Venice, Italy is one of those magical places that I still can’t believe actually exists. I’ve had a love affair with this city built on water since I was a child. So naturally, the first time I ventured across the pond to Europe, I had to go to Venice. Venice is usually extremely crowded, particularly during the summer months or tourist season. However, if you visit in the off-season, you’ll find fewer people in this popular city and possibly have a better experience.
How to get there
Venice is easily accessible by plane, train or cruise, and is worth including on any Italian vacation itinerary. We arrived by train after a brief visit to Milan, Italy.
Getting around Venice, Italy
There are several options to get around Venice. There are no cars. Instead, public and private transportation all take place on the water.
Much like a city with streets, Venice offers public transportation. Their water buses are like public buses that take you to various stops along the Grand Canal. You can buy a one-time pass, a day-pass or a multi-day pass at the little kiosks outside the train station or at the bus stops. They do take a credit card, so no need for Euros, if you are American and only have US Dollars.
If the water buses are like public street buses, the water taxis would be like an actual taxi offering a ride in a private boat. They are smaller, motorized boats, similar to what you would see on a lake, that can carry smaller groups of people along the Grand Canal. They need to be booked in advance, usually. We personally did not use this form of transportation because we found the water bus so convenient.
It’s pricey, but when and where will you ever have the opportunity to do this again? A gondola is a small banana-shaped paddle boat. A gondola operator will take you through the smaller canals of Venice, and if you get a good one, he will serenade you with an Italian song.
The canals of Venice are beautiful but so are the streets. Spend some time walking around, exploring and getting lost in this amazing city. No matter how prepared you are, and even if you have a map, you will get lost. Embrace it. It’s part of the experience.
Traveling to Venice, Italy with Children
Children will love the fairy tale feel and maze of narrow passageways that make up Venice. If traveling with small children, one thing to note is that it isn’t the most stroller-friendly of cities. There are a lot of small bridges you will have to cross that only have stairs, and the streets are not all paved. Many are brick or stone, so pushing a stroller won’t always be smooth. I would recommend wearing your baby and even your toddler, when he or she gets tired of walking.
Safety in Venice, Italy
As with any tourist city, petty crimes and peddlers exist in Venice, too. But I never felt anything but safe in Venice. You should always be vigilant of your surroundings regardless of where you are, but you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the “wrong part of town”, so to speak, when you are in Venice.
Where to stay and what to do
There are definitely a few “must-see” attractions in Venice, and if you only have a few days here, you will likely want to stay somewhere within walking distance to a lot of those attractions, so below are our recommendations.
Click the images below for individual reviews and family-friendly recommendations: