Is Venice family-friendly? Your ultimate guide to Italy

Venice – The city of love, is probably not the first place you picture visiting with your children in tow. You may be thinking is Venice family-friendly? Hopefully, in this blog post, we can convince you to add a stop in Venice to your family bucketlist. We are sharing our best tips for planning holidays in Venice. The best things to do in Venice as well as our top Venice hotels and family eats to keep everyone happy.

Well… Is Venice family-friendly?

Venice is such a unique destination, that moment you step out of the bustling Venezia Santa Lucia train station and see the Grand Canal right in front of you. It is such a magical experience for adults and children alike.

Venice is such a great family-friendly holiday destination. It offers adventure, history and the most amazing gelato. However, as a city on the water, it does come with its challenges too. But, with a little preparation and knowledge, you will have an easy family holiday to remember.

Looking for more destinations in Italy, make sure to check out our guides to Florence, Pisa and Rome too!

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The Basics

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Time difference: GMT +1 hour and during BST there is no difference

Flight time: London to Venice is around 2 and 10 minutes

British Embassy: (+39) 06 4220 0001 (embassy in Rome), Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 7/130173 Mestre (VE), https://www.embassypages.com/unitedkingdom-consulate-venice-italy

Emergency services: Ambulance – 118 Fire – 115 Police – 112

Important local laws in Venice

Venice is considered a safe place for tourists to visit, like most cities petty theft such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is around. You can lessen any chances of this by staying aware of your surroundings, especially when travelling on public transport or in crowded areas. Unfortunately, Venice is a very popular tourist destination and therefore they are subject to over-tourism, to help preserve the beautiful islands the following tourism rules are in effect, visitors risk a fine of $27 to $550 for being caught doing any of the following in public:

  • Leaning against storefronts
  • Picnicking
  • Lying down on public benches
  • Feeding pigeons
  • Buying from street traders
  • Standing still on bridges
  • Drinking on the street after 8 p.m.
  • Swimming in the canals
  • Affixing padlocks to bridges
  • Wearing a bikini
  • Being bare-chested
  • Riding a bicycle in the city centre
  • Walking a bicycle through the city centre

Best time to visit Venice

The summer would seem the ideal time to visit for family holidays in Venice. However, the summer months in Venice can get extremely hot and dry. Average temperatures this time of year can reach 31 degrees during the day. When we were just there in August 2020 it was around 35 degrees every day. Ultimately this made walking around a little uncomfortable, especially with a 2-year-old. If you are visiting during summer just be prepared to go slower and take lots of ice cream and drink stops.

Winters in Venice are much colder and average temperatures can drop to around 7-13 degrees during the daytime. It is also not unheard of to see snow in Venice, although, the idea of exploring the city in the snow sounds magical! Overall, for the perfect family-friendly exploring weather, choose a time to visit in Spring or Autumn. These are the ideal times to visit when it isn’t too hot or too cold and makes staying out all day a lot easier.

Is Venice family-friendly, couple in st marks square smiling for a photo

What to pack for Venice

Pack with comfort in mind, comfortable clothes and your most comfortable walking shoes. We did a lot of walking in Venice and there are lots of stepped bridges over the canals.

Travelling in Venice with a baby or younger toddler with little legs can be a small obstacle. As a result, for a toddler/younger child I would advise looking to bring a lightweight travel stroller. Roman was 2 when we visited and couldn’t walk for long periods, we needed to be able to carry him in the pram over canal bridges when he was asleep. Alternatively, If you are visiting with a baby or younger toddler then a carrier would be perfect.

Things to do in Venice with kids

1. Get lost exploring the canals

Spend a day getting lost exploring the winding streets along the canals. Our 2 year old absolutely loved just wandering around, climbing all the bridges and watching the boats and gondolas drive past. A completely free activity, we spent hours just exploring and finding hidden little lanes where you can find some beautiful shops and delicious gelato.

Is Venice family-friendly - toddler staring at a canal in venice holding blue teddy whilst boat drives past

2. Visit St Marks Square

A must-visit, the architecture alone is just amazing. There are several places to explore here, however, some do have long queues. If you are visiting with older children or with more patience then I would highly recommend climbing to the top of the tower or visiting Dodges Palace.

If you are travelling with younger children why not play spot the animals sculpted around St Marks Basilica. The square itself is a great space for children to wander, or chase the pigeons. Then, once you have finished in the square, head towards the sea. Lined with beautiful gondolas and lapping waves, it makes a great place for stunning pictures.

3. Boat over to Murano and Burano Island

The island of Murano is renowned for its long tradition of glass-making. whilst picturesque Burano is known for its brightly coloured fishermen’s houses, casual eateries and lace shops. We originally looked at booking a tour, but after reading a lot of reviews from people saying that they felt rushed, we opted for a DIY tour.

We wanted to explore at our own pace so we brought a 24-hour pass on the Vaporetto (public boats). The lines are really easy to navigate, you can buy a map or we just used google maps. The routes brought up the timetables and which line to hop on. We absolutely loved exploring the islands and this was a great day out for all of us!

Is Venice family-friendly - mother sat on the edge of a canal wearing a green long dress looking at colourful houses - located in burano

4. Take a boat ride on the grand canal

Canal Grande (Grand Canal) is the image you see the most when you google Venice, it is an iconic scene. Venice is famous for its Gondola rides, they can be quite pricey but completely worth the experience. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a gondola then you can also take a Traghetto or Vaporetto which are Venice’s alternative to public transport. A day Vaporetto ticket will allow you to hop on and off at multiple stops, we opted for this option and went at our own pace.

