The hidden gems in Venice are as mysterious as the narrowing canals themselves. Amidst the main attractions of the city lie secret treasures waiting for the more adventurous traveler. However, whether it’s your first time to The Floating City or you’re a seasoned visitor, there is always something special to discover. Ready to go off the beaten path? Here are eight hidden gems in Venice you shouldn’t miss.
1. Ponte de Chiodo
There are 400 bridges in Venice. While they are all beautiful, they won’t give you an adrenalin rush as you cross. However, Ponte de Chiodo, one of two bridges with no parapet, is the exception. There were once many of these in Venice, but today there is just Ponte de Chiodo in the local Cannaregio neighborhood and the other on the nearby Torcello island. As you make your way to the bridge, enjoy the charming backstreets lined with vintage goods and bars favored by locals- find more below.
Click on the map to find how to make you way there!
2. Isola di San Michele
The Venice lagoon is comprised of several different islands. Most people stick to the familiar city of Venice. Some branch out to the well-known Murano and Burano islands. Why limit yourself there? San Michele has served as Venice’s cimitero, cemetery, since the early 19th century. It is completely nonresidential and holds only churches and long, elegant ranks of marble tombs. Yes, I admit that may sound grim. But, it’s actually a very peaceful place. Plus, it is a welcome escape from the crowds of the main island. Nowadays, only the rich or famous Venetians are buried here due to the high prices.
While this is a wonderful hidden gem, it is not a tourist attraction. Instead, it is a sacred place where locals still come to pay their respects. As such, the dress code is the same as a church.
It is also easily reachable with the Vaporetto (water bus) line 4.1 or 4.2. Vaporetto tickets are €7.50 one-way, or €20-day pass. Look out for “Cimitero” stop.
3. Libreria Acqua Alta
This chaotic yet charming book shop is a dream come true for bargain hunters. The welcoming owner stacks new and used books in antique gondolas, bathtubs, canoes, and barrels. Even though you could spend all day sifting through and collecting literary treasures, be sure to take a break and play with the friendly cat who roams the shop.
After you’ve found priceless souvenirs and gifts, head to the garden and marvel at the staircase made from old, vibrant books.
Instagram dream come true? Absolutely.
Libreria Acqua Alta | Hours: 9am-8pm daily
4. Scuola Grande di San Marco
What’s better than a hidden gem in Venice? A FREE hidden gem hiding in plain sight!
The building itself has a very long history dating back to 1261. However, today it is a city hospital with a hidden gem upstairs. Upon entering the building, walk up the steps on the right. Here you will find the Museum of the History of Medicine, completely free of charge. Ancient books line the walls and the expansive room is full of interesting artifacts, equipment, and literary materials about the medical field. However, my favorite part of the museum is the ceiling – look at that beauty!
Scuola Grande di San Marco | Hours: Tues-Sun 9:30am-1pm, 2-5pm
5. Isola della Certosa
Another Venetian island often overlooked by visitors is Certosa. If you like serenity in the form of nature, water sports, and a break from the crowds, this is a destination to put on your list. There is a park, which is more like an open grass area. It is perfect for outdoor activities and for breathing that clean air we so crave. Plus, you can even enjoy panoramic views of Venice across the water.
In addition, you’ll often find people wading in the water of the lagoon searching for vongole, clams. Fill your appetite and soul at the relaxing restaurant Il Certosino. To arrive on the island, take Vaporetto line 4.1 or 4.2.
6. San Francesco della Vigna
Due to its position on the edge of the city, this church is often empty even in high season. Doubling as a monastery, silence is enforced. Thus, it is a perfect destination to appreciate the detailed frescos and the spacious Renaissance interior. Don’t miss the two back courtyards laced with orange trees and accompanied by the music of chirping birds.
7. San Giorgio Maggiore Bell Tower (Campanile)
Time to hop back on the Vaporetto! The Island of San Giorgio Maggiore holds possibly the finest 360° views of Venice from the top of the bell tower. After your visit the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, make your way to the front left inside the church. There is a glass-walled elevator that takes you to what seems like the clouds. Here you will find unspeakably beautiful views of Piazza San Marco, Dodge’s Palace, and the rest of our beloved Venice.
The church and bell tower are hardly a secret to visitors as both are constantly photographed from across the lagoon in Piazza San Marco. However, I implore you to go one step further and take the short vaporetto ride and see the island with different eyes.
Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore | Hours: April- Oct 9am-7pm daily, Nov-March 8:30am-6pm daily | Price: church is free, campanile is €5
8. A La Vecia Papussa
Remember our first hidden gem bridge? Well, this secret bar is one of those local favorites I mentioned that is near Ponte de Chiodo. In fact, it is so secret that only the word “Bar” is written above the door.
Groups of friends and couples sit along the canal with a cheap spritz and cheaper wine enjoying Venetian cicchetti. What in the world are cicchetti, you ask? They are Venice’s answer to tapas and aperitivo- very cheap (I’m talking €1-€2) plates to accompany your delicious house wine or spritz.
While there are indoor tables here, I recommend taking your munchies outside and join the locals. This is a quieter side of Venice that is overflowing with charm so enjoy the scenes of teenagers cruising along the canals on their boats, local butchers crossing their personal bridges, and young Venetians displaying la dolce vita.
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