Last updated on October 17th, 2023
Our family loves Siena – it’s the perfect place to visit if you want to see a smaller Italian city, learn about the passion of the Palio horse race, and relax in one of Italy’s most beautiful piazzas.
You can visit Siena with kids on a day trip from Florence or nearby towns or use Siena as a base for exploring the surrounding area.
If you decide to make Siena your ‘home’ for a few days, your kids will enjoy settling into life in town, especially the mornings and evenings when daytrippers are nowhere to be seen. Visit the same neighborhood bar for a breakfast cornetto, return to the same playground each afternoon, and really get to know Siena.
Whether you visit for a day or a week, our tips below will help you make the most of your visit. We’re a family with three boys and we’ve visited Siena with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary schoolers. We hope our experiences in Siena with kids will help you make the most of yours!
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Table of Contents
Learn About Siena’s Palio Before You Arrive
Siena is the Palio, a bareback 3-lap horse race that’s held twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th. 10 riders and horses represent 10 of the 17 contrade (neighborhoods) in the intense, emotional, entertaining race in the majestic Piazza del Campo.
When you visit Siena, your children will appreciate the city so much more if they understand what the Palio’s all about.
Take some time before your trip to watch videos about the Palio. You can also read aloud:
If you don’t have time to study up before your trip, be sure to book a local guide (like Dario) for the first part of your visit.
That way, as you’re wandering through town, you’ll notice the Palio flags, fountains, and symbols scattered around. When your kids walk into the Piazza del Campo for the first time, they can picture the scene on race day, with the crowd packed in the center of the square, people filling bleachers on the edges, and the horses storming by on the packed dirt track around the piazza.
Choose Your Siena Parking Lot Wisely
There are numerous lots around town, but the best one for your family depends on your stroller and luggage situation.
Parcheggio San Francesco – If you’re traveling light (no luggage or large stroller), this is our favorite parking lot for day visits to Siena. It’s easy to access (near Porta Ovile), it’s large (and there’s a covered underground section), it’s a fair price for Siena, and you take a series of 5 escalators to get to the city above. As a bonus, there’s a playground at the top and toilets at the base! If you have a small stroller, you can fold it up and bring it on the escalator with you. If you have luggage, you’ll want to get a taxi from here to your hotel (or choose a lot closer to your hotel).
Parcheggio Stadio – This lot on the northern part of the city gives you easy access to town and you can push your stroller from the lot into town. If you have luggage, you’ll want to get a taxi from here to your hotel.
Parcheggio Il Campo – Located in the southern part of the city, you can park here and play at the small park before you walk into town. You can push your stroller from the lot all the way into town. If you have luggage, you’ll want to get a taxi from here to your hotel.
Hotel Lots and Garages – If you’re sleeping in Siena (and therefore have luggage), find out where you can park your car, hopefully for free. When you’re booking your Siena accommodation, take parking costs into account. Your hotel or apartment may tell you to ‘park in a lot nearby’ or may charge high fees for daily parking.
Good To Know: It’s really hard to park for free in Siena. It’s best to pay to park in one of the outer lots and walk into town. I don’t recommend driving close to (or inside) the city center because there are ZTLs (limited traffic zones) and you’ll be fined if you enter them.
Good To Know: Don’t feel like driving to Siena? There are ways to travel around Tuscany without a car.
Make Time for a Playground in Siena
Siena’s city center is very manageable with kids. The center is compact and there are a lot of interesting things for children to see and do as you wander around.
If your kids are like mine, no matter how much fun they’re having, they’re always ready to stop and play at a playground.
Our family’s favorite playgrounds in Siena:
- San Francesco Playground (Piazza San Francesco) – Small slides, rope climbing structure, seesaw, balance beam on springs; benches, shade.
- Vicolo della Fortuna Playground (Vicolo della Fortuna, 39) – Small playground in a neighborhood; climbing structures, hopscotch, seesaw, slide; padded ground, drinking fountain, benches, shade. Not much for babies and toddlers.
- Porta San Marco Playground (just outside Porta San Marco) – Climbing structures, slides, seesaw, rocking toys; great views, shade, benches, padded ground, drinking fountain. Great for small kids.
Good To Know: The Orto de’ Pecci (aka Orto dei Pecci) is not a playground, and it’s not really worth the steep downhill (and return uphill) to see the green area and a few ducks and the seemingly abandoned medieval garden (2022). You cannot have a picnic on the property. Unless you’d like to visit the pizzeria on site, we recommend visiting one of the playgrounds listed above.
