Top activities to do in Venice with kids: a two days itinerary for a great family experience in Venice
Visiting Venice can be a magical experience for kids, just like it is for their parents. My son is 9, and Venice is his favorite city, we have been visiting it at least once per year in the last years.
However, in order to make your Venice with Kids experience a memorable success, you’ll need to tailor your itinerary and activities in order to best fit your children needs needs and to stimulate their interests.
In this post I put together all the “do and see” that I think kids will enjoy, based on my own travel experience with my son. It’s actually rather “stuffed”, so up to you to select what to skip and what could be more adapted to your family, based on your interests, the available time, age and resistance of the kids, etc…
Here are my suggestions for a two days stay.
Day 1: I would start the first day with a visit to the old Rialto Fish Market. You can get there by the gondola ferry, 2 € per person from Campo Santa Sofia, on the other side of the Canal Grande (read my post Gondolas and Cicchetti for more info). Otherwise, just cross Canal Grande on Ponte di Rialto.
The Rialto Fish and Vegetable market is where the local Venetian purchase their seafood, meats, vegetables and fruits. Many different sort of fishes, including sharks, squids, shells and local large crabs “granseole” can be admired under the ancient vaulted ceiling.
Better to go there early in the morning, less people, more fish. Keep in mind that the market is closed on Sundays.
Then take a vaporetto (Ferry Boat) and navigate on the Canal grande (try to get one of the few places in the front of the Ferry Boat). Enjoy the nice palaces between Ponte di Rialto and Piazza San Marco (line n° 1, it takes 20′-25′ to get there).
Once arrived, dedicate a glance to the clock tower, then visit the S. Marco cathedral, and tell your kids the story of the Venetian republic, and how they invaded Constantinople and brought back the 4 roman bronze horses you can see on the cathedral facade (remember the ones you see are fake, the true ones are in the museum). While inside, let them admire the incredible gold mosaics (more than 1000 square meters), and tell them they won’t find any such place elsewhere in Italy.
Reserve your visit on the web, don’t let your kids be bothered by the queues, that could be very long, especially during the week ends.
After San Marco you may visit the Doge’s Palace (better for teenager than for small child). The youngest will surely enjoy chasing the pigeons on San Marco square (or feeding them – but consider the “ecological” impact on the monuments of thousand of pigeons generously fed by unaware tourists…). They may also enjoying climbing up to the San Marco Campanile (Bell Tower) to admire Venice from above.
If you would like to visit the Doge’s palace, consider taking the “Secret Itineraries” tour which covers the rooms and chambers where the delicate work of some of the most important bodies in the Venetian administration was carried out. The tour offers an interesting insight into the civil and political history of the city, its public organisations and administration of justice, including the chamber of torture and the prisons!
After all these visits, you deserve to rest for a while and maybe have something to eat. I would suggest not to stay too close to Piazza S. Marco, 10-15 minutes walking will ensure you get cheaper prices and better food. Not too far from piazza San Marco one of my favorite address is Taverna San Maurizio, where you can taste traditional dishes at a very reasonable price, in an “ols Venice style” setting.
After resting you can take a vaporetto and cross Canal Grande (line 1, stop “Salute”), where you will find a museum you can’t miss: the new “Punta della dogana” museum, that shows part of François Pinault private connection. It’s a contemporary art museum, and some of the masterpieces are so unusual that they really deserve a visit (such as Maurizio Cattelan’s horse jumping in a wall!”) My son loved this exhibition, and you will also get a very beautiful view of San Marco and the San Giorgio island.
You may also have a look at Santa Maria Della Salute , one of the most famous Venetian landmarks.
The nearby Peggy Guggenheim museum runs on Sundays afternoon the popular “Kids Days”. The project introduces younger visitors to modern and contemporary art in an accessible and engaging way, giving them the opportunity to learn and experiment with artistic techniques and themes. It is aimed for children between 4 and 10 years of age and takes place at the museum every Sunday from 3 to 4:30 pm. Reservation needed.
You can go on with your visit by having a walk in the Sestriere Dorsoduro (this is exactly where you are). This is an area very pleasant to discover, since it’s far away from the classical tourist itinerary and much more “authentic” than what you may have seen so far. It’s a relaxed neighborhood, full of bars and shops. Head to Campo San Barnaba and just some minutes away, to Campo Santa Margherita.
This is one of the biggest and nicest “campi” in Venice, with a lot of space for your kids to play, and several restaurants and “Osterie” to stop, relax and have something to eat.
As a happy ending of such a busy day you could bring your family to o a Vivaldi concerto. In april I went to a Four Season concerto of the Interpreti Veneziani, in the beautiful San Vidal Church
Get away from crowded piazza San Marco and visit the islands: it’s a Must! Start with Murano, and have your children admire how a glass “maestro” manufactures glass objects and sculptures in few minutes (free tours, last time I went you could get a taxi boat ride to get there).
You can spend some time visiting the many glass shops on the island. Then head to Torcello, with its beautifull roman church and the Laguna sights. You may consider indulge for a cocktail at famous Locanda Cipriani. Then get back on the vaporetto to colorful Burano, where you can have your lunch and a nice walk in this colored small island. You will need your vaporetto tickets for that. Avoid WE as far as possible, vaporetti can get very crowded and plan it before hand, there are not many vaporetto running, so you’d better check your time table to avoid waiting times.
If you come during the “Biennale” contemporary art exibition, you may consider visiting it as well, especially the “arsenale” section.
TIP: why don’t you prepare your kids to the visit by reading with them a Venice child book such as Vivavenice, (Elzeviro editions, available in English in most bookshops), which will introduce them to the story, the culture and the magic of Venice.
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