10 things to see in Mantua: from the Doge’s Palace to the park of the Mincio, without forgetting a ride in a motorboat
Mantua with children is a city easy to visit, thanks to the many walks and activities that can be done. From the Palazzo Ducale, to the Mincio park, to the ice cream, here is an itinerary to visit Mantua. with the children.
Francesca, a mother originally from Mantua, suggested us what to see in Mantua with the children. Other ideas you can find on our group FB Its4kids, dedicated to family travel.
All the historical center of Mantua is pedestrian, this allows you to walk it with the children in peace.
Mantua is a very rich city from the historical and artistic point of view, a walk with the nose upwards to admire the city’s beauties is a very suggestive activity for children too. Do not be afraid of bad weather, because throughout the city there are many arcades and so you can walk in the rain.
To find where to stay in Mantua with children, we suggest you to search on TripAdvisor to compare prices and read hotel reviews.
For a clearer idea of the tour consult: the map of Mantua ->
1) Piazza Virgiliana: let’s play before discovering Mantua
Before starting the discovery tour of Mantua, Francesca advises us to go and play in Piazza Virgiliana: here the children can run, play and drink in the kiosks on the square.
Inside the square there is a large well-groomed park, young and old can have fun, challenge each other in some game, or simply walk in peace.
At the center of the square, the older children and adults stand the monument dedicated to Virgil, an opportunity to tell the children who Virgil was and the story of Aeneas.
From the square you can leave for a path on the lakefront or go into the city.
2) Stroll along the lakefront of Mantua
Probably you are wondering what lake there is in Mantua, since we recommend a walk along the lakefront. Here is the answer. In the early Middle Ages Mantua was surrounded by the river Mincio (tributary of the Po) and then, thanks to engineering works, the river was transformed into three artificial lakes. Today Mantua, in fact, is famous for being the city of the three lakes.
The lakefront is a vast area full of different attractions. In addition to playing in the nature and picnicking, children can devote themselves to the various activities proposed by the Science Park, which is adjacent to Piazza Virgiliana. In this organized area there are interactive devices to bring the little ones closer to scientific issues, and can be visited from dawn to dusk.
During the walk along the lakefront you can also juggle the throwing of stones and twigs in the lake, or old bread for ducks and swans: an area to be discovered.
3) Boat trip on the Mincio and on the Po river
A boat trip from the Mincio to the Po is an experience that can be discovered in Mantua with the children, to enjoy a different point of view during the visit of the city, in fact, you can make real trips on the water.
Ad hoc itineraries are also offered with cruises including lunch and insights. A different way to see the city and get to know it, but also to try “the water lift“: some trips also lead to the Po, where you will use an elevator to navigate the difference between the rivers Mincio and Po. For children (but also for adults) it can be a real adventure.
4) Mantua palaces with children
There are many Mantua palaces to visit with children.
San Giorgio’s castle is the largest castle in Europe: impressive and beautiful. Preserved very well, it will also enchant the children with its frescoes. It is worthwhile to see inside it the Camera degli Sposi frescoed by Mantegna. Neighboring Palazzo Ducale is located, also this beautiful and where there are often exhibitions, just look on the site of Palazzo Ducale which is the one proposed when you visit the city. Palazzo Ducale was the residence of the Gonzagas, the family that reigned over Mantua from 1328 to 1707. Inside the children and the great ones will be fascinated by the Studiolo of Isabella d’Este with fascinating decorations, the central part of the Holy Trinity painted by Rubens and the Galleria degli Specchi: a very large hall with a fresco created in such a special way as to give visitors the illusion that the figures move.
5) Playing with the children in Mantua on the lawn of Palazzo Ducale and Castello San Giorgio
Playing on the lawn with children in Mantua on the lawn of Palazzo Ducale and Castello San Giorgio is a perfect way to stop before proceeding with the city tour.
You can take advantage of this stop also to enjoy a different vantage point of this complex so fascinating even from the outside.
The area is made up of a very large lawn, where children can have fun running and playing and parents have a stop before proceeding with the visit of the city. The very interesting thing is that some parts of the buildings can also be seen from the outside (including some beautiful frescoes): a quick way, and maybe more suitable for more lively children, to enjoy these well-known facilities anyway.
6) Firefighters Museum with children
The Fire Brigade Museum is an obligatory stop when we are with children. From the Palazzo Ducale, crossing a stretch of Marani gardens on the lakefront you arrive at the Museo dei Vigili del Fuoco. The museum is suitable for adults and children, but the latter will undoubtedly be fascinated by the means and the work of the firemen.
The museum is open on Saturday from 2.30 to 6 pm and on Sundays and holidays from 10 to 12 and from 2.30 to 6 pm. It is possible to book openings for trips, groups and guided tours. Admission is free.
7) Greedy stop in Mantua
A delicious stop in Mantua, after a long walk, is a must. From the Museum of Firefighters, with a beautiful walk that allows you to admire the beauty of the city, you can walk to Piazza delle Erbe. Here there is always the market, many places where you can enjoy sweets, ice creams or a drink and the Clock Tower, with the astronomical clock returned to operation in 1989, which will surely be an irresistible attraction for older children. Furthermore, by climbing into the Tower, where a Time Museum with gears of the era is housed, you can enjoy a suggestive view of the town and the lakes.
