Last November I saw a really good cheap flight to Treviso – I think it cost us like €240 for the whole family to go to Venice and back. I told my husband about it and we immediately booked the tickets. We told my parents about our trip and my mother actually showed interest in joining. I don’t know your experience with travelling with parents but we thought a weekend would be great with them around, and it was!
Venice in a nutshell:
- stay close to the square if you want the night life
- it is very safe to leave kids run as there are no cars and kids and the elderly are treated very respectfully
- use the public transport
- pushchairs are not ideal and wheelchairs would have a lot of problems roaming the streets due to the many bridges
- Book your evening meals in advance especially on weekends
- You are not allowed to eat outside in the streets, not even your sandwiches so be aware.
- If you think this is the only time you will visit, take the gondola ride
- If with kids take a kids tour
- Expect queues for tourist attractions especially in summer
- Game to play with teens and kids alike – spot the different types of boats (ambulance, garbage boats, funeral boats etc)
I prefer staying in an apartment with my kids as I like stocking the fridge with things they like, I do have a fussy eater. We found a good 3 bedroom apartment in Venice from Airbnb. We needed a 3 bedroom, I could have made the break even cheaper if we found a 1 or 2 bedroom but being that we travelled with my parents I wanted them to sleep well and us to have some space too.
Another thing that I think you should keep in mind if you travel with friends or family is to have a good common area. In the evenings it’s ideal to put the kids to bed and stay up with the adults to chat a bit.
The location of the apartment was in Cannaregio it was 2 min from a canal that connected us to all the boat routes but still a quiet place. Being it was November I think I would have tried staying somewhere more lively as this area is the university area and so there are not a lot of shops and restaurants. I knew that we would arrive late and that we wouldn’t have had time to settle ourselves till late so I took my first night’s meal with me (read first aid box to find out more). The first night was fun for the kids just playing hide and seek in the “new home”. While the kids were sleeping and since we had our parents with us, we decided that my husband and I could get our bearings ready for the next day. That’s one reason why traveling with parents is a good thing!
Saturday morning we woke up early and my husband and I went to find fresh bread and some produce to create a good breakfast and take some rolls with us. Fruit and bread is always good to buy if your kids are like ours, hungry at the worst times but there is a great market in Venice from where you can buy genuine food.
So, after this and filling our stomachs up with a good breakfast we headed off to the centre. Do not be scared to use the public boats, we paid for a 48 hour ticket while we were there and we really made good use of it.
We had booked a guide online for the kids to enjoy and ended up enjoying the tour so much ourselves. Im not a tour guide type of person but being we were only in Venice for the weekend I thought a tour specific for kids would be ideal and it was. There are various tours out there and we were lucky to find that we were only us on the tour. This Venetian lady called Francesca, our tour guide was fantastic! Her English was perfect and being she was from Venice spoke of her city with pride. The tour took us not only to visit major iconic landmarks of Venice but also gave us insight to other curiosities.
Francesca kept the kids interested with a simple competition and gave them little trinkets every now and then. She also made us stop at bakery shops famous for their produce and she bought some traditional biscuits for us which the kids loved to try and got to know the story behind them too.
We learnt about many things such as the wells in many of the “cortiles” and what they were used for, the different areas of Venice and how to recognise where we are and many more.
If there is one thing I recommend you to do with the kids in Venice is a tour dedicated to them, why there is some that even include mask making! The tour was meant to take 2 hours but Francesca either fell in love with us or was sorry for my parents as the tour took us 3.5 hours. At the end we were sad to leave her but starving and tiered.
We found a restaurant with a tourist menu as we went for a budget and we thought a 2 course meal for €15 was perfect for us yet, we were a little naïve to think that it was a good deal. Everybody knows that Venice is expensive when it comes to food, and now more than ever as from this Month, May 2018 they are not allowing street food! Well, in this restaurant the food was good but the portions were tiny! The worst thing though was not that but it was the trick that restaurant owners in Venice tend to do a lot; they don’t give you the drinks menu so that you don’t know the prices and you order whatever you feel like. My husband and my dad ordered a pint of beer, little did we know that they charged €15 per pint! We just laughed it off and learned to ask for the drinks menu next time and you guys remember to do the same! Well, no tips were given there.
