The Top 9 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Venice, Italy

Updated on September 14, 2018
Robie Benve profile image

Robie is an Italian artist who now lives in the US. She loves to share useful vacation tips and first-hand knowledge about Italy.

Read on to discover a list of the top non-touristy things to do in Venice.
Read on to discover a list of the top non-touristy things to do in Venice. | Source

A lot has been said and written about Venice, so I’m sure you already know that it is a wonderful city. It has so much to offer that you could spend a full month in Venice and still not be able to see it all. But many first-time travelers to this city end up spending more time wading through crowds than they do exploring the authentic Venice.

In this article, I will share my favorite things to do in Venice, all of which will take you beyond the usual tours and landmarks of the city.

While you are in Venice, you should by all means do, see, and try some of the typical touristic things that are not listed here—for example, you wouldn't want to miss St. Mark's Square or the Rialto bridge—but I guarantee that the sites and activities in this article will give you a taste of the city that the travel guides won't.

My 9 Favorite Things to Do in Venice:

  1. Get lost.
  2. Take a boat tour on the Canal Grande.
  3. Visit the Rialto Market.
  4. Visit the island of Murano and its glass workshops.
  5. Take a walk on the colorful island of Burano.
  6. Enter every church you see.
  7. See Venice after dusk, when there are no crowds.
  8. Enjoy the food in bacari or osterie.
  9. Visit a papier-mâché mask store.

Intrigued? Keep reading for more details!

Venice is full of hidden gems. Learn how to avoid the tourist traps and discover the best this Italian city has to offer.
Venice is full of hidden gems. Learn how to avoid the tourist traps and discover the best this Italian city has to offer. | Source

1. Stay off the Beaten Path and Get Lost

If you have a few hours to spare and a lot of memory available in your camera, take the chance to get away from Venice's seemingly ever-present flow of tourists. Go where the big crowds don't and you’ll discover some amazing and fascinating things.

The least touristy part of the city is where the real Venetians live. It's also where you will find the most picturesque buildings, the coolest little shops, and the best, least expensive places to eat.

By staying off the beaten path, you will avoid the hordes of people that typically plague the city, allowing you to enjoy the true feeling of Venice. Every turn you take has the potential to reveal wonderful churches, campi (Venetians squares) and palaces. If you get to a dead end here and there, don't worry; it might still offer a surprisingly stunning view.

To get back on track, you can follow the yellow signs on the walls, use a map, or key in your next destination on a GPS device.

2. Take a Boat Tour on the Canal Grande

The Canal Grande is the biggest of Venice’s canals and is bordered by the city's most magnificent buildings. The best and cheapest way to take a tour is on the vaporetto, or waterbus, Venice's public transportation system.

Vaporetto tickets are quite affordable, and if you use the waterbus several times in a day or week, you can purchase a travel card to save a few euro.

Once in Venice, you can easily purchase daily waterbus (vaporetto) passes.
Once in Venice, you can easily purchase daily waterbus (vaporetto) passes. | Source

3. Visit the Rialto Market

The vendors at this open-air market offer the best selection of fresh produce and fish, and locals buy their food here on a daily basis. You can find all kinds of locally grown vegetables and fruits among this market's colorful and perfumed stands.

The Rialto Market was established in 1067 and has been open daily for the last 1,000 years.

Sampling the fresh produce at the Rialto Market in Venice is a must!
Sampling the fresh produce at the Rialto Market in Venice is a must! | Source

4. Visit the Glass Workshops on Murano

Among the many islands of Venice, Murano is one of the closest to the city, and it is easy to reach by boat.

Everyone going to Venice for the first time should visit a glass shop in Murano, many of which offer tours of their glass furnaces, where you can see how glass objects of amazing beauty are made by skilled artisans.

I still have vivid memories of the first time I visited a blown-glass furnace for the first time; I was in second grade. What an outstanding day trip that was!

