If you’ve been to the Italian Riviera between June and August, this scene looks familiar. For some families, this rocky stretch of coastline in Liguria is the ultimate summer holiday destination.
In fact, questions about visiting Italian beaches with kids in the summertime comes up more often than almost any other topic on Ciao Bambino. Given this, I thought it would be fun to showcase some recent family vacation photos, as well as need to know tips for visiting this area.
Cinque Terre with Kids Tips and Advice
What town is this?
The town pictured above is Camogli and not part of Cinque Terre. Surprised?
Rick Steves seems to be single-handedly behind the American obsession with visiting Cinque Terre. It’s not that I don’t enjoy Cinque Terre. In fact, I do, but I have to admit you couldn’t pay me to stay there between June and August as it’s simply too darn popular with everyone but Italians.
The point is that there are other picturesque places to stay and visit in this part of Italy. Cinque Terre is known for being remote and accessible only from the water, although the fact is you can get there easily via train today, so the remote factor isn’t a reason to go. Moreover, you can always visit Cinque Terre and take one of the famous hikes between the villages for a day trip; you don’t need to overnight there to appreciate the experience.
In June through August, expect people, lots of them
Here is a broad photo of the beach in Camogli. What do you notice most? People! And, this was June in a town that the average tourist doesn’t know about. The fact is that you cannot escape people anywhere on this part of the Italian coastline over the summer months.
Rocks, rocks, and more rocks
If your beach vision includes miles of sand, look elsewhere. What makes this part of the Italian coastline so dramatic is the rocky and dramatic shore. Swimming is appealing as the water is gorgeous, but you have to do a bit more searching to find the spots that are ideal for young kids.
What hotels make a good home-base for exploring the Italian Riviera?
When we visited Camogli in June, I stopped to have lunch and check in on Cenobio dei Dogi, one of our recommended hotels in the Italian Riviera and was reminded why I like it for families.
Located just south of Genova, the highlight of this 4 star hotel is without a doubt, the view. Perched on a cliff above the town with stunning sea and coastline views, guests have permanent smiles on sunny days. Although there is no flat grass for kids to run around (in short supply in this area), there are plenty of families at the pool during holiday periods.
There are a few large “rocks” that have chairs on them, as well as a small beach club where guests can go.
The food here is excellent and the service is friendly. The main public areas aren’t shabby, but they are very dated. Guest rooms, however, have undergone recent renovations and feature updated (traditional not stylish) furnishings and bathrooms.
Further south in Santa Margherita Ligure, Hotel Continental is highly recommended by Shannon Venable of ItaliaKids.com, the author of this review. Although I haven’t stayed here, I did a walk through a few years ago. Given the close proximity to Portofino, you get a bit more of the jet set factor in this area than you do by Camogli. There is also some grass for kids to roam. Rooms and public areas are fully updated, upscale, with a more modern feel than Cenobio dei Dogi.
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Head to Forte dei Marmi for sand and kid-friendly swimming
If you are looking for a sandy beach paired with the ultimate Italian resort town experience, I adore Forte dei Marmi. It’s actually in Tuscany, just on the border with Liguria.
Full-service beach clubs line a flat beach with a gentle surf. Kid and adult-heaven as everybody has a chance for downtime.
Some clubs like Bagno Annetta offer a swimming pool and kids’ activities. Other favorite clubs for families are Bagno Costanza, Bagno Peppe Ponete, and Bagno Piero. Average pricing runs from 75€ to 150€ per day. During summer months these clubs are very busy; be sure have make reservations ahead of time.
When you are not on the beach — loitering is a fine art here with shopping and dining galore. There’s also a terrific beachfront promenade that is ideal for all-family bike rides. Our favorite hotel with kids is the family-run California Park Hotel with room for children to play in a laid-back setting just blocks from the beach.
All photos except the exterior shot of Hotel Continental were taken by Amie O’Shaughnessy
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