Gondolas in Venice | It is still a mystery when exactly the first gondola was rowed through Venice. The first mentioning of gondolas in Venice was in 697 when the first Doge was elected; however, then it significantly reappeared later in a document dated 1094.
But at least one thing is certain: the gondolas were not as elegantly built as they are today. Because during a long period flatboats were all called gondolas; even though the shape had nothing to do with gondolas of today.
- 1 About the History of Gondolas
- 2 Gondolas in Venice – Is a gondola ride worthwhile?
- 3 How much does a Gondola ride cost?
- 4 Offers for a classic gondola ride without music
- 5 Gondola ride with music and singing
- 6 Best Time for a gondola ride
- 7 Interesting facts about gondolas
- 8 Construction and rowing technique
- 9 Venice and its gondolas today
- 10 Gondolas in Venice – Other suggestions
About the History of Gondolas
It is known, however, that during the 15th century small boats decorated with metal were rowed through the canals of Venice. These boats were covered in the middle with a cloth. As the 15th century was approaching its end, the boats gradually changed and became lighter and longer. The bow and stern also increased and the boats were equipped with small houses to protect passengers from the bad weather.
Today around 500 gondolas still exist in Venice and have become a true symbol of the city, as well as an essential experience for visitors. They are used above all for the daily transport of tourists who enjoy the idyllic city from the canals.
Here’s one way to book a classic gondola ride with commentary. If you don’t want to leave Venice without a gondola ride, the traditional tour will do.
Further details, such as the costs of a private gondola ride and many other booking options are available throughout this article.
Gondolas in Venice – Is a gondola ride worthwhile?
Generally, a gondola ride is an absolute romantic classic, which should not be left out during a holiday in Venice. A ride through the narrow canals of Venice in the traditional boat is definitely one of the events that will be remembered for a lifetime. The Gondoliers are an exciting part of the ride. Most of them speak English very well and will give you a good time.
Among the Gondelieri, who are often very proud of their profession, you can meet a wide variety of characters. During the trip, they tell you something about the city, or sometimes even complain about the Italian politicians. The other ones will enchant with their wonderful humor. And they all have one thing in common: they love their city. And if you are very lucky, you might meet one of the few gondoliers who sing the famous song “O sole Mio” for you.
Trial gondola ride: The Canal Grande can be crossed over four bridges or on a gondola ferry, also known as a traghetto that can be used at one of the numerous watersides. For approximately € 3,00 you will get a short gondola feeling almost for free. The traghettos are rowed by two gondoliers, can carry twelve people and a crossing takes about 2 to 3 minutes.
How much does a Gondola ride cost?
Now we come to the price for a gondola ride. Generally, a gondola ride is expensive and many things remain vague when it comes to pricing. It is also open to question if one really has to take a gondola ride in Venice, but of course, a romantic gondola ride is part of the perfect lover’s holiday in Venice.
Here like everywhere, supply and demand regulate the price, but in general, the Gondelieri is a conspiratorial fellowship that traditionally rarely grants discounts. Gondolas can be found at every corner of the canal, but sometimes they are cheaper on narrow canals that are far away from the major tourist centers. On Canal Grande there is always a lot going on, that’s why it can be more romantic somewhere else.
As a guideline one should pay at most is 110 to 140 € for 30-35 minutes during the day for a private gondola tour. However, in the late afternoon and at sunset it can get more expensive. The price is then valid for a gondola, up to 6 persons. So always negotiate well and don’t be taken for a ride!
If for whatever reason you want to be on the safe side then it is better to book a private gondola for two at an exact date at a fixed location, and of course, you can also book it directly here.
Of course, travellers can also make a private booking for up to 5 or 6 people in advance.
Offers for a classic gondola ride without music
A gondola offers space for 6 people. There are many offers for gondola rides for the price of 30,00 to 33,00 €. Please note that the price is always per person and you will share the boat with other tourists.
