Here is a helpful list of the very best things to do in Italy with kids.
It will come in very handy if you are planning a family holiday in this exciting country.
Universally known for its good food, millennial history, and stunning nature, Italy is also a fantastic family-friendly destination. Visiting Italy with kids is a recipe for a wonderful adventure. Here families can have lots of fun and create memories to last a lifetime.
I spent six years living in Italy with my husband and child and let me tell you. In Italy, there is something for everyone who is young at heart.
Explore child-oriented museums in the country’s largest cities and smaller towns. Spend time in close contact with nature. Play on sunny beaches. Learn to cook with fresh, seasonal products. Explore medieval castles. Take a dip in crystal-clear lakes. See craftsmen making wonderful artisan items by hand. And so much more…
The best thing is that family life is 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, visitors with children can easily slot into the relaxed rhythm of everyday Italian life 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 inexpensive travel prices and attraction tickets 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 usually offer half-price or free entry to kids, too.
You can easily get on the train or the bus here and enjoy exciting trips as a family to large cities and hidden gems. World-class theme parks, water parks, beaches, and cool landmarks are just around the corner.
So, if you are already thinking 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 – family-friendly activities, exciting events, great hikes, and some very cool places. 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 my many visits to Italy over the years and the long time that I spent actually living there with my family. It was a wonderful adventure for us. 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.
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21 Best Things to Do in Italy with Kids – The Ultimate Family Travel Guide
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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 throughout 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 are dedicated to a particular theme and you will have a never-ending list of options on 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 old-style 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 be 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.
- 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 that you can hike to. 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.
Above all, you will find hundreds of well-maintained hiking paths all over Italy. They criss-cross pristine beauty spots, thick forests, and lush 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 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 in the Venetian Pre-Alps 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 varying degrees of difficulty and then end the day in the nearby medieval village of Molina to see its centuries-old watermills.
- Archaeological site on Mount San Martino – explore the archaeological digs on top of a high hill in the autonomous 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.
- 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: Point 9 – 15 Amazing Places to Visit in Trentino, Italy
- 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 the two largest and possibly best-known Italian islands but there are hundreds more of them to see and explore here.
Italy has islands both in the seas that surround it and in the many lakes dotted all over its territory. Plus,the historic city of Venice is built on 118 islands connected by more than 400 bridges and separated by around 170 canals.
Italian islands are great destinations for their beautiful nature, 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.
This way, you can tick off the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Pellestrina, Lido di Venezia and several other Venetian 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.
You will see how all these islands have their own unique features and customs even though they are only a short journey by boat away from each other.
Or, you can travel up to the Northern Italian lakes like Garda, Iseo, and Como. They 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.
- 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, and feelings of loneliness. It also 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. Most of the time, 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.
Italy is also peppered with independent farms (known as agriturismo in Italian). Many of them 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; feed ponies, donkeys, and horses; and may even be shown how to milk a goat or a cow.
Curiously enough, several small farms in Italy nowadays look after growing herds of llamas and alpacas. At such places, you can go for a walk in the woods in the company of a llama or an alpaca and bond 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 on one such farm is a great way to immerse yourself into Italy’s zero km food culture.
If sea life is what your kids are interested in, then in Italy, you will also find several 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 and the Aquario di Cattolica, 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.
And that’s not all! 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 contact with animals was one of my 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.
- Hiking with llamas and alpacas – Point 14 – 15 Amazing Places to Visit in Trentino, Italy
- A visit to a butterfly house – 3 Butterfly Houses (and One Insect Museum) You Need to Visit in Italy
- 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 fortresses 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, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Piedmont are particularly good for castle visits and experiences. But you will easily find dozens of castles and walled towns anywhere you go 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 – another gorgeous medieval walled town in the Province of Padua. Here you will find ‘Europe’s best medieval parapet walkway’. In other words, this means that you can circumnavigate the town’s historic centre by walking on its medieval defensive wall. Plus, each year 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 and a yearly medieval fair. Montagnana is also famous for its locally produced prosciutto. It’s considered to be among Italy’s best.
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.