Note: If you visit Murano, I highly recommend stopping at the osteria La Perla ai Bisatei for a bite to eat. This is a nice, cozy, and affordable restaurant with great local cuisine and friendly service. It's a place where the locals eat—need I say more?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Glass maker in Murano, VeniceBlowing into the incandescent glass to inflate it.Vase from the glass workshop of the Toso brothers, dated 1890-1900 (Vetreria fratelli Toso, vaso, Murano)
Glass maker in Murano, Venice
Glass maker in Murano, Venice | Source
Blowing into the incandescent glass to inflate it.
Blowing into the incandescent glass to inflate it. | Source
Vase from the glass workshop of the Toso brothers, dated 1890-1900 (Vetreria fratelli Toso, vaso, Murano)
Vase from the glass workshop of the Toso brothers, dated 1890-1900 (Vetreria fratelli Toso, vaso, Murano) | Source

5. Take a Walk on Colorful Burano

The island of Burano, 40 minutes from Venice via waterbus, is the perfect place for a field trip on a sunny day. Trust me, you won't want to miss a chance to enjoy the unique, cheerful atmosphere of this old fisher’s town. Burano is not crowded with tourists, and the homes are very colorful, making it a delightful place to see and visit.

Just as Murano is famous for its glass tradition, Burano is the capital of fine laces and doilies, all of which are handmade with skills that have been passed down through generations. There is even a nice Lace Museum (Museo del Merletto) on the island.

The colors of the island of Burano, Venice
The colors of the island of Burano, Venice | Source

6. Enter Every Church You See

Venetian churches usually have free entrance (unless they have been turned into a museum), and most of them are just amazing inside. Upon entering any randomly found church, you are likely to admire superbly executed stained glass, spectacular architecture, and mosaics and paintings by the most famous medieval artists.

Note: In order to enter the city's churches, you must follow these simple rules:

  • Be quiet.
  • Be respectful.
  • Make sure you are wearing clothes that are not too showy (e.g. avoid tiny tank tops and very short pants).

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Venice is full of hidden places that are just as charming as its famous landmarks (if not more so!).Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo—a hidden gem in Venice.
Venice is full of hidden places that are just as charming as its famous landmarks (if not more so!).
Venice is full of hidden places that are just as charming as its famous landmarks (if not more so!). | Source
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo—a hidden gem in Venice.
Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo—a hidden gem in Venice. | Source

7. Explore a Crowdless Venice After Dusk

Don’t be in a hurry to leave the city just because the sun is going down. The best time to appreciate the magic atmosphere of Venice is when the tourists and the commuters are not out and about.

See Venice at night, either after dinner or very early in the morning. You will get a whole new perspective of the city's wonderful architecture, harmonious shapes, and colors and sounds when it’s quiet. It can make a nice walk a truly magical experience.

My absolute favorite time of day in Venice is twilight. When the sun sets, the city gets calmer and quieter. You can hear the steps and the voices around you, and the buildings take on a fascinating light from the sky's changing colors and the street lights that start coming on. It is simply wonderful.

This bar's tramezzini display is enough to make your mouth water!
This bar's tramezzini display is enough to make your mouth water! | Source

8. Enjoy the Food in Bacari or Osterie

Venice has a wonderful selection of places to eat, and the food is exquisite. However, you must try to avoid highly touristic places.

Besides restaurants and pizzerias, the typical Venetian eatery is called a bacaro (plural bacari), which is, simply put, a bar where they serve local foods in small portions that resemble Spanish tapas. They also serve good wines and beers. Frequently, you will find that there are different prices if you eat at the bar as opposed to sitting down; sitting is the more expensive option.

Many people go for a “bacaro tour” where they walk around and stop at different places, eating and drinking a little at each one.

Osterie are also nice places to eat. They are usually family-run restaurants and are similar to bacari in some ways.

Red Flags for Highly Touristic Restaurants

Avoid restaurants and bars that fit the following description:

  • Their menus are translated into several languages.
  • There are Italian flags and symbols everywhere in the restaurant.
  • The place is full of tourists.
  • There is a waiter at the door luring people in.

Usually, these kind of restaurants are much more expensive and deliver lower-quality food.

9. Visit a Papier-Mâché Mask Shop

In Venice, you will find many shops full of papier-mâché masks. They are handmade according to tradition (which dates back to the 13th century!), and they can get quite expensive. Beware of the cheaper masks found in many lower-quality shops. They are still good looking, but they are made in China and are therefore inauthentic.

