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10 days, 4 adults, 2 kids: Lake Como & where else!? Switzerland? France?


We are over a year out from our trip, but would love some advice as we start to plan.
The details:
- 4 adults
- 2 one year old babies
- We love the outdoors & love to experience the "off-the-beaten-path" type of travel
- Looking to spend 7-10 days, including air travel
- Lake Como is definitely on our must-see list

We would love advice on the following:

  • Itinerary help. Where the heck should we go & how should we split up our time!?
  • Advice for traveling in Italy with little ones
  • Transportation advice
  • Do we add Switzerland to our itinerary? Or maybe the French Riviera?
  • How much time do you suggest to fully experience Lake Como?
  • Advice on what city to fly into & where to fly back to the states from
  • AirBnB suggestions for 4 adults & 2 kiddos if you have any experience

Any and all help would be so appreciated! My husband & I are well traveled and the other family we are going with will be a great addition to our summer 2021 vacation. They are laid back & love to explore. :)

I love this community here on these travel forums and so appreciate all the help. Thank you!!

Posted by
18746 posts

Milan-Malpensa will likely be the best airport for reaching Lake Como. It's quite close, and it's often one of the cheapest Italian airports to fly into--though that does vary by origin. Depending on where else you go, you might be smart to go with a multi-city (open-jaw) ticket into and out of different cities.

I have no experience traveling with children, so I'll leave the rest of your questions to others.

Posted by
7400 posts

2 one year old babies

Is that the age now or their age when this projected trip will take place?

Either way it sounds like each of you will be first time parents. ( the cousin you mention in your other posts?) If so, you may not fully appreciate how much kids will slow down your doing anything/everything.

I have no tips for that type of travel as I avoided anything more than a 3 hr drive for a couple nights when our kids were that age. Trying to condense the car full of stuff we brought for those trips into an airline bag for a 7-10 trip......

Others will have to help with that

7-10 days.?
What may be feasible in 10 days may be craziness for 7 days. For best help from folks here you need to be specific about the number of days/nights, especially for such a short time.
Good luck

Posted by
622 posts

Splitting such a short trip between countries can be daunting because of spending too much time traveling. But, from Como you can catch a direct train to Lugano and Lucerne Switzerland for a short excursion across the Alps. You can even combine it with a boat trip down the Lake of Lucerne.

When my kids were little like that they learned to love sitting in a backpack up high to see the world go by. With regular breaks to toddle. 4 adults, 2 backpacks with kids and 2 backpacks with food/diapers for the kids. Given how individualistic my kids were/are you will have to wait and see what kind of travelers they become with practice. Babies can learn to adapt to almost anything when combined with familiar people, food, experiences, so start them out traveling on day trips as early as you are comfortable with it. Bedtime/Naptime will be the biggest challenges since their sleep cycles will probably never adapt to the time change over a ten day trip.

Have fun.

Swiss Rail Site:

Italian rail Site:

Posted by
6515 posts

On Lake Como you will be dealing with steep hills so baby back packs would be preferable to strollers.
Fly in and out of Milan MXP if you are flying from US. We have been there four times, once for two weeks and love it there. Ferries are great to explore the lake but bring little life jackets along. Children will limit your experiences on Lake Como. If it is hot out, look for a place with a pool.
You can easily drive into Switzerland or explore more of Northern Italy.
Look at the Piemonte region, much less touristed than Tuscany and is striking distance to MXP too. We enjoyed staying near Alba.
Or you can go down to Liguria, Santa Margherita Ligure or Camogli, both waterfront towns. Autostrada go from MXP to Genoa and then south.
Switzerland, drive to Grindelwald from Lake Como or to Pontresina. Return car to MXP.

Posted by
34 posts

Milan is your best bet to fly into as stated by the people above. Although Zurich would be doable if you wanted...

