Venice Off The Beaten Path: 7 Places You Need to Visit

Venice Off The Beaten Path: 7 Places You Need to Visit

Venice is, just like Rome and Florence, one of those magical places in Italy that you have to visit at least once in your life. Unfortunately, however, Venice is flooded by tourists these days which can have a negative impact on your experience of the city. Therefore, it’s time to explore the hidden gems in Venice! This guide will give you 7 places you need to visit in order to escape the crowds and visit Venice off the beaten path, whether you only have one day in Venice or a whole week.

I can give away my most important tip already: get as far away from Piazza San Marco as possible. All tourists seem to come together at this square and only explore the canals surrounding the square. The further you go away from the square, the less crowded it will become.

My Venice Experience

However, before we dive into the locations you should visit in Venice, let me first tell you how I was able to explore all these Venice off the beaten path spots. I was lucky enough to visit Venice on a literature summer school. It was a short summer school of just one week during which we had a lecture in the morning and explored locations of the novels (which were all set in Venice) and locations that the authors had a connection to. During these walks and during my free time, I discovered many secret and hidden corners of Venice.

Rio De La Toletta, one of the canals in Venice
Rio De La Toletta, one of the canals in Venice

Venice off the beaten path

1. Visit Squero di San Trovaso where they make traditional gondolas

A 20-minute walk away from Piazza San Marco, you can find Squero di San Trovaso. This place is one of the various places in Venice where they build gondolas. There are various places where they make gondolas, but the Squero di San Trovaso is the oldest and most famous (although only a few tourists visit the place). The gondolas are made by hand and can cost 20.000 euros! This place is also great when you’re exploring Venice with kids.

Squero di San Trovaso in Venice
Squero di San Trovaso

After visiting Squero di San Trovaso, make sure to visit Gelateria Nico for some delicious ice cream! You can find this gelateria on the Fondamenta Zattere Ai Gesuati, a 2-minute walk from the gondola workshop. Although Italian ice cream may not be one of the Venice off the beaten path activities, you can’t visit Italy without eating a lot of ice cream.

2. Relax on the Campo Santa Maria Nova

From gondolas to charming squares: the Campo Santa Maria Nova is a lovely small square in the middle of Venice. There are various benches on the square that allow you to relax and soak in this beautiful city. On this piazza, there is a shop that sells Venetian masks as well. Be sure to have a look, since Venetian masks are very famous.

Campo Santa Maria Nova
Campo Santa Maria Nova

If you cross the canal, you reach the Santa Maria dei Miracoli. Built at the end of the 15th century, this church is also known as the “marble church”. It’s one of the best examples of the early Venetian Renaissance.

3. Buy some books at the Alta Aqua Libreria

Just 550 meters from Piazza San Marco, hidden away, is the bookshop Alta Aqua Libreria. This bookshop one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world and one of the hidden gems in Venice. The small square in front of the bookshop is lovely, but the inside is amazing!

Alta Aqua Libreria
Alta Aqua Libreria

There are books everywhere stacked on top of each other in a chaotic manner. You can discover old chairs, a cat, a skull, and even a gondola between all the books. Moreover, there are multiple entrances to the bookshop. One of them is from a canal!

Alta Aqua Libreria
Alta Aqua Libreria is one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world

The bookshop might seem chaotic, and you may have to search a while before you find a book in the right language, but this place is definitely worth a visit, even when you’re not much of a reader.

Bookshop Venice cat
Do you think this cat is a regular customer of the bookshop?

4. Step in Casanova’s footsteps at Calle Malipiero

You’ve probably heard about Casanova, the famous womanizer who was originally from Venice. In a hidden corner in Venice, you can visit his birthplace (or at least the place where he spent part of his youth)! A plaque on the Calle Malipiero tells you that the house belonged to Casanova’s family. The street itself isn’t very special, but it is one of the more unusual things to do in Venice and it takes you to a different (and less touristy) part of Venice. Moreover, you can’t leave Venice without having seen Casanova’s birthplace, right?

If you’d like to visit more locations in Venice that have a connection with Casanova, head to Campo San Polo (another Venice off the beaten track location). Casanova spent about 3 years in one of the palazzi on this square.

5. Visit Torcello, Hemingway’s retreat

There are multiple places in Venice that are associated with the American writer Ernest Hemingway. One of them is The Gritti, a 5-star hotel overlooking the Canal Grande. Another place where Hemingway was a frequent visitor in Venice was on the island Torcello. Torcello is 10 minutes by waterbus from Burano, one of the more popular islands surrounding Venice. However, Torcello is almost deserted compared to the masses of tourists that visit Venice and is truly a Venice off the beaten path spot.

