Visiting Italy with kids is a recipe for a wonderful adventure.
The country of good food, millennial history, and stunning nature is a great playground where families with kids can have lots of fun and create memories to last a lifetime.
From exploring child-oriented museums to spending time in close contact with nature, from playing on sunny beaches to learning to cook with fresh, seasonal products, from exploring medieval castles to taking a dip in crystal-clear lakes, in Italy, there is something for everyone who is young at heart.
In addition, family life is at the basis of everything in Italy. From long family lunches to traditional evening walks (called passeggiata), Italian families spend time together and the lifestyle reflects this. So, visiting families with children can easily slot into the relaxed rhythm of life here while absorbing the local history and culture at every turn and corner.
Something else that will certainly appeal to you as a parent looking to explore Italy with kids, are the heavily discounted travel and museum prices for children here. For example, babies and toddlers travel for free on Italy’s trains while older kids get heavily discounted train tickets. Hundreds of museums and other attractions in Italy often offer half-price or free entry to kids, too.
So, if you agree with me that travelling to Italy with kids sounds like a great idea, this blog post will come in very handy. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting to research potential family vacations in Italy or are in the final stages of planning a family trip to the bel paese. On this page, I will share with you the very best things to do in Italy with kids. Pick and choose the ones that appeal to you and reflect your family’s interests.
I have provided lots of details and personal recommendations for things that I have tried and tested over the six years that I spent living in Italy with my family. It was a wonderful adventure for us and by sharing all this information with you now, I hope to inspire you to live your very best moments while visiting Italy with your kids.
21 Best Things to Do in Italy with Kids – The Ultimate Family Travel Guide
1. Explore with Your Kids Italy’s Child-Oriented Museums
There are many museums in Italy which are specifically oriented to children and aim to develop their thirst for science, history and nature. One of the most famous ones is MUSE – Science Museum in the city of Trento in the north of the country. From a dinosaur gallery to a model of a real-life glacier, there is lots to see and learn there.
If you can, try to visit MUSE on one of its thematic days. This is when stalls and booths are set up all over the many floors of the museum so that children can take part in experiments, hear talks, and freely converse with scientists. We visited MUSE on its Darwin Day and it was a really enriching experience.
Galileo Museum in Florence will appeal to older children interested in science and its evolution through the centuries. Then you have MAcA – an environmental museum in Turin – and the Science and Technology Museum in Milan which is the biggest of its kind in Italy.
On the other hand, a child interested in painting, drawing and crafts, will be in heaven in Italy as there is a proliferation of museums dedicated to the arts. Italy is the perfect place to introduce kids to some of the world’s greatest artists, sculptors, and painters and to lay a solid foundation for art appreciation later on in life.
Add to the mix the hundreds of smaller museums which explore in-depth a particular topic and you will have a never-ending list with options what to see each day. Three of my favourite small thematic museums in Italy are:
- Museum of Rural Life in Grancona, Berici Hills – with an incredibly rich collection of anything and everything connected to rural life in Northern Italy. There is a huge selection of machines, a sprawling basement filled with tractors, a real-size classroom, as well as meticulously recreated craftsmen’s workshops. A must-see!
- Museum of the Roman Centuriation in Borgoricco, Province of Padua – a small but interesting museum exploring the history of the Roman grid – a method of land measurement used by the ancient Romans.
- Eyewear Museum in Pieve di Cadore, Province of Belluno – who would have thought that glasses can make such a fascinating topic?! You will find this exciting and beautifully curated museum in the small town where the renowned Venetian artist Titian was born. As it happens, Pieve di Cadore is also the birthplace of modern eyewear as the town and the area around it house several historical eyewear brands.
Even if a museum in Italy is not strictly aimed at children, often effort has been made to make it as child-friendly as possible. For example, at the Oriental Art Museum in Venice kids get a tablet to help them explore the museum collections in a fun and interactive way.
Plus, many Italian museums regularly hold workshops tailored specifically to children. Particularly famous are the free art workshops that take place each Sunday at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.
For more information:
- 13 Tips for Taking a Small Child to Art and History Museums – first and second parts
- MUSE – Science Museum – Day 3 – Trentino, Italy – Castles, Hikes and Alpacas – The Perfect 4-Day Itinerary
- Video of the Museum of Rural Life in Grancona, Berici Hills
2. Take a Hike with Your Kids in Italy’s Gorgeous Nature
To fully experience everything that Italy has to offer to families with kids, don’t limit yourself to visiting just the main Italian cities (stunning as they are). Venture further afield and take your children to see and experience first hand the beauty of Italian nature.
Blessed with a varied landscape and some of the most magnificent views this side of Europe, Italy is dotted with many mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, valleys, gorges and all sorts of gorgeous and unique natural features.
Hey, there are even volcanoes in Italy. Both extinct (for example, the Euganean Hills near Padua) and active (for example, Mount Vesuvius near Naples which happens to be the only active volcano in mainland Europe).
For added excitement, don’t forget to also look underground. Italy has many beautiful caves, several of which are open for tourist visits. Among the most famous of them are the Frasassi Caves in the Central Italian region of the Marche. The Frasassi is one of the largest cave systems in Europe. Its first chamber – the Ancona Abyss – is so cavernous that, they say, the Duomo of Milan could fit comfortably in it.
