If you are reading this, you’re probably wondering if Amalfi Coast is a child friendly destination. I have always believed I can take my children anywhere and have a fantastic holiday together. However, my perspective changed when I visited the Amalfi Coast 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, families travel to the Amalfi Coast with young children year after year. But do most parents genuinely have the best time on this holiday? That’s a tricky question.
Let me be clear – the Amalfi Coast is absolutely gorgeous. From its cliff-perched houses painted in a rainbow of colours to the spellbinding sea views, resistance to its allure is futile. Prepare to be enchanted.
However, when it comes to travelling with babies and toddlers, you will find that most towns along the Amalfi Coast present significant challenges to families with young children and generally lack attractions for the little ones. My advice? Consider waiting until the children are a bit older, from the age of 8+, to truly make the most of your trip to the Amalfi Coast and enjoy a stress-free holiday experience. The location is ideal for boating, sightseeing, and indulging in delicious food, making it particularly suitable for older children who are comfortable with water activities and enjoy exploring on foot.
Now, it’s true that you can have a wonderful time with small kids if you plan to stay in one of the luxury hotels tailored to families, relaxing by the infinity pool. But then again, you can find such hotels anywhere in the world, and the whole point of coming to the Amalfi Coast is to get out and see its beauty. Besides, luxury hotels during the summer come with a hefty price tag.
So what things can you do with your children on Amalfi Coast? Read on to find out.
Where is Amalfi Coast exactly?
The Amalfi Coast is a stunning and picturesque coastline in the Campania region of southern Italy. It is situated on the south side of the Sorrentine Peninsula, facing the Gulf of Salerno in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Amalfi Coast stretches for about 50 kilometres (approximately 31 miles) along the coastline and is renowned for its dramatic cliffs, colourful fishing villages, lemon groves, and crystal-clear waters.
There 13 towns and villages along the Amalfi Coast: Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Furore, Conca dei Marini, Scala, Tramonti, Praiano, Vietri sul Mare, Atrani, Cetara, Maiori and Minori. These charming towns are perched on the cliffs, offering breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding landscapes. The entire region is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Italy’s most popular travel destinations, attracting tourists worldwide.
The Amalfi Coast is easily accessible from Naples, the region’s nearest major city and transportation hub.
What are the challenges when visiting Amalfi Coast with children?
1. Stairs, stairs and more stairs
Sweat dripping from foreheads as parents attempt to push strollers up winding roads or carry them up countless stairs – that’s a common sight. Whether you have a lightweight travel stroller or not, you’ll carry it a lot as you climb stairs to get anywhere. The terrain here rarely offers a straight road, and steps appear everywhere. The town is vertical, with steep steps to get anywhere. The more dramatic the cliff views, the harder it is to navigate with babies in arms – Positano, Amalfi, Praiano.
2. Hot summers
With temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F), walking around with young children becomes a sweaty endeavour, let alone pushing a stroller uphill or carrying a baby in a carrier, warming both of you up against your chest.
3. Not a beach destination
If you’re picturing yourself relaxing on a sun lounger while your kid plays happily on the sandy beach, you’re in for a surprise. The beaches here are pebbly, and while the water is warm, it gets deep quickly, making it unsuitable for young children. Water shoes are essential for children and adults, as the rocks can get scorching hot in the sun.
4. Crowds and tourists
From May to September, all towns on the Amalfi Coast become incredibly crowded, especially during the day when tourists flock here for day trips. The narrow streets filled with sightseers can make navigating a stroller quite challenging. Public beaches are crowded and unsuitable for kids due to the pebbly surface and deep water.
5. Busy roads and motion sickness
The main road connecting the towns along the Amalfi Coast is narrow, winding, and becomes extremely busy in the summer months. If you travel during peak hours and your kids suffer from motion sickness, you will not have a fun time.
Taking a private boat tour along the coast is one of the best things to do here, with or without kids. However, babies and very young children may experience motion sickness, and the choppy waters around the coast by boat or ferry may not be suitable for all children.
6. No “attractions” for children
Don’t expect to find dedicated activities or attractions for children on the Amalfi Coast, especially for very young ones. Playgrounds are rare sightings.
7. Forget about children’s menus
While Italian cuisine is delightful, kids’ menus are uncommon in restaurants along the Amalfi Coast. You may end up paying for an adult-sized portion for your child, and restaurants here can be expensive. An average, typical meal would cost you about 50 euros per person. Thankfully, you can always find good pizza, pasta and gelato.
Fun activities with older children on Amalfi Coast
1. Do day trips to explore nearby towns
Whether you choose to make one town your homebase or hop around, there are different ways to get around.
If you decide to use a single town as your base, you can easily explore other towns by ferry, bus, or car. While traveling by bus on the winding coastal roads might be challenging with very young kids, older children will find it more manageable and won’t get as cranky while waiting in line. If you’re planning day trips to other towns, try to start early in the morning to avoid traffic congestion.
Traveling by ferry is a more convenient and enjoyable way to experience the coast. Ferries offer affordable and frequent services, and you’ll get breathtaking views from the water. However, keep in mind that ferry schedules can be affected by weather conditions, so be prepared to adapt your plans based on the forecast. If you opt for exploring the coast by ferry, consider choosing a town that has good ferry connections, like Positano or Amalfi, as your homebase.
To make the most of your exploration, limit your itinerary to one town per day. This way, both you and the kids won’t feel exhausted from excessive walking. Take your time to leisurely wander through the quaint, colorful houses, and picturesque streets of the coastal towns, truly immersing yourselves in the magical charm of the Amalfi Coast.
