gondola ride in Venice
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Bucket List Experience: Gondola Ride in Venice

What’s that one thing that’s been on your bucket list for ages and you can’t wait to tick off?
For me, it was a gondola ride in Venice.

The first time I visited the Italian lagoon city was in 2016, however, I didn’t have enough time for it.

When I went back at the end of July this year, I finally had the opportunity to enjoy Venice from a completely different perspective. What should I say, it was better, funnier and even cheaper than expected!

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A Gondola Ride in Venice: An Expensive Pleasure?

One of the things I heard about gondola rides in Venice is that they’re way too expensive, super touristy, and simply not worth it.

Before I traveled to Venice, I did some research and found out that the prices for gondola rides are usually around €80 during the day and €100 at night.

My sister and I hesitated a bit if we really should go for it and the decision was then rather spontaneous. We both usually travel with a small budget so for us it was a lot of money to spend.

However, we both thought it’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience and thus made our way to find a perfect gondola.

You can basically hop in a gondola from almost anywhere in Venice but the most popular starting point is St. Mark’s Square.

I don’t know if it’s true but we thought prices would be higher there and decided to have a look along the smaller canals.

gondola ride in Venice

After some while we found two gondoliers chatting next to two really beautiful gondolas floating on the canal. Before we approached them, we both agreed we won’t pay more than €30 per person.

I mentioned before that prices are usually €80 for a ride so we weren’t sure if we would be successful to find a cheaper one.

We decided to approach them anyway and ask about their rates. As expected, they wanted us to pay €80 for a 30-minute ride.

Apparently, we both looked really unhappy because one of the two guys was so kind and offered us the ride for €60 altogether.

Of course, we couldn’t reject such a nice offer and with the help of the nice gondolier, we climbed inside the Venetian rowing boat.

Gondola Ride in Venice

Row, Row, Row The … Gondola!

Before we started our journey on the canals, we needed to do the typical photo session in the gondola. Our gondolier basically insisted to take some pictures of us both.

I wish I could tell you they turned out nicely but he kind of exaggerated with the camera movement and just wouldn’t hold it still for not even a second!

Needless to say that the majority of the photos are super blurry and totally useless. 😀

While he started moving the paddle, he told us the approximate route of our tour. The plan was to drive along the smaller canals towards the Grand Canal and then back to the point of departure.

It sounded good to us so we agreed, leaned back, and were super excited about the ride.

Venice canals

We were driving down the canals for a couple of minutes when suddenly, something completely unexpected happened.

My sister and I just finished our short selfie session (I know, typical tourists) and I started recording a video.

Exactly the same moment I started to film, the gondolier started to sing in Italian!

Please ignore our weird laughter at the beginning but we were so surprised by his short performance. It really made the whole experience a little bit more authentic and unique.

On The Grand Canal

After around 10 minutes we made it to the Grand Canal. The moment the boat left the narrow canal and officially drove on the main canal of Venice, we recognized where exactly we were.

To our right, we could admire one of the city’s most famous sights – the Rialto Bridge.

We’d seen it before already but not from the water and it looked even more impressive from this perspective!

We didn’t pass under the bridge tho because our gondolier took a left turn. So our gondola ride in Venice continued in the other direction and away from the bridge – unfortunately.

During our time on the Grand Canal, we drove by some famous buildings such as Marco Polo’s House and Grassi Palace.

Marco Polo's House

If you think that the previously mentioned singing performance of our gondolier was a one-time thing, well, you’re wrong.

Just when we thought no other unexpected event could possibly happen, he started singing Mamma Mia as loud as he could.

While I was too perplexed to even recognize what happened, my sister had already joined him and together they sang Mamma Mia in the middle of the Grand Canal.

The performance was as short as the first one but it was a hell lot of fun!

Our ride on the Grand Canal came slowly to an end and the gondolier directed the boat back to the place we started from.

Sad but happy about this awesome experience, we thanked our gondolier and left the gondola reluctantly.

Is a Gondola Ride in Venice Worth it?

Yes, a gondola ride in Venice is touristy and expensive.

Yes, it’s a relatively short pleasure for a rather big amount of money.

But I honestly want to encourage you to just go for it!

There’s for sure no other place in the world where you can enjoy such an authentic gondola ride as Venice. Most people visit the lagoon city only once or twice in their lives so it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

Of course, you could use the money for something else but it’s worth spending it to tick this special experience off your bucket list.

At least it was for me and I’m certain I would’ve regretted it if I’d left Venice without doing a gondola ride.

gondola ride in Venice

Tips For Your Gondola Ride in Venice

The following few tips should help you to make the most of your experience.

1. Don’t just go for the first gondola you see

The prices and looks of the gondolas are usually the same. However, the routes are normally different depending on where you take a gondola.

If you just don’t want to tour the Grand Canal and around St. Mark’s Square, I recommend choosing one that includes smaller canals too.

2. Choose a friendly gondolier

Nothing can ruin your experience more than a gondolier who’s in a bad mood and not willing to talk to you.

While walking around Venice, I’ve seen quite many gondoliers on their phones while doing some tours. Try and talk to the gondoliers before agreeing to a ride. In this way, you’ll get the feel of how friendly they are.

Also, don’t hesitate to walk away if they seem arrogant or unfriendly.

3. Save money by taking a shared gondola

That’s something we didn’t do but taking a shared gondola ride is a good option if you want to save some money.

Most gondolas can fit up to six people but keep in mind that it can be difficult to find a group on your own. Thus it’s a good idea to book a shared gondola tour in advance.

4. Don’t hesitate and just do it!

My last tip for you is to just go for it!

Don’t think and worry too much about if the money is worth it or not. You probably won’t get the chance to do a gondola ride in Venice that soon again.

The wonderful experience and memories will be more than worth it!

Venice canals

Check out:
Where to Stay in Venice: Hotel Gorizia La Valigia
10 Best Things to do in Venice For First-Timers
A Perfect Day Trip to Burano And Murano

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Do you want to travel like me?
Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:

Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!

Accommodation: Booking.com is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, so I book an Airbnb every now and then.

Travel Insurance: There are many reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without one. I use the simple and flexible one from SafetyWing that protects me against unforeseen events.

Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.

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  1. Wow what an amazing experience – I’m so glad you did it! I never knew that you can essentially bargain with the gondolier. I always thought the price was set and that’s it! Reading this post makes me want to travel to Italy even more now!

    1. Wow, what a wonderful and hilarious experience you had. I find it so funny that you had a photo shoot. Definitely a bucket list experience and I love how you got it at such a good price!!

  2. I guess I have to go back to Venice and actually do the gondola ride. When I went a little over two years ago, I did a rowing lesson, which was also a lot of fun. I’m sure traveling to Venice now is extra special since there aren’t many tourists. 🙂

  3. I am in love with this gondola you have featured here- what lovely details on it and look at those colors!!! I would love to be on a gondola once in my life and I hope that day comes soonest for me. Lovely post Alina – took me to a dream sphere for a while 😉

  4. This sounds like a great experience! I was in Venice two weeks ago but I didn’t take a gondola ride. I was solo and it seemed too expensive to justify it. So I stuck with the traghetti!

  5. We visited Venice on a trip as sttudents in 2002 and loved it. With our student budget we didn’t take a gondola ride, but it sure looks like something fun and/or romantic.

  6. Wow, I had no idea gondola rides were this expensive! But honestly, if something is REALLY on your bucket list, there’s no price that’s too expensive. Looks like your experience was very worth it because your photos look AMAZING.

  7. I’ve been to Venice three times and none of those times I took a gondola ride. Kicking myself after reading your post! Will definitely do it next time 🙂

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