I had a nice trip flying into Zurich, driving to the Lauterbrunnen Valley for a week, then driving to Varenna (yes, its possible and pretty easy), then up to Lichtenstein for a few nights and then to Zurich and home. I did this trip without a kid, but I would do this trip again with my one year old. Restaurants in Italy and Switzerland are usually cool with kids. You often need a reservation, or at least did for restaurants, so make sure you do that. You can also picnic pretty easily, particularly in the larger towns which have larger shops.

As for where to stay... Varenna is lovely and doable-ish with kids. Bellagio is bigger and has more services, stores and restaurants. Como is biggest with all the things that go with that. I can't comment on Menaggio.

As for how long at Lake Como it just depends on how your kids are and what you want to do. 3 days was great without kids, and was enough to do some fun things.

You said you like the outdoors. I'm a big hiker so I have a baby backpack (Osprey Poco has been decent) which works great everywhere I go hiking. I would bring it there and do some of the very, very impressive hikes around Lake Como. If the weathers good while you're there you can see the Alps for days and that may soothe your Switzerland tooth.

Have great trip.

Posted by
882 posts

Since Lake Como is your must see flying into Milan is your closest option. You can rent a car and drive up to the Lake or you can take the train to Varenna. If you have 7 days (6 nights) I would probably base at the Lake for 4 nights and do day trips either by ferry on the lake or via car. The last 2 nights I would stay in Milan because there are some great sights to see (i.e. The Lord's Supper, Duomo, etc.). If you take 10 days (9 nights) that gives you the opportunity to add another 3 nighter somewhere. Going up into the Alps (also possible day trip from LC) is great and it's not too far away. The Riviera is a littler farther but still doable if you're driving. We've visited LC, Milan and the Alps and all three are awesome.

Posted by
19 posts

Thank you SO much for the kind responses and advice, everyone!! Truly appreciated.

Couple things:

  • Advise having a car the entire trip?
  • 3 nights in Lake Como sufficient?
  • How is Milan with kiddos? Think we'd enjoy? Love the idea someone posted about spending a few days there. Maybe at the start of our trip to get us settled for a few days?
  • Love the Swiss Alps recs. Exactly what I was hoping to hear. Any more advice on what specific city to stay in?

Thinking 2 nights in Milan, 3-4 in Lake Como, 3-4 in the Alps, home...

THANK YOU AGAIN!!! Also, love the Osprey baby backpack rec. Looking at them online now. :)

Posted by
4834 posts

In Switzerland consider Interlaken. Lucerne is a wonderful city.

The French Riveria is probably not the best place for then outdoors and off the beaten path travel.

Beaches in N. Italy and French Riviera will not wow you.

Posted by
13 posts

I recommend Menaggio at Lake Como.
There is a hostel right on the lake and it is not just for youth, it would be perfect for families. We stayed there twice for a week each time and loved having it as our base.
Every day you wake up to a continental breakfast and sit at big tables with other families and travelers overlooking the lake and mountains on a beautiful deck. And for a small fee more they have delicious for 4 course family style dinners. The food is so good that we only went out to dinner in town one night. Why spend all that extra money and sit squished with tourists when you could be in a beautiful location with all your new friends from all over the world.
From the lodging you could walk a few minutes and take the boat to all the other towns on the lake, or great hikes ( our favorite!) or just walking through the town or up in the hills.
And a day trip to Switzerland with the bus right down the street.
The lake is a few steps away for swimming.
Or we loved the Menaggio community pool with their beautiful beach and park all for about five dollars a day.
I can’t wait to go back there!

Posted by
1266 posts

We stayed in varenna for 2 nights and it was lovely and peaceful even in July, the high season
We rode the ferry to Bellagio for the afternoon and it was wall to wall people ... shudder.
I've looked on Google maps to try to find a couple of reference points... we enjoyed a small beach in the center of town with a restaurant bar adjacent, I think it was Ristorante Bar Lido. We stayed just north of there in a ground floor apt that was great for 4 adults, but the common space was tiny. (Villa Clara) however it had a fabulous fenced yard and at that time there were yard toys for tiny kids present. The larger upstairs apt is villa angelo, and is available thru apartments varenna. Net