Venice is one of Europe’s most famous cities, and for good reason! With its canals and piazzas, there are few cities more distinctive than the capital of Italy's Veneto region. Arriving in Venice from the Padova Train Station, you’ll feel transported to not only another place but another century. Venice is one of the most well-preserved cities in Europe, so ornate architecture, boat-filled canals, and incredible cathedrals and churches line the streets instead of modern buildings and cars.
Around just about every corner, there is something fanciful and charming. Their Grand Canal and city squares are surrounded by gothic architecture and colorful houses that lend themselves to both Rome and Constantinople. The buildings, canals, and even people will captivate your child’s imagination. Venice restaurants are kid-friendly as well. Even tourist stops that most kids are dragged to kicking and screaming will appeal to youngsters of every age. While there is no shortage of world-class attractions throughout Venice that are perfect for families, here are a few of the best things to do when you visit Venice with kids.
Go on a Gondola Ride
Most people’s perception of Venice starts and ends with gondolas gliding through sunny canals. While there is so much more to this magnificent city, gondolas are certainly one of the best things to do in Venice with kids.
While they can be a little costly, there really isn’t a better way of touring Venice’s vast labyrinth of canals. This is also a fun activity that will keep the smaller kids engaged while parents are able to kick back, relax, and enjoy this iconic experience in the world’s best network of canals. The narrow Rio Terà Canal is one of the most iconic thoroughfares throughout Venice. The pictures and videos alone are worth the cost of a ticket, and a gondola ride through Venice might be the activity from your family vacation you remember most fondly.
Take A Walking Palace Tour
Venice is absolutely jam-packed with incredible buildings, and so there are numerous palaces and mansions that are now open to the public for guided walking tours. Some of the best museums have been restored and converted into museums. The Ca’ D’oro is an art museum with an interior from the middle ages. The Ca’ Rezzonico is another museum that illustrates daily life in 18th-century Venice. Most of these palaces can be seen from the comfort of a Vaporetto on the Grand Canal, so if your younger children find family tours to be a tough sell, you can still enjoy the views of the ornate façade of carved stone. One of the workarounds would be a private tour. It's a constructive way to get your steps in when you visit Venice with kids.
Mask Makers in San Paulo or Dorsoduro
Carnival is a big deal in Venice. These celebrations take place in the many Piazzas and city squares, where locals and visitors dress in colorful garb and dance through the streets. The most famous features of these outfits are the handmade carnival masks. Like the glass blowers of Murano, the San Paulo or Dorsoduro mask makers are masters of their craft. You can head to these neighborhoods to visit these artisans. There are workshops for making your own mask, and there are demonstrations from a master mask maker at work. The workshops are a nice constructive activity for teenagers, and they can bring back the masks they made to cherish at home. It’s an ideal alternative to buying a souvenir from a stand at the airport! Reservations for these mask-making workshops are recommended, as this is one of the most popular things to do in Venice with kids.
Take Day Trip to the Beach at Lido
If you need to tire the youngsters out, there’s no better destination than a family trip to the beach. Venice’s most prominent beach is the one at Lido. It’s the first beach resort of its kind in Europe, with a stretch of soft white sand that is as photogenic as it is comfortable to lounge on. While it can get crowded on Saturday afternoons, Lido is usually a quiet and relaxing place for family fun. It’s also a place where locals seek refuge from the crowds of tourists during the high season, so you know it’s a solid option! It's also your best option for getting some exercise while in Venice with kids.
Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum
While there are world-famous cathedrals and some of the best museums in Venice, the best destination for a family with young children has to be The Peggy Guggenheim Museum. There are art workshops for children on weekends, and numerous programs geared towards kids that will excite and inform! The museum is located right on the Grand Canal, so it’s easy to get to!
Visit The Prisons at Doge’s Palace
This gilded palace once housed the ruler of the Venetian Republic. The ornate facade of Doge’s Palace is colored stone, making for a resplendent sight. Inside, there is a museum portraying the luxurious lifestyles of 14th-century rulers. The grandiosity of this landmark museum won’t be lost on the kids, who will surely assume a king and queen held court there. There are darker corners of the building with wells, catacombs, and prison cells. The medieval justice system didn't send prisoners as far away from society as the present day). There are few options when it comes to tours, the longer ones might be difficult for families with toddlers or very small kids. The palace is surprisingly kid-friendly, and it’s a fun way to cram in some history while the kids are daydreaming of kings and queens.
Explore And Get Lost in The Labyrinth at Villa Pisani
Test your children’s resourcefulness with a trip through the maze at Villa Pisani. Il Labirinto, as it’s known locally, is a large garden maze of geometric patterns and a dozen concentric rings of walls tall enough that one can’t see over. It’s a difficult maze that even Napoleon got lost in during his visit to Venice. Not to worry, there is a tower in the middle of the maze keeping an eye out for small children who find themselves hopelessly lost. You can even organize a treasure hunt.
Do a Grand Canal Tour on a Vaporetto
Anyone who has ever visited Venice will tell you to take a ride on a gondola, but that's not always feasible for families. A Vaporetto is a small motorized boat that navigates the Venice canals in the same way as gondolas. While they may not be as iconic as the gondola, a Vaporetto is a less expensive option, and just as much fun. They can also accommodate more people, so it does offer some flexibility for larger families. There are dozens of water taxis and Vaporetto companies throughout Venice, and they rarely require a reservation. All of these tours go through the most beautiful parts of Venice, and it’s a relaxing way to see some of the best sights. If you have a moment without the kids, the gondola is the perfect romantic getaway. If you have the whole crew? A Vaporetto ride can fit the whole family.
