Gondola Rides in Venice: Current Fares & Booking in Advance

by Jessica on July 10, 2009

by | July 10th, 2009  

gondolarideAs you may recall from previous posts on the subject, I’m one of those people who thinks taking a gondola ride in Venice isn’t a necessary part of enjoying the city and can even be a huge disappointment. (And it’s not just me saying that – gondola rides came in at #2 on this list of the most disappointing attractions in Europe!)

One of the biggest reasons I advise people to skip the gondola ride if they’re not totally wedded to the idea is the cost. It’s easy to get taken for a ride (literally and figuratively) when you don’t know any better – especially when you’ve heard that it’s an expensive proposition. When you hear some ungodly sum you might think it’s standard and just agree to it.

Unfortunately, while there are perfectly wonderful gondoliers in Venice who won’t overcharge you, there are those who will if they think they can. Which is why it pays to do your research on what the going rate is for gondolas (it changes every year). Nan at the Living Venice blog has a page on her site dedicated to the official gondola fares for the year, which you should definitely peek at before you go.

One important thing to keep in mind, Nan points out, is that the prices for a gondola ride are supposed to be per gondola and not (as is commonly thought) per person. So whether you ride solo or bring five friends along, a 40-minute ride before 7pm should (as of 2009) be €80 plus tip. But even when you’re a close personal friend of a Venice resident like Nan, you can still fall prey to an unscrupulous gondolier.

And of course, just knowing the current official gondola fares doesn’t necessarily help you if you’re a budget traveler without a lot of extra spending money. After all, you’ve already spent a huge chunk of your travel budget on airfare to Venice, and even the Venice hostels aren’t particularly cheap (if you can find them – they’re also pretty scarce).

If you’re one of those budget travelers, but you feel like you won’t have experienced Venice without a gondola ride, here’s my suggestion – when your family asks you what they can get you as a gift for any holiday from now until when you leave on your trip, tell them you’d like a Venetian gondola ride. Because now they can book it online in advance – meaning you won’t have to pay for it yourself, and you also won’t have to carry around that oh-so-tempting money they’ll give you instead!

Since the folks at HostelsClub are based in Venice, they’ve recently worked out an arrangement where you can book a gondola ride in advance online. You do have to pick a specific date and time, so anyone traveling without a set itinerary will have trouble with this one, but if you know when you’ll be in Venice then it’s easy. Just go to this page on the HostelsClub site and click on the “Book This Tour” tab. Choose the date you want to go, the time (there are two options – either 18:30 or 19:30), and the number of people going on the tour.

>> Important Note: When you’re booking a gondola ride in advance through HostelsClub, you’re booking individual seats on a group ride – you’re not getting the whole gondola to yourselves for a private ride. Thanks to reader DM for finding this out and letting me know!

The price for this book-ahead service is €38 per person, which goes against Nan’s admonition against per-person rates – but is much cheaper than the €50-100 per person some gondoliers charge (however wrong that is). And, as mentioned, it also means it’s taken care of in advance and you don’t have to worry about anything but a tip.

Obviously, the option of booking a gondola ride in advance isn’t limited to budget travelers and backpackers – I can totally see this being something couples add to their wedding registry, for instance. It’d be a lovely way for friends and family back home to contribute to the honeymoon without just handing over an envelope full of cash.

At any rate, whether you decide to haggle with a gondolier and produce a list of the current official fares or skip the haggling altogether and book a gondola ride ahead of time, you can help make sure you have a great time in Venice by reading these Venice survival tips. And hey, if you still aren’t interested in a gondola ride, don’t worry – it didn’t even make my list of the top 10 things to do in Venice.

>> Not into the gondola thing but want to get closer to the water than a vaporetto will allow? How about going for a kayak trip in Venice?

photo by PrettyKateMachine


{ 11 comments }

Anne July 12, 2009 at 6:32 am
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My son and his wife went to Venice last year, they found it very expensive, and fortunetely I didn’t know who to ask, to make it a cheaper trip for them…they didn’t go on the gondola…they wanted around about £150…no way could they pay that!!

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nan August 8, 2009 at 11:59 pm
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Thanks for posting this Jessica, there can never be enough reliable information available about gondola rides!

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Nor November 30, 2009 at 4:01 pm
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I went to Italy for a week during end of Oct, and had a chance to go to Venice. I made some researches before going there and did make a wise desicion of not riding the gondola. Thanks to your information, Jessice. One of the gondoliers would like to charge us (my friend and I) €80. When we asked his permission to take a photo near his gondola, he rejected with arrogant look. The other gondolier gave discounted price of €60. But it is still expensive.

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Jessica November 30, 2009 at 9:59 pm
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Hi, Nor:

Yes, gondola rides are expensive – but I have to say, 60-80 euro is way less than I’ve heard some people pay for a gondola ride, so that was a pretty good deal! If you still had a good time in Venice without the gondola ride, then that’s all that counts. :)

Ciao,
Jessica

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DM April 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm
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HI Jessica, the idea about pre-booking a ride is a great one as is the link to the HostelsClub site, but I have a question that I didn’t see answered on their site and am wondering if you know. If you pre-book a ride through there site is it going to be a shared ride, or if you book for two is it just going to be you two? Also, I noticed on their site that they provide two musicians on the ride for that price.

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Jessica April 13, 2010 at 6:22 pm
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I’m not 100% sure, DM, because I haven’t booked through their site myself, but I’m fairly certain you’re booking a trip just for you and whoever else is in your group – it’s not a couple of seats on a shared ride. You might try to send them a note at HostelsClub, though, to ask them directly. (Tell them I sent you – they’re very nice people!)

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DM April 26, 2010 at 7:29 am
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Hey Jessica, I emailed them directly and it turns out you are only buying seats on a shared ride. Too bad, but figured you and your readers would want to know.

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Jessica April 26, 2010 at 7:42 am
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Hi, DM – Thanks so much for following up here; I’ll update the article above to make it clear.

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Wena Davel, South Africa April 9, 2012 at 5:17 am
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Thank you Jessica, I find your posts most informative. After I have read your post to stay at least one night in Venice instead of only a day trip, I immediately booked us in a hotel. I realised it many times before when we once stayed in San Gimignano and also in town in Toledo, Spain. This time I forgot about it, luckily you reminded me. Good advice. We travel within 3 week to Italy. So excited. Wena Davel, South Africa.

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Jessica April 10, 2012 at 11:14 am
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I’m glad to hear it – have a wonderful time!

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Top Holiday Destination January 26, 2013 at 8:56 am
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Venice is one of my favorite holiday destinations worldwide, but one of the bad things that could happened when you are there, is that gondoliers ask for a lot of money for a gondola ride, so booking it in advance is absolutely the best way of experiencing Venice. Great article!

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