Italy gives you and your loved ones a taste of la bella vita
It’s amazing to imagine that the beauty and sunshine of Italy is just an average of two and a half hours direct from UK airports.
Family memories are waiting to be made in one of the world’s most distinctive and characterful countries, but you’ll find that Italy is extremely diverse. In fact, it’s those breaks in the sunshine that bring Italy’s family values to the fore as nowhere else, and that’s definitely true in the Venetian Riviera, the coastal collection of towns clustered around
Venice. Among the shopping and
Lido di Jesolo beach, you can also take the kids to the Aqualandia waterpark, where pirates play and fountains flourish.
Similarly, the colourful seaside towns trickling down the cliffs of the Neapolitan Riviera will fascinate the kids with their whimsy, while legends of Pompeii abound in the region for intrepid explorers. You could also go beyond the mainland, seeing how Italian culture takes new twists on islands like Sardinia. With horse riding and caves to explore across the island, no young minds are left wanting here.
Best family friendly beaches
Famous Italian beach resorts include Tuscany‘s Viareggio and the shoreline of Puglia, yet you’ll find the country’s coast to be welcoming and warm everywhere. Sardinia’s own
beaches come particularly recommended, especially Badesi Mare and La Pelosa. The latter is wide open, sunny and family friendly, but is also home to the Torre della Pelosa, a 16th-century watchtower by the sea. It can be seen from anywhere on the beach, and a visit will give you a glimpse into the past, and tales to tell the kids of the tower’s role in fending off brigands and buccaneers.
Sorrento on the Neapolitan Riviera is also a beachfront well worthy of mention, particularly for the sunsets you can enjoy while the kids caper across the sand.
Best family activities in Italy
As a country as peppered with Roman ruins as it is modern shops and places to play, Italy is rich in things to do. Museums and myths surround the ancient tragedies of Pompeii, while Rome’s Colosseum and related relics absolutely warrant some selfie action with the kids.
Other landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa are a given, although the countryside hikes of Sardinia are often a forgotten joy well worth partaking in. If your kids lean more towards tech fun than the great outdoors though, check out the annual comics and videogames festival every October in the medieval streets of Lucca in Tuscany.
Other family holiday destinations
The family values so innate to Italy are just as adored across the Mediterranean. You’ll experience that for yourself in sunny Spain, gorgeous Greece and pristine Portugal.
That said, there’s something about the history, influence and brilliance of Italy that draws families from across the world to its maze-like narrow streets and beautiful shores. Find out more in our travel guide, and consider your options among a handful of hotel recommendations below.
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A sprawling resort complex tucked in Sardinia's woodland, you're nicely sheltered here, yet also a two-minute stroll to the beach. Kids get their own village-like place to play, shop and meet their fellow pint-sized patrons while you treat yourself at an adults-only spa that factors in massages and beauty treatments aplenty. Restaurants here range from pizzerias to seafood specialities, so nobody's going to bed peckish.
If you want to stay somewhere with a story or two to tell, this is the spot for you. It's right on the beach of Lido di Jesolo, giving you the coast on your doorstep. Principe Palace Hotel is one of the oldest and most well established hotels in all the Venetian Riviera, yet that pedigree doesn't come at the expense of modern comforts. Expect sleek decor and table tennis, with kids enjoying their own pool and bike hire for when you're all ready to see the sights.
With its massive garden to play in, its huge pool to swim in and its stylish artwork to get lost in, this hotel also wins points for keeping you just a 10-minute walk from the shops and restaurants of Sorrento. If your kids are at the age where their appetites are taking over, definitely give this hotel a visit – buffet breakfasts are both immense and continental, so pile those plates high.
Fully refurbished for 2017, this hotel complex oozes Mediterranean chic and there's a choice between active and quieter pools according to how you choose to make a splash, as well as a pool just for kids. The All Inclusive offering means that kids get their own activity club, as well as places to play football, tennis and basketball. A buffet restaurant is complemented by a family-friendly taverna and a la carte place.
With sports tournaments of every kind, a massive pool at its heart, the woodland of Alghero in Sardinia behind you and a private beach before you, this resort has all you need to make memories with the family. The kids' club and the baby club ensure that tots and toddlers are kept active, as does the family friendly entertainment programme letting loose music, dance and fun all year round.