Here are a few booking options from different providers, each with different departure times. Travel time for about 30 minutes. All information about the departure point and further details can be found on the provider’s website.
|Classic gondola ride||25,00 €||Book online ticket|
|33,00 €||Book online ticket|
|29,50 €||Book online ticket|
Certainly, there are arguments for a booked gondola ride online. I would like to mention a few here:
- Binding registration without queueing
- Better day plan
- Availability for a requested time
- Known departure point
- Fixed price and duration
The costs, for instance for couples, are lower than for a tour with a private gondola. There may be a lack of romance, but a 30-minute compulsory program is at all times ok.
Gondola ride with music and singing
In these offers, the gondolier will not sing opera arias, but there is another person on the boat who plays 4 to 5 songs during the 30-minute journey. Sometimes if you are lucky there is a gondola with a singer right in front of or behind you.
|Gondola + Singing||Price*||Tickets|
|41,00 €||Book online ticket|
with singing + Dinner
|93,00 €||Book online ticket|
Music & Dinner
|109,00 €||Book online ticket|
Best Time for a gondola ride
Due to the nice weather, the congestion during the high season is sometimes intense. The lunch break is between 13:00 and 14:00. When cruise ships dock, there are sometimes hundreds of tourists from all over the world, who will definitely want to undertake the obligatory gondola trip right after their arrival or in the afternoon before returning to the ship. Then it will become difficult to get a seat.
On warm summer days and at sunsets the demand rises by a multitude of romantics in the late afternoon. Only tours booked online have a guaranteed departure time during the day.
Interesting facts about gondolas
Although the narrowboats are so popular in Venice, there are only two gondola dockyards that still master and continue the traditional crafts of gondola construction. The construction of such a boat is complex and takes several months. Seven different types of wood used for the boats are exactly 10.85 meters long and 1.42 meters wide. However, the appearance of the gondolas is uniform. This is even a law in Venice.
The gondolas are all black in addition to the given length and width. By the way, the construction is not enough: the boat has to be repainted every year. And after 14 years it comes back to the dockyard for a general overhaul. The service life of a single boat is not particularly long: after only 35 years it can no longer be used. And new construction is expensive – it costs up to 30,000 euros.
Construction and rowing technique
In addition, the gondola is built asymmetrically. This has to do with the way the boat is rowed. To balance the weight of the gondola on the starboard side, it is significantly longer and wider on the port side. When the gondolier steers the boat, he submerges the rudder into the water on the right side.
Not only can the boat be moved faster with only a few strokes, but it is also very maneuverable and can be turned around on its own axis. Anyone who has ever seen the sometimes very narrow canals in Venice will understand why this is so important. The gondolier is a very much sought after profession in Venice. The training is very demanding and often takes years.
✅ Tip: If you fancy steering a gondola yourself, you can also take part in a suitable rowing course in the heart of the lagoon city.
Venice and its gondolas today
But Venice wouldn’t be the same city without the gondolas. Thus, a gondola ride is one of the most attractive tourism offers in the city. In Venice, there are stops at every corner. With the gondoliers, one can agree on the route, the duration of the trip and the price, only if they are free at the moment.
If, on the other hand, you would like to look for particularly inexpensive offers, you can also inform yourself in advance on the Internet or, of course, on this page. This also has the advantage that you have a fixed date and already know, the departure time and point. You can also determine how long the gondola ride will last. This not only prevents unnecessary waiting times but also makes it easier to plan the rest of the day.
Gondolas in Venice – Other suggestions
For those who are in a hurry, you should take a look at the Venice classic. Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica and gondola ride. Everything without waiting times and in the English language. Alternatively, there is also a secret tour and gondola ride, for the not so well-known parts of Venice. As well as various other offers.
It doesn’t get much cheaper locally either and Venice is unique!
|TOP 3 - St. Mark's Basilica|
(free), Doge´s Palace & Gondola
|78,00 €||Book online ticket|
|Venice Walking Tour &|
|56,00 €||Book online ticket|
|Classic Gondola Ride||28,00 €||Book online ticket|
*All prices mentioned in this article are subject to change, it always counts the provider’s current offer