Sardinia has a bit of a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, but don’t let this put you off. Head for Alghero - fly into its airport and it’s only a euro to take the bus into town. It might not be one of the more glamorous spots on Sardinia but it has a delightful old town with well preserved bastions, excellent restaurants specialising in seafood and plenty of places to sit with a cocktail watching the sun go down. There is a working harbour and port and the town is not reliant on tourism, although it does get busy in July and August. An excellent large gently shelving sandy beach stretches the length of the bay, making it an excellent choice for families.
North west coast of Sardinia
Google map: bit.ly/QgnVWe
Keep kids and adults engaged by visiting the fascinating turtle sanctuary based on the beautiful south coast of Sardinia. As well as the rescued sea turtles and aquarium the nearby Roman ruins and beautiful beach with perfectly situated Sant'Efisio church will easily fill a day out. Best of all, we managed this trip, which was one of the highlights of our stay on the island, by public transport from Cagliari.
We had a superb two-week holiday with two teenage children. We flew to Zagreb and picked up a hire car. Drove to Pula, Beli on Cres (heaven, do walk to the lost villages), Rab, Zadar and finally dropped the car off at Split. We then took ferries to Korcula and on to Dubrovnik to fly home. Get to Krka National Park very early for the magic - it felt like Alton Towers on a bank holiday when we left at 11.30am. We recommend booking hostels - we stayed in them in Pula, Rab, Zadar and Split. Basic but really clean, friendly, central and cheap. Particularly liked the Old Town hostel in Zadar. You can spend hours jumping off the harbour wall listening to the sea organ and then return in the evening to the sun salutation to enjoy the Saturday Night Fever light display.
A car-free island. No cars - no roads! Life at human pace. We caught the ferry from Sibenik, booked in to the one and only hotel, walked from one end of the Island to the other, swam in the bright blue sea and finished off with local wine and good food by the village green. The elders played bowls, the kids played football, the dogs chased each other and we watched the moon rise over the sea, while listening to the sound of ... no cars.
Half an hour on the ferry from Sibenik, which is a couple of hours north of Split, regular bus service.
Google map: bit.ly/MnDWcC
Set within the state capital's lush Botanical gardens, the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is an example of a zoo trying to do the right thing. According to its pamphlet, many of the animals were kept in small, dingy cages as recently as 1996, and were simply there as exhibits. But an effort to change the zoo (it declares itself to be the oldest in India) from being a place of "unlimited animals and limited facilities" to "limited animals and adequate facilities" is working. A zoo animal hospital has been built and the stated objective is to conserve species endemic to the local area, from the coast to the Western Ghats.
There are still some anomalies: I'm not sure how often you see zebras, hippos and ostriches in the wilds of India. And I can't understand the reason for holding twelve kites (including the regal Brahminy kite) in one smallish cage; these birds can be seen on any day in (practically) any part of Kerala. I saw a rather forlorn "Jungle cat" (a bit bigger than your average-sized moggie) in a small cave-like den, with no trees or foliage.
On the other hand, the big cats (tigers, leopard and asiatic lions) had large, landscaped enclosures as well as smaller feeding cages: I watched one leopard gently headbutt its mate (mother? sibling?) before falling over and purring, just like any Jellicle cat at home; a lioness lay on her front licking her paw and passing it over her face, with eyes closed, while next to her another female stretched out and yawned; two young tigers prowled in their feeding areas, and as the keeper walked round the back of the cage, they play-stalked him. To my untrained eye these animals looked pretty content.
The zoo is full of mature trees and is well shaded. The landscaping and planting is fantastic.
Square on south side of Arno river off Corsa Italia.
A square surrounded by bars and restaurants, with locals sitting around and kids playing football.
Nice place to relax, in complete contrast to the more tourist orientated area around the Campo dei Miracoli.
Square on south side of Arno river off Corsa Italia.
Google map: bit.ly/LTXy5o
Nice tree lined square surrounded by pavement cafes.
Plenty of seating in which to relax, away from the more tourist parts of Florence.
One end of the square has the church of Santo Spirito dating back to the 15th century.
On the south side of the Arno river on the right as you come over the Ponte Santa Trinita.
Google map: bit.ly/LTXFOw
Absolute superb find. This pizzeria located in what looks like a German beerhall serves great pizzas for extremely reasonable prices.
