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Romantic gondola ride on the Grande Canal, Venice

Is the gondola ride worth it in Venice? This is a question that many people ask themselves when they make their way to the city most famous for its canals and where roads are replaced by water ways. The gondolas are almost as part of everyday Venetian life in the same way as cars and trains are part of my Sydney city life.

The gondola, is a traditional, Venetian rowing boat which was once used as the primary form of transportation within Venice. Nowadays, the gondola has become a symbol of romance, and is usually the first thought that comes to mind when someone mentions Venice. Well, it’s my first thought anyway!

Being honeymooners, we were tempted by the idea, but decided to postpone it until Day 4 of our trip in Venice. To be honest, we only really decided to do the gondola ride because it was a beautiful day out and it was something I wanted to “tell the grand children one day”! We couldn’t miss this opportunity.

View from our gondola through the alleyways of Venice

We found the most charming looking gondolier complete with striped, blue hat who let us select a gondola for the ride. I chose a red velvet cushioned gondola to mark the special occasion. The gondolier paddled us out into the Canale Grande (the Grand Canale) as he belted out a few songs in Italian and proceeded to point out historic landmarks. He pointed out the Rialto Bridge, Casonova’s house and the bridge of sighs, which was the last view of Venice that the convicts saw before their imprisonment. He also took us into the narrow alleyways where only gondolas could fit through and described to us the Venetian way of life. Did you know that you cannot be a gondolier unless it is passed down from your family? There are 300+ gondoliers in Venice and all of them come from a long line of gondoliers who paddled these gondolas before them!

View of Rialto bridge from our gondola

Pros and Cons of a gondola ride in Venice?

The best way to see Venice is by water and if you want to peek into the little alley ways, then going by gondola is definitely a bonus. It is a romantic experience, especially if you manage to score yourself a gondolier who sings! They are very rare these days so make sure you ask them before you pay. If it’s a beautiful day in Venice, then go for the ride. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced. You don’t need to book in advance, there are plenty of gondolier’s available. The best gondolas to use are located on the Grand Canal because I believe it’s the nicest route that you can take in the short 20 minute time span. Also, if there is more than 2 of you, you may also be able to split the cost between your group.

This brings me to the cons. It’s expensive. A 20 minute ride will cost you 80 Euros and it will be over before you know it. Gondolas are also not practical for traveling around Venice as they move at a snail speed!

What are the other ways to travel around Venice?

  • Water taxi is the most expensive means of transport, but if you want to go anywhere around Venice and quickly, this is also a really fun way to see the sites!
  •  Water bus, also know as vaporetto, operates much like a ferry and you can see the same sites at a more leisurely speed. Also, they are the most cost effective way of traveling around the Grand Canal. Click here for timetables and costs. It’s in Italian but use google translator.
  • Walking – it’s free and great exercise!

Would I travel on a Gondola again?

Yes, but maybe when I bring my future first child to see Venice with the family. Can’t wait to go back one day!