A day exploring Venice with kids
During our travels around Italy we spent 1 day exploring Venice with our kids. I wanted to share what we did and why it worked for us, and how we tried to keep from spending lots of money.
You’ll find where we stayed in our motorhome, how we got to Venice by ferry, where we ate, and what we did. We also included some rough costs to give you an idea for what we spent for a family of four. I’ve also marked them on the map at the top of the post.
We have two young daughters who were 5 years old and just over 1 years old when we visited Venice. In fact, our eldest daughter celebrated her fifth birthday in Venice – perhaps when she’s older she’ll understand that was pretty cool! Neither of our daughters were really of the age to get much from visiting historic sites etc, so this isn’t a ‘top activities for kids in Venice’ post.
In fact, our daughters fifth birthday coinciding with our visit to Venice was a timely reminder of what children really need. It also reminded us what we as parents can project onto them in terms of wants and needs. The day after we visited Venice we went to the beach – THIS is what our girls really enjoyed more.
So whilst we can say our daughter spent her fifth birthday in Venice, really we went to Venice because Nick and I had never been and wanted to go see what all the fuss was about.
Where we stayed: Camping Fusina
We spent three nights at Camping Fusina which sits on the Venice lagoon. It was hard to believe that we had a pitch right on the waters edge, looking across to Venice in the distance.
There might be cheaper places to stay in your camper when visiting Venice, but the situation alone of Camping Fusina made the price worthwhile. It was also safe and secure, which many of the cheaper options around Venice didn’t seem to guarantee from online reviews we read. Perhaps even more so than our day in Venice, I will remember watching Venice twinkle across the lagoon at dusk.
Getting to Venice: by ferry
There is a ferry that runs back and forth between Fusina and Venice throughout the day. You can buy tickets from the campsite reception, and it’s a only a few minutes walk to the ferry. It makes it super convenient if you have children and not far to get back to your campervan if you’ve spent a long day wandering around Venice.
The ferry ride across the lagoon and into Venice was perhaps a highlight of our day. It was definitely the highlight for our eldest daughter. Even if you don’t stay at Camping Fusina, I’d recommend finding somewhere that involves arriving by boat into Venice.
Breakfast at Pasticceria Rosa Salva
As it was our eldest daughters birthday and we’d got up early, we headed straight for a pasticceria. Knowing that Venice would likely be overflowing with places to eat and buy food, I’d done some research ahead of time to narrow down our choices and avoid mediocre food.
The pasticceria we went to was Rosa Salva (Sestiere di S. Marco) and we spent a good five minutes taking in all the pastries and biscuits behind the glass counters. We also tried to figure out the system of ordering and paying by watching other people, and overhearing conversation.
In Italy we’ve discovered many places you order and pay for your item at a till, then take your receipt to someone else to get your item. Coming from England this is unfamiliar and super confusing!
Exploring Venice with kids
On leaving the pasticceria our eldest daughter immediately requested ice cream. When it’s your birthday I guess you get these privileges! With her lemon gelato in hand, we spent the next few hours wandering through Venice.
At times we let ourselves simply get swept along by the crowds – in fact we found this was the easiest way to find all the main sites, much easier than a map. We saw the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square, the Rialto bridge, and watched the gondolas gliding past achingly picturesque buildings and beneath those iconic small bridges.
Nick and I both found it quite surreal being in Venice, a bit like arriving onto a film set. Venice has almost cult status, it’s one of those places that you feel the whole world has heard of, or seen a picture, or seen it on TV. I think you can’t help but arrive with expectations and preconceptions about what it’s going to be like.
Lunch was another part of our day that I’d done some research on. In looking for ‘how to eat on a budget in Venice’ (whilst still eating great food!) I’d come across “cicchetti”. According to Wikipedia, cicchetti are “small snacks or side dishes, typically served in traditional “bàcari” in Venice, Italy”.
I’d noted down a handful of places that came up as serving delicious cicchetti, the kind where locals visit. However, it turned out they were all in an area of Venice that was a bit of a trek from where we were at lunchtime. With hungry children we ended up heading into the first place we saw that had a delicious selection of cicchetti – turns out it was an Irish pub!
We chose our cicchetti – various types of charcuterie, roasted vegetables and cheese – and ate them in a little booth in the tiny pub. My favourite cicchetti that we tried was a spicy salami with blue cheese (above).
In search of lemon granita in Venice
After lunch we did more meandering, and went in search of a decent looking lemon granita. The thing I find about tourist hot spots like Venice, is they are saturated in eateries, and I find this overwhelming. They can then become disappointing when your choice turns out to be mediocre, only to come across a really great one a few minutes further on.
This was how I was feeling about lemon granita. There were lots of places selling bright yellow versions in those slushy machines, and I was determined that there must be a better version of them somewhere in Venice.
Luckily we did stumble across a delicious version at Gelateria Il Doge, which is turns out has been awarded the best ice cream in Venice. They pride themselves on sourcing natural ingredients and apparently serving the only Sicilian granita in Venice (although I’m not sure what a Sicilian granita is!).
The granita came out of these metal buckets that are set into the counter, and are scooped into the cup. It was pale and tasted divine. I was so pleased to have found the taste I was looking for!
What did we spend money on in Venice?
In Venice we only spent money on food. We resisted buying any ‘souvenirs’ from Venice, which was hard! There were lovely things everywhere, and I felt the pressure to ‘treat’ our big girl as it was her birthday. I was most tempted by a shop selling handcrafted animal masks – so beautiful!
Before we left Camping Fusina I bought her a Venice magnet for our van fridge, she seemed delighted. Our other expenses were the ferry from Fusina to Venice and back, and three nights at Camping Fusina. We also had a pizza dinner at Fusina the night we got back from visiting Venice.
- Camping Fusina x 3 nights: €118
- Ferry Fusina to Venice x 2 adults: €26
- Breakfast in Venice: €9
- Lunch in Venice: €25
- Ice Creams in Venice: €8
In total we spent about €186 on this trip to Venice, but that does include 3 nights at Camping Fusina, which isn’t necessary for a day out to Venice.
Once we arrived in Venice itself, we spent less than €50 which for a family of four I think isn’t bad going!