Archived Q&A and Reviews
We are planning on taking our family to Europe this summer and would like to get recommendations for hotels and attractions in Paris and Venice that would be interesting and attractive for our three children, ages 6, 10 and 16. thanks!
We went to Venice (and worked our way down to Rome) last year with our son, then 3 years old. Venice is a great place for kids because there are no cars! Great place to just walk, people watch, and you can't really get lost too easily. In fact, getting lost is part of the fun. It is also good because the food is pretty kid-friendly (pasta, pizza, pastries and of course, ice cream).
That said, there aren't really any attractions per se. I found some good ideas in a book from the library called ''Italy with kids'' or something like that. One suggestion if you are into museums is to get postcards before entering the museums, and make it a scavenger hunt to find the items in the postcards. With older kids, find out what they are learning in history and tie the locations you visit to their school work.
Also we found that the other kids there (and the Italians) are very friendly. My son would just jump in and kick the soccer ball with the other kids in the piazza while we had a glass of wine. Doesn't matter that they might not speak the same language. There aren't many parks, so when school lets out, all the kids run around the piazzas. Bryan
editor note: reviews also received for Paris
Looking for a hotel in Venice for 2-3 nights in July. This will be for 2 adult friends traveling together, so doesn't need to be kid-friendly. Thanks! traveling to Italy
I stayed at the Pensione Accademia a few years back and thought it was really lovely. The hotel, which was once the Russian Embassy, is in a quiet but convenient location with a very peaceful courtyard garden. http://www.pensioneaccademia.it/ I loved Venice but here is a tip: bring bug spray, the mosquitoes are ferocious, especially in the Summer.
I don't know if you are travelling on a tight budget - we did last year in July and we loved ''Hotel Florida'' in Venice. (Book months in advance). It is close to the train station, so you can easily haul your luggage over 3 bridges. It is very close to the Scalzi bridge, which means you have all vaparetto lines at your disposal and therefore less tranfers, you also have lots of evening entertainment and a very reasonable and good self-service restaurant in the shopping alley, where we were able to eat lunch or dinner for 3 for 22 Euro. If you eat elsewhere you can easily spend 50 Euro on 3 personal pizzas (smallest kind) and 3 lemonades.
Your other major expense are the vaparettos. We bought the unlimited rides for several days tickets (about 50 Euro per person?) and noticed that ticket control only works at the docks Thursday-Sunday. The hotel is very reasonable for being inside of Venice. I think we paid 90 Euros for 2 adults and a kid, which included an ''expanded'' continental breakfast (yogurt & cornflakes in addition to croissants. We brought our own granola and soymilk, which they kept in their kitchen refrigerator for us).
We had 4 days and explored Murano, Burano, the Lido, visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (since we prefer expressionists over old Italian Masters), split a Gondola ride with strangers who became friends for the trip duration although we didn't speak any language in common, and walked all over Venice. Relax for half a day at the Lido and enjoy jumping small waves in the 85 degree Adriatic Sea! Totally beats the Pacific Ocean in California. Exceptional trip! Heike
Does anyone have some recommendations/recent experience how to explore Venice, Italy on a low budget? Flight tickets are booked and so is a reasonable hotel, but I was wondering about feeding my family in restaurants for 4 days 3 meals a day. My daughter will want to live on pasta and pizza. Any tips on where to buy produce, finding inexpensive restaurants/cafes are welcome. Has anyone seen grocery stores in Venice? (Haven't been there in over 10 years). Is glassblowing exclusively done on Murano or can one see demonstrations of it in Venice too? I am considering an outing to Burano, because I recall it being charming and colorful. Is it fun visiting the Lido? (Never done before). Trying to think of activities that a 10-year old would enjoy there next August in the heat. Not sure if we can afford a gondola ride, definitely not in the evening. Does anyone know the going prices/length of these rides? I think it was about $90 ten years ago... hhh
Hi. There are supermarkets, the one we went to was a very tiny little shop. They have a great fruit/veggie market by the grand canal so that's where I'd buy produce. We were there last august as well - it really wasn't too terribly hot. The only other recommendation I would make is to go to the lido - we did for a day and it was great - nice beach and quiet compared to the hustle of venice. That turned out to be our favorite day! lara
Does anyone have recommendations for: 1. A good travel person who can help with Venice accomodations? 2. Advice for a week in Venice with my husband and 20-month old daughter. We will be in Venice between April 28-May 5, after visiting Israel, and we'd like to stay in an apartment. I will be 7 months pregnant. We would *so much* appreciate any wisdom, tips, advice for both our weeklong stay and especially a good place to stay. Thanks in advance! jessica
Check out my favorite travel website: www.slowtrav.com There are several apartment reviews for Venice posted by travelers. Be sure to also check out the message board part of the site (www.slowtalk.com) and search under ''Venice.'' You'll find a lot of information including restaurant recommendations (one of the regular contributors to the site has published a fodd guidebook called ''Chow Venice'').
