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Italy is one of Europe’s most compelling destinations. With its picture-perfect beaches, some of the best (and very kid-friendly!) food in the world, and more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country, Italy has a pretty convincing resume.
A visit to Italy with kids is more likely to include traditional villages and historical sights than amusement parks, and slow meals in trattoria on ancient public squares rather than fast food. Traveling with kids in Italy can also come with some unique challenges, but these will be an important part of an adventure that your family won’t soon forget.
A few years later, we returned to visit Amalfi Coast with our two kids. I had actually explored many other parts of Italy previously on my own, but for this article, I’ve enlisted the help of several Italy family travel experts to give their top tips and recommendations from some of the best places to visit with kids in Italy.
Below we will cover everywhere you can’t miss on a family holiday to Italy, from Rome to Sardinia, and the Dolomites in the far north right down to the tip of Italy’s heel.
Challenges to Traveling in Italy with Kids
I’m not going to lie and say that everything went smoothly all the time when we were traveling around Italy with our young kids. Here are some of the interesting challenges we (and other family travelers) have faced while traveling around Italy with babies, toddlers, and kids.
- Many coastal and inland villages in Italy are built on slopes. Be prepared to do a lot of walking, often uphill or downhill.
- Thanks to all that history, streets in Italy are often built of cobblestone or other rough surfaces. Baby strollers (prams) are practically useless.
- Summers can be very hot on the Mediterranean, and tourist crowds can be overwhelming.
- Many things close in the afternoon. We found that Italians eat quite late, so many restaurants don’t even open until 7 pm. for dinner. This was hard for us because our kids are used to eating dinner around 5.
- People in Italy tend to have their way of doing things, and aren’t always flexible about it. For example, my wife once sent me out to find a takeaway dinner for us while she bathed the kids, but I couldn’t find a single restaurant willing to sell me anything to-go.
- Too many museums and historical sights can be boring and tiring for kids. As much as YOU may want to see them, these places often have long lines and/or require lots of walking.
- People smoke a lot in public places in Italy, whether or not your kids happen to close by.
Tips for your Family Trip to Italy
To overcome the above challenges and ensure a smoother family visit to Italy, here are some tips that could really save you from losing it on your trip:
- Avoid the summer if you can. Late spring and early fall are great.
- When planning your Italy itinerary with kids, don’t try to rush around the country seeing many different places. Instead, stick to one region. Italy is probably a country you will return to again.
- Try interactive activities like this cooking class with kids.
- Minimize museum and historical visits, or at least space them out plan some down time for your kids.
- Be willing to “go with the flow” and just get lost of let the kids lead you around once in a while.
- Prepare lots of snacks and try to adjust to a later eating schedule for dinner.
- Gelato, gelato, and more gelato. The ultimate reward for awesome traveling kids.
- Choose apartments with kitchens for self-catering, especially for breakfast. We found many great ones here on Airbnb.
- Don’t expect restaurant service to be the same as where you come from. The servers aren’t ignoring you; they are just giving you space to enjoy.
- Credit cards aren’t always taken; always prepare sufficient cash.
- Choose accommodations that are easy to walk to from main transportation hubs.
- Leave the stroller at home, and opt for a carrier if traveling with very young kids.
- Avoid notoriously winding roads, such as Amalfi Drive. Take trains whenever possible.
Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids
Starting in the Italian capital, Rome, we will then take you on kid-friendly tour of Northern Italy. Newt, we’ll venture to the Southern Italy before covering the islands of Sicily and Sardinia at the end.
Rome with Kids
By Dani from Diapers in Paradise
If you are looking to get the best of Italy’s history and culture, it doesn’t get any better than visiting Rome with kids. You could spend weeks exploring the capital of Italy and barely scratch the surface of all there is to do!
Many of the main attractions in Rome are great to visit with kids. The Colosseum is fascinating for little ones to explore, St. Peter’s Square is the perfect spot to run around and chase birds, and what kid wouldn’t want to toss a coin into Trevi Fountain?
