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VIP Secret Passages Tour & St. Marks Basilica
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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

EXTENDED TOUR DESCRIPTION

WITH SPECIAL ACCESS YOU’LL SEE MORE OF THE DOGE’S PALACE THAN MOST OTHER VISITORS.

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.

SEE SECRET PASSAGES AND STUNNING BALLROOMS AT PALAZZO DUCALE.

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.

SKIP THE LINE ACCESS AT ST MARK'S BASILICA

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.

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.

SMALL GROUPS, SPECIAL ACCESS, LOCAL GUIDES. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?

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
  • Palace Armory
  • New Prisons
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • St.Mark's Basilica

Included

  • 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
  • Skip the line tour of St.Mark's Basilica

Reviews

5-stars from over 91 Customer Reviews

Tour was great. She was very friendly and answered all questions thoroughly.
I was completely satisfied with this tour and the guide.
Our guide, Francesca, was incredible - engaging and extremely knowledgeable. Cannot wait for our next tour in Florence and then Rome!
Guide was funny and very, very, very knowledgable. Francesca knew a lot and answered all our questions. Audio equipment was less reliable, good only very close to the guide, something to make better. Thank you for a great experience!
Great tour. The guide was fantastic! I really appreciated her in depth knowledge and story telling ability. Directions to the starting point were a bit tricky, but I understand how hard it is in a big square like that.
Tiberius was AMAZING! Lots of energy Personality And vast knowledge about everything
Tiberius was AMAZING! Lots of energy Personality And vast knowledge about everything
The tour was great and really enjoyed our guide (I think his name was Mauro but I might have the spelling wrong).
Andrea was fantastic. He had a great sense of humour and brought all of the stories to life. He engaged perfectly with our children which we really appreciated.
Highly knowledgeable and friendly tour guide, made every effort to give us a feel of the places and answered all questions
We loved the Secret Passage Tour and our guide was awesome! She was very knowledgeable and funny. Thanks for helping to make our visit to Venice special! The Wells Family
Francesca was wonderful -- very knowledgeable and engaging.
Our guide was excellent - knowledgeable and engaging. I would gladly recommend this tour and especially this guide!
Julia was a fabulous guide! She is so engaging, charming and full of a vast amount of interesting knowledge.
Our guide was fantastic. She was incredibly informative and welcoming!
Mirco is such an exceptional guide! We learned so much while having a truly enjoyable experience !
Knowledgeable guide, very interesting tour, fun and informative. We made wonderful memories on this tour!
Excellent guide who gave our group so much information. She truly loves her home city of Venice and it showed.
All worked and organised seamlessly - have used Walks of Italy previously and they've become our goto tour operator :-)
Interesting that I visited the Doge's secret passage and Casanova's cell. We did not spend a lot of time in San Marc's cathedrale which is unfortunate. It was gad to understand the guide while we were in secret passage.
Great sense of humour & excellent insight into Venice along w good information about history of Doges Palace
Excellent tour guide and service.
Very pleasant guide. A little late getting started organizing multiple groups for same walk. Informative walk
Excellent tour with a knowledgable guide. I highly recommend this tour.
Natalia was our guide. Brimming with knowledge she made the tour come to life and heighten the 'reveal' of the absolutely fabulous Basilica being lit up at night. A fantastic tour guide for an outstanding place. Well worth it!
Our guide was fabulous. She engaged and immersed us in the history of the Doges Palace. Highly recommended.
Excellent and very interesting and I would recommend this to all my friends
It was Nicoletta who made the tour outstanding for us. He enthusiasm, great fund of information, and presentation all made for a great tour.
The guide was one of the best we have ever had on a tour. Very knowledgeable and engaging.
Really nice tour. Informative guides who seem enthusiastic. Lots of great information.
Marco was our guide
This tour was a highlight of Venice. Susan, our guide was spectacular, full of information that was presented in a very interesting and easy to follow manner. Highly recommended!
This tour is a must do...Marco is just brilliant with his delivery and knowledge
Marco was fabulous. Extremely knowledgeable and engaging, with just the right touch of humor. We would highly recommend him and this tour. We took the tour on a very crowded day, and were able to enjoy a very private experience without a lot of people around us.
Marco was a great guide, full of good humor which made learning so much enjoyable.
Just fabulous. Susan has so much knowledge and passion to share . We can't recommend more
Loved our guide and we had a wonderful tour. The best!
The tour was very good, worth doing the secret passages. The guide was very informative. Will use again.
We really enjoyed all of our tours. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and the tours were very interesting.
We took the morning walking tour with Mose and an afternoon tour VIP dodge palace & St Marks I don't remember his name. both guides were fantastic and were the highlights of our trip to Venice.
Susan was fantastic. She knew everything there was to know. We were late for the tour and the office contacted and we were able to meet up with the tour. It was a fantastic experience and very worthwhile. Thanks
Very good!
This was an amazing tour. Our guide Sara was so knowledgable & was able to answer every question we had.We learned so many interesting facts that weren't in any of our tour books.
This was a VERY good tour and I would recommend it to anyone. The small group size and 'secret' areas visited make it well worth the money. Mose is a terrific guide.

Important information

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

Please note that the Doge's Apartments are currently closed for an exhibition and are not expected to re-open until late July (date not yet confirmed).

