Things to do in Venice with Kids

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Despite having been to Italy several times, including studying there for six months in college, I had never been to Venice! On my most recent Italy trip, a few days in Venice was at the top of my must see list. Venice also seemed like the perfect place to visit with the kids. And it did not disappoint, we all had such much fun exploring this unique city and I am so excited to share my top things to do in Venice with Kids.

Venice, Italy

Things to do in Venice with Kids

Venice is a city in Northeastern Italy that is built on over 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. There are no roads, just canals in Venice proper. With its gorgeous Renaissance and Gothic architecture, Venice, Italy is such a unique place to visit!

Venice Italy

How to get to Venice with Kids

On our recent trip to Italy, we spent three nights in Venice. We arrived via train from the Lake Como area and stayed at the Hilton Stucky Molino in Giudecca. When you arrive at the Santa Lucia train station, you can take a water taxi to your hotel.

Trenitalia from Millan to Venice Italy

To Venice, you can also arrive via the Marco Polo Airport. In fact, there are a few direct flights from the United States to Venice (mostly from NY-JFK or Atlanta). From the Marco Polo Airport, you can take a quick water taxi from the airport to your hotel.

Kids will love the water taxi ride – okay adults will too! And note, not all hotels have piers. Sometimes you will have to walk a block or two. Definitely something to consider if you are traveling to Venice with little kids and may need to wrangle a stroller, luggage, etc.

Riding a water taxi in Venice with kids

How Long to stay in Venice with Kids

Our Venice stay was three nights, giving us two full days in Venice. This gave us some time to chill out and enjoy our hotel, and two packed days of sightseeing.

Three nights was the perfect amount of time to really see and explore Venice. One less night would have been tight, and at the end of our stay we felt like we really got to do everything we wanted to experience in Venice with kids. After our stay in Venice, we took the train to Milan and spent three more nights there.

 

Top Tours in Venice with Kids

We did many great tours in Venice – most of which I pre-booked since I did not want to get shut out of all the awesome things I had wanted to do. The only thing we really left more “open” was touring Murano (and Burano, which is the one thing we did not get to). Here are all the tours we did, and I am confident your family will enjoy them!

 

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Visiting St. Mark’s Basilica with Kids

St. Mark’s Basilica is the iconic Church located right in San Marco’s square. I would have loved to have done a guided tour of this Church (I love a good Church) but knew from our Montreal trip and visit to Notre Dame that my kids have their limits with looking around Churches.

Basilica in Venice Italy

Instead of a tour, I opted for a skip the line ticket, so we could avoid the crowds and not have to wait in line. The skip the line entrance is located on the left side of the main entrance. We arrived slightly ahead of our scheduled time, but no one seemed to care. Upon entering the Church, we walked through and did a self-guided look around. There were areas of the Church you could pay extra to enter, but we just stuck to the main part of the cathedral.

We stopped in the pews, lit some candles and said some prayers. As we were heading out, I noticed they were getting ready to say mass – which is open to the public several times in the morning. I regret not staying  for some of the service.

Our visit was not long, took us about a half hour to walk through and check out everything we wanted to see. I would have loved to have done this Saint Mark’s Evening Tour – maybe next time!

 

San Marco Campanile

After visiting the basilica, we ventured over to the bell tower. I had bought skip the line tickets to take the lift to the top. We arrived a little earlier than our scheduled time, and they made us wait until it was exactly our time. Not exactly sure if we ended up waiting the same amount of time to enter as we would have waiting in line!

Campanile in Venice Italy

But when our time arrived, we were ushered right into the lift (despite the people waiting in the main line) and went right up to the top. From here, you are afforded a 360 degree view of Venice. This was pretty cool to be able to get our bearings and see out to the other islands, like Giudecca, where our hotel was located!

I thought from up top we would be able to see the intricate maze of canals flowing through Venice, but sadly, we weren’t really up high enough.

 

Tour of the Doge Palace

After our morning visiting the Basilica and Campanile, we headed over the Doge Palace (Palazzo Ducale) for an 11:45am Secret Rooms tour that I had booked.

In Venice with kids, I would definitely recommend the Secret Rooms tour, as this takes you across the Bridge of Sighs and into the prisons.

