Florence is a magical city. The red clay rooftops, cobblestone streets, and piazzas around every corner enchant visitors once they step out the door of the train station. Artwork and architecture from some of the most renowned masters of the Renaissance (Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli to name a few) adorn this beautiful city. On each visit to the city, I fall in love a little more, and my guess is you will too. These are our favorite things to do in Florence with kids.
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Where to stay in Florence
- Grand Hotel Minerva – close to the train station and within walking distance to everything. They have family suites that sleep 4 and a two-story duplex that sleeps 5.
- Palazzo Gamba – here it is all about location, as these apartments are located across from the Duomo in the heart of the action. One, two, and three-bedroom units are available, so choose the one that works best for the family.
- Corzano e Paterno – this vineyard is about 40 minutes outside the city. We would highly recommend the property for those wanting to be away from the crowds!
- Bernini Palace – close to the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo, the family duplex has two bedrooms and sleeps 4.
- Hotel Lungarno – on the river Arno, walking distance to Ponte Vecchio, rooftop has views over the city. Several rooms sleep 4, and their Design Suite sleeps 5.
- Booking an apartment through a service like VRBO or Plum Guide.
Arriving in Florence by train
The Florence train station, Santa Maria Novella, is extremely manageable. If you only plan on visiting Florence for 1 day (which I wouldn’t recommend, as there is too much to see), there is a “left luggage” area where you can leave your bags while exploring the city.
Simply present your passport at the left luggage office, pay the fee to deposit your bags, take your claim ticket and you are on your way.
Driving in Florence
DON’T DO IT!!!!! If you don’t know this already, consider yourself warned. Drivers in Florence are crazy (locals and tourists alike), and there are restricted traffic zones called ZTLs basically everywhere in the central historic area.
ZTLs are restricted during most of the day which is pretty inconvenient for most people. A special permit is required to drive in this area, and most tourists will not have one. There are video cameras everywhere ready to photograph your license plate should you enter “the zone”.
My advice: have a taxi drive you into the city if you are coming from the airport, or pick up your rental car outside of the city center after you are finished exploring.
What to Do in Florence with Kids
1. Visiting The Florence Cathedral (The Duomo)
Upon exiting the train station, walk towards the Santa Maria Novella church, look for Via de Panzani, take this to Via de Banchi and it will take you to Il Duomo in less than ten minutes. Or just follow all the tourists because the odds are they are going to the same place.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is Florence’s architectural masterpiece and the main cathedral. Admission to the basilica is free, but there are additional charges to visit the crypt, the museum, and the baptistery across the way.
It is possible to climb to the top of the dome, but for some reason, it was closed on the day we visited. A good alternative is to climb to the top of the adjoining bell tower, Giotto’s Campanile (Giotto’s Bell Tower).
My husband took our oldest son to the top of the bell tower because the wait was quite long and our youngest thought it would be a great time for a major meltdown. So I missed out on climbing the 400+ steps, but the pictures prove they had a great view of the city and the Duomo.
If your family has little kids, let them explore the Piazza del Duomo where there are street performers, small kiosks, and room to run (carefully).
2. Discover the Uffizi Gallery with Kids
The Uffizi Gallery is home to some of the world’s most important art of the Italian Renaissance, breakable sculptures, and it is crowded with people. Most people would question our sanity about taking our kids. Thankfully, our children don’t know any different. If there are art lovers in your family, this is one of the main cultural attractions in Florence that shouldn’t be missed.
We have been exposing our children to art museums since they were little, so now they actually enjoy the visit. One of them appreciates the “creativity of the artists”, the other likes the history of famous paintings, and the youngest, well, let’s just say he usually likes the museum scavenger hunt I create for him best of all.
To engage your kids, talk about the paintings, and help them make connections. The place is a maze, so our rule is to stay in the room we enter until everyone is ready to leave.
On the top level is a café and the view is spectacular. There are also cool photo ops of the Arno River through the windows.
Some of the kids’ favorite paintings include: “Doni Tondo” by Michelangelo, “La Primavera” by Botticelli, and also “Birth of Venus” by Botticelli (I’m sure the naked woman has nothing to do with them liking it, LOL). Check out our guide How to Survive Museums with Kids if you need more tips.
How to get tickets for the Uffizi Gallery
Reserve your tickets ahead of time online or you will find yourself waiting in line for hours. The museum is closed on Mondays. Make the reservation on the museum’s ticketing page and they will e-mail your ticket. You will need to choose a date and time when purchasing your ticket.
Pick up tickets at the museum ticket office – Door 3 (reservations). You will need to show them your printed or digital confirmation email. Grab a museum map as you enter and rent an audio guide (or better yet, download Rick Steve’s audio tour to your phone). Do not plan on seeing the entire museum, instead pick out the major works you want to see and map out a plan for visiting them.
3. Learn about Famous Florentines at the Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo Museums
Visit the Leonardo da Vinci Interactive Museum, Via de Servi, 66R. There are two Leonardo museums in Florence, this happens to be the one closest to the Duomo. The museum has replicas of most of da Vinci’s creations (if not all).
Everything was hands-on, which the kids loved. They really enjoyed the room of mirrors. This was a great introduction to the Renaissance inventor for kids and adults alike.
The Galileo Museum will surely ignite your child’s curiosity about science and history. With over 1000 scientific instruments on display, this museum offers a unique opportunity for children to explore the wonders of astronomy, physics, and mathematics.
The interactive exhibits and hands-on activities make learning fun, allowing kids to touch, experiment, and discover the principles behind the groundbreaking discoveries of Galileo Galilei.
