The 7 Best Venice Gondola Rides [2022 Reviews]

Don't leave Venice until you enjoy a private gondola ride to see the sites most people don't get to see

If you’re going to be in Venice, you absolutely have to take a gondola ride. Not only is it something that is so uniquely Venetian, but it is also the only way you’re going to see some of the most amazing parts of the city!

While it may be “touristy”, it’s just something that’s a must, just like seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

However, these rides can be a bit pricey, so to get the best bang for your buck we bring you the top Venice gondola rides available!

Best Venice Gondola Tours

 Venice: Private Gondola Ride Along Canal GrandeVenice: Grand Canal Private Gondola Ride and SerenadeVenice: Private Gondola Ride with Photo Shoot

Best Value Ride

Best Romantic Ride

Best Ride & Photo Shoot

editors choice
Venice: Private Gondola Ride along Canal Grande  Venice: Grand Canal Private Gondola Ride and Serenade Venice: Private Gondola Ride with Photo Shoot
Departure:Gondola station in front of Hotel BauerCampo Santo StefanoHotel pickup and drop-off included
Start:9:30 AM - 6:30 PM 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Duration:30 to 45 minutes30 minutes2 hours
Includes:Private gondola ride, inside information about VenicePrivate 30-minute gondola ride, live music with serenade, Skip-the-line accessEnglish-speaking tour, guide, private 30-minute gondola ride, professional photographer

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking


Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Venice Gondola Rides For 2022

  1. Best Value Ride: Venice Private Gondola Ride along Canal Grande
  2. Best Romantic Ride: Venice Grand Canal Private Gondola Ride and Serenade
  3. Best Ride: & Photo Shoot: Venice Private Gondola Ride with Photo Shoot
  4. Best Sightseeing Ride: Venice 1-Hour Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal with Guide
  5. Best Luxury Ride: Gondola + Gala Dinner in Venetian Palace
  6. Best Evening Ride: Venice Private Gondola Ride by Night
  7. Best Private Ride: Venice Private 45-Minute Gondola Ride

Venice Gondola Tour Reviews

1. Best Value Ride: Venice Private Gondola Ride Along Canal Grande

Venice: Private Gondola Ride along Canal Grande

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Departure: Meet at the gondola station in front of Hotel Bauer, just a 2-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square
  • Departure Time: 9:30 AM – 6:30 PM
  • Includes: Private gondola ride, inside information about Venice

Our first tour is one of the most well-rated excursions, consistently, and we can see why. The Venice: Private Gondola Ride Along Canal Grande lasts anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes but is easily one of the best experiences guests have in Venice!

With limited visitors, it’s not as crowded as it’s been in the past, for a more “authentic” experience as well! You’ll start off by meeting your guide at the gondola station in front of Hotel Bauer, which is just a few blocks from Mark’s Square.

The gondoliers are very kind, and really will teach you a lot about the city – even if you’re already well-versed in Venetian history! While there are various start options to choose from, we really like doing the ride around sunset or dusk.

The sun perfectly reflects off of the water, offering an even more romantic feel!

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Start by boarding an authentic gondola, where your gondolier will give you a very quick safety briefing and answer any questions you may have.

Start by cruising down the Canal Grande – an infamous part of Italian history! Along the way, you’ll get to see all kinds of historic sights, including the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, St. Mark’s Square, Fenice Opera House, Punta della Dogana, and much more.

We also thought it was pretty fun to pass under a shorter bridge, where you can see spots only reachable by gondola. With an included, free mobile app, it will offer commentary in your language as well as interesting stories of this area.

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


2. Best Romantic Ride: Venice Grand Canal Private Gondola Ride and Serenade

 Venice: Grand Canal Private Gondola Ride and Serenade

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Departure: Campo Santo Stefano
  • Departure Time: 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM
  • Includes: Private 30-minute gondola ride, live music with serenade, Skip-the-line access

Speaking of romance, our next tour really ramps it up with a full-blown serenade! If you like the idea of professional musicians singing famous Italian songs to you while you glide down the Grand Canal on an authentic gondola, then you’re in the right place!

The Venice: Grand Canal Private Gondola Ride and Serenade offers all that and more! Aside from enjoying some authentic Italian food, this may be the best 30 minutes you’ll spend in Venice and it’s hard not to take advantage of this tour more than once!

On this ride, you get the option of starting at either 10 am or 7 pm, though we recommend trying both! If you do decide on the 7 pm ride, you’ll experience twilight glimmering off of the calm canal waters which just amplifies this magical time.

This is the city’s most traditional mode of transport, and really offers insight into the lifestyle that Venetian locals lived back then.

