Venice - practical info

Going to Venice with kids? In the first post in our Italian Series you’ll find out what we think of going to Venice with kids in the summer, why it’s good to know what ACTV is, and why getting on a water bus to see Canale Grande in the afternoon in the summer is a bad idea. A lot of hints and practical info plus websites about Venice worth visiting – everything tested by us and our kids (10 and 6 years old) at the end of June 2017.

Venice, (it. Venezia) – the icon, the city of canals and gondoliers, one of its kind, known all over the world. One thing about Venice which makes it unique is that most people recognize it just by looking at a photo of a gondolier paddling along the canal. At first I was very skeptical about going to Venice in the summer. I’d read in one of travel blogs that sightseeing with kids in Venice in peak tourist season is a real nightmare, because it’s too hot, too crowded, too …something. It's good that my husband had talked me into taking our kids to Venice because in the end it was Venice they remembered the best out of all the cities we visited during our last holidays.

Why and how did we end up in Venice?

Last summer (June/July 2017) we spent three weeks in Italy. Our target region was Tuskany. As we travelled with a caravan, we stayed at camping sites. Before setting off to Italy we picked a few camping sites near Venice, however, we hadn’t made any reservations. Now, you may start wondering why we didn’t bother to book a piazzola (a site for a tent/ a camper or a car with a caravan)  beforehand. I admit I wouldn’t go to Italy without prebooking a hotel or a pitch in AUGUST (most Italians go on holidays then) but … at the end of June we decided to take the risk. And it turned out we had no problem whatsoever with finding a free piazzola at the end of June, beginning of July and what’s more there was no minimum stay limit. We picked a camping site called Miramare ( more info about the camping site itself coming soon) because it is not far from a terminal for vaporetti (water busses) going to all directions.

tip: Look for hotels or camping sites located near a water busses station (a vaporetto terminal). The vicinity of a vaporetto terminal means you’ll easily get to any place in Venice at any time.

Water busses – the basic info for first timers

To be honest, I hadn’t expected to see such an extensive water transportation system. It turned out everything in Venice is based on water transportation. Boats take away dirty laundry from hotels, transport food to local groceries and restaurants and collect municipal waste.

If you have never been to Venice before, read the summary below:
- vaporetto (a water bus) routes are really extensive, and resemble bus routes, some of the lines are fast and some are regular, the latter are really slow and seem to stop every five minutes.
- the traffic on water is amazing: you'll see water busses, larger ferries, boats, motorboats, police motorboats, water taxis, and gondolas (of course)
- the water bus stops/terminals have their names, water bus lines have numerical signs on them
- the cheapest ticket is a 75-minute ticket (just for water busses, changing lines allowed) and it costs 7,50 euro; It’s much more economical to buy a 24, 42 or 72- hour travel card, or a Venice Card (Venecia Unica) (info updated October 2017)
- transporting luggage which does not exceed 150cm (sum of dimensions) is included in the ticket price.
- Even if you buy a travel card, you have to validate it at a ticket machine every time before getting on a water bus otherwise you might pay a fine

Punta Sabbioni – the ideal starting point for tourists

Does the name Punta Sabbioni ring a bell? If you’re planning to go to Italy by car and stop by in Venice, Punta Sabbioni in my view is the ideal location for you. It’s a small town on, let’s say, the outskirts of Venice. Accommodation is easy to find - there are a few large camping sites nearby, probably lots of hotels. Getting to Venice is really simple. The vaporetto terminal from which you’ll get to Venice is called Cavallino Treporti. The stop you need to get off at is called S. Zaccaria, and it is a stone’s throw from Piazza San Marco and Doge’s Palace – two main tourist attractions in Venice.
If you’re planning to get to the Cavallino Treporti terminal by your own car, there is a large car park within a walking distance from the terminal.

tip: In 2017 near Cavallino Treporti terminal for ACTV water busses, there was also a commercial water bus service called Boats Marco Polo. You may find out more by visiting their website: http://www.marcopolovenezia.com/
In short, the BMP offers cruises to Venice and the islands. For example a panoramic cruise in San Marco Basin , about 35-minute long, costs 10 euro adults and 6 euro kids. It’s a cruise with a guide (German and English versions available) but I guess you can’t hop off in Venice and catch a boat back a few hours later. So because of that we recommend public transport that is ACTV.

Tickets for water busses in Venice – practical info

We were advised to buy a 24-hour travel card instead of single tickets. It was a very good piece of advice! In 2017 a 24-hour travel card covered both day and night water busses, water busses going to the islands, plus inland buses. If we had bought just single tickets, which cost 7,50 euro, we would have spent at least 60 euro per person counting the number of times we went to Venice and back. A 24-hour travel card cost us 20 euro per person.(June 2017)

tip: we recommend buying travel cards instead of single tickets if you plan to use public transport in Venice. Kids under 6 go free of charge. The up to date info on ticket prices in public transport section here:
and here http://actv.avmspa.it/en

Ticket prices updated September 2017
1-day travel card (24-hour) 20 euro (ACTV vaporetti and busses)
2-day travel card (48-hour) 30 euro
3-day travel card (72-hour) 40 euro
7-day travel card 60 euro

All in one - Venecia Unica , Venice Card

If you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing in Venice you should look for info on Venice Card here http://www.veneziaunica.it/en/content/how-it-works There is a lot to choose from. You can buy a silver, gold or platinium card, or just entrance tickets to museums, whatever you choose. Paid online, no waiting in lines.

In part II, I’ll concentrate on our recommendations on what to see and do in Venice to be sure your kids will remember it best. English version coming soon. Currently available Venice part II just in the Polish version of the blog here.

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