Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera has endless appeal for young travellers. This is a land of seaside fun on the beach, scenic boat rides and enjoyable hikes for older kids, with rewarding snacks (focaccia, gelato, pizza!) never far away. Other highlights include clambering through castle rooms in Lerici, riding a cable car high above Rapallo and going eye-to-eye with Mediterranean marine creatures in Genoa’s aquarium.
Beaches & Swimming Spots
Monterosso has a long pebbly beach that makes for a great day out without leaving the Cinque Terre. There are also small beaches in Vernazza and Riomaggiore. Further afield, you can find some enchanting stretches of shoreline in Levanto, Sestri Levante, Lerici and San Terenzo. Kids don’t always need a beach for aquatic fun. On calm days, kids who know how to swim can take a dip in the pool-like spot off Manarola’s marina or jump into the waters off the dock in Corniglia.
Fun in Genoa
While many travellers breeze through this port city, there are some appealing attractions for children. Down on the revitalised waterfront, you’ll find one of Europe’s largest aquariums, a rotating platform with grand views and departing boat trips with dolphin-watching opportunities. There’s also plenty of room to run around (and fresh fruit on the mulberry trees in early summer).
Eating out is one of the joys of travelling in the Italian Riviera and with gelato, pizza and pasta on the menu, your children will be just as excited as you are.
Kids are welcome pretty much everywhere, especially in casual, family-run trattorias. These places are usually pretty informal with friendly, indulgent waiters and menus of simple pastas and grilled meat dishes. Pizzerias are another option and once you’ve got to grips with the Italian approach to toppings (often just one or two ingredients plus tomato and mozzarella) you’ll be a fan for life.
Italian families eat late and few restaurants open their doors before 7pm. Some serve a menu bambino (child’s menu), but if not it’s perfectly acceptable to order a mezzo piatto (half-portion) or a simple plate of pasta with butter or olive oil and Parmesan. High chairs (seggioloni) are occasionally available, but if your toddler needs to be strapped in, bring your own portable cloth seat.
Pizza al taglio (sliced pizza), panini from delicatessens, and gelato are tasty on-the-run snacks. And markets everywhere burst with salami, cheese, olives, bread, fruit and other inspiring picnic supplies.
Baby requirements are easily met (except on Sundays when most shops are closed). Pharmacies and supermarkets sell baby formula, nappies (diapers), ready-made baby food and sterilising solutions. Fresh cow's milk is sold in cartons in supermarkets and in bars with a 'Latteria' sign.
Spiaggia di San Terenzo Enjoy the (usually) calm waters of this beach just north of Lerici.
Punta Chiappa Catch a boat or hike from Camogli to this pretty seaside spot.
Sestri Levante Frolick in the waves just off this picturesque town a short train ride from Cinque Terre.
Spiaggia di Levanto Walk the beachfront or take a bike ride along the promenade.
Monterosso Play in the water just a short stroll from Monterosso’s train station.
Best Rainy Day Activities
Centro Visito Batterie Silvio Sommazzi Clamber around the remnants of WWII bunkers while hiking the trails of the Portofino Peninsula.
Genoa–Casella Railway Marvel at the views of old forts while riding this narrow-gauge railway from Genoa to Casella.
Sentiero Azzurro: Monterosso to Vernazza Hiking a coastal trail, with gelato and other treats awaiting at the end.