I would like to take a guided tour of the Doge's Palace but cannot fit it into my itinerary. Does the audio self-guided tour cover all the highlights? About how long does the tour last?
Thank you for your helpful replies. I forgot to ask: does the self-guided tour cross the Bridge of Sighs and go into the prisons?
I took the Secret Itineraries tour in March of this year and thought it was pretty good. Afterwards, you get to wander around on your own. You can cross the Bridge of Sighs into the prison. We did, but then we had a very hard time figuring out how to get out of the prison! We eventually wandered back around to the bridge.
You can actually walk through at your own pace. All visitors go through the same pathways - tours or no tours. As you go into the courtyard, there are stairs to your right. Go up the stairs and just follow everyone else. The audio tour is highly advised as there is so much art and ceiling paintings to look at. It's so much different from the Florentine art. I'm not sure of the length of the audio tour but you can usually skip the forward if you want to speed up. We spent a lot of time looking at so much beautiful art and artifacts. The weapons displays are quite extensive and amazing. But, you can still go faster. Big Hint: Get there at opening time if you can to avoid the cruise crowds that show up in large groups by 10:00am.
Gail, I have to agree with Larry. It's easy to walk through "Il Palazzo Ducale" at your own pace. I can't recall whether I used an AudioGuide, so won't comment on that. When using an Audioguide, the tour lasts as long as you want (with more elaborate sites, I tend to "skip" some sections of the guide, as otherwise it would have taken a week to cover everything!)
I also strongly agree that it's a good idea to show up early! I was there right at opening time, and was inside in less than ten minutes. It did get a lot busier later in the morning.
Not sure if you've used Audioguides before, but be prepared to leave I.D. when you rent them. I'm a bit reluctant to leave my Passport, so always used my Driver's License and never had a problem.
If you sign-up (preregister) for the "Secret Itineraries" tour of the Doge's Palace then you DO get a guided tour of a large part of the place. After the tour guide finishes you will then be allowed to tour the rest of the palace just like everyone else.
The Secret Itineraries tour takes you to places where the "normal" tourists don't see. It was exceptionally interesting and our tour guide was wonderful. It's just a few Euros more than the normal entrance price.
Yes, the self-guided tour does go across the canal and into the prison area. You don't really realize it until you leave the prison and walk back across. You really get to see a lot of the prison area. I think the Secrets tour will let you see more but what we saw was pretty good. Note that the Doge's Palace contains the largest room without interior columns in Europe. It's really impressive.
I did the self guided tour and thought it was great. I like the fact you can go at your own pace and spend more or less time looking at what interests you and even back track if you want to. You go over th Bridge of Sighs twice and into the prison area. I just followed the people in front of me and had no problems finding my way out. They did ask for a passport when I rented it but as I don't carry mine with me they accepted a credit card. I think as long as they have something that you want back they are happy. It's well worth the visit. I'm really glad I did it.
"Note that the Doge's Palace contains the largest room without interior columns in Europe."
The room is a very grand one for sure. The Secret Itineraries Tour took us into the attic over that enormous room where we walked across on the rafters and saw the huge beams required to support the ceiling.
Gail, the self-guided tour in Rick's Venice book is fantastic. I'd just take that with you. If you don't want to take the whole book then just photocopy the pages and bring them in a smaller binder.
I agree with the previous poster. I used Rick's self-guided tours in his Venice book for Doge's Palace and the Bascilica. His tour through the Palace tells you literally how to get down to the prison cells and out again. Also, his self-guided walking tour of Venice is really good, too. Have fun!