My main advice to you is try not to do too much. Venice can be tiring as you are forever going up and down bridges. Even though most of them are small they almost all have steps. My hubby and I were exhausted after lifting our son's stroller up and down all day, although he was still too little to be in an umbrella stroller which would've been easier. Anyway, enjoy! Marcy
We found an apartment for last June through this place: http:// www.locandacadelconsole.com/en/services.html It looks like they still don't advertise the apartment, so see if they still have it. If so, it's wonderful. There are 2 bedrooms; it's on a canal and you can easily walk everywhere. It's about 10 minutes from the Accademia and is about 180/night, if I remember correctly. Enjoy! Kelley
We spent a wonderful week in an apartment in Venice with our daughter who was 2.9 at the time. The water taxi from the airport was a great way to enter/exit the city. A light jogging stroller for navigating the cobblestones and many bridges was useful, though for your ages a backpack might work better. Some of the piazzas are kid magnets for the locals...you can walk around and find them. There is a big shopping market in the Cannaregio district - I went there several times even though we were staying near Piazza San Marco. Michael
My husband and I went on a trip to Italy and France for two months last summer with our kids who were 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 at the time. We worked with a wonderful resource for the Italian portion of our trip who I found over the internet. Her name is Amie O'Shaughnessy and her website is http://www.ciaobambino.com/. She specializes in finding places for families traveling to Italy. We did not visit Venice, but were in Rome and Florence. We were very happy with the accomodations that Amie recommended in those cities. My husband actually commented yesterday that of all of the places we stayed on that trip, the apartment we had in Florence was the best. That was the one Amie found for us. Hope this helps. Maya
Hi, I will be lucky enough to spend 4 days in Venice with my best friend in March (sans baby!), and I was wondering whether anyone had a recommendation for a place to stay. We were hoping for something not too expensive (doesn't have to be dirt cheap either) and somewhat special.
We stayed in Venice last year for a couple of days in June, as a side trip from Austria. I found the place through a website that lists bed and breakfasts http://www.vacanzeinfamiglia.it. We were very happy with the location and accommodations as well as the price. The owner does not speak English but somehow we were able to communicate despite our lack of Italian. She was quite charming and helpful and we really felt like we were living in the community rather than as a tourist in a hotel. A very nice cafe serving heavenly cappuccinos was right around the corner as well as a trattoria that stayed open late in the evening. A great place to eat after a day of sightseeing. The URL for the B is http://www.canzianibedandbreakfast.com. You get a better deal if you communicate with the owner rather than the agency. Good luck, and hope you enjoy Venice as much as we did! Gabriele
We are taking our 2.5 year old to Venice and are a little nervous about the canals and wondering if there are any playgrounds...any advice would be appreciated. michael
A friend of mine just came back from Venice. She mentioned A LOT OF STAIRS on the sidewalks and paths. Backpack rather than stroller may be worth a thought. Julia
Venice is one of my favorite places on this planet and I keep going back. That said, I find it completely unsuitable for toddlers. No playgrounds, lots of stairs (going up and down bridges) and 10,000 possibilities to fall into any of the polluted canals around every other corner. You'll be running after your little one every step along the way. If you want to see and enjoy Venice for what it has to offer, either put your infant in a front or back carrier or wait until your kids are in their teens. I'm not saying it's impossible, but you are going to miss out on serenity, long discovery walks, and a lot of romantic moments. Venice is so full of wonder and magic day and night that adults shouldn't miss the opportunity to feel like children themselves. My two cents. Anonymous
We have recently decided to throw our fate to the wind and make a trip to Venice, Italy in the late fall this year. It will be myself, my husband and our 1.5 year old son, possibly my parents as well. I have traveled to Italy before, but my husband never has. We are hoping for a low key, slow paced week long vacation. Can anyone provide us with insights and tips for what to do while there that will be stroller accessible? I've never traveled abroad as a parent, let alone with an active toddler so this will be an adventure for us all!
