Venice Unmasked: Discovering the City’s Best-Kept Secrets

Receiving in the neighborhood of 30 million visitors every year, Venice is undoubtedly one of the world’s tourist hotspots. In fact, this beautiful Italian city and its famous lagoon are almost drowning in foreign visitors. The historic center of Venice, with its church domes and canals, is quite small and was never built to take crowds of this magnitude. That’s why Venice recently became the first city in the world to charge admission to visitors.

That’s the price you pay for beauty like this. Venice is almost unique in the world, with its ancient buildings rising out of the waters of the lagoon on pilings and canals running through the city where streets would normally go. It’s no wonder so many people want to come here and experience its beauty and charm for themselves.

No matter when you visit, you’re not going to have Venice to yourself. And as you push through the crowds in the Piazza San Marco or wait in line to get inside the Doge’s Palace, you may find yourself cursing mass tourism and the hordes of travelers it brings to this famous Italian destination. But don’t forget, you’re one of them.

It might seem impossible that there will be anything left to discover in a city that has the population of a reasonably-sized country descend on it every year. And maybe there are no true secrets in Venice. But still, despite the crowds, you can find places in the city where you can escape at least a majority of the other visitors.

Leave your bags behind at a Bounce luggage storage in Venice and check out some of these lesser-known attractions. While we can’t guarantee that you will have them to yourself, you will at least get a less crowded experience of La Serenissima.

Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo 

Venice is absolutely packed with beautiful and historic buildings. So much so, in fact, that after a while, palazzo fatigue can start to set in. After all, when even the local convenience store is set inside a beautiful palace with stained-glass windows and ancient frescoes, it’s easy to walk right on by buildings that in any other city would be major tourist attractions.

Palazzo Contarini is one of them. This palazzo is notable for its beautiful external spiral staircase that dates back to the 15th century. And if it seems familiar, you might be interested to know that the staircase was used by Orson Welles in his 1952 film version of Othello.

For a relatively small fee in this not particularly affordable city, you can climb the staircase for yourself, and as you go, you’ll get incredible views of this enchanting Italian town. Plus, the staircase’s open design makes the most of the breezes that come off the lagoon, so it’s a great place to beat the heat and the crowds on a hot summer’s day.


Authenticity is a difficult word to use when it comes to Venice. This city is no theme park but a real and genuine Italian town. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to meet a local in the historic center of Venice. Venice’s popularity with international tourists has seen huge numbers of local residents move out and capitalize on the tourist boom by turning their family homes into short-term vacation rentals.

If you do want to taste of authentic Venetian life, though, the Dorsoduro area is probably the closest you’re going to get. A little removed from the major tourist attractions – though still close enough to walk – this area has some interesting churches and is home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. However, its relative lack of major tourist attractions makes it one of the best places in the city to escape the crowds. Visit the bars and cafés here during the aperitivo hour, and you may even encounter that endangered species, the Venetian local.

San Giorgio Maggiore

If you really want to get away from the crowds in the city, consider heading to some of the other islands in the lagoon. Many tourists don’t have the time to visit anywhere outside of central Venice, so if you do, you can capitalize by visiting beautiful islands like this one.

San Giorgio Maggiore is famous for its ancient church that was painted by Monet and a labyrinth that was constructed in honor of famed Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. However, one of the best things about the island is that it’s relatively free of tourist crowds. Take a walk around, enjoy a leisurely meal, and savor beautiful views of the city, and you’ll get a glimpse of the way the city was before mass tourism changed it forever.

DFS rooftop terrace

Venice is a city that is beautiful from any angle, and there are many rooftop terraces that take advantage of that to charge you an arm and a leg for a drink or a meal. Luckily, one of the best views in all of Venice is relatively unknown.

At the top of the DFS department store, the rooftop terrace can only be visited by prior appointment. That means you’ll have to plan ahead, but it also means you won’t have to deal with crowds and can spend as long as you like admiring the gorgeous view.

Hidden Venice

Venice is paying a high price for its unique and haunting beauty. This gorgeous city hasn’t been a secret for generations, and the huge numbers of visitors that come here have taken an undeniable toll on the charm of the town.

That can have you wondering whether Venice is worth a visit at all. But the truth is, this city is so spectacular that you need to see it for yourself, if only just once. And by taking advantage of luggage storage in the city and visiting some of these lesser-known locations, you can still have a good time in this undeniably popular place.

If you are looking for even more Venice, here’s a little guide on Thatch to inspire your next trip.

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