Europe, Family Travel

The Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids – Urban Edition

June 17, 2017

We have been traveling to Europe for a decade, and Italy is often on our family travel itinerary. For adults, rich culture, passionate locals, and fabulous food and wine make Italy a first-class destination. For kids, Ferrari shops, piazzas to run around in (some with carousels), and gelato shops on what seems like every corner make Italy a fun choice. If you are traveling to Europe, here are the best places to visit in Italy with Kids (Urban Edition) along with suggested activities in each city.

Rome

Rome qualifies as one of the best places to visit in Italy with kids because the city is a real-life history book. The capital of Italy is home to countless ancient sights including the Roman Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon, Circus Maximus, and Vatican City. For your first visit to Rome with the kids, here are our favourite things to do and see in the eternal city.

Rome Colosseum Best Places to visit in ItalyHop on Hop Off Bus Rome

Weather permitting, begin the day with a city tour on the top level of an open top Hop On, Hop Off bus.  The open-top bus trip provides an overview of Rome and you can see many of the sights from an elevated perspective. Plus, it is an easy day if you are jet-lagged. Ask your hotel concierge to recommend the best bus company.

Colosseum

Get an early start and visit the Colosseum. To skip the ticket line at the Colosseum, order your tickets in advance through the hotel concierge, Colosseum Official Ticket Office (be sure to select the print at home option), or book a private tour through a reputable company like Context Travel.

Wander Through Rome

Spend the day wandering the city. You can visit the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Navona. We often stop for lunch at Cafe Gina located in Piazza di Spagna at the bottom of the Spanish Steps.

Vatican City

Visit Vatican City, also known as Citta del Vaticano. I highly recommend a private guide to help navigate the world’s smallest country, and avoid the huge line-ups. We arranged a guide through the hotel concierge. Context Travel is another excellent option for touring Vatican City.

Galleria Borghese & Borghese Gardens

Choose to visit the Galleria Borghese filled with Renaissance and Baroque art or tour the Borghese Gardens (Parco della Villa Borghese). All visitors to the Borghese Gallery must book tickets in advance. You can use this link to book your tickets. The Borghese Gardens are kid-friendly – you can rent bikes, paddle boats on a small lake (Giardino del Lago), and visit a tiny cinema (Cinema dei Piccoli).

Where to Stay in Rome

We have stayed at two different hotels  – Aldrovandi Borghese Palace and Portrait Roma . Aldrovandi Borghese Palace is located a short shuttle ride outside of the city center, but offers an outdoor pool and Michelin-star dining. Portrait Roma, part of the Lungarno Collection, is a luxurious mansion located a short walk from the Spanish Steps.

Florence (Firenze)

Florence was the first city we visited in Europe and one of the best places to visit in Italy with kids. If you plan to visit Tuscany, the urban centre of Florence is an excellent place to begin and end your travels throughout the region. Here are a few of our favourite things to do and see in Florence.

Accademia Gallery

Florence, known as the Cradle of the Renaissance, is filled with architecture, art, and sculptures. An excellent place to immerse yourself in Florence’s rich history is the Accademia Gallery.

Home to Michelangelo’s masterpieces David and the* Slaves, Accademia Gallery is one of the best-known museums in the world. If you don’t want to linger too long because you are with young children, head to the Musical Instrument Museum after viewing Michelangelo’s work on the main floor. Then exit via the gift shop and outdoor courtyard. Be sure to book your tickets in advance – here is a link to the official Accademia Gallery site.

You may spot Michelangelo’s David elsewhere in the city. While the original marble sculpture is in the Accademia Gallery, there are other David’s in Florence – read this article to learn more.

Modernist replica of Michelangelo's David in pink is located in the courtyard of the Galleria dell'Accademia in FlorenceThe Florence Duomo

The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiori, known as the Florence Duomo, dominates the city skyline. Designed by Brunelleschi, after he studied the Pantheon in Rome, the Duomo took 16 years to build. You can go inside the cathedral and even walk up narrow concrete steps to the inside of the frescoed dome. If you are feeling energetic and you aren’t afraid of heights, climb all 463 steps for spectacular views of Florence. The narrow staircase isn’t suitable for young children or anyone claustrophobic.

Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids Florence DuomoPalazzo Vecchio

Home to the Medici family before they moved to Palazzo Pitti in the 16th Century, Palazzo Vecchio is known as the ‘old’ palace. Be sure to book a Secret Passages tour to go behind the scenes and above the ornate ceiling of the Salone del Cinquecento at the Palazzo Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio

Walk along the Ponte Vecchio – a historic shop-lined arched bridge across the Arno River. It is a fantastic place for a family photo.

Ponte vecchio best places to visit in ItalyUffizi Gallery

One of the most famous museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery houses work by Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Caravaggio. Book your tickets in advance – you can use this link to the official website. Visit the Uffizi Gallery early in morning to avoid crowds and midday heat during the summer months. The Uffizi is undergoing a modernization process, including improvements to the air-conditioning. This is welcome news – it has been hot in the museum during the summer.