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Sit back and enjoy being serenaded by professional musicians – from vocalists to guitarists to accordion players! While you listen to the beautiful music, you will be able to feel the fresh breeze and enjoy the incredible views of historical palaces, bridges, and more!

Glide under the infamous Accademia Bridge, which is one of just 4 bridges to cross the Grand Canal.

However, this one really stands out with its pure wood, modern construction! It’s used to quickly travel from San Marco to the cool Dorsoduro neighborhood.

There’s plenty of Byzantine and Rococo architecture to awe, and make mental notes to check them out more close-up later!

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


3. Best Ride & Photo Shoot: Venice Private Gondola Ride with Photo Shoot

Venice: Private Gondola Ride with Photo Shoot

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off included
  • Departure Time: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Includes: English-speaking tour, guide, private 30-minute gondola ride, professional photographer

Venice is already a memorable place that just demands to have photos taken of it. However, if you’re traveling with your significant other or even by yourself and would like professional photos to remember the trip, this is one of the best options out there!

The Venice: Private Gondola Ride with Photo Shoot is a bit longer than the other tours we’ve covered so far but the extra time is for more photo ops!

Lasting 2 hours, you’ll be lead by a tour escort which will take you not only through the most popular route, but to the more hidden spots of Venice not everyone gets to see.

All the while, you have a personal photographer with you to capture these moments so you can hang them on the wall and enjoy them for many years to come.

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Your guide will meet you at your hotel so you know exactly where to go, and as they are native Venetians they’ll show you all kinds of little nooks and crannies throughout your journey to the canal.

Say “goodbye” to selfies that don’t usually capture the timeless beauty of the canal and surrounding architecture that dates back hundreds of years.

Sail through charming little passageways and don’t worry about posing or anything like that. Your professional personal photographer will take care of everything for you.

Once you’re finished with the ride, your photographer will later send you your photo book through Dropbox so the quality isn’t affected. This makes it easy to print them out or share online or with family! They make great holiday cards and gifts, too!

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


4. Best Sightseeing Ride: Venice 1-Hour Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal with Guide

Venice: 1-Hour Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal with Guide

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Departure: Santa Maria del Giglio gondola station, Campiello Traghetto 2467, next to Hotel Gritti Palace
  • Departure Time: 10:00 AM & 3:00 PM
  • Includes: 1-hour private gondola ride, personal guide

If you’re going along with a few more people, then this is the gondola tour for you. The Venice: 1-Hour Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal with Guide tour lets you bring up to 5 people along for the ride, so everyone can enjoy this incredible ride!

The guides make it such a fun time, telling funny anecdotes and providing history lessons while you take in the stunning views of the surrounding architecture.

The entire Canal Grande area is charming and quite enthralling, but once you learn more about its history, even more so! This is what we really enjoyed about this ride – that it was much more than just riding in a gondola (though that’s fun too!).

We love this tour for surprises among family members and friends! Even if you know someone who wouldn’t normally go on a canal ride on a gondola, this is such an incredible experience!

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The guides are so friendly, and most are locals so they know quite a bit of the island’s history, along with how canals were used for a significant mode of transportation.

Make sure to watch the surrounding architecture, such as Pass Ca Dario, Casanova’s home, Palazzo Grassi, Ca Bembo, Ca Rezzonico, Ca Pesaro, Rialto Bridge, Mozart’s home, Campo Manin, and much more!

They’ll teach you about the La Serenissima’s history, along with the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (another you should check out if you have the time!).

All of these sights are enthralling on their own, but with the added history lessons from the guide, you’ll really see them from a different perspective!

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


5. Best Luxury Ride: Gondola + Gala Dinner in Venetian Palace

Gondola + Gala Dinner in Venetian Palace

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup in Venice islands or San Marco Square
  • Departure Time: 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
  • Includes: Tour escort, aperitif and dinner

Perhaps you’re looking for a gondola tour that’s a bit longer than most others. Or maybe you are on the hunt for a tour that is so typically Venetian, with a romantic twist. Either way, we recommend you check out the Gondola + Gala Dinner in Venetian Palace.

This 2.5-hour tour is the perfect date night activity, featuring a charming private gondola ride with an experienced local gondolier, aperetivo and dinner in a luxe location, along with a romantic tour.

If you want to do something really special for your significant other, this is really an incredible option. Start off by meeting in front of Museo Dell’Accademia, where you’ll meet your guide and board your private gondola.

Cruise around the cool canal, where you’ll be able to feel the breeze through your hair while you check out the palaces and other significant pieces of architecture on land.

