Our round up of the best things to do in Venice with kids plus practical travel tips for visiting Venice with kids. – Updated Dec. 2020
Few things match the wonder in the eyes of children when they see Venice for the first time.
We visited Venice with the children in December and, before going, we had built up anticipation explaining about the canals and the gondolas.
However, nothing prepared them for the moment they stepped out of Santa Lucia train station and saw the Grand canal right in front of them.
And they were right to be surprised: I dare the most jaded of travellers not to be impressed by the elaborate, elegant, decadent beauty of this unlikely city.
Kids being kids, however, you can’t rely on beauty alone to keep them entertained.
You need activities, so this is our selection of the top 10 thing to do in Venice with kids. In true Learning Escapes style, they are chosen for being fun for parents too!
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Our selection of the top 10 things to do in Venice with kids
Disclaimer. This post contains affiliate links and if you make a purchase through them we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Chase the pigeons in San Marco
Iconic piazza San Marco is a sight to behold and a wonderful Venice attraction for kids of all ages.
From the colonnades embracing its large pavement to the tall bell tower, the piazza surrounds you with beauty and keeps teasing you with promises of more as your glance move toward Palazzo Ducale and gran Canal just beside it.
For kids however, the attraction of San Marco is not its architecture but rather its most conspicuous inhabitant. Pigeons!
The square is famous for hosting pigeons, you literally walk among them and kids and adults alike make the most of their friendly nature, for the delight of some and the complete disgust of others!
Kids from all over the world spend hours chasing them around the square and this often allows parents to take turns: one is on pigeon chase watch while the other visits the church.
Generations of tourists have enjoyed this free activity in Venice and the temptation to make it last longer buying bird seeds is high.
However, pigeons are a problem for the city and feeding them is illegal: make sure you don’t promise a feeding session to your kids and fines are high.
If you decide to visit St Mark’s basilica with kids, make sure you get hold of skip the line tickets here!
Fun fact: how come there are so many pigeons in piazza San Marco? The question lends itself to legends and there are several stories going around claiming to recount the beginning of the pigeon population of Venice. One says it all started with Doge Enrico Dandolo, who sent them to Venice to announce the victory over Constantinople. The population celebrated the good news feeding the pigeons who made Venice their home and then proliferated. Another story says the pigeons were bred during the was as message carriers.
Whatever the truth is, one thing is sure: Venice is now sick of its feathered inhabitants but their stories keep fascinating kids of all ages! You can find this and more fun facts about Venice for kids here.
Take a Vaporino
In a city made of waterways public transport could only be made of boats and this is what Vaporino is: the Venetian version of a bus.
Vaporini stop are all over the city, each following a numbered route (exactly like a bus).
They are the normal mean of transport for Venetians but or tourists and kids in particular a bit of a treat.
The most popular line of all goes up the Canal Grande: try avoid rush our and get a seat close to the window for the best view.
Kids will love the novelty and this is a great kid friendly activity in Venice to get in some sightseeing without the children getting excessively tired.
Tickets can be bough online, at the ticket kiosks in several location around Venice including Piazza San Marco (water side): kids under 6 go free.
Learn traditional crafts in Murano and Burano
The island of Murano lies right in front of Venice and it is easily reachable by vaporino.
The crossing of the lagoon is pleasant in itself, offering beautiful views of the Venice’s cemetery island, but what makes the island special is its glass making tradition.
Tourists flock here from all over the world to see the furnaces at work and leave with elaborate glass articraft, from necklaces to decorations and vases.
For kids, you can book special child-friendly workshop where they can learn how the glass is made and have a go at creating their own glass beaded necklace.
Both islands can be visited in one day and are a great thing to do in Venice with kids if you have more than one afternoon in the city: catch the boat back just before sunset for the most romantic time of the day on the lagoon.
Learn to make carnival masks
The Venetian carnival is not, as such, an event for kids but some activities connected to it are.
In Venice, you have mask shops everywhere and some offer family workshops.
Crafty kids will have the chance to make their own mask and learn some of the traditions of this most peculiar and elaborate carnival.
Go on a treasure hunt
Local organisation Macaco tours organsies treasure hunts around Venice for kids of all ages.