Hiking paths criss-cross pristine beauty spots, thick forests and alpine meadows. Spending even half a day breathing fresh air in the bosom of Italian nature will clear up your head and will make you appreciate Italy even more. Plus, your kids will burn lots and lots of energy for a night of great sleep.
Here are four of my most favourite hikes that we have taken as a family in Northern Italy:
- Excalibur Didactic Naturalistic Path – perfect for small children, families, and people who are brand new to hiking. This circular trail takes you through forests and meadows and it is a great introduction to the beauty of Italian nature.
- Painted Caves of Rubbio – four abandoned limestone quarries which have been turned into an open-air art installation by the artist Tony Zarpellon. The project took him almost three decades to complete.
- Molina Waterfalls Park – a nature park with 18 waterfalls in the province of Verona. You can follow three different trails with a varying degree of difficulty and then end the day in the nearby medieval village of Molina to see its centuries-old watermills.
- The archaeological site on Mount San Martino – explore the archaeological digs on top of a high hill in the province of Trentino. The combination of beautiful views and multilayered history makes for a great day out.
Click on the links below for more information about these four hikes as well as details about hiking trails and easy walks you can do with your kids in Italy.
For more information:
- Excalibur Didactic Naturalistic Path:
- Painted Caves of Rubbio:
- Parco delle Cascate and Molina – A Great Day Out in the Province of Verona
- The archaeological site on Mount San Martino: Day 2 – Trentino, Italy – Castles, Hikes and Alpacas – The Perfect 4-Day Itinerary
- Laghi – a picturesque tiny village in the Province of Vicenza:
- Italy’s Stunning Frasassi Caves – A Must-See Wonder of Nature
- 20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to an Hour and a Half from Vicenza – First Part
- 20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to an Hour and a Half from Vicenza – Second Part
- 3 Ideas for a Great Day Out in the Euganean Hills
3. Go Island-Hopping with Your Kids in Italy
Italy has so many islands and archipelagos that 1/6th of its territory is insular. Of course, Sicily and Sardinia are two of the best-known Italian islands but there are hundreds more of them to see and explore.
Italy has islands both in the seas that surround it and in the many lakes dotted all over its territory. Plus, Venice is built on over 118 islands connected with over 400 bridges and separated by around 170 canals.
Italian islands are great destinations for their beautiful nature, unique local traditions and great historical and cultural sights. A quick and easy way to explore as many islands in Italy as possible is to spend a few days in Venice with your kids and tick off San Giorgio Maggiore, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Pellestrina, Lido and several other islets off your list. You can also visit nearby Chioggia – a picturesque town on a cluster of small islands at the southern end of the Venetian Lagoon.
Or, you can travel up to Lake Garda, Lake Iseo, or Lake Como which are so big that they have their own islands, too. In fact, Monte Isola – Iseo’s own island – is the largest lake island not just in Italy but in South and Central Europe, too.
I loved visiting Monte Isola in 2016 when the artist Christo had his installation The Floating Piers there. It was a great experience to walk on the bright orange walkways across the lake all the way to the island of Monte Isola which, otherwise, is only reachable by ferry.
For more information:
- Monte Isola, Lake Iseo:
- Chioggia, Northern Italy
4. When in Italy, Let Your Kids Get Close to Animals
It is important for children to have contact with animals. Experts state that cuddling and taking care of pets reduces anxiety, feelings of loneliness and makes us more responsible.
Luckily, the good people of Italy are crazy about pets themselves. Everywhere you go, you will see locals accompanied by their dogs and, most of the times, they are only too happy to let your kids pet them. In fact, they may even say ‘Vuoi accarezzarlo?’ (Do you want to pet him?) when seeing your little one staring lovingly at their dog.
In addition, Italy is peppered with independent farms many of which regularly organise open days and learning activities so that families and their kids can get close to the farm animals and learn about them. At such events, kids are encouraged to pet sheep and bunnies, to get close to ponies, donkeys and horses, and may even be shown how to milk a goat or a cow.
Curiously enough, several farms in Italy now look after growing herds of llamas and alpacas. At such places, you can go for a walk in the woods leading a llama or an alpaca on a lead while bonding with the animal along the way.
Many independent Italian farms also offer reasonably-priced B&B facilities and have excellent restaurants serving locally grown food. Staying in one such farm is a great way to immerse yourself into Italy’s zero km food culture.
If sealife is what your kids are interested in, then in Italy, you will also find some excellent aquariums. The Aquario di Genova on Italy’s Ligurian coast is the largest exhibition of biodiversity and ecosystems in Europe. But even the smaller ones, like Gardaland Sea Life Aquarium, make for a great day out.
In Italy, there are several butterfly houses, too. These are big covered places where you and your kids can go for a walk surrounded by tropical vegetation while beautiful butterflies flutter around you.
From birds of prey demonstrations to kid-friendly workshops on beekeeping, Italy offers some great opportunities for your kids to get close to both wild and domestic animals. Learning how to treat them, feed them, and take care of them is an enriching experience for both grown-ups and little ones.
I have to say that the contact with animals was one of my most favourite things about living in Italy. I still recall fondly the memory of walking with alpacas in the mountains above Lake Garda, the beekeeping workshop we attended on the Asiago Plateau, and just the many small independent farms where we could pet the goats, the donkeys, and the cows while our child could learn how to win their trust and take care of them.