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You’ll also see just how convenient this mode of transportation is, and how so much of the city is only accessible by these routes.

As you cruise, your guide will either let you talk amongst yourselves or you can all chat and learn about the city. Whatever works best for you.

You’ll see that opposite the canal, is one of the most important palaces in all of Venice. Hundreds of years ago, nobles would dance at elegant balls with walls hung with famous paintings and frescoes.

Today, it serves a much different purpose as it’s now a boutique hotel where you’ll get to spend a romantic evening with a glass of wine, delicious dinner, and incomparable views.

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


6. Best Evening Ride: Venice Private Gondola Ride by Night

Venice: Private Gondola Ride by Night

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Departure: Fondamenta Cossetti, 30135 Venice, Italy
  • Departure Time: 7:00 PM, 7:30 PM, 8:00 PM
  • Includes: Roughly 30-minute private gondola ride, all taxes, fees, and handling charges

If you have a full day planned but still want to experience a gondola tour, there are also night tours available! The Venice: Private Gondola Ride by Night is a great way to spend an evening before dinner or maybe grab an espresso or treat afterward.

Whether you go with your significant other or with friends, we’re sure you’ll love experiencing the Grand Canal at dusk. While Venice certainly is magical in the daylight, it offers a different, enchanting vibe once the sun sets.

The lights in the surrounding buildings turn on, glittering off the calm waters to create a real-life image that looks like a work of art come to life. This 30-minute gondola ride allows you to see the city as it was made so many years ago, with this traditional mode of transportation.

Your guide will tell you all about the city’s history, how the gondolas came to be, and the kind of lifestyle Venetians lived back in the day.

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Not only that, but you’ll learn how they’re still a crucial part of this famous city’s daily operations!

It’s interesting to see how some of the canal is so big – almost like the size of a river – while others are much smaller and pass under short bridges.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, there were easily over 10,000 gondolas operating regularly on the canals. Today, there are around 400 so you can imagine just how busy the waters used to be!

You’ll have a great time learning about each gondola’s symbolic significances, such as the 5 or 6 pettini or prongs, which refer to the districts of the city! The iron “S” is also meant to refer to the flow of the Canal Grande.

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


7. Best Private Ride: Venice Private 45-Minute Gondola Ride

Venice: Private 45-Minute Gondola Ride

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Departure: S. Moisè Gondola Pier on Calle Larga XXII Marzo
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Includes: Private 45-minute gondola ride

Next up, we bring you the Venice: Private 45-Minute Gondola Ride. This ride fits up to 5 guests, where you’ll get to see parts of the city you wouldn’t get to without sailing through the Grand Canal.

Your experienced guide will navigate through the waters, teaching you all about the gondolas and their significance in Venetian history in just less than an hour!

Start out by meeting your guide just a few minutes away from St. Mark’s Square, where they’ll help you board the private gondola.

If you’re looking to just peacefully experience the calm waters of the canal, along with the beautiful architecture that surrounds it, this is the tour for you.

Not everyone is into gondola rides where the gondolier talks the entire time or where musicians serenade you onboard.

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Perhaps you’d like a romantic evening with a significant other where you just talk amongst yourselves.

This ride lets you check out significant buildings such as various palaces, and famous bridges in Venice such as Rialto Bridge. The Rialto Bridge was originally constructed towards the end of the 16th century, and is simply magnificent!

It’s quite robust, with intricate details that make it feel like you’re in a movie! As the oldest bridge that crosses the canal, it evokes that Renaissance spirit in every way.

Make sure to take note of places you see along the way that you’d like to explore more once you get back on land! This view of Venice definitely allows you to see things from a different perspective!

 

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


Venice Tour Guide

best venice gondola rides

In TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards 2020, Venice was ranked as the #3 Top Destination in the World. This is no surprise for a city famous for its food, art, and architecture.

Getting There –

If you’re looking to fly directly in to Venice, you’ll fly into either Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) or Treviso Airport (TSF). However, VCE is the city’s primary airport and you’re likely to find more flights that serve this one. Treviso is about an hour north of Venice, so it’s not quite as convenient.

There are various airlines that have direct flights to Marco Polo Airport, but the majority are just during the high season (spring, summer, autumn). Delta Airlines, US Airways, and Alitalia all are great options.

Getting Around –

We hope you enjoy walking, because that’s genuinely the best form of transportation in Venice. While there are plenty of canals that also work well in many cases, walking is just the most efficient.

Water – You can travel the canals to get from point A to point B through vaporetto or water bus, water taxi, or gondola. The gondola is a bit expensive, so outside of going on tours you may not want to use them as your main source of transportation. However, the vaporetto/water bus is pretty cheap. Depending on where you are, you may even have to take a vaporetto to get to your destination!

