A weekend in Venice with my 12 & 14 yr old sons. What to plan?

My husband & our 2 sons will be spending next weekend in Venice. I am the only one who has been there. I'm trying to figure out what to plan. Murano glass factory? Doge's Palace? St. Mark's? Do I need to pre book these things? Getting lost in venice's back streets is a given but other then that what would you reccomend for a short stay? I don't want to overwhelm them and they are all way more into sports than art. I want them to love it as much as I do! Thank you for your input?

Posted by Carol
Santa Cruz
128 posts

The view from the Campanile di San Marco seems like it would be a good place to start. Enjoy!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

I might take them to the Arsenale. Up to Murano and / or Burano. If the weather is decent (I've never been to Venice in the Winter so don't know) you might see people rowing in the Lagoon - it is always thrilling to see people standing up and rowing at speed. Will they be there if its cold - dunno... No, you won't need to pre-buy any of the three you ask about. Other than rowing, I can't think of a lot of Venice sport... sorry.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2454 posts

I love the island of Torcello, the stop after Burano. There's a beautiful old church there with great mosaics, and a very different atmosphere from Venice itself. Torcello is actually the oldest part of the city of Venice. When I was in Venice last May there were America's Cup trial races on the Grand Canal - totally unexpected. You might be able to find a calendar of events for the dates you'll be there and see if there's anything that interests your guys. Watching glass being made is fun and it's also warm inside.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Let your sons plan what tourist stops they want to make. Let'em get on the internet and investigate what Venice has to offer. I've been there 5 or 6 times, and never get tired of this unique place. Sometimes sports, cell phones and texting can be put on the back burner for a week or so. Kids need to go back in history from time to time.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3502 posts

The Doge's Palace is mainly art work, but the Secret Itineraries tour is anything but that. I think of all the things I did, that was the one that teens would enjoy most. The tours have to be booked in advance as they sell out and places are limited. St. Mark's is best from 11.30 - 12.30 when the mosaics are floodlit. I was underwhelmed by Burano and Torcello, but the ride across the lagoon to Burano is worth the trip, just for the ride itself.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

My 11 yr old daughter found Venice interesting, and pretty, but she did not put it on top of her list of "what she liked best about our trip to Europe" .. simply put, your sons may not "love" Venice, but they will remember it and enjoy it anyways. I found a costume museum my dd enjoyed, pretty sure the boys would not feel the same , but suggest you find something, just one thing even, that they may find interesting. Glass blowing demonstration may work, my boys( who were not on this trip with us) would have enjoyed that ..
Weather now may not be wonderful, so wandering around may not be an option, hope for decent weather and just go with rain gear..

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
2197 posts

We are in Venice now. Just had a wonderful day going to Murano, Burano & Torcello, but probably not the cup of tea for young men, although as mentioned, the vaporetto ride alone is worth the trip. The tower at San Giorgio Maggiore is a great view of the lagoon and Venice proper: Better than the Campanile. Go there on a clear day. There is a Natural History Museum that is a good bet if it rains. St. Mark's is a must. Take along Rick Steves' audio tour and have them self-guide with their iPods. Ditto the Grand Canal tour with Rick's audio guide. If you get to Burano, eat at Osteria Vecio Pipa. Terrific fritti misti, great service from Mario and his crew. Look for a great bar with thick Venetian cioccolato caldo and revel in the incredible pastries.

Posted by Cathy
49 posts

We were in Venice in June with our 13 and 15 year olds. They didn't love it, but were glad to have experienced it, because it's just so different from anywhere else. They liked wandering through the streets with a map, trying to figure out where we were. Poking around in shops. Trying different gelato places. Watching near collisions of boats on the smaller canals. Just seeing how people live in such an unusual place. But other parts of Italy ranked higher on their lists. We did visit San Marco.

Posted by Susan
Kamloops, BC, Canada
221 posts

I second a previous post and put the Secret Itineraries tour of the Doge's Palace at the top of the list for the boys. They will enjoy going through the Bridge of Sighs and seeing the prisons. However, I can't remember if the regular admission includes touring the prisons...Anyone else know? Then you could avoid going through the hassle of booking the Secret Itinerary

Posted by Ardith
Barcelona, Spain
10 posts

Thank you so much for all of your helpful replies! You've given me some great ideas. I'll let you know how it all plays out. Next stop, booking secret itineraries tour. Grazie! Ciao!

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
2197 posts

Update: We went to the Natural History Musuem yesterday and it was better than we expected it to be. Recently remodeled, beautifully curated. If your boys like dinosaurs, fossils, or animals of any type, they will love this musuem, easily good for two hours.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3064 posts

We've probably taken at least 50 middle-school age kids to Venice over the last several years. We only plan ahead for the Doges Palace Secret Itineraries. Who said the Doges Palace was mainly art??? You must have skipped the bridge of sighs, the grand ballroom, the dungeons, etc. We always end our trip by walking from St Marks down the lagoon all the way to the tip of St Elena through the parks. We get take away pizza, take our soccer ball, sit on the sea wall overlooking the Adriatic with Venice Sights in the distance. Most of the kids we've ever taken have said Venice was one of their favorite places of their entire 2 weeks in Europe. Have a small plan, but be flexible. Eat lots of gelato and get off the beaten path. See life from a kid's point of view.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

Where's that "Like Button" for Tim's post? That sounds like a massive service, Tim - well done. And your way of introducing the kids to the real life of Venice sounds great...