15 best places to visit in Italy with kids
15 ultimate places to visit in Italy with kids
If you ask me what the most family friendly holiday destination in Europe is, the first country that comes to mind is Italy. Italy is known for its kid friendly cuisine, beautiful nature, magnificent cities to explore, gorgeous beaches all over the country and people that love and dote on kids.
Restaurants are filled with families that are enjoying delicious pasta, pizza and gelato! Beaches are filled with children playing sports and making sandcastles. And historical sites like Pompeii and the Colosseum speak to the imagination of parents and children alike.
Let’s share with you the 15 best places to visit in Italy with kids. A bucket list filled with must visit cities, beautiful nature and ultimate beach destinations. They can be found all over Italy. A country that, once you’ve visited it once, will definitely be a place you find yourself revisiting over and over again.
Why your family should visit Italy
I’ve been to Italy many times already. Mostly with my family. Both as a child with my parents and brother and as an adult with my partner and kids. It’s diversity keeps us coming back for more.
The people and the landscapes are so diverse that it seems like your driving into another country every other hour. And the food, mamma mia, the food is absolutely amazing. The cities are actually open air museums. Turn a corner, it doesn’t matter which one, and you’ll be mesmerized by what you see. I love giving travel tips about Italy as a family vacation destination, so if you have any questions after reading this article. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
When to visit Italy with kids
Skiing and snowboarding in Northern Italy
When you’re looking to go skiing or snowboarding, visit Northern Italy from halfway through November until Easter. You’ll find less crowds from November until Christmas. It’s busiest from the second week of January until a week or two before Easter.
City trips in Italy
If you can, avoid the high season if you’re visiting any of Italy’s cities for a long weekend or midweek trip. The crowds, prices and heat in July and August are something you should avoid. The best time for a city trip to any city in Northern Italy is from April to June, September and October, when there are less visitors and the weather is nice, but not yet hot.
For the rest of Italy the best months for a family city trip are March to June and September to halfway through November.
Family road trip through Italy
Summer in Italy
When you’re going on a family vacation to Italy pick a region, because every region in Italy has lots to offer. Northern Italy is quite lovely in the summer, even though temperatures can rise up to 30 degrees Celsius. The problem is that this is also high season. Crowds are everywhere, especially in the cities, the Dolomites, Lake Como and Lake Garda. And this is also the time when the prices are at a peak and you should absolutely prebook accommodations.
The above also applies to the rest of Italy, except for the temperatures. The further south you get the hotter it gets. In regions like Puglia or on Sicily 35 degrees Celsius is not an exception.
Fall in Italy
A family vacation to Italy is ideal in the fall is better. Less people, lower prices and lower temperatures. Somewhere between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius.
Go for it if school permits it.
Now without further ado, let’s share the best 15 places to visit in Italy with kids. In no particular order, they’re all equally amazing.
15 places to visit in Italy with kids
Lago di Garda
Let’s start with the capital of Italy. Oh Rome, how you take our breath away. The whole city is like an open air museum and when you walk through places like the Forum Romanum or the Colosseum it isn’t hard to picture yourself walking through Ancient Rome. Being the capital of the Roman Empire, it isn’t much of a surprise that in this city you will find the most remnants of that period. Of course you can still find loads of ancient Roman cities in other countries, like Ephesus in Turkey or Jerash in Amman for example. But when you’re interested in the history of the Roman Empire nothing beats its namesake. And after checking out all these ancient ruins head on over to Piazza Navona where you will find gelaterias, restaurants and the Musea di Roma.
When in Rome, you can cross another country off of your bucket list: Vatican City! Yep, the smallest country in the world completely devoted to the Vatican and Catholicism. This country is only one kilometer squared, so you can explore the whole country in a day. Easily. And if you’re really lucky you can even spot the Pope if you can arrange a ticket to the papal audience for the weekly address of Pope Francis on Wednesdays. Or you can spot him every Sunday at noon when he will wave at peepz out on St. Peter’s Square.
And while you’re in Vatican City you should really visit the Vatican Museum and see the Sistine Chapel. It’s worth it!
What to eat in Rome
After all this sightseeing you should have some of Rome’s signature dishes like cacio e pepe, pasta carbonara and supplì. Just skip all of them if you’re on a diet ;).
