Paddling in Venice is not without its risks and dangers. Traffic is often intimidating, space on the water is cramped and limited, and the rules are far from obvious.

Venice is not a beach. It is not a place where you can fool around in any odd boat, expecting the others to adapt to your leisurely ways.

Traffic in Venice can be heavy and it can be fast, in spite of the formal rules. Huge cargo boats move goods around the city and have limited manoeuvrability due to their size and weight, taxis often go far faster then they’re allowed to with little regard for other users of the canals, and the gondolas move in their mysterious ways which are only decipherable if you know how to row alla veneta.

Taxis close up

Many canals are very narrow, and knowing exactly where you place yourself on the water and what to look out for is essential for safe paddling in Venice.

Most canals are only a few metres wide, so there’s not much room to evade oncoming boats. Knowing not only the rules but also the exceptions and the unwritten customs are essential for safe paddling in Venice.

The formal traffic rules in Venice are actually three different regulations, made by three different authorities: the city council, the harbour authority and the province of Venice. The waters can pass from one rule set to another as your round a corner or exit a canal.

Taxi gondola and cargo boat

Safety first

Safety rule number one for any kind of boating is: know your waters. If you don’t it is very easy to get in trouble.

Venice Kayak does not offer kayak rentals.

Venice Kayak puts safety first. We’ll rather cancel or reroute a tour than run any needless risks. Our guides have years of experience negotiating the city canals and its traffic, to ensure your safety on our tours.

Legally, any kind of rental requires a specific license which Venice Kayak does not have. Therefore, we cannot make any exceptions.