We took one in December and we had the best day out: this Venice treasure hunt is the perfect length to keep kids engaged without exhausting them and teaches many things about Venice they would never otherwise know (this is the same for adults too, it is very informative!).
This was by far our favourite family activity in Venice and we keep recommending them to all our friends planning a visit to Venice with children!
Visit the Acqua Alta bookshop
How do you keep book dry in city on water? Of course, you put them in boats! Or bath tubs, or pots, or gondolas.
This is exactly what the high water bookshop does and the effect is whimsical.
Kids will particularly love the staircase of old books: go up and enjoy the view over the hidden canal behind.
Get a traghetto (gondola)
A ride on a gondola is a bit of a touristy thing to do but a must-do for many and kids in particular are likely to really want to have the experience.
The long ride can be too much for little ones but you can treat them to the gondola experience taking the so called traghetto.
This is a gondola crossing the grand canal: the ride only lasts a couple of minutes but it is cheap and you are so close to the water little kids will feel it’s quite adventurous.
A special thank you goes to the lovely people of Wanderjack who shared this secret with us!
Explore the secret tunnels of Palazzo Ducale
Imposing Palazzo Ducale doesn’t immediately evoke family friendly thoughts, but kids age 6 or more are likely to enjoy the many secret passages inside it.
The palace is also where Venice’s prisons once were and leads to the famous bridge of sight, which gets its name from the sight of the convicted gong from the court to their cell after conviction.
This is one of the best places to visit in Venice with kids of primary school age, tweens and teens especially.
Take a kids workshop at the Peggy Guggenheim museum
The famous Peggy Guggenheim museum has special workshops just for kids and caters for children aged 4+ and special family days.
It is a great place in all seasons and a life saver during the cold Venetian winter.
Other family friendly museums in Venice are the Museum of Natural History, which has dinosaurs, and the Museum of Naval History, which has beautiful vessels. These are all excellent rainy day activities for kids in Venice.
Climb the Fondaco dei Tedeschi
Next to the Rialto bridge there is Fondaco dei Tedeschi a historical building now turned into posh department store.
Head to the back of the main hall and catch the lift to the top floor for amazing view over the city (access to the terrace is free but in high season you need to pre-book: my advice is to pop in in the morning and get a ticket for later in the day,ideally at sunset)
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 attention to the description of the place 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 travelers 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.
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:
Bacari – traditional Venice eatery
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.
They are 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.
My favorite 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 as they hit the perfect balance between tasty snack and healthy meal.
Recent regulations in Venice mean you cannot any longer sit on a church step and eat like before but this doesn’t take away from the pleasurable taste of these bites.
Just make sure you abide by the signs defining what is and what isn’t allowed where.
How to get around Venice with kids in tow
Venice is a car free city and you will mostly discover it on foot.
If traveling with small kids, I recommend you check out our guide to Venice with a baby or toddler, to get our tips for using strollers in Venice.
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.
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.
Winter is the best time to visit Venice for families on a budget or with older kids who can enjoy indoor attractions such as museums and restaurants.
Spring is the best time to visit Venice for climate and the best time of the yeat to visit Venice as a family thanks to the mild temperatures that allow for long days outdoors
Summer is hot and humid in Venice and probably the worst time of the year to visit the city, especially with young children.
If you go in the hot season, it is worth considering staying at Venice Lido, the area of the city on the sea: it has nice family friendly beaches, it is more ventilated than the rest of the city and it is a short hop to the city center, so you can still easily go sightseeing.
Autumn is a good time to visit Venice for families who want to avoid crowds and do not mind the occasional rainy day.
Find our full guide to the best time to visit Venice and what to expect in each season here.
Children books about Venice
I love getting travel books for my kids and I found on Amazon some good children books about Venice:
- This is Venice, by the always reliable Lonely Planet kids
- Marco Polo was here, a Kids guide to Venice
- 50 masks, coloring book for kids (Venice carnival)
- The Treasures of Venice pop up
What to pack for Visiting Venice with kids
You can find our packing resources at the following links:
- Essential family packing list
- Best shoes for Italy travel
- Best backpacks for kids
- Best luggage for Italy
- Best crossbody bags for travel
- Family first aid kit essentials
I hope you enjoyed this family guide to Venice and it helped you with resources to answer the question how to plan a family trip to Venice with children in tow?