This article first appeared in the May 2009 issue of Dream of Italy and was updated in 2018.
“When we paddle around Venice, we’re away and separate from the crowd on land. They don’t matter to us, and we’re just another weird thing to photograph,” says René Seindal, co-founder of Venice Kayak. Getting away from tourist hordes and into the winding canals that make Venice so unique offers visitors perhaps the most authentic view and experience of the city.
With his co-founder Marco Ballarin, Seindal has been leading kayakers of varying levels through Venetian canals since summer 2008. Ballarin is a native of Venice, and a seasoned kayak and canoe instructor holding Italy’s highest certification level, as well as a marine guide certification.
Seindal is Danish, and has extensively studied and traveled in Italy for the past 15 years. The duo is passionate about showing visitors the real Venice — the parts of the city that can only be seen by authorized watercrafts, and that are almost never traveled by gondolas. Tours include some of the outer islands of Venice such as Murano and Burano.
There are multiple touring options and beginners are always welcome. Routes are agreed on at the start of the day, based on individual or group interests, skills and the weather and tide. Some groups prefer to venture under the Rialto Bridge, see the city’s “secret” canals, or take in the magnificent views of palaces along the Grand Canal. “We can take people to places most Venetians don’t even know exist,” Seindal said.
Evening paddles, which are only offered as part of a multi-day package, include a stop for dinner, and allow kayakers to see the city’s finest land features, including the Lido and Piazza San Marco, at night when the city is quietly stunning. Most guests say the evening paddle “is the most spectacular” option, Seindal explained.
Half-day trips start at 95€ per person. Full-day trips are 125€. For more information, call (39) 346 4771327 or visit the Venice Kayak website.
— Sarah Amandolare