What to do in Florence with kids of all ages
Florence is a wonderful city to visit with kids and family – it’s small enough that you can pretty much walk anywhere and just when you’re getting tired and need a break, there’s usually a cute cafè or gelato shop where you can stop for a pick me up. But there are also numerous museums and spaces to visit that will entertain everyone in the family. Read on for this guide of what to do in Florence with kids of all ages (that includes you moms and dads!).
Get to know the Medici at Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria
The Palazzo Vecchio served as the center of government and eventually as a home for the Medici family in the 16th century when they transformed the already grand palazzo into a home fit for the dukes of Tuscany. The museum offers numerous children and family-friendly tours that will take you behind the scenes of what life was like at the Medici court. Visit the secret painted chamber of Duke Francesco’s collections, see where the Vasari corridor really begins, pay your respects to the death mask of the great poet Dante and climb the tower for a view over all of Florence. On one tour, you even have the chance to go through a hidden doorway in the map room and down a secret passageway to try on Renaissance costumes like what the Medici children would have worn.
Note: Keep an eye on the website for changing tours based on what current covid restrictions allow.
Ancient armor at the Stibbert Museum
Via Stibbert, 26
One of the most eclectic and unique museums in Florence, the Stibbert museum is a bit outside the city center, but so worth a visit for the vast array of pieces on display in this historic 19th-century museum. The highlight has to be the incredible collection of armor and weaponry from Europe, the Middle East and Japan along with a rotating exhibition of clothing from the 18th century onwards including a cape worn by Napoleon! After you visit the museum, don’t miss the garden complete with exotic temples and a lake that allude to the Stibbert family’s archeological interests.
Interactive Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
Via dei Servi, 66/R
Explore the life and inventions of Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci in this interactive museum in the center of Florence. See reconstructions of his flying machines, his war vehicles and weapons and find out if you have the smarts to build the “infinity bridge” as he imagined it! There are recreations of his paintings like the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper (though no original works) and everywhere you turn, you’ll find a new invention that gives insight into the creative and innovative mind of Leonardo. Note: There are two of these museums in Florence but my favorite is on Via dei Servi.
The Natural History Museum, La Specola
Via Romana, 17
This museum was founded in the 18th century and as you enter the large stone palazzo it certainly feels a little like you’re going back to an earlier time. Around 5,000 preserved animal specimens from all over the world poise behind large wooden and glass-paned cabinets from mammals large and small to birds and sea creatures. (They have even preserved the Medici’s pet hippopotamus that once lived in the Boboli gardens!) The “room of the skeletons” boasts 3,000 pieces including a giraffe, whales, and an Indian elephant. It also has the largest collection of wax anatomical figures in the world, many of them were made in the 1700s!
Egyptian Rooms at the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeolgical museum holds the second-largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Italy (after the Museo Egizio In Turin) and is a fun place to visit for younger kids as well as adults! The collection includes a mummy (of a human as well as one of a tiny crocodile), sarcophagi and funeral masks, a war chariot and numerous amulets, statues and examples of hieroglyphs. The Museum includes a beautiful Etruscan and Greek section as well that are worth visiting.
Via Porta Rossa, 13
All over Florence, you’ll see the remains of the medieval tower houses that Florentines built sky-high to impress (and intimidate) their neighbors. Palazzo Davanzati was one of these medieval homes that have now been renovated to recreate its medieval aspect complete with a medieval kitchen, bedrooms frescoed with plants and animals, the inner courtyard with stone staircases and balconies and even an ancient toilet!
Piazza Pitti Main Entrance
Pack a picnic lunch and spend an afternoon (or longer!) exploring the vast grounds of the Boboli Gardens at the Pitti Palace. These gardens are huge and there’s always a new corner to discover from winding forested pathways, to fountains and meadows, to vistas over the city and small grottoes full of unexpected statues. For more gardens to visit in Florence like the charming Rose and Iris garden, check out our guide to historic Florentine gardens.
