Heading to Venice with a toddler? You’e in the right place.
Venice is much more than just a beautiful place. Its also the largest preserved old town in Europe, maybe even the whole world. Its full of beautiful monuments, museums, art and buildings that are hundreds, even 1000 years old.
It was once a very powerful maritime connection in the Roman Empire. Completely car-free, Venice has canals instead of streets, which makes it different from anywhere else in the world.
I travelled in Venice with my 4 year old, and a group of other children that ranged from 0-5 years old. I have you covered on the best tips to enjoy this ancient island city on water with little ones you have a mind of their own.
Italy is a country that values family, and children are adored. When I travelled to Venice with my young daughter, Italian people always smiled at her, calling her “piccolina” (little one) and people in general were very kind to us.
Also, while some of the attractions in Venice might be trickier with a toddler in tow, I’m going to offer you the best tips as someone who’s done it myself with toddlers and young kids.
So, let’s jump in!
Is Venice Toddler-Friendly?
Travelling with a toddler comes with a unique set of joys and challenges. There are a lot of things that make Venice particularly toddler-friendly. Here’s what you need to know:
- Venice is a small city (it’s only the 12th largest city in Italy, with a population of 254,000 as of 2021)
- It’s completely car-free
- It’s Italy, and Italy in general as a country values children and family
- Venice has a few things that your toddler will enjoy: playgrounds, boats, and of course gelato
- Your toddler will be free of charge for most activities in Venice; boat rides and museums
There are a few things to keep in mind about travelling in Venice with a toddler, but overall I think it is a suitable place to bring a family with a toddler, and I believe you can have a successful trip in Venice with a toddler.
10 Things to Do in Venice with Toddlers
Now that you know the tips on how to navigate the city of Venice with a toddler, what things for there to do there are there? Here are the best things to do in Venice with a toddler
1. Visit a playground
Of course you want to see all of the breathtaking sights around Venice, but I recommend carving some time out for your little one to relax and unwind in one of the playgrounds. Visiting a park in Venice gives toddlers and young kids:
- a much-needed break from the stroller or carrier
- a safe place to move around
- some shade
Parks to Visit in Venice with Toddlers and Kids
- Parco Savorgnan in the Cannaregio neighbourhood
- Giardino Papadopoli in the Santa Croce neighbourhood
- Giardini Napoleonici and Pineta di Sant’Elena in the Castello neighbourhood
2. Visit a Museum
Museums are a great way to get a break from the sun, learn some interesting things, and bonus: sometimes there are interactive activities and exhibits for young kids. Some of the most family-friendly museums in Venice for young children are:
- The Doge’s Palace: beautiful museum with fascinating history behind the artwork. It will be hard to focus on everything as much with a toddler, but children are welcome. Buy tickets in advance in order to skip the line, so that you don’t have to stand in a long queue with your toddler
- Peggy Guggenheim Museum: Another popular art museum – buy tickets to skip the line, or arrive 1 hour before closing (it closes at 6pm) so that you don’t have to worry about a queue
- Museum of Natural History
3. Take a boat ride
I chose not to ride a gondola, but our 3-4 year old kids loved watching the gondolas from over the ledges. People in them often waved at us. You don’t necessarily need to ride a gondola to appreciate the beauty of them. Having said that, I do recommend some sort of boat ride while you’re in Venice.
Gondola rides are for 30 minutes, and cost €80 during the day, and €120 for after sunset. (The lit up city adds to the ‘romantic’ experience.) This price is for the boat, not per person. All the gondolas have a set rate thats agreed upon each year, so they aren’t all trying to compete with each other. With small children, 30 minutes in a slow-moving boat is probably a good amount of time.
There is no age limit on boarding a gondola, so as long as your baby is in a carrier then it should be ok. Gondolas are like taxis, they’re everywhere and you will be able to easily find one.
Another option for boating in Venice is a water taxi, which is what we ended up doing. It’s not as quaint. But its fast movement and the fact that you see a lot of things as the boat wizzes by makes it a popular option for kids.