Where to Stay in Florence

The only place we stay is the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. This luxury hotel is located in one of the largest private gardens (11 acres) in Florence complete with a gorgeous outdoor pool. The Four Seasons is located walking distance to the Duomo (with a four-year-old), other historic sights, shopping, and dining. The hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle service to Palazzo Tornabuoni, the Four Seasons Residence Club located near Ponte Vecchio. Our perfect day in Florence is breakfast in the garden at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, sightseeing (with multiple gelato stops), and relaxing poolside in the afternoon.

Milan 

The elegant capital of Lombardy is often overlooked by travellers to Rome and Florence. We visit Milan often and I can recommend the fashion-focused city as one of the best places to visit in Italy with kids.  I have written about Milan many times – these posts will help you plan your family vacation.

Is Milan a Family Destination?

Discover the Best Places to Visit in Milan

Navigating the Navigli in Milan

Our Favourite Family-Friendly European Cities

Where to Stay in Milan

We always stay at the Four Seasons Milano, our home away from home. You can read more about this fabulous city hotel here.

Venice 

The overwater city of Venice is unlike any other, and qualifies as one of the best places to visit in Italy with kids. Taxis, ambulances, and water buses (vaporetti) ply the narrow canals and expansive lagoon transporting goods and people throughout one of the world’s most unique cities.

Boat Venice best places to visit in ItalySt. Mark’s Square Basilica (Piazza San Marco & Basilica di San Marco)

As over-crowded with people and pigeons as it is, be sure to visit St. Mark’s Square. It is a scene, and when in Venice, jump in with both feet.

Murano

The islands of Murano, home to glass blowers, glass factories, and glass shops, are easily accessible by boat from Venice. We booked a private boat through our hotel concierge. The ride out was complimentary, but the on-site sales pitch was intense. We purchased a few items and arranged to send them back Canada. We obviously didn’t spend enough because we had to find our own way back to our hotel. Regardless, we enjoyed watching the glass-blowing process.

The Bridge of Sighs

Constructed as a covered passageway to move prisoners between the Doge’s Palace and a building on the other side of a canal, the Bridge of Sighs is a famous landmark in Venice. The exterior of the Bridge of Sighs – the only covered bridge in Venice – can be seen from nearby Ponte (bridge) Canonica and Ponte della Paglia. Book a tour that includes the Secret Itineraries at the Doge’s Palace if you want to see inside the covered bridge.

Private Water Taxi

If you arrive by train or airplane (Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE)), ask your hotel to arrange private transportation. A private boat in Venice is a memorable private ‘car’ experience. A gondola ride may offer a similar experience.

Where to Stay in Venice

When in Venice, stay at a hotel on the lagoon or on a canal. We stayed at the Baglioni Hotel Luna. The hotel was ok – it is located on a canal and next to St. Mark’s Square. Check out Tripadvisor for a list of the best hotels in the Venice.

Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids – Travel Tips

  • Wear long shorts or pants and cover your shoulders when you visit religious places in Italy.
  • Public washrooms can be difficult to find in Italian cities. We often go to a cafe and order gelato and a drink – an easy and fun way to access a washroom. And it is never too early for a gelato break.
  • Context Travel receives accolades from the travel industry and media including Travel + Leisure, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. I’m honoured to be selected by Context Travel as one of their Deep Travelers, a group of bloggers and content creators who travel thoughtfully and responsibly and write stories to promote and encourage movement. If you book a tour with Context using a link from this post, I receive a small commission.



 

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10 Comments

  • Reply Tami June 17, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve been to all these places, and I have to agree — they are pretty family-friendly! Especially if you add stops for gelato at least twice a day!

  • Reply Rhiannon June 17, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I have always wanted to visit Rome! I remember the first time I really discovered it, was when I was younger, while watching the Lizzie McGuire movie and they visited Rome! Haha! It looks like such a beautiful place. And I love that it’s so kid friendly!

  • Reply Wiebke June 18, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Great choice of places! I haven’t been to Milan yet but definitely wanna go onw day!

  • Reply Janice June 18, 2017 at 6:44 am

    What great memories after reading your suggestions. So many beautiful and historic places to visit. The taxi in Venice was a highlight❤️

  • Reply Gokul Raj June 18, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Venice is such a great place. I am sure the kids will love the boat rides.

  • Reply Myrthe De Brouwer June 19, 2017 at 3:35 am

    We visited all of them too a couple of years ago and we must admit, Italy is a unique country. You’ve made a good list with a lot of info for first-time travelers.

  • Reply Veronika Tomanova June 19, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Thanks for suggestions! I see that Italy can be pretty children friendly as well. Venice is a bit hard to navigate around. but for example we did also a day trip to Lago di Garda to an amusement park. The kinds loved that as well!

  • Reply Ryazan June 19, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Great tips! I also love Italy! <3 My husband and I travelled around Italy and we absolutely loved it. We don't mind going back there again soon.

  • Reply Paul June 20, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Italy would be an amazing place to travel to with kids! There is so much history there to keep them fascinated!

  • Reply Francesca @onegrloneworld June 21, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    This was such a lovely post – I can’t wait to visit Italy with my future children ^_^ I’ve been several times already as an adult and loved it but never considered how magical (and educational!) it would be for a child. I think the glass blowing in Murano would be really fun too – I’ll just make sure not to book with a hotel!

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