Our trip to Venice

gondola ride in the grand canal
grand canal, Venice
rialto bridge
Venice has always been at the top of my holiday wish-list, and yet, in the 11 years we’ve lived in London, we’ve never managed to go. It’s either spring/summer when it’s too touristy and overcrowded, or late summer when it’s too hot and smelly, or winter when it’s apparently quite foggy and cold (although I’ve heard it’s quite magical like this). So… when it came time to book our October halfterm holiday, we decided it had to be Venice! And oh my gosh, it did not disappoint! I think this holiday might be one of my very favourites, which says a lot coming from a girl who likes a beach holiday more than anything. : )

The kids were absolutely intrigued by the concept of a city floating in water — that the buses and taxis (even ambulances!) are all boats, and that you’re completely surrounded by water at all times (even dead-end streets lead you straight into a canal!). I was so impressed by the beauty and colours of Venice — for some reason I didn’t expect it to be so colourful! I always pictured it to be quite grey, like the famous Canaletto paintings of Venice in the National Gallery. How naive was I?

Like I said in my previous post, the thing that impressed us the most is the fact that there are no cars. It makes it such a kid-friendly city, to be able to walk freely in the streets and play in the squares. At one point we were sitting at a sunny table at a pizzeria, finishing our glass of wine while Easton was playing football with a local Italian boy, Ivy and Quin were drawing with chalk in the street next to our table, and Marlow was sitting in the middle of the square playing with a little spinning top. All of them within eyesight, all of them completely safe to play in the street. Michael and I kept pinching ourselves.

venice boats

venice laundry
venice canal

Anyway, here are a few photos (okay, loads! sorry! I hope you don’t mind?) and a list of some of the highlights… 

kids in water taxi
ivy driving boat
michael and marlow in water taxi

Several people recommended we take a water taxi straight from the airport into the city, and it was definitely the way to go. It’s not the cheapest way in, but it’s definitely the most romantic and exciting. Our driver even let the kids take turns driving the boat, and it was certainly a highlight of the trip. (We also took a water taxi back to the airport, and it was a beautiful farewell through the winding canals leading back out into the sea. I definitely recommend coming and going this way.)

view from apartment
ivy in apartment
We booked a charming 2-bedroom apartment via Airbnb located in the Costello neighbourhood (in the same building as the La Residenza hotel) and it was such a perfect location, a bit off the beaten track but still central enough to walk everywhere. Plus, it was right around the corner from a great little pasticceria where we grabbed breakfast every morning (freshly baked pastries and good coffee!). The apartment was also conveniently located in a quiet little palazzo where the kids could play for a bit every evening before heading back out to dinner.

spinning tops

kids playing with tops
At some point we were all walking down a skinny little road in San Polo when we stumbled on an old wood workshop with beautiful wooden knick knacks in the window. We rang the little bell and were greeted by the kindest old man who showed us around his workshop and showed us how he makes little wooden spinning tops. We bought each of the kids their own spinning top, and they played with them in the streets for the rest of the holiday. So sweet!
gondola ride in venice
A few friends told me to skip the gondola ride because they’re overpriced and touristy, which they are… but we did it anyway. The thing is, it’s just one of those things you have to do when you go to Venice. At least once I guess. And I have to say, we found it to be a really nice way to see the city and quite relaxing too. The kids loved it (of course), and it was definitely a highlight for them.

piaza san marco
kids sitting on bell tower in Piazza san marco
Of course we had to spend some time in the Piazza San Marco, despite all the tourists. We sat for a while at the base of the bell tower made famous (in our family, anyway) by the scene in the Olivia Goes to Venice book.  : )

Adamo kids in Burano
We took a Vaporetto (water bus) to the little island of Burano and it was a nice half-day trip. The island is made famous by all the colourful houses and charming canals, and it was a very happy sight!

guggenheim museum
We visited the Peggy Guggenheim museum which was amazing! Michael and I could have stayed for hours! Sadly, our kids were less interested, especially the girls, so we didn’t stay as long as I would have liked, but it was still a special thing to see. It’s amazing that it was once Peggy Guggeheim’s actual home (with beautiful views of the canal out every window!) and that it was her personal collection of art. Incredible!

As far as restaurants go, we were ever so slightly disappointed with the food. We’ve gotten so used to other parts of Italy where you can’t get a bad meal even if you try. We found Venice to be a bit work to find the local eateries, places not catering to tourists. I’m sure there are great restaurants (perhaps fancier ones where you wouldn’t bring your kids?), but we didn’t have the best luck stumbling on anything that blew us away. Thankfully Skye McAlpine, a new friend who splits her time between Venice and London (and who also happens to have the most beautiful blog!) shared a list of some of her local favourites. Here are the ones on her list that we tried:

  • Pasticceria alla Bragora, a charming family-run bakery in Costello (as mentioned above) selling freshly baked pastries.
  • Birarria La Corte, a great pizzeria in an old brewery, located right in Campo San Polo, a quiet square where the kids can play after they finish their meals (we liked it so much we went twice!).
  • Quaranta Ladroni, a great little seafood restaurant on a quiet canal in the Canareggio. (We enjoyed a long lunch on Sunday, surrounded by local Italian families – we were the only tourists in the place!).

It was a wonderful little holiday and five days was a perfect amount of time to see and experience the city (although another five days would have been fine with us too!). I hope these tips help. Let me know if you have questions, or… if you’re more familiar with Venice, feel free to leave additional tips in the comments below.

