Italy can make for a fabulous vacation destination, filled with opportunities for fun outdoors, from beautiful islands and glistening lakes to national parks with soaring mountains. In the smaller villages, there are lovely squares and other places where the kids can play. Families with older kids can learn history, art and more in a way they’d never get from simply reading a book. Then there’s the food – after all, pizza and spaghetti bolognese were birthed here, and there are few kids who would turn that down or the gelato for dessert. These destinations, in particular, are especially ideal for a family vacation in Italy.
When to plan your family trip to Italy
Italy is a family-friendly destination that is pleasant to visit all year round. However, the period when you decide to go really depends on what you prefer to see and do while you are there.
Summers are great on the coast, but can sometimes be uncomfortable for younger kids or grandparents in the bigger cities. Winter, you may encounter rain, wind, or even snow, which could be a good or bad thing depending on what your plans are.
When planning your Italy family holiday note that the peak season is between June – August. This is the European Summer and during this period, Italy attracts tourists from around the world. If you travel to Italy during this time, accommodation will be the most expensive. It is also extremely hot during these months, and in August Italians usually leave the big cities to holiday on the beach. Because of this, you may find some attractions closed during this time. This is especially true around the 15th of August, which is the mid-Summer festa.
In general, unless you are spending your whole trip at the beach, it is recommended if you are travelling to Italy with kids and grandparents, it is best to go during the shoulder season, either April-May or September-October, which are the Italian Spring/Autumn months. Most of the time days are warm and sunny, but not scorching hot, with little rain.
Best places to visit in Italy with your family
Although it looks small on the map, Italy is actually quite large and has so much to see and do. From Northern Italy to the very South can take around 10-12 hours by car or train. Even on a fast train getting from Rome to Venice is around 4 hours so depending on how long you have you may need to choose to visit either the North or the South.
For families who have only a week, choosing a couple of places, or one region to explore is best. If you have longer, the options are endless but keep the distances in mind when you plan your trip to Italy with kids.
Best Places to visit in Northern Italy with your Family
Kick-off your Italian family holiday in the Italian capital Roma which is in the middle of the country! This is one of the must-see places in Italy for people of any age.
What to see and do: Explore the famous Colosseum, test your children on the Mouth of Truth, walk the gorgeous Spanish Steps, or take a rickshaw ride around the beautiful Villa Borghese.
If you have enough time, take a day trip to Orvieto or the Monstor park in Bomarzo! There really is so much to do in Rome. See the full guide: Rome with Kids.
Local tip: Buy your tickets for the Colosseum early, or book a tour to skip the lines. It can be quite busy, especially if you travel to Rome during peak periods. Make sure you take a look at these Day Trips from Rome if you have time.
Firenze is an art lovers dream and a gorgeous city to visit for any traveller. Travelling around Florence with all the family is quite easy as it is small and most things can be seen and done on foot. There are many family-friendly restaurants and cafes too.
What to see and do: Climb the famous Duomo, cross the “Ponte del Vecchio” (bridge), visit the Uffizi Museum, or just let the kids run around one of the piazzas or take a ride on the antique carousel. Take a pizza-making class or for those who are up for it take a walk up to the Piazzale Michaelangelo at sunset to see a view of the entire city. Kick back and have a drink while the kids burn off their energy.
See the full guide: Things to do in Florence with kids
Local Tip: Head to the big food market where you can buy some delicious Italian produce for lunches!
Out of the big cities, and into the Tuscan countryside, you can soak up the Italian culture and breathe some of that fresh Italian air in the gorgeous city of Lucca. Less widely known and very underrated, the historical centre is surrounded by thick tall walls that date back to the Middle Ages.
What to see and do: Explore the historical centre and make sure to check out the Roman amphitheatre. If you are up for it, or the kids need to burn off some energy climb one of Lucca’s tours, the largest is La Torre Guinigi. You can also hire bikes for the day and ride around the city walls or head outside, there are some gorgeous views of the Tuscan countryside and is definitely one of the main highlights in Lucca.
Local tip: If you plan your Italy family holiday during the Summer make sure to check out the Lucca Summer Festival.
