Italy is not only a perfect destination for couples and backpackers, but also for families too. It’s easily accessible, affordable, safe and educational for little ones of all ages. Children can get lost in the fantasy and myths of the Greek and Roman ruins scattered throughout the entire country.
They will entertain themselves for hours running up and down the expanse of unspoiled beaches and kicking their little feet along the lapping shores. And the family-oriented locals will take to your kids, just as your kids will take to them and their way of life.
Italy is a playground of culture and history for children to explore and discover. And this guide is everything you need to know about how to travel to Italy with kids.
When is the best time to visit Italy with kids?
It depends on what kind of Italian holiday your family wants to experience.
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, then June to August is the best time to take your family to the coast. Although, be mindful that this is by far the hottest time of the year, and without the refreshing Mediterranean Sea breeze in the populous cities’ things could get uncomfortable for you and your little ones.
For a taste of the Alps and some of the world’s finest powder conditions, you can most definitely chase winter in Italy. Travelling to northern Italy from December to February is a must if you’re looking for a wintery mix. Plus, Italy is a must for those quintessential European Christmas markets. This area is also easy access to France and Switzerland, countries also known for their ski holidays.
But if you want a taste of everything Italy has to offer, then the best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons from April to May or September to November. This is the time of the year with the mildest climate for exploring and the least expensive. During Italy’s spring and fall, you won’t have to worry about melting under the Italian sun, sweating under the weight of your luggage and towing along kids tired and cranky from the sun and a full day of activity.
But no matter when you decide to visit, you and your family will never want to leave this European holiday destination.
Where are the best regions to visit in Italy with kids?
Lazio is Italy’s central region where you can find Rome. No matter whether you’re travelling by yourself or with kids in tow, Rome should always be on your itinerary. It has everything and more for all ages and groups.
You and your little ones could spend days here exploring the magnificently preserved ancient artefacts. Spend the night before telling bedtime stories about a gladiator’s triumphs in the Colosseum, and the next day they will be reliving their dreams and fantasies of heroes and impressive beasts in one of the most historical monuments in the entire world.
For older children, follow the winding maze of museums or the pop culture trail left by The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
If you want to experience more of Italy beyond just one region, then Lazio is the ideal place to either start or finish your journey as its easily navigated and accessible by strollers, bigger cars and cheap flights.
For the family, this is the quintessential cultural and historical stop.
Head south to Campania to fulfil every little adventurer’s bucket-list.
This region is where you will find Naples and nature’s hidden treasures, like the famous Blue Grotto, hot springs and volcanoes. It’s also home to Capri, Sorrento, Pompei, Positano and Amalfi – there are some of Italy’s most idealised destinations, and rightfully so.
Hit Naples for the fried pizza at Antica Pizza Fritta da Zia Esterina Sorbillo that not only you will love, but also your picky eaters who will surely beg for more of the cheese and fried dough. Plus, Mount Vesuvius looms over this city, and is a great morning activity for your teens and energetic kids. The hike will fill your camera roll and your teen’s Instagram feed with shots of the crater, city and the vast Mediterranean Sea.
All of Pompei feels like an open-air museum, and Sorrento is all about the charm and laid-back vibes of an Italian coastal town. You’ll find the local experience in both of these places.
In Campania, you can even experience island life for a few days with Capri being so close. Plus, this is where you can find the refreshing glow of the Blue Grotto that will mesmerise you and the rest of your family. For families looking for a little bit of everything, Campania is just the mark.
Puglia, also known as Apulia in English, forms the heel of Italy’s boot, and it’s one of the country’s most underrated regions, and thus, less touristy. Here you will be able to try local and cheap delicacies, practice your Italian and walk through the streets lined with stoned huts and conical roofs that feel like a prop from Cinderella.
Plus, this is home to a wildlife park right outside of Fasano that combines, zoo, safari and amusement park. While Italy isn’t necessarily known for its animal tourism, this is a responsible and intriguing new way to experience a different side of the country. Plus, it’s an all-day affair that will keep the whole family entertained. The best part about Puglia is its pristine sand beaches and water activities, like dolphin boat tours and snorkelling.
If you’re a traveller who seeks cultural immersion, local experiences and untouched beauty, and want to expose the rest of your family to this kind of wanderlust, then you have to make the trek to Puglia, even though it’s a little bit out of the way.
This region of Italy is home to parts of the Dolomites, a mountain range in the northeastern corner of the country. And the perfect destination for families who love outdoor activities and sports, like snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking! Here you will find some of the best places for adventure sports in the entire world. Plus, from the Dolomites, you can easily reach Lake Garda by car for a relaxing end to an action-packed getaway of epic adventures and incredible views.