A traghetto is like a gondola, but much larger – there are two men rowing at either end, instead of just one. Traghetto means “ferry” in Italian. While gondolas are there for the sake of just being in a gondola, traghettos are used to get you somewhere, such as transport you from one side of a canal to another.
However, traghettos look similar to gondolas and function almost the same -two people rowing instead of one. At only €2 per person, its a great way to get the ‘gondola experience’ without having to pay gondola prices!
4. Go swimming at Lido Beach
If you’re going to be in Venice for more than two nights, then you might have time for Lido Beach, which 1 km (mile) from the centre Venice. Lido Beach is long and sandy, plus you can swim here between June and August (before or after that, the water may be too chilly.) You can get to Lido Beach from using the ACTV Vaporetto Lines.
5. Santa Maria della Salute
Santa Maria della Salute (which translates do St. Maria of Health) is a great church to visit with in Venice. The architecture inside and out is glamorous, and since its on the water, you can take a break in the shaded area outside of it while you watch boats go by.
Santa Maria della Salute is a 17th century church, and is located just m from San Marco square, so its pretty well situated and easy to get to.
6. Check out the masks!
You’ll see a lot of shops selling the traditional-style Venetian mask. If your children are anything like our 3 and 4 year olds, they’ll want to try on some of the masks. These masks are not only beautiful and eye-catching, but they have a long rich history; they’ve been worn in Venice since the Middle Ages.
I bought a small red and silver mask ornament for our Christmas tree. (Side note: be careful not to allow your youngster to break any of the masks.)
Pro Tip: If you happen to have older children with you on your trip to Venice, you should check out Ca’Macana Venice mask-decorating workshops that are kid-friendly.
10 Tips for Venice with a Toddler
Here’s our tips not only for surviving – but conquering – Venice with a toddler. With these tips, you will enjoy yourself as much as they will – I promise.
1. You can use the toilets anywhere
You are welcome to use any of the restaurant bathrooms (toilets, restrooms – whatever you’d like to call them.) By law in Italy, the restaurants must let you use their washrooms. Most people wouldn’t question it anyway when they see you have a little one with you. So just know you can use these facilities anytime to bring your child to the toilet or change their diaper.
2. Don’t worry about getting lost
Getting lost is one of the best things about being in Venice. With so many tourist sticking to the same areas, there’s nothing wrong with spending time in those areas that don’t get explored often. There are still some small pockets where locals live, with kids playing in the street. We stopped at a playground, and my 4 year old had a chance to swing on the swings (a nice, quiet break for her and for me.)
3. Take advantage of off-peak times
If your toddler gets up early – perfect. Head out at 5am and see the city crowd-free. That twilight zone between night and day will give you sights that are so often un-seen, and completely crowd and tourist-free.
During the day, there are lot of day-trippers exploring Venice. A lot of tourists spend their nights in nearby villages, or on other islands, like Burano, Murano or Laorzo (including us – we stayed in a town nearby called Mira.) The point is, many people don’t stay right in Venice, because its very accessible by public transit – train and boat.
4. Consider staying overnight in Venice
This gives you even more of an advantage of enjoying the city with fewer crowds, like we mentioned above. Staying overnight in Venice allows you to take advantage of early mornings and evenings. It gives you a chance to explore the city and enjoy the sights and architecture with less people.
This hotel is only 700 m from the Venice train station, has special family rooms, and serves a delicious breakfast each morning.
6. Prepare for a LOT of walking
Venice is not huge and its also very walkable. There’s no cars, so its designed to be a city you can walk through. Wear your best comfortable walking shoes, and the best hiking shoes for your little one and prepare for lots of time on foot.
My 4 year old (one month of turning 5) walked around Venice on her own; we didn’t bring a stroller with us, so walking was her only option. I was on my own, so she wasn’t carried often either. A 3-year old that we travelled was part-time in the stroller, and part-time on foot.
