Venice – Bring the Kids!

Venice – Bring the Kids!

My girls first international trip was to Italy, the first stop being Venice. Lucky them, I hadn’t even been there yet. I had the chance to go in college when I was backpacking with a friend, but when two cute Australian boys we met in Florence asked us if we wanted to check out this amazing hostel that we had to hike up to in the Swiss alps, we naturally high-tailed it with them! (and it was worth it – the hostel was out of a story book). But that meant we had to forego Venice, and with yet another trip to Italy years later, I still had not been to this magical city.

I was weary of the prospect of visiting it for the first time with two young kids, and afraid that that would take away from it, but not in the least. It was our first stop in a 10-day trip where the bulk of our time would be spent in Tuscany, and unbeknownst to us, it was the perfect way to kick off our Italian vacation.

This would be my young girls’ first relatively long plane ride, but a night flight, so we hoped they would sleep most of the time. That they did not – with all of the movies they could choose from on the plane, they were in kid heaven, wanting to watch as many shows in one seating as they possibly could. We were also with their cousins and my sister and brother in-law, and the excitement of it all was palpable.

Thank god they did ok with the lack of sleep, because we had a big day ahead of us: we had booked our flight to Milan, as it was $500 cheaper per ticket, and then drove a few hours to a loading dock outside of Venice, where we parked our car rentals in a lot, and then finally boarded a boat.

Exploring Venice, Italy.

I think part of the reason my girls fared so well with the lack of sleep was that it was Venice – water, boats, cruising, adventure – what’s not more enthralling to a little kid than that? And taking the boat right up to our hotel was the icing on the cake. Front door service, I told them.

The hotel we stayed at was called Hotel Metropole, and well located. On the Grand Canal right in the heart of it all, we could pretty much walk anywhere in the city. Rooms were comfy, with nice, big airy windows. But our favorite part of the hotel was the outdoor courtyard – as Eurpoean and chic as they come, with palm tress and lounge sofas, we spent many a cocktail there, as well as their impressive and dangerously delicious breakfast buffet in the morning.

Eating breakfast in the courtyard of Hotel Metropole in Venice.

Our first venture out was just walking around and getting acquainted with the city. It was searingly hot – mid-July after all – and I thought the kids would melt away…but no. Just as all the winding streets and waterways are charming and mysterious to us grown-ups, they were to them as well. “Secret passageways” is what they called them, and I totally agreed.

The crowds made it difficult at times, as they couldn’t freely run around as they wished, and we had to pay ever more vigilant attention to them, but we nonetheless made our way through lots of nooks and crannies and pretty vistas, and eventually settled on a no-name restaurant for dinner that fed these kids just what they needed – spaghetti and meatballs. We all plowed through our food as it was our first real meal of the day, and went back to the hotel and passed out early.

Doors of the Basilica in Venice, Italy.

Next morning: trip to Murano, set up by the hotel. One of the easier day trips I’ve ever taken, Metropole booked the boat ride and a glass blowing tour for us – all we had to do was show up. A half-hour boat ride away, the island of Murano is a great place to take the kids. Think how fascinating it is to see someone blow glass, and then think how amazing it would be if you’re a child. We watched our “master”, as he was called, make a few different objects in about a half hour time. Seeing a ball of fire become a cat, or a horse, or a fish, in a matter of minutes is mesmerizing and humbling, as you realize how much time and discipline these masters and apprentices have dedicated to their art. We toured the showroom, bought a few memorabilia pieces, and then walked around the island.

Watching the glass blowing in Murano,.

We happened upon a local playground near a pre-school, where our kids started running around with the locals, so we hung out there for a while like we were locals. An ice cream stop on the way back, and we were soon in the boat again to our hotel. The boat rides, both ways, were of course just as much a part of the experience, for all of us. Taking in the views of Venice from afar, the architecture, the canals, the colors, it is no wonder it is one of the most romantic cities in the world. Time sort of stops when you’re in those boats on the Grand Canal, as you truly appreciate the magnificence if it all.

Taking a boat ride in Venice, Italy.

I would say the same thing for a gondola ride as well, which is what we did the following day. It may seem cliché, but it is loads of fun, and a great way to see the city. Our gondola driver was particularly quick and was able to move in and out of traffic jams swiftly, which helped. There just might not be anything more relaxing than a gondola ride through Venice. And the kids, well, go figure, they wanted to do it again. But we didn’t. Instead we walked all around the city, discovering new places and new views, and in general, trying to comprehend the life of a Venetian, how different their lifestyle is from ours.

Taking a boat ride in Venice, Italy.

That is what we mainly did in Venice, walking around with no real agenda. We didn’t go to many of the famous museums as lines were long, and that was fine – we found it just as interesting to meander around and stop in local restaurants that have not necessarily appeared in the guide books. And as far as the arts go, we did stumble upon a few different shows related to the Venice Architecture Biennale, which were quite striking.

Venice architecture biennale.

So just within our carefree wandering, like many European cities, we found ourselves automatically immersed in the Venetian culture. We did go to the famous piazzas including the Piazza San Marco, which was big and impressive, and I made it on my own to the Basilica – but again, the crowds in July are not for the faint of heart so we generally made our way off the beaten path. Which for us, for only a couple days in a rambling city like Venice, was perfect. And for the kids even moreso.

