The word “Venice” conjures up images of dreamy winding waterways, glamorous gondola rides and magnificent marble palaces. Venice is one of the world’s most desirable destinations, yet for years it was a victim of its own success with crowded cruise ships and a feeling of over-tourism that diminished the romance of the city. But now, after some pause for thought following the pandemic, Venice is back and it’s more charming than ever.
Authorities in Venice are developing plans to make the City of Water a hub of sustainable tourism. The #EnjoyRespectVenezia campaign, for example, is aimed at fostering awareness amongst visitors so they can enjoy the city in greater harmony with the local residents. Strategies are being put in place to limit the number of tourists during summer – which can get as high as 80,000 per day – and redirect traffic to not interfere with daily life.
A fantastic way that travelers can play their part in this sustainable future is to support small businesses like Secret Venice Tour and venture away from congested areas to the hidden gems of the city. Lucrezia is a licensed tour guide who is passionate about the traditions, history and hidden secrets of Venice. Her tours combine historical tales with insights into the local life of Venetians that will make you feel like a local, even just for the day.
There is so much to discover beyond the Grand Canal. You might want to explore the islands of the lagoon such as Burano or perhaps a food tour to the local osterias of Venice will tickle your fancy. Whatever your tastes, Lucrezia can customize an experience perfect for you. She has a range of ready-made tours that you can book through her website. Here we provide an overview of these tours, which are some of the best tours in all of Venice.
5 Best Tours in Venice
1. Highlights & Hidden Gems of Venice, Private Tour
The three hour Highlights & Hidden Gems private tour is the ultimate introduction to Venice for first time visitors. Combining the most famous sightseeing spots with tucked away little corners, Lucrezia will guide you through three of the six main districts of the city and help you gain a basic understanding of the culture, traditions and lifestyle of local Venetians.
Featured on this tour are stops at famous houses of Venetian residences of the past such as Marco Polo and Giacomo Casanova, a visit to the quirkiest book store in the world, the opportunity to learn the history behind the Carnival of Venice and its connection with plagues, and explorations of the former “red light district” – which is now an intriguing residential area. Along the way, interesting tidbits about the City of Canals will be shared.
2. Private Tour of Dorsoduro, Venice’s Art District
Dorsoduro showcases the real Venice without the tourists and hefty price tags. This up-and-coming area is both relaxing and vibrant at the same time – known for its art, nightlife and student vibe. Wandering the streets here is a peaceful experience and makes for a nice break from the bustling tourist centers. Follow your local guide Lucrezia as she helps you immerse yourself in one of the most authentic and artistic regions of Venice.
For two and a half hours, be drawn into this intoxicating area. Visit a gondola yard in Dorsoduro where Venetians still make (and provide maintenance to) their gondolas. This gondola yard is known as a “Squero” and it’s one of the last of its kind in the city. Relive the era when flamboyant American Peggy Guggenheim lived in the district and collected art. And listen to stories of a “cursed palace” which will both scare and intrigue you.
3. Libertine & Lavish Venice, Private Tour
The Venetian Republic, or La Serenissima, was an influential territory with many eras of prominence over the centuries. During the 17th and 18th centuries of the late-Renaissance, while going through some serious political and economic decline, Venice adopted its own form of Libertinism. This period of European history was characterized by hedonism and pleasure. It was considered by some as a golden age of the Republic.
The lifestyles of Venetians changed dramatically during this period – and on the Libertine & Lavish Venice Tour you will get a preview of what life was like during the “heyday” of Venice. Highlights include visits to decadent places like the Teatro La Fenice and Casino of Venice. Nobles like Casanova used to gamble at the casino until the early hours of the morning. It was a time of social change too, when even the very first woman graduated.
4. Cicchetti Tastings with a Local, Private Tour
Calling all foodies: this is the tour for you. Cicchetti comes from the Latin word “ciccus” which translates to “small quantity”. Think of Cicchetti as the Venetian version of tapas – small plates of food composed of local specialties that are served at most of the traditional cafes, restaurants and bars. Each bite offers something different – whether it be seafood snacks, vegetable creations or crostini (toasted breads with toppings).
Heading into the hidden corners of the city, Lucrezia will take you on a tour to discover the real flavors of Venetian “street food”. Cicchetti is more than just food, it’s a way of life. The tastings on offer during this tour will help you experience this unique lifestyle in relation to food. Finish the day with a stroll down the Zattere promenade while tasting the best gelato of your life.
5. Prosecco Hills, Private Tour & Wine Tasting
A five hour tour with a maximum of six people, the fabulous Prosecco Hills tour by Secret Venice Tour takes you to a world-famous wine region of Italy where the popular Prosecco is produced. The Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why when you visit. These small plots of vines, situated on grassy hill terraces, offer beautiful views and even more beautiful tastings.
Lucrezia has been visiting this region since she was a child and knows that it makes for the perfect day trip out of Venice. Included on the tour is a visit to an ancient local winery where barrells from the 1700s are preserved, a wine tasting on the hills of a spectacular upper-estate with three different types of Prosecco to try, and much more. You will be transported to the Prosecco Hills by luxury car. This journey takes approximately one hour.
Why Book with Secret Venice Tour?
Booking with Lucrezia enables travelers to access her immense wealth of local knowledge. She was born and raised in Venice, in the Cannaregio district, and knows the city like the back of her hand. There is so much to experience and learn about in this historic destination that not even Lonely Planet guidebooks cover. Plus, her friendly and lovable personality is a bonus. Just read the 5-star rated Google Reviews online to see for yourself.
Lucrezia took tourism classes at high school, and proceeded to study the Economics of Tourism and Arts at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice – so tourism is her vocation. She has also traveled extensively through Europe and to the United States as well, so she can easily converse with people from all over the world. There is no better way to experience a city than with a local like Lucrezia. Discover gems that only true Venetians know about.
Travel Tips for Visiting Venice
- Although summer in Venice is a special time, the best time of year to visit is in the shoulder season of April and May and September and October in order to avoid the crowds of tourists. It will still be warm then too.
- Plan for at least three to five days here. You don’t want to miss out on any of the attractions or feel rushed when you have come across hidden corners that you fall in love with. Even better, spend a week in Venice.
- Make sure you have enough time in your travel itinerary to visit the various islands of the lagoon such as Burano, Murano and Torcello.
- Due to the water taxis and gondola rides, it’s a good idea to pack light for Venice. You don’t want to be carrying around several suitcases.
- Leave some space in your suitcase/backpack for some new items of clothing or souvenirs. Venice is a wonderful place to shop at markets.
- Study a map of the city to familiarize yourself. The network of waterways and canals can be confusing for those who can’t read a map properly.
- Bring some comfortable shoes for walking because traveling by foot is one of the best ways to explore the City of Bridges. You might want to leave your heels at home unless you plan on dining at fancy restaurants.
- Walk into cafes and restaurants that are filled with locals. Head away from the tourist areas and eat like a local on your vacation in Venice.
- The public toilets of Venice are nice and clean, however there is a small fee to use them. Just keep that in mind before you head out for the day.
- Book a couple of tours with locals (like Lucrezia) so you can discover the real Venice, away from the crowds and into the secret hidden corners.