Some Rome landmarks are a little less child-friendly. Visiting the Vatican would be a long day for little legs. And while the Pantheon itself might not be the most interesting thing for kids to see, you can leverage the fact that some of the city’s most famous gelaterias are close by, including the classic favorite Giolitti.
The roads in Rome are notoriously tricky to navigate as a pedestrian, and if you are visiting Rome with a baby or toddler, you’d be better off leaving your stroller at home. Between the cobblestone, the scooters parked on the sidewalks, and all the stairs, this city is better for baby-wearing.
One of our favorite Roman experiences was to allow our toddler to choose the restaurant (you kind of can’t go wrong!), and then spend the long dinner people watching in the plaza.
There are so many things to do with kids in the Eternal City, and no matter how much time you give yourselves in Rome, it will not be enough. Just consider saving most of the museums for a trip when you can leave the kids at home.
Florence with Kids
By Roxanne from Faraway Worlds
The city where the Renaissance started, Florence is one of the most-visited cities in Italy. While at first glance it may not seem like the most child-friendly destination, there’s a lot for families to see and do here.
A small city, Florence is extremely walkable, which is always a bonus when travelling with kids. Florence is also visually interesting and there’s lots to see and take in as you walk down the road. My little boy loves seeing and exploring new places and you may find your children are fascinated by the Renaissance buildings and the huge dome of the Duomo.
My favorite neighborhoods to stay in Florence with children are Santo Spirito and Santa Maria Novella (the part near the river). They are both within walking distance of the main sights and near wonderful parks where children can play and run around after a busy day. As the mother of a toddler, this is a must for me! They are also close to good restaurants, so food is always easily accessible.
Regardless of where you stay in Florence, be sure to visit the Boboli Gardens – the history is fascinating for adults and the gardens have many interesting bits for children to explore. The beautiful views of the city are an added bonus.
Many of the museums in Florence also cater to children, from the Uffizi Museum with children’s tours to the Michelangelo museum with interactive exhibits designed specifically for younger visitors. The beautiful carousel in the Piazza della Repubblica is also a highlight for small children who can ride on the enchanting horses.
Tuscany with Kids
By Marta from Mama Loves Italy
One of our favorite places in Italy to visit with kids is Tuscany, the region of which Florence is the capital. Known for its wines and stunning countryside views, it also has a lot of family-friendly attractions. A trip to Tuscany with kids offers something fun for all ages, including mom and dad.
If you love history and town hopping, Tuscany has many pretty medieval villages that are lots of fun to explore with children. Many of their town centers are car-free, so you can safely stroll through the stunning ancient streets.
A perfect example and maybe the town our kids loved the most is San Quirico d’Orcia. This is a tiny hilltop village and, immediately outside its mighty walls, you can see and touch a real medieval catapult!
For hot summer days, a place our kids loved was the Etruscan Coast. This is a beautiful stretch of coastline with fabulous sandy beaches, many options for outdoor activities and even a small amusement park, Cavallino Bianco, that our two little ones adored.
The best way to explore Tuscany is by car and I highly recommend you choose an agriturismo (country hotel) to make the most of the stunning nature of the region.
Venice with Kids
By Helen from Holidays from Hels
Venice is perfect for kids–who wouldn’t be excited to see a city where the streets are made of water and the canals are lined with palaces? Make sure you take a public ferry from St Mark’s Square down the Grand Canal for the ultimate wow-factor experience.
The first lesson you’ll learn in Venice is that maps are pretty much useless. Abandon yourselves to the intricate maze of streets. A fun solution is to let your children lead the way down the most enticing alleyways. As there are no cars, it is a safe and entertaining way to explore, with the tall buildings providing shade from the heat of the day.
The best kept secret is the Gondola ferry, which departs from near the foot of the glorious Rialto Bridge and will take you across the Grand Canal for just 2 Euros per person.
Another highlight is St Mark’s Basilica Museum, where you can peer down into its golden interior from the gallery, before walking along the marble balcony overlooking St Mark’s Square itself. You can almost touch the fabulous façade of the Doge’s Palace next door.
