Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the charming Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe for families. This famed region in southern Italy is one of the best places to travel with kids because of the great mix of culture, history and activities as well as food even the fussiest eaters will enjoy. From Pompeii to Capri, beach to archeological sites, a family trip to Italy is not complete without visiting the Amalfi Coast with kids.
From the white houses of Positano tucked into the cliffs to the trees hanging heavy with lemons in Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast is a popular destination, redolent with sun, excellent food, and family experience. A visit to the Amalfi Coast with kids offers families a chance to experience legendary Italy, between the beauty of the region’s enchanting terrain, the freshness of its culinary traditions and the wonder of its archeological sites. Families go with a beach holiday in mind but leave with a sense of the timelessly elegant stature of Italy’s ancient culture.
Positano, Capri, Naples and the archaeological excavations at Pompeii are the most popular destinations to visit. For families, day visits to these more crowded areas while staying in some of the more kid-friendly and less crowded towns (and islands!) is preferable (such as the island of Ischia, a less expensive alternative to Capri, or the Amalfi Coast towns of Praiano and Minori).
The Destination: Amalfi Coast With Kids
The Amalfi Coast, south of Naples, is dotted with seaside towns set in the dramatic cliffs along the sea: Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, Praiano, with noteworthy hamlets and fortifications in between ending finally at the Gulf of Salerno. Each area boasts archaeological sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum where kids’ imaginations can run wild exploring ruins that illustrate everyday activities in the ancient world.
When to Go to the Amalfi Coast with Kids
A hot sun and thousands of tourists are hallmarks of June - August on the Amalfi Coast. Visit from September - October or April - June, though, and you'll still be ambling along the cliffside in flip-flops and sipping cappuccinos in the morning sun, enjoying temperatures as high as 79°F (26°C). Be aware that most hotels and restaurants close from November - March, so do your research accordingly.
Things to Do on the Amalfi Coast With Kids
If there is a corner of Italy that embodies the national affection and talent for “il dolce far niente”, or the sweet pleasure of doing nothing, it is the Amalfi Coast. Unlike Italy’s bustling cities thick with iconic monuments, the Amalfi Coast is more about simply being than busily doing. With a few notable exceptions, days can be spent languidly on the beaches or wandering the fishing villages-cum-resort towns with a clear conscience.
That said, if you are more a do-er and than be-er, there are a number of activities to do in the Amalfi Coast with kids without interrupting the coastline’s general slow pace.
Patron Saints Festivals on the Amalfi Coast with kids
Though the Amalfi Coast is now the playground of the rich and famous, it hasn’t lost touch with its roots as humble fishing villages, where faith played an important role in the community. During the summer, the Amalfi Coast hosts a number of exciting festivals typically celebrating the town’s saint’s day with a historical procession or tournament, fireworks and feasting. Among the most spectacular of these are The Festa di Sant’Anna and Praiano’s Luminaria di San Domenico.
The Festa di Sant’Anna in front of the medieval castle Castello Aragonese on Ischia every July 26 when a procession of boats parades in the bay in front of the island castle. The boats are decorated fantastically as floats in a competition, ending with a dramatic fireworks show that concludes with an a fiery boom, as if the castle is on fire.
Praiano’s Luminaria di San Domenico is a week of illumination in this beautiful town during early August when the piazza in front of the town cathedral is lit with thousands of votive candles and becomes the stage for nightly theatrics involving all manner of fire and ending, of course, with fireworks.
Hiking on the Amalfi Coast with Kids
Cool spring weather is perfect for exploring hiking trails in the hills above the Amalfi Coast. Here you can roam through lemon groves, fields of wild flowers, forests and vineyards and enjoy astounding views of the sparkling sea, the island of Capri in the distance and the villages of Positano and Praiano below you
The most spectacular is by far the famed Sentiero dei Dei (Path of the Gods), which links Agerola and Nocelle (a hamlet near Positano) along almost 8 kilometers of startlingly scenic coastline. The best direction to walk is from Agerola, so the 3-hour route will be almost exclusively downhill, along the easy (though vertigo-inducing) route indicated by red and white 02 trail markers.
