How to Travel Italy with Kids: Tips and Activities

February 9, 2024

You can definitely visit Italy with kids: The country is safe, fun, and immensely educational. To top things off, Italian culture is one of the most kid-friendly in the world. Simply put, Italians love kids and are more than accommodating to children of any age. 

Traveling to Italy with kids will be a trip to remember, introducing them to impressive sights, a unique culture, heaps of history, and, of course, delicious Italian cuisine.

If you want to know how to maximize the fun and educational aspects, read our guide on the best ways to prepare for your trip, and the best things to do in Italy for kids. 

Families in Italy with kids playing, Italian square

Italian squares are great places to enjoy doing multiple activities with your family. Photo credit: Gabriella Clare Marino

Get the excitement going early

Begin amping up the family a couple of months before you begin your trip. Your best resources in this area will be age-appropriate books about Italy and the Roman Empire.

If you teach your kids about the places they’ll be seeing ahead of time, they’ll be more excited when they actually see them. Here is short list of some of our favorite books about Italy for young people. 

Strega Nona

The classic picture book by Tomie dePaola is as beloved by adults as it is by young readers. We always have at least one copy on the shelves of Walks HQ. 

Books can be a great way to connect with your kids

Books can be a great way to learn and play with your kids during the trip. Photo credit: Yael González

The Roman Mysteries

Caroline Lawrence’s series about young detectives during the Roman empire spans 20 books, all of which are loved by young readers and respected by educators and Classics enthusiasts. There is perhaps no more accessible and entertaining way to introduce YA readers to life in the first century AD.

While many of the early books are set in and around Rome, there is at least one story for many of the locations you might visit in Italy with your kids, so you can almost always find one that deals specifically with where you are going.

Planning trips to Italy with kids

Let them partake in the planning of what you’ll do in Italy. Photo credit: Ismail Salad Osman

The Thief Lord

A wonderful stand-alone YA novel set in the winding streets and misty canals of Venice. It is written by German children’s author, Cornelia Funke, who is famous for her trilogy, Inkheart. this rollicking adventure is a favorite of both children and teenagers.

Young adult literature can be great for learning about a place

Young adults can definitely find inspiration in the right books to imagine places, and make the best out of their trip. Photo credit: Seven Shooter

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction

If your kids are more visually oriented, this is a must-read/see. David Macaulay brings a fictional Roman city to life with dazzlingly-detailed building diagrams that introduce the reader to the main elements of Roman architecture.

If you’re planning to visit the Roman Forum, or Pompeii, don’t miss this one.

Italy with kids can be an exercise of imagination with Italian ruins

Certain books can help them understand and imagine what is missing from the ruins. Photo credit: Nicole Reyes

Ancient Rome by Eyewitness Books

Another stalwart of the Walks bookshelf. The Eyewitness Books series books are full of illustrations and interesting information. This book contains a lot of what you need to know about the art, architecture, and relics of ancient Rome. Although it’s geared towards younger readers, we often find ourselves consulting it for reference. 

Family sharing their trip to Italy with kids

Sharing your trip to Italy with kids will help them get involved. Photo credit: Antoni Shkraba

Travel guides and scavenger hunts for kids

There are a number of books that give kids tasks, info, fun facts, and other ways to interpret and enjoy all the things they see on their trip.

Some people love them and some find them a little overprescribed and pedantic. They work the best when parents are willing to chaperone kids on some of the tasks and scavenger hunts contained in them.

We recommend you do a bit of research and see if they’re right for your traveling style. 

Scavenger hunt map in Italy with kids

Are you ready for an scavenger hunt in Italy? With kids, you can have more fun! Photo credit: Ella Dee

Plan kid-friendly sightseeing and activities

Include in each day’s itinerary a visit that will especially interest your child. No one knows your child better than you, so ask yourself what he/she likes. Would she want to be outside hiking up Mt. Vesuvius, or playing on a sandy beach in Positano? Or would he like to check out the costumes and armory in Florence’s Pitti Palace?

