Holiday ideas

Winter family holidays in Italy

Discover the best places to spend a winter family holiday in Italy: ideal destinations where to go with children.

  • Winter family holidays in Italy
  • Valle d'Aosta
  • Rome
  • Sicily
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Don’t let the chilly weather fool you, winter is a wonderful time to vacation in Italy with the family. In the north, fun for all ages awaits in Valle D’Aostas snow-capped Alps. Culture beckons from a quieter version of Rome - the capital city softened by an ebb in tourists and endless queues. And to the south, Sicily’s ancient history and seaside views can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace free from the frenzy of summer’s beachgoing crowds.

agriturismo italy

Winter is also an ideal time to experience an agritourism. From traditional comfort food befitting the season, cozy atmospheres perfect for relaxing, and engaging activities bound to delight children, an Italian farmhouse is certain to make the whole family feel right at home. 

Tucked into the western Alps on the borders of France and Switzerland, Valle d’Aosta is home to Italy’s most renowned mountains: Matterhorn, Monte Bianco, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso. People from around the globe come to ski its world-class slopes, and while best known for its black diamond descents and off-piste thrills, you’ll find options for every level in Valle d’Aosta.

agriturismo aosta valley

At the foot of Monte Bianco, just outside the chic town of Courmayeur, Fun Park Dolonne provides tons of fun for little ones. Rentals and skiing lessons are offered, and the snowpark also has a sledding and tubing area, trampolines, bouncy castles and snowbikes for rent. For aspiring young freeriders, the Courmayeur Mont Blanc Snowpark offers a progressive course complete with rails and jumps where beginner and advanced snowboarders can hone their skills. 

Close by in Val Ferret’s Planpincieux, the Club Des Sport baby park also offers beginner ski lessons in addition to fat bike and kid-sized snowmobile rentals. To the east under the majestic gaze of Monte Rosa, families can frolic in the snow at Weissmatten Baby Snow Park in Gressoney-Saint-Jean.

The tailor-made kids’ area includes gently sloped ski runs, tubes, snowbikes and a bouncy castle. Parents of children under 6 can also carve out some “me” time while their tots enjoy games or take ski lessons at Gressoney’s Snowflake Garden MiniClub. Just a short walk from the town center, family fun also awaits at Lago Gover, a small lake that turns into a natural ice-skating rink every winter. Set amidst ancient pines and fir trees, it boasts a spectacular view of the Monte Rosa massif.

Back in Courmayeur, dog lovers can opt for the furry-tailed excitement of dog sledding. Dog Sled Man offers adults and children eight and up the chance to mush their own sled through the snowy landscape, while younger ones can ride along with the guide. For those who prefer to take in the view, Skyway Monte Bianco never disappoints. The rotating cable cars slowly turn 360 degrees providing a jaw-dropping panoramic view.

Get off at the first stop, Pavillon du Mont Fréty, where you can have a snack or lunch, enjoy a glass of Italian wine at the onsite winery, or tour the alpine botanical garden. Then continue up to the top station, Punta Helbronner (3466 m) where a circular terrace 14 meters in diameter affords a sky-high vista of the western Alp’s highest peaks.

Don’t leave Valle d’Aosta without treating the family to a stop at Fort Bard.  Destroyed by Napoleone and then completely rebuilt, the imposing fortress towers over the entrance to the valley. Kids and teens alike will be enthralled by its battle-scarred history, not to mention its more recent role as a backdrop in a Marvel Avenger movie. Glass-enclosed lifts take you to the top of the rocky spur where you can visit the prisons, Museum of the Alps, The Children’s Alps Museum and other exhibits.

There’s no place like Rome, and perhaps no better time to visit the city with kids in tow than winter. Navigating the city streets is a breeze. Long lines have abated and the cooler weather beats the heat of hot summer days, perking up tired little feet.

agriturismo Rome

Grab a ‘skip-the-line’ tour pass before you arrive to cut waiting times even further. Passes can be purchased online and generally include most of Rome’s major historical attractions like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and more.

On Wednesdays and Sundays when the Pope is present, visitors to Rome can attend a Papal Audience or Papal Mass. Tickets are free but book well in advance and arrive early to guarantee a good spot. Afterwards, adults and older children can stretch their legs with a climb to the top of St. Peter’s Dome, one of Michelangelo’s masterworks.

Walk all 551 stairs or grab a lift to the halfway point. The sweeping city views from 120 meters are worth the effort! If that doesn’t tire out the troops, head to Rome’s central park, Villa Borghese, an 80-hectare green expanse with kid-friendly attractions like the Bioparco Zoo.

If the weather is too wintry, Rome also has indoor options kids will love. The Explora Children’s Museum provides tactile fun and learning for the younger ones, while the spooky, skeleton-filled Catacombs are bound to enthrall even hard-to-please teenagers.

Last but not least, sign up for a truly Romanesque experience at the Gladiator School of Rome. Under the tutelage of expert instructors from the Gruppo Storico Romano, the entire family can don tunics, bare swords and learn combat techniques in a two-hour training session they won’t soon forget!

Sunny Sicily might not be the first destination that comes to mind in wintertime, but don’t let the chillier temperatures deter you. The southern Italian island is equally as lovely, and a whole lot more peaceful, without summer’s teeming crowds.

agriturismo sicily

A jaunt to the top of Sicily’s active volcano, Mount Etna, is an adventure for all members of the family. The cable car ride passes over the lava moonscape, ending at 2,500 meters above sea level where you can enjoy lunch or a snack overlooking the Ionian Sea. From there, take a guided tour to the snow-capped summit in an off-road vehicle or, from January through March, aboard a Snowcat, which is sure to thrill the kids.

In the cliffside village of Taormina, a more low-key cable car ride takes you down to Mazzaró where you can explore the beaches and tiny Isola Bella. Don’t miss Taormina’s ancient Greek amphitheater or its pretty cobblestone streets with shops galore.

Certainly, no trip to Sicily is complete without a visit to Agrigento’s Parco dei Templi (Valley of the Temples). The Ancient Greek metropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts colossal statues, astounding temples and stunning scenery. In the off-season, lines are short or non-existent and the brisk weather makes walking around a pleasant experience.  After touring the Valley of the Temples, head over to the Kolymbetra botanical garden. Winter is the best time to visit as citrus fruit is in season, filling the garden with bright colors and wonderful scents.

Wandering the streets of Catania and Syracuse is yet another wonderful pastime for the entire family. The cities’ UNESCO world heritage sites and resplendent architecture reflect Sicily’s rich and ancient history under centuries of varying rule. From kiosks selling local food and bustling fish markets, to festive Christmas decorations and traditional celebrations, there’s something to appease everyone in these fascinating hubs of Sicilian culture.

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