What to do in Venice with Kids

The first time I went to Venice I had such high expectations. I thought I’d find a magical city of romance, mystery, and history. I pictured a Venice of masquerade balls, ancient palazzos, and moonlit gondola rides. Instead I found it hard to escape the hordes of t-shirt and sneaker garbed visitors, lousy tourist menus, and overpriced gondoliers. I knew if we went back, we should try to go during the off-season to avoid the crowds, and that we’d need to get advice from experts to find the real Venice.  Since the next time we go, it will be as a family, I asked the folks at macacotour, a tour company catering to children ages 6-11, for their suggestions on what to do in Venice with kids.

When to Go to Venice

June through August is peak season in Venice, making it hard to avoid the huge crowds and high temperatures. The ideal time to visit Venice is September through November, when the temperatures are pleasant and the crowds have thinned. However, if you really want a unique and authentic experience, visit during Carnival. In 2015, Carnival takes place between January 31st and February 17th. Kids enjoy watching all the costumed people parading around, as well as donning a mask of their own and joining in the fun.

What to do in Venice with kids

Photo courtesy of macacotour

What to do in Venice with Kids

Venice may be a romantic city that attracts many couples, but there is still plenty for kids to do. To start, there are a number of museums that offer family and kid-oriented activities such as:

  • Peggy Guggenheim Collection — this museum offers kids’ days, family events, and even a special event to celebrate carnival
  • Fondazione Querini Stampalia — offers tours and workshops for families, parents and children
  • Fondazione Musei Civici including Doge’s Palace — offers interactive tours, workshops and educational stays

When your kids need a break from sightseeing, it is always good to schedule some downtime. Exploring local parks and playgrounds gives your kids a chance to run around and also interact with local children. Two great parks for kids are:

  • Parco Groggia — off-the-beaten path in the Sestiere of Cannaregio this park offers an enchanted garden, theater, game room, swimming pool and large area for quiet meditation
  • Located right in front of the Giardini vaporetto stop (you can take the line 6), you will find a playground with many play structures for entertaining kids

If your kids tire of the crowds (and pigeons) in St. Mark’s Square, hand over the camera and check out these sites to find the best views in Venice:

  • Punta della dogana — from this site you can see where the Grand Canal meets the Canale della Giudecca, with a stunning view of San Marco Square on the left and San Giorgio Island on the right.
  • San Giorgio Maggiore’s bell tower — from the top of this “campanile” you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
What to do in Venice with kids

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If you really want your kids to have an unforgettable experience and discover the hidden mysteries of Venice, try a tour from macacotour. Macacotour offers tours in a wide variety of languages for families or children ages 6 – 11. Led by trained educators, macacotour offers private or small group tours from 1.25 – 2.5 hours long, during which young travellers are guided through Venetian alleys and squares to discover the Venice unknown to tourists. Three unique itineraries introduce children to the history of Venice with the help of stories, games and legends. Along the way, they will stop to look at palaces, architectural points of interest and sculptures. With macacotour, your children will have fun and enjoy the company of other children, while exploring timeless treasures.

What to do with kids in Venice -- Macacotours for kids

Photo courtesy of macacotour

Where to Eat with Kids in Venice

I know from experience that restaurants in the main tourist areas can be expensive and not that good. For a better experience with kids, move away from the tourist areas with these picks for families:

  • La Corte (located in Campo San Polo) — a good pizzeria that uses gourmet ingredients and is situated in a square with a wide space for kids to run and play
  • Il Muro — a pizzeria / restaurant that offers both simple food for kids and gourmet food for adults
  • Old Wild West — an Italian fast food restaurant with a kid-friendly menu and informal setting
  • Serra dei giardini — located in a greenhouse built in 1894, this is a good place for a quick open-air lunch 
  • Alaska — homemade ice-cream
  • Da Nico — homemade ice-cream whose specialty is “gianduiotto” (a cube of chocolategianduia ice-cream in a cup of whipped cream).
  • Vizio e Virtù — a pastry shop specializing in chocolate
  • Tonolo — a pastry shop that offers “frittelle” (fried dough with cream or raisins and pine nuts) during Carnival
  • Rosa Salva — a chain pastry shop good for quick lunches
What to do in Venice with kids

Photo courtesy of macacotour

 Do you have any tips for traveling to Venice with kids?

Thank you to macacotour for sponsoring today’s post and providing great suggestions on what to do in Venice with kids.

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19 Comments on “What to do in Venice with Kids

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  1. Visiting Venice is something I’ve always wanted to do. Like you though I have a picturesque view of it in my mind so I’ll definitely have to do my research if the time comes that I do go. In my dream, my husband and I escape there without kids but since I basically eat like a child I’ll keep in mind the restaurant suggestions 🙂

      Your comment made me smile! Try off season because they just lifted the ban on cruise ships docking in Venice so it will be even more crowded.

    I would love to take the family to Venice one day. Italy is definitely on my bucket list and I’d love to go with the entire clan.

    I went in October and it was fabulous! One tip for anyone but probably will help Moms out as well. It is expensive, but if you can get a water taxi directly to your hotel or place you are staying you should do it (as close as you can) because you will have to haul your luggage if you take the water bus and it is not always close. The many steps, turns and cobblestones don’t make it easy for adults to carry luggage let alone worrying about all the extra pieces that you often need for children. Otherwise, I think it is an awesome place for kids!

      Great tip, October seems like an ideal time to go.

    I’ve been to Venice, but without my kids. Thanks for the fabulous suggestions. Italy is on my short list with my kids. We’ll be traveling during the off season since the crowds drive me insane!

    Love Venice! We’ve been twice and both times during late November. The weather’s a bit cold but definitely lack crowds. One year we experienced acqua alta but was actually fun to see. My kids can’t get enough of Venice. Those Burano glass displays keeps them occupied. It’s touristy for many but we really enjoyed our gondola ride.

      Good to hear! I need to go not in tje summer.

    There are so many places on our must-see list with our kids and Venice is certainly one of them! Thank you for the comprehensive post full of fabulous ideas! Definitely pinning this to my travel board so I can come back to it!

    Wow! So I never knew that Venice had a Carnival! It looks so fun and the costumes look amazing. I would love to go to Venice someday to see that. I haven’t been before, but I know I wouldn’t go during the high season. So going to see the Carnival sounds like a great time and reason to go!

    Tamara – would the tours be appropriate for a 12-, almost 13-year-old? My younger son is 9 and I think he would really like them but I worry that they’d be “babyish” for my tween.

    We’re headed to Venice at the beginning of March, so I really appreciate the tips.

      Hi Mara, they are geared for 6-11 and include games, scavenger hunts, etc so it might run a bit young. I will send you an email with some contact info so you can get more specifics.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips!
    Venice is definitely a magical place. We took the family in August for a short visit. Very hot and plenty of tourists. After visiting St. Marks Square, we explored the side canals and streets, ending up in unique shops and ‘getting lost :)’, and best of all, avoiding most of the crowds. We’d love to visit Venice during Carnival.

    Hi Tamara, thanks for the nice post ! As you asked if we have have any tips for traveling to Venice with kids, I would say yes 🙂 I am a french mom of 3 living in Rome, and Venice is only 4 hours by train, so we’ve been a few times as a family. Here is my review: http://travel-with-my-kids.com/portfolio/venice-with-kids
    Hope it can help !

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