Boy in red swimsuit stands on rocks at shore on Giglio Island. He looks out at a red lighthouse.

Giglio Island with Kids – The 8 Best Things to Do

Grazie to local Tuscan mamma Suzanne Talenti for this guide to the best things to do on Giglio Island with kids!

Dream of going to a gorgeous Tuscan Island with your family? Giglio Island is a 9 square mile gem in the Tyrrhenian sea off the southern Tuscan Coast

Here are my 8 favorite activities to do with kids on Giglio Island! I go there numerous times every year with my two young sons. My Italian family and I have been going to Giglio Island for over three decades – I even got married there. 

For a more general guide to the island, read Visiting Giglio Island

Good To Know: I think Giglio Island is great for older kids, from 5 years old and up. You and your children will enjoy it best if they can swim, and you don’t have to watch them like a hawk every second. 

When planning a trip to Giglio Island with children, keep in mind that there are limited activities just for small kids per se. For example, there are just two tiny playgrounds, and no boardwalks or rides like you’ll find in other Tuscan beach towns (like Cecina and Forte dei Marmi). 

Go to the Beach

Boy looks out at Campese beach on Giglio Island. People are laying in the sand under umbrellas and on towels. The sea is turquoise and there are boats and swimmers in the water.
My son scoping out the scene at Campese beach

One glimpse at Giglio Island’s crystal clear water, and kids can’t wait to jump right in! Adults either, for that matter. 

There are only 7 beaches on Giglio Island, and most are very small. Here are my picks for the best beaches for kids. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

  • Scalettino beach is a small sandy beach is right in the town of Giglio Porto. It’s perfect for a dip if you’ve just arrived on the ferry.
  • Cannelle beach is an idyllic small beach with fine sand and clear water that stays shallow a few meters out.

    Cannelle beach is within walking distance from Giglio Porto, but has a couple hefty hills to maneuver. If you have young children I recommend a taxi or taxi boat. If you wish to drive, make sure to get there early and be prepared to pay for parking.
  • Campese is a long, wide sandy beach with the most services and amenities on the island. There are plenty of beach clubs and restaurants. Reachable by bus, taxi or car.

Watch Boats in the Harbor

Colorful buildings in Giglio Porto on Giglio Island in Tuscany. Boats in the harbor and hills behind the buildings are rocky and covered in bushes.

If your kids like boat watching, Giglio Porto is the place to do it! Ferries and boats go in and out of Giglio Island’s picturesque harbor all day long. Stroll along the pier and see everything from working fishing boats to fancy yachts.

Grab a gelato at Gelateria Artigianale da Nilo and take it all in from a waterfront bench. 

People watching and window shopping are fun in the harbor as well. Kids will almost surely clamor for a Giglio Island souvenir. 

Good To Know: There are no railings or barriers along the pier, so be sure to hold your little ones by the hand, or keep them in a stroller.

Good To Know:  Be aware ahead that stores keep their merchandise out on display right at kid level! If your children are like mine and have a hard time not touching everything, or if you want to avoid the gimmies, you may want to skip the shops.

Good To Know:  Very little of Giglio Island is flat or stroller friendly. If you have very young children and want to walk them in the stroller, head to Giglio Porto or Giglio Campese. They are the only places that are good for strollers.

Read more about Giglio Island Towns

Climb to the Clouds

Umbrella pine trees frame the scene. It's a cloudy day high up at the Giglio Castello lookout point on Giglio island. Grassy area with wooden fence in front of clouds.

Experience Giglio Island from a different perspective: up in the clouds! Not everyone knows that Giglio Island has an incredible lookout spot at its highest point, with a breathtaking birds eye view of the sea and the island’s dramatic cliffs. 

The spot is located in a pine grove just outside the center of Giglio Castello behind the Police Station. There is a short, steep uphill road next to the station that leads right into the pines. Keep on walking up to the Punto Panoramico, or lookout spot, where there’s a small picnic area.

You’re so high up that there’s often fog in the morning, which makes it seem like you’re in a cloud (don’t worry, by late morning it usually burns off).

Good To Know:  Be aware before you go that there are no solid barriers to keep children from going on the cliffs, so don’t let them wander off. The path is not suitable for strollers.

See an Underwater World

Boy wades in the sea at beach on Giglio Island. Pedal boats in the water and sailboats further out. Land with homes on the right and people sitting on a small beach.
Cannelle beach

Go snorkeling to glimpse some of Giglio Island’s renowned marine life. 

