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 …
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.
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.
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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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Ten Things I love About Ravello – My Melange