Is a day trip to Florence a good idea for a toddler? Florence (called Firenze locally) is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and well known for its beautiful Renaissance architecture. However, my online research suggested that its cobbled streets, heat and crowds were not best suited to toddlers. Unless of course you are blessed with a toddler with a keen interest in Renaissance art…
My initial plan was to spend a couple of days in Florence, maybe take in a gallery or two, and have a wander around… But a last minute accommodation cancellation changed our plans. Internet research suggested that Florence’s sophisticated art galleries may not be the best place for a toddler. So instead I decided to strike out and devise a buggy friendly walking tour of Florence. It was very much a day of two halves…
A day trip to Florence with a toddler: the good points
- We took the train to Florence. The Italian trains were comfortable and cheap. Plus I currently have keeping Daisy entertained on trains nailed (see my post on tips for train travel with a toddler). The left luggage at the station is reasonable (6 Euros for five hours). There was a bit of a queue, but only took 10-15 mins.
- When your toddler is napping or otherwise happy sitting in the buggy, Florence is a beautiful place to walk around…And actually, apart from a few steps near the Uffizi Gallery, I didn’t have any problems with steps around the main sights. The paths are mainly cobbled, but my buggy didn’t have any trouble.
- By crossing over the river I found a quiet spot for lunch, Fuori Porta. This was a restaurant with a high chair – which seems to be a rarity in these parts. And it wasn’t too expensive either. We had a couple of enormous Crostone (a kind of open sandwich) and some water for a reasonable 12.50 Euros.
A day trip to Florence with a toddler: the not so good points
- When Daisy woke up and decided she was no longer happy sitting in her buggy, I had unfortunately wandered a few kilometres from the train station. And had to figure out how to get back there as quickly as possible. Hence my planned ‘buggy friendly tour of Florence’ post has not materialised! On the plus side, much of central Florence is pedestrianised, so she could walk a bit. But of course at a toddler’s snail pace. I could possibly still be there trying to get back to the station…
- The north side of the river Arno is packed with tourists. Which can make it frustrating to navigate. Particularly with a hot and fractious toddler.
- Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. I was disappointed to be thwarted by steps en route to Piazzale Michelangelo. Even though I had read you could walk there with a buggy. Perhaps that was by a long route round by the road. I think a bus would have been the best bet with a toddler in the heat. Anyway, it was a good job I couldn’t get up there. Otherwise I would have been even further away from the station at the point Daisy had decided she had enough.
- Trying to carry a crying toddler, 2 ice creams, a bottle of water, a bag and a buggy doesn’t work. Avoid if you can…
- Florence is not a city blessed with uncrowded green open spaces for toddlers to let off steam.
Is a Day Trip to Florence a Good Idea for a Toddler?
For us, it was very much a trip of two halves. If we had stopped at around 2 hours, I would say, “Yes sure, a day trip to Florence with a toddler is a great idea”. But the longer we stayed, the more hot and bothered we both became. So my top tip would be to think carefully about how long your toddler will tolerate being out in the heat and crowds and plan accordingly.