Visit or Take in a Carnival at Campo San Polo
Venice is the definition of a tourist town. Luckily, there are a few pockets of the city that will demonstrate how the locals live. This square is similar to its famous neighbor Piazza San Marco, just a little more relaxed. You won’t find as many street vendors, performers, and other trappings of a tourist destination, but there are still amazing features for visitors. Most importantly, San Polo regularly hosts concerts and carnivals. So definitely look at the calendar to see if there’s a vibrant carnival or band is performing during your visit.
Just past San Polo, in Cannaregio, a local favorite church called Santa Maria dei Miracoli is quite appealing to kids, in as much as a church can be. The church is small and colorful enough to keep kids entertained, even if it is just for a little while.
Make Sure The Kids Get Some Gelato
Let’s be real, this one is not just for the kids. Italy’s most famous street treat is readily available throughout Venice. Most city squares and prominent streets are lined with Gelaterias. While this may appeal to a sweet tooth, most of these Gelaterias use fresh fruit and ingredients. One of the most famous shops is Gelateria Nico. They’ve been open since 1935, and the shop overlooks Giudecca Island. This is the perfect spot to grab a cup of gelato and relax in the sun looking out on the island. While Gelateria Nico is the most highly rated shop in Venice, just about every other vendor in the city will have world-class gelato. After a long day of exploring, there’s no better way to calm the kids down than a delicious cup of gelato.
The Best Free Things to do in Venice With Kids
See Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square)
Not that you should have to justify a visit to one of the top tourist attractions in Venice, but you can entice the kids to this amazing city square with promises of gelato and hundreds of pigeons. It's one of the best free things to do in Venice with or without kids.
There are many reasons to visit St. Mark's Square, including St. Mark’s Basilica, with its incredible animal sculptures, which are a great way to trick kids into visiting churches. The Bell Tower in the cathedral can be climbed by older kids (age 6 and up) and there are some amazing views once you reach the top. Doge’s Palace is another ornate landmark that older kids, especially bookish ones, will enjoy. Piazza San Marco is free and centrally located, making it a must-visit family activity in Venice.
The Bridge of Sighs (Ponte de’ Sospiri)
This landmark bridge is one of the most photographed places in Europe, and certainly the most popular place for a selfie in Venice. The Bridge of Sighs connects Doge’s Palace with the Prigioni Nuove, Venice’s famous medieval prison. This bridge is aptly named, as it was used to transport prisoners to their dark cells, and it certainly paints a vivid picture of downtrodden folks sighing as they cross the canal.
The bridge is suspended high above the canal, making the views incredible. The enclosed bridge is best seen from the canal. So grab the kids, make sure they’re smiling and have a local snap a family picture worthy of this year’s Christmas card.
See the Glassblowers on Murano
While Venice is famous around the globe for its crafts of all sorts, the glassblowers on Murano island are renowned for their skills and incredible history. These expert artisans were quarantined on the island to keep their trade secrets from spreading to Venice’s European rivals.
The island of Murano is a short ferry ride away from multiple piers in Venice. Once you get to the island, there are demonstrations from these master glassblowers that showcase their skill in making priceless works of art from molten glass. After the show, you’ll have a chance to purchase some of these handmade treasures to bring home. A short trip to Murano is well worth the time and effort, as it's one of the most interesting and fun things to do on your family trip to Venice. It can get busy, especially with finite space on the island, so do your research and book ahead.
Visit Basilica San Marco
The main challenge with visiting St. Mark’s Cathedral in Piazza San Marco is getting the kids there. Once you’ve dragged them to this Venice landmark, they’ll be so amazed at the beauty and grandeur that you might have trouble getting them to the next destination! The church is full of ornate gold mosaics that contain thousands of gems and jewels. Even by Italian church standards, this is one of the best. One of the most popular features is the group of bronze horse statues and winged lions that overlook the balcony. The ones mounted on the balcony are reproductions, but it’s a short walk to the museum to see the centuries-old originals. Making your way up to the balcony, you’ll be treated to amazing views over Piazza San Marco.
Visit Rialto Bridge
There’s no shame in being the second most famous bridge in a city like Venice. The Rialto Bridge is one of the most visible landmarks in Venice, and it’s certainly the oldest, having been constructed in 1591. It crosses the Grand Canal and is one of only four bridges to do so. The views are breathtaking, and it's near the Rialto Market, which is a great place to find everything from fresh produce to snacks in their fish market. There are even Spanish tapas.
The bridge is large enough to fit lines of souvenir shops, street performers, and other fun distractions for the kids. Painted masks and Murano Glass are the most authentic items on offer, but there are T-shirts and knick-knacks available for youngsters as well.
What Are The Best Family Activities in Venice?
Like most cities, the best things to do in Venice with kids are outside, and usually free. Venice is small enough that most places are an easy walk from the city center. Also, the piazzas and other city squares like Campo Santa Margherita or Campo San Barnaba are great ways to get to know the city. Even better, there is a Gelateria in just about every one of these squares.
Another one of the top family activities has to be a ride on a Vaporetto. Taking a boat throughout the iconic Venice canals is the best way to explore the city. You’ll be treated to some of the most iconic landmarks, and it’s a relaxing way to get around. Because it’s less expensive than a gondola, it’s an easier option to fit into a budget. Also, the boats are large enough that the whole family will have no problem fitting.
However you choose to spend your family time, let one of our Venice luggage storage locations take care of the bags so you can enjoy your trip to Venice with the kids.