Square of Miracles
Piazza dei miracoli pisa HDR
The city of Pisa is a must-see when in Italy with kids! You can’t travel to Italy with kids and not visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You can make an easy stopover while you are visiting Florence or Lucca as it is just a short train ride.
What to see and do: The leaning tower of Pisa is the main attraction and there isn’t much more to do in this city. But it will be a highlight and your kids will love taking funny photos in front the tower and having that memory of their Italy family holiday forever.
This tower is truly impressive, and when most people see it for the first time, they can’t believe their eyes. “It really does lean” I have heard over and over again! Yes, it really does lean, and it is unbelievable to be able to see it in person.
Local Tip: If you want to climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa get your tickets as soon as you arrive as only a certain amount of people can go up at the same time. While you wait you can take your funny photos of the tower.
Ahhh Venice, the city where getting lost is all part of the experience of your Italian family holiday. Tell your kids the city is like a giant maze and wander through all of the tiny cobbled streets. Families with kids of all ages will enjoy this gorgeous city on water.
What to see and do: Chase the pigeons in St Marks square, watch the glass blowing in Murano and finish your day with a relaxing gondola ride exploring the gorgeous city of Venice which will be a definite hit with the whole family.
See our full guide: Things to do in Venice with Kids
Local Tip: The streets are gorgeous but they aren’t exactly wheelchair or stroller friendly.
Walking the stunning coastline of the five villages which make up the Cinque Terre is one of the highlights of Italy. Set up on the North West coast of Italy, these five beautiful little fishing villages are built upon the coast and are accessible on foot or by train. You can stay on the outskirts in either Levanto or La Spezia, but the real experience is staying in one of the villages themselves.
What to see and do: While travellers do come to see the five villages, the village hike is the main attraction. Depending on your fitness level, there are different trails, however, the coastal trail is the most popular for families.
To complete the coastal walk it takes around 5-6 hours but the best part for those with young children is that you don’t have to do it all by foot, you can take the train as well. It isn’t the easiest of hikes, but young kids can easily walk halfway and the train trip is all part of the fun too!
Buy your pass before you arrive, you can find more information about the Cinque Terre on the Parco Nationale website.
Lago di Garda
You have probably heard of Lake Como, where the famous George Clooney has a property but there are a couple of other impressive Italian lakes that are just as good, including Lago di Garda
What to see and do: Gardaland on Lago di Garda is one of the biggest theme parks in Italy and kids will love this place! It’s like a mini Disney Land in Italy. You can also find numerous little lake-side villages to visit and the kids will love a boat ride around the lake.
Local Tip: Base yourself in one of the little villages on Lago di Garda and you can even sneak in a day trip to Verona to see the famous Romeo and Juliette balcony.
Best places to visit in the South of Italy with Kids
If you want your family to see the real Italy, make time to travel down the south. Once you have seen the main sights that everyone comes to see, come and experience the real Italian culture, the best food, and the best beaches in Italy. Southern Italy will be a highlight of your Italian family holiday and will leave a long lasting impression.
The Almalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. However, because most of the towns are built up on cliffs it isn’t the most family-friendly place for younger or older ones. It is still definitely a place to visit though and there is lots to see and do.
If you base yourself in Sorrento rather than on the actual Amalfi coast you will be able to explore the area easier as Sorrento is well connected by public transportation.
What to see and do: Walk around Sorrento’s historical centre, then take a bus ride to Almalfi or Positano. A boat ride is a must to the Isle of Capri. If you are keen, you can take a day trip to see the famous ruins of Pompei, or even head to Naples for some of the best pizza in Italy!
Local Tip: Make sure to choose accommodation wisely. Many bnbs and hotels are perched on cliffs, and while they have an amazing view, the climb to get there isn’t the easiest with youngsters or older members of the family. There are plenty of hotels on the main street in Sorrento with easy access to everything you need.
Like stepping into a fairly tale, Alberobello is a gorgeous little town in central Puglia. This historical town is lined with Unesco Heritage Listed Trulli Houses which are limestone houses with white coned roofs that date back to the 14th Century. You can actually stay in these houses which gives the full Pugliese experience and will be a hit with everyone.