7. Bring the ‘right’ kind of stroller
Regardless of how old your child is, Venice is not very stroller friendly, because of the cobblestones, narrow alleyways, and bridges – the bridges all have stairs on them. (See picture below.) There are over 400 of these types of bridges in Venice.
I went to Venice with a 3 year old and a 4 year old. It was helpful to have the child sit in the stroller at times, but the biggest challenge was whenever we came to a bridges; we had to pick the stroller up to carry it up the bridge, and then down again.
If your child is younger than 3, you should most definitely bring a stroller, because your child will not be able to walk the distance you need them to in order to get around Venice.
Tip: We’d recommend a stroller like this for Venice, because its light enough to lift, and strong enough to travel over the cobbles.
I’d avoid a double stroller, or any kind of big bulky strollers for Venice, because it’ll be harder to move up the bridges, and move through some of the narrower, crowded streets. You’ll need to be prepared to lift the stroller quite a few times, to navigate the stairs, so you’ll want to bring a lightweight stroller, and be travelling with someone who can help you.
7. For babies under 1, a good baby carrier is your best friend!
Carrying a child around for the majority, or entirety (depending on if you have someone to pass off with) of your time in Venice will be taxing on your body, because of all the steps you’re going to get in during your time. You’ll need to make sure you have good footwear, take breaks, and pick an ergomatically-friendly baby carrier that will help your baby last the full day on your back.
8. Avoid the trail between St. Mark’s and the Train Station
You can’t blame the crowds for wanting to see the famous St. Marco’s Basiclic (commonly called St. Mark’s) Its a beautiful cathedral and it’s over 1000 years old, and easily the most visited site in Venice.
We already mentioned the benefits of exploring Venice during less crowded times. However, St. Mark’s deserves a special mention for the crowds. I’m serious when telling you that I’ve never seen a crowd like this in my life (and this is from travelling to over 30 countries to some of the most world-famous sites.) St. Mark’s is the most crowded place I’ve ever seen, personally. So if crowds bother you, there are ways to visit St. Mark’s while avoiding crowds.
The typical tourist trail is between the train station and St. Mark’s square and the main train station. Most people get off the train station, and head directly to St. Mark’s, so if you avoid that typical tourist trail, then you can beat a lot of crowds.
Pro Tip: Grab a map, and locate the path from the train station – Stradanuova – Rialto bridge to San Marco. Trace a line roughly 25/50 meters around that path. And then, avoid walking inside the line you traced at peak times. Enjoy.
Side Note: Mid-day is the most popular time to visit St. Marks, so try to go in the early morning, or later in the evening if you can.
9. Take an ice cream (or a hot chocolate) break
This is less about enjoying a sweet than it is about taking a moment to sit down, relax and take in the moment. Venice is a busy place. You and your toddler will appreciate the break and the treat.
Yes, there are guides online which would help you find the best ‘quality’ ice cream in Venice, which is now becoming harder to find as many shops are no longer making it from scratch. However, during a trip with young kids, I would say pick the ice cream place close to where you are, wherever you need it at the time. They’re everywhere and you can’t go wrong with any kind of ice cream when you and your toddler have had enough and just need to sit down!
Ice cream places in Venice are typically kiosks. Some might have a few benches outside, but even this is rare.
Pro Tip: If visiting Venice in the colder months, such as winter, Venetian hot chocolate is also a special treat!
10. Take care of yourselves in the sun
The sun in Italy is strong. Be sure to protect yourself and especially your toddler by using a reef-friendly toddler-safe sunscreen like this one. Don’t forget a good hat for your little one. Also, stay hydrated. Carry a refillable water bottle. You can fill it up in most restaurants.
Where to Stay in Venice with a Toddler or Young Child
Here are our recommendations for Venice Hotels that are baby and toddler friendly, have everything you need, and are close to pubic transit!
