Are you planning a trip to Tuscany with your family and want to add Siena to your list?
Our family lives nearby and our kids love spending the day wandering around its streets, climbing the Torre del Mangia, and looking for their favorite Palio contrade (neighborhoods).
If you’ve already visited Florence, and you’re looking for a quieter city, you’ll love Siena. If you’ve been exploring the Tuscan countryside and relaxing at your agriturismo’s pool, Siena will give you a taste of local city life.
Siena with kids is easy enough to plan and you can find something for all interests – for kids and adults.
In this article, we’ll give you our six favorite things to do with kids, and you can pick and choose based on the amount of time you have in Siena and what your family is interested in.
How Long Should You Spend in Siena with Kids
We think one day is a nice amount of time to visit Siena, but of course, if you’d like to get to know the town and ‘settle in’ for a bit, you could use Siena as a base for exploring the surrounding Tuscan countryside (see below for things to do with kids near Siena).
When To Visit Siena with Kids
Siena can be visited year-round. It’s busiest between May and September, but there are visitors all year.
We love visiting in April and October – it’s by no means empty, but it’s a little less crowded and the weather is still nice.
If you are interested in the Palio and want to see Siena at its most exciting moments, visit around the 2nd of July and 16th of August. You can see the races or observe or participate in some of the events surrounding them.
Siena is beautiful in December, sparkling with Christmas lights and a festive atmosphere.
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The 6 Best Things to Do in Siena with Kids
Soak up the Atmosphere in the Piazza del Campo
If you’ve seen a video of the Palio (or the opening chase scene of Quantum of Solace) – this is the place!
The grand Piazza del Campo is the site of Siena’s famous horse race. Every July 2nd and August 16th, the piazza fills up with crowds who come to watch the horses from Siena’s contrade (neighborhoods) run three laps on the dirt track around the piazza. The race lasts less than two minutes but the people of Siena focus on it year-round.
Even if you don’t visit for the Palio, the Piazza del Campo is still a magical place to sit, stare up at the Torre del Mangia bell tower and Palazzo Pubblico (town hall), watch people, and enjoy an ice cream.
Kids love running around, chasing the pigeons, and looking at the Fonte Gaia (Gaia Spring), the decorated marble fountain at the top of the piazza.
Unfortunately, picnics aren’t allowed on the piazza, so you can relax with a drink or gelato or find a seat at one of the restaurants or cafes on the piazza. We never really feel comfortable letting the little kids play in the piazza while we’re sitting at a restaurant – it’s almost always full of people and there is still traffic at the bottom of the piazza. Older, responsible kids should be ok (but of course, use your judgment).
Good To Know: There’s a fountain with drinkable water on the right of the Fonte Gaia.
Climb the Torre del Mangia
When you’re done staring up at the Torre del Mangia (Tower of the Eater), climb it!
The tower got its nickname because the tower’s keeper was nicknamed Mangiaguadagni – he ‘ate’ through his earnings.
Kids (10 and under) are free, and it’s a fun climb up that includes narrow passageways, an early viewpoint, and little lookouts along the way. There are about 400 steps, but it goes by quickly.
At the top, you’re rewarded with spectacular views of the Piazza del Campo, the rooftops of Siena, and the surrounding countryside. Our boys enjoyed the lookout close to the bottom the most (they could see the view easier than at the top) and it makes a nice spot to stop for photos.
Good To Know: Both baby carriers and baby backpacks are technically allowed, but baby backpacks are not recommended because there are a few places where you need to duck.
Good To Know: You can leave your stroller at in the civic museum inside the building (on your right as you walk through the entrance). Just tell them you have a ticket to climb the torre.
Visit a Local Playground
Siena isn’t full of playgrounds, but there are a few that will keep little ones happy.
San Francesco Playground (Piazza San Francesco) – 2 small slides, rope climbing structure, seesaw, balance beam on springs. Benches and shade, and a beautiful view of the Basilica di San Francesco – see if your kids can find the winged bull on the façade!
Vicolo della Fortuna Playground (vicolo della Fortuna, 39) – A small playground tucked between houses. It has a little slide, play structure, rope structure, hopscotch, seesaw, and elephant climbing structure. There are benches, shade, and there’s a drinking fountain. We recently visited and it was full of bird poop, but my 4-year-old proclaimed, ‘this park is amazing!’ It’s not worth going out of your way to visit, but if you’re in the area and your kids want to play, go for it. It’s not amazing for small kids because most of the toys require climbing skills.
Porta San Marco Playground (just outside Porta San Marco) – This is our favorite playground in Siena. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from Piazza del Campo, but it’s worth the trek. You can let the kids play, have a picnic, and enjoy gorgeous views. It’s shaded, there are benches, padded ground, a water fountain, and it’s mostly fenced. Your kids can let their energy out on the climbing structures, slides, see-saw, and rocking toys. It’s best for smaller kids, but my older children can still have fun here (my 8-year-old does).
Good To Know: If you want to have a picnic, the best places are the Botanical Garden, Parco La Lizza, or La Fortezza Medicea. You can also use the covered area and benches behind the Piazza del Campo, at the Piazza del Mercato. Picnics are not allowed at Orto dei Pecci (and we don’t think it’s worth walking down there unless you want to eat at the pizzeria on the property).
Check Out the Duomo
First, take a look at its facade of black and white striped marble, colorful mosaics, and statues. Once inside, point out the optical illusion inside the blue starred dome, the 172 busts of popes, the St. Paul statue by Michelangelo, and the famous marble mosaic floor. Wait in line to enter the incredible Piccolomini library with its frescoes and illuminated manuscripts.
True, all of these things to look at inside may not seem like they’ll be a big hit for kids, but the Siena Cathedral is gorgeous, striking, and has a variety of things to see inside – there’s sure to be something your child will find interesting.
