Venice is a city that needs no introduction – its iconic canals, beautiful architecture, and rich history have made it a top destination for travelers from all over the world. But let’s be real, with so many tourists flocking to the city, it can be tough to fully appreciate all that it has to offer without feeling like you’re constantly being jostled by crowds.
That’s why in this blog post, we’re sharing our top 5 must-see attractions and 5 hidden gems in Venice that will allow you to experience the city to its fullest, without the crowds. We know that you want to see all the highlights, but we also know that you don’t want to spend your entire vacation fighting your way through throngs of tourists. So whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, these tips will help you make the most of your trip to this beautiful city.
From iconic landmarks like the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Basilica to lesser-known neighborhoods like Cannaregio and Castello, we’ve got you covered with our insider tips on where to go and what to see. So whether you’re looking for a romantic gondola ride or a slice of authentic Venetian life, join us as we explore the best of Venice, crowd-free.
Venice's Essential Must-See Attractions
As for our top 5 must-see attractions, we’ve picked a mix of iconic landmarks and lesser-known sights that are sure to impress. These are the sights that you simply can’t miss on your trip to the floating city.
Rialto Bridge: No trip to Venice is complete without a visit to the iconic Rialto Bridge. Whether you’re admiring the bridge’s stunning architecture or haggling with the street vendors, there’s always something to see and do here. Just be prepared for the crowds – this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
St. Mark’s Basilica: This stunning cathedral is a must-see for any visitor to Venice. From its gold mosaics to its ornate interior, there’s no shortage of beauty to take in here. Just be sure to dress modestly and respect the church’s rules before entering.
Doge’s Palace: This former residence of the Venetian rulers is a must-see for history buffs. From the ornate golden chambers to the haunting prison cells, there’s so much to explore here.
Gondola rides: No visit to Venice is complete without a ride on a gondola. These iconic boats are the perfect way to explore the city’s winding canals and get a taste of traditional Venetian life. Just be prepared to shell out a bit of cash – gondola rides aren’t cheap.
The Bridge of Sighs: This iconic bridge is a must-see for any visitor to Venice. Located in the heart of the city, the Bridge of Sighs is a small, covered bridge that connects the Doge’s Palace to the city’s prison. Legend has it that prisoners would sigh as they passed over the bridge, knowing that they would soon be locked away. While the bridge is certainly crowded, it can easily be viewed from a distance by crossing over one of the nearby bridges. Just be sure to snap a photo – the Bridge of Sighs is one of the most photographed sights in the city.
All you need to know about Gondola Tours
Venice Highlights Tours, incl: Skip-the-Line
Experience Venice Away from the crowds
Now that we’ve covered our top 5 must-see attractions in Venice, let’s turn our attention to the hidden gems of the city – the lesser-known neighborhoods and sights that are off the beaten path, but no less worth a visit. These are the places where you can escape the crowds and experience a different side of Venice – one that’s authentic, unassuming, and oh-so-charming.
If you’re looking to get away from the tourist-filled streets of San Marco and Dorsoduro, there are plenty of neighborhoods worth exploring. From the quiet, residential Cannaregio to the lively, multicultural Castello, each of Venice’s districts has its own unique character and charm. So whether you’re looking to sample some local cuisine, do some shopping, or simply wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere, there’s a neighborhood for you.
Without further ado, here are our top 5 things to do in Venice away from the crowds:
Explore the Cannaregio district: This quiet, residential neighborhood is located in the northwest corner of the city and is home to a mix of locals and expats. It’s a great place to wander the streets, do some shopping, and sample some local cuisine. Be sure to visit the Fondamenta della Misericordia, which is home to a number of charming restaurants and bars.
Visit the Castello district: Located in the eastern part of the city, the Castello district is a lively, multicultural neighborhood that’s full of surprises. From the bustling Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront to the quiet, tree-lined streets of Sant’Elena, there’s something for everyone here. Be sure to visit the Arsenale, a former shipyard that’s now home to a number of cultural attractions.
Take a walk through the Giardini Pubblici: These beautiful public gardens are located in the Castello district and are a great place to escape the crowds and relax for a bit. With their winding paths, tranquil ponds, and beautiful flowers, the Giardini Pubblici are a true oasis in the heart of the city.
Explore the Dorsoduro district: This bohemian neighborhood is located in the southern part of the city and is home to a number of museums, galleries, and cultural attractions. It’s a great place to wander the streets, do some shopping, and sample some local cuisine. Be sure to visit the Fondamenta Zattere, a waterfront promenade that’s lined with restaurants and bars.
Visit the San Polo district: Located in the heart of the city, the San Polo district is a vibrant, bustling neighborhood that’s full of life. From the lively Rialto Market to the quiet, tree-lined streets of Santa Croce, there’s something for everyone here. Be sure to visit the Campo San Polo, a large square that’s home to a number of charming restaurants and bars.
Organized tours & Excursions away from the crowds
While exploring the city on your own is a great way to experience Venice, sometimes it can be helpful to join an organized tour or excursion to get off the beaten path and experience the city in a different way. In this section, we’re sharing our top 3 picks for tours and excursions that will allow you to experience the real Venice – partially away from the crowds.
Hidden Venice: Unusual Walking Tour
Get off the beaten path of Venice and explore the city’s lesser-known areas, rich with history and hidden architectural gems. With a guide, you’ll wander through the labyrinth of narrow streets and squares, known as “calli” and “campi,” and visit Marco Polo’s House, a building believed to be the home of the famous explorer, now used as a theater.
You’ll also visit the Fenix Theatre, where Giuseppe Verdi and other great composers performed their masterpieces, and pass through St. Mark’s Square with its stunning monuments, as well as the Doge’s Palace, Basilica, and other historic buildings.
As an optional addition to the tour, you can choose to take a gondola ride and discover the canals of Venice. During your ride, you’ll admire highlights such as the Mozart House, the Fenice Opera House, and the Grand Canal. The tour ends at Piazza San Marco, a must-see for any visitor to Venice.
Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to explore the hidden corners of Venice and experience the city in a different way.
2-Hour Legends and Ghosts of Cannaregio Tour
If you’re looking for a unique and immersive experience in Venice, the Legends and Ghosts of Cannaregio Tour is a must. On this 2-hour tour, you’ll explore the mysterious and atmospheric Cannaregio district as night falls, led by a qualified guide who will take you to hidden corners and quiet places.
As you wander the ancient narrow streets of this often-overlooked neighborhood, you’ll be entertained with legends and stories about the area. You’ll hear about the ghosts of Cannaregio and the continuous ghost appearances reported by the region’s current inhabitants. It’s a truly immersive and unforgettable experience that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
This tour is perfect for those who are looking for something a bit different and off the beaten path. So if you’re feeling brave, join us on the Legends and Ghosts of Cannaregio Tour and see another side of Venice that few tourists ever get to experience.
Food Tasting Tour with Cicchetti Dishes and Wine
The Food Tasting Tour with Cicchetti Dishes and Wine is a must-do for anyone looking to experience the best of Venice’s world-famous cuisine. On this tour, you’ll explore the vibrant Cannaregio neighborhood and learn about its 1,000-year history, with suggestions from your local guide on other things to see and do during your stay.
Next, you’ll take a ride in a traditional traghetto gondola and cross the Grand Canal the way the locals do. Once in Rialto, the food tasting begins! You’ll visit two foodie spots – a small eatery near the market and a historic spot – and sample a variety of delicious cicchetti dishes, including black ink calamari, polenta with seafood, and seasonal vegetables. You’ll also learn about the Venetian culture of ‘bacari’ and how to enjoy this experience while you’re flying solo around the city.
After your food tastings, you’ll visit a few hidden spots near the Rialto that are off the beaten path and a great way to escape the tourist crowds. The tour ends at the iconic Campo San Bortolomio, surrounded by great restaurants and shops. Your guide will be happy to help you with recommendations for continuing the fun or with directions back to your accommodation. Don’t miss out on this delicious and immersive foodie experience in Venice!