The island of Sardinia is the second-biggest in the Mediterranean Sea, after neighbouring Sicily. And, thanks to celebrities like Gino D’Acampo and Alex Polizzi extolling its virtues on TV, it’s set to skyrocket up the travel charts this year. The capital of Cagliari is the hub of activity in the south, while Olbia takes the title in the north. Whichever part of the island you visit, though, you can count on plenty of child-friendly things to do. Here’s our pick…
1. Pitch up for the day on Budoni beach
Step on to Sardinia’s shoreline and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally landed in the Caribbean. In the north of the island, the Costa Smeralda – or Emerald Coast – is a striking mix of powdery sand and crystal-clear, calm water, so it’s perfect for children. The same goes for more southerly stretches like Cala di Budoni which, at just under 4km long, has tons of sand to go round.
2. Order a plate of pasta in a trattoria
Eating out as a family is very much a part of life in Sardinia, and Italy in general, so children are welcome in most restaurants. Head for a pizzeria or seek out a traditional trattoria and try some pasta shapes, like fregula and malloreddus, that you won’t find at home. Just ask for a mezzo portion for young children – it’s half the size – and pack a portable highchair as they’re few and far between here.
3. Tuck into an authentic Italian ice cream
More dense than traditional ice cream, Italian gelato is famous all over the world and you’ll find gelaterias selling the stuff all over Sardinia. For the widest choice, head to big towns like Olbia where they’re ten-a-penny, or make tracks for the capital of Cagliari in the south.
Sardinia makes an ideal destination for couples and groups, too, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for an adults-only escape. Romantic retreats are covered – this is Italy after all – and groups of friends are well catered for thanks to a buzzing food and drinks scene and plenty in the way of cultural highlights. So, where should you start?
1. Spot celebrities in Porto Cervo
When it comes to celebrity endorsement, Porto Cervo has no shortage of A-list fans. A certain Prince Karim Aga Khan put the place on the map back in the 1950s, and everyone from Rihanna to Paris Hilton have been spotted here since. Head to Liscia Ruja – arguably the best-looking beach on the Costa Smeralda – and you can top up your tan as you play Spot The A-Lister.
2. Go on a foodie adventure around the island
Gourmands are well catered for in Sardinia, and if you’re looking to splash out, Porto Cervo comes up trumps here, too. The marina is home to a string of swish restaurants where fresh seafood is served up next to a shoreline bobbing with super-yachts. If you’re after something a bit more rustic, head inland and look for a trattoria or an agriturismo – you’ll be served local fare that’s often grown on the premises. As for what to wash your meal down with, try a drop of zingy limoncello – an Italian staple that’s also made in Sardinia – or berry-based mirto, which is a Sardinian speciality.
3. Take a road trip to Cagliari
You can get from one end of Sardinia to the other in less than three hours, which means you can visit the island’s capital, Cagliari, even if you’re staying in the north. Set off early and start off with a coffee and cornetto – the croissant-like pastry, not the ice cream – with the locals at Caffe Svizzera on Largo Carlo Felice. Then either take one of the lifts up to the Castello district if you want to tick off some of the historical must-dos, like the clifftop citadel, or make tracks for Poetto beach if you’d rather soak up some sun. For dinner, your best bet is the Marina quarter – Via Sardegna buzzes with activity as soon as the sun sets.
Take a look at Thomson holidays to Sardinia.
Author: Katie Gregory
The TUI FAMILY LIFE Janna e Sole opened in May 2017 – it's got a new look, a triple helping of pools, and a handy shuttle ready to whisk you to the nearby beach.
TUI SENSIMAR Matta Village, which is new to the Sensimar collection for 2017, has a really boutique feel. It's small and intimate, with Mediterranean-style buildings clustered around a big pool and framed by pine forests. It's adults-only, so the pace is firmly set to relaxed.
Try the Hotel Punta Negra in Alghero, on Sardinia's west coast. It's right on the beach, so you get amazing sea views, plus the whole place is wrapped in pine forests.
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