Visiting Naples with Kids: Family-Friendly Sights and Activities
Naples is a surprisingly family-friendly city with castles, museums, and churches shrouded in mystery to explore, friendly locals, and lots of pizza! A visit here is guaranteed to be a highlight for any family trip to southern Italy.
The Best Seasons to Visit Naples with Kids
We suggest scheduling your family vacation in Naples, Italy during the cooler months of spring when the temperatures are mild enough to enjoy exploring the city and surrounding area without the crowds and stress of high season (with the exception of Easter week and the national bank holidays of April 25th and May 1st, when the area fills with Italian tourists). During the dog days of summer, the temperatures soar and the main tourist attractions are full of visitors, making it less pleasant for kids and parents alike.
Autumn is also a great season to visit, with cooler temperatures and less tourists, though it can often rain in Naples in October and November. During the Christmas holidays, the city is decked out in fairy lights and holiday decorations. Temperatures are never polar (it generally never gets colder than 8 to 10° C), but the narrow lanes of the historic center, main museums, and businesses can be overrun with Christmas shoppers.
If you are traveling with children, we suggest booking a hotel in the historic center or outlying area that is well-served by public transportation to make it easy to get around the city.
Don't plan on getting around the city by car, as parking is expensive and hard to find and traffic can be a challenge to navigate. You'll find that the historic center of Naples is quite compact and easy to explore on foot or via the city's excellent metro line, scenic funiculars, buses, and taxis.
Kid-Friendly Museums in Naples, Italy
Naples is home to a number of museums of every kind, many of which are fun to visit with kids. The Capodimonte Museum, Madre contemporary art museum, and the National Archaeological Museum, for example, often have temporary exhibits and guided visits that are kid-focused.
Trains and Science
There are two interactive museums in Naples that are great for kids and will delight visitors of all ages: the Museo Ferroviario Pietrarsa (Pietrarsa Rail Museum) and Città della Scienza (science museum).
At the Pietrarsa Rail Museum, kids can admire antique locomotives and trains, models, and unique cars including a royal car and a prison train. There is a large outdoor space with a small electric train kids can ride and the museum often organizes events and shows for families. The museum is located in Portici and is easy to reach by local train or taxi.
On the Bagnoli seafront just a few kilometers outside of Naples, the Città della Scienza is a fun interactive museum with a permanent exhibit about the seas, a planetarium, and temporary exhibitions, workshops, and other family-friendly activities. We recommend the “Corporea” exhibit, three floors dedicated to the human body that is both engaging and educational.
The Mysteries of the Historic Center
No trip to Naples is complete without a stroll through the historic center. This vibrant area is thick with typical shops and street vendors, unique characters, and mysterious historic legends and lore that will charm even the youngest visitors.
The best way to explore the historic center of Naples with kids is by joining a guided walking tour. Your guide will be able to show you the most unforgettable and curious corners of the quarter and share the most beloved and entertaining stories of the city's history and culture with the entire family.
Be sure to visit the Cappella Sansevero, with its unbelievable Veiled Christ statue, as well as the two “human machines” on the underground level which model the human circulatory system so well that they astound visitors of all ages (though the exhibit may not be appropriate for smaller children!).
We also recommend taking a walk down the Vicolo di San Gregorio Armeno, Naples' famed "Christmas Street" known for its artisan workshops that produce nativity scenes of all sizes, and the colorfully tiled cloister of Santa Chiara; there is a small playground and park just behind the cloister.
A Doll Hospital
At Via San Biagio Dei Librai number 39, you can see one of the most unique and creepy spots in the historic center: the famed Ospedale delle Bambole, or Doll Hospital that has been repairing antique and vintage dolls since 1800. Visitors can admire a large display of antique toys and discover how dolls, puppets, and other toys old and new are repaired.
Other highlights include a simple walk down Spaccanapoli, a living theater of shops, stands, and locals. Those who have kids who are attracted to mysteries and "haunted" spots can visit the Church of the Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco (home to the legendary “capuzzelle” skulls that were once venerated by Neapolitans), the Duomo chapel where the blood of patron saint San Gennaro is housed, and the Fontanelle Cemetery in the Sanità district.
Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Herculaneum
Mount Vesuvius is crisscrossed with hiking trails of varying difficulty, and families can even opt for a guided visit of the main crater with a volcanologist. Keep in mind that the mountain peak can be uncomfortably hot in summer and blanketed with snow in winter.
Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum with Kids
You can combine a trip to the top of Mt. Vesuvius with a tour of one of the most famous archaeological sites in the area by planning a stop at Pompeii or Herculaneum on the same day.
