I had to go on work trip near Venice, Italy, and my husband and the kids decided to come along, and take the chance to spend Easter with our families. We have spent around ten days in Mestre, really close to Venice, and during one weekend, we took off and decided to go and visit Venice. My husband and I had visited Venice more than once on our own – never together, though – but this was a first for the kids. The first thing I want to share with you all is
do not travel to Venice with children.
Believe me when I say, the pain is more than the gain. This is why:
- It is too expensive.
- The general attitude is to squeeze as much money as possible from tourists.
- It is too crowded.
- All services are utterly inadequate and there are no services for children at all.
- It is not the authentic Italian experience you expect.
Even without kids, you may want to reconsider. Don’t get me wrong, Venice is an amazing and unique place. Too bad it has transformed in a tourist meat grinder. I will walk you through our day and leave it for you to judge.
We decided to buy a day ticket which would allow us to freely use all buses and water buses. Kids under six travel for free (good!) but one adult ticket cost 20 euros. Using a stroller in Venice would be pure madness, so we had to carry our small one in a baby carrier all day. Our plan was to visit the nearby island of Murano first. We found ourselves waiting at the water bus stop for a full hour, standing on our feet and pressed in a crowd. Imagine doing that with two kids under five. Yeah.
After this test of our mental resilience, we travelled to Murano. The islands of Murano are famous for a unique glassware technique which is centuries old. Murano’s glasses are mesmerising and beautiful beyond words. This was the highlight of our day, as for only 3 euros/each (kids enter for free) we could observe an apprentice working the glass.
He explained it takes easily 20 years for someone to become a glass master. This was really interesting to watch and a first time for me and my husband as well. The kids were mesmerised and stared speechless the whole time.
We had packed some sandwiches to eat for lunch, but we had to eat them hiding in a corner, as you may get fined for eating your own food in Venice. This rule was justified by the claim that so many tourists eating “on the go” may produce huge quantities of trash, but in truth it’s just another excuse to squeeze money out of visitors. Prices in Venice’s restaurants are easily two or three times what you would pay 10 km away from the town and food quality is overall poor. We saved some bucks, but did not enjoy our lunch.
Our ride back to the old town was better than the first and we landed near Piazza San Marco, one of the main landmarks. Entering the Basilica or the Museum was impossible: the queue was easily 50 meter long. Take into account, we were not travelling in high season. As one shop’s clerk told me, “during high season, you simply cannot walk in Venice“. Whatever I’m telling you here, it’s Venice at its best! Anyhow, we quickly showed the most important buildings to the kids from outside: the St. Mark tower, the Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs.
We could only watch Gondolas (the classic Venice’s ship) as one 30 minute ride cost 80 euros.
R: “I want to go! Don’t we have those money?”
me: “We do have them but if we go on that Gondola ride, you have to give up eating for two days, how does that sound?”
We walked around and ate an ice-cream (luckily we knew where to go to have a good one). There are public toilets in Venice (about 1,50 euro to access) but we preferred to have one cup of coffee and use a cafe’s toilet. We tried to avoid cafes too close to the main square, as they are notorious for their stellar prices. We paid our espresso double than anywhere else in Italy, but at least we could use the toilet. It was clean but probably the most uncomfortable I have ever seen. Luckily we have toddlers and pant-diapers, but be aware you will not be able to change a baby diaper in Venice.
After the coffee we simply were too tired and stressed to go on. I feel disappointed. I hoped that our visit in low season would allow us to live a more authentic side of Venice. I was well aware of how awful Venice becomes in high season, but unfortunately it didn’t seem any better in low season. It simply is too crowded for you to enjoy it. Also, you would expect such a popular destination to be well-served, but it’s quite the opposite. It seems that the local administration is so cocky about the town being popular that they do not put any effort in serving the visitors. “They’ll come visit anyway”, everything seems to scream. And definitely there are no services for kids.
If you want to truly enjoy a relaxing and inspiring time in Venice, you need no kids and a high budget (easily 400 euros/day for a couple). There are definitely better destinations for you to enjoy a fantastic family holiday and the best sides – culture, food, people – of Italy.
Have you visited Venice with kids? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments.
If you enjoyed this post, make sure to check out also:
New Delhi with kids
Our amazing day in Tykkimäki
E’s first trip to Italy