Venice, Italy, has been known as “The Floating City” and the “City of Canals”. If you had The Merchant of Venice as a required reading in school, taking a trip here might interest you more. If you are planning a vacation with kids, walking around the narrow yet historic streets of Venice and hopping on water buses would also be both entertaining and educational for them.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Venice with kids:
1. Take a Gondola ride
A gondola is one of the things that can easily be associated with Venice, so it only makes sense to take a ride in one when you are having a Venice vacation. Being rowed through the narrow and winding Venetian canals with a serenading gondolier is an experience that one should not miss when in Venice. It is deemed as romantic, but this experience is of course not only for couples.
This is fun for families with kids, too. Unfortunately, an hour ride on a gondola could get a little expensive. Do not fret though since there is a way you can still get that gondola experience without spending too much. There are gondolas that the locals take which is called traghetti and it ferries the passengers (mostly locals running errands and just doing everyday things) back and forth for only two euros. Be on lookout for a traghetti to not miss out on a gondola ride.
2. Go carnival mask shopping
Venice is popular for its Carnevale di Venezia (Carnival of Venice) which is an annual festival held in the city. This carnival ends with the Christian celebration of Lent. If you are in traveling in Venice around this time, get yourself and your kids the most festive carnival mask that you can find. Carnevale di Venezia is famous for dressing up, parades, and elaborate masks solely for this occasion.
If you are traveling to Venice with kids on other seasons, do not worry, you would still find festival masks for sale. There are even child-friendly shops around Calle dei Nomboli where you can see artisans making and painting masks. This makes mask shopping as a must-do in your Venice vacation itinerary.
3. Have a gelato in Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s Square is one of the top Venice attractions for kids and adults. This is where people converge for events most of the time. This is a great place to spend a late afternoon people watching while the kids run around. The weather in Venice, Italy is just the same as most of Europe.
If you are here in warm summer months, grab some gelato for you and the kids while walking around the Piazza and learning about the city’s history and culture through its beautiful architecture. There are also a lot of great places to eat in this area. You can grab a seat while having a drink or a meal and not miss out on the festive vibes of the piazza.
4. Appreciate the view from the top of Campanile di San Marco
Campanile di San Marco is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. It towers all over the city with its height of 98.6 meters or 323 ft. and it is one of the most recognizable symbols of Venice. This bell tower has undergone a couple of restoration. The construction of its current form started in 1902 when the original one collapsed. Getting on top of the tower is one of the best things to do in Venice with kids. You can find a statue of Angel Gabriel at the top of the tower. There are five bells in Campanile di San Marco and each has a different purpose.
The first bell is called Renghiera (or the Maleficio) which is said to be used to announce executions. The second belle is called Mezza Terza and used to proclaim a session of the Senate. The third belle, the Nona, sounded midday. The fourth belle which is the Trottiera was used to call the members of the Maggior Consiglio to council meetings. The fifth and the biggest belle is called Marangna. This is used to mark the beginning and ending of a working day. But aside from the history of the bell tower and the interesting facts about the bells, Campanile di San Marco is also the best place to get an aerial view of the city and the grand canals. If you are here on a clear day, climb up the campanile on a late afternoon and catch the beautiful sight of the Venetian sunset.
5. Spend a beach day at the Lido
Kids love the beach. Spending a day at the Lido is a great way to have a cheap vacation in Venice, Italy. It has a long stretch of shoreline where kids can run endlessly or play on the sand. Since it is located on a separate island, it is not as crowded with tourist as the center in Venice. If you need a break from the Venetian festivities, the Lido is the place you can escape to for relaxation. You need not worry about comfort and convenience though, especially since you are traveling with kids since there are a lot of shops, restaurants, and hotels in the Lido.
If you will fall in love in the place, which you just might, you will not have a problem looking for even last-minute accommodations. Lido was Europe’s first beach resort. It was said that royals would spend their time here enjoying the sea and sun. If you want to explore the area, the best way to do that is to rent a bicycle and pedal your way around the town. During summer though, expect the Lido to be crowded since even the locals would flock to the beach. You can get to the Lido from Venice central by riding a vaporetto or a water bus.
6. Hop on a Vaporetto through the Grand Canal
One of the top things to do in Venice with kids is riding a vaporetto. A vaporetto is Venice’s water bus. It is the main form of transportation in the city. You don’t get to see a lot of these just anywhere else. Chances are, it will be your and your kids’ first time seeing a vaporetto, so don’t miss the chance on riding one.
Currently, there are nineteen scheduled lines that serve locals within Venice. Some has a twenty-four-hour scheduled service. These waterbuses travel between Venice and nearby islands of Murano, Burano, and Lido. If you want to make a day trip to Lido to hangout at the beach, hop on a vaporetto with your kids and your snacks. Make sure not to forget your sunscreens and cameras, of course.
7. Explore Basilica di San Marco
Even if you are not Catholic, exploring Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco should still be added in your list of things to do when you book a holiday to Venice, Italy. Commonly known as St. Mark’s Basilica, this cathedral church is the most famous amongst all the churches in Venice. Exploring St. Mark’s Basilica would get you to appreciate and see in flesh an example of Italo-Byzantine architecture. This is a top tourist attraction in Venice so expect crowds and long lines at any season.
Also, keep in mind that backpacks are not allowed inside. Plan ahead when visiting St. Mark’s Basilica, especially with kids in tow. Photography and videography are not allowed inside as well. This would give you time and opportunity to be in the moment and appreciate the architecture, culture, and religion that this cathedral church has to offer. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing as well since this is a sacred place of worship.
8. Visit Palazzo Ducale
Another Venice attraction for kids is Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace. Doge’s Palace is also located in St. Mark’s Square, which means that this is a top tourist destination in Venice and could get crowded anytime. Make sure to book your tickets ahead online and get the skip the line tickets if you can. The best way to explore Doge’s Palace is with a tour guide so you would know the highlights that you should not miss, especially if you do not have the luxury of time to spend a couple of hours here.
Most guided tours for Doge’s Palace last for an hour and fifteen minutes. Kids and students under twenty-five years old can take advantage of the reduced admission fees. The place is open from 8:30 AM to 7:0 PM from April to October. From November to March though, its office hours are from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM only. The palace used to be the residence of the leader of Venice. Its history also includes being the seat of the government as well as the palace of justice. If your aim is to expose your kids to more world history and culture, visiting Doge’s Palace is one of the best things to do in Venice with kids.
This article is part of our popular series, Place To Go With Kids!