For more information:
- Hiking with llamas and alpacas – Day 4 – Trentino, Italy – Castles, Hikes, and Alpacas – The Perfect 4-Day Itinerary (With or Without Kids)
- A visit to a butterfly house – 3 Butterfly Houses (and One Insect Museum) You Need to Visit in Italy
- A visit to a museum with living insects – Esapolis – Adventure with Bugs on a Rainy Day
- Photos from a kid-friendly beekeeping workshop we attended at an independent farm less than an hour away from Vicenza, Northern Italy
5. Encourage Your Kids to Conquer an Italian Castle or Ten (and Several Medieval Walled Towns, Too)
There are, literally, thousands of castles all over Italy. From humble ruins to fully preserved huge fortified buildings surrounded by impenetrable walls and deep moats, your kids will be spoiled for choice if they love castles and the history behind them.
Even better! Italy has hundreds of walled towns – picturesque places where you will feel like you have travelled back to the Middle Ages. Especially if you happen to visit during one of the many medieval fairs which are regularly held here. This is when people dress in medieval garb, cook medieval food and entertain themselves with medieval games and sword-fights. It’s a lot of fun!
The Northern Italian regions of Veneto, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Piedmont are especially rich in castles. But you will easily find at least a dozen of them within an easy reach anywhere you are in Italy.
Some of our favourite castles and medieval walled towns that we explored together as a family in Italy are:
- Monselice – a really pretty medieval walled town in the Province of Padua. It has one of the best castles I have had the chance to see. Its armoury is only second to the one in the Doge’s Palace in Venice.
- Cittadella – a gorgeous medieval walled town in the Province of Padua where you will find ‘Europe’s best medieval parapet walkway’. In simple English, this means that you can circumnavigate the whole town by walking on its medieval defensive wall. Plus, in September, there is a town-wide medieval fair.
- Asolo – a picture-perfect medieval walled town in the foothills of the Dolomites. There is both a castle and a fort here. Known as the City of the Hundred Horizons and the Pearl of the Province of Treviso, its beauty has attracted artists, writers, and royals for centuries.
- Montagnana – a beautifully preserved walled town in the Venetian plains. Surrounded by a mighty defensive wall, it also has an imposing cathedral with priceless works of art, a yearly medieval fair, and it’s the place where some of the best Italian prosciutto is produced year-round.
Click on the links below for more information about these and even more castles and medieval walled towns you can explore with your kids in Italy.
For more information:
- Monselice – Point 11 – 20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to an Hour and a Half from Vicenza – Second Part
- Cittadella, Independence, and Frittella
- Asolo, Italy – The Soul Asylum of Artists and Royals
- Montagnana, Italy – Top 10 Things to See and Do in the Fortified Town of Prosciutto
- Este, Italy – Top 9 Things to Do in This 3,000-Year-Old Walled Town
- Castelfranco Veneto:
- Feltre, Italy – A Fabulous Find in the Dolomites
- The Great Wall of Marostica
- Noale – A Relaxing Sunday in the Bosom of Veneto
- Exploring Veneto – Beautiful Borghetto
- Runkelstein or Roncolo – The Castle with Two Names in Bolzano, Italy
- Castelvecchio – A Must-See in Verona
- Keeping Alive the Old Italian Crafts
6. Go on an Urban Adventure with Your Kids in Italy
Italian cities are like a bottomless treasure chest. You can spend hours upon hours of exploring them and still there will be hundreds of riches and secrets left for you and your kids to discover and enjoy. Often, you get so overwhelmed that you end up missing the true highlights.
One of the best ways to find out all there is to know about a particular Italian city or a certain facet of it is to hire a professional guide. Italy has stringent training programs for its tourist guides. They not only need to know several languages but they also must have an incredibly deep knowledge of local history, art, and culture.
There are two ways to go about it:
- You can join a guided tour taking in a particular sight or an interesting corner of an Italian city. Usually, these are organised either by the sight (for example, a guided visit of a museum or a palace) or by the local tourist office (for example, a guided tour of a historic city centre). The guided tour may be free or at a nominal charge in addition to the price paid for entry to the sight; or
- You can hire a professional guide, let them know what you want to see and then they will tailor a tour to meet your and your kids’ interests and expectations. You will need to pay the guide’s hourly or daily fee, depending on how long you want to use their services for. It can be a pricey option but it’s money well-spent as the guide will organise a bespoke itinerary and show you all the shortcuts.
While we mostly love to explore new destinations by ourselves, on occasion we happily joined guided tours in Italy to learn about particular traditions and customs from true locals. For example, a few years ago, we did a guided tour of Venice. It was specifically tailored to children and introduced them to the secrets and stories of the Venetian Carnival. Led by Arlecchino we walked all over the city stopping at iconic Carnival spots along the way to find out the stories behind them.
The children had a lot of fun and were active participants in the exploration. The tour was in Italian and it was organised by a local company called Park View Viaggi. Otherwise, for Venice, I can also recommend the guides Luisella Romeo from See Venice (tours offered in English and German) and Erika Cornali from When in Venice (tours offered in English and Japanese). If they are busy on the dates when you will be there, then have a look at Best Venice Guides – a directory of the best tour guides in the city of water.
7. Let Your Kids Run Around a Historical Italian Square
The piazza (meaning ‘square’ in English) is at the centre of life in Italy. It is traditionally surrounded by the most beautiful buildings in town as well as some lovely cafes, bars, gelaterias and patisseries.
All throughout the day, the Italian piazza is full of life. This is where the town’s market is held and where large local events start. In the evening, people flock to the piazza for their traditional family walk called passegiatta.
