Visiting Italy With Kids
There are so many wonderful places in Italy, it can be tricky to know where to visit first with kids. From majestic, powerful volcanoes to sandy beaches to thrilling water sports and action-packed skiing locations. Not forgetting all the fascinating history and museums too – there is just so much to experience for toddlers to teens.
*Getting there is easy from the UK, with many flights a day. Budget airlines often fly to regional airports that are a bit further out – but transport links in cities are excellent. Taxis in Italy charge for not only your journey but the journey it takes for them to reach you. For visits to the rolling countryside, you may prefer to hire a car to get around.
*Try and avoid the searing heat of July / August. If you can’t avoid then save open-air visits for the early morning or later in the afternoon.
*Accommodation wise, there is a wide variety of choice for every budget. From hotels to agriturismo ( farm B&B’s) and villas to hostels and luxury home rentals. Homes to rent in Italy can give you a great deal of flexibility over the usual tour operator holidays and are ideal for families who want a bit more freedom on holiday.
*Italian families eat late. Few restaurants open their doors before 7.30pm making pizzerias (many open early) more appealing. if you have younger children there are not many highchairs, so bring a travel one.
Where to go
I haven’t had much of an opportunity to explore Italy fully. Brief trips to Rome meant the must do Trevi fountain and colosseum whilst Milan entailed some essential shopping. Venice last August was a wonderful city break (without the kids) and was surprisingly calm around the quiet back streets. Discovering the cicchetti (Venetian tapas) was a wonderful way to explore the city but that’s another post for later. I’m visiting Florence and Siena next year, so I’ll also report back to the family-friendly activities there. So without further ado here’s some of the must do’s in Italy with kids to help you decide which part to visit.
Rome With Kids
Rome is a great place to take your family to – whatever their ages. The whole city is steeped in ancient history, with so many talking points from just wondering around. However, these experiences are not to be missed!
- Gladiator school – Learn how to be a gladiator whilst wearing and using traditional clothing. The experience includes entrance to the Gladiator School of Rome Museum.
- Pizza making tour (have a look at this one here) and gelato eating. When in Rome it would be rude not to sample the delicious gelato.
- Colosseum – this world famous amphitheatre needs no introduction! Some tours allow you to skip the line and explore the arena and underground area. For more tour information see here. This useful post on buying tickets at the Colosseum will tell you exactly what you see as they are quite a few options.
- Grand Pantheon – A spectacular example of Roman architecture. The Grand Pantheon was built in the early days of the empire and was constructed to be a temple for all the Roman gods
- Villa Borghese- Located in the heart of the city lie Rome’s impressive gardens. Pack a picnic lunch and retreat here after a morning of sightseeing and let the kids run and play in the green space.
- Gianicolo Park – Located in Janiculum Hill, this local park offers some of the best views of Rome. In addition to great photo opportunities, kids will love the free open-air puppet show performed daily. This centuries-old tradition is cherished among locals, and though the shows are performed in Italian, the puppets’ lively acts are enjoyed by all.
- La Bocca Della Verità – This is always an interesting place to stop for a few moments. Have you put your hand in the mouth of the sculpture? Legend has it that the Bocca della Verità, or “mouth of truth” will bite the hand of any person telling a lie. Let kids try inserting a hand into its gaping mouth. (I told the truth, phew!)
- Older kids (aged 8-12) might enjoy the Time Elevator – an interactive movie attraction with special effects that make it seem more like a ride, taking you back through 3,000 years of Roman history.
- For teenagers who aren’t easily scared, venture down into the bone crypt and catacombs at the Santa Maria della Concezione Church (Via Veneto 27). Thousands of bones made into sculptures make for a creepy but interesting experience.
- Leona from Wandermust Family shares some great ideas on visiting Rome with a baby. and Marta shares her excellent knowledge on things to do with older kids in Rome here.
- If you are visiting for a couple of days, here is a 2 day itinerary for Rome which may come in handy too!
Naples With Kids
Those of you followed my trip to Lanzarote with kids, will know how much I love volcanoes (as do my girls). Naples is the perfect base to explore the power and magnitude of Vesuvius and the devasting effects on Pompeii. Not surprisingly, that is first on my list of what do in Naples.
- Visit Mount Vesuvius – Access to the crater is permitted with a local volcanological guide only. You can drive and park part of the way, but the only way to the top is by walking.
- Explore Pompeii – The area is huge and you are unlikely to cover it all in a day, so plan ahead and decide which areas you would like to visit first. You can even arrange a small group tour with an archaeologist to make the most of your trip! More information here.
- Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Centro Antico- I mentioned in Lanzarote about eating food cooked by the heat from a volcano, well that’s almost the case here too. Instead, the ovens are lined with lava rocks from Mount Vesuvius.
