Venice With Kids – A Mom in Italy’s Complete Guide

We just got back from another trip to Venice with kids.  This time my oldest child stayed home so it was just a preschooler and a 1-year-old.  We had a blast!

Our kids love Venice, and so do we!  We’ve figured out how to make it fun and relaxing for the adults too. 

Whether you’re still deciding on whether to go to Venice with kids or you’ve already booked your trip, this guide will answer all of your questions and help you plan out a perfect trip to unique and enchanting Venice.

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Contents

Should You Visit Venice with Kids?

Mom and boys on Murano bridge in Venice, Italy.

Yes!  It’s a magical place!  A few things that kids love about Venice:

  • the fact that the ‘roads’ are water and the ‘cars’ are boats!
  • watching a master blow glass on Murano Island
  • spotting the Carnevale masks in workshop windows
  • seeing the sparkling mosaics inside St. Mark’s Basilica
  • imagining how their day-to-day life would be different in Venice
  • eating gelato and cicchetti

Recommended Ages of Kids to Bring to Venice

Boys and grandparents on a small lane in Venice, Italy.
Heading to Venice with an early walker? You may want to call in reinforcements…

Non-Walkers – YES

Non-walking babies are easy to take around Venice, in either a breathable baby carrier or a stroller.   Check out our Venice with a Baby Tips.

Elementary-Age Kids – YES

Older children will be fascinated with the architecture, the system of canals, the history of the city, and more. 

Early Walkers – NO

The only age of child I would avoid bringing to Venice* is the ‘early walker’ or ‘I like to quickly dart away from my parents’ toddler stage.  Sure, you can work hard to keep your toddler with you (and not jumping into a canal or lost in a crowded Venice lane), but it won’t be enjoyable for you.  You will be exhausted and wish you’d saved your Venice trip for a later time!  Choose another fabulous destination in Italy to travel with your little one at this life stage. 

*I don’t always follow my own advice. We’ve been two Venice with two of our toddlers.

Planning a Trip to Venice with Kids

All new places require planning and effort on the part of the adults to make the trip go well.   But, Venice is a unique destination and has some things that make it a little more difficult than other places in Italy.

To make a successful trip to Venice with kids, before you go you’ll need to:

If you can do those few things, your trip will be memorable and fun for the entire family!  

Safety Issues in Venice with Kids

Canals and the Lagoon

There aren’t any railings or safety barriers keeping your kids from falling or jumping into the water.  Not only is the water a drowning risk, but it’s also very dirty.  So, don’t let your children touch it.  You’ll notice there aren’t any swimmers in Venice’s canals!

Not Wearing a Life Jacket on a Boat

You’ll be on multiple boats during your time in Venice, and you won’t be wearing a life jacket. 

I feel ‘ok’ on the vaporetti, but not having lifejackets on a gondola is what keeps me from bringing my kids on them.

Crowds

Outside of winter, you’ll find crowds in Venice.  Before arriving, talk to your children about what they should do if they get lost in a crowd. 

Heat

Summers in Venice are toasty!  If it’s really hot, explore with your kids in the morning and evening and stay out of the sun during the hot midday hours. 

Stay hydrated by drinking water and refilling your water bottles in Venice’s public water fountains.

Car-Free Streets

Your kids will have fun running around in Venice’s campi (piazzas) and you’ll enjoy it too because you don’t have the stress of cars.  But, don’t get a false sense of security if you have small children because there’s always water nearby. 

When to Go to Venice with Kids

Boy in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.  You can see the St. Mark's Basilica in the background.

Best Times to Go to Venice with Kids

Early Spring (March and April) or Late Fall (October and November)

In the early spring and late fall, temperatures are milder, although you will probably see a few rain showers.  There are still crowds, but nothing like the busy summer months.

December

December in Venice is beautiful with the chilly misty mornings and twinkling Christmas lights reflecting on the water.  It is cold, so you need to bundle up, but the crowds are gone.  This is our favorite time to go to Venice (with and without kids).

