I can’t believe our family trip to Italy is coming to an end! We’ve spent a month here in Italy, and we’ve had such a great time exploring so many of the beautiful cities here in this country. Our Italy itinerary has been packed with road trips, castles, tours, and plenty of historical museums.
Italy is a popular place to visit, for solo travelers and families, alike. There truly is something beautiful about this country, and I’m glad I had a chance to experience it firsthand. During our time here, we had a chance to experience living in the Italian countryside, and also visit some ancient and historical cities. We didn’t really have a set itinerary before we went, but after this trip, I kind of wish we had. There are so many things that we missed out on while we were here in Italy, purely because we didn’t know about it beforehand.
So to help you all, if you’re ever planning a trip to Italy, I decided to put together an Italy itinerary for families. My hope is that it will help you decide where to go and what to do if you are ever planning to visit Italy.
This post was updated on May 28, 2020.
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Choosing things to do on your Italy itinerary with kids
Our month here in Italy has given us a chance to experience plenty of things to do in Italy. As I was putting this Italy itinerary together, I wanted to make sure that it included places that kids would also enjoy visiting. We found that many of the things to do in Italy, though primarily geared towards adults, are also pretty kid-friendly too.
From our experience in Italy, Italians have been quite welcoming and caring to kids. Museums sometimes offer free admission to kids, or there is a special family price for one or two adults and kids. In the restaurants that we visit, we haven’t really gotten nasty stares for bringing kids in. In fact, many of the restaurant folks try and interact with my kids (though, sadly, my kids can get quite shy around strangers). And when my son got lost in Rome, a woman was kind enough to wait with him until we came back.
What this means for families is that many of the options for things to do in Italy can be done with kids. So when planning a trip to Italy, don’t worry so much about only choosing “kiddie” type of activities. Challenge your kids by going to places where they will learn about Italy’s history and culture.
Transportation options for your Italy itinerary
If you’re planning a trip to Italy, there are several options for getting around the country. Taking the train can be a great option as they are usually a fairly quick way to get between cities. However, you’ll need to make sure to check the schedules. And depending on how much luggage you have, it can be a hassle getting them on and off the train.
Another option for transportation is the bus. These can sometimes be cheaper than the train, and other times they cost the same. As with the train, be sure to check your schedule so you don’t miss your departure time. Bus times are generally a bit slower than trains.
A third option for getting around Italy is by renting a car. This is often the most convenient and flexible option, especially if you don’t have much time on your Italy itinerary. Renting a car can be relatively inexpensive. We rented a car for 30 days for around $500-$600.
Having a car made excursions easy to do, but be aware of the traffic laws in Italy. They can be quite different from your home country’s laws. We hear that the traffic zones and speed limits are sometimes enforced by camera, and the fines can be quite hefty.
Creating a family-friendly Italy itinerary
There is so much to see, and so many things to do in Italy! We tried to hit up as many spots as possible mentioned in our Rick Steve’s Italy guide book. But even after a month, we feel like we’ve only experienced just the tip of the iceberg that is Italy and Italian culture. We spent most of our time in northern Italy, and didn’t even get to go further south than Rome.
The following Italy itinerary is not quite the trip that we took (though we did visit every single city listed here). But it is a good itinerary for families who are planning a trip to Italy, but who don’t have a month to spare for vacation. The itinerary does not include the number of days it takes to travel to and from Italy, however, it does take into account travel days between cities within Italy. Plan for at least 14 days to complete the full itinerary.
Another thing to note is that you don’t have to follow this itinerary to the “t”. Give yourself flexibility to take out cities if you want. Or feel free to extend your time in Italy to be able to spend more time in different cities. It was a bit of a challenge for me to decide how many days to give to each city. Ideally, you would spend a week in each! But I wanted to offer something that was manageable for the typical family, who only has two weeks of vacation to spare.
Rome (2 or more days)
Rome is a must for families visiting Italy. This city in the Lazio region of Italy is thousands of years old, and steeped in history and culture. If you’re planning a trip to Italy, make this your first stop on your Italy itinerary. It will give you a great introduction to what Italy is all about.
Plan to spend at least two days in Rome. We started off our Rome visit with the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. The tour gave us a good idea of the layout of the city. And it also gave us an opportunity to stop at some of the attractions if we wanted. Some popular attractions include the Colosseum, the Palatine Hills and the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. You should also allot a day to explore the Vatican City, including the Vatican museums and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Getting there: Rome’s airport has flights from all over the world. And the main train station, Termini, also services trains from throughout Europe.
Pisa (1 day)
The next stop on the Italy itinerary is the city of Pisa, famous for its iconic leaning tower. Located in the region of Tuscany, Pisa traces its roots to about 100 BC, when it was founded as a Roman colony. There is not much to see in Pisa by way of ruins or buildings, other than the Tower, Cathedral, and Baptistery found in the center. You can plan for one day in Pisa, and that would be enough to see the sights.
