Saturday, January 15, 2011

Venice, Italy

Location: Venice, Italy

Time Frame: June, 3 nights, two days


Type. Venice has a variety of hotels, but for our family size, we chose a holiday apartment.  We booked with Cosy Apartments (through, for the Garibaldi apartment. This apartment had two bedrooms, one bathroom, living area, and a small kitchen.

Cost. Our total cost was 360 euro for three nights.  We also had to pay 30 euro for late arrival (as we didn't arrive in Venice until 11:30 PM...but that is a story for another time).

Amenities. We had a bedroom with a double bed, and space for our baby, and a room with two single beds.  We also had a small dining area/living area, a small kitchen (with fridge, stove, oven, and microwave).  The apartment had air conditioning, a tv in the larger bedroom, but no elevator in the building (so it was two flights of stairs up).

Other. We were required to clean the apartment upon departure (but usually you can pay extra for whomever owns the place to do it).  As driving is not permitted on the islands of Venice, there is no parking for this accommodation.

Kid Friendly Rating: I would give this hotel three stars (***) for kid friendliness.


Driving. We drove from our home in Germany (via Pisa, Rome, and Naples).  You are not allowed to drive in Venice proper (no roads), so  you either have to park on "mainland" side of the Grand Canal area (there are quite a number of parking garages), or park farther away.

Public Transportation. There are a variety of public transport options to get to Venice.  You can take the train or a coach from nearby to Venice.  Venice is also home to the vaporetti (water buses or taxis).  This is usually how you get around Venice.  There are a variety of routes to take you around, and they do offer single trip or day passes (there are also multi-day passes).  There are also the private water taxis and gondolas that are available.

Walking. Venice is definitely a walking city.  This is a great way to see the canals and sights of Venice.  You can either walk to most of the major sights from your acommodation, or you can combine walking and a water taxi.  There are a lot of steps and bridges, so strollers are not very practical here.  We chose to use a baby backpack instead.

Parking. Since driving in Venice is not allowed, if you bring your car you'll have to park it on the mainland.  We found a garage, within walking distance of the main Vaparetto terminal.  It was a secure garage (but we still emptied our vaulables), with monitoring.  The total cost was pretty high (about 84 euro for the the three nights).  You may be able to get a discount on the parking fees from your hotel (we managed to finagle a 10% discount from the manager of our apartment).


Since we had our own kitchen, breakfast was the usual cereal, pastries and juice.  Lunch and dinner were usually out and about.  Don't forget to stop and have some gelatto while you're out.  Food in Venice can be pretty pricey (hey it all has to be shipped in), so check out a few places.  Meal deals can be found, even at sit down places, especially if you are willing to be flexible with your eating times.

Fast Food. Venice has a variety of small take away shops, where you can get some good food on the go.

Sit Down.There were a large variety of sit down restaurants ranging from casual cafes to upper crust fancy places. Many are family friendly and offer a variety of foods (but heavy on Italian).  We ate dinner at these places (one pizza cafe, one pasta restaurant).  Drinks are especially expensive here, and don't expect the free refills Americans are used to.


Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square)
Times: The square is open every day all day.

Costs: There is no admission charge for visiting the square.

Comments: This is a must see stop for any visit to Venice.  Piazza San Marco is the heart of Venice, and takes you right to some of the greatest sites to see in Venice.

One of the greatest things to do here is feed the pigeons (this was our kids FAVORITE thing about Venice).  You can usually buy a bag of feed for 1 euro from vendors on site, but they don't always sell, and there are encroaching restrictions on the sale of the feed (I guess the higher powers don't want the pigeons hanging around).  You can always bring your own stale bread, chips, crackers, or birdseed.  The pigeons will eat right out of your hand!  They'll also land on you.  Since they are used to being fed, they won't fly away, and eventually you can catch them.  My kids had me doing this for about an hour, just so they could hold the pigeons.

If pigeons aren't your thing, there are plenty of gellatto stores, cafes, and restaurants.

Basillica San Marco (St. Mark's Cathedral)
November - March/Aprile (Easter)
Basilica: 9.45 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. - Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. - 4.00 p.m.
St. Mark's Museum: 9.45 a.m. - 4.45 p.m.
Pala d'oro: 9.45 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. - Sunday and holidays: 2.00 - 4.00 p.m. Treasury: 9.45 a.m. - 4.00 p.m. - Sunday and holidays: 2.00 - 4.00 p.m.

March/April (Easter) - November 
Basilica: 9.45 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. - Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.
St. Mark's Museum: 9.45 a.m. - 4.45 p.m.
Pala d'oro: 9.45 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.- Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.
Treasury: 9.45 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.- Sunday and holidays: 2.00 p.m.- 5.00 p.m.

