Over the summer holidays, we took the kids for a week in Italy staying in the Lake Garda region. It was the first time in Italy for me and the kids although their dad has been a few times before. We had a brilliant time and would definitely recommend this region for travel with kids of all ages, as there is so much to do. You can have a really busy holiday taking in lots of activities and days out with the kids, or equally you could have a very relaxing week just enjoying the sun, the beautiful scenery, Italian food, and lots of swimming.
The average weather in Lake Garda over the summer months is up to around 29 or 30 degrees, with a low of 18 or 19. We were really lucky with the weather when we went and it was nice and hot without being excessive. The temperature is great for kids, as it’s hot but not too extreme.
I would recommend packing clothes like shorts and t-shirts or light summer dresses. La Coqueta Kids sent us one of their Girls dresses which was perfect for the summer weather and lovely for a holiday like this.
We all eat a lot of Italian food here in the uk – pizza, pasta and so on… but it is done so much better over in Italy. We really enjoyed the meals we had at many of the restaurants in towns surrounding Lake Garda, and found the restaurants very family friendly too with lots having play areas and beautiful views to enjoy while you eat.
You can’t miss the Italian Gelato too – every flavour we tried was soo good!
Accommodation / Resort
We stayed mostly in Altomincio family park, which is slightly further out from the Lake itself but very easily reachable if you hire a car. Altomincio is brilliant for kids – there is loads to do but it does not feel too over crowded or hectic, especially being a car free resort. We booked with Suncamp for our stay.
The park is great for families who enjoy swimming as there is a variety of pools, from an olympic pool to a fun lagoon with slides, to a baby pool and a new splash park.
There’s also an adventure trail, similar to Go Ape, which allows you to zip wire over the pool, as well as activities like mini Golf around the sides of the pool.
The Lake Garda area is definitely worth visiting if you are a family that likes to include theme parks in your summer holidays, as we normally do. Right by the lake you have two theme parks – Gardaland and Movieland, along with Water parks such as Caneva World (linked with Movieland) and Cavour water park. We didn’t have time to fit the water parks into our stay but visited both theme parks. Both are quite different but have a lot to offer.
This is the bigger theme park of the two, owned by Merlin and it has 3 attached hotels. We stayed a couple of nights in one of these hotels just to experience the themed rooms and so on. Gardaland has a good variety of rides for thrill seekers to young children, along with it’s mascot Prezzemolo who you might be lucky to meet wandering around the theme park.
It had plenty to occupy my kids from early morning until it closed at 11pm (late night closing some dates during the summer) when the day finishes with a night show including light projections and fireworks.
Other characters you’ll find in Gardaland include Peppa Pig, as there is a small Peppa Pig land (smaller than the one in Paultons, but with a selection of the rides you’ll find there plus play area and meet and greet) and Kung Fu Panda who also has a small land there.
Gardaland also has a separate Sea Life centre which we visited the next day, as you can get discounted tickets if you’ve visited the theme park.
It’s not a full day, but great for a morning or afternoon and had some impressive sea life displays.
Movieland is different to Gardaland in that it has a bigger focus on shows, and less rides although it still has a thrilling rollercoaster and various other rides for the family to enjoy.
One thing to note is that guests under 100cm will not find rides suitable to go on, so if you have a very young child then be aware of that, although there is a play area that they can use. It’s worth taking this into consideration, but if your youngest child is over 100cm then it’s s must-visit!
We bought the night time ticket, which was brilliant value at around 15 Euro each and allowed us to enter after 6pm and enjoy the park until it’s late night closing at around 11pm. In this time we were able to see a few shows and the boys go on the rides they wanted, without too many queues.
The shows were brilliantly done, and enjoyed the John Rambo show which is a stunt show that takes place on the water, and is quite similar to shows we have seen in Universal Hollywood Studios. I also enjoyed a special summer show they did called “Woman” which transformed famous movie scenes into dance, including the fight scene from Kill Bill which was pretty epic.
The park closed with a festive Christmas themed show, even though it is summer, to give an out of season festive experience!
Around the lake
There are many beautiful towns to visit around the lake. We decided to venture a little further north to Malcesine to get beautiful views of the mountains and explore that area of the lake. There is a cable car that you can use to go up the mountain but we found the queues were very bad, even with a pre-booked online ticket you would have to wait a long time to actually get on the cable car at peak times so we ended up wasting our ticket and just enjoying the lake and the beautiful views.
Venice is do-able as a day trip from the area if you’re happy to drive a couple of hours. We actually went as an evening trip, and we were glad we had made the effort to do so as Venice in the evening was beautiful and very lively. The kids were wowed by the experience of travelling in the water taxis, and we had a great time exploring the lively squares in the evening, and experiencing the restaurants and gellatarias.
There is so much more to do around this part of Italy, I’m sure we could go back and fill another week with completely different things. I would love to go back again in future and would recommend it for holidays with kids, especially as it is only a 2 hour flight.
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