10 Best Off The Beaten Path Venice Attractions

Updated on 21 August 2017

Who doesn’t love the floating city? Venice is famous for sights such as Saint Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. Yet there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. We’ve written before about our favourite hidden gems in Venice, but the city of canals just keeps surprising us and now we’ve rounded up 10 off the beaten path Venice attractions for your reading pleasure…

Off The Beaten Path Venice Attractions – The Arsenale

There have been naval shipyards in this area since 1104, although the area really came into its own in the thirteenth century. Spread over 45 hectares, the Arsenale employed up to 16,000 people at one point. Its Renaissance gate, Porta Magna, dates from 1460 and is flanked by several magnificent lions. These days, the Arsenale is still owned by the navy and closed to the public for most of the year. However, sections of it are open during the famous Biennale art exhibition.

The Arsenale Venice - one of the 10 best off the beaten path Venice attractionsThe Bridge with No Parapet

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that Ponte de Chiodo made an appearance in our article on hidden gems in Venice. We couldn’t resist a return visit with the weather being warmer, it’s as photogenic as ever! The Cannaregio area where it’s located is untouristy and has quite a few other interesting sights that we’ll be sharing with you here.

The bridge with no parapet in Venice, Italy

If you have time, make a visit to Burano, which can be reached by vaporetto in about 45 minutes. This little island is known for its colourful houses and lace-making museum. It’s not to be confused with the nearby island of Murano, famous for its glass-making techniques and also worth a visit.

Burano is one of the most charming islands near Venice
We’d highly recommend lunch at Al Gatto Nero but make sure to book or you might have a 1 hour wait as we did!

Al Gatto Nero is one of the best restaurants in BuranoCannaregio Canal

The second largest canal in Venice is located in the quiet area of Cannaregio, one of Venice’s six central districts. If you don’t have time to go to Burano then get your fix of colourful buildings here. It’s one of the largest residential areas of Venice and has some good neighbourhood restaurants dotted around.

The canal in Cannaregio, VeniceChurch of Saint Zacharias

The imposing Chiesa di San Zaccaria is an interesting mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles, built from  1458 to 1515. It’s well known for its paintings by Bellini, Tintoretto, Titian and Van Dyck. Eight doges are buried in the crypt. The church can be visited from 10 to 12 and 4 to 6 pm daily.

The Church of San Zaccaria in Venice holds many masterpieces
Just around the corner from the church, you’ll find Corte Sconta, a superb seafood restaurant. Take a seat in its sunny courtyard and feast on some of the freshest seafood in Venice.

Corte Sconta, one of the best places in Venice for seafoodPalazzo Mocenigo

There are several interesting museums in the Santa Croce area of Venice, including Ca’ Pesaro, the International Gallery of Modern Art, and the Museum of Natural History in Fondaco dei Turchi. One of the most impressive is Palazzo Mocenigo, the Museum of Textiles and Costumes. The Gothic palace houses an interesting display of historic fabrics and costumes. There’s also the first exhibit in Italy dedicated to the history of perfume, befitting Venice’s position as the capital of perfume in the Middle Ages. Palazzo Mocenigo is open from 10 am to 5 pm (4 pm in Winter) and closed on Mondays.

Secret things to do in Venice - Palazzo Mocenigo, well worth a visit
For the perfect lunch or dinner nearby, head to GLAM at Palazzo Venart, just a couple of minutes away. This hidden Venice luxury hotel has a charming courtyard if the sun is out and the food is among the finest that you will taste in the city.

Hidden gems Venice - GLAM Restaurant VeniceThe Venetian Ghetto

One of the darker periods in the history of Venice is that of the Venetian Ghetto. From 1516 to 1797, the city’s Jewish residents were compelled to live on this small island in the Cannaregio district. There were up to 6,000 inhabitants living in the area in 1608, in cramped conditions. Napoleon’s troops finally liberated the residents in 1797.

The Venetian GhettoThe Merchant of Venice

In Campo San Fantin, you’ll find a beautiful 17th century pharmacy that has kept all its original features. It’s now the flagship store of The Merchant of Venice and one of our favourite off the beaten path Venice sights. This upmarket perfume brand also has a shop in Palazzo Mocenigo, but don’t miss this ornate chemist shop, designed by Giambattista Meduna in a Neo-Gothic style.

The Merchant of Venice flagship store is housed in a beautiful 17th century pharmacyScuola Grande di San Rocco

The former religious confraternity, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, houses an astonishing masterpiece by Tintoretto…the ceiling considered to be one of his finest works. One of our favourite Venice off the beaten path attractions, it was created from 1564 to 1587 by Tintoretto, his son Domenico and his assistants. If you don’t want to get neck ache admiring over 50 of his paintings, make use of the complimentary mirrors that will enable a detailed look at his scenes from the Old and New Testaments. It’s open daily from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.

Top Venice Attractions - Scuola Grande, a Tintoretto masterpiece
Vegetable Barge at Ponte dei Pugni

Venice is of course famous for its gondolas and other forms of water transport, but one of its most eclectic sights is the vegetable barge at Ponte dei Pugni in the picturesque Dorsoduro district. Known as the “bridge of fists”, it was apparently a place for settling scores with your rivals ;-). These days, it’s a photogenic place to stock up on fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers.

