Lot of people, unfortunately, are victim of the so-called Gondola Scam, that is to say, they are charged much more than they should for a gondola ride. You might be interested in knowing that during the last police control in Venice (2006), approximately 10% of the gondola rides were illegal (...!). So now, few important things you should absolutely know. Gondolas are like taxis, which means they have an *official fare* that is set by the local authority.
The official fare (adjourned Jun 2007, there's been a huge increase wrt 2005...) is:
80.00 euro for the standard 40 minutes ride (max 6 persons) during day time [8am - 7pm]
100.00 euro for the standard 40 minutes ride (max 6 persons) during night time [7pm - 8am]
You can ask for a longer tour, in which case the fare increases as follows:
40.00 euro for each 20 additional minutes (day time) [8am - 7pm]
50.00 euro for each 20 additional minutes (night time) [7pm - 8am]
So, don't be trapped into the Gondola scam: before you ride, be sure that you are getting the proper fare. Of course, you pay the other extras (if you want, say, somebody playing while you ride), so in general just be sure beforehand that you are getting the standard fare.
Be sure they don't play the classic "day/night" trick, ie maybe charging you the night time fare even if it is day time, so check that too (remember daytime is 8am - 7pm, and night time is 7pm - 8am, so it doesn't matter whether it's dark or not!!) . Or the classic "route" trick, where they charge you more because you were asking for a specific route (you can let them drive you along, but in those 50 minutes you can also ask them for a personalized route, just like a taxi!).
Also, remember that by law PRICES HAVE TO BE EXPOSED, both at the gondola boot, and clearly visible on the gondola itself. If it is not the case, then the gondola owner is in trouble. So if he tries to squeeze more money out of you, you know what to do, ask for a police officer to come.
Unique Suggestions: If after the ride you think you have been charged more than the above without a reason, don't hesitate ABSOLUTELY NOT TO PAY, and ask for a police officer to come, you'll note how in this case the dishonest gondola owners will suddenly become much more reasonable and charge you what is due and not more! Remember what said above: the official fares (set by law each year) have in any case to be clearly exposed both on the gondola and on the boot.
Fun Alternatives: Take a "Traghetto", the cheap gondola rides from one side of the main canal (Canal Grande) to the other side. Quick, but so cheap, at least you'll have tried the experience.
Or take a public boat (esp. the number 1 line, that slowly rides thru the Canal Grande).
I knew from this site that gondoliers are not the most frank when it comes to prices. On the waterfront by the Campanile at St Mark's, I asked what the price was for 50 mins. I was quoted 200 Euros. I laughed, and walked away. Within five paces two more gondoliers accosted me "No! he has got it wrong! 100 Euros!" I asked "What is the official rate?", but they just mumbled and went away. No gondolier I spoke to would state the official rate.
There is a very good free weely listings booklet issued by the Federation of Venice Hotel Concierges (get it fom any hotel) where the Society of Gondoliers has a page. It clearly states the Venice City Council regulation rate: 40 minutes ride 80 €, maximun 6 people per gondola
For each additional 20 minutes € 40 . Higher charges after 8.00 p.m. Visit the official Venice Tourist Board Site www.tourismovenezia.it (English version).
We were based near San Toma vaporetto stage, and there is a gondola station there. It is off the main tourist route, so we turned up, I said "Per favore, 80 euros for 40 minutes? " and we were away - no haggling, no outrageous try-on, and a very interesting trip on the Grande Canale and backwaters.
The other thing to do is to take a traghetto - these are gondolas which act like bridges. There are about 6 crossing points over the Grande Canale - and costs only 50 cents. Saves walking to either fixed bridge, or getting a vaporetto.
Well, obviously this is one of those one-time only experiences. And it is actually worth your money when you find a good deal.
Unique Suggestions: So before you hop into one, just bargain and decide on what route to take. Depending on the size of the gondola, a 45-min tour incl. Grand Canale should not be more than 10-20 Euros per person for a 6-person ride.
Here is a fare guide which you can use as a reference when you are making a deal.
Fun Alternatives: Well, I suppose you could take one of the vaporettos that travel up the Grand Canale - it's cheaper, but you won't sail through the other streets this way...
I knew before going to Venice that I wouldn't be going on a gondola ride. At a going rate of 80 Euros for a 40-minute ride, it felt like the ultimate tourist trap. What I hadn't imagined, however, was how unromantic a gondola ride in Venice could be! I'm sure there are people out there who've had different experiences, but as we were walking around the city, we often saw long lines of gondolas following each other down the overcrowded canals - no exactly what I would call a romantic experience! And needless to say, none of the gondeliers were singing since you need to pay extra for that service. I never thought I would say this, but the gondola ride at the Las Vegas Venetian almost seems like a better deal!
Unique Suggestions: Since it doesn't seem like a romantic thing to do, if I were determined to on a gondola ride I would at least try to find other people willing to go with me (gondolas can seat up to six people) with whom I could split the cost of the ride. However, you do need to agree on the price before you go as some gondoliers might try to boost the price if they see a group coming.
Fun Alternatives: If you want to know what it feels like to ride in a gondola, you can take the traghetto across the Grand Canal for a mere 50 cents (see my transportation tip)!
Ok, I knew it would be expensive to take a boat trip with a gondolas. But THAT expensive??
100 euro for a short trip - was a bit more than I was prepared to pay.
Unique Suggestions: There are room for at least 4 people, plus the guy who earns the money, in the gondol. So if you are some friends it might be worth the trip.
But if you're alone...
Fun Alternatives: Go around the canales instead, you'll see as much as you would have done from the gondol. Or take one of the bigger boats instead. Cost 10 instead of 100 euro...
