Things to do in Florence with a toddler
by Aida Musai
If you want to organize a relaxing trip and have fun with your toddler, then you should put Florence in your list. Florence is a medium-sized lively city that is very easy to navigate and very handy to get to. There are many pedestrian-only areas that will give your toddler plenty of space to run, play and will give you one less thing to worry about: traffic and pollution. Florentines love to go out and enjoy a sunny day and with all the great bars there, it gets even nicer to have an espresso sitting outside kissed by the Tuscan sun.
If you happen to be stopped on the street by an Italian admiring your baby, don’t be surprised. Babies and toddlers are like candies to Italians.
In this article I will help you get to the city center from the airport or train station and I will share with you my favorite outdoor and indoor spots, places that are kid-friendly and mom-pampering, including best restaurant, bars and shopping areas.
How to get to the city center
If you are flying in, there are frequent buses that will get you the central station: Santa Maria Novella. Also two companies offer great prices for train tickets, in case you’re arriving from another city. From here you can simply walk into the city center (1 km) or take one of the many buses that connect the central station to the area where you’ll be staying.
Outdoors – my favorites
Getting around Florence with a toddler is not always easy. Sometimes you will find that side walks here are very narrow, and sometimes they don’t even exist. On the bright side, most of the streets in the historical center have little to no traffic.
Here are my top places to see with a toddler:
- Piazzale Michelangelo – A great view of the city with all the towers, churches, and bridges. You can get there by bus, car, or taxi.
- Giardino delle rose – You can get there by walking up from the San Niccolò neighborhood or by walking downwards from Piazzale Michelangelo. Amazing view of the city, plus… roses (my toddler loves them).
- Lungarno (lungo-along; Arno-the name of the river that crosses the city) – A walk by the river is always so relaxing. You get wind, sun and beautiful changing skies. If you to admire the Ponte Vecchio from a distance go to Ponte alle Grazie and enjoy the view.
- Piazza Duomo… and everything that comes with it – this piazza is the mirror of the extraordinary development of Florence in the 13th century. Apart from the great pictures you can take here, you have the chance to have a glimpse of the beauty of Santa Maria in Fiore Cathedral from inside. I wouldn’t suggest you climb the more then 400 steps to the top of the tower, but why not if you’re in shape 🙂
- Piazza Della Reppublica – a mix of architectures create a beautiful square where musicians will delight you with new melodies and a carousel will make for additional fun for you toddler. It is so nice to just sit on a bench there and watch the lively city on the move. This is also a great area for shopping or for a premium bar/restaurant.
- Palazzo Pitti – an imposing palace of unique Florentine architecture. If you happen to have some me-time you can enter and enjoy a great collection of world-known masterpieces, mostly paintings. In alternative, behind the palace you will find il Giardino di Boboli – beautiful example of an Italian garden, with a nice addition… a playground.
Playgrounds around the city:
- Piazza D’Azeglio
- Giardino dell’Orticultura
- Giardino di Boboli
- Parco Dell’Anconella
Indoors – my picks of kid-friendly spots
- Red Feltrinelli, Piazza della Reppublica – this is a library and a bar, and it has a corner for kids in the 1st floor. It is a lovely place where to have a cappuccino and cornetto (the Italian breakfast), and also a good place to read some children books to your kid and why not buy him one. Also, there is a changing table at ground floor just in case you need it.
- Biblioteca delle Oblate – very close to Duomo, this historic building has a dedicated childern’s library and offers books in different languages. On the first floor you will also find a caffè with… surprise, an amazing view of the chapel!
- Ludoteca Comunale il Castoro – a playroom where babies and toddlers go to spend some hours socializing and playing in Gavinana
- Ludoteca Internazionale Mongolfiera – another playroom in a different side of the city, Oltrarno
Shopping with and for a toddler
It is not an overstatement to say that in Italy fashion is important. So, it is no wonder that you will find many clothing shops for toddlers in Florence. My favorite ones include the premium brands you will find in Via dei Tornabuoni, and also at Coin in Via dei Calzolai. Here, on the second floor, you will also find a brand which name was inspired by one of the most well-known gardens in Florence: Boboli. So if you want to buy a unique piece, this is the right place.
Meanwhile, if you want to buy a unique piece of jewelry have a look at the many stores found on the historical Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). Florence and Tuscany are also very well-known for their special techniques in producing leather and paper items. The city is filled with specialty shops selling extraordinary pieces that will make for fabulous gifts.
Bars and Restaurants for the whole family
It is so comforting to know that in Italy children have access everywhere. Most of the restaurants, even many fancy ones, have high chairs and won’t be surprised to see you come in with a stroller.
Where I usually had coffee:
- La Ménagère – precious place that has aerial plants, a flower corner, a tableware selection, a bar and a premium restaurant… all in the same beautiful place.
- Bottega di Pasticceria – beautiful, great selection of sweets and cakes (yummy) and nice and cozy upstairs chairs.
- Ditta Artigianale – where coffee is the king
- Caffè Giubbe Rosse – historical, cultural meeting space
Where I loved to eat in Florence:
- Obicà – kid-friendly pizzeria with some of the most amazing pizzas I’ve ever had
- Trattoria San Lorenzo – for some of that great Florentine Steak
- Red Feltrinelli – a quick bite of great quality
- Osteria All’Antico Vinaio – one of the most popular panini take-away spot
Don’t forget to buy some focaccia/schiacciata for your toddler when you see a bakery. She will love it and might even have some extra, cause it is a habit in Florence for shop assistants to give some free schiacciata to little kids, I love it.
If your toddler is not nappy-free yet, then these places will make it easier for you on the go:
- Chicco store
- Biblioteca dell Oblate