There are so many things to do in Florence with kids that it was hard to narrow it down to five. We visited lots of museums and cathedrals, which the kids mostly enjoyed, but these are some of their highlights thus far.
If you don’t have a month to spend in Florence, like we did, take a step back into the Renaissance on this Florence vacation with Great Values Vacations. It includes air, transfers, hotel and breakfast.
Parco Avventura il Gigante
Of our top things to do in Florence with kids, this one takes the cake. It didn’t have any Renaissance art or Gothic design, but it was a really fun day for all of us.
Parco Avventura il Gigante is a high ropes/zip-line course in the oak forest outside of Florence. It was an easy bus ride to get there, although it looks like most people drive.
There are 16 different courses, ranging from three feet off the ground for little ones, to 15 feet above ground for teens and adults. The course serves 3-year-olds to adults.
All of courses use a continuous belay system so you can run around on your own (no one had to belay from the ground), and it’s really safe. You are hooked on the whole time. We felt fine letting the kids explore on their own.
And the fun! I had just as much of a blast climbing latters, swinging on ropes, crossing Nepal-style bridges, and zip-lining as the kids. We stayed for about 4.5 hours and probably could have kept going.
Additionally, it was nice to be in the trees surrounded by other families enjoying themselves.
Italy made the list of best places to go with kids and one of the reasons we love it is this adventure course.
Family Tour in Florence and Fiesole
We love a good scavenger hunt, so the Family Tour in Florence was right up our alley. We checked out a backpack for three hours from the info desk at Museo di Palazzo Vecchio.
The backpack includes a map, background information, and a little baggy for each stop. Follow the map to various stops around Florence and then read a little about it. And there is a little activity for each stop. It’s a great way to get to know some of the important and fun places in the old city. We especially loved petting the pig’s nose for good luck.
Our kids (ages 8 and 9) are right on the edge of being too old for the backpack, but there are also three Florence family tour apps for kids 6-9 and 10-13 based on different themes. (Edit April 2019- it appears that this is no longer available on the App Store, but if you have a link, please leave it in the comments!)
The Fiesole kit can be borrowed from the tourist information center at via Portigiani 3. We didn’t find out about it until after we had been to Fiesole, but we would have used it had we known.
More on the Firenze Family Tour / Florence Family Tour.
We really like this book, Mission Florence: A Scavenger Hunt Adventure (Travel Book For Kids), for a spy-themed scavenger hunt around Florence. The book sends you to different spots in the city, which are probably on your itinerary anyway, and kids collect points with the goal of becoming a “special agent.” It’s a fun way to explore Florence with kids.
Kids’ Travel Guide – Italy: The fun way to discover Italy is another great guidebook for kids. In this travel book and activity guide, they’ll learn about geography, history, and flags and symbols, as well as Italian culture, food, and even some useful words in Italian.
Get ready for your trip to Florence by reading books set in Italy.
Fresco Painting Workshop at Palazzo Vecchio Museum
Another fun and enriching activity for kids and adults in Florence is learning how to paint frescos at the Palazzo Vecchio Museum. For the price of a museum ticket (kids are free) plus € 5, we got to spend an hour learning about and painting our own frescos.
I highly recommend this for a couple reasons. One, it’s fun and you get to let your creative juices flow. You can create your own design or use one of the designs provided by the instructor. Two, you are going to see a lot of frescos in Florence, and you’ll have a more in depth perspective of what goes into the exacting art once you’ve attempted it yourself.
You get to take your little fresco home, making a great gift for grandparents or a lovely souvenir.
We combined this with our visit to the museum and the Dan Brown / Dante Inferno tour to get the most out of our tickets.
Sign up here for the Florence Fresco Painting Workshop at Palazzo Vecchio Museum.
Museo Leonardo da Vinci
On our first full day in Florence someone handed us a flyer for the Leonardo da Vinci Museum and the boys really wanted to check it out.
It’s a small, but good children’s museum focused on Leonardo da Vinci, his life, and his work. With more than 50 models of da Vinci’s inventions, there was a lot to see. Civil machines, flying machines, war machines, and anatomical models…that da Vinci was a busy guy.
There is a whole room of interactive exhibits where kids can try out the inventions and build their own. We could have stayed here a long time.
We also enjoyed the da Vinci documentary playing in one of the rooms. It’s long, so you may want to watch something at home before you go if your child won’t sit through a documentary. We were all jet lagged and happy to sit in a dark room staring at a screen.
This odd little museum above the Natural History Museum was captivating. Bonus—there were only one or two other people there when we went. That’s a far cry from the block-long lines outside the big museums.
“La Specola was opened to the public in 1775 and is one of the oldest and largest scientific museums in Europe. In addition to over three and a half million animals, of which 5000 are on display, it contains the world’s largest collection of anatomical wax models and an enormous number of bones.” – from the website
This place was old school, creepy, and fascinating. So many insects, birds, and mammals mounted behind glass. You can almost imagine them in crates, crossing oceans with collectors in the 1700s.
The craziest part is the large collection of wax anatomical models. This was an art developed in Florence in the 17th century for the purpose of teaching medicine. The collection is very famous worldwide for the incredible accuracy and realism of the details, copied from real corpses. Finn was not a fan of the realism, but the rest of us found it very interesting.
Not much to say about this one. You can’t throw a Euro in Florence without hitting a gelateria. This low(ish) fat, high sugar, dense, Italian ice cream sang a siren song to the kids everyday. We indulged a lot. Florence has some of the best gelato in Italy, so don’t skip this one!
There are a lot of other foods to try in Italy; don’t stop at gelato.
Anders and Finn also wanted me to add that climbing the Torre de Mangia in Siena, bottomless plates of potato chips at our local bar-caffe, day hiking in Fiesole, finding street art around Firenze, and worldschooling il Duomo’s Dome, top their Italy “fun List.”
Where to Stay in Florence
There are no shortage of hotels and vacation rentals in Florence.
The Continentale Firenze is a 4-star luxury hotel near the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio. It’s walking distance from all the big sites in Florence and has an elegant, clean, 50s vibe. Plus, they have family rooms.
A Florence View B & B is in a 17th century palazzo overlooking the Baptistery, the Brunelleschi dome and the marble façade of the Duomo. This charming B & B has all the modern amenities, including soundproof rooms, which you will really appreciate in the middle of noisy Florence. They have both rooms and 2 and 3 bedroom apartments.
The Home of the Lions Airbnb in Florence would be perfect for two people. You can’t get much better location than that.
What are your favorite things to do in Florence with kids?
Thanks to Parco Avventura il Gigante for complimentary tickets. The opinions expressed here at TravelingMel are always my own.