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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Tour was great. She was very friendly and answered all questions thoroughly.
I was completely satisfied with this tour and the guide.
(No comment)
The tour was very interesting, and the guide was really entertaining and knowledgeable. 'Secret passages' is a bit of an exaggeration though as these are simply working backrooms that any government house anywhere in the world would have. However, the guide helped understand the stories that were unfolding in those back rooms. The guide also provided a lot of information about the history of Venice, this was great.
Our guide, Francesca, was incredible - engaging and extremely knowledgeable. Cannot wait for our next tour in Florence and then Rome!
Guide was funny and very, very, very knowledgable. Francesca knew a lot and answered all our questions. Audio equipment was less reliable, good only very close to the guide, something to make better. Thank you for a great experience!
Great tour. The guide was fantastic! I really appreciated her in depth knowledge and story telling ability. Directions to the starting point were a bit tricky, but I understand how hard it is in a big square like that.
Tiberius was AMAZING! Lots of energy Personality And vast knowledge about everything
Tiberius was AMAZING! Lots of energy Personality And vast knowledge about everything
The tour was great and really enjoyed our guide (I think his name was Mauro but I might have the spelling wrong).
(No comment)
As the tour was late starting and a member then lost his entry ticket, we were running out of time when we reached the Basilica and we felt this part of the tour was too rushed as we could not see more of the interior then. However, Paulina was an excellent guide, so knowledgeable and conveyed the information in a very engaging manner which brought the history to life.
Andrea was fantastic. He had a great sense of humour and brought all of the stories to life. He engaged perfectly with our children which we really appreciated.
(No comment)
Highly knowledgeable and friendly tour guide, made every effort to give us a feel of the places and answered all questions
Our tour guide was great! She made the tour interesting and enjoyable.
We loved the Secret Passage Tour and our guide was awesome! She was very knowledgeable and funny. Thanks for helping to make our visit to Venice special! The Wells Family
(No comment)
(No comment)
Giulia was very charming and knowledgeable! We thought the pace was good and we got to see a lot of the Doge's Palace and the Basilica. We wore headsets to hear Giulia, so we didn't miss a word, and the small group (10-12) was ideal. We stayed after to tour the rest of the Basilica and to stand on the terrace to enjoy the view and the ringing of the bells. You need to wear comfortable shoes and need to be covered for the Basilica, but it was a great tour and well worth the money.
Francesca was wonderful -- very knowledgeable and engaging.
Wonderful knowledge of the palace and area.
Our guide was excellent - knowledgeable and engaging. I would gladly recommend this tour and especially this guide!
This was an excellent tour with a lot or information that could be heard easily with the aid of the ear phones. We had a short break before going into the Basilica but this was towards the end of the tour and it would have been better if we could have stopped between the Secret Passages and the main apartments of the Doge's palace, otherwise it was all excellent. Many thanks Veronica.
Julia was a fabulous guide! She is so engaging, charming and full of a vast amount of interesting knowledge.
Mirco was the best tour guide we have ever had. As a local from Venice his pride and love for the city showed. His knowledge of history was astounding. Time flew by as he filled us with amazing information on the history of the city. WOW! Can't say enough to express how much I loved this tour. (And I am not really a guy who loves tours and history.) But he made it so interesting. Thanks!! Did I say WOW?!
This tour could have been a bit shorter. The guide was knowledgeable and very pleasant
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Susan is the most dramatic storyteller and the most patient guide! The tour was highly enriching and definitely an eye-opener for me. From someone who had zero knowledge about Venice's history, I have gained quite a few valuable insights into the political world and history of Venice. A lovely tour I highly recommend! With Susan too!
(No comment)
The tour at the Doge's Palace was our final tour on our three week trip to Italy and it was definitely the most surprising. Our tour guide was once again outstanding!!! The passion that the guides with Walks of Italy have for their jobs truly inspires me. It never seems like an act or part of their script....it truly seems to come from their hearts as I am sure it does! This tour included the St Marks Basilica and since we had been to the After Hours St Marks tour, we had decided to skip this part. We were not disappointed with the palace! I chose this tour originally because it was on the list of our things to do when in Venice. I have to say that it surprised us both how much we learned and how opulent and truly fascinating this palace really was/is! The secret passages were amazing. Just being in the eaves looking at the way this building was constructed leaves you awestruck. The paintings alone are worth the visit. Once again we felt so privileged to see this palace in the way that Walks of Italy lets you see it. A small group (we had 12), an over the top fantastic guide (every time!) and covering everything important with stories that complete the whole picture. Thank you once again for helping to make our first Italy trip feel complete!!!! Janie Mason & David McNeil ... Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Our guide was fantastic. She was incredibly informative and welcoming!
(No comment)
Mirco is such an exceptional guide! We learned so much while having a truly enjoyable experience !
Knowledgeable guide, very interesting tour, fun and informative. We made wonderful memories on this tour!
Excellent guide who gave our group so much information. She truly loves her home city of Venice and it showed.
All worked and organised seamlessly - have used Walks of Italy previously and they've become our goto tour operator :-)
(No comment)
Interesting that I visited the Doge's secret passage and Casanova's cell. We did not spend a lot of time in San Marc's cathedrale which is unfortunate. It was gad to understand the guide while we were in secret passage.
Perhaps it wa a bit too long for a tour. We appreciated the break in between places. Would have liked to have the the viewing area from the church included in this tour and perhaps a bit less of the Doges Palace. A knowledgable guide.
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Great sense of humour & excellent insight into Venice along w good information about history of Doges Palace
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Perhaps the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's cathedral should be different tours. We felt that the St. Mark's portion was a bit rushed and incomplete due to time constraints. Also, considering the price of the ticket, we would have appreciated being able to re-enter the Doge's Palace to see the rest of it after the Secret Passages Tour was over (and the St. Mark's portion completed). Mirco, our tour guide, was superb!
(No comment)
Long tour. Too much concentration on the cells.