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Italy Train Travel with Kids – Tips From a Mom in Italy

Are you trying to decide if you should travel by train on your family trip to Italy? After all, kids usually love trains!

I’m a mamma of three kids here in Italy and we travel around the country by many modes of transport, trains included.

I’ve had plenty of successful train trips with my kids, as well as plenty of fails… which led me to create this quick list of tips for taking the train in Italy with little ones. I hope it helps clear up any doubts and that you have a smooth trip on the treno with your family!

If you want more information on traveling by train in Italy, check out
Complete Guide to Train Travel in Italy

Printable Italy Train Route Map

Deciding Whether or Not to Take the Train

Boy looking out train window at trees and low mountains in Italy.
My son checking out the view on our train in the Dolomites

First, make sure taking the train in Italy is the right choice for your family

Taking the train can be stressful if you’re traveling with kids and a lot of stuff (suitcases, stroller, etc).  You’ll need to get it on the train (which involves going up/down a few steps, while you’re dealing with kids), find a place for it on the train, and be able to move it through train stations for transfers.   

But it can also be a lot of fun, especially if your kids aren’t used to traveling on trains.  We live here and my kids still get excited to take the train – especially if it’s a fast one!

The age(s) of your child(ren) also makes a difference.  Think about if you like traveling on a plane with your child – certain ages can be really tough.  For example, I’m not a huge fan on traveling on the train with a 1-2 year old (early walkers) and I avoid it whenever possible. 

Booking Your Train Tickets

Boy sitting on knees in train in Italy, looking out the window.
On our way to Rome

If you’ve got kids with you, you may want to download the Trenitalia or Italo app(s). You can purchase your tickets on the app and then show them to the train manager directly from your phone. And, if you’re using regional tickets (which must be validated), you can check-in/validate them directly from the app.

Another option is to purchase your tickets at the station, either from the ticket counters or the automatic machines. Usually the machines have shorter lines, and you can get the instructions in English.

Check out Italy Travel Apps I Use

Depending on which company you travel with, little ones travel for free until they’re 3 or 4 if they sit on your lap.  I prefer to book a separate seat if my child is big enough (for example, my 3-year-old), especially for long journeys.

Child fares:  Currently*, on Italo children travel free on an adult’s lap until they turn 3.  On Trenitalia, children travel free on an adult’s lap until they turn 4.  Both companies have offers and discounts for older children. *subject to change

If you’re traveling with kids, try to book trains with reserved seats.  I know it’s not always possible (hello, regional trains), but if you’ve ever traveled on a train with kids without seats, you’ll understand. 

Book flexible tickets.  Life with kids is crazy and unpredictable, so you’ll want to be able to change your train without forking out cash for new tickets. You’ll need to pay a little bit more, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to change our tickets (illness, potty break detours, etc).

Look at the train companies’ discount pages.  There are always specials, but you usually need to book at least three days before you travel.  I always end up booking one of these specials when I’m traveling with my kids.

Book the two sets of tables facing each other.  You can play games and set your snacks on the tables. You’ll have the option to choose seats when you’re making your purchase.

At the Train Station

Boy standing in front of red train and train tracks at Florence train station in Italy.

If you’re walking or taking a taxi to the train station, make sure you’re going to the correct station. Large cities have multiple train stations and it’s no fun to miss your train because you went to the wrong place (according to a friend).

Speaking of getting to the station – if you’ve got kids with you, it’s usually much easier to pay a few Euros and take a cab instead of walking your entire family and luggage through the city streets to the train station. This will also help you avoid sweating through your adorable vacation outfit. Keep in mind that taxis in Italy don’t require car seats.

Many of Italy’s train stations are large and crowded, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to arrive, find out where you need to go, and walk to your binario (track). With kids, you should also allow time to get last-minute snacks (if you haven’t purchased them already), use the toilet (although they’re free on the train, but sometimes you can’t hold it – I get it!), and move luggage and kids slowly to your train.

If your kids can read, you can have them navigate by looking up at the Departures Board (Partenze) and finding your train number and track (binario).

Good To Know: Sometimes there are multiple levels at Italian train stations, and elevators aren’t plentiful. You can ask train station staff, “Dov’è l’ascensore?” (Where is the elevator?). Allow extra time if you need to use the elevator, because you may have to walk quite a ways to get to it.

When you get to the tracks, be sure to point out the yellow line near the tracks that they shouldn’t cross until boarding the train.

On the Train with Your Kids

Two boys look out the window on a train in Italy as they cross the water from the mainland to Venice.
My boys excitedly making the train crossing from mainland Italy to Venice

Wearing your baby in a carrier is helpful while boarding and leaving the train. 

Bring snacks (even though some trains have snack bars or carriages).  You can pick up snacks at a grocery store in town or even at the train station (pricey, but much better selection than on the train).  There are small and narrow trash bins on the trains (you can see one in the photo above at the bottom of the window), but if you’ll have a lot of trash, bring a small bag with you.

Strollers need to be folded up and stored in the luggage area. The rest of your luggage can go above your seat (small bags) or in the luggage area at the ends of the carriages. 

Exception: Trenitalia has areas for strollers on select trains.   For example, on the Frecciarossa, if you book seat 18a, you’ll have a place next to you, and your baby can sleep in the stroller.  You’ll see the stroller icon when you’re choosing your seats.

Changing diapers can be tricky on trains.  High-speed trains usually have a changing table in the bathroom, but not on all carriages (Freccia trains usually in carriage 3, Italo trains usually in carriage 8).

I hope that helps a bit! Enjoy your train travel with your kids, and maybe we’ll see you on the train!

If you decide not to take the train, you may want to read about
Renting a Car in Italy
Driving in Italy

Boy looks out train window onto colorful street of Vernazza, Italy.
My son on a train in the Cinque Terre
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