I need to preface this post with a caveat: we went to Union Lido campsite in Italy for the second part of a two-centre holiday, the first part of which was spent in Bella Italia. We had an incredible time in Bella Italia, and had agreed that it didn’t matter that our mobile was fairly basic. But then we arrived in Union Lido, and discovered our Eurocamp Azure, and all the “it doesn’t matter if the mobile is basic” chit-chat was over. Now it didn’t matter what the campsite was like – we were in love with our Azure.
As it happens, the campsite was pretty amazing too, possibly the best campsite we’ve ever stayed in, so here goes: what was good and what was not so good about Union Lido?
The pools in Union Lido are the best we’ve ever seen in any campsite -in particular the Laguna Pool complex where we spent most of our time. It’s basically a giant man-made beach with lagoon style pools, and slides that are straight out of a waterpark.
What I loved about this was there are almost no sun loungers – everyone puts towels on the sand, just as you do on a beach. So unlike some other campsites, there’s no pressure to find a lounger or queue up before the pools open.
What the kids loved about it was, well, everything. There are six proper waterpark style slides, plus some smaller slides between the various pools.
There’s a sandy pool that’s so warm it’s like being on a Mediterranean beach, a wave pool, and a play pool with more slides and buckets of water for smaller kids.
There’s a second pool complex nearer to the beach, with a good lazy river, a deeper pool for lane swimming, a play pool for smaller kids, and jacuzzi pools. Again, there are few loungers, but there’s lots of space for laying towels on the grass. This pool complex is ideal if you need a break from the sand!
We spent a lot more time at the pools here than we did in other campsites, because there was just so much for the kids to do.
Like Marina di Venezia where we stayed two years ago, Union Lido campsite is situated on and just behind a beautiful strip of golden Adriatic beach. Our mobile home was an eight-minute walk from the beach, but many other mobiles and bungalows were just over a sand dune from the sea.
There are three or four beach bars dotted along the strand, and quite ingeniously, there is playground equipment on the beach too. I spent one particular afternoon lying on the sand reading my book while the kids were just over the railing in the beach playground, while my husband played a football match with some Danish people.
The beach was also perfect for walking or running – there’s a boardwalk that runs the length of the campsite, and it’s right beside the activity park (mentioned below). One of the beach bars (Blu Bar) sits between the activity park and the beach, so you can sit and sip a cappuccino or an Aperol Spritz and watch your kids play on whichever side they prefer, and take advantage of the Free Library while you’re there too.
Union Lido is huge. If you know this in advance, or if you’ve been to other big campsites and have an idea of what to expect, it’s fine. We’d been to the equally big Marina di Venezia, about 10 km further along the same coast, so we knew what it would be like.
We were in Union Lido with Eurocamp, staying at one corner of the campsite – near the Dog Park (more about which below) and the Laguna Pool. So we had a two minute walk to the pool and to our favourite restaurant, Dog Bar, but eight to ten minutes (longer with a tired six-year-old) to the beach, and an almost insurmountable 15 minutes to the main area of the campsite where most of the restaurants and shops were located.
So we hired bikes, and once we did that, getting around went from being a chore to being a joy – cycling became part of the holiday. The campsite is very well laid out, and it’s easy to find your way around once you get your bearings. It’s very well-kept, clean, pretty to look at, and has a real five-star campsite feel to it. (If you’re reading this having only ever stayed in five-star hotels and thinking about trying a campsite, I should warn you that five-star campsites are not like five-star hotels!)
There is a Camping Market directly across the road from the main entrance to the campsite and you can hire bikes there, however when we arrived at 12:30, they had just closed for siesta and weren’t opening again until late in the afternoon. So on the advice of some kind Northern Irish people who were passing by, we walked to the local town, Cavallino, to go to a bike rental shop that’s open all day, and is also by all accounts cheaper. We paid €90 for five bikes for four days.