Choose One to Two Activities for Your Time in Siena with Kids
You could easily spend all day moving from one site to another, but the beauty of Siena lies in strolling around the streets, hanging out in the Piazza del Campo, and just soaking up the city.
Your kids (and you!) will remember playing in the Piazza del Campo more than seeing a Sienese church or monument.
We recommend choosing one or two ‘activities’ or ‘things to do’ while you’re in Siena.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Siena with Kids
- Hang out in the Piazza del Campo (eat gelato, chase pigeons, watch people, look up at the Torre del Mangia, imagine the Palio)
- Climb the Torre del Mangia
- Visit a playground and play with local kids
- See outside and inside the Duomo
- Try local sweet treats (especially ricciarelli and baci di Siena)
- Find different contrade (let your kids pick out their favorites)
- See the whale skeleton, taxidermied animals, gemstones, and insects at the Natural History Museum (Musei dell’Accademia dei Fisiocritici)
Climb the Torre del Mangia as Soon as You Can
The view from the top of the Torre del Mangia (named after the tower’s keeper who ‘ate through his earnings’ – mangiaguadagni) is spectacular! You can see the Piazza del Campo, Siena, and the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.
Unfortunately, we’ve been on multiple visits when it’s been temporarily closed – for safety checks, maintenance, and ‘undisclosed reasons.’ It’s not always closed for the entire day, but it’s a bummer if you save it for later in the day and when you arrive it’s closed – and you have to leave.
So, we recommend checking on the tower when you arrive. Walk inside the town hall and head straight back and to the left to the ticket window. The climb is a timed entry, so you’ll need to book your time when you make your purchase.
Good To Know: The best viewpoint for kids (and photo spot) is the first viewpoint. It’s best to stop on the way down for photos and a look out at the Piazza del Campo. The problem with the top for kids is you have to hold them up to see, and you won’t want to get them too close to the edge.
Good To Know: If you have a stroller with you, you can show your ticket at the museum door (on the right as you enter the palazzo pubblico) and leave your stroller there while you make the climb. Keep in mind you’ll want a baby carrier for the climb up.
Leave the Main Streets in Siena
Like Venice, Siena’s main streets are packed with visitors and senesi going about their daily business. Just one street over may be totally empty, and full of charm and beauty.
We love wandering in Siena and seeing which contrada we end up in. We often find new bakeries or cafes and we even found one of our favorite playgrounds this way!
Even walking one street behind the Piazza del Campo (behind the tower) takes you to a quiet Piazza del Mercato with laundry hanging from windowsills and an excellent trattoria serving traditional Tuscan specialties (Antica Trattoria Papei).
Good To Know: If you’re exploring with a stroller, know you may sometimes run into stairs and need to backtrack or find another route.
Be Flexible with Your Siena Itinerary
As I mentioned before, the beauty of Siena is experiencing the town. You may find that your kids are having a blast finding the different contrade, or maybe you have a food-loving preschooler like I do who finds joy in shopping at the market and putting together a family picnic to be eaten at the San Marco Playground or the Botanical Garden.
Always Be Aware of Traffic in Siena
Never let your guard down on the streets of Siena because the local drivers will sometimes come out of nowhere or from around a corner at full speed. Both cars and scooters drive quickly and confidently, so don’t let little ones get away from you, even if it’s a small, quiet street.
The best places to let kids run around are at the playgrounds and in Piazza del Campo. But even Piazza del Campo has traffic – cars drive along the lower part of the piazza (in front of the Torre del Mangia).
Bring Your Stroller to Siena
Yes, there are a few places with stairs, and there are some hills, but strollers help keep kids contained (see ‘beware of traffic’ above) and they’re excellent places to nap.
Siena’s streets are very manageable with a stroller. We always bring one and are always glad we did!
I hope these tips help you plan your trip to Siena with your children! Enjoy your visit and go (insert your favorite contrada symbol)!
What are the different symbols for the contrade of Siena?
Siena has 17 contrade (neighborhoods):
- Aquila (Eagle)
- Bruco (Caterpillar)
- Chiocciola (Snail)
- Civetta (Owl)
- Drago (Dragon)
- Giraffa (Giraffe)
- Istrice (Porcupine)
- Leocorno (Unicorn)
- Lupa (She-Wolf)
- Nicchio (Seashell)
- Oca (Goose)
- Onda (Wave)
- Pantera (Panther)
- Selva (Forest)
- Tartuca (Tortoise)
- Torre (Tower)
- Valdimonte (Ram)