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When it comes to European destinations, Venice is instantly recognisable. You could show even the most unseasoned traveler an outline of its landscape and they’d likely identify the Italian city at a glance!
Comprised of more than 100 small islands separated by a network of canals, the capital of the Veneto region is ranked among the most beautiful cities in the world.
But while it’s certainly famous for its canals and gondolas, Venice is also comprised of intriguing little pockets those dreamy Instagram snaps don’t always capture – and there are plenty of alternative things to see and do in Venice that the guidebooks often overlook.
6 Hidden Highlights: Alternative things to do in Venice
Avoiding typical tourist traps is something we all attempt to do when exploring a new city, but without the help of some pro travel tips, it can be a little tricky!
Luckily for adventurous explorers, we chatted with local Walks guide Mosè to get his insights on the things to do and the places to see if you want a ‘non-touristy’ plan when visiting the Floating City.
From the Liberty Villas of Lido to local-led Venice food tours, here’s some of the best:
1.Visit the Artisti Artigiani del Chiostro
If art is your thing, then the Artisti Artigiani del Chiostro is an absolute must-see while visiting Venice.
The ancient cloister of the former Convents of Cosma e Damiano, located on the island of Giudecca, is home to the workshops and studios of artists who specialise in an abundance of crafts. It offers visitors a unique insight into the Venetian art scene, along with the extraordinarily talented artists who populate it.
“It’s a very interesting place to explore”, Walks guide Mosè tells us. “And it can be a good excuse to explore the rest of the Giudecca Island, which is full of interesting [sights]!”
Whether you fancy a casual browse or are looking for a more in-depth exhibition, a visit to the Artisti Artigiani del Chiostro during your time in Venice will no doubt be a rewarding one.
2. Spend time on the sand in Alberoni
If you plan to visit Venice during the summer months then it’s well worth making your way to the small town of Alberoni, located at the southern end of Lido Island.
Popular with locals who want to steer a little clear of the crowds, its beach is usually quite peaceful and comes as welcome respite from the more overcrowded areas of the Italian city.
According to Walks guide Mosè, the Oasi WWF naturalistic resort is a good spot for seeing some wild animals. If bars are more your thing, Macondo (pictured above) on the Southern tip is worth a stop off for a cooling beverage or two.
3. Check out the Liberty Villas of Lido
We’re not done with the Lido Island just yet, folks!
Before you gather your belongings and depart after an idyllic day on the sand, it’s worth taking some time to wander through the island’s central residential area.
Why? Well, if you’re interested in the various forms of architecture which can be seen throughout Venice, it’s here you will find some truly wonderful examples of Stile Liberty architecture.
Don’t leave the island without ambling through the area and admiring its nod to the Art Nouveau era of architectural design.
4. Go back in time at the M9 Museum in Mestre
If you’re fascinated by Italy’s complex history and keen to delve into its intricacies, there is perhaps no better way to do this than by a visit to the M9 Museum.
The museum, which opened its doors in December 2018, is located in central Mestre – the city on the mainland right next to the lagoon. Designed by Berlin-based architectural firm Sauerbruch Hutton, its unique exterior ultimately gives way to a vast selection of interactive installations documenting the evolution of Italy.
“The museum has a bar, a restaurant and a shop, and it’s located within a newly restored area of the city that is surprisingly pleasant to explore!” says Mosè.
The permanent exhibition concerns the history of the 20th century and English explanations are available in every section. For more information, visit m9museum.it/en/welcome-m9
Read more: Venice’s Aqua Alta: A Survival Guide
5. Go nautical at the Naval History Museum
History buffs, we have another gem in store for you, and it comes in the form of the Naval History Museum.
“The Naval Museum is probably the lesser-visited museum of the city, but the power of the Republic of Venice in the past was all about the sea!” Mosè explains.
With that in mind, it’s only logical that a visit to the Naval Museum should rank pretty high on your Venetian itinerary, right?
Located in the Castello district of Venice, near the Venetian Arsenal, Mosè urges visitors to make the most of their experience, advising: “You can – at certain times – enter the padiglione delle navi, a section of the Arsenal,[which is] the ancient shipyard of the Republic!”
6. Visit Rialto Fish Market and shop like a local
One of the most universal areas we all try to avoid the ‘tourist traps’ is when it comes to our food. But many of us find ourselves getting roped in to overpriced restaurants serving not-so-fresh dishes.
Foodie spots such as Rialto Fish Market and the neighbourhood of Cannaregio are ideal for getting a feel for how the Venetians eat – and buy – their best food.
Another good way to avoid tasteless menus and getting a more ‘authentic’ experience? Find out where the locals eat by taking a local-led food tour!
Venice is often massively under-rated when it comes to cuisine, and that’s simply because people aren’t looking in the right places!
Read more: Visiting Venice on a Budget
So whether history and architecture floats your boat, or food and culture is more to your taste, going off the beaten track in Venice is always an enriching experience, so what are you waiting for?!
Journey to Venice’s outer islands, Murano and Burano, by private boat on our Premium Lagoon Excursion: Murano Glass Making, Burano & Wine Tasting tour. Along the way, we’ll indulge in a VIP-level wine tasting at a secluded vineyard and see a private glassmaking demonstration without the crowds.
by Niamh McClellandView more by Niamh ›
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