Abstract The hydrolysis of the three most important disaccharides: sucrose, maltose and cellobiose, has been comparatively studied in mild conditions (50–80 °C) in water over several solid acid catalysts. Strong acidic resins (Amberlite A120 and A200), mixed oxides (silica-alumina and silica-zirconia), and niobium-containing solids (niobic acid, silica-niobia, and niobium phosphate) have been chosen as acid catalysts. The hydrolysis activity was studied in a continuous reactor with fixed catalytic bed working in total recirculation mode. Rate constants and activation parameters of the hydrolysis reactions have been obtained and discussed comparing the reactivity of the α-1,β-2-, α-1,4-, and β-1,4-glycosidic bonds of the employed disaccharides. The following order of reactivity was found: sucrose >> maltose > cellobiose. The sulfonic acidic resins, as expected, gave complete sucrose conversion at 80 °C and good conversions for cellobiose and maltose. Among the other catalysts, niobium phosphate provided the most interesting results toward the disaccharide hydrolysis, which are here presented for the first time. Relations between activity and surface acid properties are discussed.