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How Much Is A Gondola Ride In Venice And Is It For You?

Wondering how much is a gondola ride in Venice? The history and beauty of the gondola is something you need to experience while riding through the Grand Canal.

how much is a gondola ride in Venice - Not A Race

It’s Not A Race

No matter how many cities boast that they too have canals or gondolas, there really is nothing like Venice anywhere in the world. I’ve seen gondola rides in Providence, Rhode Island and Las Vegas and I can assure you there is no substitute for Venice, Italy.

Gondolier Definition And History

The gondola appeared in historical documents around the 10th century AD, but its name suggests an older origin. The Condor (Κονδοῦρα) in medieval Greek defined a type of boat typical of the Upper Adriatic, similar to the sandolo or mascareta in use in Venice at least since the early Middle Ages. The Condor was similar to the current gondola but shorter and lower and without the typical asymmetry of the modern gondola. The bottom was low and flat in order to better navigate the low channels of the sandbanks of the Venetian lagoon.

The Venice Gondola

In Venice, people walked little and mostly moved by boat. You can still see today that all the palaces and noble homes have the main entrance on the water, while the back doors are more modest. These were reserved for domestic help. This is why each family, regardless of wealth, had their own gondolas and their own gondoliers, in charge of transporting the owners and their families between the canals and from one palazzo to another.

How Many Gondolas Are There?

At their highpoint, there were around 10,000 gondolas in Venice, but today that number if only 400. Those who could not afford their own boat and gondolier could use one of the many stations located around the city. They could get on a rented gondola and be transported around the city, towards the islands of the lagoon or on the mainland for a reasonable price.

What Color Are The Gondolas?

In the 17th century, a law was enacted that required all gondolas to be black. The idea was to prevent the different families from competing for the most fabulous boat. However, they are still able to incorporate their own tastes on upholstery, trim and the special oar-lock (forcola), so there is still plenty of room for personalization.

How To Become A Gondolier

To become a gondolier, there are specific schools in Venice that you must attend. In addition to handling the boat, training courses are held annually for learning Venetian history and art. You will also need to study one or more languages to interact with tourists. You must be of legal age and you will have to pass a public examination by the Ente Gondola. Even after all this, as an aspiring gondolier you will have to take part in competitions periodically called by the Region.

At this point, you will need to begin an apprenticeship with a professional Gondolier. Typically, this lasts from 6 to 12 months and upon completion you will earn the coveted license. Among the practical tests, the test of your skills with the oar is the most famous and difficult. Expert judges will evaluate the ease and elegance of your movements. You will also need to take an exam during a tidal or busy day. In this sense, your familiarity with the craft will be observed. You will have to show yourself skilled, agile and graceful.

A Gondola Ride In Venice

how much is a gondola ride in Venice - Gondolas Are Everywhere

Gondolas Are Everywhere

Nothing embodies Venice better than the gondola. You have seen them everywhere and you have finally decided to experience one of the greatest joys in life, so what happens? A single gondola ride takes about 30 minutes, but you can request additional time if you want to pay a little more.

It is possible to board one of these at several points in the city, so if you see an advertisement for the opportunity to “skip the line” you should ignore it. This isn’t like the Doge’s Palace, the Gondolas are all over the city.

Your gondolier will be dressed in a black and white striped shirt, black pants, closed shoes, and will often wear a straw hat. He will accompany you through a designated route, giving you the chance to see the best of Venice up close. Because of their training, gondoliers should be able to speak several languages, but mainly Italian and English. Admire the perfectly preserved architecture as you drift along the water channels, and while your gondolier might sing for you, he isn’t required to, but if he does, don’t forget to factor that into the tip!

How Much Is A Gondola Ride In Venice

how much is a gondola ride in Venice - Forcola

The Small Forcola In The Middle is Mine

The price of the traditional gondola ride is between 80€ and 100€ for a private ride (i.e. only you) during the day and lasting 30 minutes. The prices of night tours instead start from 100€.

How Many People Fit In A Gondola?

If you are looking to save a little money, you can share a gondola ride with other people and the price drops drastically to around 25€ per person. You can comfortably fit up to 6 people in a gondola.

How Long Do Gondola Rides Last?

Another factor affecting the price is the length of the tour. A gondola ride typically lasts 30 minutes, but tours of 45 minutes or even an hour can be booked. It is possible, but not guaranteed, to ask to extend the tour along the way. If you do you will pay about 40€ more for each additional 20 minutes during the day, 50€ at night.

Is A Gondola Ride In Venice Worth It?

how much is a gondola ride in Venice - Artisan’s Workshop

The Artisan’s Workshop

From my experience, the answer is a definitive YES! As with any touristy endeavor there is always a risk that your gondolier might not sing, might not be friendly or might not speak your language, but if you approach it with an open mind, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Venice gondola rides cost a pretty penny, and only you know if the experience is worth it to you, but this is one of the few times you should strongly consider splurging. A Venice gondola ride is a truly magical, unique experience and I regretted not pushing our budget a little harder for it on our first trip to Venice. Also, you really only need to do it once, so if you plan to return to Venice, and you should, you already experienced this beauty and can save your duckets for something else.

Row Venice

One thing you could try is rowing your own gondola. We did this and it was an amazing experience. We made reservations with Row Venice for four of us, we were taught how to handle the boat and we all took turns having a really fun time. Row Venice gets you off the beaten path and behind the oar, offering you the possibility to experience the rich heritage of this unique rowing style first-hand.

What Is A Forcola?

how much is a gondola ride in Venice - Forcola I Bought

The Forcola I Bought

forcola is the rowlock or oar post used in traditional gondolas. A forcola is unlike any other type of oarlock because it is built for the unique rowing position of the oarsman. The good news is, if buying a gondola seems a little difficult to pull off, you can buy a forcola to remember your Venetian experiences. I say this from experience because we did. Paolo Brandolisio’s Forcola Workshop in the Castello District is an amazing workshop built for the craftsman but allowing for tourists. There are still a few artisans around town who continue to hand carve and furnish the local Venetians, gondoliers and fans with authentic oarlocks for their row boats. Paolo Brandolisio is one of them. The skilled and laborious method he uses to carve and shape these solid wood objects make them lovely household decorative items, too.

A Venice Gondola Ride IS Worth It!

How much is a gondola ride in Venice?” – The best gondola ride is the one you take. We held off because of the cost on our first trip to Venice and it was a mistake that bugged me until we returned almost 20 years later. If you agree and would like more information on Venice, Italy, here are some more posts that I think you will enjoy:

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