Venice with Kids: Plan a family trip to Venice

Visiting Venice with kids comes with a few unique challenges. But as it’s one of my all-time favourite destinations I recently found myself visiting with a two year old in tow. Fear not, Venice is an amazing destination for both young and old. Read on for my tips for travelling to Venice with kids!

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Venice with kids

A Destination for all ages

On my first visit as a teenager I’d failed to do my research and naively crossed the ocean without preconceptions. Venice rose out of the water like a mirage. I was flat broke and wandered the canals suppressing my appetite with cheap cigarettes. I was transfixed, and not just because I was delirious with hunger.

Before my second visit I’d just bought my first home and wasn’t flush with cash. But I could afford a bottle of vino rosso and bypass bunk beds and spring for a hotel.

A few years later my Mum came to visit me in the UK and decided to incorporate a side trip to Europe. Clearly I’d bigged up Venice so much that she wouldn’t be persuaded by Paris, Rome, Prague or any other city that was more stroller-friendly. So Venice it was. Beautiful, magnificent Venice with its open water and 409 bridges… All with steps. And my son: defiantly, terribly-two, and a penchant for chasing his shadow with complete disregard to his surroundings.

St Marks sunset Atlas Introspective

“It is held by some that this word VENETIA signifies VENI ETIAM, that is, come again, and again, for however oft you come, you will always see new things, and new beauties”

Jacopo Sansovino

Tips for travelling to Venice with kids

The idea of travelling to Venice with kids had me fretting for months. Despite my concerns I’m pleased to report that not only did we survive, we had a marvellous time (and no one fell in the drink).

There were a few things that helped ensure the trip ran smoothly….

Stay Central

When visiting Venice with kids, stay in a central location. Minimising the time spent getting from a-z translates to more time for sight-seeing. You’re also closer to home for bathroom breaks and nappy changes. Unfortunately not all cafés have WCs and public restrooms are a whopping 1.50 Euros a poop (ahem, pop).

Venice with kids toddlers

Ca’ della Scimmia, is a self-catering apartment beside the Rialto Bridge. Staying at a central location makes returning for midday naps easier and less pesky bridge crossings en route to a restaurant for the evening meal.

Lift 

Those who have previously visited Venice, know that accommodation is often located up several flights of stairs. The flip side to beautifully preserved, historic architecture is the lack of modern conveniences, such as lifts. This wouldn’t usually bother me, but it’s an added consideration when you’re likely to be climbing said stairs with luggage in tow and a toddler on your hip.

Accommodation with lift access is rare in Venice, but does exist. When visiting Venice with kids, a lift is a real bonus & makes access a lot easier. Alternatively, when reviewing accommodation consider whether the room is on the fourth floor before booking. It may not be the most practical option if you are bringing a stroller. The self-catering apartments at Ca’ della Scimmia, are both centrally located & have a lift.

Apartment vs Hotel

Holiday apartments are a great option for families. They usually aren’t any more expensive than a hotel room and a two bed apartment means you won’t have to tip-toe around a sleeping baby. The extra amenities often included in holiday apartments, such as kitchens and laundry facilities make life much easier with little ones about. Those already sacrificing their evenings to accommodate a children night-time routine should at least be rewarded with space to kick back with a glass of vino.

Grand canal from Rialto Atlas Introspective

“This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty – this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap”

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Avoid Peak Season

Venice is an iconic destination that has become a victim of its own popularity. In the peak Summer season, Venice is hard to experience objectively through the hoards of tourists. I’ve always been partial to off peak / shoulder season travelling, even more-so since I began travelling with kids.

Spending time in Venice with kids is infinitely easier during the quieter months. There are less people in the way when you’re dragging a stroller over the Rialto bridge, patient waiters and quieter museums. For the moments when little ones want to stretch their legs, it’s much safer to do so without fear of losing them in crowds. A caveat: December rain can lead to an increased risk of aqua alta (flooding). But I’ll take the risk of a few showers over heat & crowds any day.

Venetian canal Atlas Introspective

“In the winter, Venice is like an abandoned theatre. The play is finished, but the echoes remain”

Arbit Blatas

Sling vs Pram

With very small children I’d ditch the pram altogether & use a sling / baby carrier. We love the Ergobaby for comfort and that it can be used with children up to 4 years.

You will see strollers in Venice, although not many. The most popular ones have sturdy wheels for dragging up steps. Bugaboo, Maclarens and  Peg Perego’s are popular brands. We took a Maclaren umbrella stroller that was narrow, light and easy to carry with one hand.

Finding your way through Venice with kids takes some getting used to. Refer to a map to limit the number of canal crossings you have to make. Those needing a break from carrying strollers over bridges, can head to the canals between the Piazza San Marco and Biennale D’Art. There are temporary ramps to one side of the bridge and kids can stretch their legs in the playground and public gardens or Giardini Pubblici.

Boats 

Whilst a trip to Venice probably doesn’t have a huge amount to offer small children, I’m yet to meet a kid that doesn’t love public transport. And the magic of being on the water is sure to appeal. A trip in a gondola offers fantastic views from water level. But for a cheaper option, jump on a vaporetto and take a trip along the grand canal.

Burano island 2 Atlas Introspective

“To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius”

Alexander Herzen

Pack Light

Most visitors fly into Marco Polo or catch the train into Venice. From here, visitors must travel from Piazalle Roma or Ferrovia to their hotel or apartment, with luggage, stroller, and jet-lagged children, via boat.

Water taxi’s are convenient, but if you want to save your spending money for gelato, the vaporetto (water bus) is a cheaper alternative. A priority section is available & can be used to park strollers.

Aim to pack everyone’s belongings into one suitcase. If there will be more than one adult in your group, aim for one person to be a spare pair of hands to push the stroller, buy the tickets and navigate.

Fiona Lisa gondola Atlas Introspective

Travelling to Venice with kids may not an obvious family holiday destination, there’s no reason to miss out. Children are a rare sight in Venice so enjoy the special treatment from the locals, stop for gelato, chase some pigeons in a piazza and share a real pizza.

If you and your family have an upcoming trip to Italy you may also be interested in Travelling with a Toddler, 5 Things to See in Venice and 4 Days in Rome.