I thought the food was pretty good in Union Lido but maybe not as great as the restaurants in Norcenni Girasole and Marina di Venezia. We ate in Ca’ Rustica in the Laguna Pool complex (good food, little bit pricey compared to Bella Italia – we were comparing as it was the day we arrived), and in Cantinette Lispida in the centre.
I may have chosen badly in the latter both times we ate there, but I wasn’t blown away by the food. We ate in Casa Venezia on our last day – delicious pizza, huge portions. Between restaurants, snack bars, and beach bars, there’s a huge selection of eating opportunities in Union Lido, see them all here.
But our favourite onsite restaurant was Dog Bar in the Dog Park area. Union Lido has an area for families with dogs (of no use to anyone travelling from Ireland, but brilliant for people driving from different parts of Europe) and our mobile was right beside that area. Friends of ours who were there at the same time tipped us off that Dog Bar was a good spot even for those of us not travelling with canines (“The kind of place you’d like to order a gin and tonic” said my friend, and I knew exactly what she meant).
It turned out Dog Bar do a big selection of burgers in addition to the usual pasta and pizza menu, so we ended up eating there three times during our week in Union Lido. The staff there were particularly lovely – brilliant with the kids, and recognised us each time we went back. (Maybe because they were thinking “why do these people with no dog keep coming here?”)
Offsite, we had some really good meals – in Cavallino, where we walked to rent bikes, there’s an all-day restaurant called Sole Mare right beside the bike shop.
It’s a very unassuming place, and we would probably have gone right past it if it wasn’t for the fact that we’d just walked for fifteen minutes in the midday sun. We went in, not expecting a whole lot, and the food was great. Simple pasta and pizza dishes, really good value, and great coffee.
The other gorgeous meal we had was in Rossopommodoro in Venice. Best. Pizza. Ever. (More about Venice below.)
The main supermarket in the centre of the campsite is very good, though more expensive than Bella Italia, and it closes for siesta. There is a second supermarket near the Aqua Park Marino pool complex, and from July 4th onwards, it was open all day. There’s a bakery beside it, and another bakery in Dog Park. There are souvenir shops, clothes shops, a shoe shop, jewellery shops, and there’s a night market once a week.
For the kids
This is where Union Lido excels – as well as the amazing pools and the beautiful beach, there is a huge amount for kids to do. So much so, there’s an app you can download to tell you what’s on at any given time. That’s how we ended up doing (free) pony rides in the activity park beside the playground one afternoon, and watching a talent show in the amphitheatre near the Marino pool that night, after joining the mini-disco in Dog Bar in between.
The activity park itself is lovely, with a whole heap of slides and a zip line, all set in wide open space for running around (it’s near the Blu Bar at the far corner of the campsite) and there’s a mini theme park near the centre too.
On our last night, we found the soft-play area – it was €5 per child for unlimited access for the evening, so they threw themselves around on giant bouncy castles and inflatable slides for an hour, then we went for dinner, then we went back again for more.
While we were there, there was a huge amount going on – a magic show, fireworks on the beach, a colour-dash, a night-run, football matches, zumba classes – if you like to stay busy, there’s always something to do, but of course you can also ignore all of it and just sit on the deck with a glass of wine.
We stayed in a Eurocamp Azure and I was completely besotteed with it. Now, for context: we’ve stayed with Canvas, Kelair/ Campotel, and Eurocamp in the past, and always in mobiles that were absolutely fine. Some more worn and dated than others. All of them not a million miles from the ones we stayed in as kids. Our mobile in Bella Italia was fairly worn, so when we arrived in Union Lido and saw the Azure, it was love at first sight.
It was brand new, which helped – only added to the site this year. It felt like a little seaside chalet, all whites and blues and colourful curtains – little details that of course don’t really matter but they do. I loved the spacious shower; the big, clean, bathroom; the shiny new kitchen; the bright blue couch, and the huge deck. I could go on, but in reality it has nothing to do with the campsite – you could just as easily stay in a gorgeous mobile in Bella Italia and a run of the mill one in Union Lido.
