The top 10 secrets and hidden gems in Venice

These 10 hidden gems in Venice are just what you need for a unique, memorable vacation. You’ll see a side of the floating city many visitors miss.

The most famous landmarks in Venice are known all over the world, and its big museums draw huge crowds of visitors each year. However, there's more to the floating city than just the big names. Look off the beaten path and discover secret places in Venice that are ideal for any vacation with friends, or family, or a romantic getaway.

This list of hidden gems in Venice includes walking tours that will take you to hidden spots, gourmet experiences with real Venetian locals, and new ways to get around the canals and the lagoon. If you want a unique trip to Venice, this is the list for you.

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1. Learn the ancient art of glassmaking

For hundreds of years, Venice has been known for its exquisite glasswork. Now you can follow in the footsteps of its finest artisans. Take a workshop to unleash your inner artist.

Highlights:

A private glassmaking lesson with a local artisan is a must for any creative traveler. You'll leave with your very own one-of-a-kind souvenir.

Meeting point:

Campiello Widmann già Biri, 5515, 30121 Venice. Start times vary.

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2. See the city from above on a rooftop tour

Most visitors stick to the canals to get around, but you can enjoy a totally new perspective by heading to the rooftops. A walking tour of the city's balconies lets you see things in a fresh light. You'll enjoy stunning views that sweep across the canals, hidden terraces, and secret rooftop gardens that most tourists never get the chance to see.

Highlights:

On a rooftops walking tour, you'll find hidden places and amazing panoramas. Oh, and there's a prosecco tasting session, too.

Meeting point:

Fondamenta Santa Lucia, 30121 Venice. Start times vary.

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3. Uncover another chapter in Venice's history in the Jewish Ghetto

Few visitors know about Venice's Jewish community. A walking tour through the Jewish Ghetto is a fascinating experience. You'll learn about the years the community spent confined on a fortified island and see their stunning, historic synagogues. It's the perfect way to learn about one of the city's most interesting chapters.

Highlights:

Go on a Jewish Ghetto walking tour to see some incredible art and architecture, including its most beautiful synagogues.

Meeting point:

Campo di Ghetto Nuovo, 30100 Venice. Start times vary.

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4. Let a local lead you to the best food in town

With so many restaurants to choose from, it's easy to feel overwhelmed in Venice. Let a local take make the hard choices for you, taking you to sample the very best of Venetian cuisine. You'll visit the Rialto Market and other top foodie destinations, avoiding the tourist traps and finding the spots with the most authentic dishes.

Highlights:

A street food tour with a local guide is a must for food lovers. Don't skip the chance to try some authentic tiramisu, which was invented right here in Venice.

Meeting point:

Salizzada Pio X, 5169-5171, 30124 Venice. Start times vary.

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5. Go stand-up paddleboarding on the canals

Forget the gondolas and discover a new way to see Venice from the water. A stand-up paddleboarding tour is unique, eco-friendly, and a great workout. What more could you ask for?

Highlights:

You'll need a good sense of balance for this stand-pp paddleboarding tour, but your guide is on-hand to show you the ropes. You’ll see some of the most interesting and unique parts of the city from the water, and have a lot of fun getting to them.

Meeting point:

Calle Brazzo, 3347, 30121 Venice.

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6. Let a local guide show you the other side of Venice

Nobody knows Venice better than the Venetians. Choose a hidden gems tour led by an expert local guide, and you'll see parts of the city you never knew existed. There's no better way to see the city in a whole new light.

Highlights:

A nighttime walking tour of Venice is an brilliant way to find its secret highlights and hidden places. By night, the crowds are fewer, and you'll enjoy a fresh perspective of the city.

Meeting point:

Campo dei Gesuiti, 4903-4905, 30121 Venice.

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7. Enjoy lunch cooked by a real Italian nonna

They say that Italian home cooking is the best in the world. To test the theory, you'll need to go to an authentic Italian home kitchen. Enjoy a full 4-course meal with the freshest produce, and let your host show you how to prepare food just like Nonna used to make.

Highlights:

A dining experience in a Venice home also includes cooking classes. You'll be able to use what you've learned to impress your friends back home.

Meeting points vary as your experience takes place in your host's home.

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8. Test your painting skills in a watercolor class

Venice has inspired countless artists over the centuries. Now it's your turn. Forget the city's galleries and make your own art at a special private workshop. Your tutor will take you to a secluded spot with great views to inspire you.

Highlights:

Take a watercolor painting class with artist Nicola Tenderini. You'll pick up some great tips, find out some fascinating art history, and learn what it's like to be an artist in Venice.

Meeting point:

Sacca della Toletta, 1184, 30123 Venice.

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9. Learn about the darker side of Venice's history

Do ghosts wander the canals of Venice by night? Maybe. A spooky walking tour through the dimly lit streets is a great way to learn about the city's darkest history and creepiest legends. With its silent canals, Venice is particularly atmospheric by night, so a ghost tour here is a truly unforgettable experience.

Highlights:

A legends and ghosts tour of the Cannaregio neighborhood takes you through a historical and mostly residential part of the city. It has more than its fair share of superb legends to send a shiver down your spine.

Meeting point:

Campo San Geremia, 30100 Venice.

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10. See artisans at work at the Lace Museum

For a deep dive into a traditional Venetian art, visit the Lace Museum. The Burano district has been a major lace-making area for centuries, and this fascinating museum has historical and contemporary exhibits. You'll be stunned by the exquisite details and the incredible technical skill that goes into this ancient art form.

Highlights:

This is more than just a museum. It's still a workshop used by artisans, so you can see how they make their gorgeous lace designs.

Address and opening hours:

Piazza Baldassarre Galuppi 187, 30142 Venice. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 AM-4:00 PM.

FAQs

What are some lesser-known attractions in Venice that are worth visiting?

You'll find interesting attractions in areas like Burano or Cannaregio. The Lace Museum is one of the city's less-visited attractions, but it's truly fascinating. The Jewish Museum is also a good choice if you're curious about Venice's history.

Are there any hidden or secret gardens in Venice that I can explore?

The best place for hidden gardens is the Castello neighborhood. The Thetis Garden, with its art installations, and the vineyards near the Church of San Francesco della Vigna are also well worth a visit.

Can you recommend any hidden or secret viewpoints in Venice with great views of the city?

For a unique view of Venice, try visiting the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. You'll get great views of the city center, especially from the campanile of the church. Venice's footbridges also offer some iconic views of the city. Why not search for your favorite?

What are some lesser-known neighborhoods in Venice that are worth exploring?

Cannaregio is Venice's last truly residential district. It's a great good choice if you want to eat out, with excellent bars and restaurants frequented by locals. Burano, with its colorful houses, and Castello, with its quiet green spaces, are also worth visiting.

Can you recommend any hidden architectural gems in Venice that are not as crowded as the famous landmarks?

Venice is renowned for its bridges, but if you want something different from the famous Rialto, try the tiny brick Ponte de Chiodo in Cannaregio or the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, which has a unique, beautiful external spiral staircase.