Regardless of what you choose, it’s always best to budget a bit of time each day to something active. Even the most kid-friendly museums can wear on a child who just needs a bit of time to run around in the fresh air.

You should not, however, expect to find many large playgrounds in Italy’s big cities. Italians usually take their young ones to public parks and local piazzas for ball games and general recreation, and we recommend that you do the same.

Insider’s Tip: Many of Italy’s mainland Mediterranean beaches are rocky, which can be tough on kids who just want to frolick in the sand―not to mention dangerous. For info on where to find family-friendly beaches check out our recommendations for the best beaches in Italy and the best beaches near Rome, Florence, and Venice

kid playing on the beach

A beach day can be an excellent plan plan to recharge your batteries after visiting many museums. Photo credit: Leo Rivas

Our favorite attractions to visit in Italy with kids

Visiting Italy with kids is definitely a great way to teach them about history, and show them eternal and unique cities like Rome and Venice. They’ll definitely learn about many things they’ll be studying in school for years, and they’ll be able to say “I was there”, so make sure to make it as memorable as possible for them.

Here are some of our favorite attractions, and we’re certain they’ll soon become some of your family’s favorite attractions too.

The Colosseum

Visiting The Colosseum is a must, it’s simply captivating to people of all ages. A good guide, and a bit of light study into how gladiator battles were held, and what other spectacles took place in the arena, and your kids will love it.

Usually there are some “gladiators” waiting outside to charge for a photo, and you can find plenty of Roman Empire souvenirs to buy around the place.

The Colosseum is a must visit!

Visiting the Colosseum is like visiting an old stadium where kids can explore with their imagination.

The Aquarium of Genoa

It’s one of the largest aquariums in Europe, and it has outstanding displays of sea life from all over the world, including some spectacularly large tanks. If you’re visiting Genoa, this is a great opportunity to take some time to discover sea life from all over the world with your children.

The Aquarium of Genoa is perfect when visiting Italy with kids

Take a day to visit the Aquarium with your kids. Photo credit: Roberto Ferrari

The Catacombs

The Catacombs of Rome are one of the perennial favorites of kids who come on Walks of Italy tours. The Capuchin Crypt contains real human remains and is considered one of the spookiest catacombs.

Even though it might be a little scary for some, the remains are presented within the context of Christian burial rites and history, and most children find them thrilling.

Catacombs of Rome with people

Visit the Catacombs of Rome for a thrilling adventure that will make your kids feel like in the movies. Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

A train ride on the Bernina Express

One of the most scenic train lines in the world, this passenger service cuts through the Alps to connect Northern and Southern Europe. Did we mention is passes through a UNESCO world heritage site on the way?

Bernina express in Italy with kids

Every season is great to take the Bernina Express and live an adventure. Photo credit: Darkroom Daze

The Bergamo outdoor zoo in Lombardy

Le Cornelle is a 100,000 square meter park filled with all types of exotic fauna, including a giant aviary. The park opened in 1981 and it’s still visited by people from all over the world for a chance to see all kind of animals. 

Visit the zoo in Italy with kids to see a white Bengal tiger

Take days to discover extraordinary places and see your kids react to animals. Photo credit: Vittorio Ferrari

Mirabilandia amusement park in Emilia Romagna

You probably haven’t come all the way to Italy to ride roller coasters, but we couldn’t resist adding an amusement park to the list. If you and your kids are amusement park fans, make sure to find a day to visit Mirabilandia.

This is the largest theme park in Italy, and a favorite of young people all over Europe. 

Mirabilandia is an amusement park perfect for your visit to Italy with kids

Enjoy all the thrill rides and attractions of Mirabilandia, in Italy. Photo credit: Jeremy Thompson


You’d be hard-pressed to find a more unique or whimsical town than Matera, an ancient settlement featuring extensive cave dwellings. These aren’t ruins, though, they’re still lived-in, and part of a thriving town. 