While Positano, Ravello, and Amalfi are three towns that stand out for their beauty and attractions, don’t overlook the smaller towns like Maiori and Minori. These charming spots are also worth exploring and have more “kid-friendly” terrains.
Positano is renowned for its pastel-colored houses cascading down the cliffside, creating a unique and picturesque coastal panorama. These hues of pink, peach, and terracotta against the blue backdrop of the sea have made Positano a favorite destination for photographers and artists.
The town’s history dates back to the Roman era when it thrived as “Posidonia,” an essential trading hub. American writer John Steinbeck once described it as a dream place that captivates visitors even after they’ve left.
Immerse yourself in the views, stroll along the narrow, winding streets adorned with shops and art galleries. Check out Fornillo and Spiaggia Grande beaches, where you can soak up the sun and take a moment to visit Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, a beautiful church with a stunning tiled dome.
Perched above the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is a charming small town nestled on a mountain, offering breathtaking views of the coastline between Amalfi and Minori. Unlike the towns directly on the coast, Ravello cannot be reached by ferry. Instead, you can access it by car or take a scenic bus ride from Amalfi, which takes approximately 20 minutes.
A visit to Ravello wouldn’t be complete without exploring the renowned Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo gardens. These beautifully landscaped gardens provide splendid vistas of the coastline and offer a serene atmosphere, perfect for unwinding and soaking in the natural beauty. The gardens’ abundant shade also makes them an ideal escape from the summer heat. The best part is that both villas are just a 15-minute walk from each other, so it’s highly recommended to combine them on the same visit. Each villa offers a unique experience and breathtaking views from different angles, making it a truly memorable excursion.
Ravello is home to the annual Ravello Festival, founded in 1953, which celebrates the works of the composer Richard Wagner and other renowned artists. The festival takes place in various historic venues, adding a touch of magic to Ravello’s cultural calendar.
Located at the heart of the Amalfi Coast, Amalfi boasts lively streets, charming squares, and the impressive Duomo di Sant’Andrea with its elaborate mosaics. While it may not be as striking as Positano, Amalfi’s beauty is undeniable, making it a wonderful day trip destination.
The charming streets of Amalfi are a pleasure to explore with older children. Wander through the narrow alleys, and you’ll discover quaint shops selling local crafts, limoncello, and souvenirs. We found the best Italian gelato in Amalfi centre at Pasticceria Andrea Pansa right by the Duomo with local flavours of lemon and almonds.
For a unique experience, visit the Museum of Paper (Museo della Carta), where your kids can learn about the history and traditional techniques of paper-making in Amalfi. It’s an educational and fun activity that provides insight into the town’s artisanal heritage.
Capri (technically not on Amalfi Coast)
I highly recommend planning a visit to the beautiful island of Capri. While staying overnight allows you to fully experience the island’s beauty, if you’re limited to a day trip, consider taking a ferry ride from your homebase town. The journey from Amalfi to Capri takes approximately 1 hour, while from Positano, it’s only about 25 minutes.
Once in Capri, visit the Gardens of Augustus (Giardini di Augusto), where you can stroll through lush gardens offering panoramic vistas of the sea and the famous Faraglioni rock formations.
In Anacapri, stroll around the centre and take the chairlift to Mount Solaro, the highest point on the island at 589 metres above sea level. The panoramic views from the top are breathtaking. The chairs on the chairlift are made for a single passenger and are fine to use for older children, but not for very young or active children who can lift the safety bar.
If time allows, take a two hour boat tour around Capri to see the famous grottos, get up close to Faraglioni rocks, the natural stone arch carved by nature Arco Naturale, Punta Carena lighthouse and other highlights. You can also stop on the boat for a swim.
2. Take a private boat tour
For an unforgettable experience, rent a private boat for a few hours and explore caves, enjoy swims, and snorkelling along the stunning coast. The boats have inflatables and life jackets for children or adults who are not confident swimmers. You can expect to pay about 300 euros for a two hour private boat cruise.
There are restaurants you can only get to by boat. We stopped by for lunch at Ristorante La Tonnarella in Conca dei Marini. There have been many famous guests visiting the restaurant including Jacqueline Kennedy with her sister and children who first came to stay on Amalfi Coast in the summer 1962. The restaurant still serves spaghetti with courgettes loved by the First Lady and the dish is well known by everybody as “Spaghetti Jacqueline Style”.
3. Take a guided tour of Pompeii
Just a short distance from the coast lies Pompeii, an ancient Roman city buried under volcanic ash and pumice during Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD. Today, it stands as an incredibly well-preserved archaeological site, offering a captivating glimpse into Pompeii’s daily life and culture.
A guided tour allows you to fully immerse yourself in the history and significance of this extraordinary site. Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the ancient streets, pointing out the remarkably preserved buildings, temples, and homes. They’ll share fascinating stories and historical insights, bringing the ancient city back to life.
If you’re arriving in Naples, as we did for our trip to the Amalfi Coast, consider stopping at Pompeii for a few hours en route from the Naples airport to your final destination on the Amalfi Coast.
4. Do little and relax on Amalfi Coast with children
Take time to do nothing if that’s what you feel like doing. Day trips can be exhausting for children, so alternate busy days with chill days where kids unplug from the hustle and bustle, have some downtime and play to their heart’s content. Whether it’s collecting pebbles on the beach, eating gelato, or playing games together – prioritise activities that bring joy to the whole family.