Planning Family Travel In Italy With Kids? Here's How to Plan a Successful Trip
Travel can be one of the most important learning experiences a family can have, and in a country as rich in history as Italy, a family vacation can really be taken advantage of for its educational value. Here at Nancy Aiello Tours, we’ve been helping families plan their trips to Italy for more than a decade now and often find several things parents should be aware of as they embark on their adventure. So next time you're considering or planning your family's Italy vacation, turn to Nancy Aiello Tours and this foolproof guide for everything you need to know.
Why Families love Italy?
As all experienced family travelers know, one of the secrets to an amazing family trip is making sure that everyone — kids and parents — has a great time. In our experience, we have found that most parents are looking for a combination of fun, relaxation, and unique experiences when planning a family vacation. And this is what makes Italy a perfect family destination.
Why Kids love Italy?
The food: Italian food is some of the most delicious and kid-friendly in the world. Kids love pizza, pasta, gelato, and all the other delicious Italian dishes.
The culture: Italy is an intellectually curious child’s dream, full of new experiences, history and a fascinating culture. Kids love visiting ancient ruins, learning about Italian art and architecture, and exploring the many different regions of Italy.
The people: Italy’s reputation as the world’s most bambino-friendly country is well deserved: Italians are known for being friendly and welcoming, and kids appreciate the warm hospitality.
The natural beauty: Italy is a beautiful country with stunning scenery. Kids love exploring the outdoors and enjoying the natural scenery. The list goes on (keep reading for our full list of the top 20 family-friendly things to do in Italy)!
Family Travel in Italy: Top 10 Tips to Create a Successful Trip
Italy is a safe, fun and well-rounded family destination and Italians value family time above all else. You’ll see parents all over the Italian countryside toting their children along to adult activities and attractions. Kids eat what the adults do and are often entertained by restaurant waitstaff.
If you’re visiting Italy with kids, you won’t have a hard time finding activities that’ll entertain the whole family. So, if you’re planning a family trip to Italy, where should you go and what should you do? Here are our top tips and things to do in Italy for a smooth vacation with your family.
Where to go and what to do
When planning for your family's travels, you can always select a travel destination all by yourself and then announce to your kids what you will do when you get there. That's the best way to end up dragging sullen and unengaged children behind you. Or you can sit down with them and make sure as a family that there's something for everyone. These days, a little consultation goes a long way toward ensuring a successful family trip. That said, the level of participation and power of influence of any one child is largely dependent on age.
1. Be prepared
Do some advance reading with your kids so they’ll be prepared for what they are about to see. It will make them more interested when they arrive (which will help you in the end as well!). Whether it be gladiators, mythology, or the technique of painting/cooking…. find something that catches their imagination and run with it!
2. When To Visit Italy With Kids
Traveling with children in Italy requires little extra planning and one of the first most important decisions is when to go. Like most tourist-heavy destinations, Italian cities can get super crowded during the summer months. Not only will you see other foreigners on vacation, but you’ll also run into plenty of Italians enjoying their summer holidays, too.
June and July should be avoided as this is the time when both crowds and prices soar. We recommend a family trip in May, September or October if you want to spend plenty of time outdoor. Or head to Italy in December for the holiday season and the 12 Days of Christmas.
3. Choose your destinations carefully
Whether you’re traveling with babies, young children, teens, or all of the above, Italy’s rich and engaging culture has a lot to offer families but it's important to choose destinations that are suitable for both kids and adults. As a rule, we make vacation recommendations based on your family' interests.
Some popular family-friendly destinations include Rome, Tuscany including Florence, Venice (the kids will love everything about a gondola ride), Sicily, Lake Como, Naples & the Amalfi Coast. Additional great destinations to explore with kids include Bologna & the Food Valley and Matera & Puglia.
4. Wine Country With Kids
We get it, the idea of taking your kids to wine country probably seems impossible. How are you going to entertain them during an activity they can’t participate in? If you have teenagers over the age of 16, you might want to consider allowing them to taste a few wines. The legal drinking age in Italy is only 16, so it’s completely legal. (Imagine if your first foray into drinking taught you how to slowly savor a glass of Chianti?)
So, if you’re into a hands-on wine experience with your kids, plan a family-friendly Italian wine tour. Of course, there are plenty of other activities in wine country that appeal to both adults and kids, too, including:
- Hunting for truffles
- Visiting an animal farm
- Making pasta from scratch (farm to table cooking)
- Tasting extra virgin olive oil
5. Think logistics
When it comes to sightseeing in Italy, you need to be prepared for plenty of walking. Most of the historical attractions require hoofing it around uneven surfaces that aren’t ideal for strollers, bringing a baby carrier or backpack is recommended. If you are coming in the summer months, plan your outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the summer sun.