There are lots of options if you book direct with the campsite, plenty of mobiles that looked very pretty and different as we walked past each day. And I thought Eurocamp in Union Lido were particularly good – the office is close to the mobiles (in Bella Italia it was a ten minute walk away) and the three reps were very efficient, friendly and helpful. (This is not always the case with Eurocamp!)
One downside of Union Lido compared to Bella Italia: there’s not a lot within walking distance – if you want to travel around, you need a car. We walked to Cavallino (a local town but not a tourist town) and we took the ferry to Venice, and of course we were on the beach. After all the travelling and exploring we’d done in Bella Italia, we were happy to stay on the campsite. But if you’re the kind of person who breaks out in a rash at the idea of two weeks in the one spot, you might want to rent a car.
The good news is you can get to Venice without a car: we took a bus to Punta Sabbioni from the stop across the road from the campsite – it’s about 10km, and we bought tickets in Union Lido tourist centre before we left. From Punta Sabbioni we took the ferry to San Marco in Venice – it takes about 35 minutes, and we bought the tickets in Union Lido before we left.
Venice is busy. Really busy. I don’t know if I’d do it with a buggy, as the streets are narrow and crowded and there are lots of steps. When we were there two years ago, it was stiflingly hot, and my youngest, then four, managed to go missing at one point (for about ten seconds but enough to give me a heart attack). We did a gondola ride that time, got some beautiful photos and had lunch, and it was worth it, but not the easiest day trip ever.
This time, we were lucky – the day was relatively overcast and at one point it rained. So getting around was less sticky, and it felt like the streets weren’t quite as busy. Also the kids are two years older, and we all knew what to expect.
The great thing about Venice is that when you get off the ferry, you’re right on the waterfront, in the heart of the city – take any of the streets leading off the waterfront, and you can start exploring. You don’t necessarily need a map or a sense of direction, you can just ramble to Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square, and explore the dozens of narrow streets and canals and bridges connecting all of it. We had lunch in a fantastic restaurant called Rossopomodoro, and I was surprised afterwards to find out it’s part of a chain – it didn’t feel or look or taste like a chain, and we all said it was the best pizza we’d had on the holiday.
We had ice-cream (of course) and a wander up to Rialto Bridge, where we took a family selfie that included only two of us, as the other three were far too tired and busy with ice-cream to bother with the family selfie.
We didn’t do a gondola ride this time (it was lovely two years ago, but at €80 a go, once is fine) and when we’d wandered enough, we made our way back down to the waterfront to catch the next ferry home.
Getting to Union Lido
We travelled up from Lake Garda, but you can fly in and out of Treviso or Marco Polo airport in Venice. We flew out of Treviso – not fun, but we survived, and I’d do it again if the flight times and prices were right. (Oh the benefit of the passage of time and fading memories.) You can get an ATV shuttle bus between the airports and campsite.
So what’s the verdict?
Union Lido is probably the best campsite we’ve ever experienced. The pools were particularly amazing, but overall the facilities, the layout, the shops, the service – they were all fantastic. The staff were very, very helpful and friendly, especially in Blu Bar and Dog Bar. There is always something to do on the campsite, and you’re just a few minutes walk from the beach.
The downside is that there’s not a whole lot beyond the campsite, at least within walking distance. To be fair, this is true of most campsites, and we had just come from Bella Italia which had Lake Garda and Peschiera town nearby, so we couldn’t help comparing. It’s also huge – I like big campsites because larger size means more facilities, but I can imagine some would find it overwhelmingly big.
When I asked the kids what they thought, they said they felt like they’d had a taster – like when the person in the ice-cream shop lets you try a flavour they said. Now they really, really want the full ice-cream. So although we’ve never gone anywhere a second time, we’ve provisionally booked Union Lido for next year. And I’m really looking forward to trying the full ice-cream.