“I only have one day in Venice, what should I do?” This is one of the most frequently asked questions about Venice. Many tourists plan a day trip excursion to the lagoon and do not know what to do on their arrival.
Venice is, without doubt, one of the most visited cities in the world and with its thousand steps, ups and downs, the Venice lagoon is one of the favourite destinations for a walking tour also. Venice needs to be discovered hand in hand. A city where ancient and modern blend in the magical scenery of sparkling treasures, marbles, waters, legends and stories that run after the centuries.
There are so many things to do in Venice. The best attractions can be visited by foot on a day trip from other Italian spots, and I’m sure you will return home with some wonder in the eyes, even if you visit the lagoon in one day with kids.
At first sight, Venice isn’t kids friendly, but it would be hard to find a city that is more visually exciting than Venice. So, with some organisational tips, the Serenissima Republic of Venice can be successfully visited by families with children.
The entire area is pedestrianised, and this is awesome for tourists who love to walk and explore new cities by foot. Then, the maze of alleys and the “Campi” (sort of squares) represent the perfect places to play hide and seek, taste a gelato or relax a bit. These aspects of the city will conquer even the little ones, and I’m sure about that!
Having said that, I believe that it could be difficult to visit Venice with toddlers – or with kids that are just walking only – unless you can carry them at a particular time.
Venice for babies: which kind of baby equipment to use during a day trip
Stairs, steps, slides, vaporetti and narrow passages. Strollers are not recommended when visiting Venice with babies. Choose baby carriers or baby backpack carriers instead. Although Venetians will welcome families in every destination of the lagoon, there are not so many facilities for babies in town. Do not expect then, to find changing tables or baby chairs in many bars nor restaurants, but you can count on people kindness.
When travelling to Venice with babies do not forget to prepare your backpack with diapers, wet wipes, some snack and their meal.
Venice is visited by tourists from all over the world 365 days a year, so when you are planning your day trip to the lagoon, you should consider the weather, acqua alta (the high water phenomenon) and the calendar of the main events. Generally speaking, weekdays are the winning choice in comparison to the weekends, and if you want to have the city to yourself, it’s best to visit Venice in the off-season.
Summer can be sweltering, so we always prefer spring or autumn days. Undoubtedly, Venice enchants when the sun shines, but the city is even more appealing when it appears mysterious and silent surrounded by fog or mist. May and October are our favourite months to go to the lagoon, but also on a cold day of February, it might surprise you. While you may need to pack some layers for November’s chilly evenings, the city is mostly tourist-free, and hotel rates are much more affordable.
Venice: peak season and main events
Venice has several significant events that are worth booking a trip around. During Carnevale (it usually takes place in late February or early March), tons of tourists arrive in town for two weeks of masked and costumed revelry. At the end of August, Venice hosts the Cinema Festival, and the city is crowded with actors, VIP and movie stars. Every other year, in odd-numbered years, the Biennale for Art takes place: an international art showcase scheduled from June to November. These three events are very popular, so be prepared to find Venice more booked up than usual when they are on.
It is very easy to arrive in Venice. Frecciarossa train is my favourite way to get to the lagoon as it only takes two hours and a half from Milan – my hometown – to arrive there. The train is the fastest, most sustainable and stress-free way to reach Venice in a day.
Families can also arrive by car, by plane and even by bus.
Marco Polo Airport is the closest airport to Venice. After you land, it will only takes twenty minutes by bus to arrive at the heart of the city. There is also a water bus service that stops at San Marco, Rialto, Fondamenta Nuove and Le Guglie.
If you arrive by car, we recommend you to leave your vehicle at the Mestre parking lots and move to Venice city centre by train. It only takes pocket change and 15 minutes to get there.
The arrival at the Venice Santa Lucia train station is extremely convenient and will undoubtedly have a significant effect. The stunning and impressive view once you get off the train is breathtaking. You directly are in the Cannaregio area, and from this district, you can start your walking tour through the maze of narrow streets.
Once you get off the train, you realise that Venice is a dream. In order to avoid madding crowd, let your walking tour begins on the right side of the station, crossing Ponte della Costituzione – the impressive bridge built by architect Calatrava – and arrive at Papadopoli Gardens, where kids can have a bit of fun and relax after the journey by train/car/bus or plane.
After a short break at the gardens that stand in Santa Croce Sestiere, it’s time to backpack and visit the city.
From the gardens, we proceed inside the Santa Croce Sestiere, up to the Church of San Nicola da Tolentino, which deserves a visit inside, both for the frescoes, and for the organ as well that dates back to 1700 and it is perfectly preserved.
After the stop at the Church, tourists can continue chasing the best Venice attraction, walking along the Fondamenta Minotto, down the Rio del Magazen and the Rio del Malcanton, until you get to Campiello Mosca. The Italian words “Campi” or “Campiello” stand for the squares of the city. Campiello Mosca inherited its name from a noble family that lived in this area in the eighteenth century.
From Campiello Mosca we arrive at Campo San Pantalon (in the Dorsoduro area) and crossed the bridge, we come at Campo Santa Margherita, from where we have a crazy view on the entire perimeter of the trapezoidal square.
If children are tired and need a break, the squares (Campo San Pantalon or Campo Santa Margherita) are the ideal place for a quick stop. Alternatively, hold on a little longer and walk for fifteen minutes more. You will then get to one of the best hidden gems of Venice: the Squero di San Trovaso (San Trovaso’s Squero), the typical Venetian shipyard where local boats are built and repaired. Here the magic is guaranteed! Take at least an hour – or one hour and a half – to enjoy the guided tour of the Squero (it lasts 30 minutes with max 25 people in each group) and to have lunch.
From the Squero, we quickly set out towards the Basilica of San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), crossing the Ponte dell’Accademia (Accademia Bridge) that offers a superb view on the Grand Canal.
St. Mark’s Square is always crowded, but it mesmerises. The beauty of the Basilica is stunning. Unforgettable.
Once you are there, you can choose to visit the Basilica, the Palazzo Ducale or just strolling around the square. The entrance in the Basilica is free, but we suggest you buy a 30 minutes guided tour, to discover more of this masterpiece.
If you are visiting Venice in summer, please remember to cover your shoulders, when approaching the sacred spots or the main points of interest as St. Mark’s Basilica or other churches.
St. Mark is the heart of the “Serenissima“, and after your guided tour, your day trip to Venice might already end. You just need to follow the signs to Ponte degli Scalzi to go back to the train station, but if you and your kids still have the energy to stroll a bit more, in ten minutes walk from Piazza San Marco, you arrive at the Libreria Acqua Alta, in Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa. It only stands 700 metres far from St. Mark’s Square, and it worths a visit to reveal Venice beyond the crowd.
The Libreria Acqua Alta, is more than a simple bookshop, it is a real gem where families can meet history and tradition. Here the books – trying to be sheltered from the phenomenon of high water – are placed on the top of boats, gondolas or anything that floats or keeps them away from the tides.
Now it’s time to leave the bookstore behind, and to end the day trip to Venice, returning to the station, crossing Rialto Bridge and San Polo Sestiere, until you reach Ponte degli Scalzi and the beauty of Gran Canal.
Our walking tour ends at the starting point, after about six / six and a half kilometres of walking through the city’s streets.
If you have never been to the “Serenissima Republic of Venice”, we recommend planning at least a day. An entire weekend would be the best solution, but I’m sure that a “bite” of Venice would be enough to fall in love with the city of the lagoon.
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