My husband and I visited Italy five times before bringing our kids. We had our reasons, the first being budget, and price, since our trips tended to be last minute and on the budget side—secondly, the time of year. Usually, the kids were in school when we could go. So, fast forward to 2021, when everything aligned, and we finally did it. Here are 7 tips for planning a trip to Italy with teenagers.
What to Pack for Italy With Teens
Before getting into our 7 tips, I wanted to say that pre-planning is so important and depends on your teenager. With my teens, each had a different approach to packing. Some of them looked at our main activities and chose outfits; others asked me how many pieces of underwear we should take. I generally tell them the following:
- How many day outfits they need
- How many night outfits, including any dress-up ones
- How many cozy stay-at-home outfits
I also remind them not to overpack because we love to shop when we visiting Italy. You may also want to check out my What to Pack for Italy blog post.
#1 Set intentions for Planning The Italy Family Vacation
With 3 teenagers with entirely different personalities, it was vital for me to know their expectations. Planning this family trip made me a bit nervous, as I really wanted to show how special Italy was to me while avoiding drama. My travel style is to travel stress-free, so setting expectations was vital.
With that in mind, I started a Google doc to help me collect ideas for our trips, but then it dawned on me to create a section for each teen. I asked them to check the doc and set their own intentions. Intentions are different than expectations. I feel it’s best not to set super-high expectations but to be intentional with your time in Italy.
I was surprised by their answers, but this was key to mapping out our activities.
- Josh wanted to see historical things like underground stuff and caves.
- Eyshila wanted to shop, eat at a gelato shop and take a million selfies.
- Lucas wanted to explore architecture/art and do some clothes shopping.
#2 Choose Rome Activities itinerary For Teenagers wisely
Visiting Rome with Teenagers
Now that you have each teen’s goals, you can start searching for activities and fun things to do. Here are some items that we picked:
- Sketching Rome Tour for Lucas. If your child or teen loves art, this is a must! Kelly takes them in a group around Rome to draw and watercolor. She provides gifts to each attendee with a sketchbook. Lucas was lucky to have her all to himself, and they even went inside a coffee shop to drink hot chocolate as they finished their sketch.
- Visit the Colosseum. Regardless of age, if you have never been to Rome, you must visit the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. This was on Josh’s list, so it was great to cross that off. I love the photos we took here, and they were intrigued by how the old ruins meet the modern city.
- Shop at Zara and H&M. These stores have trendy teen clothing, so they loved visiting them. First of all, they are a bit cheaper than the US and carry some unique styles. Another place to shop is to walk down Rua Cavour and find some local brands. You can find some really cool shoes and accessories in Italy.
- Visit the Trevi Fountain. My boys didn’t want to throw the coin, but Eyshila did. We love visiting this area and getting a pastry and coffee at the cafe to the right of the Trevi fountain (as you are facing it). They also have great gelato there. It was super crowded, but we took lots of photos. Next time I would love to see it at night.
- Eat gelato and pastries. Choose the gelato location wisely. If you see piles and piles of gelato, that is most likely artificial. We loved getting gelato at these two locations ( Curi Curi and Geletaria de Angeletto in Monti. We also had some Nutella and pistachio-filled pastries, which were yummy. I also recommend Giolitti, which has been around since 1900 in Rome.
- Explore foods to see what each teen will like. My kids did miss some rice and beans, but we made sure we found a favorite dish for them. So, have them try different things to see what is more to their liking. Some items they loved: Carbonara, Lasagna, and Gricia Pizza.
- Let them explore. Lucas visited a comic shop. My kids like anime, so we visited one of the comic shops in Rome just so they could see if there were any cool items to buy. There is Star Shop which has two locations in Rome. He ventured out on his own a bit to draw. The other two also visited the supermarket and pharmacies across the street, so a little room for self-exploration is great.
What do teens in Italy do for fun?
If you’ve ever wondered what Italian teens do for fun, you’re not alone. As a parent, it can be tough to keep up with the latest trends and fads, let alone what’s popular in other countries. But never fear! We’re here to help. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular pastimes for Italian teens.
- Hanging Out at the Piazza
The piazza is a central meeting place in many Italian towns and cities, and it’s where you’ll find teens hanging out on any given day. Whether they’re grabbing a gelato, people-watching, or just chatting with friends, there’s always something going on at the piazza.
