Family Travel Question:
Q | Is Cinque Terre, or Varenna/Lake Como a good idea for a family with two young kids, and five days to spend?
We are a family with two young children staying in Florence for four nights, Lucca for two nights and flying out of Milan. What should we do with our five other nights: Cinque Terre, or Varenna/Lake como? We will have no car. Help please! -Robin, CA
A | Exploring Italy by train with kids
You have a wonderful start to your Italy itinerary. The important thing to remember about using the trains in Italy is that they work well for big city transfers, but are more challenging (slow) for visits to smaller towns. Be sure and read Jessica from WhyGo Italy’s Getting Around Italy by Train tips article before you go for must-know advice.
In terms of your other five nights, although I love Cinque Terre, there isn’t enough to do there for that period of time unless your plan is to really relax in one place. There are other towns to explore on the Ligurian Coast, but a car would be ideal for that. My other issue with Cinque Terre is that during the summer season it will be very crowded. I’d opt to get there from Lucca for a day trip. Note: A must-do activity in Lucca is bike riding on the walls that surround the city. A unique, leisurely, and gorgeous activity! Kids bikes, trailers, and baby seats are all available at the local bike rental shops. See my post on Things to do in Lucca for details and inspiration.
Lake Como is stunning and a nice complement in terms of variety from your other destinations. The train from Milan to the city of Como runs frequently and then you can use the extensive ferry system on the lake to get to Varenna. You might want to consider Bellagio as a home-base too. We love Hotel Belvedere with young kids as it has a large garden and swimming pool. One thing to note is that Lake Como is at the foot of the Alps and is a “rugged” lake setting with rocky beaches and very little wide open space for kids to run around. This is what makes finding a hotel with a grassy garden key.