Travel with Children
Ah, bambini! The Sardinians just love them, so expect pinched cheeks, ruffled hair and warm welcomes galore. And with the island's easygoing nature, gently shelving beaches, caves to explore and prehistoric mysteries straight out of a picture book, travelling here with kids in tow is child's play.
Best Regions for Kids
- Eastern Sardinia
Cave exploring, climbing, biking and all kinds of activities for older kids and teens, plus family-friendly campgrounds.
- Northeastern Sardinia
Excellent beaches with entertainment for kids, wildlife excursions, gentle hiking and dolphin-spotting boat trips.
- Northwestern Sardinia
Fantastic child-friendly beaches for all ages, nature parks, fascinating caves and wildlife-watching and an array of water sports for older kids and teens.
- Southeastern Sardinia
A long town beach, dizzying tower climbing in the historic centre, fun shops and the wonderful trenino verde train ride in the countryside.
- Southwestern Sardinia
Cavallini (mini-horses) roaming on the mountain plateau of La Giara di Gesturi, excellent beaches on the south coast, eerie mines and wondrous caves.
- Western Sardinia
Water-sport-heavy beaches for teens, wild, sandy beaches for toddlers and beautiful bird life for all ages.
Sardinia for Kids
Like all of Italy, Sardinia is wonderful for kids of all ages. Babies and toddlers are cooed over everywhere, while older kids and teenagers can unleash their energy with a host of outdoor activities – from horse riding on the beach to learning to dive and snorkel, kayaking to climbing, wildlife spotting to coastal hiking. Most resorts have tree-fringed promenades suitable for buggies, as well as playgrounds and gelaterie.
Wherever you base yourself, discounts are available for children on public transport and for admission to sights.
- Sinis Peninsula Long sandy beaches and tiny pebble beaches, perfect for toddlers.
- Cala Gonone Low-key family-oriented resort, with a pine-fringed lungomare (seafront promenade), a shady campground and several playgrounds.
- Costa del Sud Stretches of sand and shallow, limpid waters along Sardinia's southwest coast.
- Cala Battistoni, Baia Sardinia Hair-raising rides and water madness, plus fine sandy beaches.
- Riviera del Corallo, Alghero Greenery, umbrellas, sunloungers and kids’ play areas.
- Costa Verde Gorgeous, dune-backed beaches off the beaten track. Not many facilities but plenty of space to run around.
- Kayak Cardedu Kayaking and nautical camping on a remarkable stretch of red granite coast.
- Horse Country Resort This huge horse-riding resort in Arborea offers lessons and treks along the beach or through pine woods.
- Golfo di Orosei Canoeing, biking, caving, diving and canyoning, all great for teens.
- Palau and Porto Pollo These north-coast neighbours offer water sports galore – from windsurfing and kayaking to kids' diving courses.
- Laguna di Nora Canoe expeditions and basic snorkelling.
- Capo Carbonara & Villasimius Shallow water and sandy beaches for play and snorkelling.
Nature & Wildlife Encounters
- Sinis Peninsula Salt lakes and pink flamingos in spring.
- Parco Nazionale dell'Asinara Albino donkeys steal the show at this wildly beautiful national park in the north.
- Parco Naturale Regionale Molentargius Protected reed-fringed wetlands with abundant bird life – flamingos, herons and little egrets.
- Stagno S’Ena Arrubia Keep binoculars handy to spot flamingos, herons, coots and ospreys.
- La Giara di Gesturi Try to spy the shy miniature wild horses that roam this tabletop plateau.
- Capo Carbonara A marine reserve with flamingo-filled lagoons and boat trips to the islands.
- Riserva Naturale di Monte Arcosu A WWF reserve home to wild boar, martens, wildcats, weasels and birds of prey.
Rock Stars & Cave Capers
- Roccia dell’Orso, Palau Wind-blasted granite formation in the shape of a bear.
- Grotta di Nettuno, Capo Caccia Count the 656 steps to the bottom of this glittering, cathedral-like cave.
- Le Grotte Is Zuddas, Santadi Marvel at helictites in this spectacular cave system.
- Roccia dell’Elefante, Castelsardo Seen the bear rock? Go check out the elephant.
- Grotta di Ispinigoli, Dorgali Underground fairyland of stalagmites, including the world's second tallest.
What to Pack
- Most airlines allow you to carry on a collapsible pushchair for no extra charge.
- For additional items such as booster seats and travel cots, they often levy a fee of around £10 to £20 per flight.
- You can take baby food, milk and sterilised water in your hand lugguage.
When to Go
- The best time to visit Sardinia with children is from April to June and in September, when the weather is mild, accommodation is plentiful and crowds are fewer.
- In July and August, temperatures soar, prices sky-rocket and tourist numbers swell.
- If you are tied to school holiday dates, check out alternatives to the packed coastal resorts.
Where to Stay
- Coastal resorts are well geared towards families. Hotels and camp sites often have pools, kids' clubs organising activities and special children's menus.
- Apartment rentals are often a good bet, too, providing space and freedom – and they often work out cheaper than hotels.
- Agriturismi (farm stays) are great for giving the masses the slip; here you'll find space for the kids to play freely, farm animals, trails to explore and a genuinely warm welcome.
- Book in advance whenever possible, and be sure to ask about the hotel's kid policy – many places will squeeze in a cot for free or an extra bed for a nominal charge.
- Baby formula, disposable nappies (diapers; pannolini) and sterilising solutions are widely available at farmacie and supermarkets.
- Fresh cow’s milk is sold in litre and half-litre cartons in supermarkets, alimentari (food shops) and in some bars. Carry an emergency carton of lunga conservazione (UHT).
Eating with Kids
Eating out with the kids is pretty stress-free in Sardinia, where bambini are made very welcome. There are few taboos about taking children to restaurants, even if locals with little ones in tow stick to the more popular trattorias – you’ll seldom see children in an expensive restaurant.
- Even if there is no children’s menus, most places will cheerfully tailor a dish to appeal and serve a mezzo porzione (half portion).
- Very few restaurants have seggioloni (high chairs), so bring a fabric add-on or stick your wiggly toddler on your knee and hope for the best.
- Baby-changing facilities are few and far between, though the staff will usually find a space for you (sometimes rolling a tray table into the toilets for you!).
- Food-wise, most kids are in heaven. Spaghetti, pizza and ice cream abound, as do Sardinian takes on pasta like ravioli-style culurgiones.
- It is possible to hire car seats for infants and children (usually for a daily fee) from most car-rental firms, but book them well in advance.
- Most compact cars are short on space, so you may struggle to squeeze in your luggage and pushchair in the boot.
- Check the car’s dimensions before booking or consider upgrading to a bigger model.
- Under-fours generally travel for free on trains and ferries, but without the right to a seat or cabin berth; for children between four and 12, discounts of 50% are usually applied.
- Sardinian trains are seldom busy, but in high season it’s advisable to book seats.
- Note that coastal and mountain roads can be very curvy and travel sickness is a serious prospect, so be prepared.
- Kids love the Trenino Verde, a narrow-gauge train that chugs through some of Sardinia’s most spectacular and inaccessible countryside.
- Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children is packed with practical tips, while the Kids’ Travel Guide – Italy, published by FlyingKids, is a fun take on the country.
- Lots of general advice, though nothing specific to Sardinia, can be found at www.travelwithyourkids.com.
- Tots Too (www.totstoo.com) is an online agency specialising in upmarket, kid-friendly properties.