Another wonderful route is through the Vallone delle Ferriere down the mountain slopes above the town of Amalfi. Beginning in Montone in the Monti Latteri, this 6-kilometer route descends through chestnuts woods and thick tropical fern and moss-covered expanses.
Walkers first pass the ruins of historic foundries (from which the valley gets its name) and then, just before arriving in Amalfi, a number of water mills, which once powered this Marine Republic’s famous cartiere, or paper mills.
Family Tours in the Amalfi Coast with Kids
Your family can have loads of fun during your vacation on the Amalfi Coast with kids. Be they tiny tots or teens, there are plenty of tours that offer them both entertainment and education. Here are some tours we suggest you consider doing with your kids while on vacation. These family tours are also available from Naples so if you're arriving on a cruise ship, you could consider these for port excursions.
Amalfi Coast with Kids Private Chauffeured Road Trip
Driving along the Amalfi Coast can be a stressful experience so it's nice to leave the driving to someone else. On this luxurious private chauffeured road trip you'll be driven along the scenic coast with stops in villages, beaches, or scenic view spots of your choosing. Since the tour is private, you and your group can stop wherever you wish and the driver can recommend places to stop for shopping, swimming, taking a walk in the hills, or a good restaurant for lunch. Pick up is available anywhere on the Amalfi peninsula or Naples.
Pompeii and Herculaneum Full Day Tour
A convenient way to visit the archeological ruins of the lost cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum is on a private tour. The car or van will pick you up and return you to any location on the Amalfi Coast or Naples. The full day tour includes transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, licensed local guide and admissions. More »
Pompeii Guided Walking Tour
If you prefer to get to Pompeii on your own either with your own car or by taking the train from Sorrento, this private walking tour will inspire the whole family through a firsthand glimpse into the sumptuous daily life of an ancient Roman seaside resort. A licensed local guide will lead you through the highlights of the archeological site on this kid-friendly tour that lasts 3 hours. Admission to the excavation site are also included. More »
Pro travel tip: prior to the holiday, get your children prepared for the Ancient Roman world with easy to read books. For families heading to Pompeii, here is a list of recommended books by age: Reading age 4 - 7 years: Ancient Rome and Pompeii and Vacation Under the Volcano. Reading age 8 years and up: What was Pompeii? Pompeii Lost & Found and Dairy of Dorkius Maximus in Pompeii. Teens & Adults: Pompeii (A novel by Robert Harris), The Complete Pompeii and The Fires of Vesuvius.
Pompeii and Vesuvius Full Day Tour
For families with older children, a hike up Mount Vesuvius, still an active volcano is a great adventure with the bonus of magnificent views of the Bay of Naples. This full day private tour starts from anywhere on the Amalfi peninsula or Naples. Travel in an air-conditioned vehicle with English-speaking driver for a visit to the archeological excavation of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvio where you'll climb the most famous volcano in the world. More »
Full Day Tour of Ancient Paestum - Ruins, Wine & Cheese
The complex of ancient Greek temples inland at Paestum, south of Salerno on the plains, should be on the itinerary for those with a little more time to explore. This full day private tour departs from any place on Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Salerno, or Naples with transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle with English-speaking driver. The tour includes a guided tour of the well-preserved Greek temple complex at Paestum and visits to two local factories with cheese and wine tastings.
Food For Kids in the Amalfi Coast
The food typical of the Amalfi Coast is a dream for families: the area is famous for lemons, pastries, artisanal chocolates, pizza and fresh pasta. The summer festivals usually also have market stalls set up during the celebrations with rows of sweets, pastries, local delicacies and fried fish. The region is known for fluffy fried pastries with a hint of lemon zest or the infamous cannoli (a rolled, fried pastry stuffed with sweet ricotta fillings). One of the most famous pastry shops, or pasticcieria, is Andrea Pansa in the main piazza in front of the cathedral in the town of Amalfi. Enjoy an afternoon coffee break at one of the typical outdoor tables set up for people watching.