Watch out for the tourist rules; no sitting down for a packed lunch is allowed! However, this is a good excuse to stop and take a rest at one of the many cafés.
Catch a boat to the beautiful Burano with is brightly colored fisherman’s houses, or to Murano where you can see glass blowing and have fun hunting out the wildest creations in the shop windows.
Staying in Venice is like holidaying in a fairy tale with your kids!
The Dolomites with Kids
By Lori from TravelinMad
For epic outdoor adventures, families should head to the Dolomites, a mountain range in Northern Italy. Here you’ll find a myriad of outdoor adventures, hikes, and natural landscapes, and a unique cultural view of Italy. Northern Italy has a look and feel more Germanic and Austrian, and in fact, many locals refer to themselves as German-speaking Italians.
The cool thing for families visiting the Dolomites is that you don’t have to be hardcore alpine trekkers to enjoy the incredible views and hiking trails. Many trails are relatively flat with gradual inclines and take you past the most stunning vistas you may ever see of the Italian Alps. Even the hiking trails within the Dolomites National Park are appropriate for families with children.
Outside the national park itself, families can enjoy year round activities at the famous Kronplatz ski resort. Located in the beautiful Pustertal Valley, families can enjoy premier skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities, but the summer activities are fun as well.
The Klammbach waterfall is an impressive natural site in the heart of the Pustertal Valley, as is Lago di Braies, one of the most Instagrammable alpine lakes in the Dolomites.
For local wildlife encounters, horseback riding is popular with families with the Dolomites backdropping the scene. The Steinwandterhof horse riding school is close to Lago di Braes and makes for a perfect day trip. And in the nearby village of Dwarf, kids can feed the reindeer that live peacefully in the Croda Rossa mountains.
Verona with Kids
By Nichola from Globalmouse Travels
Verona is a wonderful city to visit with kids. It’s small enough and flat enough for a wander by foot and so it’s easy to get out and explore.
While Verona is popular, it lacks the crowds of some of the more touristy destinations like Venice, which is refreshing when you’re exploring with kids. It’s easy to soak up the atmosphere here and kids (as well as adults!) will love the historic feel of the city.
There are so many things to do in Verona with kids including climbing up the beautiful Lamberti Tower (Torre dei Lamberti) for spectacular views across the city and all the terracotta rooftops. There are lots of fun Shakespeare references across the city from visiting the fictional Juliet’s balcony to eating bagfuls of ‘Romeo’s sighs and Juliet’s kisses’, sweet biscotti.
One of our favourite things to do in Verona is to visit the Roman Arena which is actually older than the Colosseum in Rome. Unlike its counterpart in Rome, the Verona amphitheater feels much more accessible and is somewhere kids can run about in and sit on the steps and really soak up the history.
There are lots of great places to eat in Verona, too, and best of all there are gelato shops on every street corner, making it easy to pick up a refreshing treat as you go.
Milan with Kids
By Marta from Learning Escapes
Milan is one of the biggest cities in Italy and one of the easiest to visit with kids. Compact in size, beautiful and well organized, Milan has several child-friendly attractions and it is perfect for a family weekend spent mixing sightseeing and playtime.
A visit to Milan with kids can only start from the Duomo, the city’s marvelous gothic cathedral. The church opens onto a large square, fun for small kids for the many pigeons who gather here, and it is sure to impress kids of all ages with its façade; is it decorated with 3500 sculptures, many of animals both real and imaginary! I highly recommend you take the lift up to the top. The duomo has a large terrace, and while it is high above the city, it is safe to visit with kids and the view is wonderful!
When it comes to attractions specifically for kids, good ones to check out are the MUBA Children’s Museum Milan, which features interactive exhibits and workshops, and Milan’s science museum (Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci), where you can see a real submarine!
Milan also has nice parks, especially the large Parco Sempione and Giardini di Villa Reale, a park designed mainly for kids. If your kids are soccer lovers, then a visit to San Siro, the stadium of A.C. Milan and Inter Milan football clubs, will also be a hit.
