Venice is one of the world’s most iconic cities and its attractions are visited by 20 million people every year. Yet if you know where to look, there are some lesser known sights that are well worth seeking out. Here are 10 unmissable Venice hidden gems to inspire your wanderlust.
Unmissable Venice Hidden Gems
While Venice may be known for St Mark’s Square, canals and gondolas, there is so much more to this incredible floating city. From hidden alleyways to underground passageways, there are countless ways to explore Venice off the beaten path. If you’re looking for a unique travel experience, check out these hidden gems in Venice.
15. San Francesco della Vigna
This Roman Catholic church in the Castello district of Venice was built on the site of a former vineyard. Designed by Jacopo Sansovino, it features an elegant Renaissance facade by Palladio.
The church’s bell tower is one of the tallest in Venice, at 69 meters high. Inside the church, you’ll find the Enthroned Madonna and Saints, painted by Bellini in 1507, in the Cappella Santa.
14. Campo San Maurizio
A picturesque square in the San Marco district, Campo San Maurizio is known for its basilica of the same name. This Neoclassical church now houses the Museo della Musica, focusing on Baroque music.
Five times a year, an antiques market is held in the square. With the rather long-winded name of Mercatino dell’Antiquariato Campo San Maurizio, thisb Venice flea market is a charming place to browse for various goods such as pocket watches and old postcards. The dates can be found on the antique market’s website.
13. Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo
This elegant Venetian palace has an incredible external staircase, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. Meaning “of the snail” this spiral walkway dates from the 15th century.
Fans of Orson Welles will recognize this ornate stairwell, as it features in his 1952 film Othello.
Address: Scala Contarini del Bovolo, 4303, 30124 Venice
12. Gelatoteca SuSo
It would be rude to come to Venice and not eat a gelato. Our favorite place is Gelatoteca SuSo on Calle della Bissa.
It’s a short walk from the Rialto Bridge, but tucked away on a quiet backstreet. Not only is the lady working there really friendly, but their artisanal gelato are out of this world.
This Venice gelateria sources the best ingredients without artificial colorants. They make their own cones and have some amazing flavours such as chocolate mixed with mango sorbet.
Address: Sotoportego de la Bissa, 5453, 30124 Venice
11. Dorsoduro Area
One of the six sestiere, or districts of Venice, Dorsoduro gives you a taste of local life. With the recent opening of new luxury hotels it will no doubt rise in popularity. Crossing over the Ponte dell’Academia you come across some charming independent souvenir shops along Piscina Former.
The waterside Peggy Guggenheim Collection is one of the best cultural attractions in Venice. The museum focuses on modern European and American art. The nearby Gallerie dell’Accademia boasts an important collection of 19th century art spread over 3 buildings.
There are several interesting churches in Dorsoduro, including the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and San Sebastiano. The latter has some impressive floor length paintings by Paolo Veronese.
If you fancy a gelato, Nico at Fondamenta Zattere al Ponte Longo, on the waterfront is a great place for a chocolate hazelnut Gianduiotto.
10. San Giorgio Maggiore
Another Venice secret is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, known for its 16th century church painted by Monet. Built in the Palladian style in 1566, this picturesque Venice landmark now houses the Giorgio Cini Foundation.
Another interesting attraction is the Borges Labyrinth. Opened in June 2021, this boxwood maze is a tribute to Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. This special place makes a great day trip from Venice.
One of the nicknames of Venice is the City of Masks. Popular during Venice Carnival, the papier maché masks enabled the wearer to hide their social status and identity. This 800 year old tradition is alive and well in Venice today.
Also in the narrow streets of Dorsoduro, you’ll find the secret Venice mask shop famous for having created the masks for the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut. Theaters such as the Vienna Opera House also use their masks regularly.
There are quite a few mask shops in the area but Ca’Macana stands out for the quality of its hand made creations. Each mask is unique, and they never make the same design twice. Ca’Macana run one and two hour mask-making courses for groups and corporates which are a lot of fun.
Address: Dorsoduro, 3172, 30123 Venice
8. Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour
The Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries: Skip the Line Tour certainly qualifies as one of the best hidden gems in Venice. Although the Doge’s Palace itself is famous, many visitors to Venice don’t realize that there are special rooms that you can only see on this tour.
You’ll find it fascinating to explore rooms such as the Chamber of the Secret Chancellery. Here you will see the cabinets that used to contain top-secret documents. They are adorned with the coats-of-arms of the chancellors from 1268 onwards.
The Chamber of the Inquisitors has a ceiling decorated with paintings by Tintoretto, while the Chamber of the Three Head Magistrates has a secret passageway leading to the Chamber of the Council of Ten.
However, the highlight of the Doge’s Palace tour for us is the visit to the two cells where Casanova was imprisoned. The tour must be booked in advance but it’s well worth it for the incredible anecdotes.
Address: Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124 Venice
7. GLAM at Palazzo Venart
Venice has been somewhat lacking in world-class restaurants but that has changed with the arrival of GLAM at Palazzo Venart. Tucked away down an unassuming pathway, this hidden Venice restaurant is not to be missed.