For the adventurous crew, northern Italy, the Dolomites and the Trentino region need to be on your radar.
What else should you see and do when travelling to Italy with kids?
Aquarium of Genoa
Kids love aquariums, and Genoa happens to have the largest aquarium in all of Italy and one of the most expansive on the entire continent. You and your loved ones could spend an entire day exploring the exhibits of sea life from all over the world. Plus visiting this staple would be a great opportunity to learn about what wildlife you can find swimming along Italy’s coast.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the views on the Bernina Express. The Bernina Express is a train route that connects Switzerland to Tirano Italy where you cross the Swiss Alps and pass through the Rhaetian Railway, a World Heritage Site. Imagine the excitement from your little ones when you tell them their toy trains are coming to life in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Staying on a farm in Italy is also a unique way to experience Italy, especially for those who need some space to run around and let out some energy. Regions like Tuscany and Umbria are rife with these accommodation opportunities, and usually, these stays offer activities like tours, classes and wild animals!
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is guaranteed to be a crowd favourite of funny pictures and selfies. And this stop will put you in the heart of Tuscany, one of the many gems of this country.
Museo Nazionale delle Scienza e della Tecnologia
This science and technology museum in Milan are not only vastly educational, but also a genuinely interesting experience for your little Leonardo da Vincis.
For kids over 8-years-old, go into the depths of the Napoli Sotterranea to explore trap doors, war hideouts, catacombs and eerie cemeteries. Your children’s imagination and curiosity for exploration will never be the same.
Take a pizza making class! You can find these all over Italy, and travel share apps like Airbnb offer rates for the entire family. An experience like this is one of the best souvenirs you can bring home to your kitchen.
Here are some general tips on how to travel to Italy with kids:
- First things first, remember that after a long day of exploring most Italian towns and cities have gelato waiting at every corner.
- Italy is a lot larger than you may think. To travel from north to south, it would take you about 11 to 13 hours depending on means of travel and time of year. And travel days with children can sometimes be stressful, especially when trying to figure out gas, tickets, prices, car seats, etc. So, before your trip try your best to plan out your means of transportation whether that be a car, train or plane. Auto Europe Car Rental and the 15-day continuous travel single country pass from Eurail are great options for travelling families. And if you have a finite amount of time to explore this beautiful country, then try to narrow down a specific region that will accommodate your entire party and then research whether renting a car or taking a train is more feasible.
- If you’re travelling with an infant, toddler or younger child, look into baby rental equipment companies that are popping up all over Europe. This way you can rent essentials like strollers and car seats without having to lug your own through airports and stress about the extra baggage.
- Although when travelling with babies, take advantage of the baby carriers that you can strap to yourself like a backpack rather than trying to navigate the cobble-stoned streets that wind throughout most of Italy.
- When it comes to eating in Italy, your kids may go through quite the adjustment. In general, Italians eat later. Unless it’s a major tourist haunt, restaurants don’t typically open until at least 7 p.m., especially in the summer. And generally, there is no kids’ menu, but Italian cuisine is simple and delicious so even your pickiest eater will love their pasta – even if it is just pasta, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Also be prepared for a lack of options for lunch any time after 2 p.m. But as Italians retire for the afternoon, this is a great opportunity to stop at a local market for a sandwich or any other local snacks, like salami and cheese. If you foresee this being an issue, try adjusting your family’s meal schedule even before you leave!
- Fortunately, children between a certain age usually receive discounted prices at most attractions, including museums, churches and ancient runes. If you are a citizen of the EU, admission is sometimes even free, but generally the price is cut in half for children between the ages of six and 18. Plus some attractions offer family tickets that offer discounts for larger groups! Pro-tip: visit state-controlled museums and monuments on the first Sunday of each month for free admission for the entire family.
- When booking your beach getaway to an idyllic coastal village, be sure to take into account pebble beaches. While these oases have their charm, they most often don’t go over well with kids who just want to recreate the beauty of Italy’s fairytale castles with wet sand and sea-water moats. Plus, for the little ones, the rocky composition is bound to be a hazard that could ruin an afternoon by the sea.
When it comes to travelling Italy with kids, you can’t go wrong with a country known for pizza, gelato and some of the world’s best bedtime stories.
To discover more about Italy and to plan the rest of your family holiday, check out Italian Breaks for where to go, where to stay and what to do.