Why Explore Venice By Gondola?
Seeing Venice by gondola is one of the best ways to explore this amazing city. Without actually taking to the water, it’s difficult to really understand how Venice works. Because while many of us have come to look at Venice simply as a tourist attraction, this iconic city is home to over 260,000 people and has been a thriving centre of industry and the arts since 450 AD.
The canals in Venice aren’t simply there to look pretty, they are one of the only ways to transport goods and travel long distances. Cars are not allowed in Venice, nor are bikes. One look at the narrow cobbled streets explains why. Most houses and hotels have doorways coming off the water so it’s easiest to travel to them by boat. Venetians even do their weekly shop using the waterways – that’s a supermarket just off the canal in the photograph above. Exploring Venice by Gondola means you can go off the beaten path and see what day to day life in Venice is really like.
Exploring Venice By Gondola Is Fun!
We had a private gondola for an hour, which we had arranged in advance. We also booked an English speaking guide, a native Venetian who had lived there much of her life so the tour was extraordinary. It was fairly expensive (around US$350) but there were four of us so it was well worth the price of admission – especially when you consider that to take a gondola on the day it costs around US$85 for just just half an hour – without a guide. My husband, son and I did this years ago and although our gondolier spoke a bit of English the language barrier meant he really couldn’t share the kind of things our guide did on this occasion.
Although many of the buildings seem plain from the outside, it hasn’t always been this way. This is one of the only palazzos in Venice that has had its mosaics properly restored. Several hundred years ago all the buildings owned by the wealthy would have looked this way.
See Modern and Ancient Venice Side By Side
Once the chief form of transportation in Venice, most gondolas are now used by visitors. Native Venetians will have their own boat or use water taxis, modern motor boats and also larger ferries that operate kind of like a bus service. However, as a tourist, seeing Venice by gondola is the best way I know to really get a feel for how this city functions – and particularly how it worked in days gone by. It’s also the best way to see Venice’s biggest attractions as well as some of the most beautiful architecture you can imagine.
While it’s fascinating wandering the little back streets of this gorgeous city, being in a gondola means you can get places faster. Some gondolas are purely there for tourists to explore in, but many are working taxis or ferries in daily use by Venetians as well as visitors.
As well as The Grand Canal, there are hundreds of tiny little canals networking their way through Venice. Exploring them in a traditional gondola really is one of the best ways to experience this beautiful city and immerse yourself in its culture and history. With something different round every turn, seeing Venice by gondola is a not to be missed experience.