Tours and Excursions

Gondolas4all: wheelchair-accessible gondola rides

ABOVE: This video from Gondolas4all shows how the service works. (If you'd like to donate to the nonprofit project, click the "Donate Today!" ad in the video.)

Venice is a more accessible city than you might guess, despite its more than 400 footbridges--nearly all with steps. If you plan your sightseeing carefully, you can explore much of the city center by wheelchair over level pavement, using the public vaporetti (water buses) to get from one accessible area to the next. (We cover the basics in our "Accessible Venice" article at Veniceforvisitors.com.)

Still, until recently, you were out of luck if you wanted to enjoy one classic Venice sightseeing experience in a wheelchair: taking a gondola ride. Gondolas4all, a project that launched in spring of 2016, has rendered that limitation obsolete with a wheelchair-friendly pier and gondola next to the Piazzale Roma on the edge of Venice's historic center.

The Gondolas4all pier has a mechanical lift that picks up your wheelchair, slides it horizontally over the gondola, and lowers the wheelchair into the boat. And that's it: Once the wheelchair is in the boat, you and your companions enjoy a standard gondola ride.

For more about Gondolas4all, including a booking form, visit:

www.gondolas4all.com

To see a first-person account of a gondola ride in an electric wheelchair with Gondolas4all with a video), go to:

Martyn Sibley: Gondolas4All in Venice


Where to find Gondolas4all:

The Gondolas4all pier is on the Fondamenta Cossetti, just south of the wheelchair-accessible Hotel Santa Chiara on the Rio Novo next to the Piazzale Roma.

Use the Google Map below to find it, and be sure to book your ride ahead of time. (Gondolas4All is in the rectangular notch on the left side of the canal below the words "Rio Novo." If you zoom in, you'll see "Gondolas4all" on the Google Maps 3D view.)


ACTV Linea 12 lagoon water bus

ACTV Linea 12 motonave

ABOVE: Two No. 12 water buses pass each other in the Venetian Lagoon.

When you're ready for a break from the crowds and urban atmosphere of Venice's historic center, take the ACTV's No. 12 motonave (water bus) from Fondamente Nove to Murano, Burano, and Torcello.

The No. 12 line (formerly "LN," for "Laguna Norte" or "Northern Lagoon") uses widebody boats that can accommodate several hundred passengers.

Boats normally run at least twice per hour during the daytime, with stops at the glassmaking island of Murano, the lacemaking island of Burano with its brightly-painted houses, the bucolic island of Mazzorbo (connected to Burano by a footbridge), the historic island of Torcello with its ancient basilica (check the timetable for boats that stop at Torcello), and--of less interest to tourists--the park-and-ride lots at Treporti and Punta Sabbioni.

If you aren't in a hurry, you can take a self-guided tour of the Lagoon islands and return to Venice's main waterfront above the Piazza San Marco on another ACTV waterbus line. For details, see our Venice Islands Tour article at Veniceforvisitors.com.

To whet your appetite for a tour of the Lagoon, here are more photos of Linea 12:

1. A No. 12 motonave with the Italian Alps in the distance:

ACTV No. 12 water bus and Italian Alps

2. The interior passenger compartment on a Linea 12 water bus:

ACTV No. 12 water bus passenger compartment

3. Arriving at Faro, on the island of Murano:

Faro ACTV stop on Murano

4. The ACTV boat pier on Burano:

ACTV pier on Burano

5. A sailor or marinaio prepares for the boat's arrival at a waterbus stop:

Sailor on ACTV water bus

6. The lavatory on a Linea 12 boat, starting with a view from the window:

ACTV lavatory view

ACTV toilet    ACTV sink

For more information about public transportation in Venice (including 12-hour to 7-day Tourist Travel Cards), see our Local Transportation Index and our Venice Water Buses article at Venice for Visitors.


Le Boat: DIY cruising in Venice and the Veneto

Le Boat Minuetto in Venice

ABOVE: A 44-foot (13.5m) Minuetto cabin cruiser in St. Mark's Basin, Venice.

Avid boaters, take note: You can enjoy a Venetian vacation without giving up a boating holiday. Thanks to Le Boat, you can rent a cabin cruiser in Precenicco or Casale (two riverside towns) and spend anywhere from one to several weeks exploring the inland waterways of Northern Italy--including the Venetian Lagoon and the islands around Venice. If you're pressed for time, you can skip Venice and enjoy a three- to five-night "Friuli Short Break" from Precenicco.

To make your trip planning easier, Le Boat has set up a number of cruise itineraries with recommended routes, activities, and cruising schedules. Each itinerary on Le Boat's Web site features a map, basic information (distance, cruising time, number of locks, and number of bridges), and illustrated descriptions of towns, villages, and resorts along the way.

Le Boat's cabin cruisers accommodate two to 12 passengers, and you can book a boat any time between mid-April and mid-October.

For more information, see the Italy pages at www.leboat.com.

Disclaimer: We haven't cruised with Le Boat (we've never piloted any boat larger than a canoe), but Le Boat claims to own and operate the largest fleet of self-drive cruisers on Europe's waterways, and the company has been in business for more than 40 years. You can read reviews from past renters on Le Boat's Web site.

Here are some more photos, courtesy of Le Boat:

 

Le Boat Minuetto interior
ABOVE: Minuetto (interior)

Le-boat-vision-ext-425
ABOVE: Vision (exterior)

Le-boat-vision-int-w-family-425
ABOVE: Vision (interior)