If you had any concerns before starting out on this vacation with your kids, they'll melt away as soon as you arrive in this warm and welcoming region. Depending on the attention span and specific interests of your family members, you might have to cut out some artistic attractions, but you'll be more than rewarded with outdoor activities. This itinerary minimizes boring car trips and, instead, relies on ferries -- usually more fun for children -- to explore the seaside offerings of this region.
Days 1 & 2: Ischia
From Naples's Capodichino Airport, take a taxi to Mergellina Harbor where you can catch the ferry to Ischia. With lots of water activities and beautiful sandy beaches (instead of the rocky ones on Capri and the Sorrento peninsula), this lesser-known island is more geared to families than its more famous sibling. You'll have your choice of hotels, which are beautiful but less expensive and stuffy than the ones in the region's more glamorous destinations. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the views before descending to the beach -- Spiaggia di Citara and Spiaggia dei Maronti are the best on the island. Treat yourself and the kids to some ice cream while strolling along the seaside promenades.
Day 3: Capri
Make an early start and catch a ferry to Capri. Spend the rest of the day and night on this mystical island, enjoying its rocky beaches and hiking trails. Climb the Fenician Staircase and take a boat tour of the island (much better than waiting in line for the Blue Grotto, if you're there in high season).
Day 4: Salerno & Paestum
Catch a ferry to Salerno early enough for a leisurely morning: Stroll along the splendid lungomare and pay a visit to the noteworthy cathedral before having lunch in the medieval district. Then catch one of the frequent buses to Paestum, where you'll spend the night in one of its seaside hotels. The afternoon is beach time: You can go swimming, if the weather's nice, and then pay a sunset visit to the ancient Greek temples (or save your visit for early the next morning).
Day 5: The Amalfi Coast
Hire a car with a driver for a tour of the Amalfi Coast: You'll eliminate parking headaches and make the most of your day. You'll want to allot more time to swimming, ice-cream sampling, and hiking than to visiting churches and driving; still, don't miss the splendid Amalfi cathedral. Have the car drop you in Naples for the night.
Days 6 & 7: Naples
Follow Days 5 and 6 of our itinerary for "Campania & the Amalfi Coast in 1 Week," but don't try too hard to pack everything in. Concentrate on the many mighty castles -- Castel Nuovo (the Maschio Angioino), Castel dell'Ovo, Castel Sant'Elmo -- and the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore, where you can explore several layers of excavations: Most kids should find this exciting. Also, do not miss a pizza lunch at the historical Pizzeria di Matteo. (These are individual pizzas; order one each plus a deep-fried one for the table, to share as an appetizer.) Make sure you take your children on a funicular ride as well, and have dinner in the Vomero area. If you have little ones along, visit the playground in the Villa Comunale on the lungomare. (This was greatly appreciated by our own little guy -- so much so that we now have to squeeze in an hour there every day we are in Naples.) There are a couple of sections good for kids in the Certosa di San Martino too; little ones will really enjoy the presepi (Christmas cribs) and children and young teens will find the Maritime section interesting too.
Day 8: Herculaneum, Pompeii & Mount Vesuvius
Follow Day 7 of our itinerary for "Campania & the Amalfi Coast in 1 Week." The casts of dead bodies in the museum in Herculaneum might be just the thing if your teenagers and preteens are like some we know, but they may disturb younger children. Pompeii is a larger and more comprehensive site, but it will be more tiring for younger children. Definitely hire a guide to explore Mount Vesuvius: Descending into the crater will thrill older kids, while the nature trails on the north slope of the volcano are fun for all ages.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.