Last summer we had a truly brilliant holiday to Italy with the Children, and part of our trip incorporated a couple of days in Venice, before moving onto Ca Savio for the rest of the week. I must admit that even though Adam and I had been to Venice the previous year for our honeymoon, I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to travel there with young children- I think there’s something about lots of water around little ones that could make you nervous! However, we had an AMAZING time, and the children still talk about the holiday a lot and would love to go back.
So, if you’re considering going to Venice with children, here are my top tips for having a great time and making your trip run as smoothly as possible:
- Between spring and Autumn, Venice is HOT. Make sure you plan lots of breaks when walking around and seeing the sites (there are plenty of cafes and gelato stalls all around the city), as young children will get more tired than usual. Also, the water buses are a great, cheap way of getting from A-B along the canal in Venice, but do carry a bottle of water with you at all times as they too get very hot.
- If you have a baby or toddler with you, a lightweight buggy or stroller is essential, as there are a great many bridges to navigate, usually with steps at the bottom of each side of the bridge, and you want to be able to lift your little ones easily. Don’t let the bridges put you off though! There were so many people with buggies and it didn’t seem to phase anyone, plus there is always someone around the offer a helping hand.
- Make the most of eating out with children. We deliberately made Freddie and Sasha have a siesta in the afternoon, even though they don’t nap anymore, as it meant we could go out about 6 and have a decent evening having dinner and a few drinks. We always chose places to eat on a square, and on a table outside at the edge of a restaurant so the children could go off and play within sight of us without annoying other diners. They would never usually do this in the UK, but it seems really common abroad, and they made friends with other children, coming back to eat their food, before going off again whilst we sat back and relaxed. It was heavenly!
- You HAVE to do a gondola ride with the children, and this was one of Freddie and Sasha’s favourite parts of our visit to Venice, and at just under half an hour per trip (and you’ll only want to do the one as each ride is about 80 euros, and a fixed price across Venice which is good to know), the length of time is perfect for young children. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly nervous at the fact that NO ONE seems to wear life jackets in Venice, not even children. You can decide yourself before the trip if you want to bring one yourself for your children, but they won’t be readily provided. However, I can report that the ride was pretty sedate, and no one fell in the canal! Lightweight strollers can be folded up and stored on your gondola ride with you, but you will be struggling with a large travel system I’m afraid.
- Consider getting a Venezia Unica City Pass, that will allow you to access public transport, attractions, museums, churches, and toilet facilities- super handy when you’re travelling with children, who always seem to need the toilet at the most inconvenient of moments!
- Re-consider going if you’re planning on travelling to Venice in Autumn or Winter with really small children. At this time of year, Venice sometimes suffers from flooding from high tides called Acqua Alta, which can expose you to contaminated water. Not ideal with little ones who could potentially be up to waist-high in it! If you do decide to go ahead, bring along your own high waterproof boots for touring the flood-prone areas during the fall or winter, and be prepared to be restricted as to where you go in the city.
- Room permitting, pack some of your own snacks, nappies and milk from home for your children, as weirdly there are hardly any supermarkets or ‘corner shops’ to pick up odd bits and bobs, something we are clearly spoiled with in the UK/US!
- Know where the best ice cream is! Crucial for adults and children alike 😉 One of the best places to go for gelato is Gelatria Nico where you get a great view of the Giudecca Canal- we loved it here, and the pistachio ice cream is to die for.
- Devise a treasure hunt! This is a fab way of helping little ones learn about Venice, in a non-stuffy way. The city has so many quirks and interesting things to spot, and it made our walks around the city more enjoyable for everyone- Adam and I could get our grown up fill, whilst the children were excited to find the things on their lists. Win-win! Ideas on our list included spotting 5 churches, 5 different bridges, a water ambulance, a water police car, a grocery delivery on a boat, a rubbish collection boat, a Venetian mask with a long nose, a singing gondolier (rarer than you think!), a pizza restaurant… you get the idea!
- and finally… if you need your usual playground fix for your children to burn off steam, there is a great playground in Santa Elena park, close to the Bienale Gardens in Castello, with 2 playgrounds suitable for tiny tots as well as older children.
I hope those tips help! Please do let me know by leaving a comment in the box below if you have any other questions regarding a visit to Venice with children, and I’ll do my best to answer.