Matera is a fantasy city

Time travel with your kids when visiting Matera and let them feel like they’re in a movie. Photo credit: Holger Uwe Schmitt

Climb a volcano in Sicily or Naples 

For an active kid, nothing is quite as thrilling (or full of guaranteed exercise) as hiking up/around an active Volcano. The best destinations in Italy for volcano hiking are Mt. Vesuvius in Naples and Mt. Etna in Sicily.

Mt. Vesuvius in Naples, Italy

Explore Naples, eat a lot of pizza and climb Mt. Vesuvius for an unforgettable day with your kids. Photo credit: Francesco Baerhard

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

All the “perfect” architecture around Italy can start to run together for young eyes. The antidote to architecture ennui is the most famously imperfect building in the world. Take some silly pictures in front of it, or dare to climb the top, just be careful you don’t slip off. The leaning tower of Pisa certainly has some amazing facts.

Pisa with kids

Why not get creative and have a funny photoshoot when visiting Pisa with kids? Photo credit: Emran Yousof

Pizza making

Italian pizzas are a must-try for most kids when visiting Italy. As a special treat, take them to a real pizza making class in Trastevere for a memorable and delicious experience.

people making pizza

Learn to make a delicious pizza with your family!

A Venetian boat ride

You can go to Venice without ever setting foot on a boat, but we don’t recommend it. Either take a boat tour, pay for a gondola (make sure to follow our tips if you do this), or just use a local water bus, the vaporetto, as a different and unique public transportation experience.

Small group tour boat on the Lagoons of Venice

Enjoy a small group tour on the Lagoons of Venice. Your kids will love it!

Make sightseeing kid-friendly

Of course, there are some sites you will want to see, even if they aren’t, strictly speaking, kid friendly. You can battle through them or you can adapt your approach to make them fun, even for the young ones.

Our expert guides have a little trick for dealing with antsy children in museums: they invent scavenger hunts. Before  visiting the Vatican Museums, for example, they take a moment to set certain visual challenges for the youngsters.

How many Roman gods can you identify in the artworks? Can you catch every type of animal depicted in sculptures? How many angels can you find in the frescoes of the Raphael Rooms? This works best if you give them a little notebook to take notes in. Make sure to catch up at the end of the day and discuss what they found. 

You can apply the scavenger hunt idea to many different places. They don’t actually have to be museums. If you are looking for extra ideas, you can find scavenger hunt themes for free on various blogs, or you can get them in books like Kids Go Europe.

Inside the Vatican

Make it a scavenger hunt and it’ll be a much more fun experience for your kids, and even for yourself!

Take a tour

Taking tours is a great way to have a cultural experience that will also stimulate your children. They’re clear, fun, and loaded with a lot of information in a short period of time. Also, local guides know their cities and sites like the backs of their hands, and they’re very enthusiastic about them.

Choose one dealing with sites that your child will find particularly interesting and you’ll be surprised by all the fun facts that they’ll pick up and spout off later!

A word of warning: a full day tour (which usually run 6 to 7 hours) is often too long for most children’s attention spans and/or legs. Teenagers will be fine. If you are traveling with children under 12, go for a half-day experience and keep your eyes peeled for outings that offer hands-on fun or food tastings, like our pasta making class.

Florence Tour Walks of Italy

Tours can be exciting and filled with interesting facts that your kids will love!

Give them the reins

Another way to be sure kids stay interested and enthusiastic about your trip is to let them make some of the decisions.

If you have the time and patience, let them guide you through the alleyways in Venice to find Piazza San Marco, or let them decide to stay and play at Rome’s Forum, rather than rushing off to the next activity.

Depending on their age, you can hand them the GPS and have them navigate you to the Ponte Vecchio, or read aloud facts about the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence. Not only will they learn, they’ll be more connected to the destination and have a lot more fun, too.

girl touching a wild boar statue

When exploring Italy with kids lead you never know where you might end up, like at the Porcellino statue in Florence.

Plan ahead

The lines that form outside the most popular Italian attractions try the patience of adults. You can imagine what waiting in them is like for children. Avoiding the big crowds and long lines around the best attractions in Italy is another key trick to enjoying Italy with kids.

