Being one of the world’s most popular cities in terms of tourism, Venice has no shortage of popular tourist attractions. More than 20 million people visit the City of Canals every year to see some of the city’s most popular features like the St. Mark Basilica, Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs… I’ll stop here because this list might get very long. However, there are also a handful of hidden gems in Venice; non-touristy places that most visitors aren’t aware of. In this post, we’ll focus on them.
But first things first…
Helpful Resources For Visiting Venice
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If you’re planning a trip to Italy, check out our guide on spending 10 days in Italy for some help and if you’re looking to discover some places off the beaten track, check out our favorite hidden gems in Italy.
For some budget saving tips, take a look at our guide to visiting Italy on a budget.
Tours Of Hidden Places In Venice
In Venice, you’ll find hundreds of different tour operators and tour options. To save you some time, we have highlighted some of our favorite tours of hidden gems in Venice. We hope you’ll find this helpful and have a great time on your upcoming trip.
If you’re looking to visit some unusual, quirky places in Venice, check out The Hidden Venice Unusual Walking Tour. Alternatively, if you’re into dark tourism and visiting haunted places, you’ll probably enjoy one of these tours
And last but not least, Venetian Mysteries Guided Walking Tour.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to cover places that are not very famous and most tourists haven’t heard about them, you might consider one of the following tours:
And finally, if you prefer exploring during the night time, consider Highlights and Hidden Gems Night Walking Tour.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure and like exploring on your own, you’ll probably enjoy the Venice Self-Guided City Discovery Game or The Alternative City Discovery Game. Both tours are designed in a similar fashion; you play a riddle game and by solving it you discover the hidden gems in Venice, one by one.
Alternatively, if you prefer to have a guide and have some flexibility in choosing the places to visit, you may consider private guided tours like the Off the Beaten Track Private City Tour or the Secret City Gardens Walking Tour.
And last but not least, if you’re looking for a food tour that will allow you to explore the finest culinary gems and treasures of Venice, our recommendation is The Local Secrets of Venice Tapa & Wine Walking Tour.
With that being said, let’s proceed with our list of the best hidden gems in Venice…
Explore The Palazzo Grimani Di San Luca
Located a short walk away from St. Mark’s Square, Palazzo Grimani surprisingly is relatively unknown to tourists. It’s a beautiful Renaissance-style palace built in the 16th century and is famous for its grandiose central atrium and facade decorated with Corinthian columns. An interesting but unknown fact about the palace is that it served as an inspiration to architect Stanford White when designing the iconic Tiffany and Company building in New York.
Avoid The Crowds In Campo Santa Margherita
Campo Santa Margherita is a vibrant, authentic square located in the sestiere of Dorsoduro. Among locals, the area is famous as one of the best bohemian places in town. During the day, the square hosts one of the most colorful flea markets in Venice and during the night, the area comes to life when all the bars, cafes, and eateries in the area get filled with people. The square is also home to the headquarters of the Italian Socialist Party and Casa del Popolo (the People’s House).
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Discover The Jewish Ghetto Of Venice
The area of today’s Cannaregio was the first ghetto to ever be built in Europe. In 1516, the local authorities built the ghetto for the city’s small Jewish population that was exiled onto the small island just outside of the city. Despite this somewhat dark history, the area is very vibrant and famous for its display of Jewish culture. If you’re looking to explore this beautiful but underrated part of Venice, check out this amazing Jewish Ghetto Walking Tour.
Admire The Flooded Crypt Of San Zaccaria
San Zaccaria is a beautiful 15th-century Gothic church with a beautiful exterior that’s a fascinating sample of Venetian renaissance architecture and the interior is equally as impressive. However, what makes this place one of the most unique hidden gems in Venice is the underground crypt which is filled with water from the surrounding canals. Interestingly, there was another church on the site in the 9th century and the crypt is home to the tombs of the doges from the church’s initial tenure.
Eat Like A Local At All’Arco
If you’re looking for an authentic Venetian eating experience, All’Arco should be one of your first choices. Technically classified as a bar, All’Arco is a quant place offering a wide range of light seafood and meat bites. It’s one of the favorite aperitivo places among locals because of its affordable prices, delicious food, a wide range of drinks, and its terrace with a beautiful view where you can catch a break from exploring the city’s crowded streets throughout the day.
