Last updated on November 27th, 2023
If you’re planning a trip to Venice, or are already in La Serenissima, you’re probably interested in taking a ride in a gondola – one of Venice’s most iconic activities.
While gondola rides in Venice are now used exclusively by visitors, they used to be a mode of transport used by nobles.
Fun Fact: Gondolas have flat bottoms without rudders because they needed to be able to glide over shallow, ever-changing sand bars in the lagoon.
So, if you want to feel like a doge for a day, keep reading and I’ll share everything you need to know to have a successful, relaxing, gondola ride in Venice – at the appropriate price.
Why listen to me? I’m a mom of three living in Italy and we love spending time in Venice. I’ve been making trips to Venice since I first arrived in Italy in 2003 and I try to find something new on each trip. I also use official Venice sources (linked below) that you can refer to before and during your visit.
Andiamo – let’s go!
Official Gondola Rates and Regulations
One of the common questions I get from people traveling to Italy is “how much is a gondola ride in Venice?”
The official costs are currently:
80€ for a 30-minute ride between 9:00 and 19:00
100€ for a 35-minute ride between 19:00 and 3:00
The cost is for the boat, not per passenger. So, you will pay the 80€ for a 30-minute ride between 9:00 and 19:00 – whether you’re riding by yourself, or you have four companions with you.
If you want to go for more than 30 or 35 minutes, the cost is calculated proportionally by time. For example:
A 45-minute ride at 10:00 will cost 120€
A 70-minute ride at 20:00 will cost 200€
These are the official rates regulated by the city of Venice. You can find the up-to-date rates and regulations on the City of Venice’s official website.
Good To Know: Only 5 passengers are allowed in the gondola at one time. You may not travel with 6 or more passengers in the gondola at one time. This is an official safety rule.
Good To Know: The ride time may vary by a couple of minutes on either side due to traffic, the water conditions, or weather conditions.
Confirm the rate before you get in the boat, and have exact change if possible.
Helpful Tip: Don’t ask for a ride less than the official rates. And if the gondoliere is trying to ask for more than the official rate, move on and ask the next one you see.
How to Book a Gondola Ride in Venice
The main ways to reserve a ride on a gondola are to:
- Ask a gondolier that you see next to a canal. You will see gondoliers waiting at stazi (stations, meeting points) around the city, next to the water. The advantage of this is that you can just walk up and go – no advance planning. The disadvantage is that during busy times you may need to wait.
- Reserve through a tour website. Know that you’ll be paying extra for the middle man (the website). Also, I think it’s best to take a gondola at a moment when the weather’s nice and you feel like going for a ride. If you’ve scheduled your gondola and it’s raining or you’re starving and want to get something to eat – too bad.
Map of Gondola Stazi in Venice
Here you can see the official stazi, or stations along the canals where you can get a gondola. I’ve also included where you can take a traghetto da parada, a short gondola ferry across the Grand Canal (more info on those below).
When to Go on a Gondola Ride in Venice
I think the best time to go on a gondola ride is in the morning. You can see the city waking up, and there are less crowds – the day trippers haven’t arrived yet and others may still be sleeping. And depending on the time of year, you may get to ride through the gorgeous morning mist (late fall through early spring).
Afternoon gondola rides can also be nice if your legs need a little rest. However, I recommend only going on an afternoon ride if the weather is cool – avoid this time during the summer months.
Evening gondola rides (especially around sunset) are very romantic. Just know that many others have the same idea, so you will find the stazi and canals are busier.
Good To Know: The busiest hours on the canals tend to be from mid-morning to early evening.
Helpful Tip: Avoid a gondola ride during midday in the summer heat. There’s no shade on a gondola and your gondolier probably won’t be a ray of sunshine in the heat either.
Read more about Venice at Night
Choosing Your Gondola Ride Route
You can discuss your route with the gondolier or leave it up to him or her (of the 430-ish gondoliers in Venice, five are women).