Times to Avoid Visiting Venice with Kids

Summer (June – August)

Summer in Venice is unbearably hot and crowded.  June is also the rainiest month in Venice.  Bottom line – summer is an unpleasant time to be in Venice as an adult, let alone as a small child. 

If the only time you can visit Venice with kids is in the summer and you really want to make it happen, don’t come on a day trip.  Stay overnight and make sure you are out exploring early in the morning and late in the evening.  During the hottest part of the day, rest in your hotel room or head to one of the Venice Lido beaches.

Other Times to Visit Venice with Kids

Late Spring (May) or Early Fall (September)

Late spring and early fall can still be hot and crowded, but a little less so than the summer months. 

January and February

January and February lack the twinkling Christmas lights and cheer, but they are still nice months to visit Venice with kids because you won’t have to fight the crowds. 

Carnevale (Carnival)

Venice is known around the world for its Carnival.  You can definitely visit Venice with kids during the festivities but know that it will be very crowded and expensive.  Carnival can also be overwhelming for small children (crowds, strange masks, loud noise).  I wouldn’t take my younger children, but older kids will enjoy it.

Good To Know:  If you’re hoping to see a Carnival with kids, check out the Viareggio (Tuscany) Carnival – it’s a great kid-friendly alternative.

Check out where to see Carnival in Italy!

Venice Itinerary with Kids – Helpful Tips

Boy window shopping for glass products in Venice, Italy.
  • Avoid always walking on the main pedestrian ways. 
  • Visit less crowded neighborhoods.
  • Plan stops at parks or in piazzas.
  • Don’t pack the days full of sites and activities. 
  • Choose one ‘Venice attraction’ per day and add a kid activity (visiting a playground, going on a vaporetto ride). 
  • Build in extra time for waiting for the vaporetto.
  • Pre-book tickets for sites in advance to reduce the amount of time you spend waiting in lines.
  • If you’re with another adult, trade off and let one adult at a time see a site that isn’t kid-friendly.

The Best Things to Do in Venice with Kids

Worried your kids will be bored in Venice?  Fear not!  There are plenty of fun and engaging things to do with a child in Venice.

And, if you’re coming with a baby, remember – you can do anything you want to do in Venice.  Put your baby in a stroller or breathable carrier and go explore!

Take a Vaporetto Down the Grand Canal

If you can, do this on your arrival in Venice.  The canal winds its way in an ‘S’ shape from the Santa Lucia train station to Piazza San Marco.  Take the #1 vaporetto and enjoy the ride past fancy palazzi, homes, and some of Italy’s famous museums.  Wave to Venice’s boats – taxis, delivery boats, police boats, trash-collecting boats, and vaporetti taking people to work or school.

Good To Know:  The open-air section at the back of the boat looks like fun but most of the time you’ll be smelling fumes from the motor.  Head to the open-air areas on the sides of the boat.

Good To Know:  Make sure you’re going to St. Mark’s Square via the Grand Canal.  The other direction will get you there via the lagoon – still beautiful, but you’re not as close to the buildings.

See Outside and Inside St. Mark’s Basilica

St. Mark's Basilica facade in Venice, Italy.

Kids love the glittering golden mosaics (over 4,000 square meters of them!), the marble floor (find the animals), the treasury, and the jeweled Pala d’Oro inside the basilica.  Outside, kids can stay busy searching for griffins, the Porta dei Fiori (Door of Flowers), mosaic stories from the Bible (like Noah’s Ark and the Creation), and the bronze horses (replicas).

See a Glass Blowing Demo

Glass blower in his workshop in Venice, Italy.

Don’t miss a trip to Murano Island to see glass being blown.  We’ve had the best experiences with the demos with glass factories along this walkway on the water. 

Find the Bridge with the Gargoyles (Ponte delle Guglie)

Kids will have fun spotting the gargoyles on this bridge near the Santa Lucia train station.

