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Where in Italy to go with kids for a first timer?

76 replies

Ihaveattached · 26/09/2021 07:39

Grateful for any advice. We've never been to Italy, but have always wanted to go.
It would be end of August next year as we are bound by school holidays. We already have a holiday booked for May half term, wont have saved up by Easter and have heard October won't be warm enough for the pool.

We have a 13yr old who loves history, food, swimming and a 6yr old who has no interest in Italy but would love swimming in the sea or a pool.

We definitely don't want to do any driving but are happy to have trips out by boat or train.

We thought of Sorrento as you can easily have trips out to Capri etc. We'd need a bed and breakfast and don't want anywhere chintzy. I know it doesn't seem important but I can't settle if I hate the decor in a hotel so the more modern the better.

We like having somewhere to have a stroll on an evening. I heard Naples is a really busy city so I'm not sure our youngest would cope with that as he has sensory issues.

We don't just want a sunbathing holiday. We want to see a bit of Italy.

Any ideas?

OP posts:

Ihaveattached · 26/09/2021 18:39

Thanks again for everyone's suggestions. We would have been off to Sorrento if I hadn't asked!

So I've found cheap flights to Verona. H has said he wants to drive so I looked at car hire which is very expensive as we thought an automatic would he easier for him with driving on the wrong side of the road.

I've found an amazing airbnb with our own pool overlooking Lake Garda which is near Bordolino. We will definitely drive to Venice for the day as there seems to be no train station nearby. I take it you can park on the outskirts and walk in. We will also drive to Verona too as well as other parts of Lake Garda.

It does seem more straightforward having a car and it means we aren't limited to staying where there are train stations.

OP posts:

titchy · 26/09/2021 18:47

There is a train station in Venice!


AdriannaP · 26/09/2021 18:54

Train station in Venice is called Venezia Mestre. There definitely is one. Also Verona is very accessible by train, centre is 10mins walk from station. Trains are very cheap in Italy. With kids your age I wouldn’t hire a car.


Ihaveattached · 26/09/2021 18:58

There's no train station near Bardolino though. I think we would have to travel to the North to get a train.

Would we actually be able to get around okay if we didn't have a car? We'd have to have a taxi to the airbnb from Verona, then there's travel to Verona, Venice and around Lake Garda. Petrol and car hire does seem expensive.

OP posts:

Cameleongirl · 26/09/2021 19:05

Another no for Naples, it’s not the nicest city.

No good for sea and swimming, but we went to Rome with our two when they were 10 and 7 and had an amazing time. We stayed in an apartment the Trastevere neighborhood on a cobbled street lined with amazing restaurants! My two are happy walking around sights as long as they’re well fed
( and we were😄). There are plenty of buses and trams if you get tired of walking.

Just a thought, it might not suit your family right now.


Geamhradh · 26/09/2021 19:05


There's no train station near Bardolino though. I think we would have to travel to the North to get a train.

Would we actually be able to get around okay if we didn't have a car? We'd have to have a taxi to the airbnb from Verona, then there's travel to Verona, Venice and around Lake Garda. Petrol and car hire does seem expensive.

You need Desenzano. It's the only town on the bit of the lake near Verona with a direct train.

Geamhradh · 26/09/2021 19:06

Then train from Desenzano to Verona-Venice is easy.


CharBart · 26/09/2021 19:07

We’ve done Lake Garda twice without a car. First time we stayed in Verona and then got the train to Peschiera. Very easy. Second time we stayed a bit further up and got a taxi from the airport to campsite. Both times did day trips on ferry around the lake, second time we were walking distance to two towns. Definitely didn’t miss having a car and the road around the lake looked very busy. I recommend the Eurocamp type campsites around the lake, they are usually only a couple of minutes walk from the lake and have pools as well. In Peschiera there was a shuttle bus from the campsites to Lidl!


WildWombat · 26/09/2021 19:09


Right, Italy is incredibly diverse - north to south they are different places with different history until 1861 when the country was unified. So wherever you do you will not know 'Italy' but the region you are at most. Sardegna (Sardinia) is amazing but very very different from, say, Tuscany.

(Sardinia would be mainly a beach holiday - it is geologically different from the rest of Europe, it's a much older part that merged from the sea first) so the vegetation/ etc. is distinctive.)

Train transport is very good in (mainland) Italy and Sicily, not so good in Sardinia.

I would suggest either Tuscany or Sicily to combine sea and history. If you stay in the southern beaches of Tuscany you could even stretch to Rome for a day trip.

Yes. I've done Sorrento, Venice/Verona, Rome, and Lake Garda, and they're all so different from each other. Rome and Venice great for classic historical Italy, Sorrento for the Mediterranean feel, Lake Garda for a more Swiss/Sound of Music type vibe.

MissAmbrosia · 26/09/2021 19:10

We stayed in Desenzano this summer. It's lovely. We did lots of boat trips and only used the car once - to go to an animal park. Lots of restaurants.