Italian Lake Region with Kids
The Italian Lake region consists of several long, thin lakes near Verona and Milan in Northern Italy. With children or not, the views can’t really get much more romantic that these lakes. Besides the stunning scenery, the weather around the lake remains relatively mild in summer, when other parts of Italian can become scorching hot.
If visiting with kids, you might want to put Lake Garda (Lago di Garda) at the top of your list. Italy’s largest and easternmost lake is famous among locals for its numerous waterparks and theme parks, the most famous of which is Gardaland, Italy’s first amusement park. The park includes loads of rides, shows, and an aquarium.
Other fun activities around Lake Garda with kids include riding the Monte Baldo Cable Car, seeing animals at Parco Natura Vida, and soaking in thermal water at Lake Garda’s famous hot springs. But don’t think of this as merely an amusement park holiday; the lake itself, including it’s many ruins and villages, is still quintessentially Italian.
The other main lakes, from east to west, are Lake Iseo (Lago di Iseo), Lake Como (Lago di Como), Lugan Lake (Lago di Lugano, half which is in Switzerland), and Lake Maggiore (Lago diMaggiore). All of them boast everything you could hope for in an Italian lake holiday: stunning views, ferry rides, beaches for swimming, and lots of gelato.
Lake Iseo is the most off-the-beaten track, while Lake Como is probably the most famous and thus can also be the most crowded. Lake Maggiore is also a very popular option; with kids, don’t miss the Parco della Villa Pallavicino. Finally, there are several other smaller lakes worth considering, including Lake Varese and Lake Orta.
Cinque Terre with Kids
Cinque Terre is one of the those bucket list destinations that you simply have to see in your lifetime. It only takes one picture to inspire a trip, and my wife and I even celebrated our honeymoon there.
Cinque Terre, or “five lands” features five villages on the coast of Liguria in northwestern Italy. The whole area is a protected national park, and the five villages from northwest to southeast are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
These villages in many ways represent Italy at its most scenic: clusters of pastel-colored traditional homes perched on cliff tops overlooking the sea, and backed by verdant hills with lemon orchards.
While there aren’t really any attractions aimed specifically at kids in Cinque Terre, your kids will pass the time exploring the narrow alleyways and staircases, spotting cats, or riding the train (the only way to get between the villages, besides hiking).
Choosing which village to stay in will be your biggest hurdle. With young kids, I’d recommend Monterosso, which has the only sandy beach, or Vernazza, which is relatively flat. Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are steeper and will require more uphill walking (especially Corniglia, which is on top of a cliff and has a crazy staircase leading up from the train station), but each is undeniably romantic and visually stunning.
For our honeymoon, we chose Manarola, which has what is probably the most iconic postcard view of Cinque Terre. We also loved visiting the romantic harbor of Riomaggiore and doing the up-and-down hike to Corniglia. With older kids, this would be doable.
Cinque Terre Vs. Amalfi Coast
A common decision that family travelers in Italy find themselves making is whether to visit Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast (the former is in Northern Italy and the latter is in Southern Italy. Both offer romantic coastal views, hiking, delicious food, and an assortment of villages to choose from, and both require a little bit of work to get to.
Having been to both, I would say that Cinque Terre feels a little more low-key, while Amalfi Coast’s main villages seem more touristy. This is a generalization, though; Cinque Terre is also extremely popular, and it’s possible to get off the beaten track in Amalfi Coast (for example, we stayed in the small fishing village of Cetara and visited even smaller Erchie).
You can’t really go wrong with either choice. Perhaps decide if you want to combine your trip with the famous cities of the north (then choose Cinque Terre), or Naples and Pompeii in the south (then choose Amalfi Coast).
Really, the best advice I can give is to visit both in your life if you can!
Amalfi Coast with Kids
Venturing now to southern Italy, Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most desirable destinations, with or without kids. This stunning stretch of coast south of Mt. Vesuvius is home to a wide range of villages offer everything from upscale resorts to traditional guesthouses in laid-back fishing villages (here’s my guide to the best villages in Amalfi Coast with kids!), not to mention stunning Capri and the Blue Grotto off the coast.
