How to Avoid the Crowds in Venice, Italy with Kids
Updated: Jan 11, 2020
Kid-friendly ways to avoid the crowds and still visit the top sites and beauty of Venice.
We were lucky when we visited Venice, Italy. It was just after the city had experienced heavy flooding and most of the tourist had cleared out of the city. We experienced Piazza San Marco almost all to ourselves and roamed the charming small side streets without coming across another soul. I’ll never forget the image of the heavy fog in the evening that crept under the bridges adding to the magical experience. Usually, this will not be the case in the notoriously crowded city of Venice.
Over 20 million visitors per year walk the streets of Venice. This means overcrowded walkways and long lines at the top tourist destinations. The crowds can be even more frustrating with traveling with kids as they do not have the patience to wait in long lines. The logistics of keeping your eye on kids in a crowd can be tricky. Luckily, there are ways to escape the crowds, still see the top tourist destinations, and enjoy the beauty of Venice! Read on to find out how.
Choose a hotel or apartment further away from the Grand Canal & Piazza San Marco (St. Marks Square)
Venice is made up of 6 neighborhoods (sestiere is how they say neighborhood in Venice). San Marco is the most crowded of them, located in the heart of Venice. Consider staying in one of the following less crowded neighborhoods.
The Santa Croce neighborhood along the Grand Canal, it’s one of the oldest areas in Venice and least visited by tourist.
Cannaregio is known for picturesque squares and canals. It is also the neighborhood where the train station is located if you are arriving by train.
In Castello, you will find fewer tourists as you get farther from San Marco.
If you don’t mind taking the short boat ride on a Vaporetto (a water bus) to Piazza San Marco consider staying on the Island Venice Lido. It’s a 12 km strip of land between the Adriatic Sea and the Venetian lagoon. In addition to avoiding the crowds in Venice, there is a nice beach in the summer. (Not pictured on the below map).
Explore the main tourist sites in the evening preferably after 8 pm
Usually, staying up late wouldn’t be a recommendation with kids, but Italy is about 9 hours ahead of us (pending on where you are in the US), so chances are you may be sleeping in and staying up later than usual. (While traveling in Italy you will want to keep a later schedule then your kids might usually have as many restaurants do not start serving dinner until 7:30). After 8 pm the crowds disappear, and you will be able to take in the magic of Venice without the mass of people. Take this time to visit the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, Piazza San Marco, and the Doge’s Palace. From April 1st to October 31st, the last admission Mon. -Thur. is 8:30 PM and 10:30 PM on Fri. & Sat. for the Doge’s Palace (Check the website before visiting to confirm times have not changed since the publishing of this post). Consider taking an evening tour like one of these:
Get off the main streets and explore the side streets
The main pedestrian walkway from the train station to Piazza San Marco is crowded with tourist. Very few venture off this thoroughfare but if you do, you will be rewarded with charming little corridors with some of the best restaurants and picturesque spots in Venice. Note that Venice is filled with cobblestone and many bridges and it can be difficult to navigate with a stroller.
Seek out the hidden gems of Venice
Visit one of the less known and less crowded sites that are worth seeking out.
Under the Church of San Zaccaria lies a flooded crypt. To view the Flooded crypt of San Zaccaria enter the Church via the Campo San Zaccaria. Head to the right and wait for the docent to appear at the desk. There will be a small fee to pay before you enter. Through the door, you will find a magical secluded crypt flooded from the waters from the surrounding canals.
The Giardini Pubblici (Public Garden) is a quiet and tranquil garden just 15 minutes from the hectic Piazza San Marco. With lots of shade trees, paths for strolling, a playground, and room to run around, it’s an ideal spot for kids to blow off some steam. Consider picking up food for a picnic at the daily market on Via Garibaldi, between the garden and the Arsenale, the next hidden gem.
Visit the Arsenale di Venezia an active post of the Italian Navy and Coast Guard. The inside is closed to non-military personnel, but the main gate and main water entrance are impressive to see. This is where the 16th century Venetians created the first assembly line to build warships in one day.
Also near the garden and Arsenale, you will find the Naval History Museum filled with boats, ships, gondolas, and the history of navigation.
Visit the other islands
Venice is a collection of 118 islands! Consider visiting one of the other less-visited Islands.
Located on San Giorgio Maggiore Island, you will find the best view of Venice from the bell tower of the San Giorgio Maggiore Church. The lines here are much shorter compared to the campanile on the San Marco square. While there visit the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, an international cultural institution dedicated to art history, history of Venice, music, theater, and drama. All the buildings have been completely restored and are extraordinary. In addition to the buildings, there are gardens, one with a labyrinth that that shows the Borges name. Visits are booked by tours only with the option of including a visit to the bell tour on your tour. Visit the website for more details.
The Island of Murano is known for the long tradition of glass-making. Here you can join a family-friendly Murano glass workshop and be introduced to the art of glass blowing! Tour ran by Rome4Kids, visit the website for more information.
The colorfully painted Island of Burano is known for its highly skilled lace workers. Stroll around and view the fun colored houses and beautiful lace shops.
From Burano, there is a bridge called Ponte Longo leading to the island of Mazzorbo known for its agriculture. Stroll through the Venissa Estate, a Vineyard open to the public. There is also a vegetable garden, restaurants, and a small children’s playground.
The tiny island of Torcello has few residents. It is known for the Byzantine mosaics in the seventh-century Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta. Much of the island is a nature reserve accessible by walking paths. From March through September a flock of flamingos have been migrating to this area!
To calculate the cost to travel to Italy including food, accommodations, etc check out this useful "Travel Budget calculator: Italy" from Town&Tourist.
If you have more questions about visiting Venice with kids head on over to my Facebook Group Travel Page and ask me a question!
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You may also be interested in Children's Books Inspired by Venice, Italy.
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