Summer holidays in the Italian mountains have never been more popular. Amanda Statham discovers six stunning regions to explore with your family
Thought the Alps were just for winter? Think again, because summer holidays in the Italian peaks have experienced a huge surge in popularity thanks to resorts – keen to fill vacant beds outside of the ski season – offering an enticing range of activities. From e-biking and caving to adventure parks and pony-trekking, six of the northern regions offer unique family- friendly adventures centred around mesmerising mountains, which are spectacular when snow-capped peaks contrast with lush green valleys below. Who needs the beach?
Stretching from Lake Garda to the Dolomites, Trentino lies in the heart of the Alpine region and makes a magical choice for an outdoors family getaway, with a wealth of lakes, cities, castles and mountains to explore.
Hiking and biking
Get the family out in the fresh air on a hike through some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery. Kids will enjoy the cable car ride to the top of Mount Mezzocorona, where there are panoramic views of the Rotaliana plains to enjoy. Then take a gentle walk through forest to the Malga Kraun, a mountain hut where you can taste typical Trentino cuisine (think local cheese and cured meats) and wander through an enchanting open-air gallery of wood sculptures to an enormous silver fir known as the Candelabra. Want to swap feet for wheels? Head to Passo Tonale, which has a family bike park with various routes to suit every type of cyclists.
Rivers and lakes
Who needs the ocean when there are spectacular rivers and lakes to play on? Older kids will want to get their adrenaline pumping riding the rapids on the Noce River in the Val di Sole, which National Geographic lists as one of the top 10 rivers to raft in the world. Swap snowboards for wakeboards on Lake Terlago, where you can book family lessons and perhaps even try jumps and turns on the tow park. Close by on Idro Lake, prevailing winds make it a dream place for learning to kitesurf against a stunning mountain backdrop.
Want something a little calmer? Levico Lake has tranquil waters ideal for exploring in a family kayak or stand-up paddle boards, or pack a picnic and enjoy a circular walk around Lake Tovel in Val di Non (it takes under an hour) then pick a spot bank-side for lunch. Don’t miss 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, golden eagles and ibex.
One of Italy’s largest regions is home to glitzy Milan and famous Italian lakes, such as Lagos Garda and Como, but it’s less well-known for its equally fabulous mountains. With ancient rock art, crashing waterfalls and more than its fair share of secret valleys to discover, its ranges make a special place for family getaways. And if you like it in summer, don’t forget to return for the Winter 2026 Olympics in Milan-Cortina.
Lombardy’s eastern Adamello mountain range shelters the mighty Valle Camonica, a wide valley renowned for its lakes, ancient art and River Oglio. Mini historians will be fascinated by the prehistoric pictures engraved on rocks dotted around the valley; visit the National Museum of Prehistory to get the lowdown. You can also explore medieval Breno Castle, visit the Adamello Park Wildlife Centre (home to buzzards and owls) and pedal along cycle paths beside the River Oglio, which start at the Passo Del Tonale and cover 90kms to Lake Iseo.
There you can catch a ferry to Monte Isola, a picture- postcard towering island that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean. Hike to its peak and gaze down on old monasteries and pine forests, then race back to the base with a promise of ice creams at the end. The Valle Sabbia has Parco delle Fucine near the town of Casto, and makes an exhilarating day out for all ages thanks to numerous climbing walls, hiking paths, Tibetan footbridges and a magnificent canyon to explore.
Hike to the peak and gaze down on old monasteries and pine forests
Art and nature
Head to Orobie Park for a wild expanse and chance to visit the jaw-dropping man-made tree cathedral at the base of Mount Arera. Comprised of hundreds of enormous firs and chestnuts woven together into 42 columns, it is an inspiration for young minds. There’s also a botanical garden to romp around, too, and don’t miss the Serio waterfalls – plus Italy’s highest falls are a gentle 90-minute walk from Curo Mountain Refuge, a fabulous place to try out the local cuisine and a popular starting point for excursions in the area.
This extraordinarily beautiful region takes in the mighty Dolomites mountain range, a World Heritage Site and home to 10 spectacular national parks. It’s a magnet for families keen to immerse themselves in natural beauty and fun activities, when winter snow melts away to reveal flower-filled meadows, forests and pretty villages set against a backdrop of rocky peaks.
Thrills and chills
The Dolomites boasts a wide range of unusual summer activities, many unique to the area. Don’t miss a trip to the Baranci mountain range, home to summer toboggan run Fun Bob, which children (and parents) will want to repeatedly ride, plus a tubing run and children’s Tree Tops Adventure Trail. WaldWunderWelt (Wood Wonder World) at Dobbiaco is great day out for younger kids, and includes a forest trail, geology station, otter slide, treehouses and info on local fauna and animal tracks.