The tour we did was really cool – but definitely more for the grown-ups then the kids. We got to see all these secret rooms, in a small group, with a private guide. At the end of the tour, which was about an hour and a half, we still hadn’t seen the prison part of the palace, so we had to self-tour that area. The prison are is a bit of a maze and we had trouble figuring out how to exit! I also think the kids would have enjoyed this portion more if we had the guide with us!

Doge Palace Venice Italy

Kids in Venice Scavenger Hunt

Through my favorite Italy destination specialist, we were asked to try this tour, Scavenger Hunt in Marco Polo’s footsteps, to report back on how it was (we were gifted this experience, but all opinions are my own).

We met our guide, Frederica, at the exit to the Doge Palace and she explained a bit about what we were going to be doing for the next two hours. I don’t want to say too much, because she has her tour set up as scavenger hunt around Venice, but this was a highlight of our trip and a MUST-DO if you are visiting Venice with kids.

Kids Scavenger Hunt in Venice Italy

On this tour, we all learned a ton and had a lot of fun figuring out the puzzles and clues. Frederica was a great guide, answering all our crazy questions about Venice.

 

Ride a Gondola with Kids

Now I book a ton of clients to Italy, especially to Venice and I cannot imagine visiting Venice and NOT riding a gondola! Yeah, it’s a little cheesy and definitely touristy, but it’s so iconic, and it was so fun!

The gondolas operate all day, and they  hold up to six passengers, in addition to the gondolier, who steers the boat with one long paddle.

If you do the Venice Kids tour with Frederica, she will teach you how to identify a real Venetian gondola from the fakes.

Venice with Kids

I booked us on a shared gondola tour because its much less expensive than a private ride, and since we are four people, I figured we would only  have to share with one other couple (which we did). What I did not love was that the tour company had many, probably about a hundred people meeting up at the same spot, and then we were ushered over about two blocks to the gondola station. This was a little chaotic and definitely took away from the experience. If you can swing it, try to book a private tour.

You can book a 30 minute gondala ride here

You can book a 60 minute gondala ride here

But once we got on the gondola it was such a great experience. We moved slowly through the canals, and even went into the lagoon for a short time.

 

Venetian Mask Making Class

This was hands-down everyone’s favorite thing we did in Venice. I booked a class to decorate Venetian masks, which we got to do in a real mask artisan’s studio.

 

Mask Making Class in Venice

We were lucky, we had the 5:30 class all to ourselves. We first picked out which mask we wanted to decorate (there is another class you can do to actually make the masks, but you need to come back a few hours later to decorate them). We then designed our masks and then painted them with several coats of paint. When the paint was dry, our mask master helped decorate them in the true Venetian way.

Our masks made it home safe and sound and we now have them a treasured keepsake from our trip to Italy.

Venice with Kids

Glass-Making in Murano

This was the one activity I didn’t pre-book. I wanted to keep one afternoon free, so we didn’t have to rush out to an activity each morning. I was planning for us to the take the vaporetto (water taxi) to Murano and just wander around.

BUT on the suggestion of Frederica, we asked the concierge at the Hilton Stucky Molino and she arranged a water taxi ride for us to Venier Glass Factory.

Admittedly, this was a bit of a racket. The shop sends a water taxi over to your hotel to bring you to the factory/store, and you are expected to buy something (which I figured we would anyway, so might as well take the free ride).

Glass Blowing in Murano Italy

And yes, we actually bought two beautiful pieces, I really wanted a real Murano keepsake.

When we arrived at Venier, we were introduced to our handler, Fabio. He worked with us the entire visit. They start you off with a glass blowing demonstration. I know they are getting you excited to shop in the store, but the work was truly exceptional.

The artisans make it look so easy. In a few minutes time, they make a beautiful vase AND a horse made of glass. It really was incredible to see. The kids loved this!

After the demonstration, it was time to shop! We browsed each of the many rooms (like visiting a museum) and luckily the kids didn’t break anything.

After some careful consideration, we decided on a decorative bowl and six tumblers. Fabio threw in two extra glasses, and the glass horses for the kids. Definitely know that everything is negotiable, and we did go back and forth a bit to settle on a price. For what it’s worth, we could have saved even more if we had all cash on us.

