Assisi with kids: all you need to know to visit St Francis’ town with family
Assisi with kids: practical travel guide for families. How to visit the basilica St Francis’ of Assisi with children + other things to do in Assisi and practical travel guide.
Assisi is a stunning town in Umbria, central Italy, and one of the most significant religious centers in Italy and beyond.
Famous for being the birthplace of St Francis of Assisi (San Francesco), Assisi attracts pilgrims and religious visitors from all over the world but it is also a fantastic place to visit if you don’t have Christian beliefs.
The town is historical, beautiful and has incredible art and food.
Visiting Assisi with children is possible and enjoyable.
The main attraction here is St Francis’ Basilica, so this guide will focus on how to visit it.
However, there are many more family-friendly things to do in Assisi: we were in Assisi this summer just gone and went on a quest to find as many child-friendly things as we could!
This is our family guide to Assisi with our trip to visit St Francis’ basilica with kids and additional info about navigating the city with children in tow.
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Why visit Assisi with kids
There are several reasons why I recommend visiting Assisi with kids.
The Basilica of St Francis is breathtaking – no matter what the religious beliefs of your family are, the basilica on St Francis is a sight to behold.
From the impressive esplanade just outside it to the wonderful frescoes, the basilica will get a wow out of your children, no matter their age.
The city has several ancient areas that are fun and educational for kids, dating back to ancient Roman times and the Middle Ages.
The town of Assisi has a beautiful green area just beside the basilica, Bosco di San Francesco, which is wonderful for kids and adults with its paths and shaded areas
There is no place like Assisi to teach your kids about St Francis, and his love for animals and nature.
Assisi has delicious food, incusing child-friendly delicacies such as torta al testo/crescia (A type of focaccia)
The town is a buzzing, dynamic and welcoming place.
We visited in the summer and found the streets teeming with street musicians and performers that filled the place with beautiful musical notes and cheer
Why not visit Assisi with kids
Assisi is not stroller friendly: visiting Assisi with little ones will require a lot of carrying and folding of the stroller as well as long walks uphill.
Top tip: avoid visiting Assisi in summer, as negotiating the town while carrying a child is not easy. Make sure you have a carrier for the day and consider staying outside of the town, only coming in for a visit, to make the most of the green spaces in the nearby countryside.
Assisi is very touristy and very busy, especially at weekends, during Easter and summer holidays, during Calendimaggio and during the festival of st Francis, around the 4th of October
Assisi’s main attractions are churches and museums. Therefore, it is best-suited t families with older kids who can appreciate what they are seeing.
The best things to see in Assisi with kids
The Basilica of St Francis of Assisi
The best thing to do in Assisi with kids and the place that attracts all visitors to this ancient town is the breathtaking Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, Basilica di San Francesco d’Assisi.
There is a no photo policy inside the basilica, this is why we only have photos of the external areas.
St Francis’ Basilica is huge and beautiful church, now also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you arrive from the top of the town, the view unfolding in front of you is breathtaking.
In from of the basilica you see a large esplanade with a green lawn and a tall equestrian statue, with a horseman bowing towards the church.
The basilica itself is a triumph of clean lines and light-colored stone, both imposing yet simple in its beauty.
Located at the end of the town, the basilica is made of two buildings, connected one to the other by a ramp of stairs or, alternatively, a short road.
The visit starts from the Lower Basilica (Basilica Inferiore), which has several chapels, beautiful mosaics and art and the tomb of St Francis.
The Upper Basilica (Basilica Superiore) is most famous for its incredible frescoes by Giotto, which decorate its impressive walls in bright colors and masterful strokes.
Access to the basilica is free.
A visit to St Francis’ basilica is a must while in Assisi with kids.
However, it poses some challenges if you have little ones.
I am going to get more in detail about how to visit at the end of this article but for the moment, it is good to know that:
- The basilica is not stroller friendly – I highly recommend you bring a baby carrier instead
- The basilica requires appropriate clothing: shawls are available upon entering
- There is little to no explanation available in the basilica so I recommend you get a guide or study what to see beforehand.
- There is nothing specific for kids in the basilica. I highly recommend you keep the visit short, especially if visiting with very young ones
Bosco di San Francesco (St Francis’ Forest)
Beside the Basilica, on the other side of the external wall embracing the piazza, you find the gate into Bosco di San Francesco, St Francis’ Woods.
The woods are a natural, forested area now crossed by beautiful paths meandering downhill.
As you step into the forest, you find yourself in an entanting woods with many types of trees, animals (you notice brids and cats as soon as you walk in!) and the relaxing sound of the river Tescio, which crosses the river with its fast waters.
Bosco di San Francesco is beautiful and a great place for kids to get a break from the sightseeing in the rest of the town.
if you have little ones, you can just enjoy the woods as a park and even treat them to a picnic here.
If you have older ones, you can have a pichic but also use this opportunity to tap into the history of St Francis and his love of nature with all your senses since this is the very dame nature the saint experienced growing up and living in Assisi!