Thanks for letting me share with you,
Courtney x


Comments (21)

October 27, 2014

Courtney, this trip really sounds wonderful. Very inspiring! And speaking of inspiring: I’m expecting my fourth child in a couple of month and what I really would love to read about is how you girls at babyccino kids manage your families (in my case I find yours most interesting of course…). Maybe an idea for an upcoming blog post (series…)? Have a nice day, Sylvie

October 27, 2014

Beautiful photos!! Your family is so lovely, it’s so sweet the way they’re standing there leaning on each other… and the picture of you on the steps, what cuties. And I am really digging your skirt, looks like Ace & Jig from here! xo

October 27, 2014

Love this so much! What an amazing trip. Hope to take my boys to Europe while they are young and with the sense of wonder. Love all the pics and your children are BEAUTIFUL. Love the clothes…love everything 😉

October 27, 2014

Wonderful photos, Courtney! It looks like the kids had a wonderful time. We went to Venice a few years ago but didn’t get to spend as much time exploring as you did. Hopefully next time!

October 27, 2014

Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful photos! I visited Venice 6 years ago and I loved it! Such a wonderful city. But I’m with you about the restaurants… I have family in Italy so I visit every year (So.. 22 times now!!) and I always find it’s nearly impossible to get a bad meal, while in Venice you must know where to go to eat well.

October 27, 2014

great post. i would love to know and have the link to the exact apartment you stayed in and wonder if you would book it again? i have 5 year old twin boys and am curious if it was a good place for your children? if so i’d love to keep it in mind when planning our trip next year. many thanks, michele

October 27, 2014

Thank you for the post. What a treat! Would you mind revealing what camera and lens do you use?

Thank you!

October 27, 2014

love the pictures, beautiful place!

October 28, 2014

Looks like an amazing time! Such beautiful memories — thanks for sharing! Venice has always been at the tip of my list 🙂

October 28, 2014

Ah, Venice is our favorite city in Italy…well next to Florence of course! Aww so sad you missed out on good food, there were a couple of restaurants that we hit up that were amazing. Next time, lmk and I’ll make a rec. The way hubbie describes Venice, “hauntingly beautiful”.

October 28, 2014

wow what beautiful photos of your gorgeous family…..thanks for posting – I really would not have thought of venice as a child friendly city to visit – i don’t know why but I have it in mind as couples romantic weekend away in a big fancy hotel…. so great to know that it worked so well for your family break…..well done travelling with 4 kids – it cannot be as easy as you make it look !

October 28, 2014

I loved seeing all your photos! It sounds and looks like it was a fantastic holiday enjoyed by each of you, which can sometimes be hard when travelling with kids (we’ve just returned from camping and it was so fun and so exhausting for my husband and myself…)
My husband and I got married in Venice, so it holds a very special place in my heart. We rented a house in Cannaregio for all our family, friends and ourselves and absolutely agree it was the best way to explore an otherwise tourist-filled city. There were so many local eateries that were delicious and seemed to have only local Venetians dining there. Out of all the islands, Cannaregio appeared to be nearly intact as a Venetian neighborhood full of families. I’d highly recommend exploring more of it on your next visit. We also enjoy the Lido as it’s a fun city to cycle around.

November 1, 2014

Looks like a fun time! I’ve never been to Venice but it’s absolutely on my bucket list! Your photos are eliciting wanderlust!


November 2, 2014

[…] Way back when we had a weekend in Venice, I loved it then and oh my this is a lovely little walk down memory lane on Babyccino Kids: Trip to Venice… […]

November 13, 2014

We actually rented an airbnb apartment above the Campo San Polo pizzeria and couldn’t stop thinking about going back there to eat! Unlike my previous trips to Venice I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of Venetian restaurants, even with kids in tow. We went to several nicer establishments and the kitchens would go out of their way to make special dishes that were more child friendly…although our little one surprised us by liking the Venetian liver! Venice is an absolute must for a family vacation. Already thinking of going back.

March 17, 2015

Gorgeous post, you make me want to book a trip to Venice right away. It’s one spot I’ve always wanted to visit except I imagined a romantic getaway, never really thought about bringing the minions along haha. But you’ve persuaded me that it could actually work for a family too. And thanks for the restaurants tips x

March 22, 2015

Currently trying to make this happen for my family of 5 during the Easter holidays…. My Nikon is broken, wondering if you would be so kind as to share which camera you use as your photos are always so fab!

June 26, 2015

Your photos are beautiful. I have been to Venice on a girlie holiday and am keen to visit again with my husband and children. I wasn’t sure if it would be particularly family friendly as I hadn’t particularly looked for child friendly things to do whilst I was there but your post has made up my mind for me.

Thank you of sharing – I am definitely a new fan of your beautiful blog. 🙂

February 8, 2016

What beautiful pictures and a lovely blog site! I stumbled across it as I am planning our family trip to Italy. We are also blessed with four children who look to be about the same ages as yours, and we plan to visit Venice. If you still check your blog, would you be so kind as to let me know your itinerary for the Venice trip? We will have 4 days there and I am planning to stay closer to Rialto bridge (although I wish I had seen your blog earlier as I would have tried to stay where you are). Did you try mask making? Do you recall the name of the shop with the wooden toys? Thank you!

April 2, 2016

Hello Courtney! Would it be possible to share the air b n b you stayed at? We are hoping to book at last min holiday to Venice so not much time to research! To go on Tuesday! x

May 17, 2017

Courtney can you remember the name of the apartment plwase? Am investigating options for our trip there later this year. All sounds amazing!

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