Florence, Italy is known for its amazing array of Renaissance art, its wonderful food, and its picturesque streets. The capital of Tuscany, it’s also a great base for exploring smaller towns around the region. Here are the best day trips from Florence for families. These day trips are 2 1/2 hours or less from Florence, so you can easily get there and back without keeping the kids up all night.
We visited Florence in 2022 as part of our Family Year Out, when our kids were 5 and 7.
Be sure to check out Where to Eat in Florence with Kids: Delicious Family-Friendly Eats.
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The Best Day Trips from Florence for Families
Florence makes a great base for exploring smaller towns around Tuscany. We spent a month in Florence- with one day trip a week, we still only just scratched the surface of exploring the area around this wonderful city.
We’ve asked some friends to share their experiences with more of these amazing towns in Florence, so you’ll have a complete list of the best day trips from Florence for families.
All of these locations are family-friendly. While they may not have attractions that are geared specifically toward kids, they are accessible to family members of all ages. Everyone should be able to find something to enjoy in these locations.
Short on time? Consider a tour that includes several of these iconic towns in one day trip. This trip includes three towns: Pisa, San Gimignano, and Siena. It’s a long day and involves a lot of walking, so wear good shoes and be prepared for lots of steps.
Check Details: Tour of Pisa, San Gimignano, and Siena
Venice makes a magical day trip from Florence. The longest day trip we would consider- the train takes 2 1/2 hours to reach Venezia St. Lucia Station. Once you exit the train you quickly see the canals and can start wandering across bridges.
With no cars on the island, and no loud motorbikes on the streets, you can wander freely, and the kids can run without fear of staying to the side.
Plan to take a family gondola ride as early in the day as possible. The canals will be less crowded, the gondoliers less tired, and the sun not as hot! The price is the same all across town and refers to the boat, not the number of people. For more time in the smaller, quieter canals, and less time on the grand canal, start your trip inland, such as at Ponte San Polo.
Venice’s most famous square is the Piazza San Marco. Here you’ll find Saint Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. This square can get crowded. It often has standing water which creates bottlenecks as people walk around the pooling water.
Consider a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, it’s the only way to access the terrace of St. Mark’s overlooking the square. You’ll also skip the long lines and get to cross the famous Bridge of Sighs.
Check Details: Tour of St. Mark’s and the Doge’s Palace
You may also want to visit the lavish and highly decorated Teatro La Fenice. With audio guides for adults and children, you can sit in the red and gold-hued Royal Box and gaze into the theatre below.
If you have time, grab a water taxi from Fondamente Nove and take the ten-minute ride to the island of Murano. Known for their blown glass and millefiore glass technique, you’ll find lots of glass shops and hopefully can watch a glass-blowing demonstration.
One of the best day trips from Florence for families is one to the city of Pisa. Pisa is a small well-known city that has a lot of things to do and see.
One of the best things to do in Pisa is to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. This is a very famous bell tower that has a lean of about 4 degrees. You can go to the top of the tower (ages 8 and up) and it is also great to take fun photos in front of it.
You will find two other historic structures next to the Tower of Pisa. These are the Pisa Cathedral and the Pisa Baptistry. Besides that, it is great to go for a stroll in the city while seeing other historic places, such as Piazza dei Cavalieri.
Pisa is also great for families because there are many places where you can get delicious gelato and authentic Italian food. You can reach Pisa from Florence by train in about 1 hour or by car in about 1.5 hours. Once you are there, most of the city’s sights are easy to reach on foot from the train station.
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The town of Lucca is about one and a half hours west of Florence, and only half an hour from Pisa. You’ll find a beautiful old town which delights with its picturesque alleys and charming squares.
Walking around the city you will discover several very interesting sights. Climbing up one of the dizzyingly high towers or taking an entertaining bike ride along the city walls are great experiences for families.
The most important landmarks in Lucca are the well-preserved city walls, which enclose the entire old town. These are some of the best-preserved walls in Europe, with a length of 4 kilometers.
Don’t miss the Torre Guinigi, a famous tower with impressive holm oaks on the top of the structure. There are also many churches and beautiful city squares worth seeing. Children may also enjoy the botanical garden of Lucca, where countless small turtles cavort in the pond.
The best way to explore the city walls of Lucca is by bicycle, or as a family with a 4-wheel tandem bike. These bikes can be rented by the hour at almost every corner, and with them, you can circle much of the city. During this fun ride, you will experience many viewpoints with the wind at your back, and you can also stop at one of the cozy coffee houses directly on the wall.
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Siena is a small Tuscan town that is famous for its annual Palio horse race through the Piazza del Campo, the magnificent Siena Cathedral (Duomo), and its traditional specialty foods like panforte.
Just over an hour’s train ride from Florence, Siena makes an easy day trip. From the train station, you’ll have a twenty-minute walk to the center of town. You can also take the bus to Siena, which drops you much closer to the center of town.
There are often lines at the Cathedral, so you should buy tickets ahead of time online. Kids will love the “Door to Heaven” tour, which takes you through hidden spaces above the cathedral and lets you peek down through stained glass windows into the interior of the Cathedral, as well as having wonderful views outside.
Once a year, the mosaic floors of the Cathedral are exposed, generally from Mid-August through September. The rest of the year they are covered by a carpet- if you can time your visit to see these wonderfully expressive floors, it’s well worth it.
