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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 264 Customer Reviews

Wonderful and informative. Our guide obviously enjoys Venetian history and art and her knowledge was imparted with gentle enthusiasm. We got so much more out of our visit thanks to our guide. Thanks
Excellent tour, very informative and interactive. Paola was fantastic and passionate about the subject matter.
Marie Therese was an amazing guide. She made the tour fun, informative, yet light-hearted! Would HIGHLY recommend her and Walks of Italy tours. The tour length was just right.

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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While waiting for the tour to start, the guide could ask your names or where you are from. The other "guide" at the same time was much more engaging while we were waiting for the tour to start - and we were disappointed after being introduced to her that we didn't get to go with her. At times, the tour was a bit hard to hear through the speakers/audio - so we just took them off and listened directly.
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Overall the tour was great! Only suggestion would be to not spend so long in the basilica. We spent probably 15minutes in front of one painting, hearing different facts about it. After 2.5 hours in Doge’s, we were ready to hear the highlights of the basilica and end the tour. Rather, we spent another 45minutes with the tour guide in the basilica. This was too long. It think it could have all been covered in about 15minutes and then we can tour the basilica on our own. Nevertheless, good tour.
Wonderful and informative. Our guide obviously enjoys Venetian history and art and her knowledge was imparted with gentle enthusiasm. We got so much more out of our visit thanks to our guide. Thanks
Excellent tour, very informative and interactive. Paola was fantastic and passionate about the subject matter.
Marie Therese was an amazing guide. She made the tour fun, informative, yet light-hearted! Would HIGHLY recommend her and Walks of Italy tours. The tour length was just right.
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The group was super small and I would use this company again.
The tour was great the guide was really informative & entertaining. The only criticism I have is that the equipment was a bit faulty with sound issues. Thankfully the guide was able to work thru it & fix the issue, however a basic sound & equipment check before the tour would make everything better. Otherwise great tour I would gladly go again.
The tour arrangement was absolutely excellent and exclusive. It definitely worths every penny we pay. The tour guide is so responsible and friendly. I’m very impressed how committed to his job. It was a very hot sunny day with huge crowd but he still took us around and introduced with passion WITHOUT drinking water. Or maybe a little bit. I noticed that and found him respectful and responsible. I love the tour. I’ll drfinitely recommend to anyone who’s looking for a tour in Venice.
Guide Susan was kind, patient and knowledeable! I have taken guided tours across Italy, and she was the best! I like guides that connect with the group, and pace the tour according to the needs of their group...she was warm and accomodating!
Susan, as an accomplished art historian, was the consummate guide and host. Very enjoyable and hugely informative. Will recommend to our friends and relatives. Thank you.
Yes we enjoyed it emensly. Sabrina was a caring and informative guide Her knowledge and passion for her city wss inspiring Will recommend it to everyone. Thank you
This was a very enjoyable tour and Paola did a wonderful job. It was amazing to go behind the scenes and see all of the different parts of the Doge's Palace and to skip the line for St. Mark's Basilica. We learned a lot and had a fun time.
Exellent! Marie Teresa was the best!
She was great. Full of interesting info and a good sense of humor
Great tour. Tour guide made the tour a wonderfully memorable time in Venice!
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Guide was very good and tour not too long.
Good guide. Great insight into life inside the palace. We especially enjoyed seeing and hearing about the hidden parts.
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The Walk was very well guided and very interesting.
Iole was a great guide and as advertised our group was only 6 people, she made the tour very interesting through her interesting explanations and stories. With privileged entrance, we skipped past the long waiting in line outside and the special access allows us to go far beyond the usual visitor access allowing our group to go into the Doge’s Palace secret passages. We highly recommend this tour!
Pamela was an excellent guide. She made it so enjoyable for us!
The tour was fantastic and our guide was excellent. Just wish we had more time to explore Venice, but unfortunately our ferry back to Croatia left at 5pm (not your fault of course!!) I would highly recommend your services to friends and family.
We loved our secret Doge’s Palace and St Marks Basilica tour. Mattia was a fantastic guide and very knowledgeable. We were unsure about spending the extra money on the secret tour but felt it was so well worth it. Not to mention we got to cut the very very long lines. We highly recommend this tour and will definitely consider other walks of Italy tours in the future.
Amazing tour with Susan. She is very knowledgeable and passionate about bringing history to life. The tour was very well paced and interesting. Our teens enjoyed the behind the scenes tour of the Doge's Palace and did not get bored. The 3 hours went by very quickly. I would highly recommend this tour. Out of all our Walks tours this one was by far my favorite.
Our guide was very knowledgable, her English was very good and we had a great time! Thank you very much!
Tour was too long. It was good, just dragged on a bit.
Good Morning Can I just start by saying that we met in St Marks square at our meeting point for our tour and met a young man by the name of Martin when we were checking in with Martin we discovered that our tour was for the next day we asked Martin could we go on the tour today. He told us that he would ring the office to check after 10 minutes he came back and told us that his boss was here and it would be ok for us to do tour today. We then went with another Martin on the tour and he was great well worth the trip and just had a great day. Can I just thank you and your staff on a great job. Well done I will be telling everyone about your tours well done again. David & Janet Delaney Ireland
What a great guide and tour! Our whole family (including kids ages 12 and 15) loved this tour and our guide because she made the history come alive through her interesting explanations and stories about all we got to take see!
As we had done the St Marks Basillica ‘alone’ tour the night before, we opted to just do the Doge Palace Secret Passages. Again , our guide, a lovely lady, was brilliant, she gave us just the right amount of information as we went along the passages and Palace, she didn’t ‘drown’ us with too much info, easily done on a tour, with the the amount of great info she gave us, we were really able to soak up the atmosphere of this tour. We loved it, it was brilliant!
Great tour & guide was extremely knowledgeable & had a pleasant personality. Would recommend!
Fabulous! Even my 3 children who are young enjoyed!
Only comment is the headphones are uncomfortable. People should be advised that they can bring their own headphones. Mattia was a great guide. Knowledgeable and entertaining.
We had a great tour through St. Mark's & the Doge's Palace. Allesandro was an experienced guide who clearly knew the history of Venice and loved his subject. We learned so much as we toured through those amazing buildings. The only hiccup was that one of the guides was apparently ill, so they were scrambling to cover. We left late for the tour and got back early. Otherwise, we have absolutely no complaints! Great guide! Great tour!
Very interesting
Our guide Paulo was one of the best guides we have had on a walking tour. She was extremely knowledgeable and loved her work and her city.
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.