But the attractions of the square do not stop here, in fact no child resists the temptation to play on the steps of the Rotonda di San Lorenzo and drink at the “bar Nasello”: a particular fountain, in fact the water comes directly from the nostrils of a statue.
8) Shopping in Mantua with children
Shopping in Mantua is something to do, even with children who can walk around starting from Piazza delle Erbe along via Roma. Many shops in this area practically all pedestrian. The walk leads up to the Farmers Market of Fishmongers, where it is worth shopping for products of the highest quality. Children in the summer also have a special attraction for them: a small carousel: arm yourself with patience to wait for the turn of your children, because there may be a bit ‘of tail. Suggestive the Fishmongers that overlook the Rio, the waterway that runs through the city.
9) Palazzo Te with children
Palazzo Te with children, and the vast garden, is an obligatory stop when visiting Mantua. It is reached by proceeding towards the west. It is a beautiful structure, smaller than the Palazzo Ducale, there are also organized trips for children or special events, to know what’s on schedule just take a ride on the site of the building (focus on the same portal is also Palazzo San Sebastiano which is located just before Palazzo Te). Palazzo Te was built at the behest of Federico II Gonzaga during the 16th century. A visit inside the palace, through its rooms, also like children for the evocative frescoes that decorate them.
Outside the building, do not miss, even a ride on the crickets of the vast park in front. These are tricycles on which the children sit, but do not pedal, but move the pedals making a movement similar to that of the crickets when they jump. Definitely a fun experience.
10) Picnic in Mantua in the Virgilian Woods
There are several areas where to have a picnic in Mantua with the children, we suggest Bosco Virgiliano. It is a vast park that stretches for five hectares in the southern area of Mantua, very nice for a ride or a picnic and very close to the Parcobaleno, where we organize events aimed at the recovery of the largest city park, but also educational events environmental. It is accessed through the Virgilian Woods. Parcobaleno was founded during the 1990s, when WWF proposed the recovery of the forest, constituting the Anticittà association, which manages the area and its structures. The old greenhouses have become houses for butterflies, while the park, the current Parcobaleno, is home to various events and initiatives for young and old.
What to eat in Mantua with children
What can you eat in Mantua with the children? You can not plan a holiday without thinking about food, here is some useful information to know what to order at the restaurant.
Appetizers of the Mantuan cuisine
There are many appetizers of Mantuan cuisine based on meats and cheeses: salamella (typical specialty), salami, coppa, pancette and cotechini; Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano, both produced from the Mantuan dairies and the Mantuan mustard, of apples and pears, thinly sliced, strongly senapata, a very tasty dish, which may not be enjoyed by all children.
Mantuan first and second courses
We then move on to the first and second courses of Mantua: agnolini in broth (for mum and dad, also in the version “bevr’in vin”, a taste of agnolini with Lambrusco mantovano), maltagliati and beans; tortelli with pumpkin; bigoli with sardèle (pasta pulled with the press and served with sardines) or with beans and bacon. Mantua, moreover, is the capital of risottos: with its Riso Vialone Nano from Mantua the classic riso with the pilot (sausage and meat), or with fish or pumpkin, is made.
Among the second child-proof stracceti of boiled meat (boiled meat) that can be enjoyed accompanied by the mostrada (or other sauces), pike in sauce and salami (Mantuan sausage) with polenta.
The desserts of Mantua
And now let’s move on to the piece: the desserts of Mantua! We start with the famous Sbrisolona cake, with almonds and small flour of yellow flour, and proceed with the Ring of Monaco, made with the dough of the panettone filled with a cream of almonds and glazed with sugar, and the Helvetia cake a dessert consisting of very thin layers of almond paste, eggnog and whipped cream. Another strong dish is the Greek Pie, puff pastry with a light cake with almonds inside, a cake of roses and an extraordinary assortment of other desserts thanks to the imagination of the artisan producers. Do not forget the cake of noodles which has an ancient stoia because it seems to have been prepared to honor the queen of Sweden made up of layers of sweet noodles and butter, sugar and alternating almonds.
Practical information to get around Mantua
Thanks to the mothers of Mantua, we have gathered here all the practical information to get around the town in comfort.
Where to park in Mantua?
Parking in Mantua is simple, being a small town is perfect for walking. Our advice is to leave the vehicle in one of the parking lots available. We point out some that are also practical for their proximity to the center: the parking at Campo Canoa, lakefront near the passage of Piazza Virgiliana, behind Palazzo Ducale, in the Pescheria area (Mazzini parking) or near Palazzo Te.
How to visit Mantua?
As already mentioned, Mantua can also be easily reached on foot, as well as the Apam buses.
Children under one meter in height travel for free, if there are more children up to one meter in height, one ticket for every two children must be purchased.
Strollers travel for free but must be kept closed.
Mantua Museums with children
To visit the Mantua Museums with children we recommend booking tickets online to avoid queues and to check well in the sites of the structures or museums that you want to visit if there is the possibility of access to discounts or discounted rates.
If you are looking for accommodation in this Lombard town, we suggest you to search on TripAdvisor to compare prices and read hotel reviews.