Explore Italy

Italy – Family holiday guide

The country with more ancient history than anywhere else on earth wears its antiquity well so you won’t come across precious attitudes.

Even Rome is surprisingly short on ‘roped off’: apart from a few notable exceptions, exploring the city is an involving game for kids – walk the Via Appia Antica and see.

If you want beaches in the mix, the Italian Riviera kicks-off where France stops and has gorgeous Genoa for cities and Cinque Terre for fairy tale villages. On the glorious Tuscan coast little coves, lively resorts and lots of fun activities draw big crowds in summer.

And adorable Amalfi in the south is every bit as stunning and chic as its reputation, but surprisingly easy-going and seaside cute for kids.The country’s small, English speaking, trimmed with some of earth’s loveliest beaches and made for outdoor adventure and gently great fun family holidays.

Confused by the Antigua & Barbuda connection? Don’t be. Antigua is simply better known and best loved for exceptional resorts, restaurants, water sports and bustling harbour towns.

Barbuda is smaller, less visited and a nature lover’s paradise. But, taken together, they’re one idyllic country.


Why go on holiday in Italy

  • Low cost flights

    There are low-cost direct flights all year round from the UK to Sicily, Sardinia and over 20 Italian cities including Florence, Venice, Turin, Naples, Milan and Rome.

  • History galore

    Italy has 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites – the highest number in Europe and second highest worldwide.

  • Winter skiing

    Dolomiti Superski is fantastic and well-priced for family ski holidays.

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  • Carnival time

    Venice Carnival is the world’s oldest and its kids’ event programme is always thrilling and beautifully well-planned.

  • The Lakes

    The Italian Lakes are just an hour’s drive from Milan.

  • Top beaches

    Scala dei Turchi, one of world’s most dramatic beaches, is on the sunny west coast of Sicily.

  • Historic cities

    Neighbouring Tuscany and Umbria contain Florence, Pisa, Siena, Assisi and Perugia – some of the greatest medieval and Renaissance cities in Europe.



Where to go

Rome

From the Colosseum to the Forum, Vatican City to mighty Circus Maximus, Rome is like a museum if museum’s are busy, lively, noisy, colourful and determined to feed you – constantly. Pizza, pasta and gelato are food groups here and all distinctively Roman. Every Rioni is thrilling in its own, unique way. And, if you want downtime, hire bikes at the gates of Villa Borghese and go cycle through the trees, visit the zoo, see the museums or catch a show at Teatro Piccolo: the smallest kids’ theatre in the world.

  • The best area for reasonably priced 3-4 star family hotels in Rome’s Centro Storico is round about Termini Station. Just over the Tiber, Trastevere is the cool, characterful and pretty Rioni for aparthotels.

Venice

If Rome is a living museum, Venice is a real-live fairy tale for children whether they’re spellbound by glassblowers, voyaging on vaporetto or joining in Carnival. It’s not the best city for very young kids: it gets crowded and moving around is a bit of an art. But over 8s will love the high drama of the palaces, piazzas, towers and cathedrals, the haunting buildings and eerie little islands, canals everywhere and, of course, the lagoons.

  • Stay on the Lido with kids for a balance of beachy freedom and city excitement a short sail away – you have the best view of Piazza San Marco over the lagoon.

Florence

Florence is the world’s greatest Renaissance city and packed with art, architecture and treasures. So far, so not very kid-friendly you might think. But gardens and rivers, big squares and the rolling Tuscan countryside are all part of the Florentine spell and it works its magic on everyone.

  • Fiesole is the pretty, almost rural district just 20 minutes north of the city and a great area for charming family hotels and country resorts – cool for kids in the hot Tuscan summer.

Barbuda

Lake Garda

All the Italian Lakes are beautiful, but Garda is perfect for active families. It’s the largest of the lakes, halfway between Milan and Venice and the one with aqua-parks, theme parks and masses of outdoor adventure on and off the water.

  • Self-catering is the best value way to enjoy this area with kids.

Naples and South West Italy

Naples is a huge, sprawling Mediterranean city and Vesuvius alone is reason to visit. It’s also the best base for Pompeii and the lovely Amalfi Coast.

  • From mountain villas overlooking the ocean to resort hotels and apartments, nowhere else in the south west competes with Naples for family accommodation.

Sicily

Island ease and hours of sunshine make Sicily a perfect choice for families. Spring is festival season here and kids play a huge part in the celebrations. Visit for dazzling Infiorata di Noto in May.

  • Self-catering apartments and family villas are a good choice on Sicily.

Sardinia

Sardinia has three of Italy’s national parks and the stunning Caves of Neptune, just for starters. Come once and it could turn into a family tradition.

  • Island of contrasts, places to stay on Sardinia range from exclusive spa retreats with kids’ clubs to beach houses and holiday villages.
Take me to Sardinia

What to do

  • Vatican City, Rome
    The world’s smallest state is home to the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums.
  • Colosseum, Rome
    A Rome highlight for kids, book in advance and take a guided tour.
  • El Duomo, Florence
    Florence Cathedral’s brick dome was designed by Brunelleschi in the 15th century and it’s still the largest in the world today.
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa, Pisa
    The tower is remarkable but almost overshadowed by the Square of Miracles around it.
  • Pompeii
    Leave an entire day for Pompeii, take your time and don’t miss the House of the Faun.
  • The Forum, Rome
    Caesar’s mighty Capitol, the heart of the Roman Empire and an astounding experience. Before you tour the site, climb up to the Terrace of Chariots on top of Vittore Emmanuelle III monument, the panoramic view puts The Forum in context for kids.
  • Stromboli, Aeolian Islands (from Sicily)
    Italy’s other volcano (not Vesuvius) lies off the north east coast of Sicily. The boat trip and hike to the top is a fantastic experience for fit teens.
  • Gardaland, Lake Garde
    Far from the only reason to have a family holiday on Lake Garda but it’s a great way to fill a day – or two.
  • Accademia, Florence
    The home of Michelangelo’s David is a Florence must – even for younger kids – teenagers will like the Uffizi too.
  • Maddalena National Park, Sardinia
    One of several national and natural parks on beautiful Sardinia this one is also a marine reserve and has some of Italy’s best dive sites.


Educational value for kids

  • Take a free Rome walking tour with kids before you explore in more detail.
  • Visit museums as well as monuments and don’t miss less famous names like Dora Pamphilj.
  • The Medici Villas put the wealth and power of Renaissance Florence in context for kids.
  • The Vatican Museums have a range of superb family tours designed for 5 – 12 year olds.
  • From Easter in Rome to Carnival in Venice, Milan’s brilliant Chinese New Year and Sicily’s annual flower festival, there are traditional celebrations all over Italy kids will love.
  • Be tourists together and take a Tiber Cruise, it’s a cool, crowd-free way to learn about Rome on a hot day.
  • Hire bikes and get a map for the Via Appia Antica – the entire road is 500km long but the Rome stretch is a manageable 17km.

 

Getting around with kids in Italy

Public transport is good in most major cities and there are few historic centres you can’t do on foot. Italy’s regions deserve to be seen in full so hiring a car is a good idea in places like Tuscany and Umbria – essential on the islands. But, if you don’t want to drive, the Italian rail service is one of the best in Europe.



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