As you know, Italy places the family and the care of the youngest ones at the center of its national values. The region of Como is no exception! Everyone is prepared for: mamma, papa and i bambini are all ready to discover the hotels, restaurants and children’s activities that await them on the shores of the most beautiful of the great Italian lakes, a favorite of globe-trotting tribes…
In the north of Italy, only 1 hour from Milan, in the Lombardy region, you will find the beautiful Lake Como. Its exceptional size (50 km long, 4 km wide and 410 meters deep) welcomes each year the rich owners of Riva boats, these Roll-Royce of the seas, a symbol of luxury and refinement for the Italians. Recognizable among thousands thanks to its watercolour landscapes composed of sapphire blue waters and pastel-coloured patrician villas, the shores of this chic and elegant haven of peace are protected by the FAI, a strict environmental and artistic charter that preserves its heritage. A romantic destination, Lake Como is at the heart of the greatest love stories. Artists, poets and writers have loved and been inspired by Lake Como, from George Sand to Stendhal, through Wagner or Franz Liszt who wrote: « When you write the story of two happy lovers, place them on the shores of Lake Como. ». A golden refuge of the most glamorous personalities such as the Clooney family, the lake is also home to the sumptuous hillside houses of the Italian jet-set and the world’s greatest fortunes, all followers of the dolce vita. Many villages have been built on the shores of Lake Como. Among the most popular are Bellagio, Menaggio, Moltrasio, Tremezzina, Varenna and Cernobbio. If they look alike at first, each one nevertheless contains its own treasures of architecture and history and also its new kids-friendly addresses for a successful family holiday!
1. THE UNMISSABLE
- Play hide and seek in the beautiful Botanical Park of Villa Carlotta, a neo-classical palace of 7,000 sqm set on the banks of the village of Tremezzina. This 17th-century building houses an art museum where some of the most important works of Italian Romanticism are on display. Practical information: Via Regina, 2 – 22016 Tremezzina +39 0344 40405; €10/adult – €5/child over 6 years – Free admission for children under 6 years old ; Directions
- Register for an art class at the Abele Experientia Artis workshop in Bellagio. Mom and Dad can lay their easels at the edge of the water and try watercolour while baby imitates them or indulges in the sculpture of a small rabbit in clay. Practical information: Via Jacopo Rezia 22, San Giovanni di Bellagio – From 1 year – Course duration: 2 hours; +393420931568 ; Directions
- Get lost in the narrow streets of the old town of Como, listen to the chimes from the terrace of a small café in the Piazza del Duomo and capture pictures of your toddlers having fun in the playground and children on the shores of the lake. Do not forget to go to Cavour Glacier to reward their efforts. Practical information: Gelateria Cavour – Piazza Camillo Benso Conte di Cavour 31, 22100; +39 031 303022; €1/ball ; Directions
- Rent a motorboat without a license and sail on the calm waters of the lake for a few hours with your tribe. The experience is unique and the panorama idyllic. Probably the best memory of your stay in Como… Practical information: €75/h (regressive rates) up to 6 people; email@example.com; +39 328 2920019
- Harvest the most beautiful pebbles on the beach at Ulisse Guzzi Park, a peaceful corner where families can swim in the lake and relax in a friendly and friendly atmosphere. Parents love the outdoor bar. Practical information: Piazza Della Costituzione Repubblicana, 135, Abbadia Lariana – Parking €7/6h ; Directions
- Stroll through the gardens of Villa del Balbianello, home to many Hollywood film productions such as Casino Royale and Stars Wars II, and the kiss and wedding of Padmé and Anakin took place on the balcony of the property, built-in 1787. Practical information: Via Guido Monzino, 1 – 22016 Tremezzina +39 0344 56110; €20/adult – €10/child from 4 to 14 years old – Free admission for children under 4 years old; Directions
- Improve your toddler’s swing on the 18-hole Mini Golf Park in Menaggio, a place entirely dedicated to families enjoying panoramic views of the lake. Mom and Dad are also invited to handle a club alongside their toddler. Practical information: Viale Benedetto Castelli, 47, 22017 Menaggio +39 348 880 9469 – €5/adult and €4/child ; Directions
- Venture between the cliffs of the natural waterfall of the Orrido di Bellano village, a privileged place for nature lovers and photographers because of the beautiful lights and rainbows that often form in the small canyon after a brief shower. Practical information: 20′ visit – €4/adult – €3,50/child from 6 to 12 years old – Free entry for children under 6 years old; Directions
2. HOTELS FOR FAMILIES
- Demanding families drop off their suitcases at Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, a must-see lake resort in the charming village of Bellagio, known for its 300 sqm spa, stunning outdoor pool and private beach. This 5* hotel has everything to please parents, teens and toddlers: it offers child services such as babysitting, play area, a swimming pool with a slide and the loan of babies equipment, as well as a unique gastronomic experience in the starred restaurant. It is in this magnificent waterfront building that the celebrities who visit Lake Como arrive each summer, such as Al Pacino!
