There is nowhere in the world quite like Venice. If you want your kids to remember a place they visit on their trip….Venice is definitely somewhere they will remember. Between canals, gondolas, and gelato. However, Venice can be hot, full of tourists, and overwhelming. But by tackling it smartly you will have a unforgettable time!
|How many days?
Our normal way to visit Venice is in one very full day. We come in the morning on an early or night train, and leave in the evening on a late / night train. Venice was long a bridge between east and west, and it’s that way for travels. Night trains from Venice go to/from Paris, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, and other Italian cities are just a few hours away. Venice hotels are pretty expensive and small.
However, the main problem with doing Venice in one day is that Venice in the evening is absolutely magical. The city gets even more quiet, sunset and night time bring different light and perspectives to view the city. It’s also much more romantic…..although less romantic with kids 😊 You’ll also have more time to relax and appreciate, as well as some time to get to see some of the out of the way things rather than just the main sights that the people on cruise boats rush in and see.
Whatever you decide, you won’t regret Venice!!
|Saint Mark’s Basilica
Days / Hours: November – June 9:30 – 17:00 (last entry 16:45); Sunday and holidays 14:00 – 16:30 (last entry 16:15)
June – November 9:45 – 17:00 (last entry 16:45); Sunday and holidays 14:00 – 17:00 (last entry 16:45)
Cost: FREE FREE FREE
Tips – Line: There is a secret to beating the line. The line is forever long. It is always forever long. You only have so much time in Venice, do not waste it standing in that line (although at least you’re in Saint Mark’s Square while in line. But a line is a line). Use the coat check, as seen in this map I got from the official website.
Follow that red line to a cloakroom and leave a bag there – purse, diaper bag, backpack, whatever – and they will give you a token that allows you to just walk into the basilica (and pick up your bag afterwards), skipping the huge enormous line. Please do this. It will save you hours of precious time and/or save you money from paying to “skip the line”.
Free Wifi? I couldn’t find any when we were there in the summer of 2017.
Bathrooms – None here. The closest (paid) public ones are across the piazza next to the Louis Vutton shop. My recommendation with bathrooms is to use them if you eat in a restaurant or if you buy some cold water at a bar. Most places will have bathrooms but require you buy something in order to use them.
Strollers – Parking? Easy of use? Allowed inside? There are some stairs inside that you have to navigate. Having a stroller in Venice at all is a big mistake, IMHO.
Outside food allowed inside? Nearby food options: No food inside, but lots of touristy places closeby to grab some food.
Is it worth it? Yes. It’s free. The mosaics in the basilica are beautiful, and they tell classic Bible stories that your kids may be familiar with, depending on your religious background. You may want to bring a book/explanation of what the mosaics are, although one of my favorite games is to figure it out – one of the few times when my biblical knowledge comes in handy (the other being my appearance on Jeopardy! 😊 ) Since when this was built 1000 years ago, most people didn’t read, this is how they learned. The mosaics are made of gold, which is cool, and gives the interior a sort of heavenly glow, as if you’re in a different world.
Other things to remember: This is an actively used church, and a dress code is enforced; if you have exposed shoulders or shorts/skits above the knee, you most likely will be turned away. I see very little exceptions to this rule, and have seen it enforced even for children. Also, photography and videoes are not allowed in the basilica. Since the mosaics are mostly on the ceiling, get ready for your neck to get tired.
|St. Mark’s Square – Bell Tower – The Horses of Saint Mark, also known as the Triumphal Quadriga, on the front of the cathedral are quite famous. They were originally displayed in Istanbul, but were brought here to Venice during one of the Crusades (1204, when the Crusaders actually stopped before the Holy Land and sacked Constantinople, which was at that time ruled by the Byzantine Empire, which was Christian….gotta love history. Napoleon also had these taken to Paris when he ruled most of Europe, although they have since been returned to Venice. The ones in front of the basilica are replicas, the real ones are in the basilica museum.
Days / Hours: November – June Hours to climb the tower vary but are generally 8:30am – 9:00 pm in the Summer, with shorter hours in the winter.
Cost: 8 €
Is it worth it? So my kids really liked the horses, but we live in Kentucky and are surrounded by horses so they have a special affinity towards them. Going up allows a pretty cool view of the square as well. However, 8 € for each one of them was a little more than I was willing to spend, so they saw the horses from below 😊
|Gondola Ride –
One of the classic experiences in Italy involve spending a romantic ride through the tiny twisting canals of Venice with the one you love. Or, in other words, spending an insane amount of money to sit in a boat right next to the stinky water. The cost will vary depending on the length of trip, number of people on the boat, etc. It is fun to sit back and listen to the gondolieri talk to each other in Venetian accent (totally different from standard Italian, I’m fluent in Italian and can’t understand anything they say to each other) and sometimes they will race another boat if in the open water, which is fun. Prices are more soft when demand is less and it is during the day.
For a more inexpensive version, try taking the family on a targhetto – a little boat used to cross the grand canal in areas where there are no bridges. For just a few euro you can take your whole family on the boat. Sure, it’s not as romantic, but you’re with your kids anyway 😊 I think this is a great compromise depending on your budget.
|Rialto Bridge –
The Rialto Bridge is the most famous bridge in Venice, crossing the Great Canal with beautiful views on each side and tons of touristy shops on and near the bridge. A picture from the top overlooking the great canal is great, but our favorite vantage point is down along the side of the canal where you can look up at the bridge – great sketching spot, too.
|Getting Lost – Our favorite thing to do in Venice is to get lost. There are signs that give general directions towards St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), the Rialto Bridge (Rialto), and the train station (FF S. Lucia, or Ferrovia) but besides that everything is a pastel-colored blur. We like to walk around and find cool pictures to take, tucked away restaurants and gelaterie. We found an amazing glass shop one day – usually to get to one of these you have to take a boat to Murano, but we found one in Venice where we sat during a rainstorm and talked to the glass guy and watched him make all sorts of cool little figurines. They are now treasured souvenirs in our collection. However, we’ve tried to go back and didn’t find it the last time. Part of the mystery of Venice!|
|How to Get Kids Excited (books/movies/activities):
Venice is located in one of our kids’ favorite movies, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Also, our kids loved looking for the symbol of Venice, the winged Lion. He’s everywhere if you look for him! I was amazed at their memory – we would walk around and they would recognize places we had been to that morning!
Check out our other reviews & information for other places to take your family!! Go to Where to Travel page for more!