When we stayed in Gallura earlier this year, which is situated in the north of Sardinia, we were hard pressed to tear the kids away from the region’s famous white sandy beaches and turquoise blue waters. The children loved paddling on the shoreline, playing games on the beach and devouring as much gelato as we would allow them to.
But as much as Sardinia’s beaches are a huge draw to sun seekers and families, the Italian island has much to offer away from the sparkling coastline and rugged rock faces.
For starters, did you know that Sardinia is a designated ‘blue zone’ because the longevity of Sardinians means that there are more centenarians here, than in the rest of the world. The good Mediterranean weather, wealth of history, resplendent food and wine, plus the island’s natural beauty must surely be the key to long life and happiness.
Having only spent one week in Sardinia, I can whole-heartedly say that it certainly agreed with us. We could barely bring ourselves to leave the resort, so content were we in our surroundings.
However, Sardinia isn’t huge – you can drive from one end of the island to the other in less than three hours. So even if you’re staying in the north, like we did, Sardinia’s capital Cagliari is certainly doable if you set off early enough.
Which also means that if you’re in an exploratory mood, or want to entertain the children away from the beach there is a huge choice of activities and attractions for the whole family. Here are some of my top picks…
Kids needn’t find landscapes boring. Think of the stories you can imagine together taking inspiration from Sardinia’s natural landmarks such as La Roccia dell’Orso or The Bear Rock. Marvel at this granite outcrop some 122m high which has been worn down over time to resemble a hulk of a bear.
For the adventurous, a climb down 656 steps which cling to the western side of the cliff face of Capo Caccia leads you to the mouth of this inspiring cave – Grotta di Nettuno. For others who prefer a more gentle entrance, the caves can be reached by boat which depart from the Port of Alghero or from the dock of Cala Dragunara in Porto Conte.
Once inside, you’ll be greeted by an underwater sea lake, a sandy beach and ‘rooms’ covered in vegetation, as well as stalactites and stalagmites.
Piscinas Sand Dunes
Among the highest in Europe, the sand dunes of Piscinas are the perfect spot for children to play in – rolling, running, hiding, and jumping. And once they tire of that, they can sit on the beach and watch the kite surfers out at sea, as this western part of the island, Costa Verde, is rather windy. See if you can also spot the Sardinian deer that roam around the scrub, or the sea turtles which lay their eggs on the sand during different times of the year.
Cala Gonone Aquarium
In the eastern Sardinian town of Cala Gonone, there is a story of how a blind sea turtle was rescued and brought to the aquarium to live out the rest of its days. Children will be able to see this turtle, as well as other species such as piranhas, sharks and rays in the 26 different tanks. You can even pet some of these creatures in the open air pool.
La Ragnatele Adventure Park
This tree top adventure in Alghero sees rope ladders, bridges and trails all amongst the tree canopy. And with differing heights, it means there is a course suitable for children of all ages. Plus, there’s also a small play area for younger kids, too.