Venice is beautiful and unique. Unlike any other city, there are no roads here and each of the 117 small islands are linked by bridges and canals. There are some really enjoyable things to do in Venice as a family but it’s also a city that’s best done slowly. Different to other cities where the goal may be to get around as many sights as possible Venice sort of encourages you take it easy. So slow it down, take in what’s around you and watch the world go by.
Piazza San Marco/St. Marks Square
Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s Square is a large open space in the maze of streets that is Venice. Although it’s a square, it opens up on its southside to the lagoon which gives a tremendous feeling of space. The architecture of the square itself is very impressive with buildings surrounding it including the St. Mark’s Basilica, the elaborate Procurantie Vechie and Procuratie Nuove as well as the Bell Tower or St. Mark’s Campanile.
Saint Mark’s Basilica
Saint Mark’s Basilica is a must do. And it’s free! Queues can be very long so get here early if you’re planning to go in. For prayers, Mass and services you can enter from the Porta dei Fiori on the north-side of the Piazzetta ‘dei Leoncini.
Strict rules apply. Appropriate clothing for a place of worship is required and no shorts (for women) or revealing clothing is allowed. Paper shawls are available for a small charge but no luggage is allowed inside. The taking of photographs/video is forbidden and the quiet must be observed.
Admission Free but charges do apply for entry to St. Mark’s Museum, Pala d’oro and the Treasury.
Opening hours The Basilica is open most days from 9.30 am to 5 pm (except on Sundays and holidays where the opening times are 2.00 pm to 4.30 pm) www.basilicasanmarco.it
Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs can be seen from the south side of St. Marks Square close to the water’s edge. One of the most famous bridges in Venice it links the Doge’s Palace to the cells in the Prigioni.
A tour can be taken of St. Marks Square Museum which allows entry to Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs and prisons.
The Rialto Bridge is probably the most impressive bridge in Venice and it spans the busy Grand Canal. Two rows of small shops line each side of the bridge. There are three walk ways, one through the middle of the shops and one on each side. It’s easy to find with several signs dotted around the narrow streets. It offers great views up and down the Grand Canal.
In the shape of a reverse-S, the Grand Canal is one of the major water-traffic ways of Venice. You can take a ride down it by gondola, water taxi or vaporetto (water bus). There are 2 water bus routes and route 1 will stop at every stop on the Canal.
Cost Tourist Travel Card’s are available for the Waterbus/Vaporetto. A one day ticket is 20 Euros, a two day ticket is 30 Euros and a 3 day ticket 40 Euros.
Cross the water to Murano
The island of Murano is a quiet contrast to Venice. The streets are fewer and less claustraphobic and there are more green spaces. There are also less people and it feels much more open. World famous for it’s glass there are numerous factories making, and shops selling, extremely expensive glass.
See some (James Bond) movie locations
For film (and particularly James Bond) fans Venice is a great place to visit. It was also one of the things to do in Venice as a family theat we wanted to do. The city appears in quite a few movies including Don’t Look Now, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Casino Royale and From Russia with Love. The Venini shop in St. Marks’ Square along with a glass factory on Murano appeared in Moonraker.
Eat and drink
One of the best things to do in Venice as a family is eat and drink. And that’s not even a joke. You can’t come to Venice and not sample some of the local specialities. Italy is world famous for Pizza, Pasta, ice cream and coffee. And rightly so. It’s on a different level. What better place to sample Prosecco and Pasta than on the Grand Canal with a view of the Rialto Bridge?
Riva Rialto offers a set two course meal for a fixed price which is always a good option as there are no nasty surprises when it comes to settling the bill. The food is good but the Prosecco is the star. Prices are very reasonable too, especially when you consider the location and that view!
For coffee lovers Caffé del Doge is a great choice. There are few dotted around the city, one down a narrow alleyway, Calle Cinque off the Grand Canal. Italian coffee done authentically.
There are lots of small cafes, coffee shops and bakeries in and around Venice but as this is a tourist hot-spot some can be quite expensive.
Ice-cream shops are dotted all over the City and you really will have no difficulty finding one. Don’t bother going on hunt, you’ll stumble across them as you go. Ice-cream does vary in price but expect to pay around 2 Euros for 1 scoop, 2.50 Euros for 2 scoops and 3.50 Euros for 3 scoops.
On Murano, family friendly Pizzeria – Osteria Al Duomo Murano offers indoor and outdoor seating, which is great in spring and summer. They also provide a take away menu and allow you to share. Pizzas here range from 8 to 10 Euros, pasta around 10 to 15 Euros and Tiramisu 5 Euros. Murano’s Artisan Ice-Cream is also an understated treat definitely worth sampling if you’re visiting anyway.
There are some fast food outlets and restaurants which are reasonably priced and you can also find some supermarkets selling meats, breads and cheeses, and drinks all at very good prices.
That’s not meant to be rude. And obviously, actually getting lost is not one of the best things to do in Venice as a family. It just means simply allow yourself to wander. That’s the best way to get a real feel and sense of the city. And to find the best ice cream! Part of the beauty of Venice is found in it’s tiny streets and numerous bridges and it’s actually quite difficult to get lost! Although some of those ‘streets’ are quite a tight squeeze. You may have to breathe in! But there is so much to see by doing this and a lot to miss if you don’t. After all, these are the things that make Venice so unique.
Stumble across uniqueness
Where else do you see fuel pumps and no roads? Or waste being collected by boat? These are pretty unique experiences and ones which are fascinating to watch. They were also really lovely things to do as a family in Venice. It was one of the most relaxed things we did on our visit here and we’ll never forget being in the moment together. It’s easy to spend a chunk of your time here watching things that are pretty mundane at home. But we say ‘do it!’ These are things you may never see outside the unique city of Venice.
Planning your trip to Venice as a family
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