The historic city center of Venice is pedestrian only. No cars, no vans, no bicycles. The best way to get around the city center – which is quite compact – is to walk.
- Arrival –
- Taking the waterbuses (vaporetto) –
- Strollers in Venice –
- Timed ticket entry for St. Mark’s Basilica –
- Not getting lost and go exploring –
- Fun places to stay –
- Laundromat –
Flying into Venice Marco Polo airport, there are three ways to get into the city center. The least expensive is to take the ATVO Venezia Express bus, which arrives at Piazzale Roma, takes about 20 min.
Two other options from the airport by water are the Alilaguna airport boat, or a water taxi (most expensive). The orange Alilaguna boat has stops on the Grand Canal at San Stae, Rialto, San Angelo, Ca’Rezzonico and San Marco.
Arrival by train (Venezia Santa Lucia) is at the train station (ferrovia) on the Grand Canal. The boat landing for the vaporetto is right in front of the train station.
It’s fun to take a boat ride, but it’s not a necessity for getting around the city center. For tourists, single ticket vaporetto single rides are expensive, so a Travelcard for 1 ,2, or 3 days for unlimited rides is a good option. Kids under 6 are free. For route maps and fares: ACTV
Buy Travelcards at the ticket machines in front waterbus stops. The ticket lines at the boat landings in front of the train station or Piazzale Rome are often crowded. You can also buy Travelcards at the news stand next to waterbus stop at Piazzale Roma and tabacchi shops. Don’t forget to validate the card when boarding the vaporetto.
Use your Travelcards for rides out to the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, and the Lido. Also, it’s fun to take a loop trip – from Pizzale Roma, Line 1 down the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco, then take Line 2 that goes around Guidecca Canal, back to Piazzale Roma.
Venice is not a stroller-friendly city. There are hundreds of bridges over the canals in Venice, steps up and down each side. A child in a stroller will involve a significant amount of lugging the stroller up and then going down, over each bridge.
On waterbuses, the difference in height between the deck and boat landing usually requires lifting the stroller in and out, which isn’t optimal in the crush of people getting off, people waiting to get on.
Also, some passageways between buildings are so narrow, it’s only wide enough for one person single file (but perfect for toddlers to run through).
St. Mark’s Basilica is free, but there are long waiting lines to enter the church from April to October. To skip the lines, book a timed entry online. With a timed entry be sure to arrive before your allotted time, as tour groups will also be waiting in this line.
For more tips about St. Mark’s, read our post “Visiting St. Mark’s Basilica“.
With a labyrinth of canals and passageways, walking around it’s easy to get turned around in Venice. The tourist map usually provided by your hotel outlines the most direct routes – from Piazza San Marco to Rialto Bridge, through San Polo to Piazzale Roma, or over to the Accademia Gallery and through Dorsoduro, or around Cannaregio.
On these established routes, just follow street signs that say “Per Rialto” or “Per S. Marco” “Per Accademia,” with an arrow showing the direction to follow. Piazzale Roma is often abbreviated P.le Roma, S. Marco is Piazza San Marco, Ferrovia is the train station. Kids will find navigating around Venice is like a treasure hunt to find your destination.
Also, take time to get away from these established (most crowded) pedestrian routes through the city center. Walk down a small canal, take a few turns, even in high season, there are peaceful streets (e.g. in the neighborhood around the Museum of Natural History). Or you may find yourself in an big wide square – two of our favorites are Campo San Polo and Campo Santa Margherita. Find a cafe, sit down, kids can run around in the open space, relax.
Tons of fun things to do with Venice with kids, and you’ll need a fun place to stay.
Check out Travel for Kids hand picked list of Venice family hotels. Hotels are selected for their amenities for families, such as restaurants, markets, gelato, laundromat in the neighborhood, breakfast is included in the room rate, babysitting services, proximity to waterbus stops and more.
And Venice family apartment rentals have lots of advantages for families – a kitchen so you don’t need to eat all your meals in restaurants (for breakfast, just hop out to a nearby pasticceria to pick up croissant (brioche) and other pastries), room to spread out, cost savings for larger families. Apartment rentals are selected for their amenities such as such as apartments that sleep 4 – 8, washer and dryer, proximity to bakeries and markets, palazzos suitable for children, and more.
Lavanderia Self Service is the laundromat we used on our recent visit to Venice, open every day. Washing machines and dryers were easy to use, detergent available, instructions in English, German, Spanish and French. Address is Santa Croce, 665 A/B.