Italian kids love running and playing on these large historical squares. While their parents sit in the nearest cafe sipping a cold coffee-based drink or an aperitivo, their kids have fun running around, chasing a ball, and easily making friends with other children.
Let your kids partake in this centuries-old ritual of kids coming together to be free under the watchful eye of their parents and to be able to run and have fun surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful historic architecture.
In Vicenza – where we happily spent six years – don’t miss the grand Piazza dei Signori. Surround by Palladian buildings, the square is a stunning sight any time of the day but it really comes to life in the early summer evenings.
In Venice, kids play football and run around on the campi – the city’s smaller squares which are out of the main tourist thoroughfares.
For more information:
8. Learn About Authentic Italian Food and Then Cook Some With Your Kids
The world is crazy for Italian food and visiting Italy is a great opportunity to taste and learn about the local food in its most authentic form.
In fact, there is no Italian food as such in Italy, as each of the country’s 20 regions has its own cuisine that has been adapted and improved throughout the centuries to reflect the local weather conditions, seasonal produce, and personal tastes.
Obviously, pizza is available everywhere (such is the popularity of this, originally, Neapolitan dish). Yet, avoid having pizza in Venice, for example. You may find a place in Venice where they prepare their pizzas fresh (instead of simply serving reheated frozen pies). Still, their pizza will not be baked in wood-burning ovens (for maximum flavour) as these ovens are traditionally not allowed in Venice for being considered a fire hazard.
So, instead of focusing on what the world considers to be Italian food, spend your time in Italy indulging together with your kids in culinary adventures.
From the North to the South of Italy focus on each region’s specialities. For example, polenta, bigolli, risi e bisi, and baccala’ alla vicentina in the Veneto, truffles, cremino and gianduja in Piedmont, burrata and focaccia in Puglia, and so on.
Pop into local fruit and veg shops and delis. Explore food markets like the 800-years old market in front of Palazzo della Ragione in Padua. Notice that usually 95% of all produce (bananas excluded) is produced in Italy and it’s in season. Taste fresh strawberries from Matera, white asparagus from Bassano del Grappa, red radicchio from Treviso, and juicy blood oranges from Sicily.
Visit Bologna, Mantua and Parma – three Italian cities (out of dozens) which are particularly known for their local food traditions.
Have a brioche and cakes for breakfast, freshly prepared tramezzini (triangular sandwiches made of soft crustless bread and with different fillings) for a light lunch on the go, and a dinner of several courses.
Enjoy an olive oil tasting and with some surprise, you will find that olive oil is just like wine – with dozens of different flavours and tastes depending on the region and the local olives.
The beauty of Italy is that you don’t have to break the bank to have exceedingly good food. Take your children to a sagra – an event dedicated to a particular local foodstuff. Contact local farms (called agriturismo in Italian) and ask if you can attend an olive-picking or a grape-stomping day. Book a cooking lesson for your kids so that they can learn how to cook an authentic Italian meal.
In Vicenza, we loved the cooking workshops for children organised by Il Mondo di Bu. There are many cooking schools all over Italy and it pays off to take a class or two so as to feel connected to Italian food in the most authentic way.
For more information:
- Bologna, Italy – 10 Stories to Introduce You to the Fat Lady of the Italian Cities
- Padua’s 800-Years Old Market:
- Video of the display of a traditional Italian patisserie in Verona
- Arrosticini – The King of All Shish Kebabs
- Mandorlato Veneto – The Taste of Italian Christmas
- Cherry Festivals in Italy – Where and When
- Marostica, Italy – The Juicy Season of Cherries
- The Prosciutto Festival in Montagnana
- How Prosciutto is Made
- The Tortellini of Valleggio sul Mincio
- Italy for Foodies: White Asparagus
- Italy for foodies: Cioccomenta
- Caperberries or What You Should Be Nibbling On When in Italy
- Lumignano Truffle Festival – Luxury Food at Popular Prices
- Pistachio Spread – Comfort Food from Italian Foodie Heaven
- My Italian Breakfast – The Sweetest Start to a Rainy Day
- Truffle Crisps – Made Since 1938 for a Tiny Deli in Verona
- Frittella – The Taste of the Venetian Carnival
- Cremino – Three-Layered Chocolate Happiness
- Frittelle del Luna Park – An Italian Piece of Fried Sugary Heaven
- Fried Frogs
9. Together with Your Kids Discover the Many Layers of Italy’s History
Italy’s history is so rich that it can easily take you a lifetime to delve deep enough into its many layers. Just walking through an Italian city gives you a chance to show your children literally how deep local history goes by pointing to them the archaeological excavations and historical buildings all around them.
In the Museum of the Venetian Age in the town of Bergamo, for example, there is a Roman archaeological area helping you see how buildings were built on top of the ruins of even older houses throughout the centuries.
In modern-day Verona, you can see the layers left by the ancient Romans both under- and overground. From Arena di Verona – one of the world’s largest preserved Roman amphitheatres – to the Roman gates dotted around the city as well as the archaeological excavations just past Juliet’s House, you get a glimpse of what the city looked like two thousand years ago.
Italy’s ancient history doesn’t stop with the Roman Empire though.
On the territory of the country, there are vestiges of dozens of even older civilisations. Etruscans, Venetics, and Illyrians lived here, too. Not to mention the many Neolithic, Copper Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age cultures which flourished here.
