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Northern Italy with Kids: Conquering Cinque Terre, Como, and Milan!

father and kids in cinque terre

Imagine exploring Northern Italy with kids. Taking in breathtaking scenery with your little adventurers in tow, indulging in delicious food, and creating memories that last a lifetime. Sounds perfect, right? But with kids, planning a dream vacation can feel daunting. Crowds, logistics, activities – where do you even begin?

Relax! This guide is packed with insider tips from parents like you. We’ll uncover hidden gems in Cinque Terre, discover kid-friendly hikes, and navigate charming towns around Lake Como and Garda. Wondering if Milan is worth the detour? We’ve got you covered. Plus, we’ve unearthed amazing vacation rentals recommended by fellow families, so you can skip the search and start dreaming!

Ready to turn your Northern Italy adventure from fantasy to reality? Let’s dive in!

Cinque Terre: Where Sea Meets Adventure

Cinque Terre’s five vibrant villages clinging to rugged cliffs are a sight to behold. While it can get crowded, with smart planning, it can be a magical experience for families.

  • Consider staying in Levanto, “a charming town one town west of Cinque Terre offering easy access to the villages via train and has a beautiful beach,” suggests Ted, father of two.
  • Monterosso also is a favorite among parents traveling with little kids. “We stayed in Monterosso with 2 little ones, which was great because the beaches are bigger and there were a few playgrounds. There is also a parking lot if you drive, but also easily reached by train,” says Julia, mother of two.
  • Opt for the commuter boat instead of expensive private boat options for stunning views from the water, as recommended by Keri.
  • For the little explorers, Ted recommends “hiking the upper paths (suitable for ages 7+), which are not very difficult and offer awesome panoramas and memories they’ll cherish”.

These photos were taken by Jessica Durham-Twiggs at the beach in Vernazza at the end of their hike along the Azure Trail from Monterosso to Vernazza.

Lake Como: Lakeside Tranquility

Lake Como can get busy in the summer months. With kids in toe, it’s easier to seek a more relaxed atmosphere away from thecrowds. Here are our suggestions.

  • Menaggio or Varenna on Lake Como offer stunning scenery without the tourist throngs, as agreed upon by Jana, a mother of three, and Ted who says, “We stayed in Menaggio. FAR less crowded than Como or Bellagio, and easy to get to via ferry.”
  • Rent bikes for a family ride along the lakefront, explore charming piazzas, and indulge in delicious gelato (don’t miss the famous flavors in Lake Como!).
  • Feeling adventurous? Take a cooking class for kids and learn to whip up authentic Italian dishes together.
  • Consider staying at “the Hotel La Palma in Stresa,” highly recommended by Tracy for its “incredible” view.

 

Photos by Diana Wawazaszek

Milan: History Meets Modernity

Milan may not be the first choice for families, but it has hidden gems!

  • The Duomo rooftop offers magical views and is a must-do, as highlighted by Amy, who recently traveled there with her son. “Do the rooftop of the Milan Duomo,” she says, “it’s so magical and amazing for pictures. Def pay a few extra $ to take the lift most of the way up!”
  • Take the kids on a Leonardo da Vinci museum adventure, where interactive exhibits bring his inventions to life.
  • For a unique experience, consider glamping outside the city, enjoying nature while still being close to Milan’s attractions.

Lake Garda: Family Fun & Local Charm

While Lake Garda doesn’t boast the same celebrity status as its neighbor, Lake Como, it offers a unique blend of family fun and local charm. Skip the tourist throngs and embrace a more relaxed pace, connecting with the Italian way of life.

  • Kids love the gondola ride up Mount Baldo, offering stunning panoramic views and hiking trails for all ages.
  • If your little ones crave excitement, Gardaland, the “Italian Disneyland,” promises a day filled with rides, shows, and laughter.
Beyond the Theme Parks

Lake Garda is more than just amusement parks. Explore charming towns like Sirmione, known for its Scaliger Castle and beautiful beaches. Rent bikes for a scenic ride along the lakefront, or indulge in authentic Italian gelato in a cozy piazza.

Photos by Brittany English Carter

Remember, Planning is Key!

Consider train travel for convenience and avoiding crowds, as suggested by Ruth, a mother living in Milan with her young children. “Opt for 2-3 nights in each location to strike a balance between exploration and relaxation,” she adds.

With careful planning and a sprinkle of magic, your Northern Italy adventure with kids will be unforgettable!

Home Rental Recommendations

Cinque Terre:

  • Monterosso, as recommended by Kelly and Ruth. Kelly also shares a link to their lovely Airbnb.

Lake Como:

Tuscany:

Venice:

The place recommended by Kelly, “Nothing fancy but clean and a newer remodel. It has three bedrooms but the only living space was the kitchen. It worked well for us since we were generally out and about.”

If you’re looking for more tips on exploring Northern Italy with kids, or anywhere else, be sure to join Club Bébé Voyage.

This blog post was written based on recommendations found in Club Bébé Voyage and a little help from AI. 

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