Who travels to Italy with kids? That’s probably something you hear when you share your family trip plans with your acquaintances. Italy is often misunderstood as a place that’s not fit to travel with kids. Usually, it’s seen as a romantic getaway for lovestruck couples with few activities and attractions for kids.
Well, luckily for you, there’s no truth in this thought; it’s just a misconception. Italy is a safe and fun country to visit with your family! It’s rich with cultural heritage, historical learning experiences, and breathtaking natural attributes, including delicious cuisine and adventurous activities.
All of this makes Italy the ultimate destination to experience with your children.
Nevertheless, if you are apprehensive about your trip to Italy with your kids, here are some fantastic tips to make sure your children have the time of their lives.
1. Prepare their minds for the experience
Let’s face it; no two families are alike. Therefore, every parent has a unique way of handling their kids when they act difficult.
However, what unites all children is the prospect of excitement and fun.
To make sure your kids are as excited as you before leaving for Italy, fill them in about the details of your itinerary beforehand. Whatever you do, don’t leave them under the impression that they’ll be exploring museums and architectural sites all day.
Instead, expose them to the ceremonious history of the Roman Empire and Medieval artists so they can develop a taste for your plans ahead.
You can introduce them to child-friendly fiction and non-fiction books based on Italian culture and heritage. Some titles that may appeal to your children include The Roman Mysteries by Caroline Lawrence or The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke.
2. Incorporate child-friendly activities
No one knows your child’s interests and dislikes more than you. That’s why, if you want to make sure your child does not get bored or cranky during your trip, incorporate activities they like into your itinerary. An example is the various wine regions in Italy are not always kid-friendly and most people are looking for a quiet, relaxing winery experience.
If your children are outdoor enthusiasts, plan a mountain climbing trip on the Vesuvius or a picnic on the beaches of Positano. Bring along a beach blanket and enjoy a traditional Italian picnic on the beach!
On the other hand, if history enthralls your children, you can take them to explore the costumes at Florence’s Pitti Palace or plan a gondola ride through the canals of Venice.
As far as my personal experience goes, it’s best to include activities that keep your kids active. If you don’t want to spend extravagantly on tickets and guided tours, you can limit them and include short trips to public parks and local plazas.
Some attractions like the mainland Mediterranean beaches in Italy are not favorable for young children who like to play in the sand. That’s why you should conduct thorough background checks on the places you wish to take your children to avoid any inconveniences during your trip.
Some of my favorite places to visit with kids in Italy include:
- The Colosseum — the young ones are simply captivated when envisioning ancient gladiator battles in the arena.
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa — the seemingly perfect building, tilting towards the ground, makes a breathtaking view for children grasping the wonders of the world.
- The Aquarium of Genoa — one of the most popular aquariums in Europe, it houses exotic sea life from all over the world to give your children an enjoyable learning experience.
3. Plan sightseeing trips carefully
This is one of the most crucial tips to follow when traveling to Italy with kids. With its extensive range of museums, art galleries, and architectural attributes, there are many sights to behold in Italy.
Naturally, these trips must be exciting for you, but not the best activity for kids. You don’t want to be lagging a cranky child around a museum just to finish a trip you paid for.
And it’s not their fault. Crowded places can be scary for kids and, since they’re shorter than other visitors, they can’t see the exhibitions and enjoy them to the fullest.
That’s why you should make sure to incorporate some fun activities into typical sightseeing trips so that your children can enjoy the day as much as you do. You’d be surprised to know how many museums offer attractions to make the journey memorable for young visitors.
Museums like the Vatican hold scavenger hunts with rewards to keep children hooked towards the end; similarly, some museums have dedicated exhibitions for young kids to make sure they have fun during their visit.
4. Give them the freedom they need
Let’s face it, no matter how hard we try; we adults can never figure out exactly how our kids’ minds work. In this case, the best way is to take their opinion and give them the reins to plan the trip as they like, under your supervision, of course.
For example, you can let them choose whether they would like to play at Rome’s Forum after completing the tour or move on to the next activity.
If your kids are old enough, you can simply hand them the GPS. After that, ask them to choose the next landmark they want to explore.
This trick will help them learn the connections from one tourist attraction to another. Additionally, it will help them take control of the trip according to their likes and dislikes.
5. Always book ahead
The long lines bother almost all vacationers to Italy during the peak season. These lines can test the patience of adults, so I can’t even imagine putting children through that ordeal.
A good idea is to confirm all your bookings while planning your vacation. Indeed, you can’t book everything in advance, so leave room for some spontaneous activities. But, at least prebook the places you will surely visit and are known to be overcrowded.
Apart from tickets to tourist attractions and landmarks, booking transportation tickets can also save your time and reduce the waiting hassle while traveling through Italy. However, if you don’t want to do any of that, simply show up early to every destination to ensure shorter lines.
6. Let them devour as much gelato as they like!
A trip to Italy is not complete without gelato, the Italian version of ice cream. And I have yet to meet a child who isn’t ready for a scoop of ice cream at any time of the day.
The best part is, you can find a gelateria, the Italian equivalent of an ice cream truck, at almost every corner in Italy. Not only will this keep your kids happy at all times, but it will also help charge them up with sugar to be active enough for the next activity on your list.
Besides that, gelato is considered healthier than typical ice cream because of its high milk content. Altogether, making frequent gelato stops will make sure your kids never get bored while backpacking through Italy.
7. Don’t worry about food
If your kids are finicky when it comes to food, you are not alone. However, while you will usually find customized kids menus at most restaurants in the US, it is not that common in Italy.
But don’t let that bother you at all. Most restaurants in Italy are pretty accommodating if you want to customize orders for your children. Furthermore, there are many Italian staples that most kids love, such as pasta bianca or pasta with ragu.
Not to mention, there are always pizzas and calzones available at every local restaurant that work wonders with hungry kids.
Besides that, if you’re planning a light meal, you can order toast at any Italian restaurant. The thing is, toast is much more than just crispy bread in this part of the world. Here, you’ll get a sandwich with a choice of ham or veggies which can make a hearty and enjoyable meal for your children.