Built on 100 islands floating in an Adriatic lagoon, Venice is the stuff of dreams. With its romantic canals, Gothic palaces, and café-lined piazzas, Venice is one of the most popular destinations in Italy.
If you want to get your bearings in the daunting maze of waterways and alleys, check out these free walking tours in Venice. You’ll explore hidden corners and discover picturesque viewpoints that few visitors ever find themselves.
How do free walking tours in Venice work?
Want to see some of the major landmarks and be privy to local insider secrets about this floating city? Free tours in Venice are a fun way to learn about the history of this world-famous vacation destination.
There are no set prices for the tour. You simply show up, enjoy the walk, and then tip your guide at the end. You can pay as much as you like, just remember to take some cash with you on the day.
How much should you tip for a free walking tour in Venice?
The beauty of free walking tours in Venice is that you pay what you think your experience was worth. Consider the excursion length, and how informative your guide has been to help work out what you should tip.
Most visitors give between €10 and €15 per person, while others offer anything from €5 to €50. If you had a great time and learned a lot, feel free to be generous.
What are the best free walking tours in Venice?
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Venice tours – there are dozens! The best thing to do is decide what sort of theme you’re interested in. There’s everything from ancient history to specialty food to set your heart aflutter.
Some tours stop at major landmarks while others dig a little deeper behind the scenes. Whatever you’re into, there’s an excursion here for you.
Essential Venice free walking tours
First time in Venice? Then this one will be right up your street. Packed with iconic landmarks and eye-popping photo stops, these traditional free Venice walking tours give you a great introduction to one of Italy’s crowning jewels.
Excursions focus on the heart of the city, predominantly in the San Marco and Santa Croce sestieres (districts). Some tours also visit the islands of Murano and Burano, where glass blowing and colorful canal houses steal the show.
Of course, you’ll be visiting the famous Saint Mark’s Square, with its imposing Basilica, the exterior of the Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile bell tower. You’ll also see the gondolas moored at the lagoon edge, perfectly posing for pictures! Other iconic highlights include the Bridge of Sighs, the Grand Canal, and the iconic Rialto Bridge.
Get well and truly off the beaten track as you delve deep into the lesser-known reaches of Venice. These free walking tours show the city at its most authentic. Roam deep in the sestieres of Castello, Cannaregio, and Dorsoduro and follow secret passageways along tiny canals to ancient casinos and crumbling palaces.
You’ll visit a traditional gondola shipyard and see how these iconic vessels are crafted. Learn about the history of the Venice Carnival, and stumble upon hidden mask painting workshops.
Then check out the magnificent but overlooked Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, and swing by the site of some infamous old brothels. You'll feel the mystery as you pass the Church of the Illuminati and see if you recognize the Church of Frari from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.
Jewish Ghetto free walking tours
This tour is for curious travelers or those who have visited Venice before and want to explore beyond the well-trodden tourist trails. The Jewish Ghetto is one of the city’s unknown wonders, previously inaccessible to outsiders. Thought to be the oldest ghetto in the world, this hidden quarter is a warren of narrow streets lined with buildings that stretch up into the sky.
You’ll pass five synagogues, a Hebrew Museum, and Banco Rosso – the world’s first ever pawnshop. There are also Koscher restaurants and Jewish bookstores to discover.
Next up is a foray into El Barrio de la Misericordia, to discover what daily life is like for the Venetians who still live here. Keep an eye out for the stunning Church of the Jesuits and the intriguing Campo dei Morí.
Food free walking tours in Venice
There’s no better way to get to know a city than through its stomach, which is why Venice food walking tours are so much fun. The history of Venetian cuisine can be traced back hundreds of years and the resulting deliciousness has been influenced by several different cultures. Your foodie guide will spill the beans on traditional favorites and quirky delicacies as you pop into ancient taverns known as “bacari”.
Tuck into cicchetti - local tapas-style morsels comprising bread croutons with different savory toppings. Then enjoy a glass of local wine to sweeten the deal. You’ll also pop into restaurants to taste local specialties like bigoli pasta, deep-fried sardines in saor, and for adventurous palates, the famous folpetti octopus.
Note that the price of food is not included in this tour, and you will need to pay for this separately.
Legends and mysteries free walking tours
If you’re looking for unusual free walking tours in Venice, then gather your courage and step out of your comfort zone on these quirky excursions. Expect shadowy souls and legendary figures to play a part in your experience as you discover the dark side of the city.
You’ll be wandering the back streets of Cannaregio and stumbling upon curious corners in Santa Croce. Hear how the Black Death ravaged the city in the 14th century, and listen to hair-raising tales about the residents who lived, worked, and died on these floating islands.
Discover other Ghosts and Legends walking tours.
In which languages are free walking tours in Venice operated?
Free walking tours in Venice are available in several languages, with English being the most common. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas of Venice, so you shouldn’t have any trouble communicating during your vacation.
Some excursions are also available in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Do check the tour details before booking to make sure it’s being conducted in your preferred language.
Where do free walking tours in Venice start?
Meeting locations for free tours in Venice are scattered across the city, according to the area which you will be exploring.
Traditional Venice walking tours tend to start in the center, either in Piazza San Marco, at Campo de Santo Stefano, or by the Accademia Galleries in Dorsoduro. Other starting points include the Church of Santa Maria della Fava, Campo San Polo, and outside the train station.
The hidden history tours usually kick off from the San Simeone Piccolo Church in Santa Croce. Other options include Campo Santa Maria Nova in Cannaregio, and the Accademia Galleries.
For the Jewish Ghetto walking tours, meet in the Campo de San Geremia in Cannaregio. Meanwhile, food walking tours begin in Santa Croce’s Piazzale Roma.
Finally, the legends and mysteries excursions start at San Simeone Piccolo Church in Santa Croce, or Campo San Canciano in Cannarergio.
How long do free walking tours in Venice last?
Most free walking tours in Venice last 2 or 2.5 hours. There are shorter 1-hour options or longer 4-hour excursions depending on how much time you have.
Think about how long you want to spend on your feet and use that to help decide which tour is for you. Comfy footwear is advised.
When is the best time to join a free walking tour in Venice?
You can enjoy free tours in Venice during both mornings and afternoons, with a few excursions also operating in the evening.
During peak months, opt for an early morning tour (some begin at 7 AM) or an evening jaunt to avoid the crowds. Temperatures do soar in summer, so steer clear of the afternoons if you’re not a fan of the heat.
Try and book your Venice walking tour on your first day, for a gentle guided introduction to this labyrinthine city.
Should Venice free walking tours be booked online?
It’s always a good idea to book free walking tours in Venice online, especially during the popular summer months when excursions often sell out. Places are limited to help keep the group moving through the narrow streets. Don’t leave it too late and risk missing out on your preferred time and date.
Joining a Venice walking tour will help you find your way around this intense city. It will also save you time when it comes to planning where to go. Online reservations are free, and you don’t need to give any credit card details, so it really is a win-win scenario!