Camping with children in southern Italy
A road trip to Naples!
Discover the breathtaking beauty of the steep and winding Amalfi coast with a camper, get to know the exciting and lively Naples and relax in warm thermal springs on the dreamy island of Ischia! This is a true dream holiday in southern Italy, more precisely in the Campania region on the Gulf of Naples. But does this really work out with small children? Yes, here comes the proof! In this travel report we tell you about camping with children in southern Italy.
Southern Italy with children
We are 4; 2 adults and 2 children, and we have one goal for our family vacation: In May we want sun, beach, sea and a bit of culture. In addition Dolce Vita and Laissez Fair – Relaxation, but also experiencing something. In short: A holiday that is fun for the kids but also offers some highlights for the adults.
Can kids make the long journey?
We are tired of moderate holiday apartments with horrendous prices and almost unpayable children resorts with clown taps. We are also tired of “Ipad-quieted children” in overcrowded hotels. We want to have a real holiday in Europe and see the world. And we want it to be very flexible and easy in a campervan. But of course we ask ourselves questions like: Can the kids make a long journey? Is it fun even without playmates? Isn’t camping with children also too exhausting for us as parents after we urgently need recreation?
Camping with children in southern Italy! With a campervan!
But somehow the desire to travel drives us and we decide fast on the child-friendly Italy. We already know Lake Garda quite well and we have already seen Tuscany on a school trip. Now we want to do camping with children in southern Italy! Pizza Napoli, the exciting excavations of Pompeii, the fascinating and threatening Vesuvius, the smell of lemons and an adventurous trip to the Amalfitana from Positano via Amalfi to Ravello. All this is more appealing to us than the fear of overtired and overstrained children. And our conclusion is: We are rewarded, any effort is worth it!
A roadsurfer campervan - The best choice for this trip! Why?
- A hotel vacation and the journey with our own car is out of question, because we don’t want to pack our suitcases every day. But want to have our snail shell with sleeping possibility, refrigerator and cooking possibility always with us. Therefore, the only option is a camping holiday with children – Not least for budget reasons!
- We decide for a cult VW bus – with comfort. The roadsurfer camper is small and agile and on the Amalfi coast as well as on Ischia the right choice since motorhomes e.g. on the Amalfitana and also on some roads on Ischia per se are not allowed. So if you want to go camping and want to experience the beauty of the Sorrento peninsula and the island where also Angie Merkel regularly goes on holiday, you have to choose a small campervan. A classic motorhome only works to a very limited extent here and costs a lot of nerves when it comes to road conditions.
- Besides, the roadsurfer camper drives – Different than the own passenger car – climatic neutrally. A nice and decisive side effect. So the decision to rent a camper from roadsurfer was made quickly.
Camping with children in Southern Italy: Highlights and camping sites
Day 1: Arrival Munich – Florence – Rome – Naples – Sorrento
We leave Munich at about 5 pm in the evening and our first destination is on the Autostrada del Sole near Florence. After four episodes of “Leo Lausemaus”, the kids have peacefully fallen asleep and we can cover a long way – about half the distance of 1,100 kilometers – with little traffic. But beware: The maximum speed in Italy is 130 kilometers per hour and the video surveillance of the motorways works perfectly. This is a warning, if you don’t want a surprising ticket!
The holiday can begin
After a night at the car grill station we wake up early, get a warm croissant and a first delicious Italian cappuccino and continue with sleepy children past Rome towards Napoli. Admittedly: The last 100 kilometers annoy since the traffic jam in the single-lane road from Castellamare the Stabia to Sorrento pulls at the nerves after such a long journey. BUT: We see the beauty of the Sorrento peninsula with its steep coast and the colorful cube houses and are instantly enchanted. Now only set up the camp and the vacation can start.
Day 2: Camping Sorrento: Campeggio Fortunata
It’s a magnificent view from the pitches on this campsite in Sorrento. The winding road to the campsite gives you a glimpse. One camps over the cliffs of the steep coast with the view of the Gulf of Naples Vis à Vis with the impressive sleeping giant Vesuvius. In our opinion, this is also the only usable campsite on the peninsula. It has a large playground, a beautiful large swimming pool and a children’s zoo, but is completely natural and designed unagitated. The absolute contrary to animation madness and club atmosphere. The climate is very pleasant and we can explore everything in peace.
Day 3 Sorrento: A stroll to the harbor!
We drive with the camping shuttle for one euro down the mountain to the small town directly to the big piazza of the place. From here it goes into the wide pedestrian zone and to the harbor, the Porto di Sorrento. Especially inviting are the little alleyways through which it is possible to have a wonderful stroll while eating ice cream. The children have fun with the huge, oversized lemons and limes that can be bought here at the stalls, and always find a staircase for jumping, a piazza for romping around or a palm tree for climbing. After an aperitivo that mum and dad treat themselves to in the little town, we already stop for a pizza dinner.
It is simply cozy in our camper
Seduced by the beautiful view, we first want to take a seat at the restaurants in the harbor, but then decide for the Pizzeria Le Grazie in the city center of Sorrento. Here, the kids are safe from wild Vespa drivers and from falling into the harbor basin ?. Le Cozze à la marinara (Mussels with tomato sauce) taste just as delicious as the Pizza Marinara (According to Neapolitans, the only real pizza beside the Margherita). In the evening we fall quite tired into the cuddly beds of our camper. The climate in May is excellent here – we sleep like four satisfied babies.
Day 4: Capri – The Island of dreams – but not for everyone…
Capri awakens longings, is considered as a paradise for the jet set and celebrities and radiates into the world with his name only. The reality, however, looks like this: Overcrowded excursion boats, masses of day tourists who have taken the funicular as their daily attraction and overcrowded alleys, at most easy to pass for 2-5-year-olds – But with never-reunited parents. The lonely hiking experience Capri, which is so much sung about in all travel guides, cannot be shared by us on this day. But at least the famous blue grotto. Since campers are not allowed on Capri – just like all other private cars – we decide for the Cabrio-Taxi for flapping 40 Euro to the Grotta Azzura. We cannot expect the children to take the public buses without either crushing or trampling them.
The day trip to Capri is worth it!
Since we took our time with an extensive lunch (You can’t do much more on Capri with children), we arrive late at the grotto with the “Cabrio” (Actually just a cut off pick-up at the top) and the queue is only moderately long. We climb into the small rowing boat and let ourselves be sailed through a narrow channel (Beware with your heads!) into the truly bright blue grotto. Here we only hear an “O Sole mio” of our captain and then we are again bucked out. Even though it only sounds moderately nice now, it was a nice experience!
The Blue Grotto is a must-see
The naturally shining blue of the private pool of the Roman Emperor Tiberius also amazed the children’s eyes. It was pretty scary for the dwarves, but at least fascinating to drive through a cave! We think: The only must-see with children on Capri is the Blue Grotto! Camping on Capri is not possible, but the day trip (Especially the one with a tour of the island) is definitely worth it. The landscape alone is a really eye-catcher and boating is a great event for the children as well.
Day 5 & 6: The Amalfi Coast with the camper: Positano, Amalfi & Ravello
We spend the next two days discovering the Amalfi Coast. First of all: We have conquered the notorious coastal road Amalfitana with our camper. We were proudly aware that large campervans are forbidden on the Amalfitana – But this does not include our small campervan! Nevertheless, you can leave the camper behind, because campsites on the Amalfi coast simply don’t exist. And: All coastal places are also comfortably to reach by ship or a sightseeing bus (Whoever likes it…). We, however, wanted to experience the Costiera d’Amalfi very closely. Whether we recommend it, remains to be seen.
