Italy Family Vacation
With its spectacular coastal towns, historical ancient ruins, and delectable, delicious cuisine, it’s no surprise that an Italy family vacation is a popular travel destination. From Cinque Terre to Lake Como, this guide will help you embark on an unforgettable Italian adventure.
We visited Italy for the first time with our kids as part of a larger month-long European vacation that included Switzerland and a cruise. We’ll give you some ideas on planning your vacation, then cover the major tourist destinations.
Here’s a quick overview to get you started if you don’t have time to read the whole article.
Best Places To Go: Rome is a top choice for a first-time family trip to Italy. Rome is full of history, culture, and kid-friendly activities, from exploring ancient ruins like the Colosseum and Roman Forum to a scavenger hunt in Vatican City. It. was also voted the favorite by our kids out of all the major cities we visited. Venice and Florence were close seconds!
Tip: If traveling from the United States, you may be surprised that things like air conditioning are uncommon in Europe! Filter your search to include air conditioning (Temps were in the 90s during our June visit!) Use the map search feature to find accommodations close to the best areas to stay. We’ll provide more in the individual city section below.
City To Skip: While we hate to suggest you skip anything, our vote is for Milan if you’re limited on time and have to skip a major city. While containing several must-sees like the Duomo di Milano and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, we found Milan more of an industrial/commercial hub than somewhere with the history and scenery of Rome. You could also make a shorter stay here.
How To Get There: Italy’s main airports offer nonstop flights to major US cities. Check Google Flights for the best deals (and auto-suggestions to save money)
Finding Your Perfect Italian Vacation
What Type of Vacation?
Before we get to the major cities in Italy, imagine the perfect Italian adventure: what comes to mind? For some, it’s the serene tranquility of Lake Como, the rolling vineyards of Tuscany, and the breathtaking coastal towns of Cinque Terre, all offering the promise of a relaxing vacation steeped in natural beauty and delicious cuisine.
For others, the allure of Italy lies in its bustling cities, overflowing with history and culture, from the iconic canals of Venice to the awe-inspiring history of Rome and the architectural grandeur of Florence’s Duomo.
Luckily, the beauty of Italy is that you don’t have to choose. The country’s excellent high-speed train system makes it easy to create a vacation with a taste of both the peaceful countryside and the vibrant cities. You could sip wine by the lake one day and stand in the shadow of ancient Roman ruins the next. An Italian adventure offers the opportunity to blend relaxation and exploration into one unforgettable journey.
Planning a Trip
When planning your Italian family vacation, consider a north-to-south route. Flying into the north – perhaps the romantic city of Venice or the fashion capital of Milan – allows you to start your journey in one of the country’s major cities.
From there, the high-speed trains can whisk you southwards at your own pace, through the heart of Italy and down to its sunny southern coasts. Finish your adventure in the historic city of Rome, where you can board your return flight home, full of memories and a camera full of beautiful pictures.
For our Italian adventure, we leaned more towards the historical and touristic side of things. Fresh from a relaxing vacation in Switzerland (which you can read about here), we were ready to immerse ourselves in Italy’s rich history and vibrant city life.
We knew the Swiss scenery would be hard to beat, so we focused on the cultural experiences that make Italy a unique destination, including Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples.
Whether you’re after relaxation, exploration, or a bit of both, Italy offers experiences to suit every traveler.
In this guide, we’ll jump into the best destinations for your Italy family vacation, exploring everything from the tranquil shores of Lake Como to the bustling streets of Rome. So sit back, relax, and prepare for an Italian adventure of a lifetime.
Venice: The City of Canals
- Top 3 “Must Do or See” Things:
- Best Area to Stay In: San Marco or near the main Santa Lucia station, for their central locations. Santa Lucia is our favorite, it saves you walking too far from the train station with your luggage across bridges and cobblestone streets!
- How Many Days to Stay: 2-3 days will allow you to see the main sights without feeling rushed.
- Can’t Miss City? Absolutely. Venice’s unique canal-based structure and rich history make it a fascinating destination, one that can’t be seen anywhere else!
The canals of Venice are immediately recognizable! Venice, also known as the “Floating City”, is an enchanting part of your Italy family vacation.
This archipelago of 118 small islands connected by over 400 bridges is a marvel. The Grand Canal, Venice’s main waterway, snakes through the city in a large “S” shape, offering a unique perspective of Venice’s architectural wonders.
A gondola ride along this waterway, guided by an experienced tour guide, is the best way to absorb the city’s romantic charm.
As you journey through the canals, you’ll witness the city’s splendor from a vantage point like no other. Majestic palaces, vibrant markets, and charming squares grace the banks of the Grand Canal, providing an endless feast for the eyes. This unforgettable adventure is the only way to experience Venice’s romance and allure truly.
Venice is an immensely popular destination, known not only for its distinct cityscape but also for its rich history and culture. Opportunities for travel experiences are abundant here. From exploring the city’s iconic St. Mark’s Square to losing oneself in the labyrinthine streets, Venice offers many engaging activities for the whole family.
Click here to read more about Venice, its unique attractions, and various family-friendly activities.
Florence and Tuscany: The Cradle of the Renaissance
- Top 3 “Must Do or See” Things:
- Best Area to Stay In: VRBO or hotel in the Historic Center (Centro Storico) is compact and walkable, with most major sights within walking distance.
- How Many Days to Stay: 2-3 days is sufficient to see the main sights.
- Can’t Miss City? Definitely. Florence’s wealth of Renaissance art and architecture is unparalleled. And the Tuscan countryside makes for a beautiful landscape for a day trip or even a quieter vacation in the rural areas.
Welcome to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance and a gem in your Italy family vacation. Known for its rich history, exceptional art, and charming medieval streets, Florence is a testament to Italy’s vibrant past. Begin exploring the city’s heart, Piazza della Repubblica, an impressive square filled with historical significance and the epicenter of Florence’s bustling activity.
Next on the itinerary is the Uffizi Gallery. Consider a private tour to fully appreciate the gallery’s vast collection of priceless works from the great artistic masters of history. Home to masterpieces from artists like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Botticelli, the Uffizi is an enriching experience for art enthusiasts and novices alike.
Your trip to Florence would not be complete without a visit to the Tuscan countryside, one of the world’s best wine regions. Wine tasting here is a popular and great way to immerse in the local culture. Whether you’re a connoisseur or a casual wine enthusiast, you’ll enjoy sampling the region’s exquisite offerings.
From the Piazza, journey to one of Italy’s most recognized symbols – the iconic Leaning Tower. This architectural marvel in Pisa, a quick train ride from Florence, will impress family members of all ages. Its unique tilt, caused by unstable foundation soil, and beautiful white marble construction make it a must-visit attraction on your family trip.
Click here (coming soon) to read more about our stay in Florence and its many attractions. With its blend of history, culture, and fine dining, this city promises an unforgettable segment of your Italy family vacation.
Rome: The Eternal City in your Italy Family Vacation
- Top 3 “Must Do or See” Things in Rome:
- Best Area to Stay In: Stay around the Centro Storico (historic center) for easy access to most attractions.
- How Many Days to Stay: At least 3-4 days to fully explore and appreciate the city.
- Can’t Miss City? Absolutely. Rome offers a wealth of historical and cultural experiences.
- Top things to do in Rome with kids.
Exploring the Eternal City of Rome
Welcome to Rome, where ancient wonders and modern life intertwine harmoniously. Rome is a city that exudes history, culture, and endless charm. Working our way south from Florence by train, Rome is the next major city we arrive at.
Nestled within Rome lies the independent city-state of Vatican City, an epicenter of art and spirituality. Here, you’ll find the awe-inspiring St. Peter’s Basilica, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and a symbol of the Catholic Church.
Take the opportunity to marvel at Michelangelo’s breathtaking masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel, with its mesmerizing frescoes. Consider booking a private tour to fully appreciate the richness of the Vatican’s collections. This allows you to skip the bustling crowds and gain direct access to these iconic sites, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all family members.
The Spanish Steps
As you explore the charming streets of Rome, don’t miss the iconic Spanish Steps. This renowned staircase, adorned with beautiful flowers, connects the Piazza di Spagna with the Trinità dei Monti Church.
It’s a popular meeting point and a perfect spot for people-watching or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere. From the top of the steps, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city. It’s a wonderful place to rest, take memorable photos, and embrace the true spirit of Rome.
No visit to Rome is complete without throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain. This Baroque masterpiece is a sight to behold, with its grandeur and intricate details. Legend has it that tossing a coin over your shoulder into the fountain ensures your return to Rome. Take a moment to make a wish and admire the magnificence of this iconic landmark.
Roman Forum and Colosseum
Immerse yourself in the ancient wonders of Rome by visiting the Roman Forum and the mighty Colosseum. Once the heart of ancient Rome, the Roman Forum offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history. Wander through the ruins of temples, basilicas, and ancient government buildings, imagining the bustling life of this once-thriving center of civilization.
A visit to the Colosseum is an absolute must. This grand amphitheater, where gladiators once battled, stands as a testament to the architectural brilliance of ancient Rome. Step inside and let your imagination transport you to a time of thrilling spectacles and roaring crowds.
Rome is a city that captures the hearts of visitors of all ages. Its historical richness, architectural marvels, and vibrant atmosphere create an unforgettable family experience. So buckle up and prepare to create lifelong memories in the enchanting Eternal City.
Cinque Terre: A Mediterranean Masterpiece
- Top 3 “Must Do or See” Things:
- Walk the Sentiero Azzurro trail for stunning views of the five villages.
- Visit each of the five villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
- Enjoy a gelato while watching the sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.
- Best Area to Stay In: A Monterosso VRBO has one of the biggest selection of accommodations.
- How Many Days to Stay: 2-3 days is enough time to give you a taste of the area, though probably not enough time to explore all five villages
- Can’t Miss City? For fans of hiking and breathtaking coastal views, Cinque Terre is a must-see.
Welcome to Cinque Terre, the “Five Lands,” an enchanting segment of your Italy family vacation. This UNESCO World Heritage site, nestled between the shimmering Mediterranean Sea and the rugged cliffs of Northern Italy, is a breathtaking spectacle of natural and human-made beauty.
The region comprises five vibrant villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, each boasting unique charm and panoramic sea views.
Embarking on a walking tour of Cinque Terre is akin to stepping into a living postcard. The labyrinthine narrow lanes weave through clusters of pastel houses, opening up to reveal terraced vineyards that daringly cling to the steep slopes.
As you meander through the streets, the air is filled with the aroma of the Mediterranean, offering a sensory experience that will leave an indelible mark on your Italian adventure.
For an easy and scenic way to explore the five villages, hop on a train from the nearby town of La Spezia. This popular mode of transport whisks you from one village to the next in minutes, allowing you to spend more time immersing yourself in each location’s unique charm.
From the sandy beaches of Monterosso to the dramatic cliffs of Manarola, the train journey offers spectacular coastal views. It makes it easy to explore Cinque Terre at your own pace.
The region of Cinque Terre, with its captivating landscapes, idyllic coastal towns, and rich culture, is a highlight of any Italy family vacation.
Whether wandering through the quaint villages, enjoying a coastal hike, or savoring fresh seafood in a local restaurant, your time in Cinque Terre is an unforgettable adventure.
Lake Como: An Italian Paradise
- Top 3 “Must Do or See” Things:
- Take a boat tour to explore the beautiful villas and towns around the lake.
- Visit the charming town of Bellagio, known as the “pearl of Lake Como.”
- Explore Villa Carlotta and its beautiful gardens.
- Best Area to Stay In: Bellagio, Varenna, or Como town for their beautiful views and central locations.
- How Many Days to Stay: At least 2-3 days to relax and enjoy the serene environment.
- Can’t Miss City? If you’re seeking natural beauty and relaxation, Lake Como is a great addition to your itinerary.
Renowned for its crystal-clear waters framed by the majestic Italian Alps, Lake Como in Northern Italy is a haven of tranquility and natural beauty. The lake’s serene, sapphire-blue expanse contrasts the verdant mountains, making it an enchanting destination for your Italy family vacation. A boat tour around the lake is the best way to admire this stunning panorama, providing unforgettable memories for the whole family.
The lakeside towns of Lake Como, with their quaint cobblestone streets and grand villas, offer a charming blend of history and culture. For the best deal, consider hiring a private guide to explore these picturesque towns and their architectural gems in-depth. The rich culture and scenic beauty blend makes Lake Como one of Italy’s most popular travel destinations.
Lake Como is also celebrated for its gastronomy. The area boasts many fine dining options offering delicious cuisine, perfect for family travel. Whether you’re tasting local specialties at a lakeside restaurant or enjoying a family meal in the privacy of your villa, the culinary experiences in Lake Como promise to be as memorable as the stunning vistas.
