Gondola tours in Venice: when, where, how, why and…how much?

gondola shot at dawn by a professional photographer in Venice

If you ever spent a few days in Venice, either for your wedding, honeymoon or holiday, you might choose to treat yourself with something very typical of this magic city: a gondolatour on the channels.

In this article you find a historical introduction and some practical advice for couples wanting to enjoy this kind of experience.

The “gondola” is a traditional Venetian boat which has been used at least from the 15th century for private transportation, mostly by  rich people. Common people, instead, could only afford using the “gondolino” (a kind of public transportation service) to cross the Canal Grande from one bank to the other, as most Venetians still do nowadays.

Asian couple shot during a pre-wedding photo service in Venice
Gondola tours are mostly appreciated by foreign tourists visiting Venice and might be a nice part of a couple photo session

Noble families and courtesans used gondolas to move around Venice, enjoy fresh air at night during summer, parading along the channels,  and  even as garconnière or gambling areas. In order to limit these “dissolute” habits, at the beginning of the 17th century the Venetian authorities decided to forbid colorful coatings and sumptuous decorations and gondolas turned black, a color which was only used for the lower section’s waterproofing layer until that time.

couple shot on a gondola during a honeyoon photo session in Venice
Gondola tours offer a photographer the chance to get colorful and intense shots which are usually much appreciated by couples.

Gondolas are built-in traditional shipyards called “squeri” which (although in limited amount) can be still seen in Venice. The building process requires special craftmanship and 280 different pieces made of 8 kinds of wood.

Russian couple kissing on a gondola during a honeymoon photo service in Venice
Gondola tours give the photographer the chance to catch romantic and intense moments during a photo session in Venice

There are several gondola docks all over Venice where you can hire a gondola for a tour. You find one near Santa Lucia railway station, one near San Marco Square, one near Rialto bridge, one along Strada Nuova road, and many others along the small channels all over the city. You can easily recognize the “gondoliere” (the gondola sailor) by his black-and-white striped shirt and straw hat and by his shouting “gondoooooola, gondooooooola!” to catch your attention.

Russian couple shot in Venice during an informal photo walk
Gondolas are well equipped to make the tour as comfortable as possible, hosting up to 6 people…which makes things easier for a photographer shooting a couple during a gondola tour in Venice.

Any time of the day and night is fine to enjoy a gondola tour, just be aware that prices are higher at nighttime. Needless to say, the most romantic time is the sunset when gondola renters have the chance to admire Venetian channels and palaces from a different perspective and imbued in a soft light and tender atmosphere. Beside, gondolas are provided with many accessories (carpets, soft chairs, cushions, colorful and carved decorations, etc.) making the journey as pleasant as possible.

Take care of choosing the tour route which is most suitable to you, since different itineraries are available. Consider the idea of bargain a bit over the price, which is officially 80 Euros (110 Euros at nighttime) for 40 minutes for up to 6 people but might be cheaper during low season times. If you get more expensive offers, be careful: they might be either proposing extra services or else trying to cheat you:-)

Gondola tours are especially popular among foreign couples visiting Venice since they offer a very unique experience. That is why I managed to shoot several gondola tours during my couple photo portraits in Venice, as well as during my engagement, honeymoon and wedding photo services. At sunset, night or daytime, gondola tours always offer the chance to get beautiful photographs which will be much appreciated by couples as special souvenirs of intense moments.

Russian couple kissing during an engagement photo service in Venice.
There are several gondola docks in Venice where you can hire a boat: one of them is near San Marco Square

On my website you find more examples of couple photo sessions in Venice.

Photo walks in Venice: shooting or being shot?

Jewish couple shot during an informa photo walk in Venice
The photo walking tours I offer give the clients the chance to enjoy an informal stroll in Venice and be photographed in some romantic and less known spots of the city.

There are many kinds of photo walks in Venice: the ones I propose to my clients are basically informal photo sessions aiming at portraying the customers with the background of such a magic and unique city. My photo walking tours are ideal for couples (being them enjoying their season, pre-wedding, engagement, wedding or honeymoon holidays in Venice) or anyone who wants a special photo portrait.

This Russian couple enjoyed very much the informal photo walking tour I offered them which gave me the chance to shoot some romantic photos with an unique background

In these cases I would walk along the city with them, letting them explore the less famous areas as well as the most romantic and attractive spots and photograph the clients along the Venetian alleys, on bridges, in the middle of squares or under arcades.

Russian couple walks in Venice during couple photo service
I had this Rusian couple explore Venice’s markets and other everyday life’s spots during their photo walk in Venice

Other photographers, instead, specialized in different kinds of photo tours: for instance, Arved Gintenreiter, a German photographer who moved to Venice and committed to travel photography and photojournalism, offers photo walking tours to clients eager to learn more about photography and enjoy a real photo shooting workshop in Venice.

Arved Gitenreiter photographer
Arved Gintenreiter is a professional photographer offering photo walking workshops in Venice

Arved accompanies amateur photographers along the alleys and squares with their own photo equipment, explains the techniques and tricks of this hard yet marvelous job and lets them experience and practice professional photography at least for one day or a few hours. At the same time he provides some information about Venice’s history and art so that the tour gets even more interesting.

It’s funny to notice that Arved and I went through similar professional stories, which included working in fields far from photography then switching to professional photography as a full-time job, in both cases with a strong focus on Venice.

Our offers are quite different, nevertheless: mine focuses on portraying people and feelings during wedding, engagement, honeymoon photo services, while Arved’s one aims at improving the clients’ technical and professional know-how.

Russian couple during a  photo shooting at Carnival in Venice
Photo walking tours might turn into something very special when they take place during Carnival, like the one I shot for this Russian couple

Therefore, you are very welcome to Venice to enjoy the photo walking tour you prefer, either Arved photo walking workshops or my photo walking services.