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Venice Tours, Transfers, and Day Trips

Venice PiazzettaVenice is a small, pedestrian-friendly city, and if you're willing to walk or buy a 12-hour to seven-day vaporetto travel card, you can easily get around on your own.

Cheryl with cat on MuranoStill, a guided tour can be worthwhile if you're pressed for time, if you want to learn more about Venice than you could learn from a guidebook, if you have mobility problems, or if you simply want to try something different (such as an Italian wine tasting, a photographer's tour, or the chance to learn Venetian-style rowing).

Here are some links that will help you find the right tour for your tastes and budget:

Moderately-priced group tours, day trips, and transfers:

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  • Gondolas on the Grand CanalViator Tours and Transfers our partner
    Viator is a tour broker that offers a wide range of excursions and activities in Venice, the Veneto region, and other parts of Italy--including gondola rides, ghost tours, and "skip the line" tours of the Doge's Palace. Viator also provides airport and cruise transfers. You can pre-book before you leave home, with prices shown in your choice of eight currencies.

For an example of a Viator local tour, read our Gondola Serenade article.

  • No. 1 Vaporetto trip on the Grand Canal
    QuickVenice icon For the price of an ACTV water bus ticket, you can zig-zag up the Canal Grande (with peeks into palazzi if you ride after sunset.) From our companion site, QuickVenice.com.

More personal and expensive:

Paola Salvato
If you're looking for a warm, friendly, and unflappable guide who speaks English, Italian, German, and French, Paola deserves to be on your short list of candidates. (We spent a week with Paola aboard the hotel barge La Bella Vita during a lagoon and river cruise from Venice to Mantua.)

WalksInsideVenice
Two licensed guides (both natives of Venice) have teamed up to offer private tours for individuals, families, and small groups. Roberta Curiel is co-author of The Venetian Ghetto, an outstanding book about Venice's Jewish history and synagogues. Sara Cossiga is a freelance art historian, sommelier, and culinary expert who organizes cooking classes, private dinners, and wine tours at Venice & Veneto Gourmet when she isn't guiding visitors around the city.

Contemporary Venice Art Tours
Cristina Gregorin, a licensed guide and author of books such as Venice Master Artisans, offers guided visits of modern-art exhibitions, collections, artists' studios, and galleries. She also leads general-interest tours with a variety of themes.

The Venice Experience
Mike and Karen Henderson, an American expat couple, will take you on a private sightseeing tour, a cichetti pub crawl, or a photography excursion. (Karen also publishes a Venice Experience Blog, while Mike blogs at Henderson in Venice.)

Venicescapes
Michael Broderick, an American researcher and author who lives in Venice, has been offering private guided tours and lectures for visiting groups since 1997.

Venice Tourist Guides Association
The A.G.T. Venezia represents licensed guides who speak 13 languages.

Venetian Vine
AIS-certified sommeliers Nan McElroy and Sara Cossiga present twice-weekly Italian wine tastings at an enoteca in Venice. They also can arrange private vineyard tours.

Two free alternatives:

Venice Free Walking Tour
The Association 360 Gradi (360 Association) offers free walking tours of about 3.2 km (2 miles). The last time we checked, tours departed from the Campo Santi Apostoli. Participation is free, although a donation is encouraged.

Free Walk in Venice
The Isola Tour Non-Profit Association has free walking tours in Italian and English from the Campo San Polo. The schedule varies, so check the Web site's calendar and book in advance.

On the water:

Row Venice
Learn to row the way Venetians do: Standing  up and facing forward in a sandalo or other traditional boat.

I Batelli di Brenta (The Brenta River's Boats)
Boats leave Venice or Padua in the morning for an all-day trip through the Brenta Canal that includes stops at three Venetian villas and the 16th Century mills at Dolo. Other excursions, including a half-day trip from Dolo to Venice, are also available.

Delta Tour: Brenta Riviera and Venetian Villas
The excursion boat Città di Padova offers day cruises along the Brenta Canal from Venice, with stops at historic villas and lunch on board. Delta Tour also operates the hotel barge La Bella Vita for European Waterways, which offers six-night cruises between Venice and Mantua via the Venetian Lagoon and Po River. (See our illustrated cruise review.)

Eolo
Explore the Venetian Lagoon on a restored bragozzo sailboat that was built in 1946 and used for fishing until 1967. Itineraries range from daytime sightseeing trips to multi-night cruises.

Venice Kayak
Paddle around Venice and the Lagoon by the day or week, with an experienced tour guide. (For pictures, see our Venice Travel Blog post.)

In the air:

Heliair Venice
Book a six- to 30-minute private tour by helicopter, with aerial views of the Venetian Lagoon and Venice' s historic center. (See our blog post with videos.)