The best thing to do in Venice that almost no one knows about

There are 177 canals in Venice. It isn’t surprising then to know that the best only way to get around the city is by boat (or by foot if you fancy traipsing around using the 400-odd bridges). There are gondalas, buses and speedboats at a tourist’s disposal to navigate the bluey green waters of this gorgeous archipelago, but perhaps the best way to see Venice is one of the most obscure. Have you considered getting around via kayak?

No, not fabulous flight comparison website

My boyfriend and I had never been in a kayak before, but I somehow stumbled upon a kayaking tour offered by a local company when planning our Italian escape, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try something that sounded so bizarre. I am so glad we did!

We booked with Venice Kayak and the process was really easy and quick. They offered a morning or afternoon tour at the time so we opted for the morning but when we arrived, they upgraded us to a day tour (woohoo, free stuff!). We’d gone in late March but the weather was glorious. It was perfectly warm and very sunny – an ideal kayaking situation. We had to get a bus to the island the company was based on – Certosa – which was easy. We met our guide Lucia and because we and the other couple were kayaking newbies, she spent 30-45 minutes ‘training’ us in how to use it safely. Within an hour of arriving we were in the water and getting used to paddling forwards, backwards and moving side to side (or in my case, around in a wobbly circle).

The next 3 to 4 hours were truly amazing. We paddled across the lagoon to the canal city and began following Lucia around, and she thankfully took lots of awesome photos as we went around (removing the risk of dropping your phone). At first it was a little scary dodging gondolas (parked and moving!), but after about an hour we all felt like pros at navigating the waters. We stopped for lunch (not included in the tour price) in a really beautiful, very Italian spot and then ventured out towards the Grand Canal. We also had a quick stop right next to the Doge’s Palace for photos.

The magic of seeing the canals of Venice from the water cannot be overstated. It was awe-inspiring and perfectly combined the fun of kayaking with the majesty of Venetian architecture. Lucia, our guide, was so knowledgeable and passionate about the city and it was awesome to explore ‘real’ Venice with her – for us, it was equally rewarding to see local people’s floating houses as well as the huge palaces and churches.

I can’t recommend Venice Kayak enough. The day tours are 125 Euros per person (approximately £115/$140) which for 4-5 hours of kayaking is amazing. Do yourself a favour and ensure you book this activity for your trip to Venice!

Unfortunately in 2018 the Venetian government banned kayaking in many of the canals of Venice reflecting their preference for noisy, damaging petrol boats over eco-friendly, quieter means of travel, but hopefully they will revise this decision soon. In the meantime, Venice Kayak tours are even less frequent and more limited so if you do get an opportunity to try this out, please don’t miss it!

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