, near Piazzale Roma is perfect to discover hidden gems of Venice.
During this gondola ride, admire some of the most beautiful palaces and churches like Casa Torres, Palazzo Gaffaro, the Tolentini church, the Carmini church and Palazzo Zenobio. The ride ends at the same boarding point.
You can get to St Mark’s Square from near the train station by booking the ride through the InGondola gondolier association.
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Gondola Ride in Venice
Now you have read this guide, getting a gondola ride in Venice will turn out to be a breeze for you!
By this point you should know how much a gondola ride costs, where to get it and additional services. Just to remind you, there’s no need to book a gondola ride.
You can simply go to the main piers that you can find in the map above or from other locations scattered around the historic centre.
I only recommend booking it in advance so you won’t end up waiting in the queue for too long and wasting your precious and limited time in Venice.
Do you want to know more about gondolas? Check out my guide all about what a gondola is to find out some curious facts about this unique boat.
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