6557056 / Pixabay

The best gondola ride in Venice is worth it if you have the extra cash.

The gondola ride is practically synonymous when one thinks of a trip to Venice. The picturesque canals, the gondola driver singing in the background, and private romantic ride are all things that one might think of when they’re considering getting in their own gondola.

But are some gondola’s better than others? And if they are, what are the best gondola rides in Venice? Well, that all depends. There are many factors to take into consideration when in Venice and weighing the gondola ride options, and it isn’t just whether or not the person you’re with is worth all the romance.

What is a gondola ride

An authentic Venetian gondola ride is a true taste of the historical upperclassmen of Venice. Back in the 1800s, gondolas were used as everyday transportation through the waterlogged metropolis. They were so widely used that there was close to twenty times more gondolas riding through the canals at that time.

The infamous style of boat is made of wood, built by hand and has a flat bottom. Gondolas are usually at least 11 feet long and light, in comparison to their watercraft counterparts. The gondola rides in Venice play out like the taxis in New York—luxury high-end taxis—but the idea is the same.

Soroush Karimi / Unsplash

It’s not cheap

Gondoliers tend to own their own boats, so when they’re out there on the canal they have a job to do and money to make. That’s why when you opt for a ride through the beautiful canals of historical Venice, you’ll end up praying a pretty penny for that ride.

The rates tend to be pretty similar among all the different ride options and start just under $90 USD, but that’s for daytime rides. To get in a gondola after seven, it’ll cost you well over 100 USD, and if you want an extra-long trip, that’s going to run you $22 to $55 USD every 20 minutes after that. That’s a lot of money for a simple ride around town.

What do you get for your money

Since you’re going to be forking over a good chunk of money, you’ll probably want to know what exactly you get in the gondola ride. Simply put, it’s a way around town. A lot of people see gondola rides as romantic water strolls through the Venice canals, so the ride itself is why they choose it in the first place.

The gondolas themselves are actually quite comfortable. The seats are cushioned and there are blankets to wrap yourself up in to stay warm during your ride. One boat can fit up to six people, too, so if you want the ride with a split tab to save some money, you can fit your whole up-to-six person group in one ride.

Where you ride matters—a lot

The where of the ride is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not the ride is worth it. Going across the main canal where boats are aplenty and there are faster and more cost-efficient ways to get around is probably not the best way to go.

Seeing the Venice architecture and small waterways from a different perspective, however, would be the best use of an expensive gondola ride. The city is over 12,000 years old and some of the canals and buildings are unmatched in beauty, so it’s a good way to see the real Venice away from all the tourists.

No two gondola rides are the same

The gondola ride does have a certain something that makes them all seem similar but there are so many different tours you can opt for when choosing which ride to take. For a tour that shows the best of hidden Venice, the Grand Canal by Gondola and Secret Venice tour is the best option.

For a ride that takes your romance with your partner to the next level, the Gondola Ride and Dinner in Venice is perfect. They also have foodie options, gondola plus walking tours, and tours for families. It all depends on what you want to get from your gondola ride.

Do they really sing

Ever since Hollywood started to commercialize gondola rides through romantic films, people have assumed that the rides come with a talented singer that has chosen to use his talent to serenade tourists.

The truth is that singing isn’t exactly a gondola thing. Sure, some might decide to lay down a track, but it shouldn’t be expected.

Some drivers might sing if that’s what they’re about, but it’s best not to expect any love songs from the Gondoliers because not all of them do that, and some might not appreciate the perpetuated stereotype.

Final notes

Other things to consider is the fact that there are no sun protections on the gondola, so if it’s hot, your ride will probably be hot. Also, congested areas may cause your gondolier to want to cut the ride short. Most gondoliers will speak a bit of English, but as they are Italian residents, don’t expect them to be fully fluent.

When you discuss the ride, make sure that both parties understand where you want to go, how much you are to pay, and whether or not your tour ends in the smaller canals or across the Grand Canal.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101: