Visiting Venice with kids: all you need to know. Practical tips for visiting Venice with a baby or toddler, best things to do in Venice with kids of school and the best place to stay in Venice for families. Updated March 2022.
Venice is unique in the world and there is nothing quite like the expression on a child’s face the first time they step out of Venezia Santa Lucia train station and see the Grand Canal just in front of them.
Venice is always stunning but visiting Venice as a child is magical!
As beautiful as Venice can be, however, it is inevitable for a city on water to pose some challenges to parents.
Nothing insurmountable, Venice is a very kid-friendly place, however, there is no doubt a little bit of preparation is needed.
In this guide, we share our best tips for visiting Venice with kids, the best things to do with children and we also answer some of the most pressing questions you may have if traveling with a toddler: are Venice canals dangerous for a toddler? How can I keep my child safe?
I hope it will come in handy to start planning your family trip to Venice.
For more tips and personal advice, make sure you also join our free Facebook Group Travel Italy with kids: you’ll find a lovely bunch of people more than willing to help with all your questions!
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Why visit Venice with kids
There are many reasons why I think visiting Venice with kids is a good idea.
- Venice is unique and is likely to appear positively magical to a child, with its streets made of water and its homes emerging right from the canals
- There are many child-friendly things to do in Venice that are specific to this area and the children will love, such as learning to blow glass in Murano or taking a ride in a real gondola (many ideas below)
- Venice has an incredible tradition of carnival and masks that are great fun for kids to see
- Venice is car free and has many areas the kids can roam freely
- Last but not least, Venice, a little like Paris, is always a good idea so kids or no kids, if you have the opportunity to go: go!
All jokes a side, there is lots to see and do in Venice for dailies. Here are some ideas.
The best time to visit Venice with children
Venice is wonderful any time of the year however, it has 4 distinct seasons and there is no doubt that some are better than others for a family trip.
I believe the best time to visit Venice with kids is:
The spring (March to May) – the best overall time to visit Venice in terms of weather. While you may have rain, this is a time when Venice is not overly hot not overly cold and when you can mix attractions and time on the water / at the playground
The fall (September – November) – similar to the spring, this is a good time also to avoid crowds. Depending on when exactly you go, rain and colder temperatures are possible but it is still a good time for sightseeing.
The winter (December – February): I love winter in Venice and we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas trip to Venice with the kids, but you need to be lucky with the weather!
Venice in winter is rather cold and humid, as you can imagine, and does not allow for a lot of time in the park or playing outside.
I recommend visiting Venice in winter to families with older kids who can get onboard seeing museums and indoor attractions.
Personally, I do not recommend visiting Venice with kids during the carnival due to the crowds and spike in the cost of accommodation.
The summer (June – August) – the summer is my least favorite time to visit Venice due to the excessive heat and humidity.
If you visit Venice in summer with children, I recommend planning for accommodation near the beach so you can mix sightseeing with playtime in a more breezy location (see recommendations below)
Visiting Venice with a baby: need to know
You can find all our >>> tips for visiting Venice with a baby here <<< however, these are a few important observations that will come in handy:
- A baby carrier is your best friend. While I do recommend bringing a stroller to Venice if you have a toddler (see below), I believe a baby carrier is by far the best if you have a little one with you.
A carrier will allow you to step in and out of the water buses with no issues or delay and will save your back from having to carry a heavy pram up and down bridges (not all have ramps).
Make sure you pick a breathable one if you are visiting Venice in summer: the humidity can be brutal!
- You can find my selection of good summer baby carriers here and
- My favorite baby carriers for Italy here
- Always tell your hotel you have a baby. In Italy, hotels have strict occupancy rules and they apply to babies as well. So even if you are planning on co-sleeping, do tell them you have a baby so they can give you the most suitable room
Good to know: Diapers and baby items are available in supermarkets (supermercati) and farmacie (pharmacies), which also carry medications, sunscreen, baby care items and, often, herbal remedies. You can find all my tips for traveling to Italy with a baby here.
Tips for visiting Venice with a toddler
If you are visiting Venice with a toddler, I believe these tips will come in handy.
Plan a playground break – this applies to all city travel with toddlers but in Venice, getting a break from the crowds is more important than ever!
