A little history
Gondolas were used in the 1800s as regular vehicles in Venice. In fact, they used to be a lot more common in the canals back then than they are now. Think of how many gondolas there are today and double that number by 20. We’re not even kidding. Those famous boats are light, about 11 feet long, made by hand out of wood, and built with a flat bottom.
You’ll need cash
Gondoliers usually own the boats they drive, and much like taxi drivers, they take their job seriously and expect to get paid handsomely. This won’t be cheap. The starting price for a daytime ride is about $90. After seven PM the rates change and exceed $100. And for extra-long trips, the gondoliers can charge between $22 and $55 for every 20 additional minutes.
What the service includes
This is going to be expensive, so you’ll want to know exactly what you’re paying for. Tourists enjoy the ride as the attraction, rather than the destination, so the gondolier simply takes you around town. This luxury ride is pretty comfortable with cushioned seats and blankets for cold weather. A good way to save on the attraction is to split the cost with others, as the boat can seat up to 6 people at a time.
The route matters more than you think
Going on a gondola ride is one of the most common tourist attractions in Venice, so it’s no surprise that the wider main canals of the city have a lot more of those boats in them. It’s like a regular highway — efficient but not as special. Those rides will also be cheaper. If you go into the smaller waterways you’ll be able to learn more about the city and see more of its ancient architecture, but obviously, it will be a lot more expensive. Keep in mind that different gondola companies may cater to different needs such as romantic rides, foodie rides, or family rides.
Keep your gondolier happy
The stereotypical singing gondolier won’t necessarily be the one driving your gondola. Modern-day gondoliers aren’t all singers, and some might even take offense to anyone assuming they are. Also, some of them may not be fluent in English, so it’s important to make sure both parties understand the price and the services it entails. Oh, and wear sunscreen. That’s just good sense.