Conquering the Amalfi Coast with a Toddler

The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. We get many requests from our readers requesting advice on exploring this breathtaking part of Southern Italy with young kids. This post is long overdue …

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A stroller workout in Ravello

Tips for Visiting the Amalfi Coast with Young Kids

Everyone who regularly reads this blog knows I love Italy with children of all ages. Ironically, however, the Amalfi Coast is one of the few areas in Italy that is not exceptionally kid-friendly. What makes this coastline so stunning is the sheer vertical nature of the villages and terrain — all steps all the time. The ultimate toddler challenge.

I’m speaking from direct, personal experience on this topic. When our son was 2 1/2, I decided I needed to “conquer” the Amalfi Coast with a toddler. We had a blast, but the trip required extra diligent planning.

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Mesmerized by the magic of an Amalfi Coast sunset

Choose Your Home-base Wisely

Amalfi Coast accommodation options are plentiful, but many are not suitable for young children (they either don’t allow them or don’t have a good set-up for them).

Since we were staying in the area for a full week, we opted for a small villa rental as it can be more cost-effective with a better family set up (kitchen facilities and living space). It was the right call for this trip, but there were distinct downsides — no swimming pool, no front desk for help, and no onsite restaurant for meals we didn’t have to cook.

We were there in April so the lack of a pool was not that big of a deal, but in the summer and early fall, I would prioritize accommodations with access to a kid-friendly pool (Hotel Santa Caterina near Amalfi from our portfolio, as an example). Note, this most likely eliminate an affordable villa rental for a single family, not to mention that many pools in this part of Italy are unfenced and close to the house, i.e. unsafe for young kids.

The bottom line is that the time of year, age of your kids, and the number of people traveling will determine if it makes sense to book a hotel or villa.

Our Family Vacation Consultants maintain a list of kid-friendly hotels on and off the website that we book for our clients

Request assistance on My Trip Planner

I’m thrilled to see that the villa we rented — Casa Nina — in Priano is still available. This is a great little house for a single family with a cute garden and wonderful views. Pricing runs from 1,320 Euros a week, making it much more affordable than a hotel of the same standard given the living space and amenities.

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Gorgeous Amalfi coastline

Location Matters

As usual when traveling with kids, location matters. You should not rent a car while staying on the Amalfi Coast! Trust me on this one, you don’t want to be navigating thin roads with sheer drops in a place where traffic rules are ignored. The point is that you will be relying on walking, the local bus system (extensive and convenient), or a driving service for exploring the area.

Here are the important points to know:

Select accommodations that are either very near a bus stop or in a town with restaurants and a grocery store. Some villas in particular are in random locations on cliffs with wonderful views, but there is no way to walk with kids on the busy road.

If you are staying in Positano — the most popular of the villages on this part of the coast — choose a location that is relatively close to the water.  The village is vertical so if you are on the top of the town, you will have a major schlep to the beach and back.

We loved staying in Priano. There was the slight hassle of taking the bus every time we wanted to get into nearby Positano, but we lived next to locals that loved kids. It is truly one of our best “Italians love kids” experiences.

The neighbors around us would wait for us to go outside every day JUST to offer our toddler candy and bananas. While in the US we call people like this stalkers, in Italy it’s all part of the village experience and so wonderful!

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Beach in Positano

Finding Toddler-Friendly Excursions

Flat open spaces are practically non-existent on the Amalfi Coast and grass is in short supply. The best place for a toddler in and around Positano is the beach. Warning: it’s rocky, not sandy and the water may not be appealing for a swim (at times it’s polluted). That said, you can still have plenty of fun as a family here.

The town of Amalfi is not as vertical, so that makes it easier for strolling, plus there is also a rocky beach for playing. There are ferry boats that go out from the major villages including both Positano and Amalfi for day trips out to Capri or back to Naples and Sorrento. Be sure to ask your hotel or villa rental agency to confirm the best resource for the latest schedule.

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Villa Cimbrone is a garden paradise

Given the vertical nature of most the coastline, our favorite toddler-friendly excursion is to Ravello, which is located on the mountainside above Amalfi. While it’s also hilly, it has a few more flat open spaces for running around. The highlight is Villa Cimbrone with an extensive, gorgeous historic garden overlooking the sea.

We treated ourselves to 2 nights at Hotel Villa Cimbrone which is pricey, but spectacular. For something more value-oriented but still walking distance to this glorious garden, check out kid-friendly Hotel Rufolo in our portfolio. Note, while I like Ravello for 2-3 nights, this doesn’t replace the experience of staying right by the water for 4-7 days in/around Positano or Amalfi.

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Ancient fun in Pompeii

Visiting Pompeii

Our son doesn’t have fond memories of his toddler visit to Pompeii … but we do! Pompeii is one of Italy’s most interesting tourist attractions as you really get a feel for how people lived in 79 AD (gulp) when this ancient city was buried by a mountain of volcanic ash from nearby Mount Vesuvius.

Honestly, it can be brutally dry and hot here and the rocky pathways are not fun with a stroller. Your best bet for a visit is a backpack if your child isn’t too heavy.

Note, Pompeii is vast and a visit will take at least 2 to 3 hours. There is no quick stop in and out of here. As Pompeii is located near Naples, it’s also best to visit either on your way in or out of the Amalfi Coast, so plan your day accordingly. Driving services will gladly wait with your luggage in the car while you take a tour.

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Bring the right gear to explore Pompeii with toddlers

Bring the Right Gear

A lightweight stroller with a sunshade is a must here. You’ll be folding and unfolding it to get up and down those stairs. Even better is a backpack where you don’t have to worry about those logistics and it will also allow you to do some of the local hikes. A high quality car seat is a must too, i.e. I wouldn’t rely on a 3rd party to provide this for young kids.