Good parks / playgrounds in Venice are:
- Parco Savorgnan – Cannaregio
- Giardino Papadopoli – Santa Croce
- Giardini Napoleonici- Castello
- Pineta di Sant’Elena – Castello
Don’t plan too much – Venice is a compact city but it has so much to do, that you don’t want to over plan, especially with a toddler.
The crowds can be very tiring in Venice and even just walking around a busy street can be overwhelming for a young child.
I recommend you book visits wisely and always well in advance, so you can be sure you get a slot that makes sense for you and your toddler’s schedule.
Don’t expect children’s menus – Venice restaurants, like many in Italy, do not have a children’s menu as such but this doesn’t mean they are not family-friendly. Many are!
If they do not display a kids menu, they are usually happy to make a smaller portion of whatever is on the menu or prepare a simple pasta with tomato sauce (pasta al sugo) or with butter and parmesan cheese (pasta in bianco), a staple on Italian children’s tables!
How dangerous are Venice canals for a toddler?
The biggest worries for parents visiting Venice with a toddler are the city canals and the risk they can pose to small adventurers.
Indeed, the worry is legitimate.
However, it is possible to keep your toddlers safe in Venice, if you know what to expect and you take some precautions.
The first thing to know about the Venice canals is that it is of paramount importance that kids do not fall into them
As well as the danger of the water itself, the canals are filthy and they pose a severe health risk also to excellent swimmers.
So please don’t let this scare you too much but do not underestimate it either: putting a life jacket on your toddler will not be enough.
The second thing to know is that canals are in most cases not fenced.
They operate under all respect like a road does in a normal city so the children need to know that they must say on the pavement as much as they do back home.
While this may sound scary, the good thing is that the water is truly unappealing and the boats criss-crossing the canals make it very clear they are a waterway and not a pool.
The other good thing about Venice is that while it does have many canals, it also has many streets and campielli (piazzas) without them.
In several parts of Venice even in the center you will be away from the water so you will be able to let your children run free with little risk.
For additional info, also check out my guide to visiting Italy with a toddler, full of practical tips!
Is Venice stroller friendly?
Venice is a stroller friendly city, with one exception: its many bridges!
The city is full of canals and therefore bridges (over 400 to be exact) and while many have accessibility ramps, many others have steps that are hard to negotiate with a baby stroller.
This will inevitably cause some hassle for parents with very young kids.
However, I still feel that overall a stroller in Venice is a good idea.
In the city, you will find yourself walking everywhere (water taxis are very expensive and not a thing you just flag like you would a cab in another city) and the discomfort of having to occasionally lift the stroller will be minimal compared to the potential tiredness of negotiating those same steps with a baby carrier.
If you have a choice, for Venice in particular I recommend a lightweight stroller that you can fold easily: for the bridges, but also for restaurants, often quite small and cozy in Venice.
The best things to do in Venice with kids
Run after the pigeons in Piazza San Marco
The one thing all children remember about Venice are the pigeons in Piazza San Marco.
You may think that a pigeon is hardly an exciting or quintessentially Venetian thing to see however, it is!
Piazza San Marco has had them for many many years and there are many local legends that tell the story of how they came here.
One of them says their presence is due to Doge Enrico Dandolo, who sent two pigeons to the city to let them know they had won over Constantinople.
The people of Venice were so happy that they adopted the birds and made sure they had many descendants!
See Piazza San Marco’s Main attractions
Pigeons are usually the first thing that catches the attention of small kids when they see Piazza San Marco for the first time however, many of the square’s main attractions are also kid-friendly.
Things not to miss in St Mark’s Square with kids are:
St Mark’s Basilica – if you have very small kids, get them to find and notice all the amazing animals sculpted and depicted around the cathedral, there are quite a few!
Climb the top tower – suitable for kids 6 and up and for parents who don’t mind stairs, small and high places…
Visit Doge’s Palace – interesting for older kids especially
Spot the lions – symbol of Venice and dominating over the square!
You can get tickets for a tour of the Palace and Basilica including terrace access here.
Tell them the story of the Bridge of Sights (Ponte de’ Sospiri)
The bridge of sights, or ponte de’ sospiri in Italian is one of the most photographed landmarks in Venice and it has a story children usually like.
The bridge is suspended high above a canal and connect the Doge’s Palace to the Prison (Prigioni Nuove).