From telescopes to globes and even Galileo’s own original instruments, the museum showcases the evolution of scientific knowledge in a captivating way. A visit is sure to captivate young kids and parents too.
4. Visiting the Accademia Gallery to see David
Is it worth seeing the David statue and visiting the Accademia with kids? Others might disagree, but I feel seeing the statue of David is not a high priority with kids.
It’s a very large statue, and the Accademia has a lot of other statues. Since we had visited on a prior trip, we decided not to take our kids.
If you absolutely must have your picture taken with a David statue, there is a slightly smaller replica in front of Palazzo Vecchio. Hopefully, that will suffice and you will save yourself some money along the way.
5. Climb the Palazzo Vecchio Tower
If you missed the climb at the Duomo, here is another opportunity to take in the panoramic views. Palazzo Vecchio is Florence’s town hall that has watched over Piazza della Signoria and the city’s historic center since the early 14th century.
Book your guided tour in advance and you can skip the long lines. As you climb the tower’s stairs, kids will love learning the stories of medieval Florence and the powerful Medici family. The climb may be challenging, but the reward is well worth it.
When you’re finished, let the kids explore the statues in the Loggia dei Lanzi. This is an open-air sculpture gallery that dates to the late 1300s.
6. Take a walk on the Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence and many people enjoy taking photos from afar. However, take a walk over the bridge with kids as they’ll love seeing the shops and it’s the easy way to reach the Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens. Be sure to hold on to small hands though, because the bridge can get quite crowded!
7. Explore the Boboli Gardens
Across the river from the major tourist attractions is the Pitti Palace, one of the largest architectural monuments in the city. It is home to several major museums, but children will love the Boboli Gardens the most.
The Giardino di Boboli is perfect for picnics, leisurely strolls, and even hide-and-seek. Let your kids unleash their energy as they run freely amidst the beautiful statues, fountains, and blooming flowers. If you plan to stay awhile, pack a picnic or snacks and really soak in the ambiance of these beautiful gardens.
8. Go on a family bike tour
Pedaling through Florence provides a unique perspective and allows your family to cover more ground while having fun. Make sure the route is family-friendly and includes stops at notable attractions.
9. Explore the San Lorenzo Market
If your family loves visiting local markets, don’t miss the San Lorenzo Market. It’s a bustling hub of stalls selling fresh produce, leather goods, clothing, and more. It’s a great place to interact with local vendors, try authentic Italian street food, and pick up unique souvenirs. This market is sensory overload in a good way.
Other markets worth exploring are Mercato Centrale and Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio.
10. Ride the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica
The Piazza della Repubblica is very touristy (and restaurants are very overpriced), but children will love the antique carousel in the middle of the plaza.
The piazza was the city center since Roman times and throughout history played many roles including the home of the city market and the Jewish ghetto. It’s a beautiful space for the children to run around and not have to worry about cars. A visit here is one of our favorite things to do in Florence with kids.
11. Enjoy all the food
If you have kids, they are sure to love two of Italy’s main dishes, gelato, and pizza. Florence is renowned for its delicious gelato, and trying different flavors from local gelaterias is a must.
Where to eat gelato in Florence
Our two favorite gelato shops are:
Perché No, Via dei Tavolini, 19R Around the corner from the Palazzo Vecchio, this gelateria has been around since 1939 and makes its gelato without preservatives and no artificial colors. They also have some unique flavors. Very refreshing on a warm day.
Grom, Via del Campanile, 2 Right near the Duomo, this is the first gelateria I came across that had a list of all its allergens available in its store and upon further research, on its website, www.grom.it. If you are allergic to something, they can tell you which gelato to stay away from. A gelateria that cares about allergy sufferers, and is delicious too!
Where to eat pizza in Florence
Likewise, make time to sample authentic Italian pizza with its thin, crispy crust and delightful combinations of toppings. Let your kids choose their favorites.
Pizza places in Florence families will love:
Gustapizza, Via Maggio, 46R Around the corner from the Pitti Palace is quick and delicious. Seating can be hard to come by, so grab your pizza and takeaway or consider sharing a table with others. Not open on Mondays.
New Bridge Pizza, Via dell’Oriuolo, 26/R This is consistently reviewed as one of the best restaurants in Florence, and you’re going to want to try all their dishes! It’s a 7-minute walk from the Duomo and we promise the kids will be impressed!
And a sandwich shop we have to mention:
All’Antico Vinaio, Via dei Neri, 65R/-74R We happened upon this at the right time, just before the lunchtime crowd. This sandwich shop is not far from the Uffizi and is super popular. The sandwiches are baked on delicious focaccia bread and stacked in a case. You pick and choose what you want. One sandwich can easily feed two people and everything was reasonably priced. Fast food Italian style.
12. Try a Pizza Making or Gelato Making Class
If you want to teach the kids about the food they eat, consider a cooking class. Many local establishments offer a hands-on experience where your family can learn the art of creating these Italian treats. Engaging in a fun and interactive activity like this is an excellent way to bond and experience the local culture together.
Florence, Italy, is a stunning destination that caters to the interests of all ages. From awe-inspiring art and architecture to delightful culinary experiences and engaging activities, the city offers a wealth of experiences for the whole family to enjoy. By following this list of top things to do in Florence with kids, you’ll create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Have a fantastic time exploring Florence on your family vacation!
Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service. If you need airport transfers, we recommend Welcome Pickups.
When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours. For unique, curated activities, check out Headout.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master or World Nomads to find the best policy for your group.