Be sure to visit the slanted Piazza del Campo, which is anchored by the Palazzo Pubblico- the town hall. You can climb the Tower of Mangia for great views over the city.
There are a lot of separate spaces to visit in the Cathedral. Rather than waiting in lines for the various parts of the Cathedral (Main with Piccolomini Library, Baptistry, Crypt, Museum, and Facciatone (panoramic view) consider a guided tour of the Siena Cathedral.
This tour includes a walking tour of the city, so you’ll understand all those “contrade” flags you’re seeing around town, as well as skip-the-line tickets for the cathedral.
Check Details: Siena Duomo and Walking Tour
Tuscany is filled with rolling hills, handmade pasta, and loads of gelato. But did you know there was a natural hot spring in Tuscany too? Located two and a half hours south of Florence is the small hilltop village of Saturnia, home to these beautiful hot springs.
The hot springs make a perfect day trip from Florence, but a car is required to get here. There are no public transport options to get to this small town, so rent a car and venture into the hillside on your own. Driving through Tuscany is a breeze, and you’ll love having the day to explore on your family’s timeline.
The springs are located just a few minutes from town and are a fun activity for all ages. Natural pools were carved into the hills by the bright blue mineral water and are lined with little pebbles. The rocks aren’t sharp, but water shoes are definitely still recommended to be comfortable.
The water is warm year-round, and depending on where you swim, can be hotter or cooler for the kids to enjoy. Pick a pool that is lower down the hill for cooler temps. This spot is great for families as it’s a spa-like environment for parents and an exciting water activity for the kids!
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Besides being one of the most beautiful destinations to visit in Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cinque Terre is one of the best day trips from Florence for families of all ages.
Check out this 1-Day Itinerary to Cinque Terre to make the most of your time there.
If you’re traveling with babies or toddlers in strollers, you’ll love visiting Monterosso al Mare for its large sandy beach and flat seawall.
Families with school-age kids will also enjoy Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore for their colorful houses, gelato shops, and tiny harbors filled with fishing boats.
And last but not least, Corniglia is more suitable for older children or teenagers who love hiking (you’ll need to climb almost 400 steps to reach this village!) and Italian food – bonus points if they try local specialties such as pesto sauce!
If you’d like someone else to handle all the logistics, consider a tour of Cinque Terre- this small group tour takes you to four of the five villages, and back to Florence in one day!
Check Details: Cinque Terre Day Trip from Florence
Located on the coastline of Liguria, a region of north-western Italy, the Cinque Terre (literally ‘Five Villages’, in English) can be easily reachable by train from Florence.
To do so, head over to Firenze Santa Maria Novella and look for the direct train to La Spezia Centrale. The journey lasts approximately two hours.
Once you arrive in La Spezia, hop on the Cinque Terre Express, which runs every 15 minutes and stops in all five villages.
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Just south of Florence is a charming hilltop town called San Gimignano. The town is accessible by a 2-hour bus ride, or by taking a group day tour. Either option is great for a trip to San Gimignano and will give you time to explore this Tuscan Village.
Check Details: San Gimignano Day Tour
Filled with locals, a visit here will give you a much better sense of the Italian lifestyle. The small-town vibes and kind locals will make you want to never leave.
San Gimignano is known for its skyline of medieval skyscrapers. The many iconic towers make this place easily recognizable from afar and are just one of the reasons this is a popular town to visit for a day trip from Florence. The other, and arguably more important reason to venture into the countryside is to try the best gelato in the world. Visit Gelateria Dondoli, the Gelato World Champion. It’s soft and creamy, and the flavors are fresh and bold.
Wander the charming cobblestone streets of the town as you eat and take in the stunning ancient architecture. Pop into the shops filled with handmade goods, and buy something made of the local genuine leather, like a jacket, shoes, or a bag.
The paved pathways surrounding the town are perfect for walking off the gelato and letting your kids run around and explore. There’s tons of green space here to enjoy while taking in views of the surrounding hillside. Some other activities in the area include truffle hunting with the sweet local pups and a visit to the family-friendly vineyard of Tenuta Torciano.
Recommended by Tori Pines Travels
For families who love food, Bologna is one of the best day trips from Florence. The food of Emilia-Romagna is some of the best in Italy. This region produces some of the most famous food products of Italy like prosciutto de Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Modena balsamic vinegar. You can find all of these goodies and more in the capital of the region, Bologna.
Walk to the main square, Piazza Maggiore. Many of Bologna’s highlights are located here including the Basilica of San Petronio, Palazzo d’Accursio, the Clock Tower, Palazzo Bianchi, and Palazzo del Podesta.
Kids will love climbing the Due Torri- the two towers, they will also enjoy making gelato at the Carpigianni Gelato Museum, an entire museum dedicated to kids’ favorite treat in Italy.
Then head to the Quadrilatero, where you’ll find food markets and ample restaurants to enjoy lunch outside in one of the alleys. Cheese and salumi boards with the local round bread, and tigelle abound.
Although Bologna is a large city, the main sights are so conveniently located that they can easily be seen in a day. The train is the easiest way to get to Bologna from Florence. It’s fast, approx. 35 minutes, and you won’t have to worry about parking.
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There You Have It: Best Day Trips from Florence for Families
These cities in Tuscany make great day trips from Florence for families looking to explore more of Italy. Each has attractions that make it unique, and memorable, from ancient towers to famous canals.