Find a Playground

Our favorite playgrounds in Venice are:

  • Parco delle Rimembranze (Castello) – Large green space, playground for all ages, plenty of places to sit.  Bring bug spray and be careful of the water close by.
  • Parco Savorgnan (Cannaregio) – Enclosed space with large trees for shade, a nice playground with seating for adults.  It’s very close to the Santa Lucia station, so you can play here before catching your train.  No water in the immediate vicinity.
  • Giardini Papadopoli (Santa Croce) has a playground, but it’s small and not very well-maintained.  Whenever we’ve been here I haven’t wanted to sit on the benches, but if you’re in the area and desperate for a playground, this will work.  You can also let your kids run around Giardini Napoleonici (Castello) in a pinch.
  • Campo San Polo.

Visit the Rialto Market

Kids (little and big) will like wandering around the market and seeing all of the seafood on display.  Be careful not to let the little ones sit on the fishy ground.  You can let your kids pick out and pay for some fruit for a snack.

Go to the Lido Beach

Take a ferry to Spiaggia Cavallino and let the little ones play in the sand and clear, shallow water. 

Good To Know:  You currently need to reserve a place at the free beach (to avoid overcrowding).  You can do so online (in Italian).  Enter your Name, Email, Access Point (#14), Number of People, and Date.

Get Gelato

Gelato is a hit anywhere in Italy!  Head to the centrally located Gelatoteca Suso.   

See the Biennale Pavilions

Every two years, on the even year, Venice holds its Biennale.  From spring through fall, there are activities and events throughout the city, including dance performances, artists’ exhibitions, and the Venice Film Festival. 

The best thing to do with kids is to visit the huge pavilions.  Artists from around the world set up huge, interesting exhibits and installations and if you’re in Venice, go!  Don’t think twice.  Even if you or your children aren’t ‘art lovers,’ I guarantee you will find something memorable and impactful in a pavilion.

Head to the Top of the San Giorgio Tower

Everyone wants to climb St. Mark’s bell tower, but the best views are across the way from the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore’s tower.  It’s a quick vaporetto ride from St. Mark’s Square, followed by an elevator to the top of the tower.   The views of the lagoon, St. Mark’s Square, and Venice are incredible.

Good To Know:  Don’t want to take a boat over to San Giorgio?  Another great viewpoint is from the roof of the T Fondaco dei Tedeschi department store.  You need to pre-book your tickets though!

Find a Favorite Carnevale Mask

Boy window shopping for Carnevale masks in Venice, Italy.

You’ll find masks on display throughout the city.  Our kids’ favorite shop by far is Kartaruga.  The windows are full of amazing animal masks and the owner is friendly and helpful (and patient with kids!). 

Your kids can even make their own masks.  See the Kartaruga website for details.

Good To Know:  Don’t want to buy an expensive mask?  Head to Vizio Virtù chocolate shop and buy one of their little chocolate masks!

Go on a Kid-Friendly Tour

Yes, St. Mark’s, no Doge’s Palace, yes food tour, yes Murano glass (although not necessary).  Scavenger hunts are popular kids’ activities in major Italian cities, and Venice is no exception.  You can’t go wrong with Context Travel tours.

Visit a Kid-Friendly Museum

Leonardo da Vinci Museum

There are numerous Leonardo da Vinci museums (not all related) scattered throughout Italy.  This is one of the best.  The museum is full of engaging, interactive exhibits and adults will love it as much as kids! 

MUVE (Natural History Museum of Venice)

Venice’s Natural History Museum is a hit with little ones.  They have interactive exhibits and fun displays for kids, like butterflies, a giant whale skeleton, and more. 

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Many of the museums in Venice offer activities for little ones, including the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, but I would save it as a rainy day option, not a must-do activity.

Eat Cicchetti

Venice’s version of tapas makes a perfect meal for little ones.  The best area for cicchetti is around the Rialto Bridge.