Like Amalfi Coast, there aren’t too many attractions aimed specifically at kids on Amalfi Coast, but does it really matter when you have the sea? But even more so than at Cinque Terre, parents must be aware that some of the villages on Amalfi Coast are REALLY steep. Choose your village and accommodation wisely, unless you are prepared to carry your luggage and kids up some insanely steep staircases.
Starting in the west, Sorrento is not technically on Amalfi Coast, but it offers the best range of resorts, many of which have swimming pools. It is also easiest to get to from Naples by either ferry, train, or bus.
Positano is Amalfi Coast’s most famous and picture-postcard village. However, I don’t recommend it with kids because it is especially steep, not to mention the most touristy and expensive.
Amalfi Village is the second most popular village. It is also touristy, but not as bad as Positano, plus it is flatter. We enjoyed visiting it, especially the incredible Amalfi Cathedral. Our kids loved the Museum of Paper, where they learned how paper was traditionally made.
Many families choose to stay in Maiori, which is relatively flat and has the longest beach. We chose to stay in the traditional fishing village of Cetara because it is not touristy at all and has the best seafood on Amalfi Coast.
No matter, where you stay on Amalfi Coast with your kids, it is easy and fun to travel between the villages by ferry. I would definitely recommend this over the bus, because Amalfi Drive is famous winding and can make anyone carsick. Note that for villages west of Amalfi town, you access the coast via Sorrento in the west, while for villages east of Amalfi town, you’ll access the coast from Salerno to the east. Ferries coming from either side terminate in Amalfi town.
Pompeii with Kids
By Bec from Wyld Family Travel
Of the many amazing places to visit in Italy, Pompeii is surely somewhere at the top of the list. This ancient city covered by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 is today one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, and makes for a highly educational visit with kids.
If like most visitors you are beginning your trip in Rome, the best way to get from Rome to Pompeii is by train. The ride is a fun experience with kids and the trains are very comfortable.
Once you are at arrive at Pompeii, there will be loads of guides waiting for you to hire them. Alternatively, skip the line and join this small group tour.
No one can deny that Pompeii, including what happened there and how it has been preserved, is an absolutely amazing experience, but there are some things you do need to know if visiting with kids. First, there is a small cafe on-site, but it can get very busy. Packing some snacks for your kids is a good idea. Having extra water is also a must especially in the warmer months. There is little shade and it can get extremely hot. For little people, this can lead to tiredness and crankiness pretty quickly (this was our experience and it did not end well).
One of the issues we found visiting Pompeii with kids is that our guide didn’t consider that some of the stories and paintings on the walls were not appropriate for kids. For us, this led to some uncomfortable talks with the kids after visiting. A quick chat with your guide before you start wandering the streets of Pompeii can help to avoid this.
Visiting Pompeii with kids is an extremely valuable experience for the whole family you just need to make sure you are prepared and ready for whatever the day may throw at you.
Naples with Kids
Naples is the main access point to both Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. Ignore the stereotypes; this city has loads of flavor and lively streets to explore, not to mention being the birthplace of pizza.
But one warning that does hold true is this: be careful with the taxi drivers (it’s a common problem that many visitors complain about). We got ripped off both times we took one. In both cases, we had agreed to a price beforehand, but the taxi driver aggressively demanded more money upon arrival. I’m honestly not sure what the best way to handle this would be, but I did make a complaint to the local tourism office, and it was pretty much the only negative experience we had in our several trips to Italy.
Most people traveling in Italy with kids, us included, just pass through Naples to get to Amalfi Coast or Pompeii. However, I purposely booked a night in Naples at the end of our trip because I wanted to try pizza in Naples. And yes, it was worth it!
But I still regret that we didn’t stay longer in Naples. I would love to explore the city’s streets further, especially Spaccanapoli, the famous narrow street running through the city.
Puglia with Kids
By Katja from Globetrotting
While comparatively few families make it there on their trip to Italy, I would have to choose Puglia as my favorite place to visit in Italy with kids. The region, located in the heel of Southern Italy, is jam-packed with fun things to do both on land and in the water.