You don’t have to fly to Africa to see exotic deer and big cats – instead take a gentle stroll from Dobbiaco to the wildlife park in Carbonin Vecchia, which boasts rare animals to excite children of all ages, including red deer, wild boars, eagles, racoons and even lynx. If you’re looking for something a little more tame, book one of the numerous farm holidays available in South Tyrol, where children get the chance to collect eggs in the morning, milk the cows, eat fresh produce and run around in the ultimate natural playground – the Dolomites.
Just across the border from France and Switzerland, Italy’s smallest region is home to the Mont Blanc massif, Roman ruins, medieval castles and year-round skiing. It also lays claim to national park Gran Paradiso, where wild animals such as ibex and chamois still roam.
Museums and monuments
Want a side of culture along with all your activities? Well, the city of Aosta began as an ancient Roman colony and has more than its fair share of monuments and museums. Wander around the remains of a Roman theatre, explore boundary walls and see the Arch of Augustus. Go back further in time and visit the city’s megalithic area, including a museum that spans through findings from the Stone to Bronze ages. And when little ones tire of being mini historians, Aosta offers plenty more thrilling activities, too, including rafting and tubing, pony trekking and climbing.
Skis and trees
Skis? Yep, you read that right, you can get the best of both worlds by visiting the Plateau Rosa glacier, the largest skiable year-round domain in Europe, in the summer when blue skies and sunshine are pretty much guaranteed. Reached by ski lifts from nearby Cervinia, there are more than 25km of pistes to enjoy plus fun snow parks ideal for practising those snow ploughs and picking up new tricks. Want a more summery vibe? Hit some of Cervinia’s adventure parks: think Indiana Jones- style rope bridges, pirate ladders and swings between suspended forest platforms, all explored while harnessed to a safety line. Horse riding, e-biking, rafting and nature walks are also popular family activities.
The city of Venice dominates this north-east region, but did you know that in less than two hours you can go from canals to beautiful Alpine destinations such as Cortina d’Ampezzo?
Mountains and movies
Nick-named Queen of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo is a glitzy mountain resort in winter, but a fabulous summer destination, too. Plenty of pushchair- friendly walks, playgrounds and parks make this an ideal spot for younger families. Older kids will want to try e-biking on the mountain trails, or guided climbing on the Via Ferrata, known as the iron path due to the many cables, ladders and rungs needed to reach the summit. In addition, it’s also been used in various movie locations, from the Pink Panther to the James Bond classic For Your Eyes Only, so plenty of photo opportunities.
Waterfalls and cuisine
Perfect for nature-loving families, there are enough excursions in the region to keep you occupied for weeks, including trekking trails in the Belluno Dolomites National Park or the park of Lessinia, where children can explore the foothills of the Alps, including 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 (a circular, creamy cheese), delicious polenta and chewy pendole, strips of smoked meat that make an ideal snack midway through all those activities.
The clue’s in the name, ‘foot of the mountains’, which accurately describes this region, stretching from the shores of Lake Maggiore to the border of France. Dominated by the Alps, there’s plenty to keep your tribe occupied, from exploring caves to summer bobsleigh rides, and Piedmont also has plenty of parent appeal, producing some of the finest wines and regional cuisine in the country.
Cycling and caves
Frabosa Soprana might be a hot spot for skiers in the winter, but it holds plenty of allure in summer, too, with activities such as a fantastic bike park with seven courses for various skill levels plus a rental centre. Or try the nearby Mondole Bike Park for downhill trails, mountain bike school and e-bikes. Visit Parco Avventura del Caudano for treetop adventures, and don’t miss the stunning Bossea Cave, filled with pools, stalagmites and columns, plus a skeleton of a prehistoric bear believed to have inhabited the cave.
The Wood of Wonders is an enthralling place for younger children
Playgrounds and parks
In the Susa Valley you’ll find Chaberton and Bardonecchia adventure parks, which have everything from tree climbing and mini golf to skate board ramps, trampolines, aerial assault courses and an Alpine rollercoaster. Also in Susa Valley, at the foot of Bosco Michele, is the Wood of Wonders, an enthralling place for younger children thanks to a fairy-tale cast
of gnomes, fairies, orcs and knights. Animal-loving youngsters will appreciate a day out at BioParc Zoom, a park for endangered species which reproduces their natural ecosystems – think rhinos and giraffes on the Serengeti savanna. And pack your swimsuits, as you can take a dip with the penguins at Bolder Beach and admire tropical fish as you splash around in Lake Malawi.