Naples: A Blend of History and Gastronomy
- Top 3 “Must Do or See” Things:
- Visit the Archaeological Museum, one of the most important in the world for classical archaeology.
- Try authentic Neapolitan pizza in its birthplace.
- Take a day trip to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.
- Best Area to Stay In: The Historic Center (Centro Storico) is vibrant and packed with sights.
- How Many Days to Stay: 2-3 days in Naples itself, plus additional time for side trips.
- Can’t Miss City? If you’re a fan of history, Naples is a must-visit for Pompeii. For our family vacation, Naples wasn’t our favorite, as we found Rome, Florence, and Venice to offer more unique things to see. However, Naples was also our last stop on a long Italy trip and our kids had been walking around in the heat for several weeks already!
Naples: A Blend of History and Gastronomy
Naples’ rich history and culinary delights is another potential stop on your Italy family vacation. The city, in Southern Italy, uniquely blends ancient sites and vibrant modern life. Start your exploration with a leisurely walk along the Arno River, enjoying the stunning views and soaking up the local ambiance.
Next, delve into Naples’ past by exploring the medieval town. Here, you’ll find a maze of narrow streets lined with historical buildings, each echoing stories of a time gone by. Walking through this part of the city feels like a step back in time, making it a popular destination for history enthusiasts and a fantastic learning experience for the whole family.
Of course, no trip to Naples is complete without indulging in its world-famous pizza. Local pizzerias offer an authentic taste of this globally beloved dish right in its birthplace. The rich, fresh flavors of a Neapolitan pizza and the vibrant local dining scene make for an unforgettable culinary experience.
The best thing to do in Naples is a custom tour to Pompeii, the ancient city frozen in time by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius. This UNESCO World Heritage Site provides a unique glimpse into the life of a Roman city and is a must-visit for history and archaeology buffs.
Italy is blessed with a rich culture and countless sights, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are a few tips:
- Hire a local guide for a more personalized experience. Private tours can be one of the best ways to explore a new city.
- Take the train to travel between major cities. Italy’s train station network is efficient and affordable.
- Experience Italian cuisine. Take the family to a local restaurant, or better yet, enroll in cooking classes.
- Lastly, relax and have a great time. The best time for your Italy family vacation is when you enjoy every moment!
Family Travel and Tours
Italy is dotted with major cities and quaint small towns, each offering a unique slice of Italian culture. Considering a private guide? It’s a great way to uncover hidden gems and engage with local traditions.
Walking tours are a popular choice, but for a more exciting option, try a scavenger hunt in the Roman Forum or a visit to the Gladiator School. No matter your family’s interests, Italy tours can be customized for an unforgettable experience.
In Italy, children of all ages can find activities to enjoy. For young children, Lake Garda is a hit with its various theme parks. For the older kids, climbing Mount Vesuvius or hiking can be unforgettable adventures.
Where to Stay
From luxury family hotels in the city center to charming accommodations in small towns, Italy offers a wide range of options. Remember, booking hotel rooms in advance is a good idea, especially during the high season.
Ready for the trip of a lifetime? Get your best deal and embark on this captivating journey, creating unforgettable memories with your loved ones. After all, there’s no better place for a family vacation destination than Italy!
- What are some family-friendly activities in Rome? Rome offers a variety of activities, from exploring ancient ruins to participating in a scavenger hunt in the Roman Forum.
- Is Italy a good place for a family trip with small children? Absolutely! Italy is considered one of the most family-friendly destinations worldwide. From small groups tours to kid-friendly attractions, your little ones will have a blast.
- Is the Italian Riviera a good spot for a family vacation? Yes, with its sandy beaches and crystal-clear seas, the Italian Riviera is an ideal location for families.
- What’s the best way to visit the Sistine Chapel? Booking a private tour gives you easy access and avoids long lines. It’s a must for first-time visitors!
- What about accommodation for large families? Italy offers a wide range of family hotels and vacation rentals that can accommodate large families.
- What’s a must-visit in Southern Italy? The Amalfi Coast is a must-see. Its breathtaking views and colorful coastal towns are sure to impress.
- Are there any cooking classes for children? Yes, many cooking classes in Italy cater to children. It’s a fun and interactive way for them to engage with the culture.