Getting there: Pisa is about a three hour train ride from Rome. By bus, the journey will take between 5-7 hours. If you choose to go by car, plan for a four hour drive. There will also be tolls along the way.
Parma (2 or more days)
One of the most underrated cities in Italy, in my opinion, is Parma. But this city in the Emilia-Romagna region is a must-visit for food lovers. Parma is where authentic parmesan cheese is made, as well as prosciutto ham. It’s worth spending at least two days in this city, to really get a feel for the city’s culinary traditions.
Spend one of your days taking a tour of a dairy farm in the morning. We visited the San Pier Damiani Dairy just outside of Parma, and had a chance to learn all about the parmesan cheese making process. Tours (available in English) cost just 10 euros for adults, and includes a small cheese tasting. If your kids have the energy, you can spend the rest of the day visiting the various food museums surrounding Parma, including the Pasta Museum, the Parmesan Museum, the Wine Museum, and the Prosciutto Museum.
The other Parma day in your Italy itinerary can be spent taking the free walking tour of Parma, put together by the Cariparma Foundation. The walking tour takes you throughout central Parma, to stops that are important in the city’s culinary history. Along the way, you can stop into some of the city’s famous sites, such as Palazzo Della Pilotta, the National Gallery, the Teatro Farnese, and the San Paolo Monastery.
Getting there: Driving to Parma from Pisa takes about three hours, and includes some tolls. Taking the train from Pisa to Parma will take between three to four hours. The bus will take six to seven hours, since it includes one two hour stop along the way.
Milan (1 or more days)
Milan, the capital city of the Lombardy region, is also a city that often gets overlooked. The second largest city in Italy, Milan is a city of business. But there are a few sites that families can explore while in Milan. Plan to spend at least one day in Milan for your Italy itinerary. You can visit the Duomo (the main cathedral), as well as the Castello Sforzesco. Also, near the airport, you can take a visit to Volandia Museum.
Getting there: Milan is an easy hour and a half direct train ride from Parma. If traveling by car, you can get there in about two hours (with some tolls). By bus, the ride will be between an hour and a half to three hours, depending on the departure time.
Trento (1 or more days)
From Milan, head east to the city of Trento, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy. Visiting Trento was one of our family’s favorite things to do in Italy, as we felt like we were walking into a storybook town! The city of Trento is over 2,000 years old, but there’s a distinctive Medieval feel to the city. This is especially prevalent in the town center.
You can easily spend a week in Trento exploring the city, and the surrounding Alps, but if you’re pressed for time, one day will do. This will give you time to visit the Castello del Buonconsiglio in the morning. And in the afternoon, you can spend your time at Muse Science Museum with your kids.
Getting there: By train, going from Milan to Trento takes between two and a half to three hours. By bus, the trip will take between three and four hours. If you’re traveling by car, you’ll get to Trento from Milan in approximately three hours.
Venice (2 or more days)
No Italy itinerary would be complete without a trip to Venice. Visiting Venice is one of the more popular things to do in Italy for travelers. And even families can enjoy this city. I recommend spending at least two days in Venice, so that you have a chance to experience the main island, as well as all the other islands.
Spend at least a day exploring the historical center of Venice. You can take an organized Venice walking tour, or explore on your own. On your second day, take the vaporetto (water buses) to the surrounding islands, like Murano, Burano, and Lido, to explore a different side of Venice.
Getting there: From Trento, taking the train to Venice will take up to three hours. If you’re taking the bus, the trip will take between three to four hours. Driving to Venice from Trento will take between two to three hours. Take note that cars are not allowed within the city of Venice. You’ll need to park your car at a parking lot outside of the city center.
Returning to Rome: The fastest way to return back to Rome is by train, which will take around four hours for a direct train. By bus, the trip will take seven to eight hours. And if traveling by car, the drive will be between five and a half to six and a half hours.
Building in kid-friendly activities into your Italy itinerary
Planning a trip to Italy with your family means building kid-friendly activities into your Italy itinerary. Museums are nice, but also remember to build in some time for down time. Play at a park. Almost every city in Italy has playgrounds for playing. And cafes and bars make great places for taking an afternoon rest.
In general, Italy is a very family-friendly country to visit. We’ve been surprised at how open places are to receiving kids. Whether taking tours or dining at restaurants, our kids have felt welcomed.
We’re glad we had a chance to spend some time here. There are just so many things to do in Italy for families. If you’re planning a trip to Italy with your kids, use my Italy itinerary as a starting off point for your own exploration!
Have you visited Italy with your family? Share your Italy itinerary with me in the comments!
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