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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 159 Customer Reviews

It was great to book with walks of Italy, we will book with them again. Monica was very knowledgeable and both tours were excellent.
Guide answered all questioned with enthusiasm and intelligence. I would recommend the tour
Very informative tour, Therese really knew her history!!

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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It was great to book with walks of Italy, we will book with them again. Monica was very knowledgeable and both tours were excellent.
Guide answered all questioned with enthusiasm and intelligence. I would recommend the tour
We are very happy we booked the VIP Doge's Palace Secret Passage tour! Mose is a wonderful guide and keeps the tour moving at a good pace. We learned about the Doge's Palace as well as St. Mark's Basilica and covered a lot of ground in 3 hours. I'd definitely recommend this tour (and Mose!) to friends visiting Venice.
Learned a lot about government history of Venice. Tour could have been better inside St. Marks basilica and included fee to see treasury and church museum.
Very informative tour, Therese really knew her history!!
Very nice to have a knowledgeable and personable guide. (Doesn't always happen!)
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Everything was very interesting. Our guide was great!
Great tour, great guide, and great customer support.
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The guide was EXCELLENT! She was incredibly knowledgable, patient, and easy to understand. Not only that, but she was filled with suggestions of places to eat and other things to see in Venice. My husband and I loved our tour and will absolutely book another tour through you again in the future whenever possible.
She was excellent the perfect blend of Historical knowledge and local sass!
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Great tour! I will recommend it! Thank you.
We liked the tour very much. The only problem was finding the tour guide in San Marco square. The instructions were not very clear so it took us some time to find the tour. But once’s we find them we had a very nice experience.
It was wonderful to spend so much time away from the rest of the public visitors and get such interesting information from our tour guide, Marie Terese!
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Excellent tour, very knowledgeable and entertaining guide
Guide was superb!!!!!
We had already visited the Doge's Palace, but not San Marco. Paula showed us many wonderful rooms. I was particularly fascinated by the Archives. It's my experience that a second visit does much to fix imagery and memory in my mind.
Very knowledgeable guide he knew the tour one of the best guides as have taken several tours of the Palace and Basiclia
The meeting place was a bit difficult to find. Lots of people and chaotic surroundings made it challenging. Perhaps a better description of the meeting place in the booking confirmation would be helpful. If the guide had some sort of flag or some sort of large sign we would've been able to instantly identify him.
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Our guide was great, very knowledgeable! Loved the tour had an excellent time.
Fantastic tour. Elena was a wonderful guide. Easy to understand, friendly and a wonderful storyteller. We loved the Secret Passages. So glad we chose that tour. Our favorite tour/event in Venice.
My sister and I were on this tour together. I learned so much more than what I had read or heard. The guide was excellent and the tour was amazing. My sister was just as happy with the tour.
Excellent tour and docent
So pleased paid to tour with Walks of Italy. Great to experience the underground passages with an excellent guide. Would not have discovered as much about the history of the palace with out this tour. Highly reccommended
Moses' tour was one of the highlights of our trip to Venice. We have never taken a tour before & honestly we were a bit apprehensive. However, we could not have had a better experience. We had no problem finding the meeting place for the tour. Moses had our attention from the moment the tour started. He was very personable and knowledgeable. The tour was an excellent value in our opinion. We were able to see the Doge's Palace and the Basilica at a leisurely pace. And Moses is a great storyteller! His passion for his job was evident. We will definitely take more tours with Walks of Italy! A+++ Tour, Guide & Value!
Fantastic guide. Best tour ever. My sister is going this weekend on same tour.
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A very interesting tour with a knowledgeable guide.
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Susan was great! Her knowledge and passion for Venice and the Doge's palace were evident. We loved every aspect of our tour and will recommend it to anyone we know traveling to Venice. It was recommended to us by my sister, Karina & Dean Catalano, and it did not disappoint.
Our most knowledgeable guide made this an excellent experience. Thank you!
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Our 5th WOI tour. Excellent guide, lively presentation, and quick pace allowed us to experience and learn a lot in 3 hours.
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Fabulous tour! Paola was so informative. We highly recommend taking this tour when visiting Venice
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Very interesting tour. Didn't know secret passages existed and how they were being used back then. Our guide, Susan was very knowledgeable. She did a good job.
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Maria is one of the best guides we have ever had!! A+++
Excellent. Maria was both informative and engaging.
Mose was a wonderful guide and really brought the history alive. Thank you