Mask Shop in Venice
Mask Shop in Venice | Source

This Video Captures the Feeling of Everyday Venice

Questions & Answers

  • What is the weather like in Venice during the summer?

    Venice is quite hot during the summer and very humid, with the occasional thunderstorm, especially in the evening hours. The average temperatures in July are highs in the range of 28-32 Celsius (83-90 F), and lows at 18-21 C (65-70F).

  • I’m trying to book a three night stay in December for 9 people and want a real authentic trip. Are there any companies that can organize a visit for 9 of us?

    I'm sure there are companies that can organize your trip, tour operators or travel agencies - in Italy they are called "Agenzia Viaggi". I am not sure if you are asking for a company in Venice or near where you leave. Personally, I live in the US, but I grew up in Venice, so every time I go back and visit I basically stay with family and organize my own trips. I'm sorry that I can't help you. I would search for "Agenzia Viaggi Venezia" and maybe contact a few of them and see what they can offer.

© 2012 Robie Benve


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    • profile image


      6 months ago

      Love your information. We are booking a day trip to Dolomites from Venice on June 1. Wonder what we could possibly expect regarding the weather cloud cover etc? Trip goes to cortina but would love to go to Lagazuoi as am a history buff. How far is it driving from cortina ? Will try to add to tour even if have to pay more. Tour also stops at Lake Misurina. They say we will lunch there. Any recommendations? Thanks so much

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      8 months ago from Ohio

      Hi Linda, as you probably know May 1st is the Italian Labor Day, and many businesses and companies are closed. The good news is that typically, on that day, Italians plan to leave the city and go on a picnic or hiking in nature, so Venice, as well as other cities, should not be overcrowded. Exceptions are cities in which there are big concerts or parades planned as celebration in the historic center, but generally speaking you should be all right. I hope it turns out great for you! :)

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      Thanks for the information. We are visiting Venice for 3 nights 30 April - 3 May. Unfortunately this coincides with 1 May public holiday which I believe will make Venice very busy. What do you suggest we plan for the 1 May, would we be better to organise a day trip to Murano and Burano or will that be just as busy? Will the evening of May 1 be busy also or do you think maybe day trippers and holiday makers will be leaving before dinner? I'm not sure if we should be reserving a restaurant.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      9 months ago from Ohio

      Hi Gahagan, I am originally from a small town near Venice, so when I go visit I stay with family and mainly eat at home. I write articles about the things I love in Italy, but I don't feel like endorsing any businesses. Sorry about that... Hope you enjoy your vacation! The only cafe'/eating place that is near to my heart is owned by wonderful friends of mine, if you happen to be in the area, please say hi for me, she and her husband are lovely! Caffetteria-Cicchetteria Ai do Scaini, San Polo, 3080

      Venice, Italy 30125. Have a wonderful trip!

    • profile image


      9 months ago

      I will be in Venice mid December. This will be my wife's first time to Venice. We don't like touristy things and prefer to have a more authentic experience. We are travelling around Italy for our anniversary and I want her to have the best experiences she can have.We will only be there for a day and a half. Is there any advice you might give us as to what to see and where to eat.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      13 months ago from Ohio

      Hi Mellyhoo, to stay overnight in Venice, try the areas of Castello, Giudecca or S. Marta. hey are the less turistic, so less crowds, and usually more affordable.

    • profile image


      13 months ago

      My hubby and I will be traveling to Venice in late September... what area would you recommend to stay overnight? We want to stay somewhere nice (quaint) without spending too much money.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      15 months ago from Ohio

      Hi Julie, well, you can never tell what weather is reserving for us, but you could be very blessed in early November and get some gorgeous days in Venice. You might even get to experience the acqua alta (high tide that floods some parts of the city) and see how Venicians cope with that recurring problem. Make sure you check the weather forecast a few days before your trip, so you can plan what to pack. Wishing you and your mom the best.

    • profile image

      Julie B 

      15 months ago

      I will be in Venice with my mom and sister in early November. Will we be disappointed with weather?