- On the other side, inland, we reach the charming Hotel Corta Santa Libera, with its modern and authentic rooms, and stone walls. The 3* hotel serves a delicious breakfast and advises guests to dine in the small family inn, located a few metres up the hill (15′ walk), where you will find a breathtaking view of the mountains, in winter and summer. Directions
- Country souls settle into the cosy and rustic rooms of Zertin Farmhouse. Perched on the heights of the small town of Peglio, its small pool and terrace restaurant enjoy exclusive views of the lake and nearby villages. It is a favourite accommodation for hikers. Directions
3. KID-FRIENDLY RESTAURANTS
- The Terrazza Belvedere is simply the gastronomic address of Bellagio, and the lake! The best products of the region may be tasted there from a superb dining room with a panoramic view. On the menu, a cuisine that is both simple and sophisticated: sea bass schnitzel, caramelized pear and cheese risotto, tomato and mozzarella gnocchi or spaghetti carbonara. Kids love the dessert menu. Practical information: Via Valassina, 31, 22021; +39 031 950410 ; Directions
- We stay in Bellagio where just a 10-minute walk from Terrazza Belvedere is the Belas Pool & Restaurant, an extremely popular venue because of its sports centre. After enjoying the two tennis courts, the swimming pool and the football field with your family, take a seat on the veranda where a talented and promising young chef serves delicious Mediterranean dishes such as shellfish spaghetti and the famous zucchini scapece, marinated in vinegar before being baked in the oven. Practical information: Viale Domenico Vitali, 6, 22021; +39 031 679 0023 ; Directions
- Cernobbio is famous for the Kitchen table, a gourmet restaurant with beautiful contemporary decor. Its main asset? An outdoor terrace surrounded by gardens where your children can enjoy themselves in peace. The address is both chic and casual, with cooking classes for gourmands and pastry lovers and also wine tastings. Practical information: Via per Cernobbio 41A, Como; +39 (0) 31 51 6460 ; Directions
- Escale‘s relaxed and friendly atmosphere appeals to gourmets. Located in the Gran Hotel Tremezzo, the restaurant is only a few steps away from Villa Carlotta and welcomes its guests in an old wine cellar or on its panoramic terrace. The wine list has more than 350 regional bottles but here, the real stars are the fondues, a dish that is obviously a family speciality. No doubt you will spend a beautiful evening in this charming and prestigious century-old building. Practical information: Via Regina, 8 – 22016; +39 0344 42491 ; Directions
- The cuisine of the Imperialino is unique. Combining tradition and innovation, the menu features Mediterranean masterpieces prepared with fresh and seasonal ingredients. Orchestrated by chef Sebastiano Adobati, the restaurant overlooking the lake is rewarded with a Michelin Plate (2018) ensuring families an excellent gastronomic moment in this idyllic place, located in the heart of the 5* hotel of the same name. Practical information: Via Regina 26, Moltrasio, Lake Como, 22010; +39 031 346600 ; Directions
4. THEME PARKS
- Sporting families and adventurous souls can be found at Jungle Park, an ideal playground for archery, caving and tree-climbing enthusiasts. Also, young and old alike can enjoy introducing themselves to mini paintball. Practical information: Open from March to September; €8 for babies; From €15 for adults; Strada per Lumini, Pineta Sperane – 37010; +39 045 6289306; Directions
- The children will feel their wings fluttering at the gates of Volandia, an interactive park where your little darlings become aviators for a day. The park includes a museum, a flight simulator and also an indoor playground with crazy trampolines and gigantic bouncy castle accessible to children from 3 years onwards! Practical information: Children under two years of age have free fun at Volandia Park; €5/child from 3 to 11 years old; €11/adult; Free parking; Via per Tornavento, 15, 21019 Somma Lombardo VA; +39 0331 230007; Directions
