People love the idea of visiting Venice. When I was a travel agent I found people who considered Venice a must-do prior to their big Europe trip came back with mixed feelings. It’s always really awesome, or not worth the hassle. Because of this, I never quite understood the fascination. Then our own big Europe trip had an itinerary that brought us close to the city, so I thought it was time to check it out for myself.
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First impressions of Venice.
We took a train through southern Germany and Austria to get to Italy. I had the schedule wrong and so when we started to see the Italian coast I thought we still had a good 2 hours to go. The coast was gorgeous. I noted to myself that I had to come back someday.
Then I realized we were pulling into Venice’s Santa Lucia station. I was already hooked.
There are some places in the world that photograph really well, some places that feel magical, some that sound magical… Venice managed to do it all for me.
I’m sure, had our stay been more than two days, I could have a different story to tell. But my Venice story is of blue skies, clear water, good food, and music filling the air with people singing and practicing their instruments.
If you’re planning a trip that includes Venice, I have some books to recommend to help prepare your family for the visit. I also have some things to do while you’re in town. However, I won’t feel good about recommending these books without mentioning the problem with Venice.
Tourism is a problem in Venice – #enjoyRESPECTvenezia
Before going to Venice, educate yourself. Find out more about the tourism issue with some of the links I have here. Check the busy-prediction calendar to see what days may be better if you have more flexibility. Make choices that will support the local economy and help do whatever you can to preserve the city. Then pick up some books to learn more about the history of the city.
- The city put out a list of rules for the responsibility Venice tourist
- The Impact of Tourism in Venice
- Venice in Peril
- Saving Venice from too many tourists
What did we do? We stayed a local hotel. We avoided the busy parts of the city whenever we could, and we supported the local restaurants and souvenir shops.
and now… the books.
Children’s books for Venice
Best language book for a trip to Venice
My favorite language book for kids to recommend for any destination is from the Teach Me Everyday series.
My favorite language book for kids to recommend for any destination is from the Teach Me Everyday series. For those who are studying Italian for their Venetian trip, there are two books available: Everyday Italian and Celebrating the Seasons.
A board book for a trip to Venice
While this book isn’t specific to Venice, it’s still a fun way to introduce the tiniest travel to the sites of Italy in an easy to hold board book.
Picture books for a trip to Venice
This variety of picture books should have something to appeal to most young travelers. Talk about the images in the books before the trip, refer to them during the trip, and remind them of what they really saw or compare to personal photographs of the same sites after the trip.
A pop-up book for Venice
Finding a fun book is an easy way for kids to make the connection between books and place. This book is especially fun because it can be a souvenir. The cute drawing will appeal to all ages.
A classic children’s book for Venice
If an M. Sasek book exists about a destination, I will recommend it. We purchased this book when we came back from Venice. I do wish we would’ve bought it before the trip so that we would’ve taken time to try to find some of the places mentioned in the book.
A chapter book for Venice
The Greetings from Somewhere series is a fun chapter book for early readers. This book uses words and only a few pictures, but really highlights some Venice places.
Venice Activity Booklet – FREE DOWNLOAD
I created a free download for readers. Just click on the image or button below and enjoy.
Visiting Venice with Kids
Don’t forget to review ways to be a responsible tourist in Venice, and share these ideas with the family.
- Review ways to be a responsible tourist in Venice (see above), and share the ideas with the family prior to the trip.
- There are tons of bridges and stairs. Practice carrying the stroller or skip it and get everyone used to walking.
- Take lots of breaks, as needed, but be sure to only eat where it’s allowed.
- The Venetian streets are confusing. We relied heavily on Google Maps. If your group is large and you fear breaking into smaller groups, set up an easy-to-navigate-to meeting point in advance. Plaza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge are two easier options.
Tours to consider for a trip to Venice with Kids
- On the list of tours I wish I did is this food tour of Venice. My daughter was too young (it’s ages 6+), but I would’ve loved this introduction to Cicchetti that we saw all around town.
- One of those pinch-me moments ever was watching a Gondola go by and hearing someone singing a gorgeous song. Everyone on the bridge stopped and I fumbled for my camera to get a video of the kids watching. You can pre-book a Gondola ride (one price for 2-6 people) that includes a serenade. Or you can do what we did and have a quiet ride. (Which we just booked on the spot.)
- Time constraints and my own lack of interest in it kept us away from going inside the Doges Palace and San Marco Basilica, but if this is your thing you’ll want to get skip the line access to avoid the crowds.
- One place I really wish we could’ve visited was the Murano and Burano islands. I’m in love with Venetian glass and lace and I think these islands are a nice reprieve from crowded Venice. If you’re into those things or cool buildings that make both great memories and Instagram photos, then be sure to check it out.
Where to stay for a family trip to Venice
If you’re traveling with young kids that don’t like to walk or with a stroller, a centrally located hotel is probably your best bet. We have a family of walkers who are no longer in strollers, but we had time constraints. We opted to stay as close to Santa Lucia train station as possible so we didn’t have to worry about dragging our luggage around. (See below for a note about luggage.)
Our hotel was the Hotel Abbazia. It was literally one street over from the station and avoided all bridges. The staff was friendly, the room was large for our family of four, and breakfast was perfect. The best part of the experience was the large common areas. The inside “great room” was spacious and I’m sure it’s appreciated on a rainy day. However, we had gorgeous weather. The interior courtyard was perfect. In a city with so many canals, having an enclosed spot that’s both away from the crowds and safe was so relaxing. We spent a lot of time out there in the evening with a drink from the hotel’s bar while the kids played, and ate a laid-back breakfast while they played some more.
The only negative – it was not exactly central. Unless you want to be next to the train station like we did, there is a bit of a walk to get to most of the popular sites. Personally, I didn’t think it was bad at all. The hotel also doesn’t have a pool, which I know a lot of traveling families prefer.
Hilton Molino Stucky Venice
One of the other hotels I wanted to try was the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice. This is across the waterway from the main city center, so there are great views with little crowds. However, it also means that you have to take the ferry to get over. We couldn’t justify that travel time with our limited schedule. But, if you have more time and want to enjoy a rooftop pool during your downtime, definitely consider this option. Please note: that it does get more expensive with more family members since they have strict room occupancy limits.
Luggage in Venice
Getting bags up and down the many bridges is a big consideration for people traveling to Venice. There are porters all over the place, but I’ve heard that some aren’t as trustworthy. I would discuss options with the hotel as they may know best. There are luggage lockers throughout the city, too.