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      19 months ago from Ohio

      Awesome, T! Have fun in Venice! I wish you find wonderful weather and have a happy, memorable experience in Venice and surrounding Islands! Buon viaggio!

    • profile image

      19 months ago

      thanks for this post I will be in Venice in the first week of March,

      I will definitely take your advice and get to the unknown areas and use the Italian commuter boats to the other islands.

      Thank you for the info.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      Oh CYoung74, you are so right! Venice becomes quieter in the evenings, and the time from right before sunset to night is truly magic. Perfect to get lost, and explore random places to eat and drink.


    • CYong74 profile image

      Kuan Leong Yong 

      2 years ago from Singapore

      Getting lost! Totally agree. No trip to Venice is complete without getting "lost." And it has to be from the early evening onward, after all the hordes of day trippers are gone.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Salenaat, Venice is a multi-faceted jewel, with lots of wonderful hidden corners just waiting to be discovered and admired. Glad to hear you enjoyed getting lost in Venice. Thanks a lot for your feedback!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Venice is so beautiful we have little time but have done the touristy things must admit getting lost was the most fun. Doge palace is worth it. Mystical and breath taking. Didn't make it to burano next time.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Daniel, Oh yes, if there is a true complaint about Venice are the prices. Way high! That's why it becomes very important to spend far from the beaten path, in the non-touristy shops. Thanks a lot for your comment. :)

    • Daniel Winzer profile image

      Daniel Winzer 

      3 years ago from Budapest

      I've been to Murano and saw those lovely workshops full of glass masterpieces. It's a tiny island with small streets and buildings. You are a tourist in Venice only at your first visit, then you will be at home there because this gemstone city can never be boring and there is always something new to discover. Prices are way too high though.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Sandra Fermin, Venice is full of great bar, bacari, pasticcerie and restaurants. I am much more familiar with the tramezzini places near the University, and there are really many! My best advice is, in any area of Venice you are, ask the locals for the best place to eat. Shop owners, students, or other people living/working there know the best places around the corner.

      Near the Tolentini I love a bar called Ai Do Scaini, I had the best Spritz and cicheti there last summer!

    • profile image

      Sandra Fermin 

      3 years ago

      Hi where can I get an amazing Tramezzini veneziani in Venice near San Marco square? Thanks.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      4 years ago from Ohio

      I agree with you Nicole, the less popular islands of Venice are e hidden treasure that deserves to be discovered, especially if the stay in Venice is long enough that you can enjoy the main landmarks as well. :) My kids still remember the trip to Murano, the glass making, and especially when we had lunch in a secluded trattoria that a local recommended: de-li-cious!

      Thanks for your feedback!

    • Nicole Pellegrini profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 

      4 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      I'd say that going into a glass shop on Murano is pretty touristy - most of the places just want to trap you into buying something and not all of it is even made on the island!

      My favorite non-touristy thing to do in Venice is visit some of the less popular islands of the lagoon like beautiful, quiet Torcello or the plague island of Lazaretto Nuovo, only open one or two days a week to visitors.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi Dan, I was on the tour you suggested ( and I agree with you, it was one of the highlight of my vacation in Venice. I was with a group of 6 people, after the tour we decided to pass the night together, we had such a great time... about the wine... it was just delicious.

      Definitely recommended!!!

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi Jane, I've been in Venice three weeks ago and I tried a tour like the one of Thiago,a tour through a selection of bacaros and wine bars. It's a nice option if you have few time.

      The tour was amazing, also because you can see many parts of the town, enjoying in every district a different wine and a different cicchetto(the venetian appetizer).

      I found the tour on this site

      There's a day tour and a night tour, I tried the one with five wines and the gondola.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      4 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Jane, a wine bar in Italy is called "enoteca". They usually serve great food as well, along with a huge selection of wines.

      In Venice there are many great ones, a few that you can look up are: Enoteca Boldrin, Enoteca do Colonne, and Vini da Gigio.

      Have fun! :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hello everybody, anyone of you could give me some tips to find some nice wine bars in Venice?

