Oh what a romantic city. If you’ve never been to Venice you picture it just like the movies and I am here to tell you, it is. Gondolas and all. As romantic as it sounds, it is also a breathtaking family vacation opportunity. Let me tell you how wonderful it is even with small children and what to do there.
When we arrived via airplane, we were greeted by a transfer service arranged by the hotel The Metropole where we were staying. It took a car ride and a taxi boat ride to arrive in approximately 30 minutes. From the get go it felt like an adventure. I highly recommend you take advantage of this.
When you’re traveling with small children you want to make it as easy and smooth as you possibly can. Therefore taking the guess work out of figuring out transportation is worth every penny in my opinion, especially internationally. I recommend starting by asking the hotel you are staying what their transfer service is as 9 out of 10 times it’s the most suitable option.
Now while the Metropole isn’t exactly catered to children as I typically look for in most accommodations, it was in an ideal location. Though they did give our son the cutest bear dressed as a gondolier, outfit and all! Everything was technically walking distance. Once we settled in the hotel, everything we needed and wanted to do was walking distance.
What to do for the whole family
Speaking of location let’s talk about everywhere we walked to. So the front of the hotel faced the water, this is where the water taxis dropped you off. On the opposite side of the hotel is where all the magic is. The moment you walk out there are rows and rows of vendors. You can find souvenirs, gelatos, restaurants, snacks and refreshments. It is very convenient.
Piazza San Marco
Also known as St. Mark’s Square was about a 10 minutes walking distance. It’s your classic Italian piazza full of folks eating, drinking, children running around and more vendors. It’s considered the center of the city.
We sat down at it’s famous Cafe Lavena for drinks and appetizers and it was divine. I had a delicious peach bellini, my wife a local beer and our son the biggest Sundae his little heart could devour. They also had live classical music playing modern songs. And to this day I still close my eyes and hear “Shallow” playing while sipping that glorious bellini on that warm summer day.
Funny story our son was three when we came and saw several other European cities there in Italy and France on this same trip and to this day Piazza San Marco is most memorable to him. Why you ask? Because of the gorgeous architecture or history land marks? Nope. He says of the weeks of his European travels he enjoys chasing the pigeons at St. Mark’s Square the most. HA!
You may hear conflicting advice on this one and I say don’t listen to them! If anyone tries to tell you that they are overpriced or cliche don’t listen to them! Yes they are expensive for the length that the ride is.
Yes everyone wants to do it. However this is one of those scenerios where going against the status quo will have you missing out BIG TIME. My advise, do it!
There are typically two different options, the long ride that takes you into the deep part of the water the same way you came from the airport in the water taxi. And there’s a shorter one approximately 20 minutes that takes you just around the inside canals. We chose the shorter, 20 minute ride because again we’re traveling with a 3 year old and you know 3 years old don’t stay still too long. Also because outside in the main water, it is sharp and the gondolas move a lot. I didn’t want anyone of us to get sea sick.
You can find them everywhere but because we specifically wanted ones that only went inside the small canals we went through the small streets to find them. You can’t miss them. There are crowds of people waiting and people hopping on and off gondolas.
Shopping and dining
Speaking of these small streets, explore them. You will always feel safe because there are people everywhere. You will experience small family owned shops for gelatos, pizzerias, pharmacies and also high end stores such a Gucci and Jimmy Choo.
We randomly selected a small pizzeria where I shamelessly took advantage of their decent wifi (it’s important when you’re a blogger!) And discovered how amazing their food and drinks are. We must have been there for a couple hours at least! It also gave our 3 year old the ability to have a rest stop to use the restroom, est, and take a cat nap on us. P.s. their pizza was delicious!
Lastly venturing these small streets we found a little community mini plaza full of locals congregating. You could see children playing soccer still in their uniforms and adults sitting in benches around the trees obseving them.
Things to keep in mind
- Cash in euros is preferred and only accepted in many places.
- Some will accept credit cards with a minimum purchase.
- Some don’t accept Amex so you’ll want to have an alternative for when you encounter this. I still only use Amex when traveling so again this is ONLY when they don’t accept it.
- You are surrounded by water so like in all water destinations you need ensure your children are with you at all times.
- The sun doesn’t set until around 9pm even in the summer.
I cannot wait to return to Vence as a family of four. Have you had similar experiences in Venice? Head on over to my Instagram where you can see videos of that delicious bellini at the Piazza, the gondola and shopping! Once you’re there let me know what you think!
You can also find more family travel inspiration like a trip to Cayman Islands.