Venice is made up of 150 canals and 455 bridges that lead to the majestic Grand Canal. Many of these small canals can only be traveled on a gondola, originally conceived as a means of transportation and a staple of a romantic trip to Venice today.
1. The best gondola rides in Venice
- Gondola ride on the canals with walking tour of the city in the morning - From $ 71
- Gondola ride on the canals with walking tour of the city in the afternoon- From $ 54
- Gondola ride along the canals with guided tour of the city and entrance to St. Mark's Basilica - From $ 110
- Gondola ride along the canals with guided visit to St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace - From $ 130
2. Gondola ride on the canals with walking tour of the city in the morning
With this tour, you will fulfill two must-do's in Venice: walking the streets accompanied by a local guide who will explain the fascinating history of this amazing city and taking a 30-minute gondola ride through the Grand Canal and other waterways through smaller neighborhoods, such as Fenice.
This tour is very convenient because, for a little more than the usual price, you get a gondola ride that includes a guided walking tour of Venice. You'll start the walking tour near the formidable St. Mark's Square and walk around it while learning about the history of the city known as 'La Serenissima'.
What you will see on foot
- Fenice Theater. In its day the Fenice Theater was one of the seven main theaters of Venice and today is the only opera house in the Italian city. It was the stage for the works of the best composers of the time, Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini, among them, although it will always be the great Giuseppe Verdi who will be associated with this theater and to the Venetian memory.
- Rialto Bridge. It is the most famous, oldest, and most visited of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal of Venice, with more than two million tourists crossing it every year. With a unique structure formed by two inclined ramps and joined by a portico in the middle, the Rialto Bridge was erected in 1591 to replace its predecessor, made of wood and devastated on several occasions by landslides and fire.
- Contarini del Bovolo Palace. Very close to the Rialto Bridge stands this small 15th-century palace very famous for its spectacular and picturesque exterior spiral staircase, with numerous arches and about which many intrigues are told.
What you will see from the gondola
- Grand Canal
- Ponte di Rialto
- Piazza San Marco
- Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute
- La Fenice Theater
- Basilica of Saints John and Paul
- Santa Maria Formosa Field
- Gondola Bacino
- Casa di Marco Polo
3. Gondola ride along the canals with city walking tour in the afternoon
This tour is exactly the same as the previous one, it involves the same route and you will see the same points of interest. It also has the same duration and price. The big difference is that the canals gondola tour departs in the afternoon.
Which is better: morning or afternoon?
If you want your gondola ride to be quieter, it is better to take it in the morning, departing at 9.00 a.m. Afternoons, departing at 3.00 p.m., are more romantic for a couple, but that is precisely why most tourists choose them. As you can imagine, crowds on the canals are greater in the afternoon.
4. Gondola ride along the canals with music and serenade on board
Want to make your ride even more iconic and romantic? Then, let the gondolier make the magic happen. With this ride you can enjoy a pleasant travel along the Grand Canal of Venice watching some of the impressive buildings and monuments that line its banks while the gondolier sings classic Italian serenades.
What you will see on this gondola ride
- Grand Canal. Known as 'the most beautiful road in the world', the Grand Canal is the largest in all of Venice. Its 4 kilometers of extension cross the city forming an 'S' shape and is irrigated by all the waterways that circulate around it. From it, you can see impressive palaces such as the eighteenth-century Palazzo Grassi, and the most famous of the city, the Ca' d'Oro, a Gothic palace named for the gold that adorned it in its origins.
- Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This building houses one of the most important art collections in the world, which originated when Peggy Guggenheim, from New York, arrived in Venice in 1949. From your gondola, you will see the beautiful terrace where Guggenheim herself sunbathed while enjoying the view over the Grand Canal.
- Palazzo Gritti Badoer. This majestic palace owes its name to its former owners, the powerful Venetian family of the Gritti. Its most notable member was the Doge of Venice during the Renaissance, Andrea Gritti, who led the Venetian armies against the League of Cambrai, which sought to stop Venice's expansionist ambitions in France.
5. Gondola ride along the canals with guided tour of the city and entrance to St. Mark's Basilica
With this gondola ride with guided city tour and entrance to St. Mark's Basilica you will fulfill 3 dreams in one: ride a gondola through the picturesque canals of Venice, walk the streets and passages of the city with the commentary of a professional guide and take a guided tour with skip the line access to one of Venice's most wonderful attractions, St. Mark's Basilica.
