It’s hard to find the words to properly convey how special Italy is. The cities and towns are picture-postcard perfect, especially in Tuscany where you can let your imagination run wild exploring Medieval towers, stare for hours at the rolling hilltops, and walk through the colorful historical streets of Florence, Lucca, and Siena. And if that wasn’t enough, Italy is an incredibly family-friendly destination – Italians just love babies and kids! They welcome the chaos of kids with open arms. This Florence & Tuscany travel guide includes everything you need to know for planning a Tuscan getaway with a baby -- I've included the best luxury accommodations, restaurants to try, and activities that are do-able with kids.
For your Planning Purposes
Getting there: You can fly into Florence Airport (Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola), or Pisa International Airport (75 minutes away). I recommend the car service (Hire in Italy) for transportation to the city center. If traveling by train, you'll arrive at Santa Maria Novella train station.
Getting around: You won’t need a car in Florence, as the city is completely walkable. If you do rent a car, there are strict rules about where you can/can not park; if you make a mistake you will most definitely be towed and heavily fined. While I would strongly advise against renting a car in Florence, once you leave the city, you'll want a car to tour Tuscany. I used Hire in Italy for transportation to/from our hotel, but then rented a car with this company to explore the Tuscan countryside. They dropped the car off directly to our Tuscan hotel, which was very helpful.
When to visit: High season runs May-July, and the month of September (in August, the Italians go on vacation too). Expect hot temperatures and high pricing for accommodations. Early spring and fall have nice weather, with fewer tourists.
Tips for Traveling to Florence and Tuscany with a Baby
For our family, we wanted to craft an itinerary that would be both entertaining and do-able for our then 1 year old daughter, but also relaxing for us as new parents (no that’s not an oxymoron). There is something for everyone of all ages to enjoy in Florence and Tuscany, but it’s also very easy to get carried away. Therefore, when planning an Italy-bound trip with a baby, it’s important to keep a few key tips in mind:
Itinerary Tips for Travel With a Baby
- Take your time each day and select kid friendly tours: You may not get to every museum, but that’s okay! Take it slow to prevent over-tiredness if traveling with little kids.
- Pick 1-2 cities to visit in Tuscany: Tuscany refers to a region that is approximately 8,800 square miles. Florence, Siena, Lucca, Pisa are some of the major cities which exist in the region of Tuscany. Exploring the whole countryside of Tuscany could take weeks -- highlights include Val D’orcia, Montepulciano, Pienza, Cortona, or the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea (Tuscany has beaches too!). If your vacation is about a week long, I recommend prioritizing 1-2 cities so that you don't feel rushed. Want to know how I laid out my vacation? Download my free itinerary!
General Italy Travel Tips With Kids
- Car seat installation: If you plan to use a car service and/or car rental, give the company a heads up that you need car seats installed. Make sure to provide ages/weight (in kg) so that everything is ready to go. You could bring your own, but I found the car seats they provided to be excellent, and they installed them ahead of time.
- Prepare for A LOT of walking and bring a stroller and/or baby carrier: Florence is a walking city! Buy comfortable shoes (ditch the heels), and get excited to get your steps in for the day. Kids will definitely need some assistance. A travel stroller is useful, however, in Florence, the cobblestone makes for an off-road experience -- if you’re going to bring one, get one with good wheels, like the UppaBaby Minu. For a baby, I recommend using the Ergobaby carrier instead, unless you plan to do some naps on the go.
A Note About Museums and Kids
- Strollers are not permitted: Have a baby carrier tucked into the bottom of a stroller if you plan to visit any museums.
- Ask about kid-friendly tours: The Uffizzi Museum offers special kid-centered tours -- a good option for families compared to a regular tour.
- Farmacia’s (pharmacies) will have your baby supplies: In Italy, you will not find baby supplies in, let’s say, aisle 6 of the grocery store. Instead, the “farmacia” (pharmacy) carries diapers, wipes, creams and high quality baby food. Stock up when you land, but note that most farmacias are closed on Sundays.
- Hotels have strict occupancy rules: If you’re traveling with kids, let your hotel know ahead of time. If you need a crib, they will also need to ensure the room can fit one.
- Most restaurants don’t offer a kids menu: Don’t sacrifice a great restaurant experience because you’re worried the kids won’t eat – they will! This is Italy and the chefs can whip up pasta with sauce and cheese in no time. In fact, you’ll probably be ordering the same thing as the bambinos!
- Want to save yourself hours of time? Book a private guide when touring museums like The Accademia and The Uffizzi. Private guides can skip the queue and usually purchase your tickets ahead of time. If you plan to do any museum tours with kids, this will make everyone less cranky.