- Monselice – Point 11 – 20 Family-Friendly Walks and Hikes Up to an Hour and a Half from Vicenza – Second Part
- 11 Things to Do in Cittadella, Italy – The Town with Walls to Walk On
- 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
- Borghetto sul Mincio – How to Visit and What to Do in Italy’s Village on Water
- 10 Beautiful Castles to Visit around Lake Garda, Italy
6. Go on an Urban Adventure with Your Kids in Italy
Italian cities are like a bottomless treasure chest. You can spend days and weeks exploring them and still there will be hundreds of riches and secrets left for you and your kids to discover and enjoy. There is so much to see and do, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and end up missing some of 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 join a guided tour. Alternatively, you can hire independently 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 the local history, art, and culture.
There are three ways to go about it:
- You can join a guided tour taking in a particular sight. Usually, these are organised by the actual sight (for example, a guided visit to a museum or a palace) and run at specific intervals throughout the day. The guided tour may be free or at a nominal charge in addition to the price paid for entry tickets.
- 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. It can be a pricey option but it’s money well-spent as the guide will organise a bespoke itinerary and show you exactly what you want to see.
- You can join a guided tour organised by a tour operator. There are hundreds of tours held daily all over Italy. To see what’s available, read reviews left by people who had booked a particular tour, and make your choice, have a look at Viator and GetYourGuide.
While we as a family 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 fantastic 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 and stopped at iconic spots to find out the Carnival 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 Historic Italian Square
The piazza (meaning ‘square’ in English) is at the centre of life in Italy. It is traditionally surrounded by the most beautiful and important buildings in town as well as some lovely cafes, bars, gelaterias, and patisseries.
Day and night, the Italian piazza is full of life. This is where the town’s market is held and where large local events are organised. In the evening, people flock to the piazza for their traditional leisurely walk called passeggiata.
Italian kids love to run and play on these large historic squares. While their parents sit in the nearest cafe sipping a cold coffee-based drink or an aperitivo, the kids have fun running around, chasing a ball, riding their bikes, and 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. It is an extraordinary experience to be able to run around and have fun surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful historic architecture.
In Vicenza – where we spent six years – don’t miss the grand Piazza dei Signori. Flanked by imposing buildings by Andrea Palladio – the originator of the Palladian architectural style – the square is a stunning sight at any time of the day but it really comes to life in the early summer evenings.
8. Learn About Authentic Italian Food and Then Cook Some With Your Kids
Italian food is popular all over the world. Visiting Italy is a great opportunity to taste many different Italian dishes and to learn about them in the most authentic way.
You may even be surprised to discover that there is no such thing as ‘Italian food’ in Italy! 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, commercial activities, and personal tastes.
Obviously, pizza and pasta are available everywhere. However, you may soon notice that there are significant regional differences between pizza pies and pasta dishes. And while pizza is a must-taste in Naples, for example, in Venice it is not for it is not part of the original local cuisine.
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 Veneto; truffles, cremino, and gianduja in Piedmont; burrata, taralli, and focaccia in Puglia, and so on.
Pop into local fruit and veg shops and delis. Explore food markets like the 800-year-old market in front of Palazzo della Ragione in Padua. Notice that around 95% of all of the fruit and veg sold here (bananas excluded!) are home-grown and 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 lavish dinner of several courses.
Enjoy an olive oil tasting or have an extra virgin olive oil experience. You will discover that olive oil is just like wine – with dozens of different flavours and tastes depending on the region and the local olive varieties.
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 class for your kids so that they can learn how to prepare an authentic Italian dish or two. Even better, take them on a patisserie tour or to a chocolate festival and they will have sweet memories of Italy to last them a lifetime.
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.
- Bologna, Italy – 10 Stories to Introduce You to the Fat Lady of the Italian Cities
- Italian Markets – 11 Types of Markets You Can Find in Italy
- Padua’s 800-Year-Old Market: blog post and video
- Italian Cheeses – 5 Must-Try Cheeses and 10 Unmissable Cheese Experiences in Veneto, Northern Italy
- 10 Rules of Breakfast in Italy or How Do Italians Eat Breakfast
- 14 Typical Italian Breakfast Foods and Drinks or What Do Italians Eat for Breakfast
- Sagra Experiences: The Best Peas in Italy; Lumignano Truffle Festival
- Video of the display of a traditional Italian patisserie in Verona
- For more food stories from Italy, check my blog’s dedicated category: Italy for Foodies
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 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 historic buildings all around them.
In the Museum of the Venetian Age in the city of Bergamo, for example, there is a Roman archaeological area helping you see how, throughout the centuries, buildings were erected on top of the ruins of even older houses.