5. Visit the Bridge of Sighs

A historical limestone bridge that connects the lethal prison of Venice and the court-judgment room of the Doge’s Palace. The lords of Venice thought that the prisoners would “sigh” at their final view of Venice out of the window before their lifelong imprisonment or death, hence, they named Ponte dei Sospir – Bridge of Sighs.

6. Head to the beach

Escape the heat, If time allows why not sneak a beach day; or half day in. Uniquely, family holidays in Venice can offer you two separate experiences and the most family-friendly and easily reachable beach from the city is Venice Lido. You can get here easily by ferry which takes around 20 minutes. Then relax on the sandy beach and grab an Aperol spritz from one of the beach clubs.

7. Explore the Parks and playgrounds

Toddlers come with energy and a great way to burn some of that off in any city is by hunting down the best parks and playgrounds.

Our favourites are:

  • Sant’ Elena Park – shady tree areas, lots of play equipment
  • Giardini di Ca’ Rezzonico – tucked in the grounds of Ca’Rezzonico, Free entry
  • Park Savorgnan (Cannaregio) – Right in the centre of Venice

Where to eat in Venice

Food is one of the most exciting parts of visiting Italy; Authentic pizza and pasta… And in Venice, you will not be disappointed.

Children’s menus are not something you will naturally see in Venice. However, this doesn’t mean that restaurants don’t cater for children. However, most places are happy to make smaller portions of anything on the menu. Simple tomato pasta is a staple in many places so just ask.

Gluten-Free Food in Venice – Roy is gluten intolerant, we were initially concerned we would struggle to find places to eat. Italian food is very gluten heavy but after a little googling we found some great places to visit.

Ristorante Pizzeria Dolfin was a great traditional Italian restaurant find for a fantastic gluten-free pizza. Roy still has cravings for this pizza now.

Our favourite gluten-free find in Venice is at a small place called Frary’s which is a Mediterranean restaurant. They offer traditional dishes from different Arabic countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Libya to name a few. The food is delicious and the service is amazing.

Apart from 1 thing, the entire menu is gluten-free, even down to the free gluten-free bread on the tables. They have a small outdoor seating area if you prefer alfresco or comfortable lounge-style dining inside which is great if travelling with younger children.

Family holidays in Venice wouldn’t be complete without something for the adults. And that needs to be having an Aperol Spritz! When we went on to other cities after Venice we realised how cheap the spritz is there; 3 euros compared to 9 euros in Rome! Definitely try out Bacareto da Lele, a hole in the wall style bar that is extremely atmospheric and cheap (cash only).

Is Venice family-friendly - mother, father and toddler sat on a bench in venice eating calzone

Is Venice family-friendly – Getting around

Venice Marco Polo airport serves Venice, most low-cost airlines from the UK fly here in around 2 hours, making it a great weekend trip. From the airport, you have a few options to get to your accommodation.

  • Taxi boat – If you’re looking to keep family holidays in Venice straightforward then the quickest transport to the city is by taxi boat. you can get a taxi boat directly from the airport, tickets are available at the arrivals. This is the more expensive option but takes only 25 minutes to arrive.
  • Bus/coach – Again you can grab your tickets at arrivals. This was around 8 Euro each and takes an hour (we chose this option). Just follow the bus signs it’s really simple You are then dropped at the main bus terminal in the city, next to Venice is such a unique destination, that moment you step out of the bustling Venezia Santa Lucia train station and see the Grand Canal right in front of you. It is such a magical experience for adults and children alike.
  • Order a taxi – This option, like a bus, will still take just under an hour but is more private.

Once in Venice you will notice there are no roads, the only way to get around is by walking or on the water. Vaporettos are the cheapest option as they work like local buses, you can get day tickets or a 1-way trip. Grab a map or even use google maps on a phone which actually has the arrival times and lines on there so it’s easy to navigate.

Is Venice family-friendly - lady standing on the edge of the grand canal in venice looking back at st marks square

Is Venice family-friendly – Family Hotels

Budget – Canal Hotel

We tried to keep our hotel costs to a minimum on our most recent family holidays in Venice. As we were visiting a few cities and the costs can really rack up, especially in city centres. The Canal hotel was really reasonably priced and located right opposite Santa Lucia train station. This made it really convenient for arriving and leaving by train.

We also upgraded to a family balcony room which was beautiful and it had a great view over the canal. Rooms are comfortable and have everything you need, we also opted to have breakfast which was a great start to the day!

Mid-Range – Residenza d’Epoca San Cassiano

Overlooking Venice’s Grand Canal, and just a 5-minute walk from Rialto Bridge. This 14th-century villa is furnished with antiques and Murano glass chandeliers. All rooms at the San Cassiano are air-conditioned and feature a satellite TV, a minibar, and a work desk with a lamp. The hot and cold buffet breakfast includes fresh fruit, as well as eggs and bacon. It is served in the Piano Nobile dining hall with a terrace overlooking the canal.

Luxury – Bauer Palazzo

Just a 2 minutes walk from Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, the 5 star Bauer Hotel offers spacious, elegant rooms with a satellite flat-screen TV. It features a gourmet restaurant and a terrace overlooking the Grand Canal. Air-conditioned rooms at the Bauer include a minibar and a classic Venetian-style décor. Some have a balcony and city or canal views. Guests can enjoy classic Italian and international cuisine at the De Pisis restaurant.

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