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VIP Secret Passages Tour & St. Marks Basilica

Key Details

  • City: Venice
  • Duration: 3hrs
  • Start Time: 12.45PM

Tour Highlights

  • The most complete tour of the Doge’s Palace, we’ll take you to special access areas not usually open to the public – including torture chambers and Casanova’s prison cell!

  • After your secret passages tour you'll skip notoriously long general access lines to get inside the Doge's Palace for a special tour by our local guide.

  • Traveling in small groups of max 15 people throughout, your journey will be intimate, while privileged access means you won’t queue at all.
Admire architecture at the Doge's Palace Doge's Palace courtyard & St. Mark's Basilica Doge's Palace courtyard & St. Mark's Basilica Doge's Palace courtyard & St. Mark's Basilica Painted roof panel, Doge's Palace Inside The Bridge of Sighs Inside The Bridge of Sighs The (not so) New Prisons Discover secret nooks at Palazzo Ducale Statues at the Doge's Palace Palazzo Ducale a.k.a. the Doge's Palace The Bridge of Sighs Meet in central Venice



You’ll meet your guide near the Doge’s Palace and head straight inside (no waiting in line for us) where a palace guard will unlock a secret door, allowing you to step into the hidden world of political Venice. Navigate the hidden prison cells reserved for VIP prisoners, torture chambers, secret government archives and top echelon offices. Even back in the day most Venetians didn’t know this space existed, so it’s hard to measure just how privileged our secret passages tour is. With their antique cabinets and creaky floors these rooms will truly make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.

By exploring the secret passages, you get away from the crowds elsewhere in the Doge’s Palace and walk in the footsteps of Venice’s most colorful characters. Our favorite? Casanova, that legendary romantic – yes, he did exist! As you’ll learn, he deserves all of the lore. Against all odds, he was able to escape his cell here in the palace, a cell you’ll get to see exclusively in the secret passages tour.


Few visitors ever have the opportunity to walk the passages you’ve just walked yet still the Doge’s Palace is one of the top sights of Venice. See what all the fuss is about when you step back into general access areas of the palace to explore the waiting rooms, council halls and ballrooms of the palace. While our secret passages tour is full of dark secrets and hidden rooms, the general access part of this tour is all pomp and grandeur – visiting some of Venice’s finest works of art.

You’ll discover the public face of the Republic of Venice with your expert guide, from the Doge’s own lavish apartments to the Hall of the Great Council. Admire beautiful and dramatic paintings by Veronese and Tintoretto and explore the magnificent halls that demonstrate the prestige of the Venetian Republic.


Round off your experience with a visit to Venice's other great site; St. Mark's Basilica. Since you're traveling with a local guide, you'll have use of a special entrance at the Basilica, potentially saving you up to an hour of waiting in line. Once inside, your guide will give you a full tour of the Basilica, from the east-meets-west architecture to the stunning gold mosaics. Nowhere pays homage to the city's past so much as St Mark's Basilica, a structure which benefited greatly from the pillaging of Venetians abroad. In fact, even the relics of St. Mark, held here, were stolen. You'll also see the famous altarpiece, the Pala D'oro - no prizes for guessing which metal its made from.

Blending so many world influences, it's a perfect microcosm of Venetian style and history. And like the Doge's Palace, it holds plenty of prime storytelling material for your guide.


Throughout your tour you’ll travel in small groups of only 15 people or fewer so you’ll find that your guide is always easy to hear and engage with. Ask all the questions you want – our guides are Venetian locals who spend a lot of time in the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark's Basilica, so you’ll find it hard to catch them out. They’re passionate about the history and art of Venice and about sharing that passion with you, so they’d love to hear your queries.

With privileged entrance, we save time waiting in line, while special access allows us to go far beyond the usual visitor experience for an adventure into the Doge’s Palace secret passages. Leave no stone unturned or door unopened on this complete, comprehensive, and thoroughly VIP exploration of the history and art of Venice!

Please note that due to Doge's Palace rules, we cannot accommodate children under 6 years old in the Secret Passages.

Sites visited

  • Casanova’s prison cell
  • Torture chamber
  • Secret archives
  • Hall of the Great Council
  • Courtrooms, the Doges’ Apartments
  • Sala dello Scrutinio
  • New Prisons
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • St.Mark's Basilica
  • Pala D'oro


  • Special access to the Doge’s Palace Secret Passages
  • Tickets & reservation fees
  • Expert Walks of Italy tour guide
  • Small groups of 15 or fewer
  • Headsets
  • Pre-reserved tickets for St.Mark's Basilica


5-stars from over 225 Customer Reviews

We really enjoyed the tour with Marie-Therese as our guide. She was very animated and made the tour very enjoyable and entertaining.
Susan was absolutely amazing. She was so friendly and knowledgeable and never rushed us when the group had more questions to ask. I can't rate her highly enough. She put so much energy into ensuring we had such a positive and informative experience.
Our guide provided a wonderful tour experience. Sorry forgot her name but provided great history and stories of the prison and palace.

Important information

Before you travel, please read our important notes about possible disruptions & site entrance requirements

Due to Doge's Palace regulations, children under the age of 6 are not permitted inside the secret passages and therefore cannot take this tour.

The prisons and secret passages as well as the terraces at St.Mark's are not wheelchair-accessible, nor is the route suitable for those with walking disabilities or for pregnant women. Please contact us at info@walksofitaly.com if you have walking disabilities or if you are in a wheelchair to discuss alternative tours.