And speaking of unique culinary experiences and hidden gems in Venice, one more thing you should do is…
Dine In Style At GLAM
Tucked away down an unassuming alley near the famous International Gallery of Modern Art, Glam is part of a 5-star hotel located in a former Venetian palace. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and the food is prepared by Italy’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, Enrico Bartolini. The surroundings include a lush garden and a beautiful green patio that overlooks the Grand Canal; the perfect environment for a complete culinary and sensory overload.
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Unwind At San Francesco Della Vigna
Located in the beautiful Castello District, San Francesco della Vigna is one of only two Franciscan churches in Venice. The church was built on a former vineyard that was donated by its owner because he supposedly heard an angel speak to St. Mark, the patron of Venice, and was said to have one of the tallest bell towers in Venice (and that’s the case even today). Whether you’re religious and believe this story or not, you can’t deny the beauty of the church’s architecture and its historic significance.
Get A Mask At Ca’Macana
One of the things Venice is most famous for is its annual Carnival and the local mask culture that dates back to 800 years ago. There are many mask shops in Venice but most locals will tell you none are like Ca’Macana. Located in a narrow alley in Dorsoduro, Ca’Macana is the mask shop that produces masks for most European Opera Houses and it even made the masks for Kubrick’s classic “Eyes Wide Shut”. The handmade creations made at Ca’Macana are incomparable but many tourists pass by it every day not knowing just how legendary this tiny local store is.
Locate The Hidden Square Of Campo San Maurizio
Speaking of hidden gems in Venice, we can’t forget about the beautiful Square of Campo San Maurizio. It’s a small and relatively unfrequented square located in one of the quieter parts of Venice. The square is picturesque and dotted with interesting architecture but it’s also home to a few other noteworthy hidden gems in Venice like the Museo della Musica (dedicated to Baroque music) and Mercantino dell’Antiquariato, one of the larger flea markets in Venice (and a perfect place for buying cheap and authentic souvenirs).
Walk A Bridge Without Parapet
Venice has a lot of beautiful bridges that throughout the years have been turned into tourist attractions. The list includes Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, Ponte dell’Accademia, the Constitution Bridge, and many more but this is an article about hidden gems in Venice and we found it worthy to mention two bridges in Venice that are not as famous but are certainly worth visiting.
There are two old bridges in Venice which don’t have a parapet and that’s Ponte de Chiodo and Ponte del Diavolo. The first one is located in the quiet neighborhood of Cannaregio and the second is located on the nearby island of Torcello (more about this later). Both bridges are beautiful examples of traditional Venetian architecture and even though they don’t have a parapet, it’s completely safe to walk across.
Visit A Flooded Library
Even though it has gotten quite popular in recent years (we wrote about it in our article Only in Italy before it got famous), we still thought the Acqua Alta Library deserves a special mention on this list of hidden gems in Venice. The Acqua Alta Library is a flooded bookstore (its name translates to the library on high water) that houses many old, authentic Venetian books which are stored in gondolas. It’s one of the most unusual places in town and one of the most Instagrammable places in Venice.
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Enjoy The Views Of Isola Di San Michele
The Venetian Lagoon is home to a handful of beautiful islands with the most famous ones being Murano and Burano. However, there are a few other islands that not many people know about but are certainly worth visiting. One of them is Isola di San Michele. Since the 19th century, the island served as Venice’s cemetery, and even today, it’s not inhabited by anyone. The island is home to a few churches, and large plots of land filled with elegant marble tombs because today, only the richest and most prominent Venetians are buried here, and is more of a place where local pilgrims come to pay their respects.
To get to San Michele, you need to take the Vaporetto (water bus), line 4.1 or 4.2. The stop you’d need to get off at is called Cimitero.
Enjoy Rural Life At Sant’Erasmo Island
Speaking of beautiful islands and hidden gems in Venice, we just can’t forget about the island of Sant’Erasmo. It’s a rural bucolic island that has historically been known as the Garden of the Doge. Throughout the years, it has been the agricultural hub of Venice, supplying the entire city with anything from peas and grapes to fish and livestock. Even today, most local restaurants source their food from Sant’Erasmo. If you’re into farm tourism and are a fan of unique food experiences, this island is one of the places you have to visit on your trip to Venice.
Visit An Island Older Than Venice Itself
You probably heard about the colorful buildings of Burano or the glass factories of Murano but did you hear about the nature of the deserted island of Torcello? Torcello is an unfrequented, sparsely populated island that lies a short boat ride away from Burano Island famous for its Provincial Museum and the gorgeous Byzantine cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Many people don’t know this but Torcello is an island with a rich history; it was actually one of the first colonies in this part of Europe and was inhabited much earlier than the city of Venice.
