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
From typical Venetian bars to panoramic views of the Floating City, there is much to admire in Venice.
1 – Dorsoduro Area
One of the six sestiere, or districts of Venice, Dorsoduro is less crowded than most. 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 boutiques 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, head to Nico at Fondamenta Zattere al Ponte Longo, on the waterfront for a chocolate hazelnut Gianduiotto.
2 – Ca’Macana
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 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
3 – 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
4 – 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 food is as refined as the surroundings. 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
5 – 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. Enrica’s two daughters also teach you Italian cooking skills in Notting Hill, London.
Address: Calle S. Domenico Dorsoduro, 568, 30123 Venice
6 – 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
7 – All’Arco for typical 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.
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
8 – A 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 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. The viewpoint can be accessed by pre-booking with the in-store concierge.
Address: Rialto Bridge, Ramo del Fontego dei Tedeschi, 30100 Venice
9 – VizioVirtù Cioccolatieri
We’re going to finish our unmissable Venice hidden gems with two sweet treats for you. Firstly, VizioVirtu Cioccolatieri 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
10 – SuSo Gelatoteca
It would be rude to come to Venice and not eat a gelato, and arguably the best in the city are at Gelatoteca SuSo on Calle della Bissa. 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: Calle della Bissa, 5453, 30124 San Marco, Venice
Other Hidden Gems in Venice
We also suggest that you visit Libreria Acqua Alta, an incredible book shop 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 Navel History Museum, inside the Arsenale.
Another Venice secret is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, known for its 16th century church painted by Monet.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this round up of the top 10 unmissable Venice hidden gems. You may also like our guides to the best hidden gems in Thailand, Rome and Paris.
Read our new guide to 10 Venice off the beaten path attractions and let us know which is your favourite.
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