Visiting museums, recreated pre-historic villages and archaeological excavations peppered all over Italy will help you stoke your children’s interest in ancient history. Often these places offer exciting learning activities so that children can see how people who lived millennia before us hunted, worked the ground and developed different types of tools and crafts to make their daily lives a tiny bit easier.
For example, we had a great experience hiking to the Pre-Historic Village on Mount Corgnon just above Lusiana in the Veneto. Another great place is the Pile-Dwelling Museum on the shores of Lake Ledro.
If you are short of time and can’t head into Italy’s lesser-known corners, then pay a visit to the nearest archaeological museum. They abound in Italy and are a wonderful introduction for both kids and grown-ups to the ancient history of this beautiful and exciting country.
10. Introduce Your Kids to Italy’s Historical Figures
The most amazing thing about Italy is that it brings you unmeasurably closer to people and events that have shaped our world.
From Petrarch to Titian, from Galileo to Leonardo, all over Italy you can visit the places where many of the giants of the world’s science and art lived and worked.
Take your kids to visit places with a significant connection to people whose names are known all over the world. From the University of Padua where Galileo Galilei taught for 18 years to Titian’s birth house in the small town of Pieve di Cadore, from Petrarch’s house and tomb in the medieval village of Arqua’ Petrarca to Canova’s birth house in the small town of Possagno, it will be like a lesson in greatness.
In a world where our children need authentic role models now more than ever, learning first hand about the achievements of Italian artists and scientists and seeing how their work influenced and even changed the course of human thought can be a deeply inspiring experience for your kids.
For more information:
- The Sunset That Petrarch Enjoyed
- Cornaro Loggia and Odeon in Padua – History, Architecture and Art
- Michelangelo’s Handwriting
- Discovering Canova – Italy’s Neoclassical Sculptor
- Giorgione’s Madonna – A Masterpiece You Mustn’t Miss in Castelfranco Veneto, Italy
- The War on Art or the Loss and the Reconstruction of the Mantegna Frescoes
- Video of Dante’s Mausoleum in Ravenna
Click here to find 7 reasons to visit Italy as a family with kids!
11. Set Life Goals for Your Kids at Italy’s Historic Universities
Now, you want to go to Italy with your kids in order to relax and have a nice time, right?!
Still (and if you have a Type A personality) finding yourself in Italy with your kids is the perfect opportunity to set some life goals for them and give them an idea what they can achieve if they apply themselves at school.
Obviously, I don’t imply that you should tell them: ‘If you study hard enough and you get into a good University then you can have an exchange year in Italy and eat as much gelato as you like!’
Even though this is a good enough life goal (at least in my books!).
Instead, what I mean is that you can take your kids (no matter how small they are, start them young, right?!) on a visit to one of Italy’s historic Universities. For example:
- Archiginnasio of Bologna – the historic seat of the University of Bologna which is the oldest University in continuous operation in the world; and
- Palazzo Bo – the historic seat of the University of Padua which is the second oldest University in Italy and the fifth oldest and still in operation today University in the world.
Seeing these splendid historic seats of learning and being at the places that inspired the development of the arts and sciences in Europe can have a galvanising effect on children (and parents!). You never know!
For more information:
- Three Universities in Italy You Need to Put on Your Travel Wish List Now
- Video showing the Archiginnasio – the historic seat of the University of Bologna
- Video showing the Stabat Mater Hall in the Archiginnasio – the historic seat of the University of Bologna
12. Spend a Day with Your Kids on Italy’s Beaches and in Italy’s Aquaparks
From beautiful beaches to some of the best aquaparks this side of Europe, Italy is a great place to travel to if your kids love swimming and having fun in the water.
In terms of beaches, you will be spoiled for choice. From:
- huge sandy beaches with all modern amenities like large playgrounds for the kids, gelato kiosks and restaurants to
- little pebbly beaches so far from civilisation that you may feel like the only people in the world,
there are lots of options for beach fun in Italy.
Don’t narrow your search for great Italian beaches just to Italy’s seaside areas though. Italians love camping on the shores of local lakes and rivers and, if the conditions permit it, they love wild swimming in them, too.
Aquaparks are plentiful in Italy, too. They are fun places with all sorts of water-related things to do. Slides, kiddie pools, even large hot tubs with dozens of jets. On a hot day, you will not want to leave. Just take plenty of sun cream with you as the sun here can get burning hot.
Some Italian aquaparks have historical swimming pools, too. For example, in Terme di Giunone – an aquapark in the Province of Verona – there are two pools with thermal water which have been used since Roman times. One is perfectly round and its bottom is covered with fine sand whilst the other is shaped like a half-circle and its bottom is covered with large stone slabs and small pebbles. Swimming there is really cool as you imagine the ancient Romans relaxing in the water over two thousand years ago.
In and around Vicenza, where we lived during our time in Italy, there are easily half-dozen aquaparks. We usually headed to one around 4 or 5 pm on a hot summer workday. Aquaparks tend to close at 7.30 so this gave us enough time to cool off in the water and have fun after a productive day.
For more information:
- See point 6 in 10 Reasons to Visit Chioggia on Italy’s Adriatic Coast
- See points 7 and 8 in Summer in Italy – 16 Ways to Cool Off in Italy When It’s Baking Hot Outside
13. Let Your Kids Have Fun in Italy’s Adventure and Amusement Parks
Talking of parks, let me tell you that in addition to aquaparks, Italy has some really great adventure and amusement parks, too. Head to them with your kids for hours of fun.
