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Italy Family Holidays & Breaks

Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal, Venice
Windsurfing on Lake Garda
Trevi Fountain, Rome
Tuscan countryside

Kids love Italy and Italians love kids, making this one of the best places in Europe for a family holiday. Though only older children will be amenable to the idea of visiting the rich antiquities and art that are on offer, holidays in Italy are also about lingering on a café terrace as the kids play tag around the piazza, playing with a stray cat around a fountain, or spending a sunny afternoon aimlessly wandering around intriguing back streets, dripping gelato down your front. There is also a seemingly endless variety of idyllic landscapes, from hills, mountains, lakes and forests to great beaches and dramatic islands.

These factors, coupled with food that children positively devour, and sunny weather, good transport and a wonderful variety of child-friendly accommodation, make Italy a perfect place to take the whole family. 

 
Capital City Rome
Flying Time 2 hours
Timezone GMT +1
Local Currency Euro
Current weather
Scattered clouds, light rain
15°C
 

Things to do with kids in Italy

Visit Italy's great cities – even with tiny children, Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan can be fun, provided it’s not too hot. Rome can be particularly delightful for a family break in spring. But think of finding a base outside a city, preferably with a pool for cooling off after a trip in to sightsee.

Head for the beaches, especially those of the islands of Sicily, Sardinia or even Elba. As well as fabulous stretches of sand, these offer delicious food and great exploring – you can climb volcanoes, try your hand at a little archaeology or visit some fascinating castles.

Explore Naples and its region, Campania. The splendid Amalfi Coast stretching from Sorrento to Paestum is home the famous resort towns Amalfi, Positano and Ravello. But come out of season, as it gets packed out with Italian holidaymakers in summer. Make sure to take older children to Pompeii in the Bay of Naples, an extraordinary place where history comes alive. Ghoulish-minded kids tend to be fascinated by seeing how people were struck down in the middle of their daily lives.

For something a little more off the beaten track, try Puglia, tucked into the heel of Italy, with Neolithic tombs, full-blown Gothic cathedrals, intriguing trulli houses and beautiful beaches and forests in the Gargano Peninsula and on the unspoilt Tremeti Islands.

Get a triple whammy of culture, peace and beauty in Tuscany. Hire a villa with a pool and sit out in the evenings with the kids, enjoying a meal under the stars with a large glass of local wine. By day make excursions to hill-towns, Pisa or lovely Florence, and fall in love with Italy for ever.

Places to go if you want avoid the tourists but desire beaches and pretty countryside are Umbria on the west coast and the Marche on the east. In Umbria, Assisi has a beautiful basilica and lovely views, Gubbio is a medieval hill town set against the wooded slopes of the Apennines and close to Lake Trasimeno, and Perugia is the sweet capital of Italy, amongst other things.

Check out Abruzzo, another less-visited region of Italy, but one with mountainous landscapes full of wildlife and a number of National Parks in which to spot it, as well as easy access to the Adriatic Coast beaches further north, in the Marche and Emilia Romagna. The latter is of most interest to families for its Riviera Romagnaola, a stretch of sunny beaches with stylish facilities, but its capital Bologna is full of historical interest, especially if the kids are studying the Etruscans, and it's a good base that doesn’t get as crowded as, say, Rome or Florence.

Head for the freshwater alternative to the seaside – the gorgeous Italian Lakes in Lombardy in the north. Lake Garda is especially good for family holidays, with 120 beaches, watersports, a massive choice of places to stay and its own themepark, Gardaland, which is like a giant Disneyland/Seaworld with a little movie magic sprinkled on top.

Discover north-eastern Italy, where the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region is home to the Italian Dolomites, an awesomely beautiful region declared a natural heritage site by UNESCO, with one national park and several regional parks within its confines. With older kids, you might come here to climb the vie ferrate – protected paths created in World War I, or walk the long-distance ‘high paths' (alte vie), which take about a week to cross, with stopovers in rifugi (huts). Other summer, spring and autumn activities include climbing, base-jumping, paragliding and hang-gliding. In winter, the Dolomites are famous for skiing, with Canazei a particularly family-friendly resort, offering good, high beginner slopes but also linking on to the spectacular Sella Ronda circuit around the red-rock crags of the Dolomites, a favourite with competent children. For more on skiing here, see our Skiing in Europe page. 

Eat

The only thing exceeding the Italians’ love affair with food is children’s love affair with Italian food – the chance to have pasta or pizza at every meal, followed up by a delicious gelato, is bliss for most kids. That said, don’t miss the opportunity to stretch their culinary horizons beyond pesto, carbonara and margarita by opening their eyes to various regional specialities, whether it be pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup) in Venice, schiacciata (a type of pizza crust baked with olive oil and served with greens) in Umbria, or panforte (doughy fruit cake) in Tuscany and granita (the original slush puppy – fruit juice and crushed ice) in Sicily. Just about everywhere you go in Italy, you can count on table staff cooing over your kids and often even whisking them away to the kitchen for an impromptu cookery lesson.

