A family vacation in Venice – the top things to do with your children
Saturday, 22 December 2018 - 21:38
Venice is normally tagged as a destination for tranquil romantic interludes. Even for a romantic weekend getaway, the city offers more than just gondola rides, vintage charms, and amber sunsets. Nevertheless, Venice has always been considered as a low-key destination for family holidaymakers, but if you know where to go and what to do in Venice during a family vacation, then you are about to experience the most cherished quality time spent with your near and dear ones in one of the world’s most charming locations. If you are wondering if children would like to visit Venice, la Serenissima provides an amazing array of interesting sightseeings that manage to grab every little visitor’s attention. Here’s how you can have a great time with your family on a Venetian holiday.
1. Explore the city on a Vaporetto ride
One of the most delightful things about Venice is that its streets are made up of water. The city is interlinked by numerous canal ways. In fact, the only major way to travel from one point to another here is by modes of water transports. Even taxis, delivery makers, ambulances and emergency services are carried out on boats. Thus, this is an excellent opportunity to do your sightseeing on boats and gondolas. For kids and youngsters, this is an exciting and unique way to explore the splendors of the city. Hop on a Vaporetto and meander through the great waterways of Venice that take you through some of the most charming historic sights of Venice. The journey on the Grand Canal, the sights of the magnificent Rialto Bridge, gleaming palaces and Renaissance-era buildings on each side of the canal are simply worth viewing. This is one experience you and your family won’t miss at any cost as you need to travel by boat to get anywhere in the city.
2. Cross the Grand Canal on a traghetto
A traghetto is a bigger gondola, which unlike its luxury equivalent, is a daily mode of transportation and the cheapest ride in town. They operate crosswalks from one side of the Grand Canal to the other, as there are only four bridges that cross this long canal. Simply put, it's like a gondola ferry and there are four stations for it San Marcuola - Fondaco dei Turchi, Ca’ D’Oro - Pescaria, Riva del carbon - Fondamenta dei Vini, San Tomà - Sant'Angelo, Ca’ Rezzonico - San Samuele and Salute - Campo del Traghetto.
3. Stroll through Venice's streets in search of gelato
A city connected by canals doesn’t mean there are no roads. Once you are at a particular spot, venture out on its narrow alleys and passageways to explore the hidden gems of Venice. Of course, the city is famous for its charming landmarks from early eras, but a stroll through any tiny sections of Venice uncovers other fascinating tidbits of murals, ancient architectures and an insight into local life. Let the little wanderers take charge and walk around leading you to discover some pleasant experience unintentionally. If you do this in areas close to the best gelato shops in the city, you are bound to have fun getting lost and finding your way back.
4. Go on a child-friendly themed tour
Family-friendly treasure hunt tours such as Saint Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace Treasure Hunt are often organized in the city. Search for local tour operators such as Venice Kids Tours or Livitaly who organize these tours and get registered on one. This is the best way to keep your kids engaged and excited for a long time in the city. Equipped with treasure maps and markers, enjoy a quest of finding griffins, lions, and peacocks hidden in Venice’s stunning landmarks on a guided tour of the city. In addition to it, these tours combine fun with informative learning so as an added bonus, your kids would also be learning about the city while having fun.
If you want to get your kids excited and looking forward to visiting Venice beforehand, make them read the book Carnival at Candlelight by Mary Pope Osborne, and when in Venice book this scavenger hunt tour in the Doge's Palacefor them! They will follow in the footsteps of Jack and Annie, two brothers from Pennsylvania who go on missions across the world while playing in their magic tree house!
5. Show off your skills at workshop sessions
Take a workshop experience at Peggy Guggenheim Museum or visit the mask making shops in Venice.
The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is located at the Grand Canal that houses an extensive collection of modern art. While the museum offers an insight into the splendors of 18th-century architecture and 20th-century contemporary art of abstract expressions, surrealism, and futurism, the museum also conducts workshops to entertain its little visitors. Children aged 4 to 10 years can spend a fun-filled Sunday creating their own contemporary masterpieces.