St. Mark's Basilica can be subject to unforeseen closures due to particular liturgical celebrations. In the case in which the basilica is closed, we will give you explanations from the outside.

Please remember that the basilica is a holy place and attire must be appropriate: Both men and women are asked to wear clothing that covers at least the shoulders and knees. Walks of Italy cannot be held responsible for denied entry due to improper dress. Backpacks are prohibited inside of St. Mark's Basilica.

This tour runs rain or shine. However, occasionally St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace are closed to the public, without previous notice, due to high tides or particular festivities. In these cases we endeavor to contact customers as soon as possible to arrange a suitable alternative.

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Offer only valid on listed tours purchased at the same time. Non-transferable.
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We really enjoyed the tour with Marie-Therese as our guide. She was very animated and made the tour very enjoyable and entertaining.
Susan was a passionate informative guide. Being able to see and hear the stories behind the secret passages in the Doges's Palace and jail was exciting and insightful. The St. Mark's Basilica is truly a marvel in itself, but was brought to life with wonderful stories told by our guide. Excellent guide and tour!
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My wife and i have been travelling through Italy for the past 2 1/2 weeks and have been extremely happy with all of our Walks of Italy tours. They have been well organised and informative and professional. We tried city wonders and they were rude and less than accommodating for a tour. We have always checked your tours before anyone else.
Susan was absolutely amazing. She was so friendly and knowledgeable and never rushed us when the group had more questions to ask. I can't rate her highly enough. She put so much energy into ensuring we had such a positive and informative experience.
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Tour was very insightful. Spent possibly a few minutes too long on some of the artwork explanations, but that isn't really our main interest so some others may have enjoyed the depth.
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Our guide provided a wonderful tour experience. Sorry forgot her name but provided great history and stories of the prison and palace.
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Our guide, I believe her name was Veronica, was EXCELLENT!!! We would hire her to do every tour we take. She was thorough, clear speech, willing to answer questions, and very attentive to our group.
I wish we knew the name of our guide as she was excellent!! Somehow we missed out on getting her name. My husband and I enjoyed this tour very much. She had so much knowledge to share and it was obvious that she loves Venice and her job. We both left feeling like we had to go home and read more as she made it so interesting. I would highly recommend this particular tour as getting to know the underside of the palace was very interesting ,
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Excellent tour. The guide was fantastic - very nice and great explanations. The only drawback is the price of the tour which is very expensive.
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The VIP Doge's Palace Secret Passages Tour was excellent and the guide was extremely knowledgeable, but the St. Mark's Basilica tour was lacking in the time spent within the basilica and actual amount that was seen.
Paola was excellent. The tour couldn’t have been better.
Sabrina is simply priceless. The tour has been very interesting but I'm sure that the presence of Sabrina has been the add value. Excellent product, dear Gaia Mariani!
Tour was on time, as advertised, informative and knowledgable friendly guide.
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In the initial confirmation with notes on the meeting point, it would be helpful to include some description of what to look for (ex- tour guide carries a yellow flag) Unfortunately we didn’t realize this tour was almost 4 hours so we had to leave before St Marks due to another commitment. We appreciated our guides ability to give good insight without overwhelming the group. She had a nice balance of information and keeping the group moving.
Marie Therese was a wonderful tour guide. She took her time with us and went out of her to give recommendations for other things to do in Venice.
The guide was fantastic....very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. We really enjoyed the tour and would recommend to others.
The meeting point was easy to find and the line jump was very quick. Sabrina (our guide) was very engaging and knowledgeable. Thank you.
The tour was fantastic, the guide was really knowledgeable and so made the whole experience so interesting and she kept us engaged for the whole time. I have no complaints and would not hesitate to book another tour either in Venice or anywhere else.
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We had a great tour and we very much enjoyed Susan's wit and humour.
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Our tour guide was fabulous. She was knowledgable, friendly, personable, and fun. We really enjoyed the day. Thank you.
Paola was an excellent guide. She had such expansive knowledge of everything included in the tour. It was a very enjoyable experience for us, and we would not hesitate to recommend her to any of our friends. Thanks!
Marie Therese was excellent as was the tour!
Giuseppina was knowledgeable, fun, and approachable. We had some technical issues at the outset, but she handled the situation quickly and with aplomb. Great tour!
Excellent tour, the lady was very passionate about the subject and clearly knew her subject well.
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Giuseppina was probably the best tour guide we had on our Italy trip. The was informative, witty and just a delight. Thank you!
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Fantastic tour and amazing guide. Was very happy with everything. Thanks!
Marie-Therese was great. Good stories, knew answers to our questions, did not bore us with tedious details if uninteresting, was positive and energetic. Fun tour.
Great tour! Very interesting and well organized.
Fantastic guide Could not fault her
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Francessca was an amazing guide. She conveyed the history and significance of the church and palace in a well thought out manner and provided deep insight to the politics and climate of the age. Her oratory skills are unmatched and far exceeded quality of the three other tours I’ve so far taken. I highly recommend her to any and everyone interested in learning about the landmarks and history of Venice. To top it all of, she was so considerate and thoughtful, always making sure she did not lose anyone who lagged behind and expertly maneuvered the crowds.
Great tour guide. We found the tour to be interesting and informative.
excellent guide; knowledgable and friendly. Well organized and as advertised.
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The tour was fantastic! Francesca was friendly, approachable and knowledgeable. Highly recommended!