A Day in Venice with kids

In Venice part I , you could find out how to move around Venice and not spend a fortune on public transport tickets, how to make the best use of Venice Card and last but not least where to look for accomodation if you plan to go to Venice by car. In part two Venice with kids, I’ll tell you why getting up early pays off in peak tourist season and I’ll give you some hints on what to show your kids being in Venice in the summer. As usual, at the end there is a list of recommended websites/travel blogs to read before you set off.

Note: We were in Venice with our kids in the summer at the end of June 2017. Venice was our first stop on our way to Tuscany. We stopped by in Venice for just 24 hours so we had little time to see the city and had to make the most of our day in Venice.

In general, most Italian towns and cities have “that thing” which make them not only look great in the photos but also make you feel impressed strolling down their streets. Venice is not an exception – its  colours, textures, reflections in water and good sunlight, make it a wonderful photo set  with a never ending list of things to be photographed. It’s a really amazing place for those of you who enjoy photographing. Venice is also an ideal choice for a romantic city break for two. But is Venice ideal for a family on holiday? Let’s see…

How to survive sightseeing in Venice with kids
in peak tourist season

Let’s start with the obvious fact that “a walk” in the centre of Venice  means crossing countless little bridges, climbing stairs and maneuvering along narrow streets. Now, think of parents who have to carry a stroller with a toddler or an infant stroller with a baby inside over the tenth bridge running on a hot summer day. They would probably be as happy as the tourists with their huge suitcases heading towards their hotel and dragging the suitcases up and down these bridges. So if you’re planning to do some sightseeing in Venice with your toddler - take a ring sling, a baby carrier etc. and work out more to be in shape!

How about visiting Venice with older kids? Well, it’s a completely different cup of tea. If you plan to travel round Italy, Venice is a must-do. The city is so unique that your kids are sure to remember it well for long. There are lots of websites about what to do with kids in Venice all year round. I’m not going to write about events and activities for kids in Venice as these change frequently and are well described on other travel blogs, but I’ll tell you how to survive sightseeing in Venice with kids in peak tourist season.
Summer in Italy is wonderful, but it’s not the best part of the year for sightseeing with kids. Going to the beach, aqua parks, camping site’s pools  these are the top attractions to survive Italian summer heat with kids. So how to make sightseeing work?

Hint: First of all, answer these questions: do you really think that visiting museums, and church interiors in Venice is what your kids are interested in? Do you think they’ll remember the paintings they’ll see in Gallerie dell’ Accademia? How do your kids feel being surrounded by a crowd of other tourists? How would you fell being surrounded by lots of people twice your height? Well, in our view, in peak tourist season, museums and galleries are not the best choice for kids. So what do we recommend?

Early birds…

Sightseeing in Venice with kids means you have to plan your day well. What we now know is that at the end of June the time slot for sightseeing with kids is between 6.30-11.00 and then late in the evening because of two reasons: fewer people and lower temperatures.

On our first day we got to Venice at around 14.00 (sightseeing during the day) and the next day at 6.30  (sightseeing in the morning) The difference was huge so in the summer we do recommend visiting Venice with kids as early in the morning as possible.

On a 6.30 vaporetto most people travelling with us from Punta Sabbioni to Venice were the locals going to work. When we got off we saw Venice relatively free of other tourists, but the locals were up and running, tolling the waste containers to the port, transporting groceries to restaurants and opening up the stalls with masks and other gimcracks.

Venice by night

We also recommend sightseeing in Venice by night. After dusk Venice looks spectacular.  The musicians start their concerts outside restaurants in Piazza San Marco and create a unique atmosphere. Add to this the lights reflected in and multiplied by water and you’ll end up with a perfect setting for a romantic date. As for the kids,  having late family dinner in Venice and strolling down the streets is what they’ll remember much better than waiting in a line to see the works in one more gallery.