Long, leisurely lunches outside, whether on the terrace of your villa or at a café on a piazza, mean that everybody can take their time while the children run around – and are indeed the essence of a family holiday in Italy. Follow the Italian way of doing things and put food first – let’s have none of that rushed sandwich nonsense as you attempt your third museum of the day. Italy stops at lunchtime and so should you.

By Georgina Allen

When to go to Italy

School-holiday considerations aside, June and September are fine times to visit both the coast of Italy and its cities, but April, May and October are good too – mild and free of tourist hordes. Easter is lively, with lots of religious festivals and related events.

July and especially August can be difficult, with overcrowded beaches and full hotels – though cities do empty of Italians, meaning less traffic, easier parking, and no queues for tourist attractions. Summer is also a lively time for those travelling with older kids, with live entertainment and dancing in city streets and squares. That said, central and southern Italy can be very hot (dry hot, rather than humid) in the height of summer, and few places have air-conditioning. And Venice really whiffs in August.

November to March you take your chances – it can be pleasant and dry south of Florence, but rain and cold can take much of the joy out of visiting this sensual Mediterranean land. Good deals on flights to Sicily and other southern parts in winter make this a possible option for out-of-season family holidays, although it won’t be warm enough for the beach.

Christmas, New Year and especially Epiphany can be fun – on the latter (6th January), Christmas is bade farewell to with the bestowing of gifts on children by the befana, a benevolent witch, and city squares are filled with toy stalls.

Skiing in Italy, meanwhile, is usually best between late December and the end of March.

How to get to Italy

Italy’s main airports, some served by budget airlines from the UK, include Rome, Milan, Venice, Turin, Bologna, Pisa and Naples.

Getting to Italy by train probably cost you more than flying. From London to Milan via Eurostar and then a daytime TGV or overnight sleeper takes about 12hrs; to Florence it’s about 17hrs by Eurostar and overnight sleeper, and to Rome 19hrs. You might choose to break the journey in Paris to make it more leisurely.

Raileurope can book both Eurostars and onward journeys, while The Man in Seat 61 (seat61.com) is a good source of information on timetables, sleeping arrangements and other practical matters. Trains can also be a good way of exploring Italy – the network is extensive, and trains are clean, cheap and generally efficient.

You could also drive to your holiday in Italy, heading to the South of France then crossing into northern Italy. It’s a long journey but you could break it as often as you like. A site such as Viamichelin will help you to plan routes, calculate tolls and even work out your petrol costs. Or you can put your car on a French motorail train from Calais to Nice and then drive, or on a train direct to Italy from ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands (autoslaaptrein) or Düsseldorf in Germany (Autozug). Again, The Man in Seat 61 is a good source of information on this.

Cost

Though you can spend a good deal in Italy, family holidays don't have to cost a fortune, especially if camp or choose some other form of self-catering accommodation.

Previous Accommodation

Family friendly places to stay in Italy

Italy's countless options include beach hotels and resorts, some with childcare, self-catering apartments, sports villages, luxurious city hotels, rooms and apartments in agriturismi (farm holidays), self-catering villas and farmhouses, and campsites. For especially eco-friendly options, see our guide to Green Places to Stay in Europe.

Key:
Self-catering
Hotel
Editors favourite
Kids Club
  • Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, Sicily

    Luxurious resort in Sicily offering complete relaxation for adults and excellent children's entertainment.

  • Villa Pia, Tuscany

    A stunning manor in rural Tuscany with self-catering apartments, but home-cooked communal meals are available, making meal times what they used to be.

  • Club Med Kamarina, Sicily

    Family-friendly all-inclusive bungalows for relaxing but active family holidays and breaks with children of all ages in Sicily.

  • Perdepera Beach Resort, Sardinia

    An intimate club for families with brilliant facilities, set on a beachfront, on the stunning island of Sardinia.

  • Torreruja Villas, Sardinia

    Luxury villas within a hotel complex in Sardinia with full access to hotel facilities, including childcare and spa.

  • Blu Hotel Morisco, Sardinia

    A 4-star hotel in a lively Sardinian town with childcare and family entertainment during peak season.

  • Mediterraneo campsite, Venice

    Close to Venice, this family-friendly campsite and holiday park is ideal for all ages and for exploring the area.

  • Club Med Cervinia, Cervinia

    The hotel - with its original decor and authentic materials - is a luxurious mountain refuge.

  • Pullman Timi Ama, Sardinia

    This stylish hotel offers the ambiance and charm of traditional Sardinia, whilst being child-friendly.

  • Cala di Falco, Sardinia

    A family favourite offering hotel or self catering holidays, plus activities for young and older kids, in north-east Sardinia.

  • Forte Village Resort, Sardinia

    A luxury village of fun for everyone in Sardinia, offering the ultimate holiday experience and regularly voted the World's Leading Resort.

  • Resort & Spa Le Dune, Sardinia

    Excellent family resort providing great adult and children facilities, located by a stunning beach in Sardinia.

  • Camping Norcenni Girasole Club, Tuscany

    Stunning setting high in the Arno Valley with first class facilities.

  • Bella Italia, Lake Garda, Italian Lakes

    A lively site with first-class facilities, evening entertainment and on-site restaurants and shops. All located on a lake-side beach on Lake Garda, Italy

  • Camping Marina di Venezia , Venice

    A lively beachside site with a wide range of leisure activities and fabulous pool complex.