Sample Local Treats
Head to Nannini and ask for ricciarelli. One of Siena’s famous sweet treats, these powdered sugar-covered cookies are best fresh and Nannini is the place to get them.
You can also find the bacio di Siena (Sienese kiss), a chocolate-dipped ball of cream with candied almonds. Find them where they were born at Bar Siena (via Malavolti, 5).
We also like to get picnic supplies at a grocery store or the Consorzio Agrario (fancy) and sit on the benches at a park like the nearby San Francesco playground.
For a quick slice of pizza, we love the no-frills Pizzeria Poppi (via Banchi di Sotto, 25).
Explore the Contrade
Siena has 17 contrade (neighborhoods):
|Aquila||Eagle||Yellow, blue, black||Notary||Owl, dragon||Panther|
|Bruco||Caterpillar||Yellow, green, blue||Silk||Porcupine, seashell, tower||None|
|Chiocciola||Snail||Yellow, red, blue||Leather tanner||Porcupine, panther, forest||Tortoise|
|Civetta||Owl||Red, black, white||Shoemaker||Eagle, giraffe, porcupine, panther||Unicorn|
|Drago||Dragon||Pink, green, yellow||Banker||Eagle||None|
|Giraffa||Giraffe||White, red||Painter||Owl, porcupine, panther||None|
|Istrice||Porcupine||Red, white, blue, black||Blacksmith||Caterpillar, snail, owl, giraffe||She-wolf|
|Leocorno||Unicorn||White, orange, blue||Goldsmith||Panther, tortoise||Owl|
|Lupa||She-Wolf||White, black, orange||Baker||None||Porcupine|
|Nicchio||Seashell||Blue, yellow, red||Potter||Caterpillar, wave, tortoise||Ram|
|Oca||Goose||White, green, red||Dyer||None||Tower|
|Onda||Wave||White, blue||Joiner (wood)||Tortoise, seashell, ram||Tower|
|Pantera||Panther||Red, blue, white||Chemist, grocer||Seashell, owl, giraffe, unicorn||Eagle|
|Selva||Forest||Green, orange, white||Weaver||Snail, tortoise||None|
|Tartuca||Tortoise||Yellow, blue||Sculptor||Unicorn, wave, seashell, forest||Snail|
|Torre||Tower||Red, white, blue||Woolcomber||Caterpillar||Goose, wave|
|Valdimontone||Ram||Red, yellow, white||Tailor||Wave||seashell|
Each contrada has its own fountain, museum, and church. As you’re walking around the neighborhoods, see if you can spot them. And, look for the contrada’s flags hanging from the buildings, and for little hidden symbols in the neighborhoods.
You can tour the contrada museums – see the official website of the one you’re interested in visiting (all linked in the table above). If you’re in town around one of the Palio dates, see the contrada websites for info on events like dinners in the neighborhood streets.
Map of the Best Things to Do in Siena with Kids
More Things to Do in Siena with Kids
In town for longer? You can also enjoy the following with your children in Siena:
- Go shopping – You can find souvenir shops, local boutiques, and international chains. Look for leather goods, food treats (ricciarelli, panforte, truffles). Our favorite kid souvenirs are Palio flags. Our preferred stop for food products is the Consorzio Agrario (Agricultural Consortium, via Pianigiani, 9). We also like laFeltrinelli’s kids section (via Banchi di Sopra, 64/66).
- Visit the Natural History Museum (Musei dell’Accademia dei Fisiocritici) – Highlights for kids include the enormous whale skeleton, the taxidermied animals, the rock and gemstone collection, and the insect collection.
- See a soccer game – The stadium is on the northern edge of the city. See our guide to watching a soccer game in Italy, and tips for going to an Italian soccer game with kids.
Tips for Visiting Siena with Kids
Don’t get too relaxed on quiet streets
Senesi drive fast on their tiny streets (in cars and on motorcycles), so always be ready for one to come around the corner. The best place to let kids run free is in the Piazza del Campo (but even cars drive on the road at the bottom of the piazza).
Learn about the Palio before you visit
Read books, watch YouTube videos, and learn about the excitement the races bring to the entire city. A visit is much more meaningful for kids if they understand the hype about the Palio.
Bring your stroller
But, know that hilly Siena has some streets with stairs so you may need to do some back-tracking. If you’ve got a little baby, you can also use a carrier for the day. We like bringing the stroller because we use its storage underneath, tired kids can sit on the bench seat, and it’s a nice spot for naps (and if needed, diaper changes).
Parking in Siena with kids
We find the easiest parking lot to be San Francesco, on the eastern side of the city. You park, walk 100 meters to a series of (5) escalators, and you’re in town! There’s also a little playground at the top, which is perfect if your kids have been sitting in the car. But, you have to fold up your stroller because there’s no elevator.
Good To Know: There’s also a toilet in the building at the base of the San Francesco escalators. If you want to avoid the escalators, park at the Parcheggio Stadio (except on Wednesday, market day) or Parcheggio Il Campo. You can walk with your stroller from the lots to the city center.
Things to Do with Kids Near Siena
Chianti Sculpture Park (Pievasciata) – Explore the paths and variety of colorful and unique sculptures in this wooded park near Siena.
Monteriggioni – Walk on the well-preserved medieval walls and imagine how life was in this tiny hilltop village.
San Gimignano – It’s definitely a ‘tourist town,’ but kids love it for its towers and delicious gelato.
Beaches – In less than two hours, you can be playing at the beach.
Cavallino Matto – This theme park has plenty of rides for younger kids.
Val d’Orcia – Drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Orcia Valley and explore the tiny villages (Pienza, Montepulciano). You can even visit thermal springs like those in Bagno Vignoni.
I hope this helps you plan out a visit to Siena with your kids!
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