6. Choose family-friendly accommodations.
Look for a hotel that will let kids be kids. Many hotels in Italy offer family-friendly amenities, such as babysitting services, swimming pools, and kids' clubs to give parents some needed alone time. Our Italian Travel Advisors can help you with your search.
Often a great way to travel in Italy with kids is to use the high-speed trains to get between major cities provided you are traveling light and can easily get your luggage and kids on and off trains in a crowd. One of the best ways to experience Italy at your own family pace in comfort and style is to arrange for private transportation. You will have increased flexibility to include off-the-beaten path stops between your primary destinations without worrying about tiding to train timetables – always a plus when you’re traveling with kids. This is one of the things we can help organize.
8. Remember your audience when planning activities
The most important thing to remember is that even the brightest and most well behaved of children still cannot be pushed to do as much sightseeing as one could do in a group of just adults. Shortened visits to sites punctuated by stops for gelato are always great for keeping energy and interest up. We can help you create a balance of high-energy activities, exploring, and downtime — and make all the arrangements.
9. Eating Out With Kids In Italy
When it comes to eating out, you might want to do a little recon before getting on the airplane. Not all restaurants are kid-friendly and practically no restaurants offer kids menus. Luckily, if your kids love pasta and pizza, they shouldn’t have a hard time finding something to eat.
Some Tips For Eating Out With Kids
- Check restaurant hours beforehand—many don’t open until around 7.30 p.m.
- Plan a cooking class as part of your Italy itinerary for an "easy" meal that teaches kids the basics of Italian cuisine.
- Make reservations for as many meals as possible; many restaurants book up for dinner. (Don't have time to research restaurants, make sure there's kid-friendly options AND make reservations? Nancy Aiello Tours can help with custom planning).
- Italian food is extremely kid-friendly, and there is sure to be pizza or pasta on nearly every menu.
- Don’t assume restaurant staff will all understand English; get ready to try out your Italian or bring a translator!
- Most trattorias don’t have kids’ menus, but penne with butter and Parmesan or spaghetti with tomato sauce can be whipped up in an instant.
- Stop by local markets for healthy snacks.
- Italian bakeries are breakfast and dessert paradises for kids; look for pistachio-cream-filled croissants, gelato, hazelnut baked goods and chocolate buns.
- Talk to the baker if your child is allergic to nuts, tree nuts and/or eggs.
10. The activities
When visiting Italy with kids, you won’t have a hard time finding activities that’ll entertain the whole family. If you’re one of our guests, we’ll offer personalized suggestions, based on the preferences and stages of the family members, throughout the process of planning your Italy trip. Even if you’re not one of our clients, we hope you and your kids find Italy travel inspiration in the list of family-friendly activities below.
Top 20 Family-Friendly Activities in Italy to Inspire Your Itinerary
Italians put so much emphasis on the importance of family that there are tons of immersive activities geared toward kids. We recommend taking your kids on private kid-friendly tours and activities to avoid the crowds and have a more personalized experience. Here a few of our vetted activities to actively engage kids in learning about Italy's rich history and culture:
Our Top 20 things to do in Italy with kids (in no particular order) give a local perspective on life in this fascinating destination. For us these have been super fun personally and we have got fantastic feedback to prove it! Please note: Not all of the below are suitable for all travelers. Our Advisors can arrange private tours and activities that are appropriate for your family's interests and age range.
- Take a Private Guided Walk with a local (and a Private Gondola ride through the canals) in Venice
- Take a Private Glass Blowing Demonstration in Murano Island or even a Private Glass Masterclass!
- Take a Private VIP After Hour St. Mark Basilica Tour in Venice
- Take Private Pasta Making Classes (in Rome, Florence, Tuscan countryside)
- Explore the backstreets of Rome on a Golf Cart Private Tour
- Have an underground adventure at the catacombs on a Private Tour in Rome
- Take a Private Pizza and Gelato making class in Rome
- Take a Private Tresure Hunt Orientation through the streets of Venice
- Take a Private Cooking Class with Market visit in Florence
- Take a Private Guided Mythology Walk with a local in Rome
- Take a Private Early Morning Vatican Tour before the crowds!
- Take a Private Guided Walk with a local in Pompeii
- Take a Private Mask Making Class in Venice
- Take a Private Boat Tour out to the Island of Capri
- Take a Private Tuscan Tour with Lunch at a Chianti vineyard - San Gimignano
- Hear the Legends and Mysteries of Venice on Private Tour at Sunset
- Take a Private Boat Tour on Lake Como
- Take a Private Street Food Tour in Palermo (Naples would be next then Bologna, then Rome, then Florence, then Venice)
- Take a Private Amalfi Coast Driving Tour of the charming villages dotted along the Coast
- Visit the Ferrari Museum in Maranello
Here are some additional Italy Family Vacation Travel Tips:
- Plan your trip well in advance, especially if you are traveling during peak season.
- Purchase a travel insurance policy. This will protect you in case of unexpected events, such as flight cancellations, lost luggage, or medical emergencies.
