Wowcher’s Hidden Venice (And Beyond)

Traditional Venice today can be a nightmare to navigate – especially during summer’s warm months, where tourists flock in their droves to take selfies in St Mark’s Square against the backdrop of gothic architecture that is the Basilica of San Marco and Doge’s Palace. However, there’s more to Venice than meets the eye, and here at Wowcher, we know exactly where you should head if you’re after a true (tourist-free) flavour of Venetian Italy…

Before you go exploring, first get your head around how Venice is divided. Think of it in the same way as you would think of New York, Paris and even London, which all have their structured street patterns – except Venice is a kind of archipelago, made up of lots of tiny islands that are divided by canals with hundreds of bridges (or dead ends). The one thing you won’t see in this city is a car!

Castello
Venice, as a whole, is known as one of the most romantic cities in the world. But does the word romantic equal elbowing people left, right and centre just to walk up the steps of the famous Rialto Bridge? Or the stifling smell of sewage stinging your nostrils as you take a gondola trip down the Grand Canal? Hmm, not to us it doesn’t…

Image courtesy of Hannah Blake

If you’re after somewhere a little less populated, amble your way through the maze of streets, canals and bridges that make up Castello. Here you’ll find all the charming characteristics of a residential region – from a leafy park known as Sant’Elena, where locals jog, walk their dogs and take their children; Giardini Pubblici, the public gardens; Museo Storico Navale, a naval museum filled with Venice’s maritime past, and the Italian military’s old fortress, with its gates of grandeur and giant lions guarding the entrance.

Burano
Believe us – beautiful, brightly-coloured Burano is a must-see. A photographer’s paradise, the story of the island is that while the fishermen were out working on the lagoon, their wives would sit outside their rainbow-coloured houses making lace. Today, around every cobbled street corner you turn there’s a new postcard-perfect view of the dainty houses – think baby blues, fuchsia pinks, lime greens and terracotta oranges. Meander past wrought iron flower boxes, washing lines and stripy door curtains and take in the tranquillity of the community – a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.

If only we all painted our houses different colours back home – it would certainly brighten up a dull and dreary Monday morning commute!

The cheapest way to get there is to walk north from the tourist trap of La Piazza San Marco (where you’ll pay €20pp for a water bus) to Fundamente Nove. Here, the Vaporetto 12 water bus costs only €7pp one way and takes approximately 40 minutes. Enjoy the views of the Venetian skyline as you bounce over the waves to Burano – on the way, keep your eyes peeled for the cemetery island of San Michele and the glass-making island of Murano.

If you want to see the gorgeous Italian countryside and sample the distinctive taste of Prosecco, Villa Sandi is for you!

Villa Sandi
If you want to see the gorgeous Italian countryside and sample the distinctive taste of Prosecco, this gem is for you! Approximately one hour away from Venice, the Palladian style Villa Sandi dates back to 1622 and has an interior dominated by magnificent Murano-glass chandeliers and spectacular statutes of the famous Venetian sculptor, Orazio Marinali, whose work decorates the gardens. Discover the 18th century underground cellars in a free guided tour (yes, you heard correctly, it’s free – something unheard of in the expensive streets of Venice!) and then tickle your taste buds by sampling the vineyard’s Prosecco, as well as sparkling wines such as the fruity Opere Trevigiane Rosato and the vanilla-rich Opere Trevigiane Extra Brut.

L’Osteria All’Ombra
We know we’re being a bit cheeky here, as this isn’t necessarily a place to see in Venice, but it is a hidden gem. If you’re gluten-free, visiting the land of pizza, pasta and all things wheat-created can make you downright miserable. But fear not: we’ve found one of the only places that understands! Rated 5* on Trip Advisor, L’Osteria All’Ombra may be a pretty ordinary looking café/bar to a passerby’s untrained eye, but once you’re inside, it won’t be the décor on your mind but the menu! Choose from a tasty margherita or pepperoni pizza, or perhaps a freshly made lasagne, washed down with a pint of Daura gluten-free beer. Buon appetito!

Gluten-free pizza from

Gluten-free pizza from L’Osteria All’Ombra – rated 5* on Trip Advisor!

Fancy a slice of the action? Wow Go has a great deal for a 2-night break including fights, breakfast and gondola ride from only £109pp! Click here to take a look!

And so there you have it, some perfect places to visit whilst holidaying in Venice. Please note – all deals featured may not be live. But with fab new deals added daily, make sure you keep checking Wowcher.co.uk!