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Doge’s Palace tour options

I’m trying to decide the best option for our group. About 20 years ago my husband and I went on a tour at the Doge’s Palace. I don’t think it was the Secret Itinerary tour, but I do remember walking across the bridge of sighs. We’re returning to Venice in June with 4 more people who have never been to the Palace, and I’m trying to decide if a tour is worthwhile.

We’ll be there in June, and I’ve read about it possibly being very hot on the Secret Itineraries tour. Are there other tour options, besides an audio guide? If one takes the SI tour, does it cover the majority of the palace, or are there main areas that are skipped and you are expected to visit on your own? If so, how long should we plan on spending there? We’re not huge art museum people. We would schedule a time to enter St. Mark’s immediately afterward.

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We did the Walks of Italy tour that combined the Doges Palace with St. Mark’s. There was a break in between but we stayed together as a group. The guide was above average, knowledgeable and answered any questions the group had. Our meeting point was on the far side of the square away from St. Mark’s and then they divided us up into smaller groups. They give you those “whisper” devices so you can here because places get very crowded. We felt adequate time was given to each place. The tour went over/through the Bridge of Sighs.

I had thought about the Secret Itinerary tour, but the descriptions and reviews mentioned a lot of stairs and tight spaces. Those things can be difficult for my husband, so we chose the one I mentioned. We were meeting friends for dinner or I might have chosen one of the evening tours.

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Hello travel4fun,

We did the Secret Tour in September and it is essentially a guided tour of lowest dungeons, working up to the administrative offices, the upper cells and interrogation room, the Senate chambers and Casanova's cell and the intervening spaces. The descriptions of stairs and small spaces are accurate and I know in the Summer they only do morning tours because of the heat in the attic spaces. After the tour they take you to a point near the regular Dodge's Palace entrance and inject you back into the regular traffic flow.

The public spaces in the Dodge's Palace are mostly large rooms made to impress visitors and display the wealth of Venice but the Bridge of Sighs is included as a regular part of the Palace access now. I believe there are "more or less dungeon" options as you exit but beyond that it is essentially a one way flow. I think the Dodge's Palace is one of those places that context and information from a guide or a tour really helps add context and give some richness to what is otherwise just a series and rooms with impressive artwork. The understanding of the power, wealth and somewhat crazy nature of Venice's history add a lot of flavor to the story of Venice. The SI tour adds some of that context but is specific to what it covers.

I would count on spending between 1-2 hours there and add some time if you are taking the secret tour.

When you buy the St. Mark’s ticket get the addition for the museum part of the church. The museum is interesting by itself but the ticket also buys you access to upper parts for better views of the church itself and access to the roof to look out over Venice and the square. I think the Pala d'Oro is worth skipping unless you're really into altars. You can buy tickets for all the "upgrade" parts in the church itself as well if you want.

If you do Dodge's Palace in the morning and want get lunch check out Rossopomodoro a few blocks away. It's a Milan based Itallian fast food chain. They have take away but also a huge (for Venice) restaurant and American speed service which can be difficult to find for a quick lunch. It will not be your most memorable dining experience in Italy but it's decent food and it's fast if you have sights to see.

Enjoy Venice - it's amazing,