If you are going to Italy with the kids and contemplating Venice, I definitely recommend going. It’s a totally different experience for them, and they will love it. At least that was our experience.

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Adventues in Venice with kids

 

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25 Comments

  1. Anne Randall
    / 9:14 pm

    I wish I would have read this blog post before we took our kids to Venice for the first time last August! Our kids also loved it but I might have changed our itinerary a bit after reading this. We decided not to do Murano because we heard it wasn’t worth it, but I think I should have been thinking about how much the kids would have loved it (and the relaxing boat ride). I’m so glad it was great, Corey!

    • Corey
      Author
      / 1:12 am

      Thanks Anne! You can’t really go wrong no matter what you do. I’m sure you guys had a great trip – we will have to compare itineraries next time!

  2. Awnnn it must have been sooo much fun for them!! The first time I ever traveled abroad I was already 15 years old, it was to Europe and it also included Venice 😀

    Great pictures! I’m happy to have you on #MondayEscapes

    • / 5:32 pm

      Thanks Allane! Nice that your first trip abroad included Venice! I’m sure it was an amazing first experience. Thanks for reading :).

      • Yes it was 😀 you are most welcome!!
        I think it’s about time I visit it again, it’s only 4 hours from Munich. The problem is always the accommodation, which is often so expensive! But I will see 😀

  3. / 8:05 pm

    Great post, so interesting to hear Venice with kids from another perspective! I think your girls coped a bit better than my 2, but maybe being that little bit older and having their cousins with them helped? I do love the rambling streets, finding gems just round the corner, a fascinating city I could definitely visit again! 🙂 x

    • / 5:36 pm

      Jenny – when I read your post I was thinking about the age difference between our kids..mine are older and therefore def easier. Having really little ones in that blazing heat must have been trying at times, but still love that you took them then! I’m sure they will grow up to be travel hungry too, because of experiences like that, and you will have the photos to show :).

  4. Anna
    / 8:01 am

    Venice is one of my favorite cities! Indeed in summertime it is super hot and humid and the lines are endless. When I first visited we were part of a group which had a different (shorter) line for entering museums etc. which was very convenient!

    • / 3:18 am

      Yes – getting the group passes or what have you definitely makes a difference. We are going to Rome this summer and doing something similar – another city that can be tough in the heat with lines. Thank you for reading! 🙂

  5. / 2:52 pm

    Yes, Murano and venice are two fascinating places.
    In one of your pictures, I know very well the glass master who is blowing a glass piece (called “bolo”)
    I have published an informative article about Murano glass beads that might interest you.
    You can read it here and feel free to ask me any further questions:
    http://www.stravagante-jewelry.com/murano-glass-jewelry-beads-history.html
    Might be worth a mention on your site.
    Marco Piazzalunga
    — writer and historian of Murano glass —

  6. / 7:13 pm

    Thank you Marco! Looking forward to reading your article..how funny that you know the glass master – he was amazing to watch!!

  7. / 10:56 pm

    What a great trip. I love Venice although I’ve never stayed anywhere quite as central as you. As soon as my daughter is old enough that I don’t think she’ll fall into a canal, I’d love to go back especially as I’ve never made it to Murano. #citytripping

    • / 4:08 pm

      We thought Murano was great – it gets mixed reviews mainly because they do try and sell you so much but with the boat rides, the glass- making, and the walk around the island we really liked it. Hope you make it back!

  8. / 2:27 am

    I never would have thought of bringing my kids to Venice! What a lovely trip you had! #citytripping

  9. / 2:41 am

    What a lovely post! I have always wanted to go to Venice! 🙂

    • / 4:11 pm

      Thank you! And thanks for reading and following me as well, appreciate it :).

  10. / 2:04 pm

    My boys are just desperate to visit Venice – and I can’t wait for them to have that magical experience for themselves. It’s an extraordinary place. I too am a big fan of just wandering around a new city, with no particular agenda – it’s so liberating!

    • / 9:10 pm

      Completely! Sometimes all the pressure of trying to see and do everything can dampen the experience. It’s nice to just immerse yourself in a new place with no real plan..especially in a city like Venice. Hope you are able to make it there with your boys some day soon!

  11. / 9:03 pm

    Stunning photos. I love Venice, having been twice. Having not looked at it through a mum’s eye, it’s definitely somewhere I would love to take Monkey. And seeing your fabulous time there, makes that more certain! I love the local playgrounds, it’s definitely somewhere you do feel local! #citytripping

    • / 2:13 pm

      I think Monkey would love it..boats, gondolas, water..it’s more kid-friendly than people might expect!

  12. Wander Mum
    / 1:20 pm

    I can totally see why your children loved Venice… it’s great for wandering around and discovering little piazzas and quaint streets as well as exploring by boat. The glass blowing sounds awesome – my daughter would love it! Thanks for linking to #citytrpping

    • / 2:14 pm

      Thanks – yes the glass blowing was particularly fascinating. We would go back in a heart beat!

  13. I remember traveling as a young kid too but I think the excitement of being in a new place always made those long haul flights much easier to handle! And I think you got it right, it was Venice so your girls were probably able to handle the jet lag because of being in such a wonderful place! #CityTripping

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