Italian Lakes with kids

The Italian lakes are a perfect Spring and Autumn underrated destination. The freshness of mountain air and the beauty of the lakes make this destination very relaxing. There are plenty of activities with children and everything is really simple to arrange. Here is our trip around the Italian lakes with kids.

italian lakes with kids - first stop: lago maggiore

Lago Maggiore is partly on the Swiss side and mostly on the Italian side. Mountains in the background, the beautiful green plains and the expansive lake. The scenery is set. We decided to stay on the Swiss side, in the small village of Gambarogno, with special views over Ascona.

There are many public beaches along the coast, and the whole lake is worth exploring.

In hindsight, when finishing this article, it is my favourite of the Italian lakes with kids.


Take a day trip to Ascona: For the most scenic route, arrive to Ascona by ferry. There are short ferries to Ascona from pretty much anywhere on the lake. You can obviously drive there too. The village of Ascona is a pretty little chocolate box of old paved streets, delicious eateries and fancy boutiques. The old town is perfect for a stroll. For lunch, choose one of the great lake-facing restaurants.  

cannobio, verbania & stresa

A bit further south from Ascona, do not miss the village of Cannobio. This cute little town seems to have stopped in time. The paved waterfront has a several beautiful terraces where you must enjoy a coffee or a lunch. The town is made of little paved streets, cute boutiques (don’t miss the wooden toy shop) and a very quiet atmosphere. We could have easily spent the day strolling around.

Verbania seems to be stealing the game in guidebooks, but we didn’t find as much charm as in Cannobio. The main road is busier, so lunch by the seafront is not an option. However, the town is slightly bigger, so shops and amenities are better (they have an excellent bookshop and a few yummy looking gelaterias)

Stresa is a great base to spend a day of activities. We only stopped for a couple of hours to visit the Isola Bella. The boat trip in itself is a fun activity and a beautiful experience. Unfortunately, the beautiful island of Isola Bella has been taken over by lots of tourist shops. But on quiet days the promenade is very pleasant. You can visit the castle and the botanical gardens, stroll around the island and observe the boats coming and going.


adventure and water park

This was 100% children’s day. A day packed full of activities and smiles. Nestled between Locarno and Lugano, Monte Tamaro is a must-visit. Take the cable car up and head to the toboggan slide. You descend the mountain at top speed, making kids laugh and adults want to slow down. There are multiple playgrounds, hills and games to play on the top of the mountain. 

At the mid-station, you can spend a good couple of hours at the adventure park. It consists of a parcours in the forest with different levels depending on the kid’s age. Guides are available to help and answer any questions. 

The fresh air and beautiful views will amaze everyone and guarantee a very satisfying day.

At the bottom of the mountain, you can visit the Splash and Spa Tamaro. It is a proper water park, with inside and outside swimming pools, slides for the brave ones and a spa for adults who need to recover after a full day of action. It is well worth a visit to finish the day. 


italian lakes with kids - second stop: lago di como

Next, the romantic, film-like Lago do Como. There is a different feel to the lake, with its grand homes, palaces and overall different shape. The roads around the lake are narrow and follow the rocks. There are many ferries connecting the different shores. There is a true old-school, romantic and very special Italian feeling to it. This is also the most touristic one in our experience. Many groups of visitors come to admire the beauty of the landscape.    


The romantic village is so worth a day trip and at least one meal. We arrived in Bellagio early evening, with the ferry. The only thing missing was the music to make this grand arrival more spectacular. Enjoy a stroll in the beautiful paved streets. 


Como is a proper city with everything you might need. We enjoyed visiting the local market on Saturday morning. The vendors all have a mission: feed our children. So from the cheese stall to the greengrocer, we got to try some really delicious food. We also took the opportunity to pick up a few delicacies to bring back to Amsterdam. Como is busy, but the Piazza del Duomo with its stunning architecture is a must-see. 


Varenna is not a place I would attempt to visit in the summer. The tiny narrow street can quickly create a walking traffic jam. But we did enjoy walking around the beautiful waterfront village. There is a botanical garden and a very unique architecture. Definitely get there early morning (as scoring a parking space is a challenge in itself). 

lago garda

Another lake, another atmosphere. I never expected the three lakes to feel so different. Lago di Garda is geared towards tourism in a different way. Most restaurants have their menu in Italian and German. And locals are used to dealing with large numbers of young tourists. There are many options for adventures on the lake. This is probably the best Italian lake with kidsm with the number of different activities available. 

boat trips

After enjoying mostly ferries and being just passengers on boats, we decided to rent our own boat for a couple of hours. The lake is big and you could easily tour it for the whole day. But as you know, with kids, everything has its limits. We crossed the lake, cruised, observed fish and travelled to the other shore for lunch and an exploration. It was a truly beautiful and unique adventure. A highlight of our holiday. 


It is the theme park of the region and the joy of children. To balance village visits and beautiful lunches, we took the kids to this amusement park full of rides, music, shows and lego constructions. Big smiles on their faces and tired legs at the end of the day.


Coming from Amsterdam and with astronomic flight prices, we decided to drive down and make the journey part of the trip. We rented a car and drove via Strasbourg (which is a great stop by the way) and Switzerland. 

You could decide to fly to Milan and rent a car from there too.

Driving around Italy and Switzerland is very simple. If you spend some time in Switzerland, do not forget to purchase the mandatory vignette (the local tax to drive around).  

I would highly recommend renting a car as some remote places would be challenging to reach with public transport. 

Italy has many different aspects and corners. There is definitely more than the coastline, Tuscany and Rome. I did not even mention any of the food we enjoyed as this is worth its own blog article. Italy is beautiful, varied and so welcoming. 



I hope this has inspired you to visit the Italian Lakes with kids. As always, do not hesitate to reach out if you want to know more  

Bon voyage,

Marta x

Marta Mikolajczyk

Marta Mikolajczyk

Your Family Travel Designer

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