- Early morning is best to explore Florence: Everyone warns tourists that major European cities will be crowded in summer. I thought I was properly prepared, but it truly is a “have-to-see-it-to-belive-it” scenario. The main squares were packed, and museum lines were HOURS long. To escape some of the crowds, I spent a few mornings exploring the city bright and early, as Claire was already awake anyways. For tips on how to avoid crowds and lines, read Family Activities in Florence and Tuscany.
What to do in Florence & Tuscany
Highlights if you're in a hurry!
- Explore the historical center, and ride the carousel: The historical center of Florence is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and walking through the cobblestone streets will make you feel like you’ve been catapulted back into the Renaissance era. Even if your kids don't know what the Renaissance was, let their imaginations run wild by roaming the ancient streets. For smaller kids, check out the carousel in the Piazza della Repubblica.
- Don't miss the Duomo Skywalk Tour: If there’s one thing not to miss in Florence, it’s the Duomo Skywalk tour. The tour begins with some brief history of Florence and the construction of the dome by Brunelleschi. The guides are animated and high energy. However, the star of this tour is the climb to the top! Count this as a day at the gym, because you’ll be scaling 400 steps to the top of the “il Duomo.” You’ll also have access to the skywalk halfway up, which is otherwise not available to the public. It’s a lot of fun — plain and simple! This tour is kid-friendly, but better if your kids are able to manage (most) of the walking on their own, or if you are prepared to baby-wear.
- Stroll Bardini Gardens: Bardini Gardens is a great spot for beautiful views of the Florentine skyline. It's a nice area for kids to walk around, or to take a stroller walk. Note, while the pictures display steep stairs, there are paved walking paths accessible for stroller use.
- Get lost in the Tuscan hilltop towns: Spend an afternoon (each) in the Medieval towns of Volterra and San Gimignano. As you drive through the Tuscan roads, you may be surprised at what you find. For instance, we were not expecting to stumble across this moongate, but ended up stopping for 30 minutes to take funny photos with Claire.
Luxury Family Accomodations in Florence
If you’re searching for luxury + space in Florence + availability in the summer, it’s going to = a pretty penny. There are countless high end accommodations directly in the city, all of which will give you that 5 star feel. I’m especially hoping to return one day to J.K. Firenze! However, with a 1 year old in tow, we decided that space was the top priority, and a rental gave us a (mostly) high end experience, with the added benefit of more room for everyone to spread out.
- We rented this apartment in Florence, and really enjoyed our experience. We had direct views of Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi (view of the Uffizzi from our apartment pictured below). In other words, we were right next to the sites, steps away from delicious restaurants, and even walking distance to the Boboli and Bardini Gardens. It gave us plenty of space and our own kitchen, dishwasher, and laundry.
I Also Considered These Hotels
- This rental option- This was actually my first pick of rental options, but it was already reserved. It looks stunning and is located directly on Piazza Pitti.
- Grand Hotel Minerva- This is a true family favorite, highly applauded by moms and dads worldwide. They know how to cater to families – plain and simple. They offer connecting rooms and larger accommodations that can fit 6 people. In addition, kids experience a special “check in,” where they receive a lollipop and their own scavenger hunt to complete while walking around the city. Grand Hotel Minverva also has one of the only hotel rooftop pools in Florence (a huge advantage if you’re visiting in summer).
- Portrait Firenze- This Leading Hotel of the World is located directly on the Arno River, with unobstructed views of the Ponte Vecchio. For families, they offer a few different suite configurations to allow for more space. They are well known for their 5-star hospitality, making you feel at home from the very first moment.
Family Hotels (Better For Older Kids)
- J.K. Firenze - This is one of my "dream-about-visiting" hotels! J.K. Firenze, recently rebranded as The Place, is a luxury boutique hotel that set the standard for high quality accommodations in Florence. It is located directly on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, where you could eat lunch and people-watch all day! While it is family friendly, it’s probably a better choice if traveling with slightly older kids.
- The St. Regis Florence- Located on the Arno River, and in the historical center of town, the St. Regis Florence will make you feel like royalty living in the Renaissance. Rooms are decorated with bright frescoes (originally from the 1400s), and there are suite options available for families. This hotel is also known for their afternoon tea service – my favorite!
Slightly Outside The City
- Belmond VIlla San Michele- Tucked into the Fiesole Hills, Belmond Villa San Michele is a former medieval monastery transformed into a luxury 5-star hotel. You’ll enjoy sweeping views of the city-center below, and it’s only a 15 minute drive to the historical neighborhood in Florence. For families, they offer cribs, bottles, babysitting services, kids’ concierge, and a family-friendly restaurant.