Bus – If you’re heading from the VCE airport to the Venice city center, we recommend taking the ATVO bus (Venice Airport Bus Express).

Walking – Venice’s cobblestone streets are wonderful for taking a calm stroll through the city and exploring. We recommend instead of using a map, you watch out for the landmark signs which are easy to spot.

Where to Stay –

Each Venice neighborhood or sestiere has its pros and cons. So, think about for a moment what your priorities are. Do you want a quieter location that’s farther away from the main tourist sites or do you want to be in the middle of all the hustle-and-bustle?

San Marco – This is tourist central, and is really the center of Venice, too. Here, you will find the infamous St. Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, Rialto Bridge, and the meeting point for most of your gondola tours! If you want to be close to pretty much all of the hottest spots and restaurants, this is the neighborhood to stay in.

Luckily, there’s something for every budget, here. Hotel Serenissima is the most affordable while still maintaining good quality. Hotel Firenze is a step up, and located very close to St. Mark’s Square. If you’re going all out, Gritti Palace is the hotel. Luxury doesn’t even begin to describe this place, and its jaw-dropping views!

San Polo – This is yet another central Venice neighborhood, and the fact that Rialto Bridge is located smack dab in the middle draws a lot of tourists. However, if you just want to walk out of your hotel and into the biggest tourist draws then you’re in the right place!

Ca’ Angeli Hotel is a mid-range hotel with beautiful Grand Canal views, and the Rialto Bridge is literally a 7-minute walk away. Santa Lucia Station is also just a few minutes away walking, making it much easier to get around.

Dorsoduro – Dorsoduro is another top neighborhood, as it’s still pretty close to the top attractions while still far enough that you don’t have to worry about tons of crowds or noise. For us, this is one of the best choices you can make. You’re very close to Accademia, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Campo Margherita, Zattere, and more.

Pensione Accademia – Villa Maravege hotel is a great midrange option with some beautiful views of the canal. If you want something a bit more affordable (but absolutely stunning!), check out Hotel Ca’ Nobile Corner. For the best of the best, Palazzo Veneziano is the way to go.

Santa Croce – Here, you’ll find all the main transportation hubs, like Piazzale Roma bus station, tons of ferry terminals, and even massive parking garages! While Santa Croce doesn’t have many tourist attractions, it’s much cheaper here and offers some insight into the authentic local way of life. Not to mention, it’s still quite convenient to hop on a water taxi or bus and get anywhere else in just a few minutes. If you choose to walk, St. Mark’s Square is just 20 minutes away!

Restaurants and Eating Out –

As you can imagine, Venice is definitely a city where good food is prevalent on just about every street corner. However, it’s also a city where you really need to plan where you eat. Just like any other tourist-heavy city, you can easily fall into eating at overpriced tourist trap restaurants if you haven’t done your research. If you can, definitely make reservations as soon as you can.

Osteria alle Testiere – We love the way this charming restaurant showcases the city’s history as a global trading center. It may be ultra-small (only 10 tables in the whole place!) but it’s worth it. It doesn’t have a Michelin star, but it’s fresh and delicious. Each day’s menu goes off of the closely-located Rialto Market’s fresh catch, and you can expect dishes like delicate spider crab, big mantis shrimp, and other seafood delights. Don’t forget to try the Bronte Pistachio Flour Cake!

Corte Sconta – Located on the main island near Arsenal, it’s a lovely courtyard environment with a fish-heavy menu featuring traditional dishes like sarde in saor (sardines marinated in vinegar). Their Venetian-style tuna with white polenta perfectly combines an array of interesting textures and flavors.

Il Paradiso Perduto – If you enjoy the thought of eating delicious seafood at large, shared tables with locals then Il Paradiso Perduto is a spot you need to hit. Located in a kind of basement, it’s rustic yet everyone seems friendly and buzzing with positive energy.

Trattoria Ca d’Oro alla Vedova – Are you a meatball fan? If you aren’t, you will be after coming to Trattoria Ca d’Oro alla Vedova. With copper pots hanging from the ceiling, it has a very rustic, young, quirky vibe that is also a pleasant environment to be in. The Polpetta crispy meatballs are a must-try, but their local pasta with anchovies and parsley is also delicious.

Osteria La Zucca – This place is one of the top vegan and vegetarian spots for locals and tourists, alike. However, even if you aren’t into vegan food, you have to come here for the pumpkin flan!