After lunch we headed for Piazza San Marco and although this was not my first time to Venice this square just overwhelms me every time. I think the effect of walking in narrow streets and entering such an impressive square makes everyone take a deep breath. My parents just stood in awe and my kids couldn’t stop pointing at things. For just this moment the holiday was a success!
We didn’t have time to go into the clock tower or any other building as we prioritised a ride on the gondola before sunset. Being it was winter the sun went down at around 5 and when it did it got cold. A ride with a gondola is the same price everywhere there is no chance of haggling as the gondoliers are an association. The only thing you can wish for is a good English speaking one unless you are like us that speak and understand Italian. I would have also liked that the Gondolier to have been dressed the part. We took the long ride yet, I didn’t feel that it took so long…may be next time I’ll time it.
My parents were young again, my kids were overjoyed and my husband’s face looked satisfied, isn’t that what holidays are all about? You might say it’s a gimmick and a tourist attraction that doesn’t last, but honestly I ticked something off my bucket list and I’m pleased.
Joy is oozing out of my husband here…a gondola ride is a must!
The Gondola to Venice is like the Vatican to Rome, if you are there you must do it at least once in your life. Would I do it again? No, I don’t think so but, only because I now have other priorities and visiting other attractions in the Piazza would take first fold. Just a little pointer, the actual ride is not very comfortable as the gondola is balancing in the water at an angle.
After the Gondola it was getting dark and my father was getting tiered, so we decided to head back to the apartment. We got the public boats from the piazza all the way to our stop, it was a long ride and the boat was packed but the respect the people have for elderly came out so much. Never were my parents standing up! Never were my kids standing up for all that mattered too. People just get up and give you their place, when you don’t get up and there is an elderly on board the elderly will demand you give them your place. It’s just the way the Venetians demand respect and I liked it.
When we got back to the apartment my kids were hungry and so were my parents so on the way back we grabbed a pizza for them and they enjoyed that but we had other plans… Since we had babysitters handy, my husband and I decided to hit the streets of Venice by night.
Even if it was November, being it a Saturday you need to book anywhere to eat!! The only places that were empty were the touristic ones with set menus – we were not going for that again! In the end we ended in this fantastic place that was an old barn or warehouse and there was a fusion of foods, FANTASTIC!
Next day was Sunday and our last day in Vencie. My mother wanted to go to see the Murano Glass and although I didn’t want to I felt obliged to go with her. I don’t know if you have ever seen glass being blown and explained to you but if you have, there is nothing different at Murano.
Being that in Malta we have various glass blowing experts I felt this whole Murano island was a scam. The prices for some of the produce are ridiculous and heavily overrated. My mother decided to buy a souvenir and she asked them to wrap it well as she had to travel with it. You would think these people are experts in wrapping glass and would have the necessary equipment to make sure that the produce would arrive home safely, alas my mother’s didn’t.
So, after what was a bit of disappointing morning, we headed back and decided to just stroll a bit and enjoy the shops in Venice. We loved seeing the masks and we were lucky enough to find a man in one of the shops actually making a mask while we were there.
If we had had enough time I would have booked the kids for a mask making activity as my kids love hands on, craft based experiences. We all agreed that it would be nice to visit Venice again, and may be visit it in Carnival time.
The trip back was quite uneventful and although we were sad it was over in such a short while it felt we made good use of the little time we had. At least I felt we had a good break and the kids had seen a new place. One thing my eldest enjoyed about Venice and I understand his point of view is that there weren’t any cars. Due to this the place feels safer and less polluted, the Venetians have a lot of pride of their unique town and keep it very clean and although the canals are murky the streets are spotless.
If you have been to Venice give us your tips so others can enjoy Venice just the same! Sharing is caring and that’s what our community is about…Leave a comment for others to read.
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