10 things to do in Rome with kids
- look up in the Pantheon and see the hole in the roof
- walk where the lions walked in the Colosseum
- pay a visit to the pope in Vatican City
- when in Rome check out the Forum Romanum
- have a gelato at Piazza Navona
- learn to be a gladiator at the Gruppo Storico Romano
- explore the spooky Catacombs
- throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain
- go to Hadrian’s Tomb, Castel Sant’Angelo
- hike to the top of Palatine Hill
No list of best places to visit in Italy with kids is complete without Venice. Unfortunately, it’s popularity is also the reason why the city is constantly flooded (pun intended) with tourists.
That’s why I advise you to visit Venice in shoulder season, like March to June, September or October. Venice is a stunning city. Piazza San Marco is a dream. The canals are a dream. The gondola’s are a dream, albeit expensive.
Visit Venice on a day trip and base yourself somewhere else in the Veneto region. Accommodation is highly expensive in the city itself and you can see the highlights in one day.
What to eat in Venice
Have a squid risotto or risi e bisi for lunch and leave after that. Because around two or three it gets too busy and that’s when you go back to the village or city you’re staying at with a daypack full of memories of this beautiful place while leaving all the people and noises behind you.
5 things to do in Venice with kids
- enter a Vaporetto and tour Venice its Grand Canal
- watch a glass blowing demonstration in the Murano Glass Factory
- cross the Bridge of Sighs
- get serenaded by a gondolier while on a gondola
- buy a Venetian carnival mask
A Tuscan city that you shouldn’t skip is Lucca. It is known as the city of 100 churches, for reasons I probably don’t have to explain. One of the highlights is its 16th century city wall. It’s completely accessible on foot or bike (cars are forbidden). There is a four kilometer walkway that is very panoramic. And a beautiful botanical garden for your family to enjoy.
We were the most enthralled with the Roman Amphitheater. Standing in the middle of the oval square it becomes clear that all the buildings were built around the square to give it the elliptical structure that amphitheaters are known for.
What to eat in Lucca
The amphitheater itself doesn’t exist anymore, but the shape still exist and is now the basis for many restaurants. We choose one of them and stayed there for two hours just admiring the buildings having a nice lunch. Have one of the signature dished of this region, like zuppa Lucchese, stewed rabbit or necci and end your lunch with Lucca’s famous version of a chocolate cake.
5 things to do in Lucca with kids
- check out the Roman amphitheatre
- cycle along the walls of Lucca on a rental bike
- play at one or more of the many playgrounds
- enjoy an aperitivo at the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro
- climb the Torre Guinigi and stroll through the gardens at the top of this tower
The mean reason to visit Pisa is of course to enjoy the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. The best time of day to visit Pisa is just before the sun goes down. That’s when the crowds have left and you get the best lighting.
The first thing you see when you enter the Piazza dei Miracoli is the tower of Pisa. Not just the tower is a top thing to see in Pisa, but also the baptistry, the Duomo and the Monumental Cemetery.
Do you want to climb the tower with your kids? Note that only kids ages 8 and up are allowed to go up.
What to eat in Pisa
After visiting the piazza have dinner in one of the many restaurants around the square. Signature dishes: ravioli al mucco pisano, trippa pisana and cheese biscotti.
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5 things to do in Pisa with kids
- climb to the top of the Tower of Pisa
- take a boat ride on the Arno River
- explore the Old Town
- visit the Botanical Gardens
- “push” the leaning tower upright for a picture
Florence is definitely the pearl of Tuscany. And quite frankly, in our family’s opinion, one of the most beautiful cities in the world! It is magnificent with its terracotta roofs and renaissance architecture. And if you invest in a Firenze Card (72 euros for 72 hours) you can get into most of the museums in the city. More importantly you can skip the lines. The lines are huge in front of places like the Accademia Gallery and the Uffizi, so it’s really nice if you can skip those.
And if you don’t want to visit musea then there are more than enough outdoor sculptures and statues to be seen all over the city. Of course most of you know know about the Piazza Della Signoria (next to the Uffizi Gallery). It’s a loggia filled with sculptures. And on the piazza itself you will spot a replica of Michelangelo’s David and see Neptune’s Fountain.
Another highlight is the Ponte Vecchio. From the Uffizi Gallery you get a great view of this bridge with shops built along it, which used to be very common, but is now very rare. You will find lots of jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers on this bridge.
What to eat in Florence
After all this sightseeing it is time to sit yourself down at one of the many terraces for a nice glass of wine and some gelato for the kids. What are the signature dishes in and around Florence? Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) and tagliatelle fungi porcine e tartufo (tagliatelle with mushrooms and truffle) and crostini.
