I’ve always heard wonderful things about Florence, Italy, with many people naming it their favorite European city. I was eager to visit on our recent Adventures by Disney trip to Italy, and was so impressed with how many wonderful things there are to do in Florence and the surrounding area with kids. If you are considering a visit to Florence, here are some places you may want to add to your itinerary. Be sure to take your time and savor the environment. It really is stunning.
If you are also taking a trip to the Amalfi Coast of Italy with kids, check out this post.
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Things to Do in Florence and the Surrounding Area With Kids
The sightseeing highlights of the Renaissance city of Florence are the Accademia Gallery (where you’ll see Michaelangelo’s David), the Uffizi Gallery (with amazing renaissance art from da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michaelangelo), and the Florence Duomo (pictured above). Lines can be long, but you can get front of the line privileges by booking timed tickets in advance at the Accademia and the Uffizi (additional fees apply, but are well worth it). If you are traveling with younger kids, and don’t book a tour, I’d recommend doing all of these things on different days so you don’t overwhelm them. It can definitely be tiring to do sightseeing all day, especially with the crowds. As always, I’d recommend going as early as possible to avoid the largest crowds, even if you do have timed entry tickets.
During your time in Florence, I’d also recommend visiting the Ponte Vecchio – a beautiful bridge with shops located along it. During your walk, check out the Piazza della Signoria, where you’ll find a replica of Michaelangelo’s David along with other statues. Although we didn’t have a chance to visit, the Boboli Gardens are highly recommended for families.
In addition to those top attractions, we loved just exploring the streets of Florence on our own. There are so many fantastic shops, restaurants, and gelato stops on every street. My daughter and I enjoyed shopping, and each purchased a handbag (there are so many great leather shops), as well as stationery (my favorite thing to buy!) from the various paper stores. You could definitely spend a week there, especially if you add in some side trips to nearby destinations.
We stayed at the Hotel Bernini Palace, which I would definitely recommend. It’s located right in the center of the city. You can also check hotel reviews on TripAdvisor.
The walled city of Lucca is a beautiful place for a half-day or day excursion from Florence. The famed walls are open to bicyclists and walkers, and there are several bike rental shops located right by the wall. During our AbD trip, my husband and kids rented a surrey bike and enjoyed a few trips around the loop, while I explored the city by foot (I’m not much of a biker). Bike rental shops also have a variety of other types of bikes, including some with training wheels. There are lots of great shops and restaurants in Lucca, so before or after biking, it’s worth walking around to explore. There’s also a beautiful cathedral that you can visit, right in the center of Lucca. During our stay, we took a day trip to Lucca from Florence, but there are also hotels within the city.
The city of Pisa, home to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, is also within driving distance of Florence. The area around Pisa surprised me. There are lots of kiosks and pushy salespeople, but there are also several beautiful buildings, including the cathedral and the baptismal. We didn’t have the opportunity to go up in the Learning Tower, but did tour the other buildings. Of course, while you are there, you have to take a posed picture with the tower. Just stake out your spot and snap quickly, because there will be a ton of people nearby doing the same thing. You don’t really need to spend too much time in Pisa, so you could definitely do this as a side trip along with another destination. There are several nearby hotels, you can see the reviews here, but you definitely don’t need to stay in Pisa to see the tower.
Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the famous Palio di Siena, which is horse race that takes place twice a year. We were there just three days before the August Palio, and the excitement in the city of Siena was infectious. Each citizen is associated with a different one of seventeen contrades (districts), and in the days leading up to the Palio, they gather to cheer for their team. Siena has a different appearance and feel from the other Italian cities that we saw – the buildings have a different tone. But there are still lots of great shops and restaurants throughout the area, as well as a beautiful cathedral. I’d recommend booking a walking tour, and be sure to look up at all of the beautiful details on all of the buildings. While you could also do this as a side trip, there are hotels nearby (check out Siena hotel reviews here).
While these are all fun things to do in the Florence and the surrounding area with kids, you could also just spend time exploring the individual cities a day at a time, while also combining some relaxing time within Florence. There’s so much to see and do, especially if you take in all of the small details. Something as simple as having lunch can become a several hour endeavor, and you’ll enjoy every minute of it.