I have been to Venice many times, over the course of the years, but it has taken me a while to warm up to it. While stunning, my first few times in the city only brought me to overcrowded tourists sites and it was only after visiting it with locals that I felt I saw its soul and fell in love with it.
So when the opportunity arose to take a trip to Venice with the kids, I wanted to plan something special that would ensure that Mr M and Little Ms E would see the city for what it really is and not just an open air museum. Our choice fell on a kids’ activity that promised to be fun, educational and perfect for all ages: a scavenger hunt around Venice with Macaco Tours.
The Venice treasure hunt for kids organised by Macaco tour was excellent. We had a fantastic morning with Martina, our guide, and discovered corners of Venice we had never seen before. The kids engaged with her immediately and she kept their curiosity piqued for the whole time. I highly recommend this tour to all families as it is guaranteed fun for adults and kids alike!
What we loved about our morning with Macaco Tours:
- It is a child-centred activity that is enjoyable for parents too
- It can be easily combined with a day of sightseeing
- Doesn’t require preparation, special gear or special level of fitness
- Guides are super friendly and highly professional
- Shows authentic, less touristy parts of Venice
- It’s affordable: you can find their prices on the Macaco Tours website
Venice treasure hunt for kids
We had arranged to meet Martina one late morning in December, so after a lazy breakfast in our hotel, we slowly made our way to the meeting point. We were very lucky with the weather and the bright sky and crisp air made the kids energetic and excited.
I had been telling them about the treasure hunt and the questions were pouring: is the treasure chocolate coins? Will there be a map? Can we keep the treasure?
I started off answering their questions but soon found myself in a bit of a pickle that demanded my full attention: despite my map, Venice pulled on me its oldest trick – got us lost!
Worse than that: we were not only lost but we didn’t even know that was the case! The GPS has brought us to a square that, it claimed, was the one of the appointment. Congratulating ourselves for being early, we went into a cafe and lounged over a coffee until, maybe following a gut feeling, I asked the bartender to confirm we were in the right place. He quickly he said that no, we were nowhere near it and it would take us 20 minutes to get there!
Anxiety ensued: I hate being late, I am a 10-minute-early kind of person and the fact that Martina was having us as their guests made me feel even worse. I gathered the kids in a hurry and dashed through Venice labyrinthine streets as fast as little legs could go! Turned out, we were not that far after all and we met Martina at 11.02 – my OCD personality was pleased with that.
Martina has lived in Venice many years and comes from an education background which shows. She immediately engaged with the kids: she had prepared for them a simple map of the area with some spots marked and photos of things to find (statues, architectural details etc) and said to the kids there would be a story for each item they found. At the end of the tour, they would be rewarded by the opportunity to use a magic key that would unlock the treasure.
Mr M and Little Ms E got straight into it: Martina explained to them how to use the map and crouched beside them to help and off we went.
The tour has about 12 stops and each of them requires the kids to find an object: the first one we found was a mask and when the kids found it Martina sat with them to tell the story of why the mask was there, what it means for Venice and why it is special. While sitting down (one of they keys to successful city exploring with kids, many breaks!) she also got them pencils to draw: each of her photos were missing some details and she asked the kids to fill them in – these were a great exercise because, while simple, it really got them to ay attention to what they were seeing and engage with the moment.
The tour had the kids at the centre but it was fun for us adults too and it took place in a lovely part of Venice. Central but immediately outside the main tourist tracks, we were able to see some tranquil corners of the city and we were also shown something that I had wanted to see for a long time: the high water bookshop!
The ‘high water bookshop‘ or libreria dell’acqua alta, is an incredibly atmospheric place: located on the ground floor of a building facing on water, it is made of several rooms covered floor to ceiling with piles of books. Big books, small books, picture books, vintage books – the place is packed with editorial endeavours all kept in the most unusual of containers such as bathtubs and gondolas! This may seem crazy but there is a reason to this madness: the bookshop overlooks a canal and during high tide, like the rest of the city, is subject to flooding so this is a clever way of minimising damage.
The place is absolutely wonderful: painted wooden doors, windows overlooking the canal and old floors create a bohemian atmosphere like to no other and a staircase made of books leading to a look out over the canal created excitement. The
The special containers they use are clever but the place has also embraced the shabby chic look: they do it perfectly and the cat living there is just one of the many small touches that give so much character to it.
The tour finished in the Fondazione Guerini Stampagla, which is a beautiful palazzo now hosting a library and cafe with several important architectural interventions inside. Here is where the kids received their promised key (I will not reveal what this opened, but they were super happy!) and where we said goodbye to Martina.
This was an excellent tour and a majour highlight of our trip to Venice with kids. If you are looking for a fun activity to do with the kids, look no further than the Macaco tour treasure hunt for kids!
Do you think you would enjoy a treasure hunt for kids in your next destination? I was so happy with Macaco Tours that now I look for this kind of kids’ activity wherever we go. Next stop: Rome! I have an exciting one planned there, stay tuned to see how we get on!
Please note. In this occasion, Macaco Tors had us as their guests. However, this has no bearing on our review: all opinions are our own and reflect our personal experience of the tour.