Buy Some Sweets

VizioVirtù has the best chocolate (pretty and delicious).  My kids love it and think I’m being so nice to take them there.  But really, it’s for me!  Captain Candy is an overpriced candy shop, but my kids love picking out a couple of sweets after a morning of sightseeing.  There are 3 locations in Venice.

Go on a Hop on Hop off Bus Tour (JUST KIDDING)

I wanted to see if you were still paying attention.

Go on a Gondola (or Traghetto)

As I mentioned above, I haven’t taken my little ones on a gondola – I just don’t feel comfortable with it.  If you have an older child that is interested in gondolas, a nice compromise is to take a traghetto (ferry) across the Grand Canal, from one of seven points.  The traghetti are like simplified gondolas and they carry more passengers (sitting or standing). 

An easy place to catch a traghetto is the route between Campo Santa Sofia (by Ca’ d’Oro) and Campo Pescaria (the Rialto Markets).  Pay (with coins) your fare as you enter or exit the boat.  You can take it round-trip if you need to get back right away to the rest of your family.

If your older child is really interested in gondolas, you can watch them being maintained in Dorsoduro at Squero San Trovaso.  There’s not enough action for little ones.

Run Around Piazza San Marco

Boy in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.

Little ones will be happy to run around a little bit, and mom and dad can get (a pricey) coffee or aperitivo at a bar on the piazza (Aperol Spritz, anyone?). 

See The Bridge of Sighs

View of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.
The Bridge of Signs from Riva degli Schiavoni

It’s on the Riva degli Schiavoni side of the Doge’s Palace.  Kids are fascinated that this was the last view of Venice that prisoners got before they were executed – and where they gave a sigh of sadness.

Check out the Libreria dell’Acqua Alta

Books stacked in Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, Italy.

It’s overrun with Instagrammers, but it’s worth visiting so your kids can see it.  Where else in the world can you find a bookshop with old and new books piled high in boats and gondolas?  Head up top for a nice view and let your little ones look around.  Heads up – there are cats in the shop so watch small kids.

Look For Lions

Winged lion in Venice, Italy.

You’ll see the symbol of Venice, the winged lion (representing St. Mark) throughout the city.  See how many your kids can find!  Point out the large, winged lion on top of the column at the edge of Piazza San Marco, near the water. 

Good To Know:  Sometimes you’ll see a book with the lion.  If the book is open, Venice was at peace when the lion was created.  If the book is closed, Venice was at war.

What to Skip With Kids in Venice

Burano

Yes, its colorful buildings are gorgeous for photos, but there’s just not enough to do to keep little ones interested.  Lace museum – hard pass.  If the adults in your group really want to go, make sure you at least stop at the island’s small playground.

Doge’s Palace

Younger kids will be bored in the Doge’s Palace.  Older kids will most likely enjoy it, especially if you’re able to visit the old prison cells. 

Villa Pisani

It’s far from Venice proper, and its main draw for kids – its elaborate labyrinth – is closed because of the pandemic. UPDATE June 2022 – The labyrinth is open!

Naval History Museum (currently closed)

If you have a child that’s really into maritime history, go for it, but otherwise, skip it.  Better explanation panels would really help engage visitors.

Attend Carnevale

While I did mention previously that I think it’s fine for older kids, most kids (and parents!) will have more fun exploring Venice outside of the Carnevale period. 

Where to Stay in Venice with Kids

Park in Castello sestiero in Venice, Italy.
Park in Castello

There are six neighborhoods (sestieri) in Venice – Cannaregio, San Marco, Castello, Santa Croce, San Polo, and Dorsoduro. 

I recommend staying in a quieter neighborhood (Cannaregio or Castello).  After a day in the crowded streets of Venice, you’ll appreciate the respite.  However, this also means you’ll have more walking (or vaporetto trips) to get to and from Venice’s landmarks. 

If being ‘in the action’ is your thing, stay in San Marco or San Polo.  Just be ready for crowds the minute you leave your hotel.

Where to Eat in Venice with Kids

Campo in Venice, Italy with people walking and sitting on benches.
Venice has plenty of nice places for a picnic

My best advice is to avoid sit-down restaurants whenever you can. 