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      4 years ago from Ohio

      That's so cool thiagoguarnera! Thanks for sharing, I'll include the link in the hub! :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I was in Venice two weeks ago and one of the things I liked the most was making a tour through the traditional bars of Venice.

      here i have found the tour


    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi tastiger04, Venice ids the perfect city to enjoy going off the beaten path, because every corner is wonderful. And as you find the best food in the non-touristic areas, if food + beauty = perfect combination! :) Thanks a lot for your comment!

    • tastiger04 profile image


      5 years ago

      Great ideas! I would be all about the food :) I really enjoyed this hub, as I am one of those that tries to go off the beaten path while traveling....voted up and useful!!

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi FullOfLoveSites, aren't those colorful buildings in Burano just gorgeous? There are other areas of Venice with lively colors, but Burano is one of the prettiest.

      Thanks for you comment! :)

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image


      5 years ago from United States

      Thanks for letting us see and discover the other side of Venice. I love those colorful buildings in Burano, first time I've seen such kind in Venice. :)

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Hifreecampingaussie, sounds like you have a very exciting trup to Venice planned!

      Many people stay in the mainand (Mestre) to save some money, but you lose a lot of the magic like that... Try to find lodging in the less touristy areas of Venice.

      I can't really recommend any hotel because we are blessed with the opportunity to stay with Venician relatives when we visit.

      Enjoy your trip!

    • freecampingaussie profile image


      5 years ago from Southern Spain

      Love your hub and will take your advice . Last time we were in Venice we had 6 children with us ! This time there will be 2 of us and we will spend more time exploring, Voting you up.We will be looking for somewhere reasonably priced to stay = Any suggestions for a tight budget ?

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Pavlo, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy your visit to Venice, it's a wonderful place. :)

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 

      5 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      ActuallyVenice is one of the places I am going to visit next. :) Great hub !

    • speedakias profile image

      speedy gonzales 

      6 years ago from Greece

      Very useful article. I love Venice! Thanks for the sharing!

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Melove, I'm glad to hear you experienced those things first hand, and since you'd like to go back I gather you enjoyed them too. Wonderful.

      Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      6 years ago from UK

      I went to Venice when I was a teacher on a school trip. It is a beautiful city. We did 3 of your suggestions - got lost, visited the Rialto market and the glass shops. I’ll have to go back now so I can take a boat tour and visit Burano!

      This is a useful and interesting hub.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Turtlewoman, a honeymoon Venice would be very romantic, and still get you the chance to see artistic and cultural things. For a honeymoon all my reservations about gondola tours drop. You should definitely experience a gondola tour, with musicians on board serenading you, possibly at late afternoon. :)

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 

      6 years ago from California

      Wow Robie, I love this personal presentation of Venice! My fiancé and I are still contemplating a honeymoon destination and Venice is in our thoughts. I would love to visit the beautiful structures, the supermarket, and the Bacora dessert shop looks fascinating. Very helpful hub, thanks!

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Amy, thanks a lot. :)

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Kathleen, what a beautiful image, not only sailing into Venice, but at sunset and with a Vivaldi's background music. wow. That, I have never done. Now I'm the jealous one. :)

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Hi Crystal, sometimes is good to have a dream, and it makes it even more pleasurable when it becomes reality. :)


    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Marcy, I hope you get to visit Venice soon, and maybe Florence and Rome too. What a great plan to have! :)) Thanks a lot for your comment and for sharing. :)

    • Amy Gillie profile image

      Amy Gillie 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      This is amazing! I love your thoughtful ideas, such as visiting a glass shop. Well done!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      We sailed into Venice at sunset with Vivaldi playing on the ship's sound system. Talk about a memory. Your hub hits some great highs for the city. How can you not love Venice? Up and beautiful.

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I have always wanted to visit Venice. Your hub makes me want to go even more. I'll remember this if I ever get there.

      Til then, I'll just dream!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      I'm so jealous! Venice has been on my list of places to see for many years. Well, along with the rest of Italy! You have brought it to life with your words and pictures! So now I can't wait to get there - time to plan a trip.

      Voted up and up, and shared.

    • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

      Robie Benve 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Nettlemere, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'm glad to ear you liked it. :)

    • Nettlemere profile image


      6 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Good to see some unfamiliar options for sightseeing in Venice and a guided tour from someone who's lived there.


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