10 things to do in Florence with kids
- get tickets to the Uffizi Gallery
- do some window shopping on the Ponte Vecchio
- take selfies with the many sculptures on the Piazza Della Signoria
- check out Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery
- picnic in the Florentine Gardens
- climb up the Duomo for a sea of terracota colored roofs
- visit the Leonardo da Vinci Interactive Museum
- score fresh produce at the Mercato Centrale
- hitch a ride on the carousel on Piazza della Repubblica
- smell the chocolate at the Venchi Chocolate Wall
The first and only Italian island part of the 15 best places to visit in Italy with kids: Sicily! Sicily is a gorgeous island filled with beaches, mountains, vineyards and gorgeous architecture. It’s the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea with a land area of almost 10.000 square metres and more than 5,5 million inhabitants.
There’s lots to see and do in Sicily. Like a visit to the highly active volcano: Mount Etna. Or a day or two chilling on one of the many beaches. A city trip to Palermo should also be on your list of things to do in Sicily.
In ancient and more recent history lots of civilizations called Sicily home. Arab, Norman (the Vikings), Greek and Roman. That makes for some very interesting architecture. Like the Greek ruins in Siracusa and Agrigento, for instance. Or the Roman ones in Taormina.
What to eat in Sicily
Cannoli, Arancini and pasta alla norma are all Sicilian dishes. Sicily is also known for its lemons, more than 65% of the citrus farms in Italy are located on the island of Sicily. If you like sardines, you should definitely try Pasta con Sarde (pasta with sardines)
5 things to do in Sicily with kids
- explore some of the many beaches on the island
- climb Mount Etna
- enjoy a city trip to Palermo
- zipline through the forest in Monti Rossi Adventure Park
- get the cable car to Taormina and explore the old town
Italy doesn’t get more picture perfect than the small Puglian town Alberobello. People live in trulli, stone houses, painted white with grey cone like roofs. The Trulli of Alberobello were included by UNESCO in their World Heritage List. You can also find trulli in other parts of Puglia, or Apulia, like Locorotondo and Monopoli. But I would recommend to visit Alberobello, first and foremost.
You only need an hour or 3 max 4 to explore Alberobello.
What to eat in Alberobello
Alberobello doesn’t have its own dishes, but the Bari and Puglia region does, so let’s focus on that. The Bari region is known for the many olive farms. The olive oil that you can buy here is amazing. Definitely visit an olive farm for a short tour and to fill up on rich olive oils. When it comes to yummy dishes, try focaccia Barese, the famous focaccia is topped with regional olives and cherry tomatoes. The best burrata of Italy can be found all over Puglia, a mozzarella filled with stracciatella.
5 things to do in Alberobello with kids
- roam around the beautiful streets of Alberobello
- visit the only trulli with 2 floors: Trullo Sovrano
- check out the Sant’Antonio Church
- spend the night in a trulli in Alberobello
- enjoy the view from a Terrazza Panoramica (follow the signs)
Next on this list of 15 best places in Italy to visit with kids is another gem in Puglia. The city of Lecce. Lecce is known as the city of Baroque and famous for its architecture. Despite being relatively small in comparison to other Italian cities, Lecce is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.
When it comes to aimlessly wondering around a city, discovering hidden piazzas and narrow streets filled with sandstone colored buildings, Lecce is your city. Stop a few times for a lazy lunch and an afternoon gelato. And just have an all around chilled time here.
What to eat in Lecce
Local specialities are Parmigiana di Melanzana, the famous eggplant Parmesan and orechiette pasta. The kids will love Fruttone, pastry filled with pear jam and almond paste and topped with a dark chocolate glaze.
Lecce is the best place in Puglia to follow a cooking course. If your kids are young, make sure it’s a family friendly one. Italian’s don’t rush anything that has to do with cooking. Courses last multiple hours, so make sure to pick one that fits the needs of all your family members
5 things to do in Lecce with kids
- check out the Roman Amphitheatre
- learn to cook Puglian dishes following a cooking course
- find all 3 Lecce Portas in this once walled city
- visit the Duomo di Lecce
- have lunch at one of the many piazza’s
Lago di Garda
Lago di Garda, or Lake Garda, is one of the most family friendly area’s we’ve ever been to in Italy. Like Lake Como, locals and tourists flock here as soon as the first rays of sun appear. While Lago di Como is more expensive and upscale, Lago di Garda has something for everyone. Being so centrally located, the Garda lake is the ideal base for day trips to other Northern Italian cities or places to visit. Visit Venice, Verona, Modena and even Bologna, while staying in one of the villages around Lago di Garda. Unless you’re planning on staying in one of the towns, you’ll need a car to explore the area.
