Top 5 Things to do in Venice with Kids
With a reputation for being expensive, touristy and more suited to honeymooning couples than families with young children, you might think the City of Love is not the most child friendly of places to visit. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, as Lindsey and her family found when they had a magical time visiting beautiful Venice. Here, Lindsey gives us her top 5 things to do in Venice with kids.
1. Take to the water
Nowhere in the world is public transport so exciting, and while much of Venice can be navigated on foot, exploring the city by boat should be first on your itinerary. The Vaporettos (water buses) are the easiest way of getting around on water, but can get very crowded. The No. 1 route takes you on a circle tour around the Grand Canal and is the cheapest option for families wanting to see all of Venice from the water. Other options are more expensive: if you aren’t keen on getting squished and are happy to splash out you could hire a private water taxi. Nothing says Venice like a gondola ride, but a cheaper alternative would be to take a Traghetto – a cross between a gondola and a passenger boat- from one side of the canal to the other. Pretend you are a local by standing up for the 2-minute crossing. We enjoyed taking the boat to the Lido for an afternoon at the beach or you can head further afield and visit the Insta-worthy fishing village of Burano with its rows of multi coloured houses.
2. See the Quadriga at the Basilica di San Marco
The main reason to visit the incredibly busy Piazza San Marco is to see the awe-inspiring Basilica with its 400 square metres of gold mosaics lining the walls and ceilings. A museum upstairs houses the Quadriga of St Marks- ancient Roman bronze horses dating back to 4AD. Entrance to the Basilica is free but we recommend buying tickets online for 2 euros which will allow you to skip the queues. Tickets to the museum cost 5 euros, but are worth it as they include access to the balcony with its amazing views of Piazza San Marco and beyond. From here you can also walk to the Bridge of Sighs, the Doges Palace and weave your way through the back streets to the markets of the Rialto.
3. Eat Cicchetti at Osteria Al Squero
Serving Aperol spritz and a plate of Venetian tapas (cicchetti) for under 5 euros, and situated opposite the city’s oldest gondola repair yard, this is as perfect a Venice experience as you’re likely to get. Sit by the canal with the cool crowd and watch the gondolas glide by as you eat crostini with sardines, smoked swordfish or tuna. Our kids loved sitting by the canals and spotting all the different types of boats – police boats, ambulance boats, even bin boats – it’s the best free fun you can have. Follow with a gelato from Grom and an evening walk along the Zattere, a waterside promenade popular with local Venetians.
4. Get lost in Dorsuduro
Dorsuduro is an enchanting area of Venice; it has the prettiest canals, lots of bars and restaurants and a beautiful square, Campo Santa Margherita – perfect for kids to run around in. I would recommend anyone visiting Venice to get a self-catering property here as it’s close enough to see the sights but far enough away from the crowds. Plus, it has the best pizza in Venice – Pizza al Volo. (Don’t be put off by the graffiti outside – the olive pizza here is the best pizza I have ever tasted). Dorsuduro is the home to the Church of San Barnaba, a place film fans will recognise as the library in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It is also the location of the Ponte dei Pugni or ‘Bridge of Fists’, an ancient fighting bridge where rival gangs would brawl with the goal of hurling their opponents into the canals. As a nod to this, the bridge now has four white footsteps to mark the starting point for fighters.
5. Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Housing her private collection showcasing work from artists such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, and home to a beautiful terrace with incredible views of the Grand Canal, this is one of the most family friendly museums in Venice. The restaurant is excellent for lunch with a bambino menu for 6 euros. Entrance is 15euros and Under 10s are free. Try to time your visit on a Sunday afternoon as there are kids workshops every Sunday from 15.00 – 16.30.
To find out more about Lindsey’s trip to Venice with her family, along with the other cities they visited in their rail journey around Italy, check out her blog.
Lindsey runs coolkidstravel.co.uk, a blog for families who like to travel but who – in her own words – don’t want to have their “souls (and finances) slowly eroded by a never-ending cycle of theme parks, play parks and soft play.” Passionate about combining travel with good food, art and culture, Lindsey covers a range of holiday types and destinations, documenting the highs and lows of the different trips she takes with her family – from a disastrous camping holiday to a cool Californian road trip – with plenty of tips and advice along the way.
Lindsey lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and her two sons, Archie (10) and Isaac (6).