We recently did one day in Venice with kids, specifically teens, and some pretty special memories were formed.
It has to be one of life’s greatest joys when you introduce other people, especially your children, to parts of this world that hold a special place in your heart. But boy is the pressure there!
What if they’re not impressed? What if they don’t fall in love as I did? What if everything you plan falls apart, and it rains, and someone steals their iphone and they fall in a canal!? Oh, the pressure.
Thankfully I can report that our Venice day trip wooed my kids as I had hoped and it currently holds the top spot on their 2022 highlights list!
HOWEVER, spending one day in Venice with teenagers is not the easiest thing to pull off! The streets are busy and narrow. The food can be expensive and sub-par. It’s easy to get lost and waste a lot of time. Not all of Venice appeals to young minds. So let us help you!
Here’s our guide – Venice For Kids; The stuff they’ll love and be talking about forever more!
A Day In Venice With Kids
Holidaying in Venice can be extremely expensive, let alone with kids, so if you are still in the planning stages you might want to consider some of our family-friendly suggestions of where to stay nearby. They’re highlighted at the end of the article.
To see Venice in one day is more than achievable and you shouldn’t write it off as a pointless exercise thinking you’ll not even scratch the surface. In fact, I’d like to sell it as an hors d’oeuvre : an opportunity to whet the appetite of your children to stimulate the desire to return to Italy without you in years to come. To plant fantastical memories that inspire a repeat trip to Venice for longer, when they’re older and more appreciative of Venice’s charm.
Thankfully, it is very easy to plan a day in Venice for kids and see plenty of highlights!
Welcome to our list of top things to see in Venice with kids…
Whilst this is more of a must-see list for kids, we think you could use our suggestions as a ‘1 day in Venice itinerary’. The attached Venice map and key can be downloaded to your Google maps, just click in the top left corner.
HOW TO DO ONE DAY IN VENICE WITH KIDS… LIKE A PRO!
1. Arrive in Style
Start your day trip to Venice by arriving in style. A water taxi in one of the delectable Riva boats, a la ‘Brangelina’ in The Tourist, would set you back approximately €100 from Venice train station and would definitely be the chicest way to embark upon your Venice day trip. But if you do have that kinda cash down the back of the sofa, my advice would be to spend it on a gondola later in the day (see point 10).
Actually, the water bus (Vaporetto) is equally impressive an approach (albeit without the polished mahogany inlays and champagne on ice) as it rounds the San Marco basin and enters the Grand Canal. There is no view like it – seeing the Grand Canal from the water, so be sure to have your cameras ready. You’ll pass palaces and the Ponte dell’Accademia, gondola’s parked up and sneaky peeks down the smaller canals into the heart of Venice, giving you an exciting trailer for your day in Venice.
Stay on the Vaporetto (Line B leaving from ‘Tronchetto B’) until you reach the Rialto Bridge stop and you will indeed have arrived in style!
2. The Rialto Bridge
Ponte di Rialto is the oldest and most impressive bridge in Venice, spanning the Grand Canal. It absolutely has to go on your 1 day Venice itinerary! In fact, if there ever was the iconic spot for a selfie it is here.
The crowds are intense though, so keep an eye on the kids.
You might want to cross the bridge several times too; The Rialto Bridge has an internal walkway between two rows of shops selling tourist-gems, and two rows between either side of shops and the balustrades – both with unique views of the Grand Canal in either direction.
Whilst Piazza San Marco might be the most famous spot in Venice, the Rialto Bridge has always been the heart of Venice. It was once the only place you could cross the Grand Canal, before the Accademia Bridge was built in 1854. And, since the huge Rialto Market is only a stone’s throw away, you can well imagine this landmark was naturally the life and soul of Venice. The shops built into this beautiful marble bridge weren’t always selling a magpie’s collection of Venetian souvenirs, they were once a smelly cacophony of butchers, bakers and spicery’s back in medieval days.