- Leolandia Park is a paradise for young children who are eager for magic and fairy tales. With its 40 attractions, your toddlers will not know where to turn, with animated characters strolling through the park’s alleys and dance shows, sounds and lights. Practical information: Seasonal entrance price between €20 and €30; Via Vittorio Veneto, 52 24042 Capriate S. Gervasio; +39 02 909 0169; Directions
- You reach Lake Como from Milan airports (Malpensa or Linate) where you may choose either to rent a car or to take the train. Your train journey to Como (50′) will cost you a small fee of €4. It is also a 50-minute drive from Milan’s airports to the city centre.
- Car rental in Northern Italy is rather expensive and yet it is the best way to get around to the various attractions around the lake. Fortunately, some international sellers such as Avis or Europcar have good prices, with the possibility of renting a car seat adapted to the age of your children. Remember to book your car well in advance and pick it up directly at the airport to avoid surprises.
- In terms of visiting the villages along the lake, there is nothing better than travelling by boat. Ferry crossings are cheap, the network is well served and the experience allows you to review your programme of activities while enjoying the beauty of the landscape. The boats are accustomed to receiving families equipped with strollers and the crew is always caring for the little ones.
6. WEATHER & CLIMATE
- The autumns are both rainy and sunny in Como. Temperatures are around 10 degrees. The Italians do not leave their sunglasses and their expensive terraces where they enjoy a coffee in the early hours of the morning. Enjoy walks on the lake before letting the mercury reach negative celsius.
- The lake never freezes in winter even though temperatures vary between -4° and 8°. The climate is humid with very cold winds and a veiled sun. However, this is probably the favourite period for the locals who gather en masse around the many events organized during the end of the year celebrations. On the programme: an ice rink, Christmas market, lights show, and many other magical activities!
- Spring is likely the best time to visit the lake with young children. The temperatures are close to 25° and the fresh wind of the heights refreshes the smallest during the hot weather and delights sailing enthusiasts. Families can take advantage of the weather to indulge in various water sports and a few hikes that await them on the heights of the lake.
- In summer, temperatures can go up to 30°. The climate is dry and sunny. This is the tourist season that begins at the lake and usually finishes at the end of September. The terraces, ferries and attractions are crowded, a price to pay to enjoy the most beautiful colours of Lake Como under a blazing sun.
7. What to bring for the children?
- Do not forget to pack the foldable baby stroller, which is essential for strolling the narrow streets of the old old town but also for quickly getting your entire tribe on board the ferries. We also think of their cuddly toy, a total sunscreen adapted to the fragile skin of the baby and our travel checklist for babies from 0 to 3 years.
- Toddlers ages 3 to 6 also have their own checklist. It includes a night light, pyjamas, armbands, games and colouring books, plasters, etc. We have thought of everything!
- Children aged 6 to 12 who wish to participate in the preparation of their luggage are invited to download their own travel checklist, the opportunity to show Mom and Dad how autonomous they are, organized and looking forward to their family holidays.
Sarah, 26, journalism and travel addict, from Brussels