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Private Venice Gondola School: Learn How to Be a Gondolier

Veneto, Italy
  • 1 hour 30 minutes (Approx.)
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English
  • Good for avoiding crowds


Learn the history and skills of one of Venice’s most iconic professions with a gondolier training. During this unique, 1.5-hour lesson, discover the ancient history of gondoliering and learn the basics of maneuvering the traditional wooden boats. Under the watchful eye of your professional gondolier instructor, practice standing up and paddling on a training ‘gondoletto’ through some of Venice’s less-trafficked canals and out into the open Venetian Lagoon. Numbers are limited to six on this small-group activity for a personalized experience.

    Why Travelers Choose This Tour

    Train in secluded canals for a hands-on alternative to standard gondola rides.

    What's Included

    • Local instructor
    • Use of special gondolier training Vessel
    • Gratuities
    • Hotel pickup and drop-off

    Departure & Return

    Departure Point

    • City of Venice, City of Venice, Veneto
      Ponte de la Sacca bridge outside the Sacca Misericordia boat marina

    Return Details

    • Returns to original departure point

    What To Expect

    In the water-logged city of Venice, gondolas have been an important mode of transportation for about 1,500 years. The long wooden boats are still made by hand using time-honored methods, and gondoliers must complete a rigorous training program and apprenticeship before ferrying passengers. Get a taste of the tradition with a unique, hands-on lesson. Make your way to a harbor tucked away in a quiet corner of Venice to meet your instructor, a professional gondolier. Begin your lesson on solid ground while you learn some balancing moves and a short history of gondoliering.

    Head out to a quiet canal where a gondoletto awaits. Similar to a gondola but more stable and easier to steer, this training boat is the kind used in professional gondolier training schools. Take your turn at the helm and learn how to row and steer the boat using a single long oar, while your instructor looks on and provides tips. Get your sea legs among Venice’s quieter canals, and then head out into the larger canals and the open waters of the Venetian Lagoon for more practice.

    After about 1.5 hours of maneuvering the gondoletto through the city’s scenic waterways, return to the original departure point and bid a fond farewell to your instructor. You’re sure to have a renewed appreciation for the skilled gondoliers when you see them cruising through Venice.

    Cannaregio (Pass By)

    Take an easy, relaxing gondola ride where you get to row the gondola! Discover the secrets behind the unique profession of being a gondolier while you’re at it. Row through Venice’s narrow waterways and learn details of Venetian history and culture. To start your lesson, we’ll introduce you to our traditional batelina, once one of the most prolific craft in the city. Now extremely rare, they make an exceptional first-time rowing boat: stable and comfortable.


    Chiesa della Madonna dell'Orto

    We’ll then concentrate on the basic stroke for rowing a prua (at the prow), giving a demonstration and then letting each person try it themselves, with the boat still moored. We’ll then depart, with each rower taking turns and getting acclimated to the stoke as we glide along a wide, quiet canal. We’ll then cross then into the expansive, open lagoon, where you’ll be encouraged to try rowing a poppa — steering the boat yourself at the stern, just like a gondolier. (If it’s too windy, you can still try the steering position in the canals.) We’ll then return back through the evocative side canals back to the drop-off point.

    1 hour 30 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

    Additional Info

    • Confirmation will be received at time of booking, unless booked within 1 day of travel. In this case confirmation will be received as soon as possible, subject to availability
    • Not recommended for child aged 5 and under
    • Comfortable shoes are recommended
    • Subject to favorable weather conditions. If cancelled due to poor weather, you will be given the option of an alternative date or full refund
    • Maximum 4 people per vessel
    • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 4 travelers
    Operated by Artviva The Original & Best Walking Tour

    Cancellation Policy

    This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason. If you cancel or ask for an amendment, the amount you paid will not be refunded.

    • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

    about cancellations

    Traveler Photos

    Traveler Tips

    If you have every wondered how the gondolier works, or simply want to do a little bit of exercise, meet a local venetian and see a different part of Venice, this is a must do tour.
    54 reviews
    Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
    Reviews by Viator travelers
    Showing 1-10 of 54 reviews
    When in Venice, do as the venetians do
    joshuas123321, Jun 2019
    My girlfriend and I did this experience with Gabriella and she was amazing. She was a skilled gondolier, a great teacher and as a result we had a very memorable experience learning how to be a gondolier. If you have every wondered how the gondolier works, or simply want to do a little bit of exercise, meet a local venetian and see a different part of Venice, this is a must do tour. Thank you and well done creating such a great experience.
    Fun Family Event
    Earthlaughter, Sep 2018
    This was a good way for our two teenagers to experience what rowing a gondola is like, and we parents enjoyed it too..It’s harder than it looks! The instructor was charming & informative.
    This was one of the most unique...
    Nicholas G, May 2018
    This was one of the most unique things we did! What a cool experience! Luigina and Catalina were great instructors and were very friendly and personable. When they weren't teaching us the ways of a gondolier, we shared a lot of great conversation. They teach you the basics, and once you master those, you may have the opportunity to jump up in the back and pilot the boat even out in open water if they feel you are ready. You then snake your way back through some more of the beautiful and magical canals of Venice. Everyone that goes to Venice pays for a gondola ride, but how many can say they were the gondolier? This is a must-do!
    We had a wonderful time. We learned...
    Suz, Nov 2017
    We had a wonderful time. We learned so much on this inquest adventure. We had great instruction! Love every moment Nutella!
    What an amazing and unique experience...
    MaryGene_C, Sep 2017
    What an amazing and unique experience! Definitely harder than it looks but so much fun!
    A great experience and very...
    Meredith, Aug 2017
    A great experience and very rewarding as you get a private gondola rowing lesson and take the gondola out onto the lagoon. A bit scary standing on the back of the boat for the first time but that's what makes it fun!
    What a great experience this was for...
    Lisa M, Aug 2017
    What a great experience this was for our family. I stumbled upon this activity when looking for a gondola ride for our trip to Venice...saw a review for it as an activity recommended for people who like to learn. We chose this over a gondola ride and were thrilled with it. The instructor and translator were amazing. Loved speaking with our translator about Venice. Our instrictor, Luigina was fantastic - so patient and encouraging -- all in Italian. It was a highlight for our trip to Venice. I was humbled at how much more difficult it is to row! A lot harder than it looks but by the end, we all had it somewhat figured out. I would highly recommend it.
    Unfortunately, the instructions on...
    Rudy_R, May 2017
    Unfortunately, the instructions on the itinerary were too vague and we could not find the meeting point. We wandered around for quite some time and then decided to give up. They called after the appointment had passed to say we missed it and to describe the meeting point. It would have been more helpful if they called at the time of the appointment instead.
    Fantastic and unique experience...
    Denise J, Apr 2017
    Fantastic and unique experience. Fantastic instructor Anna. We really recommend this tour for everyone.
    Fantastic experience and so much...
    Lora H, Dec 2016
    Fantastic experience and so much better than paying twice the amount for having someone do it for you. Was a great laugh and would be perfect for couples and families.


    Product code: 6144GONDOLIER