The vegetable barge at Ponte de Pugni is a Venice institution!Stay Off The Beaten Path in Venice

As this guide has been all about “off the beaten path Venice”, we thought it fitting to include a hotel that’s a real hidden gem. Palazzo Venart is one of the very rare hotels in Venice to have a garden overlooking the Grand Canal, and is decorated with sumptuous antiques. A fitting place from which to explore the lesser known parts of this charming city, as well as the famous sights, of course!

Palazzo Venart in Venice, one of our favourite 5 star hotels
I’m rather proud of Paul’s first time-lapse video, showing the gondolas and boats whizzing past Palazzo Venart – what do you think?

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading our off the beaten path Venice guide, and do let us know if you have any tips that we should add to the list! Be sure to check out our guide to the best Venice hidden gems too. Which is your favourite attraction featured here?

10 of the Best Off the Beaten Path Attractions in Venice, Italy

  • Venice has to be one of my favourite cities. I’d love to go back.

    • We’ve still not scratched the surface of all there is to see there so I’ll definitely be back!

  • Hayley Rubery

    Suze your travel posts are always so bloody wonderful – so vibrant and full of colour and life! I’ve seen the Ponte de Chiodo in SO many pictures and would love to visit one day!

    Hayley xo

    • You have to visit the Ponte de Chiodo, it’s so photogenic! I want to go back when it’s a lot warmer

  • Venice is so incredibly gorgeous and I love getting to see the city through your eyes! I’d absolutely love to go back someday!


    • Hope you get the chance, Courtney, I feel it definitely gets better the more times you go. We found some cool little restaurants this time

  • Burano looks so cool Suze. Any place with striking colors resonates with me. It’s why I dug Granada, Nicaragua. As an aside you run one of the best travel blogs on earth. The photos, the colors, the presentation, all are beyond smashing. So much brilliance here. Keep it up!


    • Oh that’s so sweet, Ryan and it means a lot coming from you. Now I know that I should visit Nicaragua, anywhere colourful is up my street!

  • WOW!!! What a beautiful location!!! Absolutely gorgeous Suze!

    xo Olivia

  • Beautiful, wish I’d seen this before my Venice trip, Burano is supposed to be wonderful!

    • Burano is fantastic, now I just want to go back when it’s a bit warmer. It’s only a small place but every street is picturesque

  • Just looking at the picture of the Ponte de Chiodo is making me feel dizzy – I’m not normally scared of heights but raise me up just slightly and take the barriers away and oooh goodness me, no thank you! The merchant of Venice looks STUNNING! xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua

    • Ha ha I had fun jumping up and down there! Mind you if I’d fallen in, I wouldn’t have been laughing

  • I honestly think Burano is one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever visited. Hust couldn’t stop staring at all the coloured houses the whole day!

    • It’s so charming isn’t it! As for the Gatto Nero restaurant there, the food was amazing

  • I have never been to Venice and feel like I should check out the off the beaten paths first 🙂 In Burano, the colorful buildings are so pretty and picturesque. That ceiling at Scuola Grande di San Rocco is extremely breathtaking!

    • The Scuola Grande really was impressive, I’d not heard of it but my hubby suggested a visit and we weren’t disappointed!

  • Wow! Venice seems a place that will never run out of anything beautiful to offer.
    Hey, your photo at the bridge looks fun. How dangerous was that? 🙂

    • Well surprisingly it wasn’t at all dangerous or I’d have thought twice! The bridge is quite wide so there was no chance that I’d fall off thankfully

  • Vyjay Rao

    We were in Venice sometime back and we thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our stay there. It is beautiful. Your list is awesome and is definitely something people visiting Venice should check out.

  • I can’t tell if you’re jumping or balancing precariously on that bridge – I actually stared for a good thirty seconds trying to work it out! Either way, your form is bang on (HOW ARE YOU SO SYMMETRICAL?!) and such a fun pop of colour in a crumbling but stately city! x

    Melbourne, Australia: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Posh, Broke, & Bored

  • Wow, what a great list of off the beaten path that you have compiled. I haven’t been to Venice and some of these places are not familiar to me. They’re truly beautiful and worth the visit. The building structures are really stunning. The food looks tempting and luscious as well. There’s just so much art wherever the eye is gazing at. I would like to stand on that bridge as well and have myself being photographed.

    • The bridge is the perfect photo spot, and there aren’t many tourists in that area so you have the place to yourself!

  • Live Learn Venture

    Thank you for sharing this great guide. You know I have to admit I’ve visited other Italian cities but have avoided Venice because I’ve been told it’s so touristy — but it looks like you know how to experience it in a more authentic way. Thanks for sharing your tips with us!

    • I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy Venice either but I’ve been twice now and it’s actually got a lot of quiet spots if you seek them out!

  • I think I like the look of the pharmacy best. It seems like such a fun place to go shopping. Venice seems like a gorgeous city to visit. I hope to go there some day soon.