It was the bridge prisoners had to walk before their judgment and the one they had to walk back when condemned, hence a place where they would ‘sight’ bout their fate!
Kids who love prisons and horror stories usually love it.
Visit Libreria dell’Acqua Alta
A place children but also adults are likely to adore in Venice is Libreria dell’Acqua Alta, the ‘high water bookshop’.
This is a super special bookshop with books old and new gathered into any possible container you can imagine, including bath tubs and gondolas!
The reason is simple: the bookshop opens up onto a canal and the high water sometimes gets in, so the books need protection.
And what can protect you best from the Venice water than a gondola?
Take a gondola (or just the ‘traghetto’)
Taking a gondola is usually high on the list of children visiting Venice and can indeed be fun, especially if they are old enough to appreciate the stories told by the gondoliers.
If they are not, the trip may soon get boring so in this case, I recommend an alternative!
Near the Rialto Bridge, just in front of the market, you can catch the so-called ‘traghetto’ a gondola that goes across the canal, operating as a taxi.
The journey takes a couple of minutes only but it is cheap and it is a fun way yo get them on the water without going bankrupt or committing to a long tour.
Visit a ‘squero’, the place where gondolas are made
If gondolas are a hit with your kids, then you can go see a ‘squero’, aka a gondola workshop!
One of the few ones that are active and open to the public, kids included, is the one in San Trovaso, in the area Zattere/Accademia. You can find info and opening hours on their Facebook Page
Learn to Row with ‘Row Venice’
Taking a gondola ride is fun for kids but learning to row on Venice canals is even more fun!
Kids (and adults) can learn to row from professionals with Row Venice, a local organization lead by passionate women who will teach you to row on a traditional Venetian vessel (not a gondola, but an equally traditional Batela a coa de gambaro, once the most common vessel for Venetians in the city.
Go on a Venice treasure hunt
The last time we visited Venice we booked a private kids treasure hunt and our kids has an absolute ball, it was so much fun!
We used a company called Macaco Tours and they brought us to a lovely area of Venice, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, where they challenged them to draw, pint and find the most incredible Venice secrets.
It was a fantastic experience for all of us and a highlight of our family trip to Venice, we highly recommend it.
Have chocolate at Vizio Virtu’
If your children love chocolate, then one of the best things to do in Venice with kids is to treat them to a hot chocolate (or toffee, or cake) at the chocolate shop called Vizio Virtu’ – a chocolate lover dream!
Address: Calle del Forner, 5988, 30122 Venezia
Eat cicchetti in San Polo
Cicchetti is the Venetian name for ‘small bites’, aka small plates of food served to accompany a drink, traditionally a glass of local wine, but also easy to enjoy as a snack or a light meal.
Eating cicchetti is a must do in Venice and it is great with kids too.
Usually displayed at the bar, you and your child can simply walk up and point and what you fancy.
This minimizes the risk of ordering an expensive menu item and then see it wasted as not matching the expectations of your little foodie!
You find cicchetti everywhere in Venice but one of the areas with the highest number of restaurants is San Polo: beautiful, central and with several areas without canals (=safe for small kids), a meal here is one thing I highly recommend you include in your Venice itinerary!
Visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, family-friendly museum in Venice
The Peggy Guggenheim Museum is one of the most family-friendly museums in Venice and a wonderful one to visit for kids as well as mom and dad.
The museum has free art workshops for kids on Sundays (age 4 to 10), discounts for families and wonderful tactile tours too. You can read more about the kids’ programs at the Peggy Guggenheim here.
Visit the Leonardo Museum
The Leonardo Museum is Venice is part of the family of Leonardo Exhibitions in Italy, with branches also in Rome and Florence.
The museum is great fun for kids as it has a large collection of Leonardo Machines you can operate (fab also for little ones).
A fantastic place for a hands-on activity and a great idea for a day in Venice with kids if it rains.
Address: Campo San Rocco, San Polo 3052, 30125 – Venezia
See the colorful houses of Burano
Burano is a small island in front of Venice and it is a delight to visit with children.
Entirely car free, the island has canals just like Venice, colorful houses in any possible color imaginable and it also has something special: a type of biscuit called ‘buranelli’ kids will love!
You can have a nice walk around the islands and then taste them in one of the many cafes here for a perfect family afternoon.
