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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 24 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 groups of 24 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
  • Groups of 24 or fewer
  • Headsets
  • Pre-reserved tickets for St.Mark's Basilica


5-stars from over 325 Customer Reviews

It was a great experience. Lots of great stories and our guide was lovely. :-)
A fascinating tour brilliantly delivered, thank you!

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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It was a great experience. Lots of great stories and our guide was lovely. :-)
A fascinating tour brilliantly delivered, thank you!
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Susan was excellent.
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Francesca was a truly excellent guide informative, witty and extremely knowledgable. Superb!
Loved the tour. Lots of great insights. Always use “ take walks” whenever I can when I’m on holiday.
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Our guide Sara was absolutely fabulous! I am not a history buff but she made it very interesting and entertaining!
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Our guide was funny and interesting. Thank you.
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Francesca was very good, she made the tour most enjoyable, her facts and insight were interesting and accurate. I would recommend Your tour to anyone.
Very good and knowledgeable guide, excellent tour
Our guide was absolutely fabulous. Since our tour with him we look for tours with your company first. He was brilliant!
Paola was absolutely wonderful. Or tour could not have been enjoyed more.
Excellent tour with friendly, knowledgeable, professional guide.
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Was a great tour, We will recommend it to our friends.
Loved Paola!! Really enjoyed the secret passages tour.
Fab tour Martina was excellent. Very professional and knowledgeable. Would defiantly book with you again.
Sabrina was a great host. She spoke clearly and she was very friendly. Great tour overall!
Learned a lot and enjoyed the tour.
Everything was A1
Our guide was wonderful and very knowledgeable. I appreciated how she shared her knowledge of history and made it interesting for us. Group sometimes felt large as you had to be close by to hear her ; or you had “feedback” from the headphones. Also, I know my husband and a couple of others on the tour had difficulty with the guide’s heavy Italian accent ( I was fine with it) overall great tour and worth the money
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Sabrina was a great guide, informative and interesting. Loved the stories anout Casanova and the Republic of Venezia. The splendor of the Basilica and Palace is stunning!
Mattia was fantastic, he was so passionate and informative. He made the tour insightful, fun and engaging!
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I am happy with the quality of service and the knowledge of your staff. Grazie
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The tour was wonderful, very informative. Mattia was a great guide. His enthusiasm and love for Venice and her rich history were very evident.
Great tour ! Our guide was wonderful and we felt very lucky to have him as a guide!
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Enjoyed the Tour content and appreciated you allowing us to have a guide just for our group of 10. Guide was very knowledgeable and experienced. The communication and response time while making arrangements was also very good. Will certainly recommend you to others!
Our guide was wonderful and very observant. I was not feeling well and didn’t want to hold the group up so did not say anything. She did notice and made special arrangements while in Doge’s palace to have someone take me to a seating area and met me later in the tour. I was very impressed
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This was an awesome tour. Our guide was wonderful; she truly seemed to connect with the history she was explaining, bother in the Doge's Palace and the Basilica. We spent three hours experiencing some of the most wonderful and impressive art we have seen on our 10-day trip to various Italian cities. I highly recommend this tour.
Fantastic tour that lasted for 3 hours. Martina, our guide, was very knowledgeable and we gained insight into the history of Venice, particularly the long period of the republic. Highly recommend it.