Are you daydreaming about your family trip to Italy…but you’re not exactly sure how to guarantee it’s kid-friendly?
Have no fear! Italy is one of the most child-friendly countries in the world, and there’s plenty to do here to keep kids of all ages interested and entertained for days, weeks, months, and yes, even years (my kids are proof – we live here and they love it!).
You may be imagining dragging your kids around museums, through crowded streets, and up and down stairs to ‘boring’ Roman ruins. But, don’t worry – I’ve jotted down some of our favorite things to do with kids in Italy – that are parent-approved and kid-approved.
From castle visits to tower climbs, pasta-making to bamboo labyrinths – there’s something on this list for every Mario, Sofia, and Gianni in your family.
Why listen to me? I’m a mom of three (ages 3, 6, 9 years) living in Tuscany and we spend much of our time traveling around Italy, exploring its nook and crannies. I’m always looking for kid-friendly things to do. I do the exploring and weed out the best activities and experiences for kids so that you don’t have to take chances on your vacation! Oh, and I have also been helping others (including families) visit Italy since 2004, as a trip planner and travel guide.
Good To Know: I haven’t listed everything in every category because… not everything in Italy is amazing (just like in every other place you’ll visit in the world). So, if I’ve only listed two theme parks, it’s because our family thinks those are the best… and worth your precious vacation time!
Stay in a Rifugio in the Dolomites
If you’ve read anything else on this site, you know our family spends a lot of time in the Dolomites – one of the most magical places on the planet. If you travel to the Dolomites with your family, why not stay in one of the area’s rifugi (mountain huts)? Enjoy the walk (or gondola ride) to a hut, sample the region’s mountain food (polenta or canederli anyone?), and peek at the brightly-shining stars before you go to bed.
You’re spoilt for choice, but a couple of the most family-friendly spots for a rifugio stay are Alpe di Siusi and Cinque Torri. Both are easily-accessed, family-friendly, and offer kid-friendly hikes.
Try: Rifugio Scoiattoli at the base of the Cinque Torri, near Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites.
If your kids like spending the night in unique places, you could also rest your weary heads in Italy in:
- A trullo in Puglia
- An agriturismo in Tuscany
- A cave in Matera
- A castle
Get more ideas in my general guide to Accommodation Options in Italy – From Agriturismos to Villas
Learn How to Make Mozzarella Cheese
In Southern Italy, watch master cheese makers and nonne (grandmothers) create the milky, chewy cheese. It’s not like mozzarella from home – and fresh mozzarella tastes the best!
Try: The ‘Mozzarella Show’ with Trulli e Puglia, based in Alberobello
Take a Family Friendly Tour of the Colosseum
Kid-Friendly guides can make Roman ruins like the Colosseum come to life – with scavenger hunts, legends, and illustrations. My 9-year-old was engrossed in our guide Simona’s tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum – and I also learned a ton!
Try: Colosseum Tour with Rome Tours with Kids
More ruins in Italy that kids enjoy:
- Roman Forum (Rome)
- Greek Theatre (Taormina, Sicily)
- Pompeii (near Naples)
Go to Gladiator School
And, if your kids are obsessed with gladiators like my oldest son is, be sure to read up on gladiators before your visit to Rome. And, sign up to be a gladiator! First, tour the Gladiator Museum and then get dressed in gladiator gear, learn how to train like a gladiator, and try to battle!
Try: Gladiator School with Gruppo Storico Romano
Read about more Things to Do With Kids in Rome
Visit a Castle
Italy is home to thousands(!) of castles, and many of them are ready to welcome young explorers.
Try It: Let your kids roam at Castello di Brolio in Tuscany
Sketch Michelangelo’s David
I’m not one to spend hours in art museums with my kids, but I do try to pick out kid-friendly itineraries for them and sometimes we’ll visit just to see one or two things.
If you’re like me, think about visiting Michelangelo’s David statue in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. The museum is small, manageable, and if you want, you can find a corner and let your kids try their hand at sketching David.
Walk Across the Ponte Vecchio at Sunset
Florence’s Ponte Vecchio one of the most famous landmarks in Italy, and it’s an easy place to visit with kids. Gaze at the gold and jewelry shops, and peek at the Vasari Corridor above (it linked the home of the Medici – the Pitti Palace – with their offices in the Uffizi).
Grab a gelato and stroll across at sunset.
Helpful Tip: For a sunset view of the Ponte Vecchio, walk one bridge to the east – Ponte alle Grazie. You’ll see the silhouette of the Ponte Vecchio against the gorgeous colors of the sunset.
Try: Get your gelato at Gelateria Perché No and then walk through Piazza della Signoria and turn right to walk to Via Por Santa Maria / Via Calimala, turn left and walk straight until you cross the Ponte Vecchio (‘old bridge’).
Climb a Tower!
Are your kids full of energy like mine are? Then build some time in your day to run around and climb! Here are a few of our favorite tower climbs in Italy:
- Florence – Giotto’s Bell Tower or Duomo
- Pisa – Leaning Tower
- Siena – Torre del Mangia
- San Gimignano – Torre Grossa
- Lucca – Guinigi Tower
- Bologna – Asinelli Tower (currently closed)
- Venice – Clock Tower in St. Mark’s (best with older kids), Scala Contarini del Bovolo
Try: Siena’s Torre del Mangia has an incredible view of the Piazza del Campo, home of the bi-annual Palio horse race.
Hike in the Cinque Terre Villages
Love hiking? And colorful cliffside villages? And the Mediterranean Sea? Get your buns over to the Cinque Terre and walk the paths between the five villages. While I see kids of all ages in the area, I think the hikes are more fun and less stressful when kids are comfortable hiking (it’s not fun to carry a toddler on the trail here).
Try: Use this official map to find the Cinque Terre hike best for your family. The easiest path is the Via dell’Amore, but it’s been transformed into a guided walk that needs to be reserved. Instead, try the routes from Vernazza to Monterosso (3.6km, about 90 minutes, but closed at the time of writing).
Swim in the Italian Maldives
Yes, it seems like every country is trying to offer up their own version of the Maldives, but Sardinia’s beaches really do have the shallow, crystal clear water and white beaches of the Maldives. The only (big) difference is the water temperature, but kids don’t seem to mind!
Try: Stay in or around Cagliari and spend time at the Spiaggia del Poeto.
Go Cycling on Dolomites Bike Paths
If your kids love cycling but you’re not keen on having them ride with traffic on Italian roads (me!), spend a day cycling on the incredible network of cycling paths in the Dolomites.
Our absolute favorite path is the one from Malles to Bolzano. It’s mostly a gentle downhill (with steeper downhill sections toward the end) and the scenery is spectacular. I’ve ridden it multiple times, and it never gets old!
Good To Know: I’m a huge cyclist (so is my husband) and we live in Tuscany. I do not recommend cycling on Tuscany’s roads with young kids. Yes, there’s a huge cycling culture here, but the roads are narrow and winding and we don’t feel comfortable with our kids on the country roads here. Stick to the places I mentioned above for stress-free cycling with kids in Italy! If you’re in Tuscany and really want to cycle with your kids, rent bikes in Lucca and ride on the city’s walls!
Good To Know: Lake Garda also has some kid-friendly cycling paths.
Helpful Tip: When you’re reserving your bicycles, be sure to ask for helmets as well. They’re not always automatically part of the rental.
Try It: Rent a bike and ride on one of the Südtirol Rad bike paths.
See the Trulli in Alberobello
Kids soak up the magical atmosphere of Alberobello, the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Puglia that’s home to the unique conical structures known as trulli.
On a visit to Alberobello you can walk amongst the trulli, step inside them to visit shops, spend the night in one, and gaze at them from above at one of the town’s belle viste (viewpoints).
Every time we visit Puglia, my boys want to stop to wander Alberobello’s streets (and ask me to buy a trullo-shaped magnet, eraser, mug…).
Play in the Sand at a Puglia Beach
Some of our family’s favorite Italian beaches are in Puglia. There are plenty of clean, sandy beaches with clear, shallow water.
You can choose between private beach clubs or free public beaches, and after beach time, visit some of the area’s gorgeous villages like UNESCO World Heritage Alberobello.
Read my guide to Puglia with Kids
Visit the Castellana Caves
Speaking of Puglia… take a break from the beach and explore underground. The Castellana Caves (Grotte di Castellana) have kid-friendly guided itineraries. My two older boys love the visits and we’ve made repeat trips.
Wave to the Pope
If your child is fascinated by the Vatican City and the Pope, you can get free tickets to see him. Check the official website and request tickets in advance, and be sure to practice your perfect wave.
Ride on a Gondola
Riding on a gondola is a classic thing to do in Venice. It can be a fun thing to do with your family. Read more about riding in a gondola in Venice with kids to find out if it’s a good idea for your family (if not, I give gondola alternatives).
Go on Rides at Gardaland
Everywhere we travel to, my kids ask if there’s a theme park. Do yours do the same?
We have plenty of theme parks in Italy, but the ‘main’ one is Gardaland. There are rides for kids of all ages, and it’s clean, organized, and easy to navigate as a parent. Plus, there’s a LEGOLAND Water Park, which is perfect for hot summer days.
Other options include Leolandia (great for toddlers and little kids) or Cavallino Matto (combines well with a Tuscan beach visit).
Good To Know: We also have plenty of outdoor adventure parks (zip lines, ropes courses, etc), like the ones in Colfosco and Ortisei. But, be sure to check out the website because it may not be like what you’ve experienced in the past.
Try Italian Food at the Source
Thankfully, Italian food tends to be universally kid-friendly! Your kids can try many Italian foods throughout the country, but if you want to try these delicacies ‘at the source,’ look for:
- Mozzarella in Campania
- Pesto in Liguria
- Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese) in Parma
- Aceto Balsamico (balsamic vinegar) in Modena
- Pizza in Naples
- Arancini and granite in Sicily
- Ragù in Bologna
- Taralli in Puglia
- Gelato in Florence (and everywhere else!)
- Pandoro in Verona
Walk Through an Enormous Bamboo Labyrinth
We have a few labyrinths in Italy, but the enormous one is Mason’s Labyrinth near Parma. It’s made of bamboo and includes art, and when you’re done, you can visit the on-site, unique museum. My boys loved it and I’m sure yours will too!
Visit the Ferrari Museums
There are two excellent Ferrari Museums in Italy – one in Modena and one in Maranello, and they’re both worth visiting for different reasons.
Check out the Vintage Pinocchio Park
If your kids have read or watched ‘Pinocchio,’ think about visiting Pinocchio Park in Tuscany. It’s a small, ‘vintage’ theme park Collodi, and it’s most fun for small kids (arts and crafts, a puppet show in Italian, collections of Pinocchio toys, and more). There are a few things for older kids like the zipline across the river.
Hold Up the Leaning Tower of Pisa
It’s a silly but classic thing to do in Italy – take creative and goofy photos with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I can confirm after multiple visits with kids, it never gets old for them.
And, there are other things to do in the same Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), and around Pisa (like see the Keith Haring mural, visit the Botanical Garden, and our favorite – the Paratrooper Museum).
Good To Know: In order to climb the tower, kids must turn 8 by the end of the calendar year. And, be sure to purchase tickets in advance! Read my tips for visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa with kids!
I know it’s a given on any trip to Italy, but I don’t want you to forget!
Stop in at:
- one of my favorite gelaterie in Florence
- one of the best places to eat gelato in Tuscany
- Suso in Venice
- Gelateria Eccetera in Bolzano
- Fatamorgana or one of my other favorite gelaterie in Rome
- Gelati Divini in Ragusa Ibla
- Gelateria Valenti in Naples
Watch a Puppet Show in Palermo
Palermo is one of our favorite places to explore as a family. There’s so much to keep both kids and adults interested (and keep bellies full!).
One of Palermo’s historic arts is… puppets! You’ll see them in shop windows, there’s a puppet museum, and you can even watch a show with your kids.
You can read more about the city’s puppet shows in my guide to Palermo with kids.
Helpful Tip: If you love learning about local traditions, you should also try to visit Cinabro Carrettieri in Ragusa Ibla, where you’ll learn about Sicilian carts while exploring a functioning workshop.
Find Outdoor Art
Do your kids love huge murals, public art (like graffiti) and outdoor sculptures? Mine do too! We’re always on the hunt for new outdoor art. These are some of our favorites:
- Dozza’s murals
- Peccioli’s giants
- Chianti Sculpture Park (near Siena)
- Palermo’s murals
- Pisa’s murals
Learn How Chocolate is Made in Modica
Modican chocolate should be sampled at the source! If you’re in southeastern Sicily, make a point of tasting some of Modica’s local chocolate and if you can, stop in one of the workshops to see it being made. And, don’t forget to bring some home with you!
Try It: We love the tasting area at Antica Dolceria Bonajuto. You can join the line to taste chocolates with your kids, but know that the counter is high (you’ll need to hold them up) and the line can be long (but there are videos and displays about chocolate in the room). If you want to do a tour (30-min, perfect length for kids!), be sure to reserve in advance.
Learn About the Cave Homes in Scicli
Most people are drawn to the Val di Noto’s villages of Ragusa, Noto and Modica – but Scicli is small and kid-friendly. Besides excellent gelato and a gorgeous town center, one of the highlights for children is learning about how people lived in the caves on the edges of town. You can still see them from afar, and you can visit a couple of places (a former home and a small church, for example) to get an idea of what life was like for the people who lived in the area.
Try It: Take a walking tour with local guide Maria (+39 338 895 9468).
Find a Favorite Playground
While Italy’s playgrounds may not be as exciting as your are as home (my boys are thrilled with the playgrounds when we’re back in the US) – we do have some gems here in Italy. Our favorites are in the Dolomites – Italy’s mountain playground!
You can read about them in
Dolomites with Kids
Bolzano with Kids – it has our favorite playground in the region
Ortisei with Kids – it has our favorite mountain village playground
7-Day Itinerary for a Family Trip in the Dolomites
Marble Paper in Florence
Do you have an artist in your family? Stop in at a workshop in Florence and learn about the traditional marbling of paper… and then try it yourselves!
Try It: Sign up for a workshop at Il Papiro
Make a Carnevale Mask in Venice
Carnevale is one of the biggest holidays in Italy for kids. It’s got similar energy to Halloween in the US… my boys love choosing their costumes and dressing up for school and our town’s parade and celebration.
If you happen to be in Venice, you’ll get a look at some of the most intricate and creative Carnevale masks in Italy. Looking at them in windows is fun, but you can also create your own to bring home as a souvenir!
Another kid-friendly activity in Venice – watching glass blowers create figurines, glasses, and more on the island of Murano.
Try It: Make your mask at Kartaruga, but be sure to book well in advance.
Say Hello to Ötzi, the Ice Man
Ötzi, a mummy that’s over 5,000 years old, was found on the border between Austria and Italy. He now makes his home in a special chamber in the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum in Bolzano.
Kids can set up and peek inside to see his body. You can also see his well-preserved clothing and tools and see a statue of what he’s believed to have looked like.
Dip in Hot Springs in Tuscany
Go for a soak in one of Tuscany’s hot springs or thermal baths – there are plenty to choose from!
This is a great thing to do during spring break with kids when it may be too chilly for swimming in lakes or the sea.
Try It: Set your GPS to Bagno Vignoni in Southern Tuscany. Visit the small village and dip your toes in the small thermal stream, or try the huge free baths below town.
Take a Boat to an Island
If your kids love boats and islands… we have plenty of them in Italy! You may want to work one of these kid-friendly isole into your itinerary for your Italy family trip:
Sardinia (Sardegna) – Clear, shallow, turquoise water – this is the place for a pure beach vacation.
Sicily (Sicilia) – History, culture, ruins, food, chaos – magical Sicily can be exhausting, but oh so worth it.
Giglio Island (Isola del Giglio) – Escape the crowds and hang with the locals on this tiny island off the Tuscan Coast.
Elba Island (Isola d’Elba) – Another jewel off the Tuscan Coast, Elba has more sandy beaches (best for younger kids) and accommodation than Giglio Island.
Isola Bella – Spend a couple of hours visiting this unique island in Lake Maggiore.
Burano Island (Isola di Burano) – This Venetian island has some of the most colorful homes in Italy and delicious local cookies. What’s not to like?
Try It: Take the vaporetto #12 from Venice to Burano.
Take a Cooking Class
We love the cooking classes in our home region of Tuscany, but if there’s a certain regional cuisine you want to learn, try it there!
Kids also enjoy market visits, so you can choose a cooking class that includes a trip to the local market to pick out ingredients.
Try It: Make fresh pasta and more with Toscana Mia Cooking School in Tuscany
Go Skiing in the Dolomites
Skiiers (or snowboarders, or winter sports lovers) in your family? Head to northern Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites for over 1200 kilometers of ski slopes and routes.
And, the area is perfect even for the littlest of kids – there are plenty of kid zones with innertubes, snow parks, and fun things to do while older siblings are on the slopes.
I’m not a skier, but I’ve loved our family’s time in the Dolomites in the winter!
Try It: Book a holiday in the Dolomiti Superski area.
Celebrate with Italians
Italians are joyful and love to celebrate! Have your family join in on the country’s numerous festivals, holidays, and events.
Sagras are local festivals that usually revolve around a special local food or drink. They’re casual, full of families, and often have entertainment like live music or trampolines.
Holidays are plentiful in Italy. My kids’ favorites include Christmas, Easter, La Befana, Carnevale, New Year’s Eve. Your kids will be able to see the similarities and differences in the same holidays (for example, seeing presepi during Christmas).
Try It: Be sure to leave a sock out for each child for La Befana to fill up if you’re visiting Italy on the night of December 5th.
Cheer on an Italian Soccer Team
Italy is soccer-obsessed, and if you didn’t already know that, you’ll discover it upon arrival! If your child loves soccer (calcio here in Italy), why not watch a match while you’re here?
A match is an opportunity to soak up Italian culture – from arriving to the stadium, to trying our stadium foods outside the entrance to listening to the cheers from the crowds.
Good To Know: If soccer isn’t really your thing, know that cycling and basketball are also big here.
Try It: Cheer on AC Milan or Inter Milan at San Siro Stadium.
Make a Picnic
Some of our favorite items for a family-friendly picnic include:
- Schiacciata or focaccia
- Various cheeses (especially pecorino di Pienza and mini balls of mozzarella)
- Pesto (to spread on bread)
- Cured meats like prosciutto and bresaola
- Fresh fruit that can be eaten easily, like apricots, oranges, grapes, or cherries
- Ready-made-salads in the deli
- Water or juice
Helpful Tip: Don’t forget a small blanket (or even a large scarf) so you’ll have a place to sit!
Try It: If you’ve got access to a kitchen, let your kids use their hands to make authentic panzanella!
Go Truffle Hunting
Meet a truffle-hunting dog and see it in action in Tuscany, Umbria, or Piedmont. Then, try the freshly-found tartufi in a home-cooked meal!
Try It: Get digging with Tra Arte e Querce in Piedmont
Explore a Kid-Friendly Museum
Our museums in Italy may not be as kid-friendly as what you’re used to at home, but we do have some standouts that keep kids interested and entertained. Here are a few that your children may like:
Stibbert Museum (Florence) – amazing armor collection and more
Leonardo da Vinci Interactive Museum (Florence) – older kids can tinker with Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions (replicas)
HZERO Train Museum (Florence) – model trains galore
Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology (Milan) – amazing museum with itineraries for kids; one of our family’s favorite places to visit when we’re in Milan
South Tyrol Museum of Archaelogy (Bolzano) – the highlight is seeing the 5,000-year-old mummy, Ötzi!
The Ferrari Museum (Maranello) – my boys’ favorite car museum in Italy
Egyptian Museum (Turin) – world-famous Egyptian Museum that’s sure to capture your Egypt-obsessed child’s heart!
MUSE Science Museum (Trento)
Explora – Children’s Museum (Rome) – if you’re looking for a traditional children’s museum, this is one of Italy’s best
Chianti Sculpture Park (near Siena) – outdoor art linked by paths in the forest
Giardino dei Tarocchi (near Capalbio in Southern Tuscany) – colorful mosaics make up gigantic sculptures and figures in this outdoor park
Helpful Tip: You can also take a family tour of a museum that’s not necessarily known as being kid-friendly. This can be a private or group (paid) tour, or you could choose a few things that your kids are interested in and see those artifacts only. For example, in the Vatican Museums, my son really wanted to see the Egyptian section and the Sistine Chapel. We saw both and left satisfied, happy, and not exhausted.
Heads Up: You may have heard about amazing kids’ programs and workshops at museums in Italy. Unfortunately, they’re often focused on local kids and are only in Italian – be sure to confirm the activity is in English!
Try It: Stop in at the South Tyrol Archaeology Museum to say hi to Ötzi
I hope this has given you some good ideas for fun and memorable things to do with your kids on your trip to Italy! Let me know if you have other favorites for our family to check out!
Things to Do With Kids in Italy – FAQ
Yes, there are zoos in Italy. We have been to the Pistoia Zoo in Tuscany and the Zoosafari in Puglia. If you’re not a fan of zoos in general, I’d skip the zoos in Italy.
If your child has studied Galileo or has some interest in him already, yes. My 9-year-old son and I followed a Galileo scavenger hunt in Florence and finished at the museum and we enjoyed our visit. I could see little kids getting bored. The one thing that’s fun for all to see is Galileo’s finger, preserved in a little jar!