In order to make the best of any holiday with children, whether they’re babies, toddlers or teenagers, it’s best to plan as much as you can ahead of your stay. Hopefully, this guide to holidays for families in Lake Como, will make that planning process that little bit easier!
Lake Como family holidays are arguably not as good as those on neighbouring Lake Maggiore in catering for children’s tastes. Whilst there are activities for them to enjoy, in the summer, most children want to spend hours on the beaches or in the lake and the options for this are much more limited.
There are good beaches in the north of the lake though as well as some lidos dotted around the lakeside although these aren’t of the quality you find in parts of Lake Maggiore. Head to either Domaso or Gravedona on the Western shores for the largest beaches. Further south, Argegno has a small pebble beach whilst on the other side of the lake, there is also a small beach just outside Bellagio at Punta Spartivento. Some of the best lidos include the lido in the grounds of Villa Olmo just outside Como and the public lidos in Lenno, Varenna, Bellagio and Menaggio. The latter is one of the larger lidos on offer with both adult and childrens pools, playground, restaurant, bar and plenty of space for sunbathing. Whilst at the Menaggio lido, you might also want to try your hand at crazy golf situated just two minutes away.
On neighbouring Lake Lugano, there is also an absolutely fantastic lido which we would highly recommend. Located in Lugano itself, there is access to the lake there as well as 3 beautifully clean swimming pools (one Olympic sized pool, one childrens pool with slides and water spray and another family pool) as well as diving boards.
In bad weather, if they still want to go swimming there is an indoor pool at Chiasso where there are also water slides, separate children’s pool and jacuzzi. (www.california-acquapark.ch) Be warned – it’s not cheap!
Another option for your Lake Como family holidays if they like the water but fancy a change from the lake, is to head to a waterpark. There are two to choose from. One is on the outskirts of Milan at 61 Via Gaetano Airaghi, 20153 Milan. (www.gardalandwaterpark.it) It’s open every day from 10 until 7 between 1st between 30th May and 30th August. The park is extremely popular in peak times – August is the month that Italians are on holiday so expect long queues then. Definitely try and be organised and take a picnic with you to avoid queuing for an hour to buy lunch. Another tip is to hire a rubber tyre as soon as you arrive as it means you can avoid the long queues waiting at each ride. You’ll need to show photo ID to hire one. The other waterpark is in Vicolungo – www.ondaland.it. There are some pretty scary rides here so it’s popular with older kids and even young adults. But there are still plenty of family rides and areas for small children.
Some other places worth a visit with children during your Lake Como family holidays include Swissminiatur where you will find more than 120 models representing the houses, castles, cathedrals and other buildings of Switzerland. In addtion, it has more than 3500 metres of railway with no less than 18 trains, funiculars, rack-railways, cable-cars and boats in motion. It’s open between March and November between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (www.swissminiatur.ch).
If your little ones would prefer to see Italy in miniature, then it’s worth visiting Minitalia in Bergamo. www.minitalia.com. This is an amusement park perfect for families with younger children. There are plenty of rides to enjoy as well as a miniature 3D map of Italy you can wander through. Those looking for something educational for their children might also enjoy the mutlimedia museum within the grounds, dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. There is also an acquarium to visit as well as a reptile house full of lizards, spiders and poisonous snakes. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes at the park catering to all tastes and it’s set up for those with babies, with highchairs, bottle warmers and baby foods all available.
Other interactive museums and exhibitions include the Alprose Swiss chocolate factory. (www.alprose.ch) The museum here presents the world of chocolate from its origins to this day. Following a catwalk, visitors are introduced to the various steps of chocolate making and at the end of the tour a visit to the shop will give you the chance to try some of the Alprose products. The factory is usually open for production on weekdays so it’s best to visit then. The museum is open from 9.00 – 17.30 on weekdays and from 9.00 – 16.30 on weekends.
For those parents who have boys with a love of cars, there is a huge indoor karting track – Dromokart – not far from Milan. The track is great fun with plenty of twists and turns to test their driving skills. It takes about an hour to reach by car from Como. It’s suitable for children aged 8 upwards. Whilst it does open 7 days a week, opening times vary and they have different time slots for different ages, so it’s worth checking the website for details or giving them a call before you go. www.dromokart.com
For children who enjoy lots of physical activity and challenges, it’s also worth visiting the Jungle Raider Park. This is a superb adventure park located in the forest of Civenna, approximately 15 km from Bellagio. For those familiar with ‘Go Ape’ in the UK, it is a similar concept, with obstacle courses built up in the trees of the park. There is no age restriction, however children do need to meet the minimum height requirement of 110cm. Those children measuring between 110 cm and 120 cm in height also need to be accompanied by an adult to take part. The park opens seven days a week from May to the end of August and does open on certain days in April, September and October, weather permitting. Again, it is worth checking that they are open before you head out foir the day. www.jungleraiderpark.com.
Holidays for families in Lake Como wouldn’t be complete without an excursion to a zoo! There is a safari park (www.safaripark.it) in Pombia open all year round. The animal park is viewable on closed vehicles (car, bus or train) and there is also an entertainment park with rides and shows. Prices are 17 euros for adults and 12 euros for 5-13 year olds. Children under 5 are free.
If this option doesn’t satisfy your children’s love of animals, then a second option is the Cornelle Zoo in Valbrembo (Bergamo). With over 100 species of birds, mammals and reptiles to see, there is also a tourist train taking you around the park and plenty of picnic areas. It is open all year round but park opening times are reduced in winter months.
Another place to see animals is the zoo at Magliaso, which houses more than 100 animals from all over the world: lions, leopards, panthers, servals, racoons, nasua, gibbons, rhesus and other monkeys, parrots such as the ara, the cacatua and other exotic species and many others too. Barbecues and picnics are also possible. The zoo is especially suited for children since the animals can be petted and fed. (www.zooalmaglio.ch)
Close to this zoo is the 18 hold mini golf course at Caslano. (www.minigoldcaslano.ch) You’ll also find trampolines and ride on cars for the kids to enjoy here. (Please note that this is closed from 1st November until 1st April.) Caslano itself is a pretty little village right on theshore ofLake Lugano – it’s worth a short stop and there are some nice restaurants on the lakeside if you fancy a spot of lunch.
Hopefully, this has provided some food for thought for those looking for holidays for families in Lake Como. But please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.