Sestri Levante with kids: essential travel guide for families. Best things to do, kids’ playgrounds, accommodation, day trips and travel tips you’ll love
Sestri Levante, or simply Sestri as it is also called, is a pretty, colorful, family-friendly beach town in Liguria, Italy.
Often ignored by overseas visitors, who tend to flock to nearby Cinque Terre and Portofino, Sestri doesn’t have the vertiginous cliffs of its internationally renowned neighbors; however, it has a lot to offer to its visitors and to families with kids especially.
In Sestri, you find colorful houses, a pleasant center, opportunities for day trips, beaches, restaurants, tons of kids’ playgrounds and something busier areas have in large part lost: a local feel!
This introduction may have given it away already but I’ll say it anyway: I love Sestri.
I was in Sestri Levante with my kids again last July and loved every minute of our stay.
Together, we explored the town, checked out the playgrounds, ate focaccia, took trains and ferries, lounged on the beach, swam in the sea and made each other promises to go back soon.
If you are looking for a beautiful, local, family-friendly coastal town in Italy, you’ll love Sestri!
On this page, you find all our tips to plan a stay with the kids, based on our personal experience of the town.
Looking for more info about this area? Find here >>> Our guide to Liguria with kids
This post is based on my personal experience of Sestri Levante with children. The photos are also my own.
Please note: this post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase, we might make a small commission.
Why visit Sestri Levante with kids
Choose Sestri Levante for a vacation with kids if you want:
- A family-friendly town with a local feel
- A coastal town with easy access to beach clubs for summer
- Use trains and ferries rather than cars to explore the area
- A town close to Cinque Terre and Portofino but off the main overseas tourism track
- A well-served town in terms of shops and essential everyday needs
Why not to visit Sestri Levante with kids
Sestri Levante may not be for your family if you are looking for:
- A place with a large selection of indoor activities for kids or classes in English
- A town with no tourism.
While not popular with the same type of tourism that flocks to Cinque Terre, Sestri Levante is a big holiday destination and in summer is busy with Italian and European visitors. If you come here in the good season, don’t expect a lot of space or quiet, Italian tourism has been flocking to Sestri for a long time!
The best time to visit Sestri Levante
The best time for Sestri Levante with kids is the summer, from June to September.
During the summer months, you can enjoy Sestri’s beaches, and outdoor kids attractions and you will find the highest number of ferries to explore the surrounding area.
The best things to do in Sestri Levante with kids
Go to the beach
Sestri Levante developed along two beautiful bays with clean water and child-friendly beaches. The bays are called Golfo del Silenzio / Baia del Silenzio (Bay of Silence) and Baia delle Fiabe / Golfo delle Fiabe (gulf of Fairytales).
Baia del Silenzio is the beautiful sandy beach in Sestri Levante that you see in most photos of the town.
The Bay of Silence has a sandy beach, calm waters perfect for kids, and it is overlooked by the traditional colorful houses of this part of Liguria.
The beach has some free parts and some beach clubs that rent loungers and umbrellas. Small cafes/eateries overlook it and it is in the center, only a couple of minutes away from Sestri’s main streets and shopping area, with many more food and shopping options.
Baia del Silenzio is beautiful and child-friendly. It gets very busy in summer.
The Bay of Fairytale is the bigger of the two coves of Sestri Levante and it also great for kids.
This gulf is wider than Baia del Silenzio, and it feels less enclosed; however, the beach here is also great for kids and since the gulf is bigger, there are several free areas and beach clubs to choose from.
Family-friendly beach clubs you may like here are:
Enjoy the playgrounds and games on the waterfront
The main promenade in Sestri Levante follows Baia delle Fiabe and is where you find kids’ playgrounds and carousels.
The playgrounds and games dot the whole promenade and include some climbing frames but also carousel-style entertainment that comes to life, especially in the afternoon / post-dinner, when families come out to enjoy the mild summer evenings!
Explore the colorful city center
Sestri Levante has a pretty and colorful city center, with lots of shops, eateries, bakeries, gelato places, etc.
The town has some trafficked roads that cross it; however, large parts of the center are car free and great for a family stroll.
I was delighted to find out Sestri has wonderful shops for me as well as the children!
All three of us loved it here as we felt you can easily make Sestri your home and settle in a pleasant, relaxed routine and have all your essentials nearby, plus fun shops for your summer fashion or beach toys fix!
Take the ferry to San Fruttuoso and Portofino
Sestri Levante offers ferries/day cruises to stunning San Fruttuoso and Portofino, two places I recommend you visit while in the area, especially if you have slightly older kids with you (they are not great for toddlers, but there are ways to make them work, more about this is a second!)
San Fruttuoso is a breathtaking Monastery perched in a scenic and green cove blessed with luscious vegetation and crystal clear waters. you can reach it by boat only and once there you find yourself in a secluded and beautiful bay with two pebbly beaches and small cafes.
The place is wonderful in terms of natural beauty and perfect to swim and snorkel.
Since the beach is pebbly/rocky and there is nothing to do as such, this is not an ideal place for toddlers but it is fabulous for older kids who can snorket for hours near the shore.
if you have toddlers, I recommend coming here with a toddler carrier and thick water shoes and, potentially, only staying a little while for a quick swim and some photos.
This is a trip for the grown-ups rather than little kids but it is so beautiful it is worth coming anyway – you can give them some beach time once back in Sestri!
From Sestri, you can also reach stunning Portofino.
Like San Frittuoso, Portofonio is not a place for kids (no playgrounds, no beach); however, older kids will love climbing up the castle and seeing the incredible view from there and you can have a lovely meal in this beautiful town (we enjoyed Restaurant L’Isolotto, kid-friendly), Sestri doing the heavy lifting for you in terms of kids’ fun!
Top tip! On the way back from Portofino, you can also stop in Santa Margherita Ligure, which is another lovely coastal town in this area, with a nice beach. Even just for a gelato stop, it is worth coming!
Catch a train to Levanto and Cinque Terre
Sestri Levante is well connected to Levanto, Cinqye Terre and even Genoa by train.
Cinque Terre needs no introduction! The towns you can easily see from Sestri Levante by catching a train in the morning and returning at night (or you can visit different towns on different days, it is that close!)
Explore the area by bike
A fun thing to do in Sestui Levante with kids who can cycle is rent bikes or even try mountain biking.
If you have your own bike, you’ll be pleased to hear Sestri has good shops for repairs and accessories.
If you don’t, at present you need a little extra step as we couldn’t find kids’ bike rental places. However, we found two other solutions:
If you are staying in Hotel Celeste you can avail of their bikes for free
You can get a bike in Chiavari (which we love) at PitStopBikes and explore the area, including Sestri, from there.
Where to East in Sestri with kids
Places we enjoyed in Sestri Levante are:
Best focaccia – Le delizie della baia; Spiga d’oro; Focaccia d’autore
Don Luigi – fish dishes, pasta dishes, focaccia
Pesce Balla – fish dishes, focaccia, pizza
Tosi Burger – when the kids and you feel like a burger, fries and a drink!
Deli / specialty shops:
Pastificio Moderno – fresh pasta shop
Le delizie della baia – focaccia, cured meats, cheese, pesto etc
Where to stay in Sestri Levante with kids
Kid-friendly hotels in Sestri Levante you may like:
Vis a Vis hotel, with beautiful family rooms and a seasonal outdoor pool
Hotel Celeste, with the option of getting free bikes
Grand Hotel Villa Balbi – upscale hotel with a private beach
Appartamento Azzurro Mare – a short walk from the beach and the station
How to get to Sestri Levante
You can learn here >>> all about traveling Italy by train with kids