Basilica: (entrance free)
St. Mark's Museum: entrance: ticket 4 € , reduced 2 € only for groups with more than 15 people
Pala d'oro: entrance: ticket 2 € , reduced 1 € only for groups with more than 15 people
Treasury: entrance: ticket 3 € , reduced 1,50 € only for groups with more than 15 people

Comments: For those who enjoy architecture or churches, this is a must see.  The trip through the bascillica  proper only takes about 10-15 minutes, and gives you a wonderful view of this grand building.  The lines can be long, so come early.  You can take in the treasury, museum, and other paid attractions if you like, or just do the free tour of the bascillica. 

Campanile di San Marco (St. Mark's Bell Tower)
October: 9.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.
November - March/April (Easter): 9.30 a.m. - 3.45 p.m.
March/April (Easter) - June: 9.00 a.m. - 7.00 p.m.
July - September: 9.00 a.m. - 9.00 p.m.

entrance ticket: 8€ , reduced 4€ only for groups with more than 15 people

Comments: If you want a bird's eye view of Venice (and the beautiful Piazza San Marco), this is the place to go.  It is a bit pricey, but luckily there are no stairs!  As this is a more modern reconstruction (the original tower collapsed in the early 20th century), there is an elevator to take you to the top.  If you (or your children) aren't interested in the view, don't worry, Venice is just as beautiful from the ground.  Personally, we decided to skip this little junket, as the cost would have been quite high, and our kids were having  much more fun with the pigeons.

Palazza Ducale (Doge's Palace)
From 1st April to 31th October
8.30am - 6.30pm (ticket office 8.30 - 5.30pm)

From 1st November to 31th March
8.30am - 5.30pm (ticket-office 8.30am - 4.30pm)

Closed on 25th December and 1st January

Entrance to the Doge's Palace is included in the Venice Museum Pass.
Full price: 18,00 euro
Reduced: 12,00 euro 

Comments: Once home to the seat of Venice's government, you can view the apartments of the doge (elected head of Venice), places of government meetings, the seat of justice etc.  Holding some fine treasures of Venice's history, it is a place to behold.  The length of the the tour may be difficult for children, especially if they are young and not interested in the historical nature of the musuem.

Home to glass blowing for centuries, you can stop by this small island to see the art.  Take a vaporetto out for a tour.

Grand Canal
Certainly to be seen by water, the Grand Canal is one of the highlights of Venice.  If you want a cheap tour, take a vaporetto up (or down) the canal.  For a more romantic cultural approach, try a gondola ride. Either way, enjoy the view of the old canal homes, markets, and ritzy hotels.

Gondola Ride
No trip to Venice is complete without a gondola ride.  Vendors can be found up and down the Grand Canal.  Make sure you have a firm price, amount of time, and number of passengers agreed upon before departure.  Some gondoliers are well known for "changing the price" during the ride or on your return.

The Lido
This is Venice's seaside.  The Lido is a small narrow island separating the main Venice lagoon from the Adriatic sea.  The beaches are the spectacular ones you may be looking for, but if you are in for some sunbathing, you can enjoy a day at the Lido.  Vaporetto can take you from Venice proper to the Lido.  There are plenty of hotels and restaurants to keep you happy on your visit.

Rialto Bridge
Times: Open all day, all year.

Costs: Free

Comments: The oldest and most famous bridge spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, the Rialto is the commerical connection.  View the bridge from along the canal, and then take a nice slow walk across.  You can get a nice view of the Grand Canal, and then move on to enjoy the markets of Venice.  From souvenirs to food, you can find what you are looking for.


When you travel with little ones, bathrooms are an important thing to be able to find. Europeans are generally not big on public restrooms.

Availability: Public restrooms can be found, but are scattered and not always easy to find. Your best bet is to make sure to make use of restrooms offered in the restaurants, museums, and other attractions that you visit. Most of the major attractions have restrooms.

Public/Private: Most available restrooms are actually going to be in some type of business, whether it is a restaurant or attraction.

Cost: Costs for restrooms can run from free to around 1 euro per person. Occassionally bathroom attendants will allow an adult to take a child into the restroom and only charge for one person (I did this with my kids, and even when I took both potty trained children, I usually only had to pay for me).

Nearby Amenities

Laundry: We didn't see any places to do laundry, but we didn't need the facilities.  You can usually get information on these facilities from your hotel or tourist information points.

Groceries: There are plenty of grocery shops (small independents) and some small chain stores (we found a nice Coop store near our apartment).  There are also a few open air markets where you can find fresh produce, fish, and other essentials.


There never seems to be enough time to enjoy Venice.  The two full days we had allowed us to see the main sights, without wearing out the kids.  We loved the water and walking in Venice, most especially the fun of the pigeons in St. Mark's Square.  There is plenty to see and enjoy, from amazing glass, to masquerade masks, to delicious gelatto.  Take your time and relax in Venice

Trip Highlights
- Gelatto (what can I say, we LOVE it)
- Feeding the pigeons in St. Mark's Square.
- Riding the vaporetto.

Overall Rating

Venice is definitely a 5 star must see location.

   Telling the pigeons "we're out of food"!

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