TIP: For a view of the Rialto Bridge without the crowds, find point 3 on our map – the slipway called Naranzaria is a little out of sight and we sat for a while in relative peace watching the gondolas navigate the bridge and waving to tourists.
4. The Rialto Market
A place where tourists and locals hang out – Venetians to get their fresh catch of the day and seasonal vegetables for dinner, and Venice daytrippers to see the writhing eels, and lobsters still attempting to escape! Just around the corner from the Rialto Bridge but worth a quick detour for 15 minutes of entertainment.
It’s fantastic to absorb the static of this crazy Venice market and see the kid’s expressions as they come up against the faces of huge fish that were probably swimming in the ocean that morning.
Has that stirred up an appetite?
TIP: The Rialto Market ends at 1pm and is only open Tuesday – Saturday.
5. Lunch With a View
In our opinion it is hard to find terrible pizza in Venice, you are in Italy after all and most establishments can create Margherita masterpieces with their eyes closed. Which is why you shouldn’t immediately rule out the restaurants along Riva del Vin near the Rialto Bridge, where it seems every Backpacker Bill and Wanderlust Winnie want to eat/photograph their lunch.
Yes, you may be paying a euro or two more than some of the pizzerias located away from the water’s edge, but in our experience, we have felt it was worth it for the view and to be amongst the hustle and bustle of Venice. It certainly beats the overpriced sub-par offerings of Pizzale San Marco. And lets face it, Venice for teenagers is more of an exercise in how they can impress their mates back home! So snap away!
6. A Free Birdseye View of Venice from T Fondaco
Before you leave the area of Rialto, make your way to the department store T Fondaco dei Tedeschi. One of the most fun things to do in Venice with teenagers is to lead them through the ornate arches of T Fondaco unaware of what you have in store for them.
Originally a trading space for merchants and an impressive building in its own right, the real thrill for kids is when you take them up to the roof terrace and show them the incredible view of the Grand Canal. 15 minutes of 360 vistas and the perfect opportunity to point out a few famous landmarks and get your bearings for the rest of your day in Venice.
TIP: Make sure you book ahead of time, you cannot get in without a timeslot. It’s free of charge and opens daily from 10.30 – 7pm.
7. Visit the Instagram Bookshop – Liberia Acqua Alta
Before you make your way over to the inevitable tourist destination of San Marco Square, we think it’s worth a brief detour to a quaint little bookshop. The insta-gods have probably been filling your feed with photos of Liberia Acqua Alta since you started planning your day trip in Venice, and now you absolutely have to show the kids. It’s very unique.
Books are impressively balanced on anything that can elevate them from Venice’s impending winter floods; stools and tables, benches and bathtubs. There’s even a full-length gondola accumulating best sellers in the centre of this extremely cramped book shop. Look out for the shop’s cat too, you may even have to shoo him off the biography you want to look at!
TIP: Don’t miss the well-placed fire escape and the little outside yards lined with even more books and surprises.
8. Time for Gelato!
Obviously there are many gelateria’s in Venice and most of them are pretty great but if your kids like to sample a few unusual flavours from time to time, head to Gelateria Artisan off Campo Santa Maria Formosa. You’re already heading in the right direction for San Marco Square and it’s about time you gave your legs a break anyway.
The outer edges of the San Marco neighbourhood is probably my favourite area to get lost in… little alleyways that either lead you straight into a canal or into the campo’s of Venice where the locals are hanging. And sooo many pretty little bridges. So grab yourself a gelato, or espresso, and watch the Venetians and their tiny dogs go about their daily routines from the edge of the square.
9. Saint Mark’s Square
Every day trip to Venice has to involve a stop in St Mark’s Square. Home to the Doge’s Palace, the Basilica, the Grand Cafe’s, the Campanile and, of course, the pigeons!
Check out the famous Caffe Florian, an iconic 1700’s cafe serving €10 coffees to an orchestral soundtrack.
Depending on how much time you have we definitely think getting a guided tour is well worth the money if you are planning on visiting the Basilica or Palace. GetYourGuide run many excellent tours for all price ranges.