If you stay in Assisi more than a day, you may want to keep an eye on the events that take place in the Bosco too: this is a living and breathing city space with workshops, toga classes and events, regularly taking place for local and visitors alike.
If you are up for a bit of a walk, there are two paths you may enjoy.
One is the trail going from Monastero di Santa Croce to the main Basiclia of San franceso.
The path is easy also with kids, it is 1.5 km and it is in the shade. It is not, however, stroller friendly.
The other path leads you to the river and it si wonderful for kids as it leads them right to a pretty waterfall!
Piazza del Comune, Temple of Minerva And Fountain of the Lions
Assisi is most famous for St Francis.
However, the town already existed in Roman times and developed as an important trade center in the early Middle ages.
Piazza del Comune is where you can admire monuments from the city’s important past and where you find some of the most beautiful sights in Assisi: the temple of Minerva, the Fountain of the lions and the tabernacle.
The temple of Minerva is a stunning ancient Roman Temple now turned church.
Our kids loved claiming up its tall steps to peek inside and its doric columns and unexpected interior are a sight for adults too a wonderful content of Asissi (my very favorite, in fact!).
Beside it, kids are likely to love the tall tower, medieval, belonging to the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, one of the most important in Assisi.
The Fountain of the lions, or Fontana dei Tre Leoni, is just what it sounds: a lovely fountain with decorations of lions. There are three of them as they symbolize the three main districts within the city of Assisi
Good to know: Piazza del Comune is the center of a special celebration happening in Assisi in May, Calendimaggio. This is an important historical reconstruction and festival that attracts locals and visitors alike and makes may one of the most unique times to visit Assisi!
The tabernacolo – Older children will be fascinated by the beauty of the tabernacolo that overlooks the piazza, with a wonderful fresco of an Annunciation.
The presence of a great cafe on the same piazza with gelato and snacks also helped our two to embrace the beauty of the square!
A very exciting place in Assisi for kids (and adults) is below street level: Assisi Sotterranea!
Assisi Sotterraneao or Underground Assisi is the old Roman forum of the city of Assisi nowadays entirely underground.
The visit doesn’t take long but it is exciting and something different to do in a town not usually associated with ancient Rome.
You can get tickets on the spot, no booking usually needed.
As we strolled around Assisi we came across a lovely toy shop with lots of wooden figurines and knick-knacks.
You find in Via Portica very close to piazza del comune and it s a great place to stop for a little bit of a browse with the kids.
Outside there is also a photo op where you can pose like Pinocchio!
One of the things I loved the most about visiting Assisi with kids is how easy it was to get them to imagine life in medieval times in this perfectly preserved town.
Pena uno scudo e perdita dei panni per chi lava in questa fonte”
A great eca,ple of it is the medieval Olivier Fountain, where pilgrims and their animals could drink and get refreshed after the long walk to Assisi.
Kids are likely to enjoy the several water spouts and even more to learn what the (historical) sign on it says: if you wash in this fountain, yu will lose a scudo (coin) and your clothes. Italy has been fining people bathing in fountains since the middle ages and, fun fact, still does!
Other things to see in Assisi with kids
Rocca Maggiore is the tall fortress overlooking Assisi.
The fortress is imposing and offers stunning views of the city of Assisi and the whole if the countryside nearby.
Unfortunately, when we went this time we found it used for restorations so I have no photos to share! If you find it open, however, make sure you visit!
Church of Santa Chiara -a another stunning church devoted to the other religious figure of notice connected with the city of Assisi: Santa Chiara
Church of San Rufino – a large, beautiful church parents will love: the facade is stunning and the kids may enjoy the fountain with carvings of lions on its square.
Kid friendly tours in Assisi
A fun way to visit Assisi is to treat the kids to an Ape Tour, the Italian equivalent of a tuk tuk!
The Ape tour is a lovely way to navigate Assisi without getting the kids too tired on the town steep streets. Find prices and info here.
Kids’ Playgrounds in Assisi
We had difficulties finding playgrounds in Assisi.
Unlike other cities, we noticed it took more of an effort to identity play areas; however, there are some!
Play areas in Assisi you may want to to seek out are:
- Parco Giochi Regina Margherita, with swings and basic kids’ frames, close to Porta Nuova City Gate
- Parco Bleno, towards Eremo delle Carceri
Where to park to visit Assisi with kids
Assisi town center is closed to visitors’ cars and you can only access it on foot.
It is, however, well served by parking spaces and usually, with a bit of patience, you can find a spot no problem.
When we went, we picked the first one we encountered: it was the Porta Nuova parking and it worked great for us.
Here you find yourself at the top of the town, so you start your visit downhill.
You are also close to the start of the road to Eremo delle Carceri, which you may want to visit after the city. And last nut not least, you are close to one of Assisi’s small playgrounds for kids!