We once stayed here for 2 weeks and always found something to do. Besides water activities and chilling out on and around the water, you can visit lots of other highlights in the area. Gardaland is an amazing amusement park for kids ages 2 -14, while Movieland is more aimed at teenagers.
What to eat in Lago di Garda
Lago di Garda has a few notable local dishes. Like Bigoli con le Sarde del Garde, a pasta with sardines fished from the lake. And Risotto all’Amarone. This one isn’t family friendly, because the red color of the risotto comes from being cooked in Valpolicella wine. Orderind dishes with fish that’s freshly caught in the lake is also highly recommended.
10 things to do in and around Lago di Garda with kids
- swimming in the lake
- enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants surrounding the lake
- spend a few hours exploring Riva del Garda
- shop in Bardolino
- visit Gardaland, Movieland and/or Canevaworld Aqua Park
- check out the Rocca Scaligera castle in Sirmione
- a day trip to nearby cities like Verona, Venice and Modena
- rent a bike to explore Lago di Garda
- book a boat tour and spend some time on the lake
- hike from Bardolino to Lazise
The last few years, the Dolomites are booming, because some travel influencers over at Instagram, discovered how picturesque it is. Locals and lovers of Italy have known of its charm forever and that’s why its on this list of 15 best places in Italy to visit with kids. Easily a top 5 travel destination in Italy.
The Dolomites can’t be explored in a day. A minimum of 3 days is required if you’re planning on hiking a few trails and checking out the must do’s.
What to eat around the Dolomites
Since the Dolomites are located close to the Austrian border, you’ll notice a crossover in cuisine. Ham and cheese boards can be found everywhere. You can get knödel in soups or as a side dish. And the Ladin dish, Blueberry venison, served with freshly baked bread.
But you can also get Italian dishes like polenta, gnocchi and Mezzelune (like ravioli, but shaped like a half moon) here.
6 things to do around the Dolomites with kids
- check out the sunrise at Enrosadira and see the peaks of the Dolomites colored in 50 shades of pink
- climb a Via Ferrata when you’re with teens
- hike hut to hut in the Dolomites if you’re family loves longer hikes
- meet Ötzi the Ice Man in Bolzano’s Museum of Archaeology
- ride on a gondola
- enjoy the views from Alpe di Siusi
In Milan you’ll spot lots of fashion forward people. It’s not called the capital of fashion for nothing. So if you’re family is fond of shopping, this is your city!.
The architecture in the center of Milan is stunning. First and foremost the Duomo Santa Maria Nascente, the square in front of it and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II that’s also located right next to the Piazza Del Duomo
A little walk takes you to the cool Castello Sforzesco, that kind of feels out of place, but that adds to the fun. And don’t forget a visit to the Navigli district. Milan’s centre was once traced with waterways, just like Venice or Amsterdam. You can still get a taste of what that used to be like when visiting the Navigli Grande.
Architecture in Milan
The strength of this city is its diversity. It’s more modern in every way, but it also has lots of history. The architecture isn’t dominated by one architectural period, but because of it being the financial capital of Italy lots of architects have been making their marks on the city. Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Urban you name it. The diversity is what makes this city all the more interesting.
And if you’re done looking at buildings you can always sit down with a cappuccino (never after 10am though, Italians hate it when tourists do that) and just stare at all the fashionistas on their way to work. You will feel highly underdressed, I can assure you that, but you will feel like you just sat front row at a show during fashion week.
What to eat in Milan
Every region in Italy has their own signature dishes that are to die for, Milan is no exception. When in Milan eat risotto, ossobuco, polenta and Gorgonzola. Heavy foods, unfriendly for the hips, but super delicious.
10 things to do in Milan with kids
- climb to the roof of the Duomo
- explore Castello Sforzesco
- buy tickets to children’s museum MuBa
- have a meal and a drink next to the canals in Navigli
- picnic in Parco Sempione
- check out designer stores in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
- check out the attractions in amusement park Leolandia
- take a free walking tour
- visit another galaxy or two at planetarium Ulrico Hoepli
- learn how to make a real Italian pizza and join a cooking class
The city of Romeo and Juliet, one of Shakespeare’s most famous stories. And well, let’s just say that the city knows how to capitalize on that. In reality the story didn’t take place in Verona at all, but in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia in a small village called Ariis. But when in Verona there’s no way that you can skip out on visiting Casa di Giulietta, right? On the way out, don’t forget to leave a love letter behind on the walls, securing it with a piece of used gum (yes, chewed on gum…).