- Four Seasons Hotel Firenze - Stepping into the grounds of the Four Seasons you’ll instantly feel the calm of an urban retreat. You’re a 5 minute drive from all the city-center action, but here on the grounds you can enjoy a private garden, large whirlpool, and light filled spacious lobby. For families, there are 2 and 3 bedroom suites available.
Luxury Family Accomodations in Tuscany
Before you choose a hotel in Tuscany, it’s important to first narrow down which part of this region you’d like to spend time in. Are you hoping to explore the rolling hills of Chianti? Or hop from city to city? Will you stay in the north and do day trips to Siena, Lucca, or San Gimignano? Or, do you absolutely need some beach time? Parts of Tuscany are located on the coast!
In short, the cities and activities you’re hoping to do will greatly influence your hotel choice. The accomodations I’ve included below are specific to the more northern part of Tuscany, only an hour outside of Florence.
- Borgo Pignano- There isn’t really another way to say this -– Borgo Pignano will become your happy place. If you’re looking for a Tuscan retreat where you can relax with your family, lounge by the pool, eat delicious food, and simply feel the calm, then this is the place to go. Choosing Borgo Pignano was one of the best “hotel decisions” I’ve made, and I still dream of revisiting their incredible pool. Also, they offer villa or apartment style rooms that are perfect for families. You can read a full review of this hotel here.
Don't Miss This Related Compass Roam Article
Would you like to learn more about the family-friendly hotel we stayed in? Here's an additional article you may find helpful:
I Also Considered These Hotels
- Como Castello- This 12th century castle has been redesigned and reimagined as an oasis in the Tuscan hills, with an onsite COMO wellness retreat, and Michelin star restaurant. It is a popular escape for all types of travelers – from honeymooners to families. If you are traveling with a group, they offer suite style accommodations and even babysitting services. You’re only 30 minutes from Siena and San Gimignano if you’re up for a short day trip.
- Castello di Casole - In this 10th century estate you can fill your days relaxing by the pool, participating in a truffle hunt, visiting local farms, and then dining in world-class restaurants.
- In other regions of Tuscany - Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco and Hotel Adler Thermae are popular luxury accommodations in central Tuscany. Hotel Pellicano is a well known 5-star hotel on the coast.
The Most Delicious Restaurants in Florence & Tuscany
Favorite Florence Restaurants
Italian food is worth all the hype – I promise! These were my favorites in Florence.
- Don’t miss La Giostra for some pear filled pasta that you’ll enjoy under a domed ceiling a “sky of stars.”
- Yellow Bar featured my favorite pizza, and is conveniently around the corner from the Santa Maria del Fiore (i.e. a good post-tour lunch stop).
- Fuor D’Aqua has the freshest fine dining seafood, and is a good choice for a date night (if you can manage one away from the kids).
- Palazzo Tempi was right across from our apartment and we enjoyed their melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi. Claire had her first gnocchi tasting here. Relax and have a leisurely lunch at
- J.K Hotel. Grab a table outside on the piazza and enjoy classic Italian dishes.
- Lastly, my favorite gelato award goes to Gelato Neri.
Other popular restaurants that were on my list included:
- Cibreo Ristorante - Cibreo features a restaurant, trattoria, and cafe all located adjacent to one another. The menu at Cibreo restaurant changes daily. -- you won't know what's on the menu till you meet your server!
- Trattoria Mario - Stop by for lunch and make some new friends while sitting at communal tables. Arrive early because there is always a line! Even the locals flock to this spot for the ribollita and Florentine steaks. As the Sunday Times said, “What Michelangelo did with marble, Trattoria Mario does with T-bone steak.” Although I’m a vegetarian, I'll pass that along to any steak fans.
- Buca Mario - Buca Mario has been serving traditional Florentine food for over 100 years! Recipes have been passed down from one generation to the next. It's a traditional Florentine dining option.
- Zeb’s - This culinary treasure of the San Niccolo district has taken traditional recipes and revamped them with a modern day twist. A mother-son duo creates and cooks the rotating menu together.
- Mercato Centrale - Moms and dads!...if you and the little ones are getting hungry before the restaurants open for dinner, then make your way over here! While most Italian restaurants open at 7:30pm, Mercato Centrale is open daily 10am -12am. You will find different food stalls and shops – they have a mozzarella bar, a cheese shop, pizza and fresh pasta, Sicilian style cuisine, a hamburger joint, a beer garden, coffee shop, sushi, Chinese, and a vegetarian friendly stall.
Favorite Restaurants in Tuscany
- If you’re headed to the Tuscan countryside, Al Fresca at the hotel Borgo Pignano has delicious wood fired pizza, and it was an incredible farm-to-table spread for dinner.