St. Mark's Basilica
Since it was built in 832, St. Mark's Basilica has been the most important religious temple in Venice. This is what you will learn on the guided tour included in this pack, where you will discover how this church was built to house the alleged relics of St. Mark the Evangelist stolen from Alexandria.
Located in St. Mark's Square, this temple of Latin cross plan and five domes, houses in its gilded interiors more than 4,000 square meters of mosaics, relevant works of famous Venetian painters, and 500 columns dating from the third century. Do not miss its Byzantine treasure of gold and silver from the sacking of Constantinople and its important Pala d'Oro, an altarpiece of precious stones made by medieval goldsmiths.
Piazza San Marco
St. Mark's Basilica is located, of course, in St. Mark's Square, one of the most famous in the whole world and the center of the city and the social life of Venice since it was founded in the ninth century. From here you can admire many historical buildings and monuments, such as the Doge's Palace, the columns of St. Mark and St. Theodore, the Campanile Tower and the Torre dell'Orologio, with its jaw-dropping astronomical clock.
Church of Santa Maria Formosa
This 1492 church, designed by the Renaissance architect Mauro Codussi, was built on the site of a 7th-century temple which, according to tradition, was one of the eight churches founded by San Magno, bishop of Oderzo.
Itinerary by gondola
- Grand Canal
- Piazza San Marco
- Basilica di San Marco
- La Fenice Theater
- Basilica of Saints John and Paul
- Santa Maria Formosa Church
6. Gondola ride along the canals with entrance to St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace
This is the most complete package, as it combines the gondola ride and the entrances to the Basilica and the Doge's Palace so you won't miss any of the essential things to do in the city. With this tour, you will cross the Grand Canal as well as charming river streams on a gondola ride and access the St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace without queues and with a guided tour, as well as other magnificent palaces around St. Mark's Square.
In addition, it will give you access to an audioguide with a digital map of the 5 districts of Venice and information on more than 200 points of interest to make your own walking tour of the city.
The Doge's Palace, in St. Mark's Square, is one of the symbols of Venice and the former seat of political power in the city, going from being a fortified castle in the 9th century and residence of the Doges to a prison of the Republic. From its halls of power, up to 120 doges (dukes) controlled the destiny of Venice for almost a century.
Both its exterior and interior are spectacular, with marvelous rooms filled with hundreds of masterpieces by Titian, Tintoretto, and Bellini, among others. Through the nearby Bridge of Sighs, dating from the 17th century, those condemned to death were formerly conducted to execution.
Basilica di San Marco
This is a unique tour in which, in addition to a guided tour of the Basilica di San Marco, you can enjoy part of the tour comfortably seated in the middle of the Basilica.
During your gondola ride along the Grand Canal you will see the Mozart House, the Fenice Theater, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Punta della Dogana, the Accademia Bridge and the Ponte di Rialto, among palaces that will leave you open-mouthed. For me, this is definitely the best part of the tour, as it will help you appreciate Venice from another point of view.
7. About the prices of the gondola rides
A gondola ride in Venice is not the cheapest activity in the world, but it is an experience that, in my opinion, you have to do once in a lifetime. It is assumed that in Venice there are 'official' prices for gondola rides through its canals, but the reality is that it is very difficult to know if the gondoliers who continually try to get your attention from their docks for you to hire their service are charging you the real price or not.
The average price for a standard gondola ride of 40 minutes along the canals of Venice is about € 80 per gondola ride, regardless of the number of people traveling and accommodating up to six passengers. Keep in mind that in the evening after 7.00 p.m., prices go up to € 100 per ride. That is why I think it is a good option to hire the service in advance or even combine it with another activity to get the best bang for your buck.
8. Other interesting activities in Venice
Have you been craving a gondola ride in Venice? If you enjoyed this activity, I am sure you would also like to visit the enchanting islands of Murano and Burano. Here's my guide about Murano and Burano Day Trips from Venice so you can get organized for your visit.
Frequently asked questions
How is a gondola different from a water bus?
Water buses usually take you down the Grand Canal in a shared ride. Gondolas are the traditional Venetian ride and will take you into smaller canals and through the city in an experience that you couldn't have any other way.
Can I ride a gondola at night?
Last gondola rides depart at 19:00-19:30, so at least you will be able to enjoy the sunset as you cruise through the canals of Venice, and depending on the time of the year, the start of the night.
Do you have to tip the gondolier?
It is not necessary to tip them anything, although it will be appreciated.