The city of Venice issued yet another ban on kayaking in the city canals on June 3rd, 2019, and Venice Kayak has taken the city administration to court yet again.

This is becoming a never ending story.

The short version

The current status is that we can kayak in almost all the minor canals in the city but not paddling in or crossing the Grand Canal and some other more busy (but for us less important) canals.

We can paddle in these canals all day, without limitations.

In practice it means that we can paddle in all of the sestieri Castello and Cannaregio.

Venice Kayak is therefore operating almost as before, except we can go in the Grand Canal.

The detailed version

The city administrations decision 390/2019 of June 3rd contains two parts.

The first is a total ban on kayaking in the Grand Canal and any other canal where public transport is operating, such as the Canale Cannaregio and the Canale Scomenzera. This part is almost certainly instigated by ACTV, the public transport company, which claims that they’ve had problems with kayaks and SUPs getting in the way of the vaporetti. While this might very well be true, as there are other kayak and SUP operators in the city, they haven’t provided any concrete proof of anything. It’s just their word.

The second part limits paddling in a series of named city canals to before 7am and after 5pm, thus basically ruling out paddling in the city during the day. Apparently so, at least.

The relevant disputed words are (translated by VK): “and the remaining canals of the limited traffic area in the lagoon.”

Any normal reading of these words by anybody who knows Venice well, would be that we cannot paddle anywhere within the jurisdiction of the Comune di Venezia, as ‘canal’ would normally be taken to mean generally a waterway.

However, once in court, the city’s lawyers pulled out an alternative interpretation, which we have in writing, that it only refers to the waterways that actually have the word ‘canal’ in their name.

The city administration has also provided us with official maps indicating one (1) such canal in Venice, one (1) in Murano and one (1) in Burano, where we’re therefore not allowed to go between 7am and 5pm. The canal in Burano is closed to normal traffic as there’s a bridge at street level impeding traffic.

In all the other canals, which have the word ‘rio’ in their name instead of ‘canale’, we can go without limitations.

This does make one think that the city didn’t expect us to have the resources to do a second legal recourse, and when we did it anyway, they decided that it was more important saving the first part of the decision than the second, which they have then hollowed out to appease us.


3 responses to “Yes we can!”

  1. YAnnick Vericel avatar
    YAnnick Vericel


    nice website with a lot of information on the navigations rules in kayaks. I would like to know if there is new regulation or if it’s the 2019 rules the last.

    I do kayak in Venice from a lot of years and each time I try to becarefull to the other users. A lot of time, taxi and other help me, Surely because I pay attention to the other user.

    Do you know where I can find new map of forbidden area and authorized area ? And some thing I search from a lot of time … the map of Venice with the way (I don’t know how to explain … to know if we can take a canal or Rio in double way or just on the right or just on the left). Thanks. Best regards Yannick

    1. René Seindal avatar
      René Seindal

      As far as I know the rules are as of 2019.

      I’m convinced they were changed to accommodate the taxi cooperatives and transport companies, and with the pandemic they have probably had other things on their mind.

      I no longer do the kayaking tours. The company Venice Kayak is still there, but it is run by others now. If there’s been any changes, they’ll know for sure.

      In any case, enjoy your paddling and I do hope you won’t have problems.


      1. René Seindal avatar
        René Seindal

        I’ve taken the liberty of adding your site to Paddling Planet.

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