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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
I wrote a full article about visiting Forte dei Marmi for Dream of Italy earlier this season. If you are an Italophile of any sort, this newsletter is for you. Get full details here.
All photos except the exterior shot of Hotel Continental were taken by Amie O’Shaughnessy
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More Summer Vacation Photos posts from the Travel Blog Mob:
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Kid-friendly tour guides in Italy
Traveling with MJ: Italian Vacation: Gondolas in Venice
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Wanderlust and Lipstick: Summer (Seattle) Lovin’ – Photo of the Day
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Start a Discussion10 Comments
We will be traveling to Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome in early June. We have a couple of extra days and we are trying to figure out the best place to visit. We thought about taking the Chunnel from Paris to London for a day trip. Or visiting the Amalfi coast, Pompeii or maybe Cinque Terra. Do you have any recommendations on which may be the most interesting for my 7 and 10 year old girls?
Hi Karen, I asked a Family Vacation Consultant to reach out to you in email …. Thanks for using Ciao Bambino! Best, -Amie
Will be in the same places at the same time with 7, 9, 10 yr old would love to hear your advice?
Hi. thanks for the helpful info!
we will be visiting camogli, italy next summer (late june early july)
i am not familiar w/ crowded italian beaches. we were in positano a few years ago, but we spent our time on the hotel’s private beach w/ no crowds.
w/ the public beach in camogli, do you have to go out pretty early to claim your spot? i guess we would rent a few beach chairs and umbrellas and hang out all day and relax. do you have an idea of how much something like that costs? (to rent.) also, do you know if you can you just pack a picnic basket and drink alcohol on the beaches? i am thinking that we are all going to need the water shoes too, but i am going to look for something that looks alittle chic! gotta keep up w/ those stylish europeans!
Good article Amie, What a great idea like mind women getting together & contributing. Very useful and interesting blog, great pics.
Oh my god, those crowds are insane. No way is that a vacation destination I want to experience in the summer.
lovely! and, i am not sure i’d go with those crowds. ugh.