Picnics

Grab sandwiches and eat in a park or on a bench in a piazza.  You’ll have more time for the kids to run around or to see more of Venice. 

Cicchetti

Or participate in the Venetian tradition of eating cicchetti, kind of like a Venetian version of tapas.  Kids love the bite-size portions and variety.  And, it’s a nice way to get kids to try new things without ordering an entire dish and risking your child not liking it.

Cicchetti are served at bàcari, Venice’s version of a wine bar.  Choose what you’d like from the display and enjoy! 

The best area for ciccetti is around the Rialto bridge.  Try Cantina Do Spade, Cantina Do Mori, or Al Mercà. 

If you do decide to eat in a restaurant, know that you can order a half portion for your child (mezza porzione). 

Restaurants

Logistics in Venice with Kids

Strollers

Is Venice stroller-friendly?  Not really!  But, I still would bring a stroller if you have a baby or small child with you.  Luckily, the streets are fairly smooth, but you’ll need to deal with a lot of bridges, especially if you want to get off the beaten path.

Good To Know:  You can avoid a lot of bridges by taking the vaporetti around the islands.  This saves you from carrying your stroller up and down the bridge steps.  But, you will miss some of the small streets and piazzas of Venice, and you’ll spend a lot of time waiting for the vaporetti and on crowded boats.

Which stroller is best for Venice?

I’ve traveled in Venice with both an umbrella stroller and a large Baby Jogger double stroller.  There are pluses and minuses to both:

StrollerPositivesNegatives
Light, umbrella-style strollerEasy to maneuver in crowds and shops
Fold and store on vaporetto
Not as comfy for baby
Less under-stroller storage space
Classic (large) strollerBaby is comfortable
Baby can lie flat for nap
Handy under-stroller storage
Siblings can sit or stand
Heavy to carry over bridges
Won’t fit in small restaurants or shops
May need to fold on crowded vaporetto

There’s no perfect answer, but with a small baby I prefer the larger stroller, and with a toddler, I prefer the umbrella stroller.

Good To Know:  If you decide to bring a larger stroller, you can easily cross the bridges along the main wide waterfront walk (Riva degli Schiavoni) because they have access ramps on the sides.

People walking down a ramp next to a bridge in Venice, Italy.
Ramps along the lagoon make crossing bridges with a stroller easy

What about a baby carrier?

Days in Venice are loooong.  If you go back to your hotel during the day, you can bring your baby out in a carrier (make sure he/she has a hat for the sun).  But, if you’ll be out all day in Venice, you’ll want a more comfortable option for you and your baby, and the storage space under the stroller comes in handy. 

Baby and Toddler Supplies

You can get anything you need for your baby or toddler in Venice.

Grocery stores have diapers, wipes, personal care products (like shampoo, sunscreen, bug spray, and lotion), and baby food.

Pharmacies carry all of the above, plus medicine.  If your child has a medical problem, head straight to the pharmacy.  If the pharmacist can’t help, he or she will help you get to a clinic to have your child seen.

Check out our post on Diapers in Italy – Brands, Sizing, and Where to Buy Them!

Water

Venice, like many Italian cities, has quite a few public water fountains.  You can fill your bottle up or drink directly from the fountain. 

Toilets

WC sign on a wall in Venice, Italy.  The sign points you in the direction of the public toilet.
Follow the WC sign to a public toilet

Venice does have public toilets, but you must pay to use them.

A good rule of thumb is to use the toilet any chance you get – at restaurants, bars, department stores, glass-blowing demonstrations, and museums.  All of these places have toilets for paying customers, so use them when you’re there.

Changing Diapers in Venice

There aren’t a ton of free places to change diapers in Venice.  The easiest thing to do is bring a portable changing mat and change your baby on benches or wherever you can find a flat surface. 

You won’t find many changing tables in restaurants, so you’ll need your changing pad inside too.