- Going to the Beach
Italy has some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, so it’s no surprise that going to the beach is a popular pastime for teens (and adults!) You’ll find teens sunbathing, swimming, and playing beach volleyball during the summer months.
- Exploring Ancient Ruins
Italy is home to some of the world’s most famous historical sites, like the Colosseum and Pompeii. Many teens enjoy exploring these ancient ruins and learning about their rich history.
- Shopping in Italy
Italians are known for their impeccable sense of style, so it’s no surprise that shopping is a popular pastime for teens (and adults!). You’ll find teens window shopping, bargain hunting, and people-watching at all of the best shopping districts in Italy.
- Going Out to Eat
Italian food is world-renowned, so it’s no surprise that going out to eat is one of the most popular activities for Italian teens (and adults!). Whether they’re enjoying a slice of pizza or a bowl of pasta, there’s nothing better than spending time with friends over a good meal.
Activities we didn’t do these, but I recommend them for teenagers in Rome
Cooking with Nonna
My sister went to Italy 2 weeks after we got back, and she had booked this Airbnb experience, as she had read it was the top-rated one on Airbnb. She wasn’t kidding! After watching the videos, this is now on my list. Nonna lives further away from the city, making this 4-hour culinary experience even better.
Visit the Vatican City
The Vatican Museum was one of our favorite attractions the first time we visited Italy. Since we are not catholic, we were surprised at this and we strongly recommend you visit the Vatican Museum. The Sistine Chapel at the end was so charming and peaceful.
Due to some Covid restrictions, we could not enter on this trip. Check out this blog post on the 5 Tickets You Should Book When Visiting the Vatican. You can also stroll around Vatican area and take great photos. A
My teens are older, so I was hoping we could catch some live music at Black Market Hall, a cool bar in Monti. They could listen to music & eat some bites while hubs and I would enjoy a nice cocktail. There is also Bar Monti and this cute greenhouse-looking place, La Casetta Dei Monti.
Hop-on and Hop-off Bus
We were unable to take the hop on hop off bus as it wouldn’t be as cost-effective for a family of 5, but given that teens can be grumpy, I think this is a great option.
The Ghost Tour
We saved this tour experience as an option for them to do, but we didn’t get to do it. The host looked so fun, and I think it’s cool as it sounds (and a little scary).
If you want more travel tips for Italy. Check out my free Italy Travel Guide:
Colosseum Tour at Night
I wish we were able to do both day and night tour at Colosseum as I have always wanted to go at night.
Visit Under the Trevi Fountain
There is access so that you can visit the aqueducts below. Check out the info here.
Go on a Food Tour
Ther are many food tours in Rome that are great for teens.
Visiting Florence with Teenagers
- Stroll by the Ponte Vecchio for pictures and window shopping.
- Visit the Uffizi Gallery and enjoy a nice cappuccino, pizza, or gelato on their balcony. It has a view of the Palazzo Vecchio’s tower, which is so cool.
- Visit Duomo. We were unable to enter, but I recommend you go up the Duomo so they can see the amazing views of Florence.
- Watch the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. You can’t visit Florence and not do this. We brought wine, yummy bacon chips and snacks and walked up to the Piazzale. The views are stunning, and it’s just a great memory.
- Go shopping, especially at Zara, H&M, and some local shops.
- Visit the Food Market called San Lorenzo. They had amazing hamburgers and pizza there.
- Eat at Trattoria dall’Oste, and definitely order the dessert there.
- Go on a Food Tour
#3 When In Italy With Teens – Leave Room for Flexibility
After tip #1, this is my favorite travel to Italy with teens tip. You need to leave room for flexibility in your plans, and you want to plan something to break up the hustle and bustle of the big cities. For this, we decided to rent a car and stop by a hot spring on our way to Florence. Driving in Italy isn’t for the weak. Check out our blog post the 411 on Driving in Italy. The weather was a bit chilly, and we didn’t have towels, but I am so glad we went to Bagni San Filippo. It took us out of our route, but it was worth it. Being in nature to hike down and find the hot springs was pretty cool. Then we felt like we were in an open-air spa. So remember to keep in mind the kind of weather you will have. Traveling to Italy in the fall will be different than in the summer or winter.
@fusetravels Hot springs in Tuscany . #bagnisanfilippo #tuscany2022 #siennaitaly #visititaly🇮🇹 #italy2022🇮🇹 ♬ Échame La Culpa – Luis Fonsi & Demi Lovato
We also got some delicious hamburgers at a nearby food truck.