We just spent a week with our 2.75 year old twin girls in Venice and it was fantastic; in fact, one of the best places in Italy. Though I was always afraid of the girls falling into the canals, they never even came close!
We were staying with friends, so, the cost was not too bad, but whenever we ate out, the cost was outrageous. It felt as if it was nearly double what we pay here for comparable value.
The canal boats were easy to manuever a double stroller. The tickets on the boats are expensiive, so, I would recommend getting a week pass right away, otherwise, it could be 20 dollars per trip.
It was very easy for us to just stroll around at our own paces, window shop, etc. It was really fun! V
Italy will be a wonderful trip for your family, but if you are using a stroller, you may want to reconsider what part of Italy you have chosen. Venice is a series of very small islands, so there are many bridges, steps, etc., but you cannot drive there. This may be an advantage for you - as you will not have to be wary of fast cars or crazy vespa drivers. However, if you want to cut down on walking for you (or possibly for your parents) you might reconsider and go to Florence or Rome, where there are many kid-friendly parks & places to walk as well as public transportation. Hilary
Hello, Because I don't know you at all, I sort of hate writing this email, but I felt someone should warn you about Venice in late fall. I have been twice to Venice in November-the first time for all of 20 minutes, the second time for 3 days. The first visit was a true disaster-when we arrived at 6pm via car (we drove to the airport from the Bologna region that day) the canals had all overflowed and San Marco square, where our water taxi dropped us off, was completely underwater-by many feet. We ''walked the plank'' (they have them on the standby in major squares throughout Venice during the rainy season)only to see that our hotel, down one of the side streets, was now fronted by what appeared to be a rushing river! Literally, we would have waded, with luggage, in water up to our hips to get to the front door. I wouldn't have minded doing this once, but I was concerned that once we got inside-how were we going to get out and about? We viewed the situation, conferred, turned around and caught the next train to Florence for an extended stay there.
The second time we went (I think it was three years ago-the first trip was probably in the late 80's)it was again mid- November (it's one of my favorite times to travel-just me, my friend, and the locals). Although it sprinkled while we were there, and there were high tides where the water was lapping over the edges of the canal, we could at least navigate the streets on foot. I recall walking the planks one morning in one of the squares, but that was the worst of it.
With a 2 year old myself, I personally cannot fathom how I would fare trying to maneuver him in those situations.
It can also be a bit chilly in Northern Italy that time of year, in addition to the rains. Of course, probably no colder than here. I can definitely recommend, however, Florence/Tuscany region, Rome and Southern Italy for late fall. As I said, what is fabulous about it is the significant drop in tourists-you actually have a real opportunity to meet locals and have an authentic experience (not to mention much less costly in off- season). On one of my earlier trips to Italy in November, I swear it was David (yes-THAT David) and I all alone one morning for fully 45 minutes. I noticed, though, on our last trip there 3 years ago there were many more Americans traveling-it would be interesting to know if world events have again changed this.
In any case, I hope you enjoy your time there-I have been many times to Italy, and other than the Bay Area it is indeed my favorite place in the whole world! Lover of all Italian
Good for you for taking the tot and heading to Europe. You will find that Europeans (unlike many Americans) actually like children and will do there best to help you out rather than simply glare at you. Venice can be very fun -- a bit touristy if you want it to be. Like all of Europe, however, Venice is not the most stroller friendly town (they have not had to worry about the Americans with disabilities act). I would think about bringing a back carrier with you to cruise the town OR I would think about bringing a good jogging stroller that can take steps pretty easily. anon
Just a side note to let you know that you may want to forget the stroller while in Venice -- there are tons and tons of stairs, everywhere. We took our infant there and had to ditch the stroller after the first day because it was a HUGE pain in the neck carrying it up and down the bridges between canals. I strongly suggest that you transport your son around in a backpack. There are many large, beautiful squares where you can let him down to run around. Have a great time!!! Christine
Hi, yes Venice is beautifull, and better in the Fall, after all the crowds are gone, please don't go in the summer, you will be dissapointed. A stroller is a no,no in Venice, because there are many,many bridges you have to cross, over all the canals, and it is a hassle! If your tot can handle a back pack, ok, but he can be too big for that. I would go anyway, but keep in mind that you will have to carry your baby, when tired. I went there many times with my daughter at many ages, and the only time we brought a stroller was a very small one and we took it out only when we went out to dinner and she would go to sleep in it. We picked restaurants that were close to our pensione. Good luck! Venice lover with two.