One of Italy’s most unusual and original amusement parks is Parco ai Pioppi. Built over 40 years by the owner of the adjacent open-air restaurant, the park is an exciting place for both parents and kids. Plus, it is absolutely free to use provided you have lunch at the restaurant. It serves honest local food at very reasonable prices. I will never forget riding the rollercoaster at Parco ai Piopi. It relies completely on kinetic energy and reaches over 100 km/h.
Some of the largest and most well-known amusement parks in Italy for kids are Gardaland, Leolandia, and Movieland the Hollywood Park in the North of the country. We absolutely loved our visits to Gardaland. Located near Lake Garda, this enormous amusement park was a staple for us each Christmas as it stages the most wonderful and festive large-scale Christmas event.
In Rimini on the Adriatic coast, you can visit Italia in Miniatura – a theme park with Italy’s most famous sights reduced to a fraction of their original size.
You don’t have to go just to the largest and most expensive amusement parks in Italy though in order to have bags of fun with your kids.
The country is dotted with small adventure parks where you can test yourself by walking on rope bridges between tall trees and ziplining from platform to platform set up high above the ground. Italian adventure parks usually offer different trails for the different age groups and both kids and parents can have a go at being Tarzan for an hour or two.
I loved the time we spent at the Le Fiorine Adventure Park in the Euganean Hills. I have to admit that the vertical net was difficult for me to hang on to but the zip lines were an amazing experience. Full-on adrenaline!
For more information:
- The second idea in 3 Ideas for a Great Day Out in the Euganean Hills
14. Take Your Kids to See Italian Craftsmen and Artisans at Work
In a world where we are used to buying mass-produced stuff, Italy offers you the fantastic opportunity to introduce your kids to the work of real craftsmen and artisans.
Home to centuries-old craft traditions, Italy is a fertile ground to discover beautiful one-off items and to learn the intriguing history behind them. From the glass island Murano and the lace island Burano in the Venetian Lagoon to the pottery towns of the Veneto, Tuscany, Umbria, and Sicily, you can find anything and everything handmade in between.
Italy is also worldwide famous for its jewellery. Cities like Vicenza, Valenza and Arezzo preserve jewellery-making traditions going back centuries. Volterra in Tuscany is known as heaven for lovers of hand-carved cameos. Naples is the city where the best Nativity scenes are made. Florence is notable for its leather goods and handmade paper. In Venice, you will find lavish masks allowing you to take home with you a piece of the spirit of Carnival.
Anywhere you go in Italy with your kids, make sure that you visit the shops and the workshops of the local artisans. These are people who take pride in their work and whose hands create real beauty. Some may hold open days giving you access to their studios and working areas thus allowing you to learn first hand about their craft. Others may organise workshops for kids and parents so that you can too learn how to make something with your own hands.
One of my personal pleasures in Italy was to explore the shops of local artisans in the towns and cities we visited as well the stalls they set up during events and craft fairs.
I still remember spending a couple of inspiring hours at a large craft event in one of Italy’s most beautiful small historic towns – Cison di Valmarino.
Craftsmen and artisans had set up stalls and shops all throughout the town. There was a festival atmosphere coupled with lively music. Plus lots of workshops for children to try their hand at working with clay and other materials.
Another event I always visited with my child was Abilmente in Vicenza, Northern Italy. This is a large fair where hobby craftsmen from all over Italy meet. There are lots of workshops and a chance to see some fab crafting work to inspire your own projects that you do with your kids at home.
Ask the local tourist office at the place you travel to in Italy for similar events and for directions to the best artisan and craft shops in the area. Your kids and you will have a lot of fun discovering the wonderful things they make there.
For more information:
- Keeping Alive the Old Italian Crafts
- Abilmente, Vicenza – Where Crafters in Italy Meet
- Video of a lacemaker from Chioggia, Italy
15. Practise Sports with Your Kids in Italy
Italy is a great place to be active and to practice sports. From hikes to cycling, from skiing to paragliding and horse riding, there is something for everyone to try their hand at here.
Cycling, for example, is very popular in Northern Italy. Everywhere you go you will see people on bicycles. Kids start learning to cycle really young and keep up with the sport as they grow up.
Gym and yoga classes are also very popular both for little ones and grown-ups. Often you will find a historical site, such as a Venetian villa, for example, holding a sports event on its grounds like an alfresco yoga class.
Marathons, half-marathons and other running events are held regularly in all Italian cities and larger towns. On weekends, there are walks and walks combined with non-competitive running that the whole family can take part in.
In winter skiing, tobogganing and snowboarding are the order of the day.
It’s a great environment for kids who love being active and are happy to try new sports and physical activities.
For more information:
16. Have an Agricultural Experience with Your Kids in Italy
In a world where our food reaches us in packs, tins and glass jars, there is a real need for kids to learn how food grows and what stages it goes through before we can put it on the table.
In this respect, Italy is a great learning ground.
There are hundreds of farms all over the country. Many of them can be visited during open days and specially organised events. Kids can take part in such activities as olive picking, pea shelling and even grape stomping. They can also learn how to plant vegetables and how to take care of them. It is a fun, hands-on way to learn about food.
Often, you don’t even need to travel to a farm in order to have an agricultural experience with your kids in Italy. Local farmers’ markets and even garden centres in Italy sometimes also organise events on weekends aiming to teach kids and parents about seasonal fruits and veg, and the tasty things that can be done with them.