Venice : what to see in just one day
As you already know, we stopped by in Venice on our way to Tuskany at the end of June 2017. We had one day to show the city to our kids so we’d decided museums and galleries wouldn’t be our priority. Instead we wanted to walk down Venice’s streets and feel the atmosphere of the city. All you have to do is to choose the sights you want to see and take your kids for a walk.

Hint: Kids like stories about the sights you show them so it’s a good idea to do some research and find some interesting facts about the main sights in Venice

So what are the sights that you’re sure to see in every photo or a postcard from Venice? Here is our list:
No 1 Piazza San Marco (the best time: early in the morning, look for famous statues of Venetian lions with your kids)
No 2 Doge’s Palace (a stone’s throw from Piazza San Marco )

No 3 Ponte dei Sospiri built in 1614 (near the vaporetto terminal S.Zaccaria)

Intersting facts: Ponte dei Sospiri (the Bridge of Sighs) connects  the New Prison  (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in Doge’s Palace. It was built in 1614, it’s an enclosed bridge with two corridors running in opposite directions – one to Doge’s Palace and the other leading back to prison. You can see the inside of the bridge when you pay for the entrance do Doge’s Palace. Why is it called the Bridge of Sighs then? Well, it’s said that the name of the bridge comes from the „sighs” of the prisoners crossing it in the past.  What’s the fact? Well, according to Wikipedia little could be seen from inside the bridge as the windows were small and had bars in them.

No 4 Campanilla – (The Bell Tower) the best viewing point
We recommend watching the Venice panorama from Campanilla. Campanilla (the bell tower) is located near Piazza San Marco. Of course the best time to show up to start queuing (in peak tourist season) is early in the morning (8.00 opening time). While I was waiting for opening the ticket office, our kids were chasing the pigeons on Piazza San Marco being watched by my husband, so for the kids the overall waiting time was around 10 minutes. In the Campanilla there is an elevator which takes you up the tower, so even small kids can be taken up to see the panorama of Venice. If you’re lucky you may hear Venetian bells toll over your heads ! My kids had never before stood under tolling bells and could not believe the noise the bells made. (watch out: babies and toddlers might be terrified) The viewing deck of the Campanilla goes round the tower, it’s safe for the kids as there are bars all round.
hint: people on organized tours usually have breakfast at their hotels between 7.30-9.00. Be smarter and avoid the crowds by getting up early.

No 4 Ponte di Rialto

No 5 Canale Grande

A great attraction for the kids, and not only. It’s a must-do in Venice. You have a few options to see Venice from the water perspective.
1. Taking a tour of Canale Grande with one of the companies which offer such tours,
2. Gondola tour 80 euro a day tour, 100 euro a night tour (19.00-5.00)
Hint: Try to negotiate with a gondolier, especially late in the afternoon when they take their last tour they may lower the price, but make sure what route you’ll taken on
3. the most economical version: taking a water bus line number 1 (vaporetto no 1)

We followed someone’s advice and decided to see Canale Grande on a vaporetto, line 1. Having done that, now I think it’s not the best idea to take your kids on a vaporetto tour on a hot summer afternoon. First of all, it’s like taking a regular bus in a rush hour, it’s crowded, it’s slow and it’s really hot. On one of the blogs I’d read that there are seats in front of the vaporetto which make a Canale Grande tour on a vaporetto pleasant and cheap. It turned out there are seats, but a few , and you must be really lucky to get a seat or two. The heat in the summer is unbearable – sitting in front is a good idea for those of you who like sunbathing in full sun. I felt like a fish on a frying pan, if you know what I mean.

Venice was a surprise for me. Our kids, half a year later, still remember  Venice as one of the best things they saw during our holiday in Italy. Hope you and your kids will find Venice as fascynating as we did.

Recommended websites
Venice for tourists FAQ (English)

Advice on choosing accommodation in Venice (English)

lots of useful info, (Polish)

info on history, the sights, lots of photos (Polish)

great photos, subjectively about a Canale Grande tour, (Polish)

Last but not least, Canale Grande and Santa Maria della Salute, and the view from Ponte di Rialto

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