- San Gervasio Apartment Have your own apartment in Venice for a bargain! This place is highly rated among families (9.9/10) because of its location, price, and comfort for staying there with young kids
- Casa Fenice Committed to being family friendly, Casa Fenice offers family rooms and children’s cots upon request. Only a 5 minute walk from San Marco for an affordable rate
- BB Venezia Offers air conditioning, family rooms, a continental breakfast, and a terrace to enjoy.
- Ca’Patricia Only 800 m from the St. Mark’s and close to Doge’s Palace, this accommodation is in a historic building and features air conditioning and common areas to relax in
- Canaletto Luxury Suites Stay in the ultimate luxurious 2-bedroom apartment with access to a spa and sauna, just steps from San Marco and an incredible view.
Pro Tip : If you’re staying overnight in a Venice hotel, let them know you have a baby or toddler, even if you’re co-sleeping. Venice hotels have occupancy rates and they apply to children of all ages.
Venice with a Toddler: FAQ
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about travelling in Venice with a toddler. Get all your questions answered!
Is Venice suitable for toddlers?
Venice is suitable for toddlers, because its car-free, it has some playgrounds, a beach, and its also completely car-free. However, there are some things to consider – heavy strollers aren’t recommended, and it can also be a very crowded place, especially during high season and at peak times.
How long do you need in Venice with kids?
If you just want to explore the city in Venice, then 1 overnight is enough (giving you 1-2 days in the city.) If you want to explore the neighbouring islands, Murao and Burano, and visit Lido Beach at some point, then you should book up to 3 nights in the area.
Can you take a baby on a gondola in Venice?
Yes, you can bring a baby on a gondola in Venice; there is no age limit. Just keep in mind that you can’t bring a stroller. The stroller will need to kept at the nearest gondola station. Babies can ride the gondolas in a baby carrier.
Can you use a stroller in Venice Italy?
Yes, you can use a stroller in Venice. It’s not the most stroller-friendly place, because of the cobbles, narrow alleyways and the bridges with stairs (which the stroller will need to be lifted up in over to go over.) However, with the right lightweight stroller and ideally another adult for help, it can be done.
Can you take a stroller on a gondola?
You cannot bring a stroller on a gondola in Venice, you will have to leave them at the gondola station while you’re on the boat. However, you can bring babies in a baby carrier on the gondolas.
How do kids transport in Venice?
Kids aged 4 and up can probably walk through Venice on their own, depending on the child. If under the age of 4, then I would recommend a stroller. For babies under 2, I’d recommend a baby carrier.
Is Venice expensive for food?
Yes, food in Venice will be on the pricier side because you’re in a touristy city. Venice is a bit more expensive than other Italian cities, such as Pisa for instance. Along with researching Venice in advance and some good family travel budget tips, its possible to save some money travelling in Venice.
Do kids pay for vaporetto?
Children 6 years old and younger can ride the vaporetto free of charge. After that age, the cost for a vaporetto ride is around 7euros.
Can we drink tap water in Venice?
Yes, the tap water in Venice is safe for consumption.
Conclusion: Venice with a Toddler
So you already know you want to visit Venice – but should you visit Venice with a toddler? Based on my experience with two 3-4 year olds, I would say.. yes! Venice is a touristy place, but people live here too, so there are many child and toddler-friendly amenities and services in place, and activities in the city that they will enjoy.
Venice has some challenging terrain, with not being stroller-friendly, but it can absolutely be done with a toddler and you can still have an amazing time visiting Venice with a toddler. The photos you get will be priceless, and the memories you make will be forever cherished. I know this sounds cheesy, but I often look back on the trips to Venice when my daughter was young, and I’m so glad that I took her then instead of ‘waiting’ until she was older. Do your research, follow the tips in this guide and have an amazing time with your kids of all ages in Venice.
If you’re looking for other coastal historical cities in Italy then you might consider Sardinia island, which has a few historical cities on the water (Alghero, Cagliari and Olbia.) Sardinia is a bit less touristy than Venice and very family-friendly.
We hope this guide has been helpful in helping you plan your trip to Venice with a toddler. Buon Viaggo!