Some parent-proven tips for visiting Venice with kids. We would love to hear yours! Please comment below.
1. Learn About Venice Together Before Your Trip
Children and parents alike will have a better experience visiting Venice with kids if you explore the history of the culture of the legendary city together through books and videos about Venice. First, start with the topography of the city – it’s really on the water? This will surely spark questions about how Venetians live today, and what life was like in the city in history. When you arrive, kids will be cued in to notice details about daily life in the city, like a fruit market on a boat!
Second, select some key elements of the culture to consider – Who was St. Mark? What is the significance of the lion? Who built the magnificent palazzos on the Grand Canal, and why?
Finally, kids seem to naturally gravitate toward ecology. By learning together about the water systems of the lagoon, children and parents will observe the beauty of the city in deeper ways. Pause on a side canal to look at the change of the tide, perhaps? What is “acqua alta” (high water)? In doing so, kids can appreciate the delicate ecology of the lagoon of Venice and the terrain of waterways it is connected to on the mainland, and feel the connections between this city and other places on the sea.
2. Stay a Little Longer
Arriving to and departing from Venice can be stressful and difficult for families because you do not have the option to arrive door-to-door to your lodging in a car or taxi, and whether arriving by public water bus or private water taxi, you will have to navigate your way walking or disembarking from piers with your luggage. This can be even more difficult amid crowds in high season, the peak period for Venice family travel. Consider staying in Venice at least 3 days so that you can arrive calmly and get settled, and leave yourself a little extra time to explore all of the sites you would like to see during off hours, when they are less crowded. Minimizing the stress and unknowns of your arrival and departure with help getting where you need to go from a Local can provide you with more time for site-seeing and enjoying local activities.
Visiting Venice with kids for less than 3 days can often mean families are rushing to follow a checklist of main sites. Such itineraries miss the valuable opportunity to see the beauty of Venice from many points of view, literally and figuratively! The iconic views of the Grand Canal from St. Marks are much different from the tranquil vision of a sunset from St. Alvise in Cannaregio. Your family will love both.
3. Choose a Central yet Quieter Lodging Location
Crowds can be especially overwhelming for children. In Venice, certain streets are stiflingly crowded during high season and getting caught in this chaos can tarnish the whole experience for children. Selecting family-friendly lodging in Venice that is central yet among the quieter streets of neighborhoods like Castello, Dorsorduro, or Cannaregio will provide your family with more tranquility in the area around your lodging, and allow you to select strategic routes and times for heading into the crowds to see the major sites. If you cannot stay for 3 days or more, you may want to stay in the Santa Croce sestiere as your arrival and departure times will be quickest from here.
4. Visit Off-the-Beaten-Path Sites
Remember to visit main sites like Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Square, and the Rialto area, at non-peak hours, for example, after 4:00 pm, when Venice day visitors have departed. If you go to Murano to see the glassblowing, continue on to the less crowded islands of Burano or Torcello for lunch and a chance to see more of the lagoon. Kids will surely ask questions about the history of the beautiful palaces built along the Grand Canal, so , you must go in one! Museo Ca’ Pesaro in Santa Croce is a great option for families to visit a historic palazzo that is now a contemporary art museum. Kids will thrill at seeing the replica of Rodin’s the thinker here. The Grand Canal view café of Ca’ Pesaro is a family-friendly place to take in the views for a snack or coffee. The first Sunday of every month, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum offers art workshops for kids in English. Visit the Jewish Ghetto and try some pastries, or the Museum of Natural History in Santa Croce. The gondola makers workshop at the Zattere is another great local site for kids in Venice. There is lots more to see in Venice than just Piazza San Marco.
5. Eat Local
Eating out with kids can be difficult under any circumstances, and in Venice, choosing the wrong place can mean an expensive meal with poor quality food. You will find that Venetian cuisine is very different from what is known as the core menu of “Italian food.” And of course, it is largely comprised of seafood. Following tip #1, when you are learning together about Venice, consider what to eat in Venice by learning about some local dishes before you go.
Dining in the main piazzas around areas like St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto is infamously overpriced. Luckily for parents, Venice has a great tradition of street food, with many options for a quick bite that will be higher quality. Kids will love eating pizzette from Pasticceria Nobile (Cannaregio 1818). Whereas pizza is not a typical dish of Venice, Ae Oka (Sestiere Dorsoduro 1414) has outdoor seating with panoramic views and a kid-friendly menu that can also accommodate allergies with gluten and lactose free pizza options. There are several nice local places in Campo Santa Margherita, where families can sit outside, and watch Italian children play in the square. Maybe they will make some new Venetian friends…
Don’t forget to sign up for Prontopia before you arrive to connect with a Local Venetian for help getting where you need to go from your local connection in the city.