Housed inside a stunning Venetian palace, now a 5 star luxury hotel, the delicious food is as refined as the surroundings at Ristorante Glam. This is the first Venice restaurant of Italy’s youngest two Michelin starred chef Enrico Bartolini. Since 2017, Enrico Bartolini and resident chef Donato Ascani have held a Michelin start at GLAM too.
There’s a charming patio for dining al fresco, as well as a stylish interior dining room. Enjoy a classic risotto and typical Venetian dishes before strolling in the hotel’s garden overlooking the Grand Canal.
Address: Calle Tron, 1961, 30135 Venice
6. Enrica Rocca Cookery School
If you’re looking for something a bit different to do in Venice, consider a cooking class. Enrica Rocca knows Venice like the back of her hand and is a skilled cook. When not catering for the most luxurious corporate and private events, she runs cookery classes from her colourful home.
You’ll visit Rialto Food Market with her before rustling up some delicious dishes with real Italian flair. From antipasti to cicchetti and meatballs, there’s lots to learn in a fun and friendly environment. You can also learn how to make tiramisu, which was invented in the Veneto region.
Then you’ll tuck into a delicious meal, accompanied by generous servings of Enrica’s very own Prosecco wine. Enrica’s two daughters also teach you Italian cooking skills in Notting Hill, London.
Address: Calle S. Domenico Dorsoduro, 568, 30123 Venice
5. The Bridge with No Parapet
Feeling adventurous? If so then a walk over a bridge with no parapet could be right up your street.
There used to be quite a few of these bridges. However these days there are only two left out of over 400 bridges in Venice.
Ponte de Chiodo – located in the quiet Cannaregio area. You can easily get photos on the bridge without the usual Venice crowds.
It’s actually very safe to walk over the bridge, which is one of the best Venice secret places. The word chiodo means Nail and the bridge takes its name from the Nail family who used to own it.
Address: Cannaregio, 3749, 30121 Venice
Ponte del Diavolo – The other bridge with no parapet is on the nearby island of Torcello. According to legend, this Venetian bridge takes its name from the story of a Venetian girl whose boyfriend was murdered under the Austrian occupation.
She asked a witch for help, who made a pact with the devil to bring him back to life, in return for the souls of seven dead children. The devil brought her boyfriend back to life, however the witch died in a fire and so the devil didn’t get the souls of the children.
The legend says that the devil returns to the bridge as a black cat each 24 December to wait for the souls of the children.
Address: Laguna Veneta, 30142 Venice
4. All’Arco cicchetti
We recommend stopping for cicchetti at one of the best secret bars in Rome – All’Arco. This unpretentious Venice bacaro bar in the quiet area of San Polo is so named because it’s located under a historic arch on a quiet back street.
Cicchetti are Venetian tapas and the ones here are among the best you will find. The tramezzini, aka Venice small bites, vary daily depending on what is fresh and seasonal.
Try the calamari, shrimp or the anchovies with Gorgonzola if they are available. Wash them down with a refreshing Aperol spritz or a glass of wine.
All’Arco is a typical Venetian trattoria run by husband and son Francesco and Matteo. You can either stand at the counter or sit at one of the tables outside. The bar gets quite busy at lunchtimes with local shoppers from Rialto market.
Address: S. Polo, 436, 30125 Venice
3. VizioVirtù Cioccolatieri
VizioVirtu Cioccolatieri is an amazing place for art creations such as mini masks and spoons, all made from the finest chocolate.
This spacious Venice chocolate shop is located close to where famous spice merchant Marco Polo used to live. Since 2005, owner Mariangela Penzo uses chocolate combined with spices and fruit to great effect. Try their Goldoni hot chocolate drink, with no milk or sugar.
Address: Calle del Forner, 5988, 30122 Venice
2. Libreria Acqua Alta
This incredible Venice book shop is tucked away on Calle Longa S. Maria Formosa. The name translates as the library of high water and many of the books are stored in gondolas.
There are many vintage books in the courtyard and inside the store. It’s one of the most Instagrammable places in Venice.
The area of Venice in which Acqua Alta is located, Castello, is actually the largest in Venice. There are some other interesting Venice sights like the Naval History Museum, inside the Arsenale.
1. Venice Rooftop Panoramic View
Venice has a spectacular luxury department store, housed in a 13th century building that was the headquarters of the city’s German merchants. T Fondaco dei Tedeschi has secured many exclusive collaborations with leading Italian luxury brands.
This elegant Venice building part of the DFS luxury retail group and their first European store. It has been sympathetically redesigned by award-winning architect Rem Koolhaas to respect the original features.
One of the best secret gems of Venice is the panoramic view of Venice canal from the top floor rooftop terrace. The viewpoint can be accessed by pre-booking with the in-store concierge.
Address: Rialto Bridge, Ramo del Fontego dei Tedeschi, 30100 Venice
In Conclusion: Venice Hidden Gems
If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful Italian city to explore, look no further than Venice. While it can often be crowded and touristy, there are still plenty of hidden gems to be found if you know where to look.
We hope our guide has helped give you a few ideas about how to find the real Venice without the crowds. Be sure to check out our other Italy travel articles for more tips on what to see and do while you’re in the country. Enjoy!
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