After our shopping was complete (the items are shipped to your house in a few weeks*) Veneir ordered us a water taxi to head back to San Marco’s square so we could finish our day of sightseeing.

*UPDATE: It took about two months for our items to arrive to our home! They also arrived with a tax bill from FedEx – yes you have to pay US taxes on high ticket import items. However, our bowl and set of drinking glasses arrived unscathed. They were packed so carefully and with a packing foam that conformed to the shapes of the items to keep them very safe on their trans-Atlantic crossing.

If you are not interested in the low pressure sales, and just want to see Murano and Burano, consider this private boat tour.

ALL THE BEST TOURS IN VENICE

How to get around Venice with Kids

Getting around Venice is something to think about before you arrive and its best to have a plan. In Venice proper, there are no cars, and no bicycles. The only way to get around is on foot or by boat.

The main district of Venice is very walkable. All the tiny islands are indeed connected by hundreds of footbridges. The bridges themselves provide a little incline as you go up and down, but the city of Venice is very flat. We enjoyed walking around all over Venice, although we did average 5 miles of walking a day.

I would imagine visiting Venice with young children in strollers, or older folks with mobility issues would present a challenge in getting around.

If you are heading to Murano, or to and from the train station (Santa Lucia) you will need to take a water taxi. You can take the public water taxi/bus/vaporetto or book a private water taxi.

Getting around with Venice with Kids

I definitely recommend pre-booking a private water taxi for your arrival and departure in Venice. Coming off the train with our two suitcases and all our stuff, it was so easy and convenient to just head to our taxi which was pre-paid and waiting for us. The rides are not cheap, but I definitely think the cost is worth the convenience. Plus, riding around the Venetian waterways in your own private boat is just a fantastic experience.

Note: Some hotels do not have a private pier and upon drop off you will have to lug your stuff through the streets – we saw many people in this situation, so another thing to consider when booking your trip to Venice. And another good reason to use an expert Italy vacation planner so these details do not get overlooked.

If you want to take the public water taxi, you can find the schedule here. You would have to figure out which stop is closest to your accommodations.

 

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Where to stay in Venice with Kids

We stayed at the Hilton Stucky Molino located on the island of Giudecca. We loved this property (FULL REVIEW COMING SOON) and getting to and from San Marco Square was so easy with their complimentary boat shuttle.

Hilton Molino Stucky Venice - where to stay in Venice with kids

The family rooms here are large and spacious, with a king primary bedroom, and a living room with a pull out couch. This room has a kitchenette and 1.5 bathrooms.

We also booked into the club level, which I highly recommend. The club lounge had great drinks and snacks and I do recommend booking a rate that includes breakfast.

The breakfast buffet offered Italian breakfast foods, but also American (scrambled eggs, bacon, things kids would love), and also an Asian breakfast station. What can I say, I am a woman of the world, this reminded me of the breakfast on my Mekong River cruise on the Ama Dara!

Traveling Venice by Gondola

Of course, you want to ride a gondola when you visit Venice. But Gondolas are not really used as a means of transportation (getting from point A to point B). When you book a Gondola ride, you will start and end in the same place, making it more of a scenic journey than actual transportation.

 

Venice By Cruise Ship

I do have to add one more section to complete this post on visiting Venice with kids – traveling to Venice by cruise ship. Venice being a water destination, cruising to, or in and out of Venice just makes sense.

Although starting in 2023, many of the larger cruise ships can no longer port in Venice. When many cruise itineraries say “Venice” they mean Trieste or Ravenna, which are over an hour away from Venice proper. But as embarkation and debarkation ports, you could easily add a few nights in Venice with kids at the start or end of your cruise. If you are interested in visiting Venice by cruise ship, I can assist with that, I book (and have been on) all the lines and you should always use a travel agent to book a cruise.

 

Is Venice Good For Kids?

I highly recommend a visit to Venice (with kids, or not!) it’s such unique place with beautiful architecture, amazing history and art. I mean where else can you ride a gondola through an Italian city and see this amazing sunset?

Venice Italy, Gondala sunset

Have you been to Venice with kids? What are your must-dos in this water city?

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