  • Ca'Savio campsite, Venice

    A large and lively site close to Venice with swimming pools, including kid's pools and direct access to a sandy beach.

  • Camping Village Portofelice , Venice

    A lovely site with plenty of shaded areas, with direct access to a golden beach and a range of tents or mobile homes to choose from.

  • Pra'delle Torri, Caorle , Venice

    This site has a fantastic pool complex, a private beach and a multitude of activities for all the family.

  • Union Lido, Venice

    A superb choice for an active family holiday, with fabulous lagoon style pools, a children's pool and an action packed animations programme.

  • Camping Eden, Lake Garda , Italian Lakes

    A beautiful site with stunning views of Lake Garda, with facilities for children including a pool and waterslide.

  • Camping Butterfly, Lake Garda , Italian Lakes

    A welcoming site, great for young families, with a playground, children's pool and short walk to the lake.

  • Camping Piantelle, Lake Garda , Italian Lakes

    A lovely family-run site with children's pool and play areas.

  • Camping Cisano San Vito, Lake Garda , Italian Lakes

    A large and lively site with excellent facilities for all the family, with children's pool and lakeside beach on Lake Garda.

  • Camping San Francesco, Lake Garda , Italian Lakes

    A superb site, with lovely pool complex and a huge range of activities.

  • Camping Fabulous, Rome

    An excellent park for families, with outstanding pool complex including children's pool.

  • Camping Valle Gaia, Cecina, Tuscany

    A quiet family-run site with 2 pool complexes and children's pool.

  • Camping Parc Albatros, San Vincenzo, Tuscany

    Well maintained site on the Tuscany coast.

  • Borgo Egnazia, Puglia

    A chic but child-friendly luxury hotel in Puglia, southern Italy, with an excellent kids' club.

  • Romazzino Hotel, Sardinia

    A family-oriented haven of pampering and luxury on the northern coast of Sardinia.

  • Chia Laguna Resort, Sardinia

    Brilliant facilities, a stunning private beach and overall, a very family-friendly resort on the island of Sardinia.

  • Hotel Valle dell'Erica, Sardinia

    Located in northern Sardinia, this luxury family-friendly resort offers free childcare, great pools and a large spa.

  • Hotel Giardino di Costanza, Sicily

    A 5* hotel set in acres of Mediterranean parkland, with superb childcare and facilities in Sicily.

  • Hotel Parc and Eden Residence, Italian Lakes

    Self-catering or all-inclusive option on Lake Garda, with kids clubs, activity programme and evening entertainment.

  • Hotel Oleandri Resort, Campania

    An intimate family-friendly resort in Campania, with an outdoor pool, kids club and nearby beach.

  • Belvedere Village, Italian Lakes

    Near the edge of Lake Garda, this holiday village is quiet, relaxing and spacious; ideal for young families.

  • Camping Tonnara, Sardinia

    A quiet campsite offering an escape for families to get away and relax, on an island just of the Sardinian coast.

  • Sporting Club Village and Camping, Sicily

    On the island of Sicily, with lots of sports and activities for all ages and a beach just a short walk away.

  • Sant' Angelo Village, Venice

    A lively family campsite with direct access to the beach, close to a lively resort and not far from Venice.

  • Holiday Park Spiaggia e Mare, Italy

    A family campsite located in the region of Venice, with direct access to the beach and great onsite facilities.

  • Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, Abruzzo

    A modern boutique hotel offering rustic, rural Italian charm in Abruzzo; ideal for a break from the nearby city of Rome.

  • Borgo Santo Pietro, Tuscany

    A relaxing atmopshere, great children's facilities, an outdoor pool and a stunning location, plus food grown fresh in the gardens.

  • Hotel de Russie, Rome

    The hotel is modern and stylish, the staff are friendly and attentive, and above all the location is spot on.

  • Union Lido Venetian Riviera Italy, Venice

    A very impressive Parc to keep all ages of the family amused.

  • Pra Delle Torri Venetian Riviera Italy, Venice

    A very impressive parc for all the family to enjoy.

  • Marina Di Venezia Venetian Riviera Italy, Venice

    A perfect parc for all ages. With beautiful Venice not to far away

  • I Pini Lazio Italy, Rome

    A perfect parc for all the family, and close to the city of Rome.

  • Europa Silvella Lake Garda Italy, Italian Lakes

    A fun parc for all the family.

  • Fornella Lake Garda Italy, Italian Lakes

    A perfect parc to relax with all the family.

  • Del Garda Lake Garda Italy, Italian Lakes

    A fun resort for all the family, with a lake and 3 pools to swim in.

  • Le Pianacce Tuscany Italy, Tuscany

    Romantic, rural Tuscany is everything you imagined and more.

See more >

Family friendly organised trips in Italy

There's plenty on offer around Italy in terms of organised family activity holidays, from walking in Abruzzo and cycling from the Italian Lakes to Venice, to gastronomic adventures in Tuscany. 

Key:
Self-catering
Hotel
Editors favourite
Kids Club

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Previous Accommodation

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