Our full family guide to Venice with kids with all you need to know to plan the perfect family stay in Venice, Italy!
Venice is a fantastic destination to visit as a family. The unique architecture of the place, its canals and the whimsical reflections of the city lights in the lagoon water make it a magical destination for all ages and one that is bound to leave a lasting impression even on the youngest of visitors.
However, vising Venice with kids, especially very little ones, does pose some logistical challenges and does require some planning. So today we gathered all we know about Venice and put it together in this family guide to Venice with kids. I hope you enjoy it!
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The best time for visiting Venice with kids
Venice is in the North east of Italy, perched amidst the waters of its lagoon, along the Veneto coast.
The city has a typical Italian weather, with hot summers, cold winters and mild fall and spring seasons. However, due to its particular location and the remarkable amount of water in and around it, it also has some weather patterns that are unique to the city and that the visitor should be aware of.
Venice in winter
Venice in winter is cold and humid. The temperatures usually stay above zero but the high humidity in the air makes its streets often feel pretty chilly, Grey sky is frequent and rain is frequent too: if visiting Venice in winter with kids in tow, make sure you wrap up well both yourself and them: warm jumpers, coat, scarf, hat and gloves are a must as well as umbrella and stroller waterproof cover.
An absolute must have for Venice in winter are warm walking shoes, ideally waterproof. Even if you don’t get to be in the city when the high water hits (acqua alta), you will do a lot of walking in Venice and your feet can get tired and cold fast, a sure way to ruin your day.
Despite the weather, winter can be a great time to visit Venice. We were there in January and enjoyed a city not too crowded and some cold yet clear days. Prices are often lower at this time of the year too, with the noticeable exception of Christmas weeks and the famous Venice carnival.
Venice in spring
Spring is the best time to visit Venice as a family. Over the course of the spring months the temperatures rise steadily and you get increasingly dry and bright day, like in the rest of Italy. At this time, you still get chilly evening so you want to dress in layers, but the kids will have time to run and play outside and you start having temperatures that are good enough to have lunch out and really enjoy the lagoon.
Spring in Venice is not yet hot enough to have you lounging on the beach but aside from that, it is pretty much the perfect time
Just be aware that during the Easter holidays Venice tends to get even more packed than other times of the year: avoid this time, if you can, or book accommodation well in advance to avoid lack of choice and exorbitant prices.
Venice in summer
Summer in Venice is hot and humid. During the summer month Venice is not a great place to be with small kids: the temperatures are high and the humidity makes you feel sticky and hot all the time, which can be very unpleasant especially for little ones who spend a long time in the stroller or might not be allowed to play outside in the hottest time of the day.
If visiting Venice is summer, make sure you get a hotel with air conditioning and bring insect repellent: mosquitoes. here can be brutal!
Venice in autumn
Autumn is a very atmospheric time to visit Venice and a perfect one if you are looking for moody, foggy atmosphere and cozy interiors. With kids, it is a mixed time to visit Venice. The good side of visiting Venice in autumn are the fewer crowds but if you have very small kids who need time running in the local playground and similar, you may find frequent showers and the possibility of the high water frustrating.
How to get around Venice with kids and strollers
In Venice there are two main means of transport: walking and boats.
Venice on foot
The best way to discover Venice is on foot. You can get absolutely everywhere by walking and this is by far the best way to discover the best of Venice: its small streets, secluded campielli (small piazzas) and atmospheric bridges.
With children, you will find that streets are usually well kept and safe, many not immediately bordered by water, which means small kids can sometimes be left running freely without fear of an unexpected splash (definitely not something you want to happen in Venice canals!).
For the streets that are along canals, caution is recommended if you are travelling with toddlers or young kids. the canals are usually not fenced so a curious tot could indeed just make a beeline for the water and fall in.
However, this happens a lot less than you may think and this is for a couple of reasons: one is that the water is not appealing at all and the second is that the canals are vert much like streets, with motor boat and water buses criss crossing them. Basically, if you use the same precaution you would use on a pavement on a city road, they’ll be fine.
If you are traveling with a stroller, your biggest enemy in Venice are the bridges and there is quite a number of them, well over 100!
Some are equipped with ramps for strollers and wheelchairs but many are not. In that case, all you can do is count on the kindness of strangers or turn the stroller around and pull it up backwards. It is not fun but the steps of Venice bridges are usually low in height, so while tiring, you will not find yourself stuck.
Venice by boat
For longer distances the best mean of transport is boats. Venice canals are served by regular water buses (vaporino or vaporetto) which operate exactly like the buses back home: with numbers and following specific routes. They are used by tourists and locals alike and they are a good way to get places fast.
Some of the lines are more touristy than others and at times you will find yourself cram in, exactly like you would in a bus in let’s say Rome, but they are a good system and can be fun for the kids.
They can be boarded by strollers too, thanks to boarding ramps and kids under 6 go free.
In order to catch a vaporino you need to buy a ticket in advance. Ticket stalls and machines are easy to find and you can choose between several type of tariffs including 24h / 48h /72h and one week tickets.