- If you’re visiting Volterra, you can not miss eating at Enoteca Dal Duca! – this was our favorite restaurant during the whole trip.
- Lastly, in San Gimignano, we had incredible pizza at Il Trovatore.
Other popular restaurants on my list included:
- Cum Quibus- (San Gimignano) The chefs at Cum Quibus take high quality ingredients seriously. If you order the fish of the day, your dinner was caught that morning. This Michelin star restaurant will deliver an unforgettable meal.
- La Mandragola- (San Gimignano) With one of the best views in town, you’ll dine while gazing at the Medieval towers of San Gimignano. The chefs are focused on simple, fresh food that will allow you to experience an authentic Tuscan experience.
- Peruca - (San Gimignano) This local hotspot will make you feel like you’re eating in someone’s home with their favorite family dishes served up for dinner.
- La Carabaccia - Girl Power! This mother-daughter(s) establishment is known for the best lunch in town. The menu changes daily and they are known for their “Carabaccia,” which is a Tuscan onion soup.
Day Trips From Florence
You could travel to Tuscany 10 times and have a completely different vacation each and every time – the region is incredibly large and there is just too much to do! I’ve included 3 popular day trip options from Florence below, as well as another section on some of the other regions in Tuscany too.
Located just an hour outside of Florence, Lucca is a perfect day trip – you may not even want to leave! Lucca is a completely enclosed Medieval city, with the original walls still surrounding the town today. With the kids you can walk or bike along the walls, enjoying the views of the mountains in the background. It’s also possible to climb the Torre della Ore and the Toree Guinigi (the city towers) for views of the charming town below. The city even transformed the old Roman amphitheater into a complex that now houses cafes and spaces for kids to play.
This small city is most famous for its iconic leaning tower! Located 90 minutes from Florence, it’s possible to fit this one in as a day trip. The tower itself has been “leaning” since the 12th century, but thankfully was stabalized in 2001. It’s possible to climb to the top, but there's an age requirement of 8 years old. If you’re looking to get some space from the inevitable crowds, head to Orto Botanico di Pisa (a beautiful garden), or check out the aqueduct of Parco Don Bosco, which also has a playground nearby.
One hour from Florence you'll find the Medieval town of Siena, which is large enough to explore on its own for the day, but not too large that you’ll feel overwhelmed. It’s a quiet and charming town, with relics of the past still in existence – like medival toilets that are outside the homes! There are boutiques and shops lining the streets, and the large town square is where all the action takes place. If you come in July, don't forget to see the Palio di Siena, which is horse race featuring riders of the different city sections. It’s quite the event!
Other Regions of Tuscany to Consider
These sections of Tuscany are worth dedicating their own vacation days, and a day trip from Florence would not make the experience enjoyable. Instead, pack your bags and resettle in one of these spots for a completely different experience.
If you’ve Googled "Tuscany" (which I know you have), then images of Val D’Orcia most definitely popped up on your screen. This is the Tuscany you’ve envisioned visiting, with rolling green hills, large towering cyprus trees, and vineyard heaven. Although I haven’t visited with my own kids, I did visit when I was a teenager. My experience back then most definitely contributed to my Italy-obsession that exists today. In Val D’Orcia you can visit stunning hilltop towns, such as Montepulicano, Cortona, and Pienza. All three of these towns are must-visits, each charming in their own way. Some of them, like Montepulicano, even have bike tours that you can take as a family.
The Tuscan Coast
If beach time is a necessary component of your travel itinerary, then you’re in good hands. While most tourists flock to the Amalfi region to bask in the Mediterranean Sea, the Tuscan coastline along the Tyrhennian Sea has fewer tourists and more locals – in other words, it has a more authentic vibe. Donoratico and Golfo di Baratti are known for long, white sandy beaches. Forti dei Marmi is another popular local spot for beach season. Lastly, if you’re feeling very ambitious, you can take a ferry from Piombino to Elba for the day and explore the island. Mario di Campo is a perfect shallow beach for kids
That's a Wrap
It’s a bit of a running joke in my marriage that every vacation of mine somehow includes Italy. Italy is my spirit animal, if spirit animals could be countries. And while my husband is exaggerating just a tad (not every vacation has included a stop to Italy), chances are I have at least tried to work it into the itinerary when I’m overseas. There is still so much to see and do in Florence and Tuscany, that I hope to return again for another visit.
I hope this article has inspired your own family getaway to Florence and Tuscany. If you have any questions, or your own travel tips, please leave them in the comments below. Also, don't forget to sign up for the monthly newsletter, packed with travel tips, upcoming news, and access to FREE destination itineraries.
Start gathering your future travel ideas now! Sign up to receive exclusive travel itineraries and tips.