If you're on a painting holiday in Venice, most likely you'll want to see some of the city's most historic and beautiful attractions, but don't forget to look for some hidden gems as well. Simply by avoiding the signposted routes to San Marco, Rialto or the train station, you can have parts of Venice virtually to yourself. And if you’ve ticked your must-see boxes and want to explore a little – or if you simply want to get off the tourist trail – the city has plenty more to offer.
So here are ten less crowded alternatives to some of the big-ticket sights that will still look sensational on your Facebook status updates.
After visiting the glass-blowing shops on the island of Murano, and snapping the colourful houses reflected in the waters of Burano island, ferry-hop to Torcello: a remarkably quiet and rural-feeling island where sheep outnumber the handful of residents.
2 Teatro Malibran
La Fenice gets the limelight, but the tiny theatre of Teatro Malibran has a sumptuous charm of its own – as well as world-class opera.
3 Campo San Barnaba
Near the Accademia Gallery, this square is the most delightfully local in the city, with bustling cafes and shops more intimate and Venetian than the grand showcase of San Marco.
Once a foundry, segregated because of fire risk, this area – northwest of the city near the rail station – became the enforced home of Venice’s Jews in medieval times: the world’s first ghetto. The legacy lives on in its square, shops and synagogues.
Venice’s naval might was based in Arsenale, the old shipyards. Beyond it, in the Castello area, are quiet churches and corners far from the San Marco tourist groups. Wander at random through the neighbourhood bars and shops.
6 Guggenheim collection
If all those lavish Titians, Tintorettos and Veroneses in the Accademia Gallery and others start to blur, try this collection of modern art on the Grand Canal: everything from Picasso to Pollock, in peace.
7 San Giorgio Maggiore
Long queue for the view from San Marco’s bell tower? On Giudecca, a short boat ride south from San Marco, Palladio’s blinding white marble church has a tower with views just as sweeping – but with a fraction of the visitors.
8 Madonna dell’Orto
A good walk to the north of the city, this magnificently restored, quiet gem was Tintoretto’s church (his studio was nearby). He’s buried here and many of his works are on display.
9 Kayak the canals
Various companies offer self-propelled or guided tours of the canals by kayak – the best way to see hidden Venice from the water.
10 Bike the Lido
Get away from it all on two wheels. Central Venice is cycle-free, but on the nearby island of Lido, you can hire bikes and breeze along the seafront to a quiet summer beach.