Most will over charge you and they lie to you about the trip and where the boat goes. You get a small canal and the ride is about 10-15 min. Don't believe me? Look at the people's faces as they are pulling back in - they are confused because they think they are taking a brief break. We asked and were told that we would be take by someone else through the Grand Canal....not true. I do not even think they are allowed to make an entire Grand Canal trip....and think about it, do you think they really want to work through it? Its a lot of work....but hey they do charge you around what that trip would cost, except you don't get it....lol. Was not funny at the time and I swore I was never going back to Venice. But in fact I am, so I can do the following:
Unique Suggestions: Find out the Italy / Italian policies before you go. Not sure where you could find this. But it’s worth it to at least make the following work. lol And if not, do this but don't ride or trust them lol.
Mess with them and pull out a Venice map and ask them exactly where you will be going. Pull out a pen and ask them to draw it for you. Ask exactly where the trip would be ending. Then maybe ask their name, and the name of their company. Ask what is their policy - such as if they are lying or if the service they provided is inaccurate or not acceptable. Then say you will be paying when you reach that end point, or once you get to the destination along the Grand Canal. That or get them back for me. Seriously ruined my day.
Fun Alternatives: Take the metro water bus along the grand canal and sit on the open back portion of the boat. Great pictures, less stressful, won't feel lied to or cheated, and will not leave a bad taste in your mouth........
For over a thousand years they have taken passengers food and other wares through the canals. Traditionally made from eight sorts of wood: larch, lime, oak, elm, pine, cherry, walnut and tannen. The bow is decorated with the iron 'Ferro', symbolizing the Doge and the six districts of Venice. They used to be colourful and decorated, but since 1562 the law has required them to be black. Steering a gondola demands great skill. A ten year apprenticeship with a padrone is required before a gondolier gets a licence. Only native born Venetians can apply and the number of issued licences is limited, to keep the price at a healthty 60 - 70 Euros per hour.
Unique Suggestions: Try to get a better deal with your hotel (if you're staying in Venice).
Fun Alternatives: Walk or try the vaporettos.
Guys like this one, dressed in the traditional Venetian clothes, can be seen all over the place, especially in the most crowded areas of Venice. But if the season is good and the city of Venice is overcrowded by the tourists, you wont see them around.
Unique Suggestions: Their job is catching tourists around and canvassing them for a gondola drive. In case they convinced you for a ride, you'll pay extra comission (not knowing that) to gondoliere.
According to the agreement between the city authorities and gondolieres, the fee for a ride should cost you 60-65 euros, however, most of the gondolieres ask around 80-100 euros. Keep it in mind in case you negotiate the price.
Must be, I estimate, at least several thounsands of gondolas in Venice which are in good conditions and ready to take the passengers all over the city canals. Every time I am visiting Venice, no metter if high season or not, most of the gondolas stay in the little harbours or docks, completely off the duty.
This must be, I suppose, a kind of agreement towards gondolieri in order to maintaine the high price for a ride.
Unique Suggestions: Ignore the gondolieri, make them suffering and seaking for the customers and the prices must go down.
Yes its romantic and yes your woman will insist on it but lets face it these guys are charging top dollar for a relatively short water experience.
If you must do it then get away from the main gondola areas and wander the back streets until you (very quickly) find a gondolier touting for business in the back water ways. Bargain your price and confirm how long and where he will take you. Be polite but firm and also be realistic - don't expect to get an hour long ride for 20 Euros it won't happen!!
Unique Suggestions: Bargain
Get one away from St Marks Sq
Grab a bottle from a local shop and take it with you!
Take your camera
Fun Alternatives: Take the number 1 water bus down the Grand Canal and get the front open area for great views
My idea was to take some pictures of the town from the water front and nothing is more appropriate for that purpose then the gondola ride. Since I was alone, the gondoliere ask me 130 euros for an 45 minutes ride! Can you imagine that, it costs more then the average air ticket from any of European cities to Venice!
Ask for the price before taking the gondola ride because you might be unpleasently surprised at the end of the tour.
Fun Alternatives: Take a walk around as I did.
Ok, so whenever anyone thinks of Venice, they think of a gondola, right? Well, if you are going to Venice and don't want to sell half of your possessions to pay for the rest of the trip, avoid the gondolas. They are outrageously expensive.
Unique Suggestions: At least flirt with the gondolier, he might be a little lenient on the price ; ) If you're not into that sort of thing, at least shop around for a competitive price.
Fun Alternatives: Buy a Calendar of the Gondolieri. Some of them are pretty hot and it's cheaper than an actual ride.
Take my advice - haggle a little for the price of a ride BEFORE you step on the boat. Once they take your hand and you're trying to catch your balance, they've got you.
So set a price before you step off the dock. These gondoliers are in competition with each other - they all want your business and aren't afraid to lower their prices to get it.
Fun Alternatives: The water taxis are also fun way to travel around the city. But there's just something about a gondola ride...
The kids were disappointed because we were not willing to pay 80 € for only 15 minutes to San Marco square!
Unique Suggestions: Try to get a lower price, just try it, people that went there after us got as low as 60 €.
Fun Alternatives: Just keep on walking! Venice is lovely, even on foot! You can then watch the gondola men and see if ya see something nice ;-)
Ah yes, the romance of a gondolier in his striped shirt and wide brimmed hat slowly rowing you around a near deserted canal near sunset. Lovely indeed, if you don't fall in the canal first when the gondolier tells you how much it's going to cost. I seem to remember being quoted 100 euro for half an hour.
Unique Suggestions: Vaporetto are like public buses, they get you from here to there efficiently and cheaply