As part of my summer school, we had an exquisite dinner at Locanda Cipriano, the restaurant where Hemingway used to stay (and some other famous people as well).

Dinner at Locanda Cipriana
Dinner at Locanda Cipriana on Torcello

Other things to do on Torcello include the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta which was founded in 639 and has some stunning mosaic inside (note: it’s not allowed to take pictures inside). The Ponte del Diavolo and the Museo Provinciale di Torcello are also worth a quick visit.

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello
Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta on Torcello
Tip: Combine Torcello with the islands Murano and Burano for the perfect day trip. Certainly, a trip to one of the islands near Venice is a must if you’re visiting Venice.

6. Discover the Jewish ghetto in the northern part of Venice

The Jewish Ghetto of Venice is located in the northern part of Venice. Today, this part of Venice is still a centre of Jewish life. There are several synagogues in the Jewish Ghetto. The Great German Schola, built in 1528, was the first synagogue of the ghetto. Near the synagogue, you can find the Jewish Museum of Venice. Stroll around this unique part of Venice on your own or join a walking tour.

Interesting fact: there is a theory that says that the word ghetto is originally derived from the Jewish ghetto in Venice. In the early Medieval times, there was a foundry in this part of Venice, which is a “Geto” in Venetian.

7. Eat ice cream on the Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo

In the eastern part of Venice, you can find Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo. Whereas there can be huge lines for the San Marco, the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo (known as the San Zanipolo in Venetian) is never busy. The church, finished in the 15th century, is one of the largest in Venice. The interior is stunning. Actually, I don’t understand why this is a Venice off the beaten path spot in Venice and there aren’t more people.

Campo San Giovanni e Paolo
Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo

Moreover, there are several tombs of important people in this church. After the 15th-century, the funeral services of the doges of Venice were held in this church. There are 25 doges buried in the church and several artists and other important Venetians.

Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo
Interior of the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo

Again, it’s time for ice cream! After you’ve explored the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, head to gelateria Rosa Salva (you can find one of the shops on this square) for delicious Italian ice cream.

How many days should you spend in Venice

In one day, you might be able to see Venice’s Highlights. However, if you’d to explore Venice off the beaten path, one day is way too short. I spent one week in Venice, because I was there for a summer school. I would recommend staying at least 3 nights in Venice or one of the surrounding islands. Don’t stay on the mainland: part of the magic of Venice is discovering Venice in the evening.

Bonus: Books set in Venice

For my summer school, I had to read several books that were set in Venice and I thought some of you might be interested in this list. After all, reading a book about a place you’re visiting is a great habit! The following novels and novellas were on my reading list:

Interested in Venice and Literature? Make sure to visit Isola di San Michele. This island is a cemetery where you can find the grave of several writers who’ve lived in Venice, such as Joseph Brodsky. Certainly, this place deserves a mention on this Venice off the beaten path list.

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Discover Venice off the Beaten Path Hidden gems in Venice

15 Replies to “Venice Off The Beaten Path: 7 Places You Need to Visit”

  1. I did not know this!! So want to go see the Ernest Hemingway places in Venice now. I love his books! And I really need to give Venice another chance… my first and last time there was tainted by pouring rain and hours of wading through knee deep water with jeans rolled up, 50 pound back packs, lost and soaking wet 😀

  2. Hahaha, that first tip his golden “Get away from Piazza San Marco”. I’d probably add “stand and admire it a little first” though. The bookshop would be the first thing on my list! Now I want to go back to Venice!

  3. What a fantastic guide for what to do in Venice. I have never been and only hear wonderful things about the city. Agree with you that the best experiences are often far from the tourist zones. Great tip on this one. Love your recommended reading list and resources. Saving this article for my next trip to Italy!!

  4. Oooh, the Alta Aqua Libreria looks like my kind of dream destination. I’m hoping to do a long weekend in Venice next year, so these hidden gems will come in handy!

  5. These are some great tips! As a frequent visitor to Venice, I agree that you have to spend most of your time away from the touristic center. And ideally at least 3 days.

  6. Great post! I’ll add it to my research for when I go in a few weeks. Certainly the bookshop is going at the top of my list! I can’t wait to wander quieter streets and get a bit lost!

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