Whether you are looking for a destination where you can wind down or re-energise, an Italian Lakes family holiday can cater for everyone. Here’s our guide to trips to the Italian Lake District with kids:
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Why are the Italian Lakes worth visiting?
To me, the Italian Lakes are enchanting.
Seeing their green mountains tumbling into deep blue lakes with rainbow villages and towns dotted along the shoreline is like something out of a fairy tale.
It’s also a region famed for its water sports, hiking and mountain biking. And that’s not to mention the cuisine!
All of this makes the lakes a crowd-pleasing destination whatever your family’s interests. No wonder the Italians themselves head here for their holidays.
How to get to the Italian Lakes
If you are flying from the UK Milan Malpensa is one of the best airports to fly into if you are visiting Lake Maggiore, Lugano or Como. There are direct flights from London Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.
If you have extra time why not spend a bit more time around Milan before heading to the lakes. Here’s a great itinerary for 2 days in Milan.
Another option is Verona which is closest to Lake Garda. There are direct flights from Manchester, Gatwick and Stansted.
We have found the most convenient onwards transport to be by car. You can hire one at either airport. Alternatively there are train services to some of the lakes.
Which are the best Italian Lakes for families?
The three largest Italian Lakes – Maggiore, Garda and Como – have plenty to offer family holiday makers including water sports, theme parks, pretty towns to explore, beaches and a great choice of family accommodation for all budgets.
If it’s your first time visiting the Italian Lakes then one of these is a good place to start.
Here’s more about each of these lakes including tips on were to stay and things to do in the Italian lakes.
Italian Lakes family holidays in Lake Maggiore
If you want to experience the authentic Italian Lakes then you must take a look at family holidays in Lake Maggiore. It’s Italy’s second largest lake and extends into the Swiss Alps to the north.
If you love water sports, hiking and exploring pretty lakeside and mountain villages it’s a great family holiday destination.
Where to stay in Lake Maggiore
Here’s a selection of places to stay in Lake Maggiore:
Apartments in Lake Maggiore
This stunning apartment sleeps up to eight guests and is the largest accommodation in this lakeside resort in Maccagno. Golfo Gabella has a communal pool, jacuzzi and children’s pool.
There’s a selection of bars and restaurants, a supermarket and ice cream store within a short walk.
Read more in my review of Golfo Gabella.
Find out more about Apartment Tranquillo at Golfo Gabella and book using the code TINBOX for a special reader discount on any Bookings For You villa.
Villas in Lake Maggiore
Here’s some stand alone villas that will give you a taste of living the Italian dream in the lakes:
This is a lovely four bedroom property which is great for multi-generation holidays. It is equipped with games for younger family members and boasts its own swimming pool.
It also has a safety cover on the pool giving families with little ones peace of mind.
Find out more about Villa Colmegna and book using the code TINBOX for a special reader discounton any Bookings For You villa.
This is one of our most family friendly options, which has plenty of equipment for those with young children (including cot, stroller, and highchair), toys and games, kids DVDs and an XBOX games console for older kids.
Find out more about Villa Sereni and book using the code TINBOX for a special reader discount on any Bookings For You villa.
Campsites and holiday parks in Lake Maggiore
If you are touring with your own tent, caravan or camper van, or are looking for mobile home style accommodation, here’s some campsites in Lake Maggiore:
Camping Lago Magiore
This mobile home park by Lake Maggiore is in the town of Arona. It is in a lakeside position and also has a pool area. Activities on site include football, beach volleyball, tennis, fitness classes and evening entertainment.
There’s an onsite restaurant and takeaway pizza.
The site team put on exercise classes and games during the day as well as evening entertainment.
Find out more about Camping Lago Magiore.
Isolino is a campsite on a peninsular of the Borromean Gulf, giving it first-class lake views. It has its own private sandy beach and pool complex.
You can rent canoes and paddle boats to take on to the lake or venture offsite on a network of foot and cycle paths which are great for hiking and biking.
There’s entertainment for children and teens as well as exercise classes and evening shows.
Find out more about Isolino.
Safari Camping at Pombia Safari Park
For something a bit different book a chalet, mobile home or camping pitch at this safari park in Lake Maggiore.
Campers staying at Pombia Safari Park have assess to the park’s animal experiences during their stay.
Find out more about camping at Pombia Safari Park.
Hotels in Lake Maggiore
Search for hotels in Lake Maggiore on Booking.com:
Things to do in Lake Maggiore
There’s plenty to do around Lake Maggiore. Here’s a taster:
- Catch a ferry to some of the Lake’s picturesque villages and towns
- Visit the Wednesday market in Luino. It is the biggest on the lake and the streets are lined with stalls selling sweet treats, clothes, trinkets, cheese and Italian meats.
- Visit the monastery of Santa Caterina del Sasso
- Ride the Laveno Mombello cable cars
- Visit the Borromean Islands
- Visit the Pombia safari park and zoo.
How to get to Lake Maggiore from the UK
Milan Malpensa is the closest airport to Lake Maggiore, but you can also fly to Milan Linate and Milan Bergamo.
I’d recommend hiring a car* to get to your accommodation and for making it easier for you to explore the lake.
Family holidays in Lake Garda
The next of my Italian Lake holiday recommendations is Lake Garda – the largest.
Its shores meet three Italian provinces: Brescia, Verona and Trento, with mountainous ranges and lowlands. This makes for a romanic smoky blue skyline with pretty lake side towns in the south and rock faces that seem to plunge into the water in the north.
It is Italy’s largest lake and a holiday destination for Italians and international visitors alike.