Once we got to the new city, we felt a little renewed. Give your teens time to decompress, and yes, be on their devices after a long day of exploring. We also allowed them to stay for a few nights when they were just too tired to go out. We brought back food for them, and that helped them unwind as well.
#4 Stay at an Airbnb vs a Hotel in Italy
When traveling with your family to Italy, I do recommend staying at an apartment or house. After all, you would need at least 2 hotel rooms, jacking up your lodging budget. You can book your stay with Airbnb or Booking.com. I love using these two websites, as they have great filters to really help you narrow down your choices.
If you are feeling stuck or don’t have time to research your stay, I do offer this service, and you can learn more here.
Teens need their own space and time to unwind, so staying at an apartment or house is ideal. It’s also cool to show them some more architecture in Italy. For example, in Florence, we stayed at Fresco’s, which was really cool. It had these rooms above in the form of an attic and cool cave-like walls. The other perk is to have a kitchen in case you don’t feel like eating out one of the nights. I mean, if the kids don’t want to go out, you go as a couple, and they stay behind, lol.
If you plan on visiting Italy with smaller children, then check out my other blog post: Traveling to Italy with Kids.
#5 Shopping in Italy With Teens
Shopping in a brand-new country and continent is quite exciting. Teens sure have their own tastes, so scheduling time for shopping made them quite happy. We also allocated part of our budget for this. We gave them a budget of $100 each, and if they wanted more items, they had to use their own money. Kids are sure choosy when it’s their own money, but it was a blast to see.
In Florence, we found this cool futuristic sneaker shop called SOTF (which stands for “store of the future”) where they sold name-brand sneakers for less than what you would find in the US.
#6 Don’t count calories
Teens typically don’t count calories, and Italy is a great place for that. We made sure they tried gelato, pastries, different types of pasta, and also meat. My stepdaughter was of drinking age in Italy, so she sure enjoyed those Aperol spritzes. It was nice to enjoy happy hour with her.
#7 Accept the unexpected While Traveling
You must be prepared when things don’t go your way, especially in trying to please everyone. We were bummed we could not visit the Vatican Museum, but we were also exhausted, so it was for the best. When things happen that are not planned, it allows you as a parent to teach them an important lesson.
Luckily, we had zero drama during our trip since we implemented all these tips I just shared with you. Overall, an Italian Family trip with teens is an excellent option for an international spring break trip.
#8 Get Travel Insurance
If you’re planning a trip to Italy, travel insurance is a must. Traveling with teenagers can be risky – they’re more likely to get sick or injured than adults – so it’s imperative to have travel insurance for them. There is a myth that travel insurance is too expensive, but believe me it’s not. I have recently found Safety Wing, and I love the flexibility and ease of finding just the right travel insurance plan.
One of the biggest reasons to buy travel insurance is for medical coverage. If you get sick or hurt while traveling, your regular health insurance might not cover you. And if you have to be airlifted to a hospital or need medical evacuation, the costs can be astronomical. Travel insurance will cover these expenses, so you’re not left with a huge bill.
Another reason to buy travel insurance is for trip cancellation coverage. If you have to cancel your trip for a covered reason (like sickness or death in the family), travel insurance will reimburse you for the non-refundable costs of your trip. This can be a lifesaver if you’ve spent a lot of money on airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses.
If your travel plans include any risky activities (like skiing, scuba diving, or bungee jumping), you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in case of an accident. Most travel insurance policies will cover these activities, but it’s always a good idea to check before you buy.
And finally, travel insurance can give you peace of mind while you’re on your trip. If you get sick or injured while traveling, travel insurance will help cover the costs of medical care and evacuation. And if your bags are lost or stolen, travel insurance can reimburse you for the cost of replacing them.
Bonus Advice about Traveling to Italy With Teens
What is a reasonable budget for a trip to Italy? We calculated about $300 a day for a family to spend on food, drinks, and some outings. This did not include tickets for major attractions or transportation between Rome and Florence. We did not spend this much on food and drinks, but it was still a good base to budget from. For flights to Italy, we always aim to book flights less than $650 and, hopefully, direct flights from Miami. We love checking out Booking and Expedia for hotels and vacation packages. Many times you will save if you bundle both flights and your stay.
Safety in Italy
Overall I feel Italy is super safe, but when traveling abroad, have a chat with your kids about being aware of their surroundings, being alert, and being careful with their phones. For a complete guide on Safety in Italy, read my blog post, Is Italy Safe?