Venice is unlike any other city in Italy, or in the world for that matter. From its never-ending canals, bridges, and narrow walkways winding around them all, this city is quite unique! You will find yourself transported to a completely different world. There are no cars whizzing by or scooters beeping at you to move. You can walk along the canals admiring the main modes of transportation, which are walking and boating. The streets can be so narrow that, at times, you must walk single file in each direction, with small bridges stretching the span of the water for pedestrians to cross. And the biggest canal of them all, The Grand Canal, which is Venice’s most important waterway, runs in an S-shape throughout the city nearly splitting it in two. And you don’t have to leave the kids at home! Venice with kids is exciting and fun!
What’s great about Venice is there’s nothing you need to run and see. The goal here is to take in the environment and experience something completely different from what any other city will give you. And each time you go you will have a different outlook. You’ll still be amazed and you’ll discover something new every time.
What To Do While Here
There are two on-the-water musts to do while in Venice. The first is riding on the vaporetto, which is Venice’s water bus service. This is a great option if you don’t want to walk across the island or if you want to go to a different island like Murano. It operates just like a bus service, with stops dropping people off and picking them up. It’s an interesting sight watching people use this to get to and from work. When we went with our kids, we used this option to get from our hotel to St. Mark’s Square. The kids loved being on the water bus and it was definitely a highlight of the trip.
Another water option is taking a gondola ride. Along the canals you will see gondoliers standing by their gondolas waiting to take you on that relaxing ride. Don’t worry if you’re traveling as a family – it’s not just for a romantic couple. I’ve gone with my kids, my parents, my friends, and my husband. You will have a good time no matter who you’re traveling with! You don’t need to buy the gondola in advance as it’s done on a whim. Give the gondolier the money (80 euros daytime, 100 night) right then and there and off you go! For about 20 minutes they take you down the small canals and under stone bridges, while passing hotels and old buildings. A lot of gondoliers will talk about the historical significance of the buildings that you pass, legends about the bridges you go under, and general information about the city. It’s a charming ride that everyone will enjoy.
St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
Piazza San Marco is Venice’s largest and most important piazza and is an absolute must when you visit Venice. In the square, built in the 12th century, you will see beautiful galleries that surround the area, with Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Bell Tower on one end. This is a place to stroll and take in the beauty of the architecture around you. Head into the basilica for some impressive mosaic craftmanship, shimmering with gold from all angles.
Afterwards, head inside and up the elevator in the iconic Bell Tower (Campanile) to get beautiful 360-degree views of the city. This is probably the only tower in Italy that you don’t have to physically climb up! The panoramic vistas are worth the short wait for the lift up.
The Different Islands of Venice
Did you know that Venice is made up of over 100 islands? While there is no need to visit anywhere close to this amount there are a few of note that are worth the visit, namely Murano, Burano, and Torcello. On one of our trips, we took the day to visit Murano since they are known for their exquisite blown Venetian glass and we wanted to learn more about it.
Stepping off the boat in Murano was a completely different experience than on the main island of Venice. It was much quieter, laid back, and had beautiful glass shops and intimate sidewalk cafes. Each shop after the next was filled with intricate, exquisite glass pieces that illuminated with the store lights. We had to learn how these pieces were made! Luckily, we were able to step inside a factory for a tour and glass blowing demonstration. It is pretty impressive what the glass blowers are able to make.
Strolling & Shopping
I’d say one of the highlights of Venice is strolling the streets and checking out the different neighborhoods, each one having its own special appeal. We stopped numerous times for gelato on the go and went in and out of small stores for some shopping, which proved hard to get out of… there are so many cool things to buy! From Venetian masks to glass jewelry, you’ll have no trouble bringing back souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
Whether you visit Venice solo or spend time visiting Venice with kids you are sure to have a great time. Get lost in the maze of narrow streets and bridges, shop in the fabulous small stores, find transportation on the numerous waterways, or make it a combination of all of the above. You can’t go wrong!