Giglio Island is the second largest of 7 islands in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. It’s part of a protected marine reserve, and is one of only 3 Italian parks on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Green List. 

Here are my top snorkeling picks for kids:

  • Arenella beach: the beach itself is sandy, but the sea bottom is rocky. While this can make it tricky for getting in the water, it’s fun to explore with a mask and snorkel.

How to get there with children: take a taxi van. It’s a pretty 7-minute drive from Giglio Porto on steep curvy roads. If you wish to drive, make sure to get there early in the day and be prepared to pay for parking.

  • Cannelle beach: with clear shallow water and lots of little fish to see, Cannelle is an easy place for kids to snorkel.

How to get there with children: Cannelle beach is within walking distance from Giglio Porto, but has a couple hefty hills to maneuver. If you have young children I recommend a taxi van or taxi boat. If you wish to drive, make sure to get there early in the day and be prepared to pay for parking (the drive is just 4 minutes from Giglio Porto).

Ride in a Pedal Boat

For some reason, children go gaga for pedal boats– maybe because it’s the adults who end up peddling? That aside, this skeptic is now a convert. I’ve found that pedal boats indeed are a fun way to see parts of the Giglio coast that you can’t see otherwise.

Experience Giglio Island from the water, and explore the nooks and crannies along the jagged coastline. You can also jump into the water and swim from the pedal boat, which my kids love. 

Pedal boats are called pedalò in Italian. They are available to rent at the Cannelle, Caldane, Arenella and Campese beach clubs.

Good To Know:  Boat safety is not a thing in Italy – do not assume that the rental will include a life jacket. My children are the only kids I’ve ever seen wearing life jackets on a boat in Italy. Usually children who can’t swim wear water wings.

Visit a Medieval Castle

Father and son walk under archway in Giglio Castello in Tuscany. Laundry hangs from building window.

Do your kids like fairy tales? Take them to explore Giglio Castello, a medieval town 405 m (1328 ft) above sea level. 

Castello means castle in Italian. 12th century Giglio Castello has imposing castle walls with a maze of cobblestone streets inside to get lost in. There are small piazzas and vistas to discover. There is even an 11th century fortress (rocca) hidden among the winding paths.

The center of town is closed to cars, making it a pleasure to explore. Not only that, there are incredible views from up here, and on clear days you can see the island of Monte Cristo. 

Giglio Castello is so high up that often it’s shrouded in fog in the morning, and it feels like you’re in the clouds. By late morning it usually clears.

See a Boat Race

August 10 is the Feast of San Lorenzo, Giglio Porto’s patron saint day. Festivities last for several days. The most exciting event is a special boat race, or palio, between the town’s four neighborhoods (rioni). 

In the afternoon of August 10, members of the rioni parade along the harbor, dressed in their neighborhood colors. Then it’s time for the main event: the Palio Marinaro, a rowboat race the locals have been waiting for all year. Roaring crowds line the piers, cheering boisterously for their rione’s boat. 

No matter who wins, it’s a tradition for everyone to jump into the harbor at the end of the race (even though it’s not officially allowed). If your kids can hang on until about midnight, they’ll get to see a spectacular fireworks display right over the harbor.

Have a Sunset Picnic on the Beach

Boy with inflatable dolphin toy walks toward water at the beach on Giglio Island at sunset. There are also lounge chairs and closed umbrellas on the sand. Boats in the water.

Every night Campese beach has front row views of the sunset! Bask in the sun on the beach all evening until the sun finally goes down right over Campese bay. 

One of my family’s favorite Giglio Island traditions is to get pizza or sandwiches and eat on the beach while we watch the sun set. Everyone else has gone home to have dinner, the kids can run free, and we have the beach practically to ourselves. 

I hope this has helped you plan your trip to Giglio Island with your kids!

You may want to read Where to Stay on Giglio Island

Suzanne Talenti

Suzanne has been living in Italy for almost two decades. Based in Tuscany with her husband and two children, she uses her BA in Italian and Master’s in Gastronomy to teach about Italian food, culture and language, as well as organize food tours and events. She has over 15 years of teaching experience with students on two continents. Suzanne is always on the lookout for fun, interesting places to explore in Italy, ideally with a stop for yummy local delicacies along the way! You can find her at GettingToKnowItaly.