How to visit Italian museums with kids: 11 tips
Tried and tested tips for visiting Italian museums with kids and enjoy it!
Italy has some of the most beautiful art museums in the world and you don’t have to give up on seeing them because you have your kids with you.
I know visiting an art museum with children in tow can be daunting. However, I also believe it is not only possible but also a great thing to do for you and for them!
Bringing your kids to art museums early is a fantastic way to introduce them to the wonderful world of art and doesn’t have to be boring or stressful.
You need however a bit of preparation, especially if this is the first experience and your children are used to interactive children museums.
Big Italian museums are very much not places where kids can touch art so some tips, preparation and management of expectations can be useful.
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These are our top tips for visiting Italian museums with kids
Consider both baby carrier and stroller
We have visited museums both ways and both ways can work. The decision between a stroller and a baby carrier depends on the museum.
When we visited the Vatican Museums, we discovered that strollers were allowed and even had a dedicated gate: this was fantastic as the museums are so big, having wheels can make a huge difference!
Other museums do not allow strollers in and in that case a baby carrier is best, even just as a safety net for when a toddler gets tired: opt for those you wear on your front and go for soft structured / non-structured so you can safely pass security (hiking carriers with metal pieces are usually not allowed).
You can find here >> our favorite baby carriers for Italy
You can find here >> our favorite strollers for Italy
If your child is an early riser, make the most of the first hours of the morning to get to the museum at opening time.
This is the moment when crowds tend to be at a minimum and when your child is likely to be the least tired.
Going to a museum early is also a good bargaining chip (see below!): if you promise time at the part or gelato as a post museum treat, an early start will make sure you can deliver on your promise.
This is also a great way to beat the heat in summer: early morning or late evenings are the best times for city visits in Italy from mid-June to mid-September, crowds and temperature-wise!
Hunger is our enemy on family travels and a snack or a meal before a museum trip goes a long way to set the mood right.
If you go early in the morning, usually breakfast takes care of it and you have a nice pace to your day.
I love when the plan works out that we have a lovely cooked breakfast in the hotel, then we head to the museum and park.
If this timing doesn’t work, we usually make sure we have snacks with us: in Italy, nutritious and delicious snacks ideas are slices of pizza, bread and ham (cooked ham, prosciutto cotto, or Parma, prosciutto crudo), rice cakes or fruit. We usually avoid gelato before a museum: it is a good bribe for after the visit and it is a sure way to get sticky hands – better for after!
Tell them what to expect / what is expected
During our pre-museum visit meal, we usually revise the rules of the museums.
No matter their age, we always told our kids what type of place the museum would be and what type of behavior to expect – things like not screaming, no touching and no eating may not be obvious for them if not used to going to museums regularly.
We usually try and keep rules to a minimum to maximize compliance to those we do enforce. Not touching artwork and not running like crazy creatures into other people is usually our main concern!
Make the restroom your first stop
I never spent as much time in museums’ restrooms as I had since having my kids but a toilet stop before the museum adventure is a must!
A little bit like the food, feeling clean and without an urgent need to pee will make kids and adults much happier. It is also a good moment to wash hands, especially if they have been eating just before entering.
Top tip! Avoid bringing large changing bags with you. Opt for a small one and bring just the essentials, so you don’t have issues at security checks.
Italy museum restrooms are hit and miss: some museums such as the Vatican have good family restrooms with baby changing facilities and even a nursing room but don’t expect them everywhere!
Head to the museum shop for postcards
Art museum can be boring for small kids and a good way we have found to get them to engage with them is by heading to the museum shop first and get them something to do during the visit.
Museum shops can be among the best places to get guidebooks for kids however, they are often city-specific more than museum-specific and in that case, they car cool but only help to a point!
If we don’t find museum-specific activities for kids, we get postcards instead and turn them into cues for a treasure hunt.
We decide beforehand what we want to see in the museum and then look for a postcard with the artwork: then we let out kids lose to find them! It works surprisingly well.
Give them pencil and paper
Another trick we use to visit museums with our kids is to give them paper, pencil and rubber so they can draw as they go (you can use the map book or a magazine as support for their writing, with a paper clip to hold the paper in place).
Opt for an artists’ eraser so they don’t leave little eraser crumbs on the floor! Hard Cover notepads are best for support.
Decide what you want to see before you go in
This tip goes with the one about the postcard!
Large museums may be too much for little kids so deciding what to see beforehand is a must. To do this, we usually read about the main masterpieces in the museum or watch museum virtual tours and pick and choose the wing or gallery we want to see.
A good way to identify what to see is to take a free virtual tour of the museum first – you can find a list of Italy museums offering virtual tours here.
Consider skip the line tickets / timed entrance solutions
Not all museums are so busy to require skip-the-line tickets but we found that, when available, they can be a lifesaver.
Children won’t graciously wait in line for hours and then enjoy a museum so the time you have between hunger, boredom or the need to run around kicks in, you want to spend it in the museum, not waiting!
Recent crowd control rules mean museums now operate with timed slots: this is fantastic and it often means you can safe the extra cost of skip the line tickets as there is no line to begin with!
I am going out on a limb here and guess we are not the only family who uses bribery as a persuasion tool with kids!
When our kids really cannot muster the interest for a museum, offering a fun reward at the end of the visit can work. Food at the museum café, time at the park, ice cream all work for us – just make sure you can deliver on your promise and you don’t leave the museum to find the ice cream shops is closed, the playground gone, etc. They will not forgive you!
Give them proper shoes
This may sound silly but museums require a lot of walking so proper shoes are as useful to visit a museum as they are to go for a walk!
Italy’s tops museums with kids: family tours and tips
There are 2 museums in Italy that I feel require a bit of planning, others being pretty much straightforwards.
The Vatican Museums with kids, Vatican City, Rome
The Vatican Museums are wonderful but very hard to visit with kids. The size and style of the museums make them daunting, despite excellent facilities for families. You can find here >> Our full guide to visiting the Vatican with kids but here you have some essential info:
- The Vatican Museums are stroller friendly
- The Museums have good family restrooms, changing stations and a nursing room
- The Vatican Museums have a good family-friendly cafe and restaurant
- A fantastic family tour of the Vatican we personally took and recommend is >> this one by Rome4kids (treasure hunt) or this one
The Uffizi with kids, Florence
- The Uffizi allow strollers and they are so big, you want to make the most of this rule. You may have to fold the stroller to go in or take the stairs to the second floor – the accessible entrance is for wheelchairs and they may / may not let you in through it with a stroller.
- There is a ‘baby pit stop’ on the second floor with some space for nursing and baby changing facilities
- Occasionally, family tours are available: these are usually special events for local families. If you opt for a guided tour, a good family tour of the Uffizi Gallery for kids is >> this one.
I hope you found these tips for visiting Italian museums with kids useful!
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!
Planning a family trip to Italy? Read also:
our list of the best things to do in Italy with kids
our tips for visiting Italy with kids
Our favorite family friendly places in Italy