Grand Canal

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5 historical facts about the Grand Canal

Referred to as the heart and soul of Venice, the Grand Canal is the longest of the city's 120 canals. Stately homes of former merchants line its 2.5-mile, serpentine banks, reflecting centuries of wealth that have flowed into this majestic port city.

  • Home sweet home

    1. Home sweet home

    The first settlers to arrive on the marshy islands of the lagoon were refugees fleeing from Huns and Visigoths after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD.

  • Here's to your health

    2. Here's to your health

    Venice built the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, with the hope that the Virgin Mary's intervention would rid the city of the Black Plague. "Salute" means "health" in Italian.

  • Bridging the gap

    3. Bridging the gap

    The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges that span the canal, and it was the only one until the 19th century. First made of wood, the newer stone version was erected in 1591.

  • It's what makes Venice Venice

    4. It's what makes Venice Venice

    The gondola was the original form of transport through the canals from the 12th century, until speed boats made their roaring debut eight centuries later.Venedigs Markenzeichen

  • Aging gracefully

    5. Aging gracefully

    Over 170 buildings along the canal reveal the ages of architectural influences on the city. The oldest is the 13th-century palazzo Ca' da Mosto in Venetian-Byzantine style.

Planning Your Visit

  • Getting around by bus and taxi

    The "vaporetti" (water buses) cost €8.50 per ticket from the train station to Piazza San Marco and run every 10 minutes. The trip on Line 2 takes 20 - 30 minutes, and 45 minutes on Line 1. The "taxi acquei" (water taxi) costs €110 from the airport to a hotel, and, depending on the distance, between €40 - €70 within Venice itself.

  • Getting around by gondola

    A typical ride lasts 40 minutes and costs about €80. Add another €40 per 20-minute increment thereafter. The price goes up after 7:00 pm to €100 and costs €50 for every 20 minutes thereafter. In the end, it is always wise to agree on the price with the gondelier before setting off.

  • Getting around by traghetto

    This "water ferry" is a cheap alternative to traveling by gondola and costs €4 for a five-minute ride across the Grand Canal. The difference between a traghetto and gondola is that two people are rowing, and passengers generally stand for the short trip.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Depends on when your chosen gondolier wakes up! From 9AM onward is a good bet.
  • Is it expensive?
    Choose your fancy! You can compare gondola-ride and water taxi prices on our website.
  • Will I need a guide?
    Most definitely, unless you row your own boat. And would you really want to miss an Italian serenade?
  • How to get there
    By foot from the train station or Piazza San Marco.
  • Additional information
    Though the locals stand in a traghetto, find yourself a seat. The bobbing of the boat might bop you into the Canal!

Other Sightseeing Options in Grand Canal

Want to discover all there is to do in Grand Canal? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Grand Canal

Overall rating

4.1 / 5

based on 8,522 reviews

This tour was awesome! The meeting point is easy to find, the guide was punctual and very informative. (Can't remember her name, she was the lady that speaks 4 languages including Italian, French, and English.) I don't normally like guided tours, I prefer doing my own thing, but I wanted to do this, to have a basic understanding on Venice itself as well as on the Venetian culture. This was the perfect experience for me, especially since our group was very small (7 of us all together). You have the option NOT TO take the boat ride back as well - which exactly what my choice was, since my hotel was right by St. Mark's.

I really enjoyed this, especially for the money! The normal gondola ride varies between €60-80 for the same amount of time! (Talk about daytime robbery, eh?!) I shared the ride with 2 couples and another solo person. It was a short +/- 10min walk -with a guide of course- from the meeting point to the gondoliers. We started off on the Grand Canal, then navigated into the smaller canals, and then back to the starting point. I loved how all gondoliers seem to know each other, regardless of their placement. Our guy was chatting to every single one who we passed. A whole different world. I really loved the vibe.

The guide had very good English and was easy to understand, even over the noise of the boat's engine. She was obviously very knowledgeable and was able to explain clearly the points of interest. The tour was one hour and it passed very quickly. There were 10 of us but there was still room for all to stand and take photos.

Great tour with food! Visited many sites from Netflix series as well as local stops! Highly recommend food tours!

Microphone packed in but the lovely narrator carried on unaided and was very informative