Many cities in Italy also organise children and family fairs with hundreds of exhibitors. Often, there are several agricultural farms taking part, too. For example, at the Children and Family Fair in Vicenza, a farm often sets up space for kids to plant lettuce and take care of it. Another farm at the same event sets up an area with old agricultural equipment so that kids can try their hand at corn shelling and other such activities. It is always a lot of fun!
17. Let Your Kids Experiment with Modern and Contemporary Art in Italy
Think Italy and, most probably, the first thing that will pop in your mind will be a reference to its ancient or Renaissance art. Yet Italy has an incredibly rich modern and contemporary art scene which can be a lot of fun to explore together with your kids.
Traipsing around museums stuffed with masterpieces by ancient and Renaissance masters may be your idea of heaven. In the meantime, kids can easily get bored with all those endless paintings of Biblical scenes. Instead, modern and contemporary sculptures, drawings and paintings may speak just your child’s language with their bright colours and imaginative shapes.
Take your kids to large modern and contemporary art museums in Italy. MART with branches in Rovereto and Trento and The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice are just two great examples. Check online their websites for kid-friendly events and workshops. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection has a free art workshop for kids every Sunday.
Another option is to explore nature parks dotted with abstract pieces of art. This way you will be combining two good things in one:
- a nice and relaxed hike with your kids so that they can run and play burning lots of energy; and
- a large dose of art appreciation as they come across different installations and works of art nestled between large trees and in sun-lit clearings.
Of the many such places in Italy, I loved visiting these three:
- Parco del Sojo in the Veneto – a natural park with 70 pieces of contemporary art installed in a forest;
- Parco Arte Sella in Trentino – another natural park with large sculptural pieces of contemporary art; and
- Cave Dipinte in the Veneto – a group of abandoned quarries which have been turned into an open-air art installation by the artist Tony Zarpellon.
In order to introduce your kids to the joys of modern and contemporary art, you can also take them to see such large and worldwide famous events like the Biennale in Venice. Creative workshops for children and families are regularly organised at such happenings.
One last idea is to play a game of ‘spot the graffiti’ as you and your kids travel across Italy. There are lots of naff graffiti all over the country, yet it also hosts some of the best graffiti artists you will have a chance to see. Padua, for example, is the playing ground of a fabulous graffiti master called Kenny Random. Try to spot as many of his works when you are in the city. Sometimes, there are even guided tours introducing people to the art of graffiti in Padua.
For more information:
- The Painted Caves of Rubbio, Italy – Where Art Meets Nature
- Video from Parco del Sojo
- Video of the Gaetano Pesce exhibition in Palazzo della Ragione in Padua
- Video of the Painted Caves just outside Rubbio
18. Visit Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages with Your Kids
Italy’s most authentic beauty and charming traditions are upheld by its historic villages called borghi in Italian. They are often small in size and very much off the beaten track. Yet they offer a real opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the Italian lifestyle.
Most people plan their Italian adventures strictly around the country’s main tourist hubs like Florence, Venice, and Rome. If you put a day aside to venture further afield and visit one or two of Italy’s many villages, you will soon discover stories, legends, and inspiring views to give you a new understanding of what makes Italy a must-see destination for parents and kids.
While a busy Italian city with all that there is to see and do can at times be overwhelming for kids, visiting a small Italian village offers beautiful views, curious local stories, little-known sights, delicious local food, and bags of peace and quiet.
I was an avid explorer of the Italian villages over the six years that we spent in the North of Italy. At least one weekend a month, we would pile in the car and take off to explore in detail yet another little Italian gem perched on top of a lush hill or huddled behind a medieval defensive wall.
There was something really calming about walking through the narrow cobbled streets of a place that families have called home for centuries, where a crystalline river may run nearby, where velvety mountains stand proud and tall, and where you can smell the homecooked dishes through an open window giving you a brief insight into a quaint way of life.
I loved exploring the small beautiful villages of Northern Italy. Click on the links below for a wealth of information to help you plan your visit with your kids to an Italian village or two.
For more information:
- Italian Villages or 6 Reasons to Visit Italy’s Picturesque and Historic Borghi
- 8 Most Beautiful Villages to Visit in the Veneto, Italy
- 5 Most Beautiful Villages to Visit in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
- 5 Most Beautiful Villages to Visit in Friuli Venezia Giulia – The Northeasternmost Corner of Italy
- Campo di Brenzone – A Great Day Trip to a Medieval Village in the Hills Above Lake Garda
- Visiting Nesso – The Prettiest Village on Lake Como, Italy
19. Marvel at Italy’s Most Beautiful Parks with Your Kids
Italy has long-standing traditions in the art of gardening.
Lavish gardens in the Italian style adorn cities and towns all over the country, curl around splendid villas and palaces, and attract droves of visitors from all over the world.
Dedicating a couple of hours or even a whole day to a large garden or park is a great way to spend time with your kids in Italy. They can run on lush greens, hug centuries-old trees, observe the birds that come to feed on insects and seeds, sit on the edge of ponds teeming with fish and water gardens teeming with aquatic plants, smell the herbs in ancient herb gardens, and even explore a maze that was planted during the Renaissance.