Cameleongirl · 26/09/2021 19:11

Reading this, I just want to grab my passport and go exploring. Fat chance right now, maybe one day.


Auroreforet · 26/09/2021 23:36

We stayed at Garda and got a bus to Verona.
Very straightforward.


JazzyBBG · 26/09/2021 23:40

Look at Hotel Caesius Terme on the edge of Bardolino on Lake Garda. Just gorgeous. No chintz and the kids loved it!


JazzyBBG · 26/09/2021 23:42

Ps don't forget you get boats across the lake no need for car when there and the way the traffic is you wouldn't want to! V easy to get day trips to Verona.


RampantIvy · 27/09/2021 06:48

You definitely don't need a car there.


TomAllenWife · 27/09/2021 06:57

I wouldn't bother with a car, it's so easy to get around on the ferry, and so beautiful.
There are courtesy buses to gardaland and the water park.

Been to Peschiera, bardolino and Malcesine.
Peschiera would be my choice with kids
We stayed in Parc Hotel. Great kids activities.
Day trips to the parks, Verona and Venice


HarrisMcCoo · 27/09/2021 10:45

You need a car in the South but not so much in the north. You will be fine.


MujeresLibres · 27/09/2021 10:55

Not read the whole thread, but I agree with posters saying there's not much there for children in Sorrento. Capri is beautiful but unbelievably expensive, we paid 8 euros each for an afternoon on the beach 15 years ago.

We've had nice holidays in Sardinia and Sicily, but the best family holidays we had were around Liguria. Alassio is a lovely town with a great beach that is shallow for quite a way out (like Weymouth beach), so good for kids. It's not too far from Genoa/Turin/Milan and even Pisa if you want a 2-centre holiday with a bit of city and beach.


AngelsWithSilverWings · 27/09/2021 11:51

We took our kids to Sorrento and they loved it.

We stayed at a hotel we had been to before the kids came along so new it would be fine ( The Antiche Mura) It has a lovely little pool in a garden full of lemon trees they still remember the breakfasts at the hotel because of the array of cakes on display. They have family suites with private terraces or balconies.

We took them to Amalfi on the public bus service - so cheap but slightly hair raising if you have a fear of heights. You can stop off at Positano on route if you want to and if you don't like the idea of a bus there are boat trips from Sorrento to.

We also took them up to Vesuvius on the train ( so easy to get on a shuttle bus to the top from the train station)

Also did Pompeii and Herculaneum in the train.

All so easy , cheap and relaxed.

Pool days in between and they loved the atmosphere of the passeggiata every evening in the main town square.

Always finished every evening with a trip to the ice cream parlour.

It was a really lovely and interesting holiday. The kids were primary school Y6 and Y3 at the time.

We didn't take the kids to Capri as we ran out of days to do it but we have been before and it was great getting the boat over and then there is the little boat trip to the grotto and a funicular railway that takes you up to the main town.


spooktrain · 27/09/2021 18:33


100% lake Garda. We have been 4 times including with our toddlers and loved it.
Riva del Garda is our favourite place for kids - lovely huge traffic free area next to the lake with water sport hire, parks etc and lots to do.
This is however at the north or the lake so downside is further from the airport and attractions such as Garda land (traffic along the lake can be busier).

We have also stayed in Bardolino which was great, closer to attractions such as hard land but not as many open green areas along the lake as lake Garda.

If you fancy a day trip you can do Verona etc but also lots of boat trips available across the lake - eg to Malcesine cable car, Limone etc

I second Riva del Garda. Being further north it is cooler than the places at the southern end of the lake. Great for activities, water sports, mtb and a buzzy in the evening too (but not oppressively so).

Bear in mind that many seaside spots in Italy offer only private beaches (and many of them are extortionately priced, like €30 a day for two sunbeds). The few beaches that aren't private are overcrowded and can be dirty. Sicily and Sardinia have beautiful beaches (and not all private) but I would avoid in August at all costs a) because of the heat and b) because that's when the Italians all go on holiday, so they are packed

OhamIreally · 27/09/2021 20:04

Have a look at Ostuni - beautiful town, near the coast and lovely places like the trullo houses in Alberobello to visit.


AdriannaP · 28/09/2021 15:42

Ostuni is lovely but you definitely need a car to reach the beaches. Plus not that much on offer for kids.


Ihaveattached · 29/09/2021 07:51

I've booked two nights in Venice followed by a week at a beautiful airbnb overlooking Lake Garda with our own pool. I didn't fancy being crammed into a hotel room the whole time with the four of us.
This means we can leisurely explore the Lake rather than having a trek to Venice. We will definitely visit Verona too.

Rome next time.

OP posts:

titchy · 29/09/2021 10:45



ItsSunnyOutside · 29/09/2021 11:58

Sicily is beautiful. Lots to do there with families, lots of history, but also gorgeous beaches.

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