With its fairy-tale palaces, magical maze of canals, and numerous child-friendly museums and cultural attractions (not to mention the endless pizza and gelato) Venice is a watery wonderland for kids. Here’s a list of our top ten tips for entertaining children in Venice this Easter:
Get crafty at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection: On Easter Sunday, the museum is hosting a free Kids Day workshop for children between 4 -10 years of age. Themed around “Distorting Landscapes with Magritte”, this hands-on event aims to introduce younger visitors to modern and contemporary art in an accessible and engaging way. 3pm – 4.30pm, advance booking required.
Let off steam with a bike ride on the Lido: Just ten minutes by boat from Piazza San Marco, the Lido is a 7-mile long sandbar separating Venice from the Adriatic. If the weather’s fine, hire bicycles from one of the many stalls around the main vaporetto stop, and head off for a picnic on one of island’s sandy beaches.
Make your own mask at Ca’ Macana: Children are bound to be fascinated by the numerous masks on sale around the city. Ca’ Macana, one of the oldest artisan mask shops in Venice, offers papier-mâché mask-painting workshops for adults and children of all ages – the perfect activity for a wet afternoon.
Go on a lion hunt: Closely associated with the city’s patron saint St Mark, the lion was the ultimate symbol of the Venetian Republic; as a result, they feature heavily in Venice’s art and architecture. Instead of an Easter Egg hunt, challenge your little ones to see who can spot the most lions as you wander around the city; the winner gets an extra scoop of gelato.
Dare to enter the Doge’s dungeons: If you’re travelling with slightly older children, the “Secret Itineraries Tour” of the Doge’s Palace may well appeal. Led by an expert guide who offers grisly details about Venice’s dark past, the tour takes you behind the scenes to some of the palace’s hidden corners, including the sinister Torture Chamber and attic prisons – including the cell from which Casanova escaped in 1756.
Take a boat ride to the lagoon island of Burano: The islands of the northern lagoon make a great excursion from Venice, and are easily accessible by vaporetto. Take a trip to Burano for a leisurely lunch at one of its many restaurants and pizzerias, followed by a game of hide-and-seek around the labyrinth of brightly-coloured fishermen’s cottages.
Dress up like a Venetian: Carnival may be over, but children can still experience the thrill of dressing up in an historic Venetian outfit at La Bauta – a specialist costume atelier in San Polo that offers photoshoots in full costume for just €30 per person.
Discover dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum: Young explorers will love this quirky museum, which is packed full of curiosities including a pair of stuffed giraffes, a 5,000 litre aquarium full of lagoon creatures, and even a seven-metre long fossilized dinosaur skeleton.
Marvel at the glass blowers of Murano: Venice has been famous for its glass for over 1000 years, and today the island of Murano is still home to some of the finest glass masters in the world. Many of the furnaces offer free glass-blowing demonstrations, which are always a hit with kids; afterwards, stroll around the picturesque streets looking for the perfect glass souvenir to take home.
Navigate the Grand Canal in a kayak: Most visitors will be tempted to enjoy a ride in a gondola – but if your children are feeling a little more adventurous, check out Real Venetian Kayak, a company that offers guided tours of Venice’s canals in a fleet of colourful kayaks. An exhilarating and unforgettable experience that offers a truly unique perspective on the city.