In modern-day Verona, you can see the layers left by the ancient Romans both underground 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.
All over 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 millennia ago.
Visiting the museums, recreated pre-historic villages, and archaeological parks that are peppered all over Italy will help you stoke your children’s interest in ancient history. Often these places offer exciting learning activities so that kids can see how people who lived several millennia ago hunted, worked the ground, and developed different types of tools and crafts to make their daily lives a little bit easier.
For example, we had a great experience hiking to the Pre-Historic Village on Mount Corgnon just above Lusiana in Veneto. Another great place is the Pile-Dwelling Museum on the shores of Lake Ledro in Trentino.
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.
Take your kids to visit Italy’s landmarks 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.
Now more than ever our children need authentic role models. So, learning first-hand about the achievements of Italian artists and scientists and seeing how their work influenced and changed the course of human thought can be a deeply inspiring experience for your kids.
- The Sunset That Petrarch Enjoyed
- Cornaro Loggia and Odeon in Padua – History, Architecture and Art
- Discovering Canova – Italy’s Neoclassical Sculptor
- The War on Art or the Loss and the Reconstruction of the Mantegna Frescoes
- Video of Dante’s Mausoleum in Ravenna
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 of 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 to visit 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!
- 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
- Video showing the historic courtyard of Palazzo Bo – the historic seat of the University of Padua
12. Spend a Day with Your Kids on Italy’s Beaches and in Italy’s Water Parks
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
- tiny 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 resorts 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.
Water parks are plentiful in Italy, too. They are fun places with all sorts of water-related activities. Slides, kiddie pools, lazy rivers, 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.
Here are some names to put on your Italian water park bucket list: Acquatica Park in Milan, Mirabeach near Ravenna, Aquafan in Riccione, Caribe Bay in Jesolo, Cavour Water Park and Caneva Aquapark at Lake Garda, Aquafollie in Caorle near Venice, AquaSplash Franciacorta in Colombaro, and AquaSplash in Lignano.
Some Italian water parks have historic swimming pools, too. For example, in Terme di Giunone – a water park 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. 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 a half-dozen or so water parks. We usually headed to one around 4 or 5 pm on a hot summer workday. Water parks tend to close around 7.30 pm. So, this gave us enough time to cool off in the water and have fun after a productive day.
- 47 Beaches and Beach Resorts in and near Venice, Italy and How to Get to Them
- 3 Unmissable Lake Garda Beaches to Sun Yourself on This Summer in Italy
- Lake Garda Beaches – 16 Top Tips for a Great Day at the Beach at Italy’s Largest Lake
- 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 water parks, Italy has some truly 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, this park is an exciting place for both kids and parents. 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 Pioppi. 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, Mirabilandia, Leolandia, and Movieland the Hollywood Park in the north of the country. We absolutely loved our visits to Gardaland. Located at 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. This is a fun theme park where you can see 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 have fun 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 different age groups. This way both kids and parents can have a go at being Tarzan or Jane 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!
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 glassmaking island of Murano and the lacemaking island of 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. Fabriano in the Marche has centuries-old papermaking traditions. 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 exploring the shops of local artisans in the towns and cities we visited. During events and craft fairs, I loved browsing their stalls.
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.
- Keeping Alive the Old Italian Crafts
- Abilmente, Vicenza – Where Crafters in Italy Meet
- Video of a lacemaker from Chioggia, Italy
15. Enjoy Sports with Your Kids in Italy
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 historic 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.
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 independent farms (the above-mentioned agriturismi) 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 often organise events on weekends aiming to teach kids and parents about seasonal fruits and veg, and the tasty things that can be prepared with them.
Many cities in Italy also organise children and family fairs with hundreds of exhibitors. Usually, the local farms take part, too. For example, at the Children and Family Fair in Vicenza, a farm often sets up space for kids to plant and water lettuce. 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 the country’s ancient or Renaissance art. Yet Italy has also 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 Italian nature parks dotted with abstract pieces of art. This way you will be combining two good things into 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 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.
- Cave Dipinte in Veneto – a group of abandoned quarries that 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 as 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.
- 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. They are 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 panoramas, 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 per 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 the aroma of homecooked dishes comes wafting through an open window thus 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.
- 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
- Borghetto sul Mincio – How to Visit and What to Do in Italy’s Village on Water
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 lawns, 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 Giardino Giusti with the turtles living in its water fountains and the beautiful panoramic views it affords 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. Parco Giardino Sigurtà was always such a great day trip right next door to Lake Garda.
