Venice, often referred to as the "City of Canals," is renowned for its iconic attractions like St. Mark's Square, the Grand Canal, and the Rialto Bridge.
While these landmarks are undoubtedly worth visiting, there's so much more to this enchanting city than meets the eye.
In this blog post, we'll unveil 10 off the beaten track things and experiences to do in Venice that will allow you to explore its hidden treasures and experience the city like a local.
Everyone can do a gondola ride ... but only a few can visit one of the last 5 shipyards in the city where these iconic boats are built.
Venice, with its labyrinthine canals and romantic charm, is a city that unfailingly captures the hearts of travelers. Among its six historic districts, Dorsoduro stands out as an area that seamlessly blends art, history, and the authentic essence of Venice. Its right here that you find, nestled along one of the picturesque Venetian canals, one of the last squeri (gondola workshops) that stands as a testament to the city's enduring maritime heritage. This historic boatyard, dating back to the 17th century, has played an integral role in the preservation and maintenance of the traditional Venetian watercraft known as gondolas.
We offer a visit to the workshop and through beautiful Dorsoduro district here.
Enjoy an amazing view over Venice sipping a cocktal
Perched majestically atop the Hilton Hotel in Venice, the Skyline Rooftop Terrace is nothing short of a heavenly oasis that beckons travelers to savor the city's beauty from new heights. With breathtaking views of the Venice skyline, this terrace is a jewel among the city's many treasures and the highest rooftop terrace in town! If you are lucky and in town at the right time, you might even be able to sip your cocktail at the border of the rooftop pool open for special events with DJ and music.
Everyone visits the colourful island of Burano ... but head to Giudecca island instead.
Giudecca Island's history is deeply intertwined with Venice's own. Its picturesque palazzi and churches reflect its rich history. Notable among them is the Church of the Redeemer (Chiesa del Redentore), a stunning masterpiece designed by Andrea Palladio, which attracts architecture aficionados from around the world and becomes the protagonist during the famous "Redeemers's Day Festivity", one of the most important festivities of the year.
As you explore Giudecca Island, you'll find a sense of tranquility that contrasts with the busier areas of Venice. Its quiet, picturesque streets and canals are perfect for leisurely strolls, and you can enjoy the serene beauty of the lagoon, particularly at sunset when the waters shimmer in the fading light.
No wonder that Elton John decided to buy a house on Giudecca island, with a stunning view over Saint Mark's Square, and that George Clooney prefers the exclusive but off the beaten track Belmond Cipriani Hotel for their stays in the city.
The island's artistic heritage is evident in its numerous ateliers, workshops, and galleries, making it an ideal place to explore the vibrant contemporary art scene of Venice.
Venice too has its Sixtine Chapel
The Scuola Grande di San Rocco, an architectural gem in Venice, stands as a testament to Renaissance grandeur. This 16th-century confraternity building, designed by Bartolomeo Bon, is renowned for housing an exquisite collection of masterpieces by the Venetian artist Tintoretto. Its ornate interiors and intricately decorated ceilings create a captivating backdrop for Tintoretto's works, offering visitors a profound artistic experience.
Have a look at our guided tour through the Scuola Grande di San Rocco here.
Taste cicchetti like a Venetian local
Cicchetti, Venice's delectable culinary tradition, offers a tantalizing array of small, flavorful dishes. These bite-sized delights, served in charming bacari (local bars), encompass a world of flavors from seafood to cured meats, accompanied by fine regional wines. Whether you savor creamy bacalà mantecato or crispy fried squid, cicchetti is a cultural experience. Locals and visitors alike gather in the bustling streets to enjoy these treats, fostering a sense of community and celebration of Venetian cuisine's rich tapestry.
Have a look at our tours to taste cicchetti in the best local places here.
Visit the man who produces by hand the goldleaf for mosaics
Staying strong! Only one man and his family uphold the city's (and Europe's) centuries-old tradition of gold leaf craftsmanship. In his atelier, he meticulously handcrafts gold leaf that this then used to create exquisite works of art, gilding everything from frames to frescoes. His skillful hands have preserved Venice's heritage of opulent decoration, contributing to the city's timeless allure.
Join us on a tour to visit this stunning workshop and have a close look at its craft, here.
Stroll through the first Ghetto in the world
The Venice Ghetto, established in 1516, is a historic landmark of profound significance. It was the world's first ghetto, a segregated area where Jewish residents lived. Despite the segregation, the Ghetto thrived as a center of Jewish culture and commerce, fostering artistic, intellectual, and religious traditions. Visitors can explore its streets, synagogues, and the Jewish Museum, gaining insights into a rich history that exemplifies the enduring spirit of Venice and its diverse communities.
Dive into the authentic Venetian Castello district
Venice's Castello district, the largest sestiere, boasts a diverse character. It embraces the city's historical heart, encompassing St. Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace, while also offering quiet neighborhoods where Venetian life unfolds. With the Arsenale as its centerpiece, Castello offers a glimpse into Venice's maritime heritage. Narrow alleyways lead to hidden squares, and its lively markets and local osterias evoke an authentic Venetian ambiance. Castello's blend of history, local life, and artistic charm makes it a captivating and multifaceted part of this enchanting city.
A view, a maze and aperitivo on San Giorgio Maggiore
San Giorgio Maggiore is a picturesque island in the Venetian Lagoon, famed for its iconic basilica designed by Andrea Palladio. This architectural masterpiece showcases Renaissance elegance, with its classical façade and serene interior. The island offers stunning panoramic views of Venice (from its belltower), making it a photographer's dream. Beyond the basilica, the island boasts a maze (Borges) and the San Giorgio Caffè for a delicious aperitivo with a view. San Giorgio Maggiore is a serene escape from the bustling canals of Venice, offering a blend of art and architecture.
Stunning Renaissance heritage in a medieval city
Hidden amid the maze of Venetian alleyways lies a treasure trove of art, history, and architectural splendor—the Palazzo Grimani. This historic palace, located in the Cannaregio district of Venice, is a testament to the city's rich cultural heritage.
Palazzo Grimani, built in the 16th century, is a showcase of Renaissance architecture at its finest. Owned by Giovanni Grimani, a member of one of the most important Venetian noble families, its façade exudes elegance and symmetry, with intricate details that leave visitors in awe, just like its interiors.