Peak performance: why the Italian Alps are seducing adventurous families this summer

Last updated 23rd April 2024

Family summer holidays in the Italian Alps have never been more popular. Amanda Statham explores six of the best regions to visit with your family this summer.


Think Italian Alps for summer adventures

Thought the Alps were just for winter? Think again. Summer holidays in the mountains have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years thanks to non-winter activities at many mountain resorts. Plus, six of the northern regions look spectacular when snow-capped peaks contrast with green valleys and they tempt families with adventures, from e-biking and caving to treetop rope courses, pony-trekking, and even beaches.


Rafting on River Noce, Trentino

Trentino: a fairy tale summer in the Italian Alps

Stretching from Lake Garda to the Dolomites, Trentino lies in the heart of Italy’s alpine region.

Here kids will enjoy the cable car ride to the top of Mount Mezzocorona for panoramic views of the Rotaliana plains to enjoy followed by a gentle walk through forest from the Malga Kraun mountain hut along the Magic of the Woods fairy-tale trail of forest sculptures carved from tree roots, ending up at an enormous silver fir known as the Candelabro.

Also, who needs the ocean when there are spectacular rivers and lakes to play on and in? Older kids can get their adrenalin fix riding the rapids on the Noce River in the Val di Sole, which National Geographic lists as one of the top ten rivers to raft in the world. Although you can swap snowboards for wakeboards on Lake Terlago in summer, where there are family lessons for beginners, or maybe you’re already skilled, in which case jumps and turns on the tow park are up for grabs.

Then, close by on Idro Lake, prevailing winds make a dream place for learning to kitesurf against a stunning mountain backdrop.

Alternatively, for something calmer, hit Adamello Brenta Nature Park, where you can paddle on the edge of Lake Tovel, which takes around 90-minutes to stroll around, keeping an eye out for brown bears (reintroduced to the area in 1999), golden eagles and ibex.


Family hiking, South Tyrol

South Tyrol: the mighty Dolomites and 10 National Parks

The extraordinary region of South Tyrol takes in the mighty Dolomites, along with 10 national parks and it’s the place to find unusual activities, many unique to the area, like the Fun-Bob summer toboggan run in the Baranci mountains and WaldWunderWelt at Dobbiaco, which includes a forest trail and you can cool down after in Dobbiaco’s swimming lake.

You don’t have to go on safari to Africa to see exotic deer and big cats, instead head to the Wildlife Park in Carbonin Vecchia in South Tyrol, which boasts enough rare animals to excite children of all ages, including red deer, wild boars, eagles, racoons and even lynx.


Monte Isola, Lake Iseo

Lombardy: you know it for lakes, but it’s got Italian Alps too

One of Italy’s largest regions, Lombardy is home to Milan, as well as Lake Garda and Lake Como, although, it’s less well-known for its Italian Alps and you should right that wrong this summer.

Lombardy’s eastern Adamello mountain range shelters Valle Camonica, a wide valley renowned for lakes, rock art and kids will be fascinated by the prehistoric pictures engraved around the valley and by medieval Castello di Breno.

However, energetic teens might be more up for a cycle along the Oglio River from Passo Del Tonale to Lake Iseo, where you can catch a ferry to Monte Isola; more of a pretty piton than an island, it wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean.

Although you don’t want to miss Orobie Park and a visit to the man-made tree cathedral at the base of Mount Arera, comprised of hundreds of enormous firs and chestnuts woven together into 42 columns. And don’t miss the Serio waterfalls. Italy’s highest falls, they’re a gentle 90-minute walk from Curo Mountain Refuge.


Ibex, Gran Paradiso National Park

Valle d’Aosta: home to Mont Blanc and Gran Paradiso National Park

Valle d’Aosta might be Italy’s smallest region, but it’s also home to the Mont Blanc massif and national park Gran Paradiso, where wild ibex and chamois still roam.

The city of Aosta began as an ancient Roman colony founded by Emperor Augustus and has more than its fair share of monuments and museums. Wander around the remains of a roman theatre and see the Arch of Augustus. Although you can go back even further in time here and visit the city’s megalithic area. Aosta also has plenty 21st century activities too, like rafting and tubing, pony trekking and climbing.

Get the best of summer and winter by visiting the Plateau Rosa Glacier: the largest skiable year-round domain in Europe. Reached by ski lifts from nearby Cervinia, there are more than 25km of pistes to enjoy plus fun snow parks ideal for picking up new tricks. Or for a thoroughly summery vibe, head for Cervinia’s Antey Adventure Park for incredible treetop rope courses.


Ontra Pagata, Lessinia, Veneto

Veneto: go from the canals of Venice to the Italian Alps in no time at all

Venice dominates the northeast region of Veneto, yet in less than two hours, you can go from canals to Italian Alps.

Although it’s famous for winter sports and nicknamed Queen of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo is also wonderful summer destination. There are plenty of pushchair-friendly walks, playgrounds and parks for younger kids and older ones might want to try guided climbing on the area’s famous Via Ferrata.

Veneto is perfect for nature-loving families too, and there are enough excursions in the region to keep you occupied for weeks.

Discover trekking trails in the National Park of the Dolomites of Belluno, or the Park of Lessinia, and aim to visit the five waterfalls of Molina.

As well as an abundance of nature, Veneto also boasts a rich history of unique cuisine. Introduce kids to gourmet pizza, Asiago stravecchio, and chewy pendole: strips of smoked meat that make an ideal snack midway through all those activities.


Grotte di Bossea, Piedmont

Piedmont: foot of the mountains but top of summer mountain adventures

The clue’s in the name Piedmont – ’foot of the mountains’ – which accurately describes this region which is dominated by the Italian Alps.

Frabosa Soprana might be a hot spot for skiers in the winter, but it also holds plenty of allure in summer thanks to Mondole Bike Park for downhill trails, a mountain bike school and e-bikes.

Stunning Bossea Cave is where to see the skeleton of a prehistoric bear believed to have lived here over 15,000 years ago. And don’t miss the Susa Valley for Chaberton and Bardonecchia adventure parks.

How to plan summer in Italy’s mountains

How to get there

Trentino & South Tyrol

Direct UK flights to Verona from 2 hours

Verona to Trento by road, 1 hour

Verona to Bolzano by road, 1 hour, 28 minutes


Direct UK flights to Milan from 1 hour, 50 minutes

Valle d’Aosta

Direct UK flights to Turin from 1 hour, 55 minutes

Turin to Aosta by road, 1 hour, 20 minutes


Direct UK flights to Venice from 2 hours, 5 minutes

Venice to Cortina d’Ampezzo by road, 2 hours


Direct UK flights to Turin from 1 hour, 55 minutes

Where to stay

Mirabell Hotel, Val Pusteria, Trentino Family Room (2 adults, 2 children) from £446 per night

Find out more and book Mirabell Hotel

Alpin Royal, Ahrntal Valley, South Tyrol Family Room (2 adults, 2 children) from £263 per night

Find out more and book Alpin Royal

Aosta Holiday Apartments, Aosta 2-bed apartments (2 adults, 2 children) from £43 to £343 per night

Find out more and book Aosta Holiday Apartments

Hotel Vezza Alpine Lodge & Spa, Vezza d’Oglio, Lombardy Family Room (2 adults, 2 children) from £154 per night

Find out more and book Hotel Vezza Alpine Lodge & Spa

Hotel Mirage, Cortina d’Ampezzo Family Room (2 adults, 2 children) B&B from £327 per night

Find out more and book Hotel Mirage

Hotel Miramonti, Frabosa Soprana Family Room (2 adults, 2 children) from £89 per night

Find out more and book Hotel Miramonti