A Beginner’s Guide to Boating in Italy


We partnered up with sailing holiday experts Le Boat earlier this year, so you can now cruise your own way into Venice or Padua. I tested the waters at the Le Boat HQ last month and have some tips for boating beginners…

Choose your route wisely

Venice canal

Check the difficulty levels of each tour. You might fancy going straight for the Grand Canal in Venice, but beginners are actually more suited to finding their sea legs in the calm waters of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. It’s all canals, chocolate-box villages and placid rivers here – and they’re just a short hop away from the beaches of the Venetian Riviera.

Choosing an easier route doesn’t mean you don’t get to go to Venice, either. You could always stay in Venice before or after your trip, leaving you extra time to explore the city’s tangle of canals and bridges.

Get stuck in

Le Boat bridge

I quickly found that sailing is really, really fun – even for the clueless! I hadn’t been at the wheel of a boat before; in fact, I hadn’t even been at the wheel of a car. Luckily, most Le Boat vessels are made for beginners, so you don’t have to learn how to tie a clove hitch or how to handle sails.

That said, you also don’t get thrown straight into the unknown. When you pick up your boat in Italy, you’ll get a briefing session that covers the ins and outs of your vessel and teaches you how to navigate the local waterways.

Read the boat guides

Le Boat manuals

Don’t panic if you can’t remember everything from your briefing – each boat comes with a supply of folders filled with step-by-step instructions on how to do everything from mooring up (easier than you think) to river etiquette.

You also get a load of maps. They’re really straightforward and give you an idea on where to stop along the way, as well as offering contact information should you need help en route.

Bring wine and binoculars

Le Boat sundeck

One of the best things about sailing is not sailing! There’s nothing like mooring up at the edge of a millpond-still river in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, where canals practically outnumber people. The boats are designed for moments like this, so you’ll have a deck with wineglass holders and a fridge with plenty of room for bubbly.

These moments of stillness are also when the wildlife usually makes an appearance. The peaceful Italian waterways are a magnet for long-legged red herons and deer.

There’s more space than you think

Boat kitchen

The boats are ingeniously designed so that everything from family-sized tables to barbecues slot in without ever cluttering the boat. Vessels such as the Mystique are built for families or groups of friends, thanks to the three tidy cabins.

Chat with our Italy Experts

Moored boat with autumn leaves

If you’ve got more questions, our Italy Experts can give you the full lowdown on our new boating holidays in Venice – just give them a call on 01293 733479* for a chat.

Tempted to take to the water? Have a look at our Venetian boating holidays for more info on routes.

*01293 calls are charged at your provider’s local or national rate.