The idea of traveling abroad with young children can seem pretty daunting, but after 2 years of travel restrictions, we were ready!
With two young boys (6 and 8), we aimed to plan a trip with a busy and relaxing balance. Creating that easy, laid-back schedule was a lot of work, but these really felt like the perfect ages; old enough to be independent, yet young enough for it to feel whimsical.
I'm sharing this 10-day itinerary because for all of us, the trip felt like a huge success. Not only did we visit landmarks and try new foods, but we also bonded over long train rides, dining in fancy restaurants and meeting new people.
Planning any trip involves so much research, I relied on others for ideas and advice; I hope this helps guide your travel as well.
Here are a few of our favorite, kid friendly parts of our 10 days in Italy:
Day 1: Travel to Rome
Day 2: Early arrival in Rome
We checked into the Inn at the Spanish Steps and wandered around until our just-landed-in-Italy energy wore off around 3 p.m. After a quick nap, we headed out to grab a snack (pizza — when in Rome!), walked around the Borghese Gardens, stopped by the Trevi Fountain to toss a coin, and then crashed for the night!
Day 3: Hitting the rails
After a well-earned rest, we hopped a train for a quick stop in Pisa to see the leaning tower, then continued on to Monterosso, Cinque Terre, where we stayed at Villa Steno (the most amazing part of our trip. The hotel’s owners love children, and they made the boys feel so welcome). We enjoyed a local dinner while the boys joined a pickup soccer game.
Day 4: Buon appetito
After breakfast at our hotel, we explored Monterosso. Our wanderings took us up to the Monastery, cemetery and Buranco Winery. In the afternoon, we returned to the hotel for “Cooking With Carla,” a cooking class that was a favorite highlight of the trip for the entire family.
Day 5: Fancy dinner
We happened to be in Monterosso for Easter Sunday, and we spent the day hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza — so beautiful and definitely doable with younger children! After some exploring, we took the ferry back to Monterosso for a “grown up fancy dinner” at Torre Aurora. This was a really special moment — to sit at a fancy dinner with our boys, something we wouldn’t ordinarily do at home, try new foods and appreciate the view together. I’ll always remember it.
Day 6: On to Venice
After breakfast, we boarded a train to Venice. The trip took most of the day, and when we arrived around 4 p.m., we took a water taxi to JW Marriott Venice. The hotel was incredibly family friendly. We rode bikes to a nearby playground, played basketball, explored the hotel’s kids’ club, and swam in the rooftop pool while we supervised with cocktails.
Day 7: Exploring Venice
We started the day off by taking the hotel’s water shuttle (lots of boat travel in Venice!) to a tour of Murano/Burano. The tours (glass blowing and lace making) were interesting for all of us, but did take up most of the day! Our day included a trip to the top of a bell tower, a visit to the most amazing candy store, and a gondola ride. We returned to the hotel for another round of rooftop pool cocktail hour!
Day 8: More fun (and more gelato)
It was time to return to Rome, our train was about 4 hours and a great way for all of us to decompress. We arrived in Campo de Fiori, and instantly felt at home. The boys played soccer in the piazza, while we enjoyed an Aperol spritz and pizza. That evening we did a nighttime monument golf cart tour (so fun!), followed by more gelato and a good night’s sleep.
Day 9: Roman holiday
Campo de Fiori had something for everyone in our group, and it's walking distance to everything we wanted to see! We shopped the market and enjoyed pastries and coffee — fuel for our next adventure, climbing to the top of St. Peter’s Dome - exciting for our age group, and not too time consuming. It was a fun day for all of us, capped off with dinner at Trottoria Der Pallaro.
Day 10: One more day of fun
On our last full day in Italy, we squeezed in as much as we could: shopping on Via Del Corso, a tour of the Pantheon, a visit to Piazza Navona. We took our COVID tests (see below for more on that), then lined up for an hour’s wait outside Da Enzo, a popular restaurant in Trastevere. Our final stop of the night: Otaleg for one last Italian gelato. In the morning, we would say “ciao!” to Italy and head back home.
Day 11: Travel Home
A few lessons learned:
- Pack as light as possible, traveling by plane and train is much easier with a carry on - especially with kids! You can read more about this here.
- Always have snacks!
- Pre-purchase all train tickets or landmark reservations, they do fill up!
- You can skip the lines at many landmarks, like going to the top of the Campidoglio or the Vatican.
A note on COVID travel:
When we were in Italy, masks were required indoors, including on trains and planes. To travel on the train, we had to show our vaccination records, including a booster within the last six months. To travel home, we needed a negative COVID test result. We took our test at a pharmacy 24 hours before our flight departed, and they emailed us the results — it was very easy.