Why Venice isn’t the ideal destination for toddlers

We’ve recently returned from a Greek islands cruise holiday which was brilliant, more to come on this in other posts, but we also tacked on to the end of the cruise two nights in Venice as this was where the cruise set sail from and returned to.  As we flew over Venice to land at the airport staying there for a couple of nights still felt like a really good idea, it looked amazing from the air.

So, we disembarked our cruise on the Saturday pretty excited and smug that our holiday wasn’t over just yet.  We had arranged a transfer with our hotel and a private water taxi was waiting for us and as we were travelling down the canals of Venice we still felt like we’d made the right decision.  It felt like being in a postcard or a travel programme.  But, as soon as we got out of the water taxi to our waterfront hotel on an island opposite St Mark’s Square we realised that toddlers and Venice weren’t the best mix.

View from hotel door

The view from our hotel door

There is so much water.  Obviously.  But, maybe I’m incredibly naïve, I didn’t expect the water to be so open as in you could easily just walk/jump/dive into it.  Master ATWWAH got out of the boat and started jumping around, shouting ‘the sea, the sea’ within seconds of us arriving.

It may sound odd to be so wary of the water after just getting off a cruise ship but they feel so safe, in terms of, it’s highly unlikely a toddler would end up in the sea unintentionally when on a cruise ship.  We spent the two days we were in Venice watching Master ATWWAH like a hawk.  He’s at an age where a pram is only really necessary to encourage a nap so strapping him in there wasn’t an option.  Poor Mr ATWWAH did a lot of carrying him on his shoulders.  As that is the other thing, Venice is full of bridges, with lots of steps.  It’s not the place to take a pram.


There isn’t a great deal to do with toddlers in Venice.  There is no doubting there is a lot of sight seeing to do and we admired many a church and building but that soon wears thin.  And, galleries weren’t really an option.  There are tons of shops but none of them were keen for a toddler to enter.  Even the gift shop owners  shouted ‘no bambini’ as you walked through the door.

The hotel we were staying in too was also a bit ‘mature’ for him.  We like staying in nice hotels and Master ATWWAH has been lucky enough to stay in a couple but this particular one, the Bauer Palladio, didn’t really feel like somewhere you should take a toddler.  We should have researched it a bit more before we left.  It was a lovely hotel but not very family, although the ladies who worked in the breakfast room were lovely and seemed quite taken by Master ATWWAH and his tales of what he had been doing  Sadly some of the other guests were definitely of the generation that children should be seen and not heard and looked quite put out that the silence was shattered.  The grounds of the hotel were lovely and despite worrying you were disturbing the elderly residents Master ATWWAH enjoyed running around them and admiring the water fountain.  He was especially obsessed with the oversized flowerpots.



We did return one afternoon though with the intention of running around the garden to find an orchestra in there, complete silence and lots of paying guests who had come to enjoy some sort of recital.  Hotel guests were welcome to enjoy it too but we just felt uncomfortable hanging around whilst Master ATWWAH shouted ‘drums’ every time they were hit.

orchestra in garden

It’s not every day an orchestra rocks up in your hotel garden


Where does this go then?


After much persuasion I relented on day two and agreed to us doing a gondola ride which was actually a lot more fun than I thought it would be.  I was convinced Master ATWWAH wouldn’t sit still and we’d all end up in the canal but he did as he was told and seemed quite taken with the whole experience, waving at people as we went past and repeating, ‘I’m on a gondo-li’ his own take on the word gondola.


Sitting still on the gondo-li

The highlight of his trip was definitely the high speed water taxi to the airport on our last day.  The driver was clearly keen to put his foot down (do you put your foot down on speedboats???) after adhering to the speed limits of the canals and we were crashing about the waves all over the place.  Mr and Master ATWWAH loved it shouting for more.  I was just glad we all got to the airport in one piece.

So, as beautiful as Venice is, and there is no disputing that, it’s no place for a toddler.  And, it’s true what they say about the food, it’s almost impossible to get a decent meal, even a pizza.  Venice – definitely a destination for adults only or babies/toddlers who can’t walk too well yet or children old enough to appreciate the sights and museums.

  1. I find your comment about not finding decent food
    Incredulous Ms. Atwwah . We stayed at the sister hôtel the Bauer 50 yds from St Marks and found the food both at the hôtel and restaurants absolutely top draw. Agréé with you about child friendly.

    • Thanks Tony. In fairness we never ate at the hotel, other than breakfast, it was more when we were out and about we found it hard to find nice food. We were avoiding the ‘posher’ restaurants with Master ATWWAH too 🙂

  2. Really interesting re the water – I get what you mean, and imagine there was lots of worrying! We are thinking of Venice for a trip, but the kids are now 12 and 9, so hopefully we’ll be okay. I haven’t been for more than 20 years and my daughter just wants to eat ice-cream and pizza, so hopefully we’ll be okay!

    • It will be a great place to go with older kids. Apart from the water worries with Master ATWWAH I didn’t feel we could take him in any galleries etc, not quite as kid friendly as what we are used to in London.
      Your kids will love it I’m sure, can’t wait to read about it.

  3. Yes, we did Venice too with a toddler!
    Steps, after steps, after steps.
    We had done Venice years ago, before kids. Glad we took the kids back.
    However, we didn’t stay in Venice. Instead we just stayed outside at an excellent place for kids, right on the beach. Getting into Venice was just a ferry trip.
    And knowing how expensive the food was (especially when feeding a family), we were also able to take a picnic 😉
    Some pics here: http://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/campsites/campsites-abroad/italy/adriatic/casavio-campsite-near-venice-italy/

    • Great tip about staying just outside Venice. And yes, those steps are unforgiving with a pram 🙂

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