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. We have rounded up 10 unmissable hidden gems in Venice to inspire your wanderlust.
1 – Dorsoduro area
This area of Venice is less crowded than most and 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 nearby Guggenheim Museum is a fabulous place and I’ll be writing about it in detail in an upcoming post. 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
Also in Dorsoduro, you’ll find the mask shop famous for having created the masks for the Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut. There are quite a few mask shops in the area but this one stands out for the quality of its hand made creations. They run mask-making courses for groups and for corporates – must be a lot of fun!
3 – Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries Tour
Whilst the Doge’s Palace is world famous, its Secret Itineraries Tour certainly qualifies as one of the best hidden gems in Venice. We found it fascinating to visit rooms such as the Chamber of the Secret Chancellery, where the cabinets that used to contain top-secret documents are adorned with the coats-of-arms of the chancellors from 1268 onwards. The highlight of the tour for us was 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 fascinating anecdotes.
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. Housed inside a stunning Italian palace, now a 5 star luxury hotel, the food is as refined as the surroundings. It’s the first Venice restaurant of Italy’s youngest two Michelin starred chef Enrico Bartolini. Enjoy a classic risotto and typical Venetian dishes before strolling in the hotel’s garden overlooking the Grand Canal.
5 – Enrica Rocca Cookery School
Enrica 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. Her 2 daughters also teach you Italian cooking skills in Notting Hill, London.
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 in Venice but these days there are only two left, Ponte de Chiodo in the quiet Cannaregio area and the other one is on the nearby island of Torcello. It’s actually very safe to walk over it and a lot of fun.
7 – All’Arco for typical cicchetti
We stopped for cicchetti with Enrica at one of her favourite hidden gems in Venice – All’Arco. This unpretentious place 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. It’s a very small trattoria so you can either stand at the counter or sit at one of the tables outside. Wash them down with a refreshing Aperol spritz.
8 – A Rooftop Panoramic View
Venice has a new luxury department store, housed in a 13th century building that was the headquarters of the city’s German merchants. T Fondaco dei Tedeschi only opened in October yet has already secured many exclusive collaborations with leading luxury brands. It’s part of the DFS luxury retail group and their first European store. The building has been sympathetically redesigned by award-winning architect Rem Koolhaas to respect the original features. On the top floor, there is a fabulous panoramic view over Venice, that can be accessed by pre-booking with the in-store concierge.
9 – VizioVirtù Cioccolatieri
We’re going to finish our 10 unmissable hidden gems in Venice with two sweet treats for you because that’s how we roll ;-). Firstly, VizioVirtù Cioccolatieri for art creations such as mini masks and spoons, all made from the finest chocolate. Owner Mariangela Penzo uses only the best ingredients and it shows. Try their Goldoni hot chocolate drink, with no milk or sugar.
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 SuSo on Calle della Bissa. Not only is the lady working there really friendly, but their artisanal gelato are out of this world. They make their own cones and have some amazing flavours such as chocolate mixed with mango sorbet.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this round up of the top 10 unmissable hidden gems in Venice, and you may also like our guides to the best hidden gems in Rome and Paris. Please do let us know of any other hidden gems that we should check out on our next visit.
What is your favourite to try out on this list?