Much fear for our outside mirrors
In any case, we enjoyed fantastic views, could stop whenever we wanted, but also sweated a lot – In terms of our exterior mirrors. A lot has been written about the Italian way of driving and we don’t want to step into a cliché mill, BUT here the madness reaches perfection! Honking, overtaking in the bend, pushing, scolding – par excellence. Without having strong nerves, you should not move the camper on the Amalfitana. Especially, since a distance of 5 kilometers can easily take 1.5 hours.
Here we also find beautiful souvenirs
Parking spaces are not only rare, they simply do not exist (except for Vespas). A prerequisite for the trip is that your children do not react sensitively to curvy driving – Otherwise the disaster is inevitable. The Amalfi Coast offers highlights of the extra class like the Villa Ruffalo with its wonderful garden in Ravello or the cathedral in Amalfi with its steep stairs and the colorful dome made of majolica tiles. If you want to buy beautiful, southern Italian ceramics, you should do it here! I get the fruit bowl for my grandma in a particularly beautiful variant here.
No campsites at the Amalfi Coast
Positano is characterized above all by its beautiful piled up location and the beautiful marina with wonderful restaurants and a small beach (a rarity in the whole region!), where the children can splash around a bit. Since there are no campsites on the Amalfi coast, we returned to our Campeggio Fortunata in Sorrento on both evenings.
Day 7 - 9: Vesuvius and Pompeii
At day 7, camping with children also means simply letting the children romp around on the playground all day long. A break after all the impressions is good for everyone. In the early evening we take the shuttle bus down the cliffs again to Marina Grande, a small old fishing port where you can stroll and eat wonderfully.
When does Vesuvius actually blow out again?
In the next morning, we pack our seven belongings and drive towards Pompeii and Vesuvius. Before, we bought a nice picture book suitable for children in which reconstructions of the excavation sites are shown. Especially our older kid is very interested in the life of the Romans. But even more about the great catastrophe of the Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD. Of course, there are many questions whether the volcano can also erupt when we are close by. Hm, what do you say?! So, the volcano is well supervised by scientists and if signs of activity become noticeable, the communities in the vicinity are evacuated. That’s what we learned from our guide Roberta, which we found via the Internet (Pompeireisen.de – very recommendable!). This is also enough for the children to calm down…
Pompeii is a real experience for children, too
On the tour through the old Roman city, the kids really get going! They romp around in the ruins, come up with games to sell fruit and cheese at the small ruins of the “shops” of Pompeii and laugh about the “naked” statues and frescoes broken. And yes, they also see the plaster casts of the dead that have been found. Once again this experience shows us how naturally children deal with death. They accept it. And we decide to do the same. On the big forum they make a race while mum and dad listen to Robertas explanations to the market place of the antiquity.
Painting on stones instead of paper
We learn a lot, see the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Jupiter as well as the famous “House of Faun”, a classic Pompeian house. The children guess where the garden, the office and the bedroom were and let their imagination go wild. There was no paper? Then they had to paint on stones! Exactly. Anyone who says that such an excursion with small children is not possible has simply not tried it out yet! That was more exciting than an afternoon in the indoor playground, we all learned something new and enjoyed the wonderful maisonne and the ruins in the poppy blossom.
Eat pizza and save money!
We park and spend the night at the camping site Camping Zeus, right next to the excavation sites. It is no highlight now and quite small, but it is clean and the pitches are cozy below trees. By the way, if you do not want to camp here, there is also a good parking lot in front. Tip: Those who eat a pizza next door will save the 3 Euro parking fee per hour!
The way to the top is worthwhile
The next day, Vesuvius shines at us from its most beautiful side and attracts us to go up the mountain. After a small breakfast, we will make our way up the Via Vesuvio to the summit. We drive up to the highest point, where we can park and take a shuttle bus for 2 Euro per person, which brings us even closer to the summit. Here we buy our tickets for the national park and climb up to the crater rim for half an hour. The way is very comfortable and at least for the 5-year-old good to make. We carry the little one alternately piggyback. Phew! Of course we can’t think of prams here. But it is worth it. Both the view into the steaming volcano crater and over the entire Gulf of Naples overlooking Capri and Ischia are simply indescribable. But caution: It goes quite into the depth. In some places the little ones run better by hand!