I always loved visiting the majestic Giusti Garden with the turtles living in its water fountains and the beautiful views it afforded over the city of Verona. The University of Padua Botanical Garden – the oldest of its kind in the world – was another lush oasis I loved returning to time and time again.
There are hundreds of gardens and parks to explore in Italy with your kids. Many of them have historic value for they have been planted centuries ago. Many are dotted with whimsical statues and features the stories of which can make the most wonderful book. Hundreds of plant and tree specimens grow in each one of them – carefully selected and often brought from the four corners of the world.
Click on the links below for some ideas about parks and gardens you can explore with your kids in Italy.
For more information:
- Italian Gardens – How to Visit Four of Italy’s Most Beautiful Parks in the Veneto
- 9 Gorgeous Gardens and Parks in the Veneto to Enjoy This Season
20. Embrace Lake Life with Your Kids in Italy
Italy is richly blessed with hundreds of pristine lakes. With shores dotted with picturesque towns and offering easy access to nature and dozens of different activities, the Italian lakes are a great destination for a family holiday with your kids.
Lake Como is, undoubtedly, Italy’s most famous lake. Easy to reach from Milan, Lake Como can be a beautiful day-long family escapade or a place where to spend your full vacation.
Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake. With Roman ruins and medieval castles dotted along its shores, with olive groves and citrus gardens offering shade during the hot summer months, and with a long list of cute little beaches and authentic local events, Lake Garda is a must-see when you visit Italy as a family.
And then you have Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Iseo here, too. So many choices for wonderful destinations to enjoy with your kids.
Then again, there are hundreds of smaller lakes all over Italy. The province of Trentino is particularly blessed as it has almost 300 lakes. You can literally travel for months through its valleys and mountains and keep discovering for yourself more and more beautiful lakes.
Lake Caldonazzo – Trentino’s largest lake – deserves a special mention here for its warm waters. While Lake Ledro (pictured above) has been a hub of human activity since prehistoric times.
I, personally, always loved visiting Lake Garda with its lovely lakefront towns, beautiful historic sights, and many activities – from hikes in the hills above the lake to boating on the lake waters.
If you want to experience the best of Italy and its lifestyle – from beauty to peace and quiet, from history to nature, from tasty food to exciting local events – an Italian lake can be just the destination that will make the whole family happy.
For more information:
- Best 12 Towns to Visit around Lago di Garda – Italy’s Largest Lake
- Lake Garda with Kids or The Best 11 Things to Do at Lake Garda for Families
- Getting around Lake Garda – 8 Best Ways to Travel around Italy’s Largest Lake
- 8 Best Airports for Lake Garda or How to Reach Quickly by Plane Italy’s Largest Lake
- 3 Easy Ways to Travel from Verona to Lake Garda in Italy
- 3 Easy Ways to Travel from Venice to Lake Garda in Italy
- 3 Easy Ways to Travel from Milan to Lake Garda in Italy
- Lake Garda Beaches – 16 Top Tips for a Great Day at the Beach at Italy’s Largest Lake
- 3 Unmissable Lake Garda Beaches to Sun Yourself on This Summer in Italy
- Lake Como – The Beauty of Italy’s Most Famous Lake in 25 Photos
- Lake Caldonazzo, Italy – 10 Things to Do around Trentino’s Largest Lake
21. Take Lots of Day Trips with Your Kids in Italy
Italy is a fertile ground for day trips and explorations. In a matter of half an hour or an hour top, you can reach plenty of exciting destinations to get to know together with your kids.
Choose a place to call your base while in Italy and then check to see what else you can do in its immediate surroundings. Chances are you will be overwhelmed with choice! From small villages to large cities, from castles to mountains, there is always something else to do in Italy just around the corner.
As such, don’t limit yourself to just one Italian city! Put your adventure hat on and head out to explore with your family. Public transport is well organised and relatively inexpensive in Italy and distances can be shorter than you can imagine. For example, it takes less than half an hour to reach the city of Padua from Venice and just over an hour and a half to travel from Padua to Bologna.
Due to Italy’s history as a place where city-states flourished, each city and town in the country has its own look and feel and its own rich heritage to learn about.
Day trips were my most favourite activity while living in Italy. It always felt so exciting, such a great adventure to head to a new destination. The more I travelled, the more day trips I took with my family, the more worthy destinations seemed to be there and the bigger my horizons became.
Take every opportunity to travel when in Italy for often even a journey of less than 30 minutes can open a whole new world in front of you and your family.
For more information:
- Day Trips from Verona – 16 Destinations to Fall in Love With (With Travel Times and Train Tips)
- Day Trips from Padua, Italy – Over 35 Unmissable Destinations in the Veneto, Lombardy, and Emilia-Romagna
- Day Trips from Vicenza, Italy – Over 90 of the Best Destinations
- 11 of the Best Day Trips from Venice (With Lots of Photos, Travel Times and Italy Train Tips)
Italy is a great country with much to offer to both parents and kids eager to explore history, nature and art and to have some wonderful adventures.
From learning how to cook authentic Italian dishes to visiting castles and artisan workshops, from having fun by picking olives and splashing in sprawling aquaparks to practising a myriad of sports and testing one’s strength in adventure parks, there are so many exciting things for kids to do in Italy.
In the above blog post, I share with you my very best and personally tried and tested suggestions and recommendations for places to visit in Italy with kids and things to do in Italy with kids. I hope that it will give you lots of ideas and information to make planning your family trip to Italy a breeze.
Have a great time exploring Italy with your kids!
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