Learn how to blow glass in Murano
Murano is an island just in front of Venice city center famous for a fantastic tradition of artisan glass.
the glass can be admired everywhere in Venice shops but in Murano there is the extra chance of seeing the artisans at work and see the glass creations being made!
A great place for this is Ferro Toso. as well as weeing the masters at work, here kids have the chance to create their own murrina.
The hands-on activity only takes about 20 minutes + the time for the murrina to come out of the oven: very easy to add to your day of sightseeing.
Learn how to decorate a real Venetian Carnival mask
If you have crafty kids, they will love learning how to decorate a real Venice carnival mask with their own hands.
The activity is led by a local artisan and it is educational sensory, fun and quintessentially Venetian!
Meet a puppeteer
A one of a kins type of experience is visiting the weird and wonderful puppet workshop ‘L’Isola di Pinocchio’.
Located in Cannaregio, kids and adults can enter this magical place, see how the marionettes are made, hear the stories of theor creators and order some to carry or send home.
You can find contact details and make arrangements with the puppeteer himself on their website
Catch a view from Fondaco de’ Tedeschi at Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge (Ponte di Rialto) is another important landmark in Venice but, as such, is not super interesting with kids, except for the photo ops it offers.
More fun is to go and climb up to the terrace of Fondaco de’ Tedeschi just beside it.
This elegant shopping center has a fabulous free terrace with wonderful views over Venice!
Access is free but at busy times you may need to book: the best way is to head there in the morning and get a slot for later in the day. The area is close to San Marco and many restaurants so you will have plenty to do while waiting.
Go to the beach
I know you come to Venice to see Venice and not for the beach.
However, when the heat strikes or your kids need a day of relaxation and play, the beach may just be the ticket and getting to the beach from Venice is super easy!
The closest beach to Venice is Lido which is easy to reach and family-friendly, perfect for a day on the water. You can find our guide to going to the beach in Venice here.
Relax in Serra dei Giardini
If you are looking for a place in Venice where you can relax with a coffee while the kids have some space to run around, then you should check out Serra dei Giardini.
‘Serra’ means ‘greenhouse’ in Italian and indeed, this place is a greenhouse, plant shops, cafe and educational center all in one. You can come here to relax or to join one of the kids’ workshops regularly on offer.
You can find info on their site
Visit Borges’ Labyrinth on San Giorgio Maggiore: new for 2022!
In 2022 a new, fantastic place for kids in Venice opened its’ doors: Borges’ Labyrinth!
The maze is on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, immediately in front of San Marco, and it is a lovely place to spend an afternoon as a family.
The labyrinth is part of the Cini Foundation and while it is not a kids’ attraction as such, it is lovely for all ages, grown-ups included! Find info here.
Things to do in Venice with kids when it rains
Venice is kind of miserable in the rain however, there are many indoor activities for kids for a rainy day in Venice.
Some of the best family-friendly things to do in Venice when it rains are:
Peggy Guggenheim Museum: see above
Museo Leonardo: see above
The museum has one room in particular ‘il padiglione delle navi’ that has cool vessels that are cool for kids to see.
Natural history Museum – always a hit with kids thanks to it fossils, whale room and aquarium room, with animal species from the high Adriatic, Venice’s sea
Ca’ Rezzonico – this is one of Venice’s most important museums and while it is not for kids, it has nice family events and it is hosted in a palazzo so stunning, even children too little to appreciate the art are likely to be impressed!
Accademia – Another famous Venice museum, it is a great place to escape the rain at the weekend, when they have regular workshops for kids age 3 to 11.
The best areas to stay in Venice for families
Venice is organized in 6 neighborhoods called ‘sestieri‘.
They are all good areas for families, Venice is a compact city, however, I believe that some are more family-friendly than others.
The best areas to stay in Venice with kids are:
Cannaregio – perfectly located close to the station, this is a lovely area with excellent facilities hotels and connections to the rest of the city.
A little farther from attractions such as San Marco and Rialto, yet still walking distance from the, it has a local feel more central areas of Venice lack and yet is perfect for all your sightseeing needs.
The best mid-range hotel for families in Cannaregio is Ca’ due Leoni which is a lovely family run hotel with clean rooms, local feel and good prices.
This is a nice area and also has a small park and playground, Parco Savrognan, near Ponte delle Guglie.
