Florence is the quintessential citta’ d’arte, the home of poets, sculptors, architects and thinkers who shaped the Italian renaissance, language and culture for centuries to come. Florence is the city of the infinite medieval alleys, museums and churches, the city of Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi. But is Florence the perfect family destination? When we first got an offer for a home exchange in Florence, we weren’t so sure. But after a bit of research, some amazing advice from our home exchangers and a bit of web browsing about the best things to do in Florence with kids, we decided to give it a shot.
The result was maybe the most amazing family holiday we’ve had so far: after 2 weeks in Florence, we loved it so much we seriously considered moving there!
I have already published a good few posts about Florence, showing some the aspects that make it the perfect Italian city break with kids, but today I wrote one that I hope works as a mini guide for families with children planning on going to Florence for a culture filled family vacation. It’s not a comprehensive guide but I would have liked to read a post like this when I was in planning mode and so I believe it’s worth writing! I hope you find it useful as reference and will bookmark it or pin it as a comprehensive list of the top things to do in Florence with kids.
Please share this post so other parents can discover this beautiful city!
In this post you will find:
- Best things to do in Florence with kids: discover Florence tops attractions and a selection of family friendly activities in Florence city centre
- Where to stay in Florence with kids: family friendly areas
- Florence: what to eat
- Transport information for families with young children: getting around
Best things to do in Florence with kids
A walking tour of Florence city centre
Whenever we take a city break with kids, we start with a walking tour of our destination so, after leaving our bags at home, we headed towards Florence city centre. Florence is best discovered on foot and with about 3 hours we were able to cover enough ground to get a good idea of the main sights and attractions and the distance from one to the other. Our full itinerary, with child-friendly stops, is here. By the end of it, we had a reasonable idea of spots to go back to for further exploration!
Top tip for families with young children: in piazza della repubblica, right in the heart of Florence, there is a gorgeous, traditional marry go round. Kids love it but make sure you take a ride too!
Visit Florence top attractions and family-friendly museums
When walking around Florence you are surrounded by museums and historical sites open to visitors, so our next task was to figure out which one we could visit with children without incurring in heartbreaking meltdowns. We ended up with the following list.
Top tip for families visiting Florence with kids: many museums offer family days with activities and workshops for kids. They are usually scheduled on Saturdays and often are in multiple languages: make sure you drop in while strolling around teh city to see what is available at the time of your visit
MUSEO DEI RAGAZZI A PALAZZO VECCHIO (children museum)
Hosted in one of Florence’s most iconic historical homes, this museum is dedicated to showing and explaining the daily life of the Medici family. Despite the name, it is not a children museum with toys/roleplay but it does have family friendly tours that are interesting and engaging. The one called ‘Court life’ teaches about life at the time of the Medici in a fun, interactive way – the idea that at the time you only had a bath once a year was a great hit with pretty much all ages and caught the kids’ attention!
MUSEO GALILEO AND MUSEO LEONARDO
Instruments, globes, maps, telescopes, microscopes: the Galileo museum is not specifically designed for kids, but one budding scientists love. Museo Leonardo: a small museum dedicated to Leonardo’s inventions. A real treat for all ages, the kids adored the machines and they were even able to touch some of them!
As you can see, I have not included in this list famous museums such as Uffizi, Galleria dell Accademia etc. To be honest, I think these museums are amazing but in my experience, unless you have an angelic child who sleeps in the buggy, it’s not fun to try and negotiate them with a toddler or a young child. They are just too big and not interactive enough. That said, I do know that periodically they offer family mornings, so it can be worth checking their websites for upcoming events.
You know the iconic picture of Florence, with the view over the city and the red dome on the right? Piazzale Michelangelo is where you go to take that shot! The piazza itself is nothing more than a large parking area with a statue of the David by Michelangelo in the centre, but the view makes the visit and the uphill climb more than worth it. A fun thing for the kids: Piazzale Michelangelo is the starting point of a special Ferrari tour (adults only) and almost every day you can find there two shiny red Ferrari shimmering in the sun. I’ll write a full post about that experience later in the week but I can tell you from now that kids and (parked) sports cars are a match made in heaven! Update: you can find my post about the Ferrari experience in Florence here
Ponte Vecchio is one of the iconic sites of Florence and one that kids tend to love. The bridge’s most peculiar trait is that its sides are made of ancient houses and shops and therefore looks like a little self-contained city. The most charming part of it is probably seen from the banks of the river, but it is worth also taking a look at the incredible jewelry shops that have their home on the bridge. if you have small children, make sure you hold their hands tight: Ponte Vecchio gets very crowded!
INNER CITY PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS
Florence, unfortunately, is not great in terms of inner city parks, especially in the historical centre, but if a small area to let off steam while sightseeing is what you are looking for, you can check out the small playgrounds in Piazza D’azeglio, Giardino di Borgo Allegri (good for small kids especially) and piazza dei ciompi (also good for small kids). Nothing spectacular (far from it), but they do the job!
Of a different scale, a lovely big park, outside of the city centre is Parco delle Cascine. Originally a private hunting estate for the Medici family now it’s a great green space with paths for biking, jogging, or rollerblading. It has some play areas with swings and climbing frames and a swimming pool, open in summer (If you are heading to Florence in the summer, you might want to check out some outdoor swimming pools). Perfect for a full day outdoors.
Not as good for playing but amazing to visit and not to be missed are the Boboli gardens (world-famous, landscaped gardens) and il Giardino Delle rose, on the way to Piazzale Michelangelo, offering lovely views of the city.
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE WITH KIDS
In terms of proximity to museums and ease of transport, nothing beats accommodation in Florence city centre, but in the case of families with children, I believe it is worth considering different options. The best areas for families are, in my opinion, Oltrarno (lit. beyond the river Arno, the other side of the river), and, further from the centre, le cure (where we stayed: you can read about it here): green, relaxed and truly local.
WHAT TO EAT IN FLORENCE WITH KIDS
You read that right: I am not giving you a list of where to eat but rather a list of what you should look for, when in Florence. Honestly, it’s not about being lazy here, but food in Florence is gorgeous and a list of good restaurants would take over my whole blog!
Florence is surrounded by the rolling hills that make Tuscany famous and is the home of earthy plates: cured meats, steak, soups are signature dishes but of course, pasta and pizza are available everywhere. You might notice that once you leave the most touristy restaurant you are not often offered a kids menu. This is pretty standard in Italy, but it’s important not to get put off by this: most of the food in traditional places is suitable for kids and we were always offered an option of a half portion for the kids (charged at half price)
For a special treat, head for gelato in Badiani: outside the city centre, reliable sources tell us is the best gelato in Florence and from what we could tell, they are right! If you want to head out of the city, a lovely place with amazing food is Fattoria di Maiano, in Fiesole, a working farm with an amazing restaurant and guided tour for kids.
TRANSPORT AND GETTING AROUND
As I mentioned, by far the best way to visit Florence is on foot. The public transport system works well and relies on buses and a tram line. Tickets must be purchased before boarding the bus (checks are random but do happen! Tickets are sold by newsagents and ‘tabaccai’, marked by ‘T’ black and white signs) and you can choose between single or multi-hop tickets, day tickets and family tickets. Info here
Another good way of visiting Florence is by bike, but be warned: the cobbles make for a very bumpy ride! if you choose this mean of transport, stick with the most central part of the city unless you are very fit: the hills get pretty steep!
So, what do you reckon: would you visit Florence with kids or have you already done so? I’d love to hear about your experience!
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