First impressions are so important for fan amazing Venice Italy family trip. Planning your trip in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes exposure Venetian art and culture in a fun and easy way makes for magical memories, and reduces the risk of disappointment or frustration from unforeseen events. Here are 5 tips for ensuring your family trip to Venice allows you to experience all the wonders La Serenissima has to offer.
1. STAY IN A CENTRAL, YET LOCAL A HOTEL OR HOLIDAY APARTMENT IN VENICE
The sites around Piazza San Marco and Rialto are among the top historical sites to see in the world, and they are breathtaking. This also means that the areas around these sites are very crowded, especially during high season, and this can be scary and a deterrent for young children whose eyes are at the level of a sea of people funneling into the piazza and over the crowded bridge, where it is hard to truly take in the sights. When planning the location of your lodging in Venice, it is important to remember that the tiny streets around these sights are also very crowded, with little open space, and the dining and shopping options are extremely touristy. Families will enjoy a better stay in Venice if they book their lodging in one of the more local neighborhoods of the city center, and plan the timing of your visit to the main sights during off-peak hours in the earlier morning or later afternoon.
For families, avoiding lodging in the San Marco and Rialto areas is also cost effective as your hotel or holiday rental rates will likely be less expensive. Furthermore, whereas reasonably priced family-friendly dining choices and markets can be found in the local neighborhoods of Venice, near San Marco you are more likely to overpay for lesser quality food that will hit family budgets harder. Save your money for authentic locally produced souvenirs, and enjoy eating locally while staying in the areas of Cannaregio, Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, San Polo or Castello.
By staying in Santa Croce, Dorsoduro, or Cannaregio, you will likely find it easier to arrive to your lodging by walking, and can avoid high price of a water taxi, and the crowds and confusion of the vaporetto upon first arriving. The Venice transportation system is complicated. Whether deciding which ticket to buy or which vaporetto line to take, or wandering around narrow streets with luggage, families can find themselves wishing they had a means of help getting where they need to go without the hassle of getting lost or delayed. Prontopia is a useful solution that connects you to locals who can guide you for instance to your hotel upon your arrival or help you get a specific product at the pharmacy. The cost is 20 euros per hour, calculated per minute that you use them (with a minimum of 5 euros). For example, assistance getting from Piazzale Roma to a hotel would cost approx. 14 euros. If you use Prontopia you can pre-schedule for a connection with a local at the airport, train station or any place you would like help with your arrival. Plus Prontopia will also be available to you for any on-demand request you may have during your stay or for your departure, such as finding a family-friendly restaurant that is not a tourist trap. It’s useful a help button for local assistance.
2. VISIT VENICE’S MAIN SITES DURING OFF-PEAK HOURS
A large percentage of the problems Venice deals with today in managing crowds is due to the numbers of visitors arriving from cruise ships and tour buses to see the sights in only one day. These large groups crowd the narrow streets around San Marco and swell the lines of famous monuments such as the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica. Families with younger children who take naps or are tired in the afternoon should coordinate their visit the sites of Piazza San Marco early in the morning, arriving by 8:30 am when the piazza will be peaceful and quiet, and the kids will truly be able to see the architecture from their eye level. For families with teenagers, consider going after 4:00 PM in the afternoon. During high season it is always important to purchase tickets in advance to the Doge’s Palace for either the first entry time of the day, or the last. If you have room in your budget, book a guided tour with a kid-friendly licensed tour guide. Rossano Colombo of Venice Kids Tours offers fun themed tours that incorporate some of the characters from the Magic Treehouse children’s book series, for example.
When enjoying your time in Piazza San Marco, you will find yourself looking for a nice spot for lunch either before or after your visit, but the area around St. Mark’s Square can be a challenge when it comes to finding local reasonably priced meals. This is another great use of Prontopia for families – after your tour, you can request a local to come and bring you to a family-friendly restaurant off-the-beaten path but nearby, and perhaps even show you some cool more authentic shops or kids bookstores along the way.
3. VISIT FOR 3 DAYS OR MORE WHEN TRAVELING TO VENICE WITH KIDS
Venice has much more to see and do for families beyond the main sites. You can visit enchanting gardens – have a picnic in Giardini, for example! Or consider a kids Venetian mask-making workshop. Kids also enjoy a visit to the other islands of the lagoon, such as Murano, Burano, and beyond. There is a wide range of amazing museums for kids in Venice, such as the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, the Arsenale Naval Museum, and the Natural History Museum. Venice also offers great choices for active families with older children, such as a rowing lesson on a typical Venetian boat with Row Venice. When you stay in Venice for 3 days at more, you will have time to explore meaningful and fun off the beaten path areas and participate in more kid-friendly events and activities. Because it can be difficult to navigate easily to certain meeting points or destinations, it can be helpful to use Prontopia to simply get to your tour or activity on time and stress free, as you can use the service for as little as 15 minutes or up to several hours.
4. ENJOY VENETIAN CUISINE FROM LOCAL MARKETS AND RESTAURANTS
For a family of 4 or 5, economizing on your food budget is truly a way to get the most value out of your trip. It is also a way to eat better, especially in tourist towns like Venice, where in order to save money on food, it is necessary (and advisable!) to go to more local areas. Restaurants in Venice can be among the highest-priced tourist traps you’ve ever experienced or the most amazing and fresh local dishes and wines you’ve tasted. You will find quality, care, and value in the cost of dining among the charming local neighborhoods surrounding San Marco and Rialto, that are nearby, and generally easy to get to within 10-15 minutes walking, but just a little difficult to find. It is also important to be aware that Venetian cuisine includes dishes that are not the most commonly known dishes of Italy. For example, dishes like pizza or lasagna are not typical of Venice, where the cuisine is centered on fish and accompanied by grains such as rice or polenta. It can be fun to learn a little bit about what to eat in Venice before you go, and encourage the kids to try something different during the trip, like fried calamari?
5. PACK LIGHT
In general, it is a good idea to pack light for family travel to Italy. But for families traveling to Venice, this is especially the case, because inevitably, for your arrival and departure, you will be walking a fair distance and you will need to carry your luggage and bags across bridges and up and down stairs. If you follow tip #1 and stay in an area like Cannaregio or Santa Croce, chances are, your hotel or apartment may be within 10-20 minutes walking from the train station. Prontopia can be very helpful in this case as it provides immediate in-person help when and where you need it. A popular use of Prontopia is to request a local person to show you the way to your destination. This makes navigating the city less stressful, and enables you to choose the walking option more easily.