Piazza dei Giudici, 1
This museum is well suited for older kids with an interest in science, astronomy and of course Galileo! The museum used to be called The History of Science Museum, and perhaps while less catchy than “Galileo” this is a better indication of what you will find here. There is a huge collection of scientific instruments, telescopes, gigantic celestial and planetary globes, a “chemistry cabinet” and electricity machines. Plus one very odd addition in a glass sphere: the actual preserved finger of Galileo!
Views from the Duomo
Piazza del Duomo
Nothing beats the views over Florence from the top of the Duomo. There are over 450 steps to the top but you’ll be walking between the two shells of Brunelleschi’s great 15th-century dome until you emerge on the top for an epic vista from the tallest point in Florence. To get a view of the dome itself and take a walk with a few more breakpoints along the way, I recommend climbing the bell tower next to the duomo. Note: Remember to book your tickets in advance. Not suitable for younger kids who might find the climb difficult – remember, no elevators up to the top!
Best of Florence City Center Private Tour
Experience the best of Florence on this private guided tour of the city center. You’ll skip the line at the Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David before taking in the highlights of the city center from the Cathedral Square to the medieval district, Signoria Square and Ponte Vecchio.
FREE in the CITY CENTER
Antique Carousel in Piazza Repubblica
Piazza della Repubblica
Take a ride on the beautiful early 20th-century carousel in the middle of one of Florence’s most lovely squares, Piazza della Repubblica. See if you can recognize the different Italian towns painted in brightly colored panels at the top before choosing your noble steed (or carriage). In the evening, with the lights turned on, it always puts a smile on my face as I walk through the piazza.
Pat the Nose of the Porcellino for Good Luck
Piazza del Mercato Nuovo
You’ll find little stuffed animals of wild boars, complete with plush tusks hanging from the souvenir stands in Florence, a reference to the famous ragu al cinghiale (or wild boar ragu) served all over the city but also the bronze fountain of the wild boar in the city center known as Il Porcellino. Tradition has it that rubbing the nose of the boar brings good luck and you’ll find a crowd gathered around him, dropping coins through the grate for financial luck and patting the nose down to a fine bronze polish.
Modern Art in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi
Piazza degli Strozzi
The art on display in the Palazzo Strozzi courtyard is constantly changing but it’s always big, bold, interesting, frequently interactive and free. Enormous mirrors, multicolored hammocks and once even a gigantic slide are among some of the previous works on display. If you’re in the area, don’t miss a chance to peek into this courtyard and explore or even head into the museum to see their ever-changing exhibition space that often boasts modern or interactive exhibitions.
FOOD & ARTISANS
Leather Making Studio at the Scuola del Cuoio
The Florence Leather School was started in the 1950s to teach orphans a useful trade that would benefit them and post-war Florentine society. Today, you can still visit the studio located behind Santa Croce and often see modern-day artisans themselves at work at their stations, stitching leather, hammering in studs or cutting pieces for bags, jackets and wallets. It’s a great place to see artisans at work with their hands and older kids might also enjoy the half-day leather making workshops they offer where you’ll construct your own small leather keepsake.
Gelato was literally invented in Florence so what better place to try some of the best artisanal flavors (check out our guide!) or seek out the famous “Buontalenti” flavor at Gelateria Badiani which is probably the closest you can get to trying that first gelato ever created, named after the supposed inventor. Keep your eye out for gelato-making classes as well to really get behind the scenes of this delicious Italian specialty.
The Gelateria Guide of Florence
Ancient Roman Theatre at Fiesole
A quick bus ride from Piazza San Marco, the town of Fiesole offers sensational views back over Florence and I highly recommend a visit to the archeological area. Walk through the ruins of a Roman amphitheater dating back to the 1st century BC as well as the remains of Roman temples and a bathhouse complete with frigidarium, caldarium and tepidarium where you can learn about just how seriously the ancients took their bathtime!
Getting there: Take Bus # 7 from Piazza San Marco to the city center of Fiesole near the Accademia Gallery.
The Best Day Trips from Florence