Verona is so much more than Romeo and Juliet. You should definitely check out teh Roman Arena, still very much in use during summer when outdoor performances are held there. Another thing you shouldn’t skip is Lamberti Tower. You get a great view of the city after a climb to the top.
Lastly, walk on over to Piazza dei Signori. A beautiful square where you will find a statue of Dante and a few other important signori.
What to eat in Verona
After all this sightseeing you are not only hungry for love, but also for food. So what signature dishes are to be found in Verona? Try frog legs and bigoli with duck or horse steak (they really love eating horse in Verona). Verona is also known for its gnocchi.
5 things to do in Verona with kids
- visit Casa di Giulietta and tell your kids the story of Romeo and Juliet
- climb up the steps of the Roman Arena and admire the view
- get tickets to the Children’s Museum
- go up the Lamberti Tower
- shop and get a drink at the Piazza delle Erbe
Siena is known for Il Palio, the horse race held in the city twice every year on the Piazza del Campo. It’s almost impossible to get to the city centre during this event. And honestly the highlight of a trip to Siena is the Piazza del Campo. You want to stroll through the square, have a drink at one of the many terraces on the piazza, admire the Fonte Gaia (the largest fountain of the city) and visit the Palazzo Comunale and its tower. You can’t do that when the horse race is taking place.
After visiting this piazza it’s time for another one: Piazza del Duomo where you can visit the magnificent Cathedral, Crypt and Piccolomini Library.
What to eat in Siena
Lots to see and honestly you can do it all in one day, after which it is time to try the local dishes like chicken liver crostini, pan co’ santi and panforte. Siena’s cuisine is mostly known for their biscuits and desserts.
5 things to do in Siena with kids
- enjoy antipasti in the Piazza del Campo while your kids run around
- climb the Torre del Mangia
- visit the Musei dell’Accademia dei Fisiocritici (National History Museum)
- roam around the Botanical Garden
- go to the Piazza Amendola and play at Siena’s largest playground
Very high on this list of 15 best places to visit in Italy with kids is Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is the name of a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of five colorful villages on the Ligurian Coast. The five villages are: Monterosso Al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. It’s a 1,5 hour drive from both Genoa as Pisa. I suggest to first visit the latter, so you can also check out the famous leaning tower of Pisa.
What to eat in Cinque Terre
Have the amazing pesto pasta called Trofie al Pesto, Bruschetta with local anchovies and lemon on top and, not so child friendly, drink Limoncello. The drink made from lemons in this region.
5 things to do in Cinque Terre with kids
This is kind of a no brainer. You should definitely explore all five towns in Cinque Terre
- Monterosso Al Mare
Napolo, often referred to as Naples, is one of the most popular destinations in the entire Mediterranean region. It’s the third largest city in Italy, after Rome and Milan. The beautiful city center is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Napoli is also known as the birthplace of pizza, more specific the Margherita. The very first pizzeria in the world is Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, opened in Naples in 1830. You can still enjoy a pizza at this iconic place.
Besides the pizza and the historical city center, the Mount Vesuvius is the symbol of the city. This volcano is another reason to visit Napoli. This volcano is the reason of the demise of Pompeii. Napoli is often a base for a visit to Pompeii.
What to eat in Napoli
You can’t leave Napoli without eating at least one margherita pizza here. And the margherita here is even more delicious than normal, because it’s topped with buffalo mozzarella fresh basil. Known as the Neapolitan pizza.
Another thing you must try here is the sfogliatelle ricci. This flaky pastry can be seen as the Italian answer to the croissant.
10 things to do in Napoli with kids
- visit medieval Castel Nuovo
- feel like royalty in the Royal Palace of Naples
- get the original pizza, the Neapolitan
- hike Mount Vesuvius
- go an a day trip to Pompeii
- explore the beautiful Piazza del Plebiscito
- get tickets to a Napoli football game
- admire the frescos inside the Catacombs of San Gennaro
- enjoy views over Napoli from the Certosa di San Martino
- take a family Tour of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale
Which places are missing from this list of 15 best places in Italy to visit with kids? Please let me know in the comment section below.
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Ryan Biddulph posted on 22 Feb 2023 at 10:01 pm
What a list of things to do. You have proven the diversity; look at all these activities with kids in a relatively small country compared to some much larger nations. Count me impressed.
Saskia posted on 02 Mar 2023 at 8:19 pm
That’s so kind. Thank you!
Thijs posted on 11 Jun 2019 at 11:18 am
Wow! Now I am already looking forward to our next trip to the south of Italy.
Saskia posted on 15 Jun 2019 at 5:47 pm
We will be there in a months time!