Nearly all tourists want to ride a gondola when they visit Venice. It’s romantic and iconic. You just have to do it!
However, gondola rides can be quite expensive. For 40 minutes, the city rate is 80 euros (100 euro after 7pm). This price is set by the city so you shouldn’t expect to pay any less. It is also very touristy. Venetians may use a gondola for either a wedding or funeral.
We wouldn’t mind a gondola ride, but we won’t belittle it. It’s beautiful and romantic. And you can see the stunning palaces of Venice from the canal. Gondola rides are a great way to see Venice’s history and also show you the many changes taking place.
What does this mean? Gondolas were essential transport mode when they first appeared in the 11th Century. Many were used to transport people across the canals. Some were used for more extravagant purposes. They were owned by wealthy families to use the canals and to display their status. In Venice, there were more than 10,000 gondolas by the 16th century.
It’s quite different today. There are only a few hundred remaining gondolas in the city. Nearly all of them have private owners. The gondolier is the only Venetian you will see 99 percent of the times when you pass a gondola. This is just a small example of the changes that are taking place in Venice. From 120,000 people in 1980 to just 60,000 today (if that), the population has declined. The population is still declining. Nevertheless, 15 million tourists visit the country each year. This is 25 tourists per Venetian resident. This means that gondolas are not the only way to see if there are more tourists than residents.
Gondola prices are also high, which is indicative of the wider city. The prices of food and real estate in Venice have skyrocketed over the last few decades, even though the city’s population is declining.
Modern life is also putting a strain on the city and its gondolas. For example, the wake of the powerboats now cruising the canals actually accelerates Venice’s decline. The constant waves that hit Venice’s fragile, 500-year-old churches and palazzi, day after day, are causing damage to the cement and stones that keep them together. The same waves also damage gondolas. Studies show that the life expectancy of a gondola is reduced by these constant waves from around 40 to 10.
(Want to know what it’s like being a modern Venetian? Check out our video to see what it’s like living on the canals in Venice today. ).
Do you think you should take a gondola trip? If you don’t mind paying the price, then it’s a good idea. It’s the most romantic and beautiful way to see Venice’s canals. You should be aware that you are participating in a tradition, which is becoming increasingly endangered, by cruising through the green waters.
Take a gondola to Venice:
It is a good idea to negotiate the price before you go. The city rate is 80 euros per 40 minutes. After 7pm, it can go up to 100 euros per 40 minutes. However, many gondoliers will charge more. Before you board, make sure to agree on the price and the time.
A concierge can be tricky. Your concierge can help you negotiate if you are not comfortable with haggling. This is a nice option, but it can often come with a large surcharge.
You can take 6 people. It’s a great way for friends to share the cost of travel.
It’s not cheap for no reason. Gondoliers are taking advantage of tourists? Maybe. They might have a reason. Yes. Venice is expensive to live in. The gondola is also a large expense. A hand-built one will set you back around 20,000 Euros.
Pick the best place to get your gondola. You can choose the route you want, as not all gondolas offer the same routes. However, you can affect the experience by choosing where to pick up your gondola. You can grab one at the Rialto bridge and take a ride down the famous Grand Canal. You’ll find a quieter spot along the side canal where there are no water taxis or vaporetti.
There are alternatives. You can take a traghetto to cross the Grand Canal for EUR3 if you just cannot stomach the cost.