Where to stay in Lake Garda
Here’s a selection of places to stay in Lake Garda including campsites, holiday parks and private villas:
Campsites and holiday parks in Lake Garda
Take your pick of these family-friendly campsites on the shores of Lake Garda:
If you are looking for a small holiday park by Lake Garda then check out Eden. It’s located near San Felice del Benaco – a quiet corner of the lake with plenty of charm – and incredible views of the lake and mountains from it’s hillside pitches. There’s two swimming complexes and kids entertainment.
It’s the perfect base to explore the lake with the resort of Salo a short ferry ride or drive away, and boat trips to Sirmione and Garda from nearby Portese.
Read about our family holiday at Eden.
Find out more about Eden.
This large campsite is in a prime lakeside location with plenty of activities and entertainment in the main holiday season. There’s a lagoon-style pool and three waterslides.
Ball and water sports are available on site, as well as cycle hire and archery. Thrill seekers will find the Gardaland theme park 5 km away and the Caneva water park 10km away.
The historic town of Peschiera is a short walk away and you can easily visit Sirmione by local ferry.
Find out more about Bella Italia.
Altomincio Family Park
Altomincio is a campsite with a central hub of splash and swimming pools, indoor cinema and children’s entertainment areas all against the spectacular backdrop of Lake Garda. It’s just 1km from Salionze, 6km from the lake and 9km from the Gardaland Theme Park,
Find out more about Altomincio Family Park.
Family villas in Lake Garda
If you prefer to have your own private accommodation then take a look at these villas in Lake Garda:
Villa le Selve
Villa le Selve is a luxury villa situated on Lake Garda in the Italian Lakes.
This three bedroom property is surrounded by green hills, and overlooks the lake and quaint village of Gaino. However it’s also well positioned for those who wish to enjoy some sightseeing during their stay.
The villa is within a few kilometres of the Gardone Riviera for sightseeing.
For the more adventurous, there are opportunities to enjoy hikes and mountain biking or even paragliding from the hills or kite surfing on the nearby shores of the lake.
Find out more about Villa le Selve and book using the code TINBOX for a special reader discount on any Bookings For You villa.
This four bedroom luxury villa with private swimming pool is in a peaceful location, surrounded by green hills and overlooking the lake. You’ll find it hard to drag yourself away from the views.
Gardone Riviera and Brescia are close by and both put on artistic and cultural events throughout the year.
Find out more about Villa Storica and book using the code TINBOX for a special reader discount on any Bookings For You villa.
Hotels in Lake Garda
Search Lake Garda for hotels on Booking.com:
Things to do in Lake Garda with kids
Regardless of where you choose to stay in Lake Garda there’s plenty of things to do for families.
Here are some suggestions:
- Use the lake wide ferry service to explore Lake Garda’s villages and towns
- Ride Lake Garda’s cable car, Monte Baldo
- Go to a theme park – Gardaland is one of Italy’s top theme parks as is located on Lake Garda
- Take a day trip to Verona, or if you are more adventurous, visit Venice from Lake Garda.
Read our full guide to things to do in Lake Garda.
How to get to Lake Garda from the UK
You closest airport is Verona. Hire a car* from here to give you the chance to explore the area during your stay.
Family holidays in Lake Como
This Y shaped lake is an ideal Italian Lakes family holiday destination. Every year tourists come for its beautiful landscape, range of water sports and luxurious villas that also attract the rich and famous, as well as Hollywood.
The Romans where the first to build villas on the shores of Lake Como. Since then George Clooney, Richard Branson and Sylvester Stallone have had homes there.
Where to stay during a family holiday in Lake Como
Here’s some places to stay in Lake Como including villas and camping accommodation:
Villas in Lake Como
Take a look at these top picks from the private villas in Lake Como:
This is a great property for a family sleeping up to six in two bedrooms. With a swimming pool and tennis court on site, there is lots to keep the children entertained.
It’s also a short walk to the lakeside and to a number of restaurants meaning that Mum and Dad can have a break from the cooking on holiday too!
Find out more about Magnifico Brentano. Book using the code ‘TINBOX’ for a special reader discount on any Bookings For You villa.
Campsites and holiday parks in Lake Como
Here’s an option for campers visiting Lake Como:
Camping Villaggio Paradiso
Camping Villaggio Paradiso is perfect for families with babies or toddlers who don’t require more than fresh air and a peaceful atmosphere.
The resort has direct access to a beach on the northern shore of Lake Como. There’s a roof top pool with views of the lake.
If you visit with teens you can hire bikes and water sports equipment onsite.
Find out more about Camping Villaggio Paradiso.
Hotels in Lake Como
Search for hotels in Lake Como on Booking.com:
Things to do in Lake Como with kids
- Take a pizza-making masterclass
- Go mountain biking or hiking
- Visit the beautiful lakeside town of Bellagio
- Try the high ropes at Jungle RaiderPark
- Meet dinosaurs at Pre Historic Park
- Take a ride on the Brunate funicular
- Ride the cable car to Pigra.
How to get to Lake Como from the UK
The closest airports to Lake Como are Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate and Bergamo Orio al Serio on the Italian side.
You can also fly to the small airport of Lugano Airport in Switzerland and cross the border.
I recommend you hire a car* to get around.
If you’re still unsure about which lake to visit check out the benefits of Lake Garda vs Lake Como.
How to get around the Italian Lakes
If you are staying beside the lake then the best way to explore is to catch a ferry. There’s timetables online or available from your accommodation. Buy tickets at the pier.
When you are travelling as a family ask about the ‘Happy Family’ ticket as this will save you money on individual fares.
What to pack for an Italian Lakes holiday
The weather can be changeable in the Italian mountains. Make sure you pack the right clothing.
Here’s our packing list for holidays in Europe in Spring.
Have you been on an Italian Lakes family holiday? Can you recommend places to stay and things to do in the region?
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