San Polo is another lovely area, located between the station and San Marco. In perfect position for all your sightseeing needs, this area is well served and has several open spaces that are fun for kids, including Campo San Polo itseld, the main square in the area.
A good family hotel in San Polo is Hotel dell’Orologio
Dorsoduro is one of the most family-friendly, central areas in Venice. Close to Accademia and the kid-friendly Peggy Guggenheim Museum, it has the advantages of a central location without the sometimes oppressive feel of San Marco.
Castello – a little more removed from the tourist center of Venice, Castello is an area many tourists do not see but that is perfect for families and give you a taste of Venice as a real city and not just a kind of Italian Disneyland.
Catello also has Giardini Napoleonici, which is a lovely green area for a break and playing outside.
San Marco, the very heart of Venice city center, is ideal if you want to be in the center of everything and you don’t mind bigger crowds and slightly higher prices.
I personally don’t love it for kids as it gets too busy and oppressive however, being the very center of Venice it simply needed to be on this list of the best areas to stay!
Best family tours of Venice
You can easily enjoy Venice on your own. However, if you are short on time there are many tours available, some great for families.
What to eat in Venice with kids
Venice has amazing cuisine and some of the best Venice specialties are kid-friendly.
Risi e Bisi is a Venetian specialty of rice and peas, delicious and with a mild flavor usually loved by children
Fritto Misto: Venice has amazing seafood and fish and one of the tastiest and most child-friendly ways to taste is ordering a fritto misto (Mixed fried food) at a restaurant or in cartoccio, as street food
Pasta e fagioli: a lovely, warming pasta and beans soup, perfect especially on a cold afternoon
Pizza and gelato – not typical of Venice but of course sold everywhere
Buranelli, delicious biscuits typical of the town of Burano, one of the small islands in front of Venice.
And what about the parents? Well while your kids taste risi and bisi, you can indulge in Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia (with squid ink, so sweet and delicious), Fegato alla Veneziana (liver with onions), Sarde in Saor (fish), Bigoli in salsa (pasta).
You can find our guide to Venice food here.
Sample itinerary for a weekend in Venice with kids
Hopefully all these options have you persuaded that Venice is great for kids however, you may now be wondering about a good family itinerary for Venice, to see them all or at least, to see the best of them.
Out of the very many ways to see Venice with kids, I believe the best family itinerary for 3 days in Venice is as follows.
3 Days in Venice with Kids Itinerary PRINTABLE
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Venice with kids day 1
Day 1 morning: Start your day in San Marco, see the Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sights and all of Venice’s main attractions on this famous square.
Walk towards Rialto bridge and take a ‘traghetto‘ and have a taste of a gondola ride for a fraction of the price of a full tour!.
Day 1 afternoon: Spend the afternoon on the water with Row Venice
Then Cannaregio for dinner in the Venice Jewish ghetto.
Venice with kids – Day 2
Day 2 morning: sign up for a treasure hunt for kids by Macaco Tours and let them guide you around the wonderful areas of Santa Maria Formosa, where you will also see the wonderful Acqua Alta bookshop.
Day 2 afternoon: eat in the area and then head to Fondamenta Nuove to catch the ferry to Murano.
Have a quick lunch in Murano and treat the kids to a workshop in Ferro Toso.
Then hop on the boat again and explore Burano.
Have tea with buranelli biscuits and then catch a boat back at sundown, so you can enjoy the lagoon as the sun sets – wonderful!
Head back to Venice city center for dinner.
Venice with Kids – Day 3
Day 1 Morning – spend the morning learning how to decorate a real Venetian mask
Head for Lunch to Castello and let the kids relax and run around the local gardens, one of the nicest and largest in the city
Late afternoon: get the ferry to Dorsoduro and La Salute to catch stunning views of San Marco before a final dinner in Venice back in San Polo.
What to pack for a family trip to Venice
You can find my full family packing list for Italy here. On top of your Italy essentials, I recommend you add to your family packing list for Venice:
- Baby carrier
- Lightweight stroller
- Mosquito repellent (summer)
- Very warm clothes for winter (Venice can get very cold because of the humidity)
- Very light clothes for summer, including swimming gear if going to the beach
- Portable high chair for eating out
I hope you enjoyed this quick family guide to visiting Venice with kids and it gave you some good ideas. Safe Italy travel planning!