    • The pharmacy is very cool, and what I forgot to mention is that they actually own a brand new pharmacy right next door so it’s the best of both worlds

  • Cori Carl

    I was only in Venice for a few hours in between trains, so I certainly didn’t seen anything off the beaten path. I think of Venice as the most touristy place in the world (maybe tied with the top of the Eiffel Tower!) but this makes me wonder if I need to reconsider.

    • It is horrendously busy at peak times but you’d be surprised how quiet it is on most of the island!

  • This is such a great travel guide! I’ve never been to Venice, but I definitely want to! It looks like it is such an interesting place to explore!


  • Laura Nalin

    Love this post!! Your photos are so gorgeous. I’m headed to Italy next week for the first time, but sadly won’t have time to make it to Venice this time around! This is certainly a great guide and made me so eager to get on my plane Sunday!

    • Which part of Italy are you visiting? It’s all so photogenic, have the best time

  • I have never been to Venice, but am planning a trip for next spring. I would love to visit Burano (a lace making museum??) and we’ll totally eat at Al Gatto Nero! Looks delicious!

    • Ooh you’ll love Al Gatto Nero, just make sure to book – we were starving by the time we finally got seated ;-). Worth the wait though – and we didn’t get time for the lace making museum but I’ve heard it’s very interesting

  • Paige Brown

    This is gorgeous! I’ve only been to Venice one time, but it was super rushed. Therefore I missed ALL OF THESE THINGS! Boo! Next time though, I know that the vegetable barge will be a must-stop. I love that!

    • Wouldn’t it be cool if you could take a trip on the vegetable barge? That’s not the case but I’d love to!

  • The first thing that caught my eye was the picture of you standing on top of the bridge with no parapet; my eyes initially interpreted it as “you standing over the parapet of the bridge” and I was like “OMG what is she doing she will fall off” 😀 ! Ah then I focused my eyes more and read the paragraph. It is indeed a bridge without parapet!! Isn’t Burano a very colorful city? Sure one just cannot skip it! And those prawns look so delicious, my husband who is a big time seafood lover would love having them!

    • I’m no daredevil though looking at the photo it does look rather scary! The prawns were very tasty, every bit as good as they look!

  • Venice is one of my favourite cities in Italy – would love to go back and discover attractions off the beaten path. Burano looks gorgeous as does the Scuola Grande di San Rocco!

    Miriam x

  • I love Venice! would love to go there again to follow your advises x

    The Fashion Matters– Travel & Fashion Blog

  • I would love to visit Palazzo Mocenigo – the costume really do look fabulous! Burano is high up there too – I’m a sucker for colourful houses!

    • Palazzo Mocenigo was fascinating, you can smell lots of different perfume ingredients!

  • Venice is what I call “holiday at home”, since I live only 80km away. Dorsoduro and Canareggio are also among my favourites places in Venice. Don’t miss out on a visit to the “Chiesa dei Frari”, on the corner to Scuola Grande San Rocco. There is a small entry fee, but really worth the experience!

    • I didn’t realise that you lived so close, Michela! Thanks for the tip about Chiesa dei Frari, I’ve just looked it up and it’s very impressive!

      • It indeed is a very impressive place, one of my favourite churches in Venice, a must visit place! Next time you come make sure you let me know, it would be lovely to catch up! 😉

  • Penny Sadler

    I found that perfume shop on my last visit to Venice in 2015. Fantastic place. My god your food photos! Brilliant.

    • Did you get any perfume? I was tempted! The food was so delicious, they really know their seafood there

      • Penny Sadler

        No I didn’t. I usually travel very light and don’t pick up a lot along the way either. Wish I had though. I had some of the best seafood anywhere in Venice. In fact I don’t know what people mean when they say they had a bad meal there. I’ve never had a bad meal there.

  • I have to go back to Venice. When I was there it was way to packed and couldnt see the most touristic spots. But this time I will definitely check out the off beaten paths, especially Burano looks incredible and Palazzo Mocenigo, the costumes look so interesting. Thank you for including such useful information 😀

  • The bridge with no parapet has got my heart leaping out of my chest haha, love that you seized the opportunity for the photo op though – very brave! The flamboyant gold ceiling seen at Scuolo Grande di San Rocco is truly spectacular, wow…

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

  • Gary J Berry

    WOW this looks amazing! If I ever needed to be convinced on visiting Venice I am now!!!

  • Some great suggestions for places to see, there’s so much to do in Venice and the other islands.

  • There are some fabulous finds here Suze, I’d love to visit the pharmacy – it looks like stepping back in time. Burano is lovely too, so colourful and good to get away from the crowds.

  • Oliver Lawrence

    One word: Torcello! One of my favourite churches anywhere.

  • I was last in Venice in high school, and I remember the pigeons so clearly, still! And the gelato, and very thick pieces of pizza. I guess you could say we stuck mostly to the “touristy” Venice back then!;-)

  • We know that Venice is the excellent destination of the travellers. It is a rare place where we will get the mixture of history, culture and nostalgic food habits. These pictures purely reflect that. What an authentic place!

  • great compilation! I must check out some of these places the next time I’m in Venice, I saw Arsenale and a few others from your list but not all of them:)