Travel with… toddlers
Like any self-respecting Italian region, Sardinia excels when it comes to spot-on kiddie staples. Pizza, pasta and gelato are all on the menu to keep everyone happy at mealtimes. But it’s not just food that will enamour toddlers. Don’t miss a trip on the Trenino Verde: a diesel train that rambles through miles of serene Sardinian countryside. There are six different routes to choose from, depending on how long your little ones will stick it out for, but the Mandas to Seui line is probably your best bet with young ones. Animal-loving tots will also fall head over heels for the island’s agriturismi (farm stays), where they wake to the sound of cockerels, eat freshly picked oranges on shady terraces, and pet farm animals before letting off steam in miles of rural space. Alternatively, decamp to BluFan Aquatic Park with its epic water slides and pools — always a winner with toddlers.
Travel with… babies
There are two universal truths about Sardinia. Firstly, it’s fringed with beaches that look more like the Maldives than the Med. And secondly, Sardinians adore babies. Combine the two and your bambinos will be smitten. Babies love a good beach. And the thing about Sardinia is that many of its curves and coves are spectacularly calm and shallow. Head to Tuerredda on the southern coast to nab a spot on its buttery sand, where little ones can potter under the shade of umbrellas and paddle in gin-clear waters for hours. When your little ones need a snooze, load up the buggy and trundle beyond the beach and along the resort’s promenade: most are incredibly buggy friendly and backed with playgrounds. Many hotels have thought of everything for baby travel, with all the gear on demand — cots, changing mats and baby baths — but anything you’re missing, you can hire from Italian firm MammaMamma.
Travel with… teens
Teenagers can be hard to please, but even they can’t ignore the pull of the island’s good-time vibes. The surf scene is cool and friendly and will welcome newbies to the west coast’s pounding waves with a pro lesson. Still in the water, the north coast’s resorts of Palau and Porto Pollo are big on watersports: kitesurfing, diving and windsurfing are all on the bill. A trip to Sardinia’s largest national park, meanwhile, is a must: the Gennargentu National Park is a playground for off-road biking, caving and canyoning, and a chance to discover the island’s craggy beauty. An all-round crowd-pleaser is a horse ride along the beautiful Piscinas Beach on the island’s south-west coast, with its dunes of orange sand and trails lined with fragrant juniper, beach grass and olive trees.
Travel with… tweens
Keep tweens happy with a trip to Laguna di Nora — a fascinating lagoon on the western side of the Nora promontory where pink flamingos stride through the lake’s shallows. Spot these creatures on a canoe trip — don’t forget your camera — and dip into the visitor centre for a wildlife lesson in the area’s aquatic fauna. But to really grab their attention, book a snorkelling tour in the dreamily clear water — a perfect place to introduce novices to the sport. Back on land and out of the blasting sun, Capo Caccia’s Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune’s Grotto) — an enchanting and cavernous cave network — will fire up young imaginations with staggering forests of stalagmites and stalactites. To make them feel like true pioneers, descend into the caves via the Escala del Cabirol — a hair-raising staircase that has around 650 steps — before clambering along narrow walkways and into the darkness.
Travel with… multi-generations
Plot a course to the Capo Carbonara promontory, a protected marine park which will charm your entourage, where sweeping bays sit cheek-by-jowl with dunes and coves. Take it in turns to watch the tots craft sandcastles and pad about, while you dive its knockout waters or wander along the walking trails beneath chalk-white cliffs, or pile the whole family into a boat for a trip along the coast. Away from the water, sensational scenery and wildlife pops up in every direction at La Giara di Gesturi — a high basalt plateau that’s home to Sardinia’s indigenous wild ponies. Walk among its scrubland and ancient woodland, which is smothered in heather and wild orchids come spring, and head towards one of the area’s paulis (pools), where it’s possible to spot the charming ponies pausing for a drink.
Ask the experts
I’m travelling alone to Sardinia with my three-year-old. Is it easy to find babysitting services and other solo-parent families?
Many single parents who travel to Sardinia, especially those with small children, opt for family-friendly resorts where the market for single-parent holidays is well developed. You could choose an all-inclusive resort that caters to families, with playgrounds, paddling pools and all sorts of entertainment options for children. Many resorts offer childcare resources too, from playground monitors to babysitters. The family-friendly environment makes it easy to meet other parents and have some time with adults.
Sardinia is incredibly child-friendly; locals dote over children — especially little ones — and welcome them in cafes, restaurants and hotels. One of the best things about Sardinia is its sandy beaches, where children can run and play freely; the area around Alghero, especially, has shallow, clear and calm waters. Car rental companies across the island can provide child seats, opening up more destinations like the wild beaches on the western coast of Sardinia, which stretch for miles — if you decide to go exploring further afield.
Vesna Maric, Lonely Planet writer
Published in the Sardinia 2019 guide, out with the March 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)