Depending on the size of your party and itinerary, you may consider getting the Venice card, valid on the city public transport network and giving you access to many of the city museums.
Where to stay in Venice with kids
Venice offers an incredible amount of accommodation options, going from world class luxury hotels, to smaller establishments and Airbnb options.
The budget required varies considerably but you don’t always need to break the bank to get a nice and welcoming room in Venice for you and your kids.
However, there are a couple of things you want to take into account when picking the place to stay in Venice with family:
- Not all hotels and apartments are equipped with a lift, especially in the older buildings in the city and stairs can be steep. Pay extra attentions to the description of the place is if you have any mobility issue or you are carrying around a stroller
- Italy has strict occupancy rules in hotels and you can only fit a specific number of people in each room (this has to do with fire regulation). Always make sure you let the hotel know the exact number of travellers in your party, even if you are planning to have our baby co-sleep to avoid nasty surprises on arrival.
To help you choose the best place to stay in Venice with your kids, we have compiled this list of the best family hotels in the city of Venice.
Top 5 things to do in Venice with kids
We have a full list of our favourite things to do in Venice with kids but here you find an overview of our top 5.
See the pigeons in Piazza San Marco
It is the most iconic square in the whole of Venice and truly has something for all ages. While the parents enjoy the elaborate and truly unique facade of the basilica, tiny tots and kids can chase around the feathery inhabitants of the square: pigeons! You can chase them to your heart content but make sure you don’t feed them: it is illegal!
Take a (free) gondola ride
A gondola ride is great fun for kids but little ones can find the longer ones boring. To get the thrill of the gondola ride without pushing their attention span (nor breaking the bank), you can take the ‘traghetto’ instead.
This is a proper gondola that crosses the canal Grande in front of the Rialto market. The crossing only takes a couple of minutes and costs a couple of euro: it is no match for a full gondola ride but with kids, we found it did the job. We got it twice and it was a great hit every time. If traveling with a stroller, you’ll need to fold it to board.
Climb Fondaco de’ Turchi
Fondaco de’ turchi is an ancient building now turned elegant shopping centre and has a surprise at the top: A terrace with stunning views over the city. Entrance is free but ticketed. The terrace is served by a large elevator so it is easy to reach even if visiting Venice with children.
Eat ‘buranelli’ biquits in Burano
Venice is surrounded by smaller islands, some of which area easy to reach by water bus and an absolute delight to visit with kids. Our favourite is Burano. The island is famous for its colourful houses, its canals and the production of lace but you may find the kids will be more interested in a different side of it: its production of Buranelli bisquits!
The island can be visited in half a day and is truly special.
Visit Libreria dell’Acqua Alta
An incredible place sure to pique the interest of adults and kids alike is the Libreria dell’Acqua Alta (the high water bookshop). Like the name suggests, this establishment is a bookshop selling both vintage and new titles and it has something special: to store the books, they do not use bookshelves but rather gondolas, buckets and even bathtubs!
This creative organisation comes from the need to protect the books from the high water that regularly covers the city streets in the area and has resulted in one of the most charming, peculiar and visited shops in the whole of Venice.
Best family tours in Venice
When we visited Venice with the kids we mixed some free time and organised tours. Here are some of our favourite:
Wanderjack: family friendly tours to discover the real Venice. You can read our full review here
Macaco tour: treasure hunt for kids in a stunning corner of Venice. Adults will love it too! Read our full review here.
Glass workshop to learn one of the most ancient arts of Venice and have a keepsake to bring home
Mask making workshop to tap into the elaborate and ancient tradition of the Venetian carnival
Family food tour to taste the incredible Venetian cuisine, one of the most varied in the whole of Italy
Where to eat in Venice with kids
Venice is full of restaurants and, like in the rest of Italy, you will find kids are welcome in most of them, even if they don’t have kids menus as such.
The best places to eat in Venice with kids are:
A bacaro is a traditional Venice eating venue, usually serving a wide variety of wines and bites. The atmosphere in a bacaro is cozy and informal and the decor in the traditional ones is usually wood, which makes them very welcoming especially in winter.
The bacari are not places for kids as such, however kids are welcome and usually love them. In a bacaro you find what Venetians call ‘cicchetti’ or small plates:i find them brilliant for adults and even better for kids since they can get a selection without running the risk of wasting much. Cicchetti are meat, fish or vegetarian so there is something for everyone.
Restaurants, trattorie, pizzeria
Venice has of course many restaurants where you have a full sit down meal. Some that are veri popular with familes (but that I admit I haven’t tried myself, these are a friend’s recommendation) are Oke (pizzeria with a lot of space for strollers too) Trattoria Altanella and Le Cafe Venezia
My favourite thing of all in Venice is the city street food and in particular the fresh fried fish you find in the area around Rialto. I am obsessed with it and our kids loved it too: grab a paper cone and enjoy while strolling. Cannot beat that!
I hope you enjoyed this family guide to Venice. Safe family travels!
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