With its shimmering canals, sleek boats, fairytale palaces and mysteries, Venice can be an exciting and unforgettable experience for your children. Take a look at some of our suggestions for things to do on a family visit, a number of which, depending on the ages and interests of your children, are sure to prove popular.

A trip down the length of the Grand Canal on the water bus (vaporetto).  Travelling by water is always exciting for children and this is a great way for kids to view the sumptuous palaces lining the Grand Canal, without tiring little legs. 

The Campanile of St. Mark’s and San Giorgio Maggiore. Take the lifts up to the top of these campanile (bell towers) for fascinating birds-eye views of the city stretching, on a clear day, to the snow capped Dolomite mountains. See how many other bell towers you can spot (but do avoid being at the top when the bells strike if you have very young ones!)

The ‘Secret Itineraries Tour’ of the Doge’s Palace. Bring history alive for your children by taking this special guided tour of the Doge’s Palace which allows visitors into the secret chambers, passageways and areas not normally accessible. The tour, which needs to be booked in advance and lasts around 1 hour 15 minutes, also visits the ‘Piombi’ or ‘Leads’ in which the legendary Giacomo Casanova was imprisoned and from which he famously escaped.

Single-Use ‘disposable’ cameras. Buying your children an inexpensive single-use ‘disposable’ camera each will allow them to ‘get creative’ by capturing their own images of the city, perhaps along set themes (e.g. gargoyles, doorknockers, well heads, shrines, bridges, lions…the list is endless!)

Rialto Market. Children love the vibrancy of the fish market as well as the sheer variety of sea and lagoon creatures on display, many of which they may never have seen before. Marvel at the writhing eel, the miniature snail, the inky cuttlefish, the scrambling crab and the impressive snout of the majestic swordfish. (Open mornings only – the earlier the better -Tuesday to Saturday).

Glass Blowing on Murano. Take a trip on the vaporetto to the island of Murano to watch a glass blowing demonstration and spend some time browsing shops brimming with inexpensive miniature flora and fauna, beads and baubles, all fashioned in multicoloured glass.

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection. – A favourite museum with many children, partly due to its sculpture-dotted gardens and stone ‘throne’ as well as the striking art on display.  

Venetian Masks. Children love browsing the magical grotto-like mask shops with their myriad designs and fantastical character masks.  Perhaps, as a family, you would like to take a course in mask decoration at ‘Ca Macana’, one of a number of mask making workshops to be found in the Dorsoduro area of the city.

Palazzo Mocenigo (Costume Museum) and Palazzo Fortuny. Children with an interest in the fashions of a bygone era will be delighted by the beautiful garments on show at these two separate museums, one to be found near the San Stae vaporetto stop in Santa Croce and the other near the Sant’ Angelo stop in San Marco.

The Naval Museum (Museo Storico Navale di Venezia). The Venetian Empire’s reliance on the sea for its strength and power in days gone by is plainly evident in this museum with its comprehensive displays of everything maritime including model ships, cannons, historic uniforms and even a model of the golden ‘Bucintoro’, the ancient state galley of the Doges of Venice. (Near the Arsenale vaporetto stop).

Visit the Museum Shop first? A great tip to keep your child’s interest levels up when visiting a museum is to make the museum shop your first point of call. Buy a selection of postcards and challenge your child to find the objects/pictures on the postcards while together you work your way around the exhibits on show.

Church and Campo San Barnaba. A must-see for any children who are fans of the fictional adventurer Indiana Jones, this church exterior is the setting of the library featured in the film ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. One of the nicest squares in which to stop for a soft drink, rest weary legs and plan your next activity.

The Lido. Ideal for cooling down during the hot summer months, grab your swimming costumes and take the vaporetto over to the Lido island for a refreshing dip in the sea.

Ice-Cream, Pizza and Pasta. In our opinion, Italy has the best ice-cream (gelato) in the world, with all sorts of unusual and scrumptious flavours on offer at gelaterie all over the city! And with pizza and pasta also readily available, this usually makes for a very happy crew!

– …and not forgetting BOOKS on Venice aimed at children and their families:

  • VivaVenice – Paola Zoffoli & Paola Scibilia
  • Kids Go Europe: Treasure Hunt Venice (Spiral-bound)  – by Ellen Mouchawar; Marvin Mouchawar