Nightlife and Entertainment –

Venice isn’t a really party-heavy city. While there are plenty of bars, pubs, and even some nice clubs to choose from, it’s not the main event. We recommend checking out Venice Jazz Club, BAR El Borrachero, and Piccolo Mondo Disco.

Venice Jazz Club – This is such a classy place in line with much of the city’s history. They have a fantastic house quartet that plays the most famous jazz tunes as well as many modern ones. It’s a great little place to relax and enjoy a nice cocktail.

BAR El Borrachero – This is a very popular place with locals, and many students often come here on the weekends. It’s nothing big or fancy, but the tiny bar has consistently good drinks and food and the vibe is on point.

Piccolo Mondo – Touted as “the oldest and only disco in Venice”, Piccolo Mondo is a great time. Having started in the 60’s, it was originally named “El Souk” by Peggy Guggenheim when it was once an art gallery! It soon transformed into a cocktail lounge and then a disco and nightclub. Live music, DJs – they have it all!

Weather –

Weather will play a huge role in your Venice experience. While September to November tends to have the least amount of tourists and crowds, it’s for a good reason. When it starts getting colder, it can get pretty windy and flood a bit. For a city that relies so heavily on walking everywhere, this can put a damper on things. However, it can also rain quite a bit in the summertime but it’s just more pleasant because it’s warmer. Between October and January, Venice’s water levels rise quite a bit!

Attractions –

Where do we even begin? The great part about Venice is that it’s not so massive that you will feel like you missed out. Just walking around the center of the city, you’re likely to run into some of the top tourist attractions. However, let’s go ahead and cover them anyway.

St. Mark’s Basilica – As the city’s best-known church, it was originally the Doge’s private chapel. With Byzantine architecture and art brought back from Venetian ships after Constantinople’s fall, it’s absolutely stunning. The incredible Pala d’Oro altarpiece made of gold, features thousands of precious stones and gems. To really appreciate it, you need to take a tour of St Mark’s Basilica.

Piazza San Marco – This is the city’s biggest square, surrounded by gorgeous buildings on 3 sides. This is the kind of place where people love to gather for chats, coffee, a nice walk around, or whatever else. Around here, you’ll find all kinds of cafes, cute ships, and of course, St. Mark’s Basilica. Just make sure that if you go in-between October to March, you know that this plaza basically turns into a lagoon.

Palazzo Ducale/Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs – The Bridge of Sighs isn’t open to public tours, but if you take a private tour you’ll be able to walk across and into the dark cells of the Prigioni. These prisons became known around the world because Casanova infamously escaped from here. Doge’s Palace is impressive on its own, with its gothic appearance and detailed architecture.

Ponte di Rialto – Built back in the late 1500’s, the Rialto Bridge is where the island’s first settlement was constructed! The bridge as we know it today was actually rebuilt from the original wooden bridge that collapsed. Now, the bridge supports two main streets and various shops.

Torre dell’Orologio/Clock Tower – This is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Venice. The clocktower comes with 2 bronze Moors which strike the big bell each hour. The face of the clock is beautiful, with the moon and zodiac glimmering against a blue background.

Santa Maria della Salute – Another one of the most famous churches in Venice, it looks like a painting! The Baroque church was built as a “thank you” for the plague ending in 1630! Due to the enormous heft of the structure, the architect, Baldassare Longhena has more than a million timbers driven into the floor of the lagoon before it could be fully constructed!

Scuola Grande di San Rocco – This White marble building was built in the 1500’s for a charitable society. Once it was completed, the 16th-century local artist, Tintoretto painted a central panel of the ceiling and later decorated the walls.

Tips –

  1. Venice is actually quite an elegant, stylish city. Trust us when we say that you’re going to stand out like a sore thumb if you come in more dressed-down or raggedy clothes. This isn’t the place to don gym apparel everywhere, though you should bring a good pair of sneakers or walking shoes. You don’t have to wear a dress or suit everywhere, but it’s always a good idea to have it handy.
  2. Bring an umbrella! It could realistically rain at any time in Venice, and while many hotels supply them, it’s not a bad idea to bring one along.
  3. Learn some Italian. No, you don’t have to become fluent before you arrive. Just learn some of the basics to be able to communicate and get around a bit easier.
  4. Don’t tip too little nor too much. Something between 5 and 10 euros when you’ve received good service is ideal.
  5. Don’t worry too much on having a set-in-stone plan. Just walking around Venice freely can be an amazing time. The narrow streets can be confusing and you’re likely to get lost at least a couple of times but you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised each time with what you find along the way.
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The Private Gondola Ride along Canal Grande is our Editor's Choice for the best Venice gondola ride.

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Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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