What to see and do: Explore the historical centre, and taste some of the Pugliese cuisines. Then visit the nearby Castellana Caves and beachside towns. See our full post on Puglia with Kids.
Local Tip: Check out some of the cafes with a terrace where you can see a full view of the city from the top. Simply breathtaking!
The heart of Calabria, down on the toe of the boot of Italy, Tropea is perfect for beach lovers, nature lovers, and families travelling Italy with kids who want to experience the “real Italy”.
What to see and do: Wander through the historical city where you can find numerous churches and ancient buildings. View the Santa Maria Della Isola from the balcony, or just spend the day on the gorgeous beach. See our full post on Calabria with Kids.
Local Tip: Hire a car and visit the nearby Capo Vaticano beaches.
You can find the little town of Tauromina perched on a hill about 250 meters above sea level on the East coast of Sicily, right down the South of Italy.
What to see and do: Explore the old town, and visit the Greek theatre, or take a cable car down to Isola Bella where you can relax on the pebble beach.
The town has the most incredibly scenic views and makes a great base if you want to visit Mt Etna, Italy’s active volcano. For older kids and teens you can climb Mt Etna, for younger kids and older adults wandering around at the bottom is just as fun!
Local Tip: Head out for breakfast with a view and taste the Sicilian specialty, the cannoli. A delicious sweet ricotta-filled pastry that is to die for.
Family-friendly places to stay in Italy
When you plan to travel Italy with your family, it is easier to choose a few main destinations where you can stay a few nights each, rather than bouncing around every night to new places. This will give you a bit of stability, and you can do day trips to the surrounding areas.
Here are a few examples of best places to stay in Italy with your family:
Rome: If you stay in Rome for a few nights you can not only see the big city, but can take a day trip to Orvieto, or even Naples on a fast train.
Lucca: This beautiful town is in Tuscany and the perfect base for visiting Florence, Pisa, and the Chianti region.
Venice: You can stay in Venice and visit Mirano, or even the Dolimites if you are keen to see the mountains.
Sorrento: Sorrento is a great base to visit the Almalfi coast. Take a day trip to see the ruins of Pompei, have a pizza in Naples, or take a boat ride over to Capri.
Alberobello: A great base when visiting Puglia and such a beautiful spot. From here you can visit Polignano, Astuni and other surrounding towns.
Tropea: If you are heading to Calabria I suggest basing yourself in Tropea.
Getting around Italy on your Family Holiday
Train: If you plan to visit the big cities on your Italian family holiday, the easiest way to travel is by train. There are fast trains which are quite comfortable and kids are able to walk around. If you book a hotel near the train station it is quite easy to move around. You can see the train schedules and prices at Trenitalia.com
Car: If you plan on visiting a a southern region such as Puglia, Calabria, or even the Almalfi Coast, it is suggested that you hire a car as you will have the flexibility to move around where you want when you want as public transport isn’t as easy in these parts of Italy. You can hire a car in most major cities, a popular company is Europecar.com
Plane: If you are set on seeing the North and South of Italy and don’t have a lot of time, there are budget flights on Blu-Express, Easyjet and Ryanair, which fly between the main cities.
Eating in Italy with your family
One important thing to note when heading out for a meal in Italy with kids is that Italians eat late so you may need to adjust your routine. Don’t expect to arrive at a restaurant before 7 pm. Most don’t start serving food until after 8 pm. Italians eat quite late and it is common to see kids still up until midnight in a restaurant during Summer.
Most restaurants in Italy accommodate kids but don’t expect the average kids' meals such as nuggets and chips. Italian kids eat what adults eat, just smaller portions. You can find Pizza and Pasta almost everywhere though and you can never have enough pizza on your Italian family holiday!
If you are heading out for the day check out one of the local markets where they will make you a “panino” (sandwich or roll). You can always find fresh cheese, salami, olives and other toppings along with “Pizza al taglio” ( pizza by the slice), and “arancini” (rice balls.)
Enjoy your Italy Family Holiday!!!!
Travelling through Italy with your whole extended family can be fairly easy and once you visit this beautiful country, your whole family will fall in love. So now that you have all of this information to help with your Italy family holiday, what are you waiting for? Your travel consultant will be happy to assist you in preparing for the trip of a lifetime.