I rode a gondola in Venice and I loved it! Yes, it’s a very touristy thing to do but you’d never fully experience Venice if you’d passed up this experience. You’ve got to explore the city’s canals by taking a gondola tour! I can assure you that no matter how long the tour is, you’ll love it! Going through the narrow canals and passing under the arched bridges is like going on an adventure in itself. I couldn’t help the feeling of getting excited, really. I’ve been on the outrigger and paddled boats, ships, and makeshift rafts but it’s a different level of joy when you do it in Venice.
What’s a Gondola? Well, just look at the photo below. Someone who mans the gondola is called a gondolier. It’s easy to spot them with their black and white/red stripe T-shirts.
I Rode a Gondola in Venice and I Loved it!
How Much is the Gondola Tour? Be aware – it’s expensive. Especially if you’re a fabulous solo traveler on a budget. For 30 minutes canal tour, it costs 80 euros. For an hour, it’s 120 euros.
Sharing a Gondola With Strangers
Ok, I didn’t plan this but this happened. I was in a cafe when I heard three young Chinese tourists talking about riding a gondola. Despite having lived in China for almost 8 years, my Chinese still sucks. 😀 But, I did understand some of the words they said: how much, money, expensive, time, now, maybe/not sure, each. Seeing it was an opportunity for me to share a gondola with them, I interrupted by greeting them in Chinese. I introduced myself in English and they asked how I knew they were talking about planning to ride a gondola. So, I shared my story – and their eyes sparkled when I told them that I used to work in Beijing – where they are from. They had no problem with me going with them. In fact, they were happy that they, too, can save! We choose a 30-minute ride for 20 euros each!
Tips to Save for Solo Travelers
If you’re really on a tight budget, stand near where the gondolas are. If there’s a group of three or a fellow solo traveler, strike up a conversation and ask if you could join. Don’t be shy. Just do it! 😀 Yes, you can ask a couple, too! They might be willing to accommodate you so they can have someone to photograph them! 😀
Where are the Gondolas? They are everywhere. Most likely, you’ll find tourists willing to share a gondola in crowded spots like the one near the Bridge of Sighs or San Marco Cathedral. We started nearby the bridge called Ponte di Realto, one of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal.
Narrow Canals. The tours bring you through narrow canals and corners that the city is known for. There’s traffic, too! But, lucky for us, our gondolier brought us somewhere where we could even hear the echo of our own conversation.
Not only for Lovers. I must admit that it’s romantic to be on the gondola with your loved one. While the gondolier rows, you both are exchanging sweet nothings while admiring the century-old, colorful house along the canals. But for this to be extra sweet, do it in the morning before hordes of tourists share the water canals. If you sit in a cafe by the water, you’ll see that gondolas are for everyone – families, friends, strangers (in my case), and all types of lovers.
Enjoy the rest of the Gondola tour below.
How to Save Money and Time in Venice
Venice can be overwhelming for a first-time visitor. You would have no idea where and how to start. There are just many things to do and see, and most often – if you do it on your own, there’s a fat chance you’ll be lost in the narrow alleys. How many times did I end up on a dead-end alley? Countless! Google Maps seemed confused, too!
So, to save time, money, and effort, do yourself a favor – choose a tour! You don’t have to join everything but choose the ones you think would be interesting to do.
Where to Stay in Venice
Venice is expensive. Like, really expensive. That’s why many backpackers would go on a day trip from Milan or Bologna. If you decide to stay for a night or two, try Venezia Naturalmente. It’s the cheapest I could find in the city. It’s within walking distance to everything, including the water taxi, San Marco Square, and two major bridges connecting to the Grand Canal’s other side. The staff is friendly, and they’d help you navigate the city. It’s clean, and it’s also in a quiet area.