Things to keep in mind:
Small canals vs the Grand Canal – the smaller canals will be quieter and have less traffic; on the Grand Canal you will be able to see some of the famous monuments like the Rialto Bridge
Canal traffic – Your gondolier will have an idea of how busy the canals are at the time of your ride and can suggest a route with less traffic
Your desires for the gondola ride – Let your gondolier know your desires for the ride. For example, you may want to:
- go under the Rialto Bridge
- travel on the Grand Canal
- explore quiet, romantic canals
- see the Bridge of Sighs
Gondola Alternatives in Venice
While a gondola ride is lovely (and a must for many on a visit to Venice), there are other ways to enjoy being on the water.
Vaporetto – This is a boat that moves Venetians and tourists around the canals and lagoons of Venice. You’ll see them all over the city – from the moment you step out of the Venice Santa Lucia train station. You can take them around Venice and even to Venetian islands.
These make an excellent alternative to gondolas because they’re less expensive (at the time of writing, 9.50€ per person for a 75-minute ride). Sure, you’ll be sharing with others, but they’re a fantastic way to explore the city’s waterways.
I love taking Line 1 or Line 2 from the train station along the Grand Canal toward San Marco. It’s a wonderful way to soak up Venice when you arrive (I try to do this on every visit and it doesn’t get old – for me or my kids).
The vaporetti have life jackets.
Traghetto da parada – These boats are quick gondola ‘ferries’ that take you across the Grand Canal from certain points. This is a good alternative if you want to ride with a group larger than 5, because the traghetti di parada can take up to 12 people.
These are also good if you aren’t sure if your kids would like a gondola ride – the rides are quick – just across the canal, and only 2€ per person.
You can also try one of these before you go on a gondola ride to make sure it will work for you (for example, to see if your kids will sit still, or if it satisfies your craving to take a gondola).
Fun Fact: Gondolas used to be used as a status symbol. If you were wealthy, you could afford to use a gondola (vs. walking on the streets). They were also used by others on special occasions (like on your wedding day).
Riding in a Gondola in Venice with Kids
If you’re a parent, you may be wondering if a gondola ride is a worthwhile or safe activity for your family.
Two big things to think about before you go on a gondola ride with your kids:
Venice gondolas don’t have life jackets. Are you comfortable with this? Are your kids wiggly? Will you spend the entire ride stressed that your child might fall out of the gondola?
Your child’s attention span. If you think your child may get bored floating down the canals for 30 minutes, you’ll probably find plenty of better ways to spend your Euros. Or, just take the traghetto di parada – 2 minutes, 2€ – easy!
Read more about Visiting Venice with Kids
More Gondola Tips
- Before or after your gondola ride, head to Squero di San Trovaso. It’s a boatyard and you can see gondolas being built and repaired. I like to stop in at Osteria al Squero, just across the canal or Cantina del Vino già Schiavi for cicchetti or aperitivo.
- Check out hats and official gondolier clothing at the Emilio Ceccato shops (at the Rialto Bridge or at Piazza San Marco).
- You are not required to leave a tip for your gondolier, so don’t feel pressured to do so. However, if your gondolier sang for you or went ‘above and beyond,’ you are welcome to leave a tip to show your appreciation.
- Take note of the time your gondola ride begins.
- You can let your gondolier know if you don’t want any info about what you’re seeing (if you just want to chat with your companion).
- If you’re set on taking a gondola, make sure you get on a gondola and not a sandolo. A sandolo is similar to a gondola, but has a slightly different shape – a sandolo is smaller, symmetrical, and doesn’t have the tall ends that point up to the sky. The rates are the same, but there are fewer stazi and boats available.
- Use the toilet and have a snack before you get on the gondola.
Enjoy your Venice gondola ride!
Venice Gondola Ride FAQ
All gondola rides are private unless you decide to share with someone else or you’ve booked with a tour company as part of a group ride (check the fine print in the tour details).
You can read the up-to-date rates at the official site. The current rates are 80€ for 30-minutes during daytime hours (9:00 – 19:00) or 100€ for 35-minutes during nighttime hours (19:00 – 3:00).
Some gondoliers sing, and some don’t. If this is important to you, be sure to discuss it with the gondolier before you get in the boat.
You pay for the ride – not per person. You may have up to 5 passengers in the gondola. So, if you have one person, the cost ends up being 80€ person for a 30-minute ride during the day. If you have 5 people in a shared gondola ride, it ends up being 16€ per person for the same ride.
The official hours of the Venetian gondola stazi (stations) are from 9:00am to 3:00am.