Day 10: Wild, noisy Naples – The city of pizza
Eat, pray, love. All this is really possible in Naples! Churches, pizzerias and Amore dominate the cityscape. And of course narrow alleys, morbid, partly dilapidated houses and garbage on the streets. But not nearly as much as it often appears in the media. The city is invigorating, exciting and worth a walk, even with children. A city walk is recommendable starting at Castel Nuovo, an old Aragonese castle over the Municipio up to the church Santa Chiara. We parked at the Molo Belvere at the water for 10 Euro the whole day! St. Chiara is a beautiful gothic church with a completely preserved cloister in the neighboring monastery, whose majolica tiles are still completely preserved and look beautiful. But of course the children are not allowed to hop on it here!
Pizza is always served with mozzarella
We continue walking along the Spaccanapoli, a lively alleyway with many little sweet shops (Great junk shops!) that splits Naples, as the name already says. The Via Tribunali is also worth a detour. And here you MUST eat a pizza. The Neapolitans eat it as a calzone on their hands, by the way! But we decide to take a break while sitting. And no matter where: It tastes good everywhere. The pizza here is by the way always soft and consists actually only of the wonderful Italian Mozzarella and has a thick dough edge. Via the Duomo, the patron saint of St. Gennaro, we get back to Via Toledo, the main shopping street of Naples, which ends directly at the royal palace of the Bourbons. Those who want to avoid buying a cappuccino for 5 euros do NOT stop here at the Piazza del Plebiscito in the Gran Caffè Gambrinus. But do so next door in the café bar. In Italy, the espresso is actually drunk standing at the bar! At the end of the day we recommend a delicious meal in Mergellina near the Castel d’Ovo.
Tip: Regarding city tours in Naples – I can recommend Daniela Ibello, especially with children. Her colleague Mimma showed us Naples from its real side! Just google Daniela Ibello Naples…
Tag 10 – 14: Campen auf Ischia
After a small meal we decide to make the 40 minutes’ drive to Pozzuoli. From here, the ferries cross over to Ischia (You don’t need a reservation in advance!) and in this evening we were still lucky: We can cross with the car ferry. There are different providers, for example Gestour or medamar. The costs for a campervan with 4 persons is between 60-80 Euros per trip. We sail past the island Procida to Ischia in one hour in the evening sun. The volcanic island is beautiful and green and at first sight it is much more likeable than the overcrowded sister island Capri.
A dream: Waking up with sea view
After searching for campsites via Google, we head to the camping Mirage, which is located at the famous Spiaggia Maronti. We get of one of the few coveted places in the front row, as it is still low season. At arrival it was almost dark, but we wake up in the next morning with sea view and the sound of waves directly on the beach. A dream! The children are driving their bikes up and down the still empty campsite, digging on the beach and eating ice cream in the beach bar in the afternoon. Now we relax from the exciting last days and afford some sunbeds with parasols. This is also necessary while camping with children.
Luckily, the VW Camper is maneuverable
We explore the island with our roadsurfer camper in the next days. Luckily, we don’t have a big camper because if so, we couldn’t drive many roads! We turn into the small fine holiday resort St. Angelo, which we can see from the Spiaggia Maronti, visit the Olympus therm with its wonderfully warm thermal pools directly beside our camping site and make a trip to the Castello Aragonese. Here you can find the Beachclub Giardino Eden, which we can recommend even with children.
Camping with children on Ischia is a great experience and also worthwhile for a longer camping holiday. We will definitely camp on Ischia again!
After 14 days of camping with children with the roadsurfer we are back home with a lot of great camping experiences at the Gulf of Naples. Too bad, we have to give back our VW rental camper! We really loved it ?.