In Pompeii, begin your visit via the Piazza Anfiteatro entrance to take the route that is accessible with a stroller or pushcart that covers one area of the ruins. If you want to visit more areas of the park with infants, we suggest using a baby carrier or backpack. You can also request keys to the various Baby Points set around the ruins, small enclosed rooms where you can feed or change your infant in privacy.
Herculaneum is a smaller site, so easier to visit for smaller children. You can also visit the nearby MAV - Virtual Archaeological Museum that offers kid-friendly interactive exhibits and workshops.
To avoid having to wait in line to enter, we suggest purchasing tickets in advance for both Pompeii and Herculaneum:
- Skip-the-line tickets for Pompeii: purchase in advance here
- Skip-the-line tickets for Herculaneum: purchase in advance here
King and Queen for a Day
In Naples, kids can fantasize about being royalty for the day at one of the two spectacular Bourbon palaces in the city: the Royal Palace in Piazza Plebiscito and the Capodimonte Palace that is surrounded by an elegant park and home to an important art museum. Older children especially love to stroll through the sumptuous halls and image how life was like when royals hosted balls and banquets.
There are a number of other royal palaces scattered around the countryside surrounding Naples, including those in Portici, Carditello, and, of course, Caserta, home to the 18th-century masterpiece by the architect Vanvitelli based on the palace of Versailles. Here you can tour the magnificent royal apartments and explore the expansive grounds, among the largest and most beautiful in Italy.
If your kids love fortresses and castles, you're in luck! Naples is home to a number of fortified strongholds from different historic periods located across the city. The Maschio Angioino (also known as Castel Nuovo) and Castel dell’Ovo (set on the islet of Megaride and joined to the mainland via a causeway) are along the coast, while Castel Sant’Elmo is set on a city hilltop and offers one of the best views of the bay. All are open to the public, but be sure to check opening times; most hold temporary exhibitions and family-friendly events from time to time, including guided tours and other unique experiences.
You can reach Castel Sant'Elmo and the nearby Charterhouse of San Martino via one of the most unique and unforgettable methods of transportation in Italy: the Funicolare Centrale that runs from Via Toledo to Piazza Fuga. From here, walk or take the escalator to the castle.
The city of Naples has millennia of history, much of it hidden beneath the modern metropolis. The city sits on a bed of tufo and other volcanic stone that is easy to excavate, so the ancients would often dig beneath the city to form everything from burial grounds to bomb shelters. Kids love taking underground tours to discover what lies beneath the urban bustle above, and it's a unique and unforgettable way to learn about the history of the city.
There are a number of underground tours and experiences to choose from, but the most famous and popular is Naples Underground (Napoli Sotterranea) which begins on Via San Gaetano, a cross street of the main Via dei Tribunali in the historic center. There are other underground tours, however, including one that begins near Piazza del Plebiscito. The Napoli Sotterranea route includes ancient aqueducts and ruins of a forum and theater; if visiting with infants, we suggest using a baby carrier or backpack as there are stairs along the route. Strollers and pushchairs can be left at the entrance.
If you're planning a trip to Naples with your family, we also recommend visiting the Galleria Borbonica, an awe-inspiring underground bomb shelter used during WW2. There are a number of routes with varying levels of difficulty you can choose from, and kids can learn what is was like to live here during wartime, see vintage toys, read inscriptions from that time on the walls, and even hear the screech of the air raid siren just like during the Second World War.
After a day or two of sightseeing, smaller travelers may need to take a break. Spend a day relaxing in the sun and sea at one of the beaches in Naples.
A Minicruise along the Coastline
Taking a boat tour in the Bay of Naples is fun for kids of all ages. There are endless options, from scenic boat tours that skirt the coastline to dinner at sea beneath the Castel dell'Ovo. If you have a half or full day to dedicate to the bay, you can join a boat tour to the island of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, or other destinations in the Bay of Naples. A boat tour is bound to be the highlight of the trip for both you and your kids!
If you'd rather not spend the day at the beach or the weather is too chilly, we suggest a walk or picnic in one of the parks in Naples like the Bosco di Capodimonte, the Villa Comunale along the seaside (which can be a bit neglected, to be honest), or the incredibly scenic Parco Virgiliano on Posillipo hill. The Real Orto Botanico is also a great option, which is rich in lush plants and flowers and also organizes events for families including the Festa dell’Albero, exhibitions, and artisan markets (check events and opening times online).
Dining in Naples with Kids
When it's time to refuel, you have endless family-friendly dining options in Naples! Pizza, pasta, fried snacks, mozzarella cheese, fresh fish...no matter what your kids love to eat, you'll find it in the restaurants and street food stands in the city center, often at great prices.