How to Visit Venice With Kids
Venice, a City Made of Islands
Venice has around 150 canals connected by 409 bridges, and over 3000 alleyways on the 118 islands. Each bridge is connecting two islands.
Venice, City With No Traffic
The wonderful city of Venice has the singular characteristic of being built on water and being made of several islands, big and small.
Consequently there are no cars, lots of bridges, and lots of sidewalks along the canals. The available means of transit are: feet, gondolas, and water-buses or boats.
While there are many positive aspects of being in a city with no cars, bikes or motorcycles, walking along the water canals requires a little training for the little children or they could fall in the water by mistake.
Locals are used to walking, that’s the main way to move around in the city. They have learned to accept it and plan for the extra time.
Visiting the city and moving around with small children or persons affected by disabilities that limit mobility, can be a true challenge.
How do you manage to walk in Venice when you have a child in a stroller or on small feet that get tired soon?
Touring Venice on Foot Is Interesting
Walking is the main way Venetians move around in the city. As a tourist you definitely want to walk, some areas are accessible only that way, and you get to see the best of Venice while on foot.
Prepare your children to a lot of walking.
You can make a game about counting how many steps you climb in a day, or somehow get them excited about what's next to see.
However, ever corner of Venice is charming for adults and children alike.
Kids are particularly fascinated by the boats and the gondolas.
I had a hard time getting my children to move from a particular intersection where hundreds of gondolas where yielding to one another with complicated techniques.
Venice with Strollers
You can definitely move around Venice with a stroller, no problem. Your main challenge will be the bridges.
Go up the bridge backwards, and go down forward, keeping the front wheels of the stroller raised. The biggest and newest bridges have a section on the side with lower steps, which are easier on the wheels.
Most of the times you’ll find someone walking alongside you that will offer to help, lifting up the front of the stroller, so that you can get over the bridge in a non-bumpy fashion. Children may complain about that: they usually enjoy the bumpy ride very much.
The only danger of the walking in Venice, besides tripping and falling as in any other city, is ending up in the water, but honestly it does not happen often. Make sure you tell your children to be careful and avoid walking and standing on the edge of the fondamenta and rive (the “sidewalks). Not all calli (streets) are on the water, many have walls on both sides, and there are plenty of wide spaces and large campi (squares) where the children can freely run and play.
Vaporetto, the Water-Bus of Venice
The vaporetto is the Venetian public transportation, a bus on water. In fact the water buses are run by the same company that runs the regular buses on the mainland.
For children the vaporetto is always a delightful experience, they usually want to sit next to the windows or outside and enjoy the view and the experience. Access in and out of the vaporetto is wheelchair friendly, so it’s easy also for strollers.
You can get ordinary tickets, travel cards, or special tickets for groups, students etc. People on wheel chair have a discount tickets and if they are accompanied, their aide gets to ride for free. For more information you can visit the ACTV web page.
Gondola, The Most Famous Venetian Boat
The typical gondola tour that we see in the movies is very romantic and picturesque, but it is also expensive, so in Venice it is a thing strictly for tourists. No locals would ever take a gondola tour. Last time I took one, right by the St. Mark Square, it cost us 150 euros.
However, there are some gondolas that are used daily by Venetians to cross the Canal Grande where there are no bridges available. These gondolas are basically shuttles connecting the two banks of the bridge, and you pay only about €1 to get to the other side. The shuttle gondola is a little wider than the regular ones, and can carry about 14 passengers.
That’s a great way to get a short gondola experience without breaking the wallet.
Memories From our Gondola Ride in VeniceClick thumbnail to view full-size
Map of the 7 Gondola Shuttle Locations in Venice
Make Your Children Junior Photographers of Venice
Venice has so many beautiful and photogenic aspects that it would be a shame yo get home and regret you did not capture something. It's much better to have extra bad or uninteresting photos, than not enough.
Also, get some cheaper or disposable cameras for your children. They'll have a blast playing photographer, and it 'salways a surprise for me to see what they decided was worth a shot.
You may go home and find you have some surprising artistic captures of Venice's trash bins, or water waves that you did not think worthy, but can turn out great.
Also, having them in charge of photos will give their walking a purpose, and minimize the potential wining. Word of mom.
© 2012 Robie Benve