When to Visit

Spring, early summer, and fall are all nice times for a visit. Late July and early August are tough! It’s very hot that time of year and traffic and crowds are a nightmare.

Need help booking a trip to the Amalfi Coast?

If you have more questions than answers or want vetted recommendations, we can help from everything to booking rooms to making driver suggestions. Visit My Trip Planner to request assistance.

Relevant Links:

Ciao Bambino recommended kid-friendly hotels on the Amalfi Coast

52 things to know before traveling to Italy with kids

Amalfi Coast sightseeing

Tips for finding toddler-friendly accommodations

Toddler travel tips and advice

Ten Things I love About Ravello – My Melange

13 Comments

  1. Is there a lightweight stroller that converts to a backpack? I think I have seen one somewhere. Anyway, this seems like it would be the perfect place for such a thing. Great post!

  2. Ciao Amie! Great tips here. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be sure to share this article when I get questions about visiting this beautiful part of Italy with children. I agree that it can be enjoyable … with the right planning! Hope you’ll be back to visit with your son again soon. That photo in the fountain in Pompeii is priceless! :-)

  3. We’re planning a trip to the Amalfi coast for a friend’s wedding in August and working out if we can make it a family trip with our 20 month old. Really helpful post, thanks!

  4. Hello! My name is anna. I am going to have a trip to Sardinia and then to amalfi with two kids – 3 year old and 1 year old. would you advise me to do it or it would be too difficult for us? If yes, then which part of europe would you recommend? With best regards)

    • Anna – Amalfi is a challenge but not impossible but I’d probably wait to do that given the ages of your children. I’ve heard fantastic things about the kid-friendly factor in Sardinia but we have not covered it on Ciao Bambino yet … We also love Forte dei Marmi in Italy with young children. Safe travels! -Amie

  5. We have a 1yr old and we’re staying in Amalfi for 3 weeks.. yes- Italians love babies…yet most restaurants/cafes we are finding don’t have baby seats. (We fortunately brought a portable cloth wraparound thing to tie to a seat) or we would be stuck!! Also everywhere we go, shop assistants hand my baby chocolate (which I love-as I eat it!) but my baby has a dairy allergy so cant have it, plus I would feel uneasy giving her chocolate as such a young age anyway!! If your used to Ellas kitchen or similar – forget it!! We haven’t found anywhere that sold anything similar. They sell the slush for 6month olds but the next step is solids off your own plate. Also, nappies seem expensive here.
    a comment about Pompei/Ercolana by the way- we took a lightweight stroller and Ive never been so frustrated/angry/hot/bothered/end of my tether as I was on those 2 days. Ditch the buggy full stop. Either carry the baby or use a baby back carrier. Those roman roads are a nightmare!! Travelling on public transport however has been a godsend…a carriage full of Italians and tourists happy to entertain a baby whilst I calm down after my pompei/ercolana buggy stress!! I also found some of the hairpin bends gave me a little bit of motion sickness and at times I noticed my baby going quiet and sucking her thumb (which she only does when tired or shes not feeling well) Plus summer brings the mosquitos…
    so beware of hairpin bends, mossies, chocolate wielding shop assistants, buggy ruining roman roads, and children falling off chairs in restaurants when theres a lack of food…..other than that – would highly recommend here!!! Just be prepared in advance! x

  6. Hi there! First time reading any of your posts but all of your advice seems great! Logical and practical. My wife and are traveling with our 10 week old, (yes 10 week old!) to Italy and Paris in early June. We are doing 5 nights in Positano, all the way from California. Traveling while my wife is on maternity leave was very important to us, so we went with the ‘what the hell, we can do this’ type of attitude. Anyway, your post is mostly about toddlers. I know you tackled the Amolfi when your child was 2.5 but was wondering if you had advice for my wife and I traveling with our 1 and only child while he’s 2.5 months!

    I had to stop telling people about our trip with our child because they seem to think we’re crazy and I was tired of defending our decision to go to Italy instead of actually talking about it like a vacation. We can’t wait for the trip and we’re lucky our lil guy is a good sleeper and seems to be a ‘good baby.’ Anyways, any extra tidbits are welcome!

    • Hi Dan, Thanks for your message. Yay, a Ciao Bambino poster family! The reality is that 2.5 months is easier than 2.5 years in this location to the extent that babies are stationary and you aren’t worrying about having them get into things … the key is to find accommodations with a set up that enables sleeping and one that has minimal logistics … which sounds like the case here.

      We do have a dedicated page with tips for traveling with babies: http://ciaobambino.com/category/traveling-with-babies/. Happy travel! -Amie

      Happy travels! -Amie

  7. Are the hairpin roads just around the Amalfi Coast or all around Italy?! We are travelling around Italy next Oct with 3.5yr old and 2yr old. We were going to have a few nights along the Amalfi Coast somewhere but now I’m reluctant to give it a try! Agggghhhh decisions decisions, thankfully have a few months up my sleeve :)

    • Hi Phoebe, Driving in other parts of Italy is fine. It’s just the Amalfi Coast itself that is a wee bit more precarious. October is lower season so that makes it a bit more appealing, not as much traffic and stress. -Amie

  8. Hi! We are planning a trip to Sorrento the first week of November with our 6 1/2 and 4 1/2 year olds. Planning to base in Sorrento to see Pompeii, Capri and Amalfi Coast. We are flying and taking the train, but would you recommend car seats for a driving tour (we were thinking by bus) of the Amalfi Coast? We wouldn’t need them for any other portions of the trip so just trying to determine if we should bring them. Thanks!

    • Hi Jen, We usually recommending accessing car seats one way or another. The driving in Southern Italy can be daunting. If you choose to rent a car, most agencies will rent them. Have fun! -Amie

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