All you need to know to plan a visit to Parma with kids: family friendly attractions in Parma Italy, travel tips, why you will love visiting Parma as a family.
Parma is a beautiful Italian town in the Emilia Romagna Region, and a wonderful place to visit with children.
As well as a beautiful historical center and delicious food (Parma is Italy’s Food capital!), Parma has lovely gardens, castles and kid-friendly museums that make a family weekend here easy and fun.
The dad of a close friend of mine is from Parma and he always made us kids laugh telling us he was a ‘parmigiano’ ( a ‘parmesan‘, the name of the famous local cheese but indeed also the name for the local inhabitants).
Maybe because of this personal connection, I always thought Parma would be a fun place to visit with children and indeed, it is.
These are the best things to do in Parma with kids.
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Where is Parma and how to get there
Parma is in Emilia Romagna Region, inland.
It is about 400 KM North of Rome and only a little over 1hour from Bologna, which is also the closest airport. Florence is about 2 hours drive South. Milan is less than 2 hours away by car or train and this makes Parma a good destination for a day trip from Milan or a weekend getaway from the city.
Parma has a train station: tickets and schedule can be found here
How to get around Parma with kids in tow
Parma city center can easily be visited without a car.
As well as leisurely strolling around the city, you can make your trip even more fun for kids renting bikes: la Cicletteria, just outside the train station,rents bikes, helmets and bike seats for all ages.
Longer distances in the city can be negotiated by bus while for excursions outside of the town, access to a car is recommended.
The best things to do in Parma with kids
Parma is a historical town and the best things to do with kids here are also great for adults, as they allow you to visit the best city landmarks.
Il Duomo di Parma (Parma’s Duomo) and its Baptistry
Whether you are visiting Parma with kids or without, you cannot miss the beautiful Parma Duomo, one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in the North of Italy.
The duomo has an impressive facade with stone animals that are fun to see and it also has a tower, at the very top of which you can get the kids to spot a golden statue of an angel.
That is Archangel Raphael, considered protector of Parma (it is actually a copy, the original one is in the Diocesan museum but it is cool to see).
The Duomo is also worth seeing inside: here you have wonderful frescoes and a stunning dome, that you can see looking up from the church’s transept.
Just beside the Duomo you will also find the baptistry which is impressive inside and out.
Fun for kids! At the Baptistry, kids will love to see the Zooforo, a series of 75 decorated panels represent real and fantastic animals! You will find them on the outside of Parma’s Baptistry and they are always a hit for kids as some are really peculiar and scary! Even better: you can tell the kids that a mark on South-East part of the Baptistry is said to be left by the Devil, who kicked the building for being too beautiful!
Piazza Garibaldi is a wonderful, large Piazza in Parma City center with a special history.
It used to be the center of Parma during Roman times (Parma was founded by the Romans in 183BC) and it maintained an important role over the course of the centuries, still visible in the stunning palazzi overlooking it, especially palazzo del comune and palazzo del governatore.
Piazza Garibaldi and all the area around it is lovely and worth a visit: not to be missed in particular are borgo Giacomo Tommasini and Via Nazario Sauro, with amazing cafes and kid-friendly shops (books and toys, have a look at some of the nicest in Parma here)
Parco Ducale (Park)
A great place for kids is Parco Ducale, on the other side of the river, a lovely park with large pathways and the opportunity to rent the little ‘grilli’, yellow trikes that always go down a treat with kids!
The park has a pond with small centrals island and fish and turtles to spot and it is also home to ‘Biblioteca di Alice’, which is a lovely space for kids, often organizing workshops and story time for little ones (in Italian, but it is a cool place nonetheless!)
Palazzo della Pilotta
La Pilotta is a large estate with gardens and museums and one of the most interesting and beautiful things to see in Parma with kids.
The palazzo dates back to the XVI century and was built by Ottavio Farnese and then competed by hist nephew Ranuccio, and it is a cultural attractions comprising of several areas including museums and a theater.
Here you will find:
- Parma Archaeological Museum (includes Egyptian sarcophagus usually loved by kids)
- Parma National Gallery (Galleria Nazionale), with works by Parmigianino and other Italian masters
- Teatro Farnese, an incredible theater entirely in wood, dating back to the XVI century
- Piazzale della Pace, lovely square for a rest after the visits to the museums
Castello dei Burattini (The Puppets’ Castle) and San Paolo’s Chamber
Parma is also home to a peculiar museum called Museo Ferrari but don’t let the name trick you: this is not a museum of fast cars but a museum of puppets!
The museum has a large collection of traditional puppets put together by famous puppeteer Ferrari, from whom the museum takes its name, and it a peculiar place to visit and where to familiarize with the characters dearest to the Italian puppet theater tradition such as Arlecchino, Pantalone and Brighella.
You can learn more about on their official site here
In the same location as the Puppets Museum you should also seek out La Camera di San Paolo (St Paul’s Chamber) which is an space with incredible decorations that will get a wow from grown ups and kids alike!
Caseificio San Pier Damiani (cheese factory, outside Parma)
Parma is famous for two world-renowned foods: Parma ham and Parmesan cheese and a visit to a factory can be a great way to learn and tap into this important culinary tradition.
A fun place to experience is Caseificio San Pier Damiani, which offers guided tours.
The visit can be fun for kids as they can learn the process that turns milk into cheese and they can see the incredible and iconic Parmesan shapes so typical of this area!
You can find info on tours on their site. If you don’t have a car, I recommend some day food-themed day trips from Parma at the end of this article.
Autodromo Riccardo Paletti (Outside of Parma)
If you are visiting Parma with kids who love cars, then you should also plan some time at Autodromo Riccardo Paletti, where they can see the race track and the cars that run onto it.
Kids are not allowed on the track (you need to be of driving age for that) but if you have a car lover, the place and the atmosphere alone will be worth the visit!
Official info here
Labirinto della Masone (outside Parma but great for kids!)
Located outside Parma, about 35Km from the city, this is said to be the biggest labyrinth in the world!
The maze is made of bamboo, which makes it peculiar and somewhat Asian in feel, it is 3km long and it is fun for children and adults, and is is stroller and pram friendly.
You can find all info here
Where to eat in Parma with kids
Parma is Italy’s food capital and you won’t have problems finding places where to get a nice family friendly meal or an alimentari (deli shop) to stock up for a picnic.
If you want to combine eating with also shopping and some play time with the kids, a good place is L’Hamburgheria di Eataly at La Galleria or you can mix food and time in the park at Parco Ducale and the Trattoria Corale Verde.
Parma Guided tours to consider
You can enjoy Parma on your own however, there are some nice tours and guided visits you may want to consider (not specific for kids).
- Parma Classic walking tour (3.5 Hours)
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese tour
- Parma Ham and Parmigiano factory tour (day trip)
- Parma traditional ham factory tour
- Parma Traditional Food Tour
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of the best things to do in Parma with kids. Safe travel planning!