- Camp Flegrei- traditionally the home of Vulcan, the Roma god of fire and a supervolcano (because it erupts thousands of times greater than ordinary volcanoes)
- A visit to Naples is worth extending to Capri and the Almafi coast for some beach fun
- Leona, from Have Kids can Travel shares her experience with kids in Pompeii.
Sicily With Kids
Ok, some more volcanoes, but bear with me as there is plenty to do on this volcanic island.
- Mount Etna – is Italy’s highest mountain and the most active volcano in Europe. Part of the way up is via cable car and bus but you can walk a bit too. It can be cold at the top! In Nicolosi, you will visit the Volcano House Museum, where there are attractions and interactive multimedia.
- Etnaland – When your kids have had enough of all the volcanoes and culture, head to Etnaland an adventure park at the foot of Mount Etna. With the great volcano looming in the background, there are plenty of rides for all ages. Float on wild rafting rivers, swim in the largest wave pool in Europe and strap yourself into adrenaline-pumping fairground rides.
- Monti Rossi Adventure Park – kids can zip-line, swing on ropes, nets, and platforms to their hearts’ content and burn any energy they left. There are less hectic rides for younger ones too.
- Visit the puppeteers at Piccolo Teatro dei Pupi
For some amazing things to do in and around Taormina, Daisy from Dais Like These has some great suggestions.
- If you are exploring Palermo, here are some great tips of things to do.
Sardinia With Kids
- Diverland Water Park Village
- Little Green Train – explores the regions of the islands with stunning views.
- Dolphin spotting
- Horseriding on the beach
- Mountain bike trails
- Neptune’s Caves – reachable after 600 steps but if you have a younger child you can also reach them via ferry from Alghero.
The Dolomites With Kids
- Perfect for skiing!
Italian Riveria | Cinque Terre With Kids
For younger children needing a stroller, this area can be very tricky due to all the hills, but for older kids they will delight at the thought of possibly catching a favourite celebrity and admiring the super-yachts. If you are visiting Cinque Terre (with or without kids) read here for some great tips. Katy from Untold Morsels also shares her ideas for the area here.
Florence With Kids
- Bobili Gardens- A perfect place for a stroll and picnic, filled with a collection of sculptures for the history and art buffs.
- Piazza della Repubblica and the antique carousel. I’ve always loved a carousel ( it was my favourite ride in Disney as a child, and this beautiful example is well worth a pitstop.
- Visit one of the kid friendly museums. Not many in Italy are as kid-friendly, but do explore Palazzo Vecchio, Galileo Museum & Palazzo Strozzi.
- For a 4 hour guide of what to do in Florence in Toddlers, Claire from Tinbox Traveller shares her itinerary.
Venice With Kids
Don’t be put off taking even a young baby or toddler to Venice. Yes, there are steps to conquer over the many bridges, but it is still a wonderful place to explore. Even in peak visiting times over summer, there are plenty of places to escape the crowds. In fact, meandering around the back streets is all part of the charm. Suzy from Our Bucket Lives gives some great tips on visiting Venice with older kids and Emma from Soujorn Series, explains what she got up to in Venice with a baby.
Siena With Kids
The beautiful city of Siena, is stunning even in the rain (when we went!) With lots of fascinating sights (including the Il Campo, the Cathedral or Duomo) for the grown-ups, it also has several respites for little ones too: playgrounds, gelato, and space; perfect so they don’t get bored!
We stayed near Volterra (Some of the Netflix series Medici was filmed here), so the drive to Siena was just over an hour away, but perfectly worth it. To make the most of visiting the beautiful medieval city of Siena with kids, I would highly recommend paying for a walking tour. We went with ‘Ariana and Friends’ – who can tailor and pitch the tour exactly to your needs.
We heard how Siena is comprised of 17 historic neighbourhoods; each with its specific symbol showcased outside on walls, doors and buildings. Look out for dragons, caterpillars, geese, wolves, porcupines and more! Kids will enjoy seeing which animal they can spot and learning who are friends and who are sworn enemies. Each family belonged to a neighbourhood based on their profession or status and even today with yearly events, old traditions create fierce loyalties.
Not to be missed are the Basilica San Domenico and the Duomo, or a run around the Piazza del Campo and soak in the sights. There is a small exhibition for children inside the Santa Maria Della Scala (located opposite the Duomo) with several interactive opportunities too.
If you are visiting during the hot summer months, a visit to the swimming pool in Acquacalda may appeal. There are two outdoor pools: a large one with space for both swimming and relaxing and a smaller one for children.
Ting From My Travel Monkey also shares her top things to do with kids in Siena.
Lake Maggiore With Kids
Lake Maggiore has plenty for kids and is a bit quieter than its famous neighbour Lake Como. From picturesque train trips, incredible lake views from the cable car, adventure parks, and island hops- there is something for everyone. Lisa from Travel Loving Family details her top 15 things to do with kids in the area.