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 different features with captivating stories to tell. Hundreds of varieties of plants and trees grow in each one of them – carefully selected and often brought from the four corners of the world.
Click on the links below for many ideas about gorgeous parks and gardens you can explore with your kids in Italy.
- Italian Gardens – How to Visit Four of Italy’s Most Beautiful Parks in Veneto
- 9 Gorgeous Gardens and Parks in 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 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 with your 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. 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.
Click on the links below for lots of information about beautiful lakes you can visit in Italy.
- Lake Garda Map – Where is Lake Garda and What to Do Around Italy’s Largest Lake
- 20 Best 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
- 5 Easy Ways to Travel from Verona to Lake Garda in Italy
- 5 Easy Ways to Travel from Venice to Lake Garda in Italy
- 5 Easy Ways to Travel from Milan to Lake Garda in Italy
- 5 Easy Ways to Travel from Bologna to Lake Garda 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
- Gorgeous Lakes in Veneto, Italy You Have to See for Yourself
- 8 Lakes in Trentino, Italy You Have to See for Yourself
21. Take Lots of Day Trips with Your Kids in Italy
Italy is a fertile ground for day trips and explorations. In one or two hours on the road, 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 choices! 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 vary from very short to very manageable. For example, it takes less than half an hour to reach the city of Padua from Venice and less than an hour to travel from Verona 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 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 and the more day trips I took with my family in Italy, the more I wanted us to be out there and exploring.
Take every opportunity to travel when in Italy as even a journey of half an hour can open a whole new world in front of you and your family.
Click on the links below for lots of useful tips and a number of day trips you can enjoy with your kids in Italy.
- 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)
- For more suggestions for places to explore, check my blog’s dedicated category: Day Trips in Italy
Italy is a great country with much to offer to both parents and kids eager to have fun, relax, and delve into history, nature, and art. It is a fantastic place to visit if you are looking for wonderful adventures in a family-friendly environment.
There are, after all, so many exciting things for kids to do in Italy. Learn to cook authentic Italian dishes. Visit castles and artisan workshops. Splash in sprawling water parks. Enjoy fab day trips. Get active by hiking, cycling, and swimming. The list is literally endless.
So, in this blog post, I shared with you my very best suggestions and recommendations for places to visit in Italy with kids and things to do in Italy with kids.
I hope that all this first-hand tried and tested information will make planning your family trip to Italy a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Have a great time exploring Italy with your kids!
More Helpful Italy Info for You
Best of Italy: Best Time to Visit, Italian Piazzas, Italian Food, Italian Markets, Italian Coffee Culture, Types of Italian Coffees, Rules of Italian Breakfast, Italian Breakfast Foods
Northern Italy: Reasons to Visit, 18 Best Cities, 11 Major Airports
Day Trips in Italy: Bologna to Venice, Venice to Milan, Verona to Milan, Milan to Verona, Venice to Verona, Milan to Venice, Florence to Venice, Verona to Venice, Venice to Padua
Lake Como: Things to See, Nesso
Lombardy: Best Cities and Towns, Reasons to Visit, Brescia
Friuli Venezia Giulia: Venzone, Most Beautiful Villages
Emilia Romagna: Bologna, Ravenna, Comacchio, Most Beautiful Villages
Marche: Reasons to Visit, Gradara, Frasassi Caves, Temple of Valadier
Trentino: Best Cities and Towns, Beautiful Lakes, Lake Caldonazzo, Violins’ Forest
Veneto: Best Cities to Visit, Prettiest Small Towns, Most Beautiful Villages, Top 15 Places, 30 Adventures, 15 Most Colourful Places, Beautiful Lakes
Venice: Major Landmarks, Essential Tips, Hidden Gems, One Day Itinerary for Art Lovers, Best Beaches in Venice, Best Airports, Train Stations in Venice, Boats in Venice, Haunted Venice, Day Trips from Venice, Quotes about Venice
Verona: Things to Do in One Day, Verona Opera Festival, Day Trips from Verona, Romeo and Juliet Itinerary
Padua: Things to Do in One Day, 101 Facts About Padua, 10 Reasons to Visit Padua, Day Trips from Padua
Vicenza: Things to Do, Day Trips from Vicenza, Best Museums
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