Plan ahead as much as possible a book everything you can in advance. By doing this, you can ensure that you have skip-the-line tickets for the big attractions and high-speed train tickets for seamless travel.

The only other trick―a surprisingly effective one―is showing up early. We know how hard it can be to get kids out of bed but, if you can drag them out early, you will be doing better than 90% of the other travelers in Italy.

Insider’s Tip: For families catering to short attention spans, we run the Sistine Express Tour and the Vatican Highlights Tour, both of which will get you in and out of the Vatican City before the crowds, while still showing you the best that the Vatican has to offer.

Visiting the Vatican Museums with kids

With a tour, your family will certainly make the best out of every visit, especially in places like the Vatican Museums.

Time your itinerary with kids in mind

Budgeting your time correctly is one of the often-overlooked preparations that can make a good trip turn into a great trip, whether traveling with kids or not.

Within reason, plan your trip taking in account what your kids need. Generally speaking, this means budgeting plenty of time for breaks, extra time to get where you’re going, and of course, snack time.

Trips with too much travel and too many sights packed into too little time often become stressful for everyone–kids and parents alike.

The single biggest mistake that travelers to Italy with or without children make is jamming too much into their itinerary.

Instead, base your itinerary on your children’s age, be prepared to cut some stops as energy levels wane, and be sure you have time to simply play.

Families resting on Venice, gondola

Plan your trip with plenty of time to rest, take breaks and adapt to the cities you visit. Photo credit: Helena Jankovičová Kováčová

Push back bedtime

In Italy, dinner is often eaten later than in countries like England or the United States. Breakfast tends to be light and filled with the best of Italian sweets (which we’re sure your kids will love) and lunch is at a flexible hour. This means that you can have lunch anytime from noon to 2:30 p.m., but you won’t find a restaurant open for dinner before 7:30 p.m.

Many Italians don’t eat until 9 p.m. or later, and it’s not uncommon to see their small children with them. Babies might fall asleep in strollers while the adults chat over a nice meal. More often than not, toddlers to teenagers are kept awake well past 10 p.m.

Plan accordingly, with plenty of snacks and time to get on the new schedule. 

Dinner in Rome, Italy with kids

It’s normal to see families with kids late at night having dinner. Photo credit: Leandro Silva

Always stop for gelato

Nothing stops us from ordering that post-dinner dessert when we’re on vacation, so why should it stop your kids? Gelato, Italian ice cream, is one of the most kid-friendly treats in Italy, and you are never far from a gelateria.

Make everyone happy with plenty of gelato pit stops. It’s a perfect time to rest tired feet and enjoy a sugar recharge. Plus, it’s a part of the culture!

Italy with kids is perfect for ice creams

Italian ice creams are internationally famous. Get as many as possible… for your kids! Photo credit: Mieke Campbell

Make sure your kids never go hungry

People visiting Italy with kids don’t have to be worried about sideways glances and snorts of disapproval when toting them around restaurants.

Generally speaking, Italians are very indulgent towards children, and taking them to restaurants is an important part of the culture. Italians themselves go everywhere with their kids–even to fancy restaurants. As long as your child is relatively well behaved, you can take them anywhere: from a bar, where Italians get their coffee, to a fancy restaurant.

While some restaurants might offer a children’s menu (menù bambini), many will not. Luckily for you, Italian food has some of the most accessible dishes in the world. You’re sure to find something on most menus that your child likes. If not, don’t hesitate to ask for changes. Many children have survived a trip to Italy on nothing but ice cream and the old reliable pasta with a bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese.

Update Notice: This post was updated on February 9, 2024.


From the chaos of the Vatican and the awe-inspiring Colosseum to the ancient history of Pompeii and the majestic views in Venice, you can still see the best of the best when exploring Italy with kids. Of course, if you really want to make the most of your visit, check out our top walking tours in Italy. Small groups led by professional, local guides set these tours above the rest.

by Gina Mussio

View more by Gina ›

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