- Consider using a private local tour guide. If you want to get the most out of your family trip to Italy use a private knowledgeable and experienced guide that can show you the hidden gems. This can be a great way to get insights into Italian culture and history with live information and without having to worry about keeping up with a group. We can help, our Travel Advisors personally pair each of our family travelers with constantly vetted kid-friendly local guides.
- Pack essential items for your children. This includes diapers, wipes, formula, snacks, and changes of clothes.
- Dine at Michelin-starred restaurants. Italy is home to some of the world's best restaurants, so be sure to book a table at least one Michelin-starred restaurant during your trip. However, be sure to choose restaurants that have children's menus or that are willing to accommodate dietary restrictions. Some of the best restaurants in Italy for families include:
Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a special children's menu, as well as cooking classes for families.
La Pergola, Rome: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a special children's menu, as well as private dining rooms for families.
Enrico Bartolini al MUDEC, Milan: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a special children's menu, as well as private dining rooms for families.
Osteria Francescana, Modena: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a family menu on Sundays, as well as cooking classes for families.
Le Calandre, Rubano: This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a special children's menu, as well as private dining rooms for families.
- Precautionary Measures. Even if you have the most well-behaved kids in the world, things happen: Kids wander off, or they get separated from you in a crowd. Whenever you are traveling with children in an unfamiliar place, it is good to have a go-to procedure in place in case something happens. Be sure to give each child a business card from your hotel so they have local contact information.
- Be flexible. Things don't always go according to plan when traveling, so it's important to be flexible and go with the flow.
- Learn a few basic Italian phrases. This will help you communicate with locals and get around more easily. Some basic phrases to learn include "hello," "goodbye," "please," "thank you," and "excuse me.
- Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your trip to Italy with your family! Italian people cater extremely well to children and love family travelers! Relax and make some unforgettable memories.
Questions about planning a family trip to Italy?
Q At what age do you recommend taking the kids to Italy?
A We recommend taking kids to Italy at any age! After all, it is one of the most family-friendly cultures in the world and a trip here can be immensely educational for them. Here are some things to consider when deciding the best age to take your kids to Italy:
- Young children (under 5): Young children may enjoy Italy, but it is important to be prepared for them to get tired easily. Plan plenty of breaks and activities that are appropriate for their age group.
- School-aged children (6-12): School-aged children are at a good age to learn about Italian culture and history. They will love learning about the ancient Roman and Renaissance civilizations, as well as participating in activities such as cooking classes and gondola rides.
- Teenagers (13-18): Teenagers may be interested in more mature activities, such as visiting museums and historical sites. They may also enjoy shopping and trying new foods.
No matter what age your kids are, they are sure to have a wonderful time in Italy. With its rich culture, history, and food, it is a beautiful and diverse country with something to offer everyone.
Q How do I prepare my children for travel to Italy?
A Make it their trip, too, by getting them enthusiastic about what they will be seeing in Italy. Before you leave home, encourage your kids to learn about the cities, sights, and people they will be visiting. Look online for articles, photos, and videos to pique their curiosity. Try to relate your children's hobbies or favorite games to the place you are visiting (draw pictures of the Colosseum, play dominoes saying the numbers in Italian). Finally, give your kids the chance to try out foreign specialties in advance by eating Italian food, or get a cookbook and make meals together at home.
Q Is Venice or Rome better for kids?
A Venice is a truly magical place that seems almost custom made for children. In addition, it is safe for children, largely because there is no traffic with no cars. The Eternal City of Rome is a fantastic place to start an Italy adventure. Inbound flights are plentiful and there are an insane number of awe-inspiring, historic sights to enjoy without an intense schedule. Parents continually give us feedback that they are surprised at how much they enjoy Rome with their kids. That being said, there is something special in each city that should not be missed.
Q What is Italy famous for kids?
A Italy home to many world-class cities and destinations with many world-famous landmarks that have historical and cultural value is packed with breathtaking scenery, a rich history and a tantalizing foodie scene. Whether you travel north to south or south to north, here are some of the highlights.
Rome: The capital of Italy is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the world, such as the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Vatican City.
Venice: This fairy tale city surrounded by water where bridges take the place of streets is known for its canals, gondolas, and stunning architecture.
Florence: This city is home to some of the most famous works of art in the world, such as Michelangelo's David and Botticelli's Birth of Venus.
Milan is a sprawling, frantically-paced city with a hot foodie scene and countless day trip options, including a visit to the striking Lake Como.
Naples: Italy’s third largest city, Naples is the jumping-off point for excursions to Pompeii – the most enigmatic ruins you’ll find anywhere. And then there’s the posh Amalfi Coast for a breathtaking coastal drive. But even Naples itself is worth a day or two of sightseeing. If the castles and archaeology museum don’t do it for your kids, at least you can introduce them to some of Italy’s most authentic pizza.