There are many more options for things to do in Venice with kids beyond visiting St. Mark’s Square and the island of Murano. Here are a few of our top recommendations for visiting Venice with kids.
Venice Rooftop Views
One of the first activities nice for families is to get a birdseye view of Venice from either the roof terrace at Fondaco dei Tedeschi or the top of the bell tower in Piazza San Marco. If you have younger children, the rooftop view from the Fondaco dei Tedeschi might be the best option for you as it has an elevator. Viewing Venice from above early on in your trip is a great way to orient the children to the topography of Venice as a city on the water.
Venice by Boat
You will miss an important view of Venice if you do not explore the city’s inner canals, and the Grand Canal, by boat. Kids will love learning more about the city’s culture by seeing this unique perspective from the water. Depending on the age of your children, there are many nice options for seeing Venice by boat:
- Take a gondola ride, and then visit the gondola makers yard of Squero San Trovaso near the Zattere (enjoy a gelato at local favorite spot Da Nico afterwards) – fun for all ages
- Do a kayak or rowing tour through Venice’s inner canals – with older children
- Ride vaporetto line 1 in the opposite direction from the crowds in the morning, starting from Piazza San Marco and continuing all the way to the train station for a view of the entire length of the Grand Canal – a nice option for families with younger children
Of course the architecture of Venice is stunning to see for visitors of all ages, but be sure to explore the art of Venice, both modern and ancient. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is a modern art museum that offers free art workshops for children on the first Sunday of every month. There are great options in Venice for kid-friendly guided tours of the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica with a licensed tour guide that bring interactive fun into learning about the history of Venice and Renaissance art in particular. Finally, the Ca’ Pesarao Museum houses exquisite modern art collections in a Renaissance palazzo on the Grand Canal. The architecture and open airy rooms of the collection are a nice setting for kids to view both the art and the building. They will also delight in seeing the full size replica of Rodin’s “Thinker” here. Afterwards, the café of the Ca’ Pesaro Museum is one of the best places for families to enjoy a modest coffee or snack with a Grand Canal view from the elegant terrace.
Kids always enjoy the adventure and international intrigue of Venice’s maritime history. A visit to the Arsenale in the Castello sestiere of Venice brings history to life. Kids can see the magnitude of Venice’s shipbuilding operations, and recognize the importance of symbols of Venice’s power, such as the lion, in fun places.
Following the trails of maritime history, make a stop at the house where Marco Polo grew up with his family at Corte del Milion, near Rialto, at Calle Scaleta, 5850A. It is not possible to enter the building, which is marked with a small plaque indicating this is the home where Marco Polo once lived with the inscription “Here was the house of Marco Polo, who traveled to the farthest countries of Asia and described them.” Despite not being able to go inside, visiting the place where this legendary adventurer once lived is always exciting for children.
A final important tip for traveling to Venice with children: be sure to plan carefully for how to get around Venice to ensure you limit the stress of the challenges of crossing over bridges and navigating serpentine streets. It’s also a good idea to keep things simple when dining with children in Venice, choosing local cafes and avoiding overpriced sit-down restaurants in the key tourist areas. There are nice cafes in Santa Maria Formosa for families, where you are like to see other Venetian kids playing as well. Other favorite spots for family dining are the café at Serra dei Gardini (in Castello, so perhaps after a visit to the Arsenale) and Sulla Luna on the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio, with a kid-friendly menu and a children’s bookstore within the café.
Guest blog author Shannon Kenny is the co-founder of the Prontopia app, which connects travelers with friendly Locals in Venice for help getting where they need to go in the city – a service families love especially!