You can also use one of Venice’s public toilets (paid).  They have baby changing tables and they are staffed and cleaned regularly. 

You may want to read our posts on
Italy with a Baby or Toddler
Packing List for Italy with a Baby or Toddler

Arriving and Departing Venice with Kids

Boys looking out window on train into Venice, Italy.

Train

If you don’t have a ton of luggage, leave the station, walk down the steps, and take a vaporetto to your hotel.  Make sure you communicate with your hotel to find out if this is a good option for you.  If your hotel isn’t near a vaporetto stop, you may have a lot of walking to get to your hotel.  And, walking+luggage+crowds+kids+heat does not equal fun.

If your hotel isn’t close to a vaporetto stop, you can take a water taxi.

Plane

The closest and most convenient airport to fly to is Venice Marco Polo (VCE).

To get from the airport to Venice, the easiest thing to do is take a private or shared water taxi.  Have your hotel make the arrangements for you.  Yes, it will probably cost a few euros more, but it will be stress-free!

Car

This is my least favorite way to arrive in Venice.  If you drive your car to Venice, your parking options are to:

  • leave your car on the mainland in Venice Mestre and take a train to Venice
  • park in the expensive Piazzale Roma next to the Santa Lucia train station
  • plan to return your rental car on arrival in Venice

Sample Itineraries for Venice with Kids

Mom and child in Venice, Italy.  You can see the Grand Canal and buildings in background.

It’s easy to look at Venice and think you can do so much in a day, but it’s important to choose one to two and build in rest/playground/nap time.   With crowds and waiting in lines (for museums, churches, boats, etc) and moving at kid-pace, you won’t be able to do a lot.  That’s ok!  Part of the joy of Venice is just soaking up the city!

1-Day Venice Itinerary with Kids

  • Ride Vaporetto #1 down the Grand Canal from Santa Lucia train station to Piazza San Marco
  • Explore Piazza San Marco – play in the piazza, go inside the church
  • Have lunch, then walk to Castello’s playground (or grab something on the way and picnic there)
  • Wander the side streets near San Marco, window-shop for glass figurines and see the masks at Kartaruga
  • Have cicchetti for dinner (or grab something to take on the train if you’re on a day trip)

2-Day Venice Itinerary with Kids

Day 1:

See above.

Day 2:

  • After breakfast, take a boat to Murano to see a glass-blowing demo.
  • While on Murano, stop in the piazza on Calle Bressagio for a picnic lunch and to let the kids run around (or eat in a restaurant on the island)
  • Boat back to Venice
  • Choose One: Boat to climb the San Giorgio Maggiore tower OR visit the VizioVirtù chocolate shop OR stop by the Libreria Acqua Alta OR wander the little streets (and cross bridges and spot gondoliers) OR visit a playground. Choose depending on the interests of your children.
  • Dinner and a walk along the lagoon

Preparing for Your Trip to Venice with Kids

Wall in Murano, Venice with glass flowers.

Read about Venice

Watch Movies about Venice (older kids)

Watch Movies and Videos about Venice (younger kids)

Learn about the MOSE project

Learn a few Italian phrases

Kids will have fun using a few basic Italian words and phrases:

buongiorno – good day
buonaseragood evening
grazie – thank you
per favore – please
Mi chiamo… – My name is…
Quanto costa? – How much does it cost?

Older kids can try learning with apps like DuoLingo.

Venice Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Click on the photo or here to open a printable PDF in a new tab.

While in Venice, have your kids search for the following: Venetian lion, playground, leaning tower, 3 gondolas in the same place, glass duck, Venetian mask of an animal, garbage boat, well, dragon, singing gondolier, gelateria, ambulance boat

Check out some of our other guides to Italian destinations with kids:
Alpe di Siusi with Kids
Bolzano with Kids
Dolomites with Kids
Florence with Kids
Lucca with Kids
Montalcino with Kids
Orvieto with Kids
Sirmione (Lake Garda) with Kids

FAQ