Bucketlist Travels logo

Travel bucket list idea:

Boat trip down the Grand Canal

  • Venice, Veneto, Italy

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 29 March, 2024

To all intents and purposes, the Grand Canal (or Canal Grande) is Venice’s high street, a wide thoroughfare lined with elegant palazzi that winds through the city. Like any high street, it is full of traffic (water buses, ambulances, builder’s barges, gondolas and private boats) and is essential to Venetian life.

Two miles long, and traversed by four bridges, the Canal flows between the train station and St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco). Between the 12th and 18th centuries, every important Venetian family built a palazzo (often called a Ca’) on its banks, each with a water entrance. The most notable palazzi include; Ca’ d’Oro, Ca’ Pesaro, Ca’ Foscari, Ca’ Rezzonico and Palazzo Grimani.

The cheapest boat ride is to hop on one of the regular water buses (vaporetto) that ply the Canal from one end to the other. Progress is slow, and they are often crowded, but a sought-after open-air seat at either the front or the back allows you to see everything. For a more exclusive experience, and to up the glamour stakes, take a water taxi or a gondola.

Logistics

Price from: £5
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around
Duration: 45 minutes

Getting there & doing it

The trip between the San Marco and Ferrovia (train station) stops takes around 45 minutes;

Line 1 plies this route zig-zagging along the canal between multiple stops along the way. Just like buses, you can hop on and off along the route. For information and timetables about this and all the other public transport routes in Venice, see the ACTV website.

Water taxis have pick up points at the train station, Rialto and Piazza San Marco. You can also order one by phone. There are official gondola stops all over the city including at the railway station, in front of the hotel Danieli and at the San Tomà and Vallaresso vaporetto stops.

When to do it

Vaporetti run daily, all year round from around 5am until around 11.30pm.

For a better chance of an outside seat (and to avoid the crowds), take the trip very early in the morning or late at night when the canal is at its romantic best.

Venetians themselves walk a lot; the vaporetti are often filled with tourists. So low season means emptier vaporetti.

Who to go with: organised tours

11

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Venice in 1 Day: Walking Tour, St Mark's basilica & Boat tour

  • Venice

If it’s your first time in Venice, see all the highlights of this magical city on a combination walking including St Mark's Basilica and a boat tour on the Grand Canal. From Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) to the Rialto Bridge, your informative guide will offer historical perspectives on this fascinating medieval city. Plus, you'll skip the long lines at St Mark's Basilica – there’s no need to waste time waiting in lines when you're on vacation!

Price €107

Min age 0

Rating 4.15 / 5 [3331 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Private 5 hrs Grand Day Tour of Venice on foot and by boat with tickets included

  • Venice

Experience the highlights of Venice on this Private 5 hrs tour featuring the Doges Palace, St Mark's basilica and a walk through the so called hidden Venice ( all skip the line tickets included) ! By boat cruise the grand canal and some of its smaller canals with drop off in hidden Venice to explore more of the real Venice. Depending on the time/ day you'll take the tour, the last hour can feature the Rialto Market and Santa Croce district or the Cannaregio and Jewish ghetto.

Price €505

Min age 0

Rating 4.39 / 5 [708 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Private Grand Canal 1-Hour Boat Tour

  • Venice

The best way to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of a city built on water is by boat. Gliding through Venice's Grand Canal and minor canals, you'll be introduced to the splendid palaces, churches, bridges, gardens and warehouses lining the city's liquid streets. Your luxurious motor launch boat tour of the Grand Canal brings the magic of Venice alive – ideal for photographers!

Price €250

Min age 0

Rating 4.10 / 5 [679 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Private Venice Canal Cruise: 2-Hour Grand Canal and Secret Canals

  • Venice

Explore some of the smaller, secret Venetian canals by motorboat on a 2-hour cruise, and discover the neighborhoods of Cannaregio, the Jewish Ghetto and Dorsoduro as well as the Grand Canal, too! While hearing anecdotes and history about the enchanting city from an onboard guide, look out for sights such as the Arsenale shipyard alongside intriguing lesser-known landmarks. See craftsmen at work at a gondola boat workshop, and then finish the cruise on a high note with a jaunt along the glamorous Grand Canal and underneath Rialto Bridge.

Price €390

Min age 0

Rating 4.48 / 5 [139 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Private Guided Tour: Venice Gondola Ride Including the Grand Canal

  • Venice

Float through Venice by private gondola boat on a 1-hour tour, and learn all about the history of the quintessential Venetian gondolas, too! As a gondolier navigates the boat along the famous Grand Canal, relax and listen to fun facts and trivia about the boats and the city from a local guide. Pass along pretty Rio della Madonnetta, and then ogle top Venice attractions such as Rialto Bridge and the glamorous Gothic Ca’ d’Oro mansion on the Grand Canal. The traditional gondola is small but seats up to five people comfortably in addition to the onboard guide and gondolier.

Price €415

Min age 0

Rating 4.17 / 5 [130 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >