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Colorful houses on a street in Parma, Italy.

Parma with Kids – Our Guide to the Colorful Cheese & Ham Paradise

The best things to do with kids in Parma; family-friendly activities in Parma; why you should plan a visit to Parma with kids!

A quick visit to the Parma is a hit for kids who enjoy food and learning about where it comes from.  Our kids love visiting and tasting Parmigiano Reggiano and prosciutto di Parma at their source – and your little ones probably will too!

If the food isn’t enough of a draw, there are also fun things to do for kids with other interests – cars, cycling, nature, and more. 

And Parma’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of more popular Italian cities like Rome and Venice.  You won’t find many tourists, so you’ll feel like you’re spending time with Italians, walking the colorful streets, exploring the monuments, and playing at the parks.   

Off-the-beaten-path Parma is a family-friendly, easy place to visit, and it’s easily combined with a trip to nearby Modena or Bologna.

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Where is Parma?

Parma is located in the Po valley in Northern Italy, in the region of Emilia Romagna.  It’s set between the larger cities of Milan and Bologna.

Why Visit Parma with Kids?

Bookshop storefront and cobblestone street in Parma, Italy.

Families will enjoy a visit to Parma because:

  • It’s home to some of Italy’s best foods that kids love to eat!
  • The city center is colorful, beautiful, and stroller-friendly
  • There are things to do for kids in the center and nearby
  • It’s stroller friendly
  • There are affordable accommodations
  • The city center is small and walkable

It’s a wonderful place to spend a day or two with your family soaking up the Italian lifestyle.  It also makes a great base for exploring the area (nearby towns like Modena, the car museums, cheese factory visits, etc).

Skip Parma if you’re looking for amazing kids playgrounds in the center (they’re outside the city walls).  There also aren’t any kid-focused activities or destinations (like children’s museums) in Parma. 

See our list of the Top 10 Car Museums in Italy!

The Best Things to Do In Parma with Kids

Piazza Garibaldi, the Duomo, and the Baptistery

Frieze with fantasy animals on the baptistery of Parma, Italy.
Parma Baptistery

Little ones enjoy running after the pigeons in the piazza and looking at the interior and exterior the Parma’s cathedral and baptistery. 

The Parma cathedral (Duomo di Parma) is free, and it’s worth a look, especially in the morning and afternoon (it gets dark and hard to see the frescoes in the evening). 

The baptistery (Battistero di Parma) is an octagonal building built with striking pink marble.  The highlight is the inside of the building and its 16-section ceiling and colorful frescoes.  However, the ticket for the baptistery (combined with the Duomo Museum) is pricey for adults, but kids enter free.  If the adults in your group are interested in seeing the inside, go for it.  Otherwise, take a look at the outside of the baptistery, which is decorated with a frieze of carved real and fantasy animal figures (zoophorus). 

Toy Shops

Orso Ludo, Città del Sole (also one of our favorite toy stores in Florence), and Pinocchio Giocattoli, and are in the center and worth a stop.  Pandemonio has games, including many in English.

Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it’s fun for kids to see what kids in Italy play with.

Go to a Soccer Game

Watch a calcio match with your children at the Stadio Ennio Tardini, right on the edge of the city center.  If you’re not ready to bring your kids to a Serie A match, spend an afternoon or evening with them watching the Serie B Parma squad. 

Parks and Playgrounds in Parma

Child walking on a path in Parco Ducale in Parma, Italy.  It's autumn and the leaves on the chestnut trees on both sides of the path are changing colors.
Parco Ducale

There are few kid-friendly green spaces in the center of Parma, but if you’re willing to walk (nice sidewalks) a little ways, there are more just outside of the city center.

Inside the city center:

Parco Ducale – no kids playground, but there’s a tiny trenino, kids ride area, and tricycle rentals in the southern/central part of the park.  Kids also enjoy the Fontana del Trianon and its fish, turtles, and birds (west end of the park).

Outside the city center:

Parco della Cittadella – top park for local Parma kids; playground; trampolines

Parco Lubiana – kids playground

Parco 1 Maggio / Parco Falcone e Borsellino – kids playground; pond with lilypads, turtles, and fish

Parco Giacomo Ferrari – playground; bouncy inflatable play area

Parco Bizzozero – small kids playground; nice paths for walking with a stroller

Castello dei Burattini – Museo Giordano Ferrari (Puppet’s Castle – Museum of Giordano Ferrari)

Many kids and adults love the displays of puppets. The museum is well-organized and the puppets are displayed well. Beautiful old posters, props, and more. It’s free, so if your young children are a little creeped out by the puppets (it happens!), you can always leave.

Good To Know:  Although it’s a highlight for many visitors, we don’t recommend visiting the inside of the Palazzo della Pilotta and its attractions (Farnese Theater – Teatro Farnese, National Gallery – Galleria Nazionale, Archaeological Museum – Museo Archaeologica, Palatine Library – Biblioteca Palatina) for kids.  If you have a baby and you want to visit, go for it.  Or, have adults trade off – one stays with the kids while the other visits. 
Most kids will not appreciate the sites inside the Palazzo.  However, we enjoyed seeing the outdoor areas – large internal courtyard, the pool, and the grassy area – full of locals, visitors, and musicians.

Things to Do Near Parma with Kids

Emilia-Romagna is an excellent region to explore with kids!

Inside the F1 area of the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, Italy.
Ferrari Maranello Museum

Tour a Parmigiano Cheese Factory

Caseificio San Pier Damiani and Caseificio Ugolotti are two well-known cheese factories that offer tours and tastings of the area’s delicious parmigiano reggiano. 

Good To Know:  A visit to a caseficio is best for older kids and teens because a large portion of the visit is explaining the process – little ones can get antsy.  However, if you have young kids who are curious about the process or love parmigiano, go for it!

Visit a Parma Ham Factory

Step inside a salumificio and learn about the process of curing hams.  Salumificio Conti and Salumificio La Perla, both in Langhirano will teach you about the process of curing prosciutto di Parma, and afterwards, you’ll be able to sample prosciutti cured for different lengths of time. 

A must for any prosciutto-loving child!

Labirinto della Masone (Mason Labyrinth)

Just outside Parma, you can find your way through the world’s largest bamboo labyrinth.  This was a hit for our family, and all ages will find something fun about the labyrinth.  There’s artwork inside, a lookout, and you really do have to work to find your way out.  But don’t worry, you get a wristband with the office’s phone number so you can call if you get lost!

After your visit, head upstairs into the owner’s personal art collection.  Many kids are fascinated by the skull paintings (but skip them if that’s not your thing).  Our kids also loved the wooden model of Milan’s Duomo and the tiger paintings.

Read more about Visiting Mason’s Labyrinth – The World’s Largest Maze!

Enzo Ferrari Museum

One of two Ferrari museums, the Enzo Ferrari Museum is in nearby Modena.  It looks at the history of Enzo and the Ferrari brand, and there are Ferraris from past to present displayed in a gorgeous, modern space.  Kids will love seeing the vehicles, sitting in a Ferrari, and choosing their favorite car from the wall of printed cars.

You may want to check out Ferrari Museums in Italy – Modena or Maranello, Which Should You Visit?

Museo Ferrari Maranello

Ferrari’s ‘other’ museum is in Maranello and it shares its location with the Ferrari factory.  A hit with anyone who’s passionate about cars (and even those who aren’t).  It showcases many Ferraris through the ages, trophies of champions, engines, history of the brand. 

Museo Automobili Lamborghini

The Lamborghini Museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese is small but worth a visit for car lovers.  It has Lamborghinis new and old, interactive displays, and a life-size LEGO Lamborghini!  You can sit outside and watch and listen to the Lamborghinis being tested on the road in front of the museum.

Read more about Visiting the Lamborghini Museum (MUDETEC)!

Museo Ducati

Just outside Bologna, the Ducati Motorcycle Museum houses Ducatis through the ages, as well as racing mementos.  It’s well-displayed and fun for the entire family to visit.

Autodromo Riccardo Paletti

Kids and adults race cars and motorcycles at the Varano Autodromo.  Check the schedule to see if there are any events or practices while you’re in the area.

Helpful Tip:  Bring noise-protection headphones for kids and earplugs for adults.

Bologna

Bologna is our favorite city for kids in Emilia-Romagna, and it’s just a short ways down the A1 Autostrada (or take the train).  Go on a food tour, visit the unique history museum, climb the Asinelli Tower, explore the market, ride on the trenino (little train) and see Bologna of the past in VR. 

Bologna is also one of our favorite places to visit with kids during the Christmas holiday.

Read more about Visiting Bologna with Kids and How to Spend 2 Days in Bologna!

Modena

Modena is the home of aceto balsamico and has a small, charming city center.  Kids will love climbing the Ghirlandina tower, visiting the Albinelli market, and exploring the lanes and piazzas.

Learn more in our posts on Modena with Kids!

Food Tour

Taste Bologna runs excellent tours in the area (Bologna, Modena, Parma) and can plan private group tours for your family.  They run small-group tours and visit the best places in Parma for authentic and delicious local food.

Food Museums

In the areas surrounding Parma, you can visit the Food Museums (Musei del Cibo), which give in-depth looks at important foods of the area:

  • Museum of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • Tomato Museum and Pasta Museum
  • Felino Salami Museum
  • Museum of Wine
  • Museum of Cured Meats

Helpful Tip:  Before you go, double-check opening hours and days. 

How to Get to Parma with Kids

Getting to Parma by Car

It’s easy to arrive in Parma by car.  It’s on the A1 Autostrada between Bologna and Milan. 

Parking:  It’s easiest to park just outside the center and walk in.  Park in blue spaces (pay or use the parking disco – check the signs) or use a paid lot or garage.

If you’re planning on driving in Italy, check out our posts on:
Renting a Car in Italy
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Important Italian Road Signs
Driving in Italy

International Driving Permit for Italy
Renting a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License
Italian Toll Roads – Driving on the Autostrada
Paying Tolls in Italy
Parking in Italy + Parking Sign Translations

Getting to Parma by Train

Parma is easily reached by train.  The Parma train station (Stazione di Parma) is on the northern edge of the city center.  You can walk from the station to Piazza del Duomo in 15-20 minutes, but if you’ve got luggage and kid gear, you’ll want to grab a taxi.

Getting to Parma by Plane

The best airports to reach Parma are Bologna (BLQ), Milan Malpensa (MXP), Milan Linate (LIN), and Bergamo (BGY).  Other airports that serve Parma include Verona (VRN) and Venice (VCE).

How to Get Around Parma with Kids

People walking and cycling on the streets of Parma, Italy.
Cyclists and pedestrians rule in Parma

Getting Around Parma on Foot

Parma is easy to walk around – it’s flat, the sidewalks are large and smooth, and the city isn’t huge. But, it’s big enough that little legs will get tired after a while. So, make sure you have a route planned and utilize strollers and taxis when necessary (keeping in mind that you won’t have a car seat in the taxi).

Getting Around Parma by Bicycle

Parma is very bike-friendly, and there are plenty of locals moving around on two wheels. If you have children who are experienced and confident cyclists, you’ll enjoy cycling in Parma – not just in the center, but also in places like Parco Ducale.

Older kids and teens can take advantage of Parma Bike Sharing, while families with smaller kids can rent bikes and helmets through Cicletteria.

Where to Stay in Parma with Kids

If you’re visiting town with family, the most relaxing and convenient option is to stay in an apartment, hotel or B&B just inside the city center. You can park outside the center and walk to your accommodation. Keeping your car within walking distance is important if you’ll be doing day trips and exploring the area by car (highly recommended).

We like the neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city center. The area is quiet, colorful, and clean.

Eating in Parma with Kids

Street corner in Parma, Italy with Trattoria Corrieri, a restaurant serving local specialties.

You won’t have any difficulty finding an excellent meal in Parma.

Eataly has L’Hamburgheria in Parma, which is a hit for kids. Plus, the restaurant organizes special events for kids, like cooking demos or magicians.  And, there are high chairs, changing tables, and kids menus. 

I Tri Siochett has food typical to the region and serves families well with high chairs, changing tables, and kids menus.

Trattoria Corrieri never disappoints for a classic meal. We have a vegetable-less (gulp!) dinner here – torte fritte, prosciutto di Parma, parmigiano reggiano, and risotto al parmigiano.

During the day, make a picnic with supplies from the market, grocery store, or a neighborhood alimentari.

Logistics in Parma with Kids

A sidestreet in Parma, Italy, with the city's typical wide and smooth sidewalks, perfect for families traveling with strollers.
Check out those wide sidewalks – perfect for strollers!

Breastfeeding – There are benches and areas all around the city where you can breastfeed.  If you desire more privacy, la Feltrinelli book shop has some quiet areas with comfy seats.

Baby Supplies – The shop Belli Parma in the center carries any baby necessities you may need.  You can also find diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and formula at grocery stores and pharmacies.

Strollers – Parma is very stroller-friendly. Most sidewalks are wide enough for a stroller, clean, and smooth. On some smaller streets, the sidewalks are narrow, but you can move onto the road when you need to.

FAQ

Can we bring a prosciutto leg home with us?
Check with your country’s department of agriculture to find out if travelers can bring meats into the country.  Currently, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) does not allow travelers to bring cured meats like prosciutto di Parma into the country.  You’ll just need to enjoy it while you’re in Italy!

Is San Paolo’s Chamber (Camera di San Paolo) a kid’s attraction?
San Paolo’s chamber is a room in St. Paul’s Monastery in Parma. It’s famous for its frescoes on the ceiling and fireplace. Your kids probably won’t be thrilled if you bring them to see it.