Puglia is home to over 800km of coastline, the longest stretch of any region in Italy. It’s not surprising then that there are some wonderful beaches for families here. Some of the best for kids include Guaceto, where vivid coral reefs and seagrass make snorkeling particularly fun, Pescoluse, which has crystal clear shallow waters ideal for younger children, and Bais delle Zagare, a 1-km stretch of sugary white sand surrounded by a national park.
If you can drag the kids away from the beach then Puglia’s towns and villages are ideal for exploring. The fortified island town of Gallipoli is a beautiful place to wander pretty streets, nooks, and alleyways.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Alberobello, famous for its trulli, is truly magical. Children will love these fairy-tale-like homes, circular in shape with conical roofs. Cisternino is another town that we fell in love with but there are plenty more to discover as well.
Another fun thing to do in Puglia with kids is to visit some of the local masseria. These farms produce olive oil and or cheese and you can stop by to see how they operate. We spent a morning at Masseria Lamapecora, a farm that produces 600 litres of milk daily and between 100-120kg of mozzarella every day! That’s in addition to the bocconcini, burrata, stracciatella, ricotta and more that they produce with ease. These farms are often home to various animals as well, which is always fun for kids.
Sicily with Kids
By Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Sicily, the island just off the toe of Italy, is a brilliant destination to visit in Italy with kids. The history is immense – the island has been invaded by numerous nations over the millennia, with each leaving their mark. Children can enjoy exploring Norman castles, sampling North African cuisine, and clambering over Ancient Greek ruins.
The geography of Sicily is impressive too. One of the best things to do in Sicily with kids is to visit Mount Etna, an active volcano. There’s a cable car to the summit but it’s far better to hire a guide to take you off the beaten track to explore some of the more remote areas of the mountain. Our kids loved being driven over the old lava fields in a 4X4.
One of the other great attractions of Sicily is of course its beaches. The south coast is one endless stretch of sand, perfect for sandcastle building. Kids will love the beaches on the east coast too; volcanic eruptions have created some impressive rock formations, and it’s a fun place to kayak and snorkel. There’s a lovely little pebbly beach below the pretty town of Taormina; visitors can walk out to a small island nature reserve or hunt for sea life in among the rocks.
The interior of Sicily is worth exploring, too. There are wonderful hilltop villages, soaring mountain ranges and some fascinating towns to discover.
It’s best to hire a car to fully get to know Sicily but if you’d prefer to be based in just one place, the seaside town of Cefalu on the island’s north coast is a pretty good bet.
Sardinia with Kids
By Nadine from Le Long Weekend
The island of Sardinia in the Tyrrhenian Sea west of Italy is the ideal place for a family getaway. It’s perfect for spending time in nature, away from the usual daily distractions, and getting back to basics. It’s for this reason that it’s quickly become a favorite holiday destination for our family, and one that we return to on the regular.
Sardinia is a fairly large island, and there’s something for everyone there, whether that’s a city break, a bustling beachside resort, or a quiet retreat in the countryside.
But unlike some of its Mediterranean neighbors, Sardinia isn’t spoiled with theme parks and playgrounds, but rather natural play areas such as expansive beaches, forests and walking trails. It is also an affordable place to go on holiday, as you needn’t spend a lot of money on attractions, and other essentials such as accommodation and food are cheaper than in nearby Corsica or the Balearic Islands.
Apart from beach combing and walking, other things to do in Sardinia with kids include discovering the island’s caves and grottos, taking the little green train into the countryside, or spotting the flamingos that flock around the marshlands.
We prefer to travel to Sardinia in the shoulder season, when the island is quiet but the weather is still typically warm.
We loved taking the overnight ferry from Southern France, which meant we could board in the evening, have dinner, and spend the night camping out in a cabin, before waking up and driving off for our adventure the next day!
Well, that pretty much sums up this guide to traveling with kids in Italy. Thank you if you’ve read this far! I hope you’ve found more than enough ideas for planning an epic Italian travel itinerary with kids. If you’ve got any questions, let us know in the comments below!