However, the basilica is at the other end of the town, so if you come specifically for a quick tour of the basilica, you may want to par closer to it, for instance, and Parcheggio Papa Giovanni Paolo II
The best parking in Assisi for families are:
- Parcheggio di Porta Mojano
- Parcheggio Papa Giovanni Paolo II
- Parcheggio San Pietro
- Parcheggio di Porta Nuova
- Parcheggio di Piazza Giacomo Matteotti
- Parcheggio di Porta San Giacomo
What to wear to visit Assisi with kids + Assisi Basilica Dress Code
St Francis’ Basilica in Assisi has a strict dress code for men and women.
To enter, you must have your knees, shoulders and midriff covered. Clothing that is not allowed in the basilica includes:
- Strappy tops (spaghetti straps)
- Shorts (men and women; Some tolerance for below-the-knee shorts)
- Mini skirts
- Crop tops that show off your belly
- Very revealing necklines
Should you be dressed in a way deemed inappropriate, you will be offered a shawl for free, which you can use to cover up.
The shawls are free and you don’t need to return them at the end of the visit, which makes them also hygenic (and a lovely memento of the day).
Good to know: the shawls are synthetic and very hot. I visited in summer with a dress that was deemed to have too narrow straps and borrowed one. It was great to be able to visit the church. However, it kept me so warm I had to leave a little sooner than I would have wanted, as I could not bear the heat. Therefore, it is much better to go prepared and have a (very) conservative approach to clothing on the day of your visit!
These are my top tips for visiting St Francis’ Basilica with kids
If you have a toddler, visit the basilica as your first stop.
The basilica is not easy for them as it requires being quiet and there is nothing they can touch, nor is a place they can run around. Visit before tiredness hits
Bring babies and toddlers in a carrier: the basilica is not stroller friendly
With older kids, consider a guided tour.
The basilica is awe-inspiring even without a guide.
Still, you are unlikely to understand much unless you have an expert telling you about what you are seeing and the significance of specific artworks and chapels.
A good alternative to a full tour is an auduiguide you can follow on your phone such as this one (not specifically for kids but they can skip ahead when they get bored).
Dress appropriately: as we said above, the basilica has a strict dress code, and while they do offer sales at the entrance, they are very hot so especially in the summer, it is better if you avoid them, especially around your shoulder. I recommend linen pants and a shirt for hotter days (also for kids, although they are a lot less strict with them)
Tips for visiting Basilica of St Francis with kids
These are my top tips for visiting St Francis Basilica with kids
Visiting Assisi’s Basilica with a baby or toddler – If you have a toddler, visit the basilica as your first stop.
The basilica is not easy for them as it requires being quiet and there is nothing they can touch, nor is a place they can run around. Visit before tiredness hits.
Bring babies and toddlers in a carrier: the basilica is not stroller friendly.
We haven’t found a wardrobe or anywhere to easily leave strollers of bulky bags.
This, plus the hilly nature of Assisi makes me recommend leaving all luggage and extras in the car or at your accommodation.
With older kids, consider a guided tour. The basilica is awe-inspiring even without a guide. Still, you are unlikely to understand much unless you have an expert telling you about what you are seeing and the significance of specific artworks and chapels.
Dress appropriately: as we said above, the basilica has a strict dress code, and while they do offer sales on the entrance, they are very hot so especially in the summer, it is better if you avoid them, especially around your shoulder.
I recommend linen pants and a shirt for hotter days (also for kids, although they are a lot less strict with little ones.
How long to stay in Assisi with kids + where to stay
You can visit Assisi town in a matter of hours / one day.
If you have small kids, I recommend you stay outside of the town and use a car to visit for the day.
Our favorite place to stay near Assisi with kids is La Corte del Lupo, a lovely Agriturismo in Nocera Umbria with a pool, cats, a dog, lots of space to run around and lovely breakfast and dinner (the owners are lovely too!).
If you have older kids, you can also consider staying the night so you can enjoy the town also in the evening ,when the day trippers are gone and the town before a little more ‘normal’.
In this case you may enjoy family friendly Hotel La Terrazza, with rooms for up to 4 people and a pool
I recommend staying several days in Assisi only if you have a car and plan on visiting the surrounding area as well.
The best time to visit Assisi with kids
The best time to visit Assisi with kids is the spring and the fall.
In summer, Assisi gets very hot and the sun is relentless while the middle seasons bless thetown with mild temperatures, blossoms (in spring) and beautiful foliage (in the fall).
Dates of notice in Assisi are:
The 4th of October, festival of St Francis and one of the busiest (yet exciting) times to visit Assisi, especially for religious visosotrs
The first weekend in May, when Assisi Celebrates Calednimaggio, a historical festival of spring during which you can see locals in historical costumes, performances and music shows bringing the history of medieval Assisi back to life.
I hope you enjoyed this essential guide to visiting Assisi with kids. Safe travels!
If you want even more help or you have any questions, please in my FREE Facebook group about traveling to Italy with kids: I will be happy to have you there and the tips from me and the other members are FREE!