Explore The Hidden Canals Of Venice
Its beautiful canals are one of the things Venice is best known for. You’ve probably heard about the Grand Canal, the Canal of Saint Peter, or the Guidecca but there are dozens of other beautiful canals in some of the less frequented, quieter parts of Venice that are just as beautiful and as worthy of visiting. Some of our favorite hidden canals in Venice include Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio, the quiet canals of Catello, and there were even a few beautiful ones hidden in the narrow alleys of the Venetian Lagoon.
If you’re looking for a tour that will allow you to explore some more of the city’s hidden canals, we warmly recommend the Secret Venice & Gondola Tour.
Learn About Local Fabrics At The Palazzo Mocenigo Museum
Located just south of the Grand Canal, the Palazzo Mocenigo is a beautiful Gothic palace that today is home to a fascinating museum of historic textiles and fashion. The museum has a huge collection of Venetian traditional clothing items, costumes textiles, and perfumes (did you know that during medieval times, Venice was known as the perfume capital of the world?). Many of the textile items date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and if you’re into authentic clothes and are looking to learn more about Venetian culture, visiting this museum should be at the top of your list.
Discover A Piece Of Holland At Casone Zappa
If you ever happen to wander off to the remote area of Campagna Lupia, you’ll be surprised to find a Dutch villa sitting alone on the canal in the middle of nowhere. It was built in 1925 by a Dutch migrant who decided to settle in Venice. The villa has a typical Dutch white façade with authentic red windows and gables. The surrounding setting of canals and lush greenery gives the whole place an unrealistically beautiful, almost fairy-tale-like setting.
It’s no wonder that the villa was used as a set for a few Italian movies and throughout the years inspired the likes of Dali and Hemingway who spent time staying in the house. And if that’s not enough, the lagoon surrounding the house is also home to hundreds of pink flamingos that stay in the area between spring and autumn.
Support A Noble Initiative At Malefatte Venezia
Malefatte (translation= misdeeds) is a local non-profit initiative that includes prisoners from the Santa Maggiore Prison. The prisoners who participate in this initiative are part of a professional rehabilitation program in which participants make handmade products like bags, t-shirts, notebooks, and many different kinds of souvenirs that are sold in the shop in Venice as a part of the Malefatte initiative. Here, you can find a lot of interesting, cheap souvenirs while supporting a noble cause at the same time, so it’s a win-win.
Visit The Quaint Island Of San Francesco Del Deserto
Situated between Sant’Erasmo and Burano, San Francesco del Deserto is another beautiful but neglected island in the Gulf of Venice. The island is known for its lush forests and the beautiful monastery located in between. For a brief period, San Francesco del Deserto was home to St. Francis when he settled here upon his return from the Fifth Crusade. After his death, the Venetian Patrician gave the island was given to the Minorities, and during the Austrian rule, the island was turned into a powder depot. Today, the island is inhabited only by monks staying in the monastery.
Find The Hidden Island Of San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore is one of our favorite hidden gems in Venice and one of the most beautiful islands in Northern Italy. When looked from far away, it appears like a group of beautiful architectural masterpieces floating around in Venice’s Southern Lagoon. The island is home to the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, a beautiful Palladian church whose bell tower domineers the island’s landscape, the Borges Labyrinth, a maze dedicated to writer Jorge Luis Borges, and the 9th-century San Giorgio Monastery which is one of the oldest monasteries in Venice.
Check Out Rooms In Doge’s Palace No One Knows About
Last but not least, we round up this list of hidden gems in Venice with a few secret places that lie hidden in plain sight. Or to be more specific, in one of Venice’s most frequented tourist attractions. For years, Doge’s Palace was the residence of the Doge (Duke) of Venice and it has become one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. The palace is massive and has more than 100 chambers but many of them are closed to visitors unless you’re a part of Doge’s Palace Secret Chambers Tour.
Some of the highlights of this tour include taking a sneak peek in the Chamber of the Secret Chancellery where top-secret documents were kept, The Chamber of the Inquisitors, the Chamber of the Three Head Magistrates which has a secret passage that leads to the Chamber of the Council of Ten, and last but not least, the cell where Casanova was imprisoned.
If you’re interested in booking this tour, keep in mind that you’d have to schedule it at least a few days before your visit.
Did you ever visit Venice? How did you like our list of hidden gems in Venice? Do you think we forgot to mention some other places in Venice off the beaten track? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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