With a little planning and some background information on the region's gripping history, Naples and the Amalfi Coast are guaranteed to hook young, curious minds. After all, this is the land of giant gladiatorial arenas, mysterious catacombs, hissing craters and bubbling beaches. Jump in!
Best Regions for Kids
- Naples, Pompeii & Around
Capital attractions: step back in time at Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplontis, explore ancient cisterns, passageways and ghoulish cemeteries below lively city streets, get experimental at a science museum and sidle up to a sizzling geological freak.
- The Islands
Water babies: seek your own perfect swimming cove on a private boat on Procida, sail into a sparkling, magical grotto on Capri, or pool-hop at a sprawling thermal-spa resort on lush, volcanic Ischia.
- The Amalfi Coast
Surf and turf: chill out on a summertime boat trip, get splash-happy at a coveted beach, hike high above the coastline, and take in a little history at a quirky paper museum in Amalfi.
- Salerno & the Cilento
Wild and cultured: learn about ancient medicine at a multimedia museum, attend a children's film festival, or run wild in wide open spaces, riding rivers, feeding farm animals and sorting out your stalactites from your stalagmites.
Campania for Kids
Children are adored in Campania and welcomed almost anywhere. On the downside, the region has few special amenities for junior travellers, and the combination of Naples' breathless pace, the Amalfi Coast's twisting coastal road, and the stroller-unfriendly cobbled stones at archaeological sites can prove challenging. With a little adaptation and an open mind, however, young families will find that Campania is a richly stimulating, rewarding destination.
- MAV (Museo Archeologico Virtuale), Ercolano Campania's ancient ruins brought back to life with holograms and videos.
- Museo della Carta, Amalfi Explore the region's proud papermaking tradition in an historic Amalfi paper mill.
- Città della Scienza, Bagnoli A superfun science centre just west of Naples.
- Museo Virtuale della Scuola Medica Salernitana, Salerno An interactive museum dedicated to medieval medicine.
- Giffoni Film Festival, Giffoni Valle Piana, Salerno Europe's biggest children's film festival.
Thrills & Spills
Negombo, Ischia A thermal-springs park with mineral pools and thermal beach, plus massage and beauty treatments for frazzled parents.
Grotta Azzurra, Capri Pixar has nothing on Capri's dazzling, other-worldly Blue Grotto.
Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni, Spooky caves, colourful sea-grottoes and agriturismo complete with furry friends.
Monte Faito Spectacular cable-car ride up to the roof of the Lattari mountains.
Pompeii Ancient theatres, houses, shops and even a stadium. The ancient brothel will no doubt bemuse teens.
Herculaneum Smaller than Pompeii and better preserved, with carbonised furniture and ancient shop advertisements.
Napoli Sotterranea, Naples Head down a secret porthole into a magical labyrinth of Graeco-Roman passageways and cisterns.
Cimitero delle Fontanelle, Naples It's Halloween every day at the ghoulish Fontanelle Cemetery, neatly stacked with human skulls and bones.
Planning a trip to Italy with kids is fairly straightforward. On a global scale, the country can be considered child-friendly, particularly with regard to food and accommodation. Most museums and sights offer discounted entry for kids, although some discounts are for EU citizens only. Ask at tourist offices about any family activities, festivals and events, and consider investing in a few children's history books to help their imagination along at archaeological sites.
For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.
- Disposable nappies (diapers) are readily available at supermarkets and pharmacies. Pharmacies also stock baby formula in powder or liquid form, as well as sterilising solutions.
- Fresh cow's milk is sold in cartons in supermarkets and in bars with a 'Latteria' sign. UHT milk is popular, and in many out-of-the-way areas it's the only kind available.
- Cobbled streets, pot holes and crowded transport make travelling with a stroller cumbersome; consider investing in an ergonomic baby carrier instead.
- Public-transport operators offer free travel for one child aged up to six if accompanied by a paying adult. An adult accompanying more than one child must purchase one ticket per every two children.
- Most car-hire firms offer children's safety seats at a nominal cost, but these should be booked ahead.
When To Go
May, June and September are generally warm and sunny, without the summer peak crowds. Colourful floats and costumes make Carnevale (February or March) another good bet, while the region's famous presepi (nativity scenes) can help make December magical.
Where to Eat
- Most eateries, especially trattorias and pizzerias, welcome kids.
- If reserving a table, ask if they have a seggiolone (high chair).
- Children's menus are uncommon, though requesting a mezzo piatto (half plate) off the menu is usually fine.
Where to Stay
- Hostels and apartments Good for multibed rooms, self-catering and lounge facilities.
- Campgrounds Buzzing in high season (summer), with many offering activities for kids of all ages.
- Farm stays Great for outdoor space; numerous agriturismi also come with cute, furry animals.
- Book accommodation in advance whenever possible. In hotels, some double rooms can't accommodate an extra bed for kids, so check ahead. If the child is small enough to share your bed, some hoteliers will let you do this for free.
Kids' History Books
Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii (James M Deem; 2005) Fascinating facts and illustrations for kids visiting Pompeii.
Pizza for the Queen (Nancy F Castaldo; 2014) A charming picture book about the history of Naples' legendary margherita.
- For more information see the Italy-focused website www.italiakids.com or the Naples-focused https://napoliperbambini.com (in Italian).
- For more general tips, check out www.travelwithyourkids.com and www.familytravelnetwork.com.