Venetian masks are another element that the city is renowned for. Take out some time to visit mask workshops where one can try their hand at making designer masks and take lessons to hone the skill. Venice is teeming with countless mask making shops; some of the recommended shops to visit are Peter Pan Masks and Ca’ Macana Mask where little guests can show off their decorating skills at making masks which they can later take home as souvenirs.
6. Go for a picnic
The public gardens, Giardini Pubblici, can be easily reached by vaporetto. The beautiful park features shaded green areas, benches, a playground, and a faux grotto. There is a daily food market on nearby Via Garibaldi where you can purchase fresh products for your picnic basket.
7. Take an excursion to Murano
This quaint island located at the Venetian Lagoon, just a short boat ride to the northeast of Venice, is a serene getaway from the bustling and crowded city. The island is renowned for its world-class glassmaking techniques and centuries-old factories. A short vaporetto ride away, Murano is a charming and vibrant town to fully enjoy with children.
Stop by the Museo del Vetro - Glass Museum to get insights into the wonderful history and works of art of the Murano glassmaking trade throughout the years. They even have a special interactive package for families which is excellent.
A visit to the Schiavon Art Team Workshop will make your jaws drop at their sheer perfection of glass making skills. Take a look around and find yourself gaping at intricately crafted vases, grand chandeliers, and amazing glass sculptures. As long as your little ones do not break anything, they will quietly watch in awe. Enjoy!
Wander around the town and look for free glassmaking demonstrations where you can see a skilled craftsman transform a gleaming, red blob of molten glass into a crystal clear vase and other sleek and delicate work of arts. Murano is also famous for colorful glass beads and you get to purchase them at really cheap prices than the rest of Venice.
8. Get lost in the maze at Villa Pisani
Located 20 km away from Venice, this beautiful villa is worth a visit in itself, depending on your time and mood of the smaller members of the crew. You can reach it by bus from Venice to the small town of Stra.
In what entertainment is concerned, you might want to keep your kids close on this one as Il Labirinto is the world's most difficult hedge maze, made up of twelve concentric rings around a tower. Although somebody is usually watching from the top of the tower, it is best to make sure you find your exhausted kids at the end of this adventure!
9. Delve into an appetizing Venetian food scene
Finding a good restaurant in Venice is a difficult task, as so many overpriced places of average quality are available to satisfy the needs of so many tourists. Add hungry children to the equation and you are bound for a real Venetian challenge, much more so than in a treasure hunt.
As pizza is always an option, you can either have a hearty pizza meal or simply grab a slice of pizza while you are touring the city. Some of the best places to enjoy delicious pizzas in Venice are Pizzeria Trattoria All-Anfora and Antico Forno Venice which is one of the oldest pizza places in Venice.
Additionally, there are a couple of great restaurants in the city who actually offer both an authentic Venetian cuisine treat for adults and a child-friendly meal for their little visitors.The Osteria al Portego is worth mentioning as a great place to just grab a bite from the counter and enjoy it with the locals at tables improvised outside!
Aciughetta offers the traditional Venetian chicchetti for parents while preparing pizza for their offspring in a wood-fired oven. Cicchetti are Italy’s happy hours which somewhat resemble the Spanish tapas - a gourmet palette of bite-sized snacks and small size delectable dishes which include a variety of cheese, breads, and seafood. These are available at quaint bars known as ‘bacari’, but luckily you don't have to take your kids there!
The owners of Aciughetta also run the nearby Hotel Tiepolo with great family-friendly facilities. And while we are at it, more options for family-friendly accommodation are listed below.
Budget hotels: Hotel Montecarlo, Locanda Ca' Le Vele, Hotel Antiche Figure, Hotel Moresco
Deluxe hotels: San Marco Palace, Hotel Moresco, Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, Hotel Olimpia Venice
Luxury hotels: The Westin Europa & Regina, Gritti Palace, The Luna Hotel Baglioni, Hotel Londra Palace