Venice Kayak often receives requests for kayak rental without a guide.
We always and without exception say no.
The primary reason is safety.
Coming from far away to paddle in unknown waters is not to be taken light-heartedly. It requires preparation and experience. This applies to all places, not only Venice. However, it is even more important in Venice.
Venice is a unique place, and it is not less so on water.
Traffic is far more intense than what most are used to. The range of boats goes from tiny motorboats to some of the world’s largest cruise ships. Traffic jams in the city canals are an everyday occurrence, and if you don’t know when you can go where and when you can’t, unpleasant and even dangerous situations will ensue.
Traffic rules are often based on centuries of tradition, and regularly go counter to the normal navigational rules most paddles are well aware of. You sometimes keep right, sometimes left, at times you can go on either side but not in the middle, and at times you need to knowingly break the rules because its safer to do so. Much is this is not written down anywhere.
The tide running through the city is not very strong, but in the criss cross of canals it can often have some surprising effects. One canal can be nice an quiet, but when you round a corner you’re suddenly going sideways by a knot or more. If that canal is a busy one, which is often is, then its easy to find yourself in front of a 10 tonnes cargo boat or a fast moving taxi (which is a 30+ ft power boat).
There is no such thing in Venice as a paddle in “just the quiet canals” or “avoiding motor boats all together”.
We do not believe it is safe to paddle in Venice without the assistance of somebody with local knowledge. Our guides have that knowledge, and we value that higher than anything else.
Venice Kayak does not do rental.