The sight of Saint Mark’s Basin is beautiful on any visit to Venice, but during Vogalonga the water teams with boats of all shapes and sizes. From tiny one man kayaks to huge Chinese dragon boats with a row of rowers along each side, there are even a few brave swimmers in the water.
The Vogalonga is actually not a race at all but a chance for rowers from Venice, the lagoon and across the globe to get together and enjoy a 30km row to Burano and back. The course starts and finishes at Saint Mark’s Square so this area is likely to be pretty crowded but you can usually get a spot somewhere on the waterfront to watch as the boats head out.
For something a little quieter try the waterfront at Sant’Elena which is near the start of the race, or along the Cannaregio canal. The rowers head back into the city along here on their way back to Saint Mark’s Square so you should be able to find a cafe at the water’s edge to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Anyone who enters the race gets a commemorative medal and a certificate and occasionally random prizes are handed out. You will find the atmosphere in the city will be more of fun than competition and this is a good way to mix with the locals as they will be out in force to see the boats.
It is worth noting that there will be no vaporettos on the Grand Canal between 9am and 3pm as it is closed to motorised traffic in salute to the race, so if you need to get somewhere be prepared to wait or walk.