Among the most popular locations for an Italy family beach holiday are Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera. Yet these are among the most popular destinations of the summer high season, which is not always the best choice location-wise for families traveling with children in Italy. Our top tip for visiting the beaches of Liguria with kids in the summertime is to design your itinerary around some of the beautiful off-the-beaten-path local destinations in the surrounding areas.
Italy Family Beach Holiday 12-Day Itinerary
We love this itinerary designed for a family of 4, traveling with kids ages 8 and 11. The itinerary included 3 nights in Stresa, Lago Maggiore, 3 nights in Santa Margherita Ligure, 3 nights in Barga, and 3 nights in Lucca. By staying in these lesser-known areas they created unforgettable memories, met local friends, enjoyed incredible food, and avoided the stress of high-season visits to places like Cinque Terre with kids.
After flying in to Milan, the journey began in Stresa, a charming town located on the shores of Lake Maggiore, only 40-minutes drive from Milan Malpensa. The family stayed at the Hotel Speranza du Lac, which was conveniently located within walking distance to the lake, restaurants, and shops. The charming lakefront has a playground and family-friendly bike path. During their time in Stresa, they enjoyed a boat tour of the Borromean Islands, which are a group of small islands known for their stunning gardens and historical palaces, including the famous Isola Bella. They also took a cable car up to Mottarone, where we were able to see panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains amid the Italian and Swiss Alps. Stresa in general is a more kid-friendly location than Lake Como.
Next, they traveled to Santa Margherita Ligure, a picturesque town on the Italian Riviera, just next to the chic and luxurious Portofino. They stayed at the Hotel Laurin, located just a few steps away from the beach. The Hotel Laurin Santa Margherita Ligure has a kid-friendly pool with sweeping ocean views and small beach club. The family spent these days lounging on the beach, exploring the town’s charming streets, and indulging in delicious seafood at local restaurants. The kids loved trying incredible freshly-baked focaccia, the typical bread of this Ligurian area. They also took a day trip to Cinque Terre by ferry, a great way to see the iconic 5 fishing villages without navigating the crowds arriving by land.
After their time in Santa Margherita Ligure, the family headed to Barga, a small hill town located in the Garfagnana region of northwest Tuscany between the Apuan Alps and the town of Lucca. They stayed at Al Benifizio agriturismo, a small farmhouse with self-catering apartments nestled in the hills and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The owners welcome you as a longtime family friend! Amenities include a panoramic swimming pool, children’s play area, and outdoor bbq where the owners will organize meals with guests. During their time in Barga, the family hiked through the beautiful countryside, visited nearby medieval fortified towns, met new friends at the agriturismo, including a very kind donkey, and enjoyed traditional Tuscan cuisine at local restaurants. The Garfagnana is famous among Italians for its sustainable and traditional food production.
The final stop on the itinerary was in Lucca, a city that is famous for its historic walls and charming streets. Lucca is the perfect destination for families as its lively historical center is pedestrian with little to no car traffic. Lucca is known for its music, and maintains a vibrant local resident culture within the center, which also makes for a special family experience. They stayed in a self-catering holiday apartment at the B&B At Home in Lucca, located within the city walls and just a short walk from the main attractions. During their time in Lucca, the family’s top activities included biking along the Lucca city walls, visiting the famous Piazza dell’Anfiteatro with its medieval construction atop the ancient Roman ampitheater, and indulging Lucca’s famous Tuscan cuisine and Bolgheri region wines! It is also an easy day trip to Pisa, which is only about 30-minutes away. Families also have the option of attending the Arte al Sole summer kids activities in Lucca.
Creating an Italy beach itinerary with destinations like Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera focused on staying in nearby less-touristy areas makes for a family trip to Italy that will be an unforgettable local experience, with limited stress. Each of these locations offers something unique and special, from the stunning views of Lake Maggiore to the charming streets of Lucca. A minimum of 3 days in each location allowed for quality time together as a family, and an immersion in truly local food and cultural experience. The foundations of the best of family adventure in Italy!Add to favorites