If you’ve already seen the Doge’s Palace and want to find more unique spots in Venice, this list will get you started!
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It will never stop surprising me when people say they don’t like Venice.
Usually, they say this because they spent one day here in August, and barely wandered past St. Mark’s Square. I mean, sure: it’s hot, crowded, loud, and probably just blended together with whatever else you see on your Italian vacation. I get that. Doesn’t sound that great to me either.
But if that’s your experience of Venice, I’d argue that you haven’t seen Venice. It’s is one of those cities with so much beauty, food and culture, and like many of the great spots in Italy, much of it is out there on the street to see!
I bet you if I take you to Venice, you’d love it!
In that spirit, here are some of my favorite unique spots in Venice. Best of all: most of them are free!
Climb the Stairs at Contarini del Bovolo
Want incredible views of Venice without waiting in line at the St. Mark’s bell tower? Head over to Contarini del Bovolo.
Originally a private home, it’s now open to visitors who want to get an unusual view of Venice! On the way up, you stop in a small art exhibit. When I went it featured Italian artist Ezio Gribaudo, whose creations span several mediums and styles. Modern isn’t my favorite style, but it was so brief that it was still interesting.
The architecture of the tower is a bit unusual for Venice – the cylindrical style with arched windows. It’s as if you step out amongst the rooftops and offers nearly 360° views. The columned windows create a gorgeous frame for the nearby San Marco bell tower.
Tickets cost 7€ and require advanced booking, which can be done here. Another note: like most things in Venice, the staff and art descriptions were all bilingual. Not guaranteed, but always appreciated!
Take in the Views at T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi
If you want rooftop views but don’t want to pay for the privilege, there’s another viewing platform hidden in plain sight! Next to the Rialto Bridge sits T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, an upscale department store. While they don’t advertise it, you can climb to their rooftop terrace for more gorgeous views of the city from above.
You need to make a reservation on their website to enter the terrace, but it’s free. You get access for 15 minutes to soak in the views.
They’ve provided maps showing the names of each church spire, a helpful feature given that there’s so many! You can see all the way to San Simeone Piccolo the church across from the train station across the island.
See How a Gondola is Made
The classic gondola design has been part of Venice for centuries. You can see them made at the squero, a Venetian shipyard, which has to qualify as one of the unique spots in Venice.
You can walk along the canal and get a glimpse of their work for free, or you can visit their museum which shows more on the history and construction. I also stayed in a VRBO that overlooked the squero and it was so cool!
See the Flooded Crypt
Many Venetian buildings have their cellars or underground portions flooded. It’s a reality of the city’s sinking over the centuries. But Chiesa di San Zaccaria’s flooded crypt maintains its beauty in the midst of the water. It’s a unique view into the realities of Venice’s push and pull relationship with the sea that surrounds it.
The church sits only five minutes’ walk from Basilica di San Marco, and shares much of the same exterior design. Inside, it’s a quiet church that was built to hold the body of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. If you walk along the right side, you’ll see a desk where you can purchase tickets to the museum (3€ each as of June 2021).
Explore Cannaregio, the Jewish Quarter
Cannaregio is the original Jewish ghetto. Did you know that the word ghetto comes from Venetian? In the 1500’s, the Venetian Republic segregated Jews to one neighborhood on in Venice. It truly was a segregation: the neighborhood was walled off and gates were locked every evening. It lasted for about 300 years, until Bonaparte dissolved the Venetian Republic.
Nowadays, Cannaregio is packed with a unique culture. It’s the biggest of the six neighborhoods in Venice. There’s great food, five synagogues, and a Jewish Museum. But don’t forget, because Jewish sabbath is on Saturday, the museum isn’t open that day!
Ponte de Chiodo
Did you know that historically, most of the bridges in Venice didn’t have rails?
While that was true centuries ago, now there’s only two. You can see one for yourself in the Jewish quarter. Called Ponte di Chiodo), the sight of one of the classic bridges without sides is surprising! It’s wide enough to not risk falling in, but is also technically private property, so be smart about your photo taking. It’s located near Canneregio so it’s an easy spot to see when you’re there!
Take a Break in a Garden
My favorite garden on the island is the Giardini della Bienniale, just at the southeast corner of the island. It’s beautiful, full of trees and water views and a carousel. It’s a great spot to take a break from the crowds a little, especially if you have kids and need to let them run off some steam.
Only five minutes away is the Giardino della Marinaressa, where you can usually find sculpture exhibits on display that rotate through every six months.
I’ve included all these ideas for unique spots in Venice on Thatch! Thatch is a free app that combines the best of TripAdvisor and Google maps in one place. It’s an easy way to save all my recommendations here to use when you explore, as well as my restaurant recommendations!