Wherever you are staying on the Amalfi Coast, a boat ride to a cove for lunch and a swim is a dining must. Families with kids will enjoy the famous beach at Santa Croce restaurant. A boat for the beach club and restaurant leaves from the dock in the town of Amalfi (it is a blue boat labeled Ristorante Santa Croce) or private taxis can be organised from the docks in Minori, Praiano or Positano. For a light lunch, the snack bar at the beach club serves simple sandwiches, pizza and ice cream all day. The swimming here is just perfect for kids complete with a grotto, of course.
Try pizza from practically anywhere along the coast as in this territory; it’s the ingredients that make it exceptional: the particular flour regionally milled just so for the crust, the fresh tomato sauce, soft mozzarella and sweet basil. For dessert, parents can enjoy a digestivo of limoncello, a classic of the area, while the kids can cool off with a lemon granita.
Family Friendly Hotels in the Amalfi Coast With Kids
In the town of Amalfi the 5-star classic Hotel Santa Caterina is a family-friendly paradise with a safe beach club perched on the sea that also has a central seawater pool, cabanas, showers and a snack bar. The lifeguards will bring out a variety of toys, water sport equipment or floating devices for the kids. Whereas many stairs must be climbed to reach the sea in general in the Amalfi Coast, at the Santa Caterina, guests descend to the beach club area in a glass elevator with views beyond imagination.
In Praiano, the family-run Hotel Tramonto D’Oro is centrally located in the middle of town and offers a larger number of triple and quad rooms comfortable for families than is typical in this area. The hotel’s infinity pool is large and fun for kids with expansive views looking back toward Positano. The dining in the hotel is superb and very kid-friendly, with the option of half-board to include dinner and breakfast with your stay.
Just below the hilltop town of Ravello, the strip of coast known as the Marmorata, near the tiny village of Minori, is particularly appealing for families with children. Less crowded with safe coves for swimming and less boat traffic, this peaceful area is a dream. The Ravello Art Hotel Marmorata offers great value for families with parking and a pool and small beach club, as well as family rooms that can accommodate a family of four.
Pro travel tip: The Amalfi Coast is a popular vacation destination and hotels may fill up, especially in summer, so it's a good idea to book ahead.
Getting from Naples to the Amalfi Coast with Kids in Tow
The Amalfi Coast can be reached by arriving in Naples via train or air. From either the central train station or the airport, families can rent a car and drive to the Amalfi Coast (for the driver new to the area one should plan on at least 1.5 hours). The drive is not far, but it is windy, with lots of hairpin turns and traffic.
There is also the option to schedule a hired driver to take you to your destination or take a taxi to the port of Naples and then take a ferry or hydrofoil to your Amalfi Coast town of choice. In all events, parents should be prepared for either car or sea sickness en route.
You will not necessarily need a car once you arrive on the coast as parking is scarce (and expensive) and driving along the coastal road is not convenient. Local buses serve all of the towns along the coast very well, yet can be crowded. The best option for getting around is the local ferries (traghetti). Each town has a centrally located tourist office where you can obtain the public transportation schedules and purchase bus or ferry tickets and there is also typically a ticket office at the dock. Your hotel concierge can assist you with these as well.
Exploring the Amalfi Coast with a Baby or Toddler
The Amalfi Coast is a child-friendly destination when it comes to the attitude of the people. The summer climate makes it very pleasant for small children. If you want your pride and joy to experience a little dip in the sea for the first time, then you can't go wrong with the area's plentiful beaches and their warm waters. Because of the nature of the topography, generally you will need to descend and ascend stairs to access the beaches along the Amalfi Coast. If you are traveling with infants or young children plan to do your beach excursions without a stroller.
Experience the Best of the Amalfi Coast with Kids
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