Two large pizzas cost about €7 each and one litre of house white cost about €6!
Was family friendly as well.
Great trattoria and pizzeria in the heart of Florence just yards from the Santa Croce church. In our three days in the city, we had the best pizzas here.
Pizzas were between €6 and €8. For two pizzas and a bottle of white wine, we paid €29.
Surprisingly good value in a central location in Florence.
We found a great campsite in Sorrento. It sits right on a cliff overlooking the gulf of Naples and is surrounded by olive groves.
Not only does it have a tent area but also there are caravans and small wooden chalets to rent at a very reasonable price. We stayed in a lovely wooden chalet with patio which though basic had everything we needed for our stay. On site there is also a restaurant, a small shop, kids play area and a swimming pool. It’s a 10 minute walk into Sorrento and near the sea so the location is a great added bonus. I had stayed in the Bristol Hotel the first night I arrived which was a very nice hotel but my stay at the campsite was far more enjoyable.
It's a hot summery day in Paris and all you want to do is soak up the sun and occasionally cool off. Oh, and experience what Parisians might be doing on a day like today. Oh, and you'll want somewhere tasty to refuel a litter later. And if you've got kids they need to enjoy it too. Well, try Piscine Josephine Baker, a swimming pool on a barge in the Seine. As if having a swimming pool on a barge in the Seine isn't cool enough, it also has a retractable roof to really make the most of summer days. And if that too isn't enough, the water for the pool comes from the Seine itself, is filtered for the pool, and then goes back into the Seine afterward. So it's really an eco pool!I wonder what Josephine would have made of it.
8 Quai François Mauriac 75013 Paris
+33(0)1 56 61 96 50
Google map: bit.ly/MfZIyb
When visiting Paris on a family holiday the ever popular and highly acclaimed Euro Disney is often the first place which springs to mind. There is however, an overlooked lesser-known hidden gem called Parc Asterix which is inspired by the iconic French comic series "The Adventures of Asterix". Much quieter than Euro Disney meaning less queuing and elbow prodding, a godsend to any parent who has has experienced hours of queuing with very grumpy, bored children! The children loved it, especially my eldest who found himself able to enjoy a much vaster selection of rides than in other parks, a result of less stringent height restrictions. We all thoroughly enjoyed the shows, the performing dolphins being a firm favourite.
My husband underwent a nostalgic journey in Galois Village enjoying all the characters displayed in such a vivid way.
Personally, I favour Parc Asterix very highly above the popular alternative. Quieter, cheaper and oozing character, with a unique quirkiness so often absent from the larger, highly commercialised amusement parks.
For those who want to indulge in a fun family day out and experience theme parks done the French way - Parc Asterix won't disappoint.
In this sunken outdoor courtyard, you can bask in the Parisian sunshine and drink refreshing mint tea whilst admiring the Morrocan tiling that surrounds you. The constant stream of birds sweeping through and landing on the tree growing in the centre of the courtyard will make you feel as though you have discovered a secret piece of tranquil Marrakesh in the middle of Paris. I'm 16, and I would recommend this for a family outdoor trip in Paris.
Even when the castle buildings are closed to the public during the winter months Knaresborough castle is still worth a stroll around if only for the views of its famous railway viaduct and river Nidd gorge with Knaresborough perched on its cliff high above the Nidd.
A source of free drinking water and a historical reference to Ripley's history all in one.
Ripley Castle is set in a beautiful landscape with its own lake and waterfall. For the best view of the castle take the path signposted for the deer park, walk past Eel tower and pause at the bridge over the waterfall to admire the castle in its all glory as it is reflected in the lake's water. The friendly tour guides provide a thorough guided tour of the castle itself sharing stories about its bloody English civil war connections. The gardens are well tended, colourful and child friendly.
This small but very informative museum is well worth a visit as it teaches you lot about Filey's vital fishing and tourism heritage. The museum volunteers are really friendly and will happily explain about the wide range of exhibits and more. There is a £2.50 entry fee
It is almost that time of year again for barge loads of sand to float down the Seine and transform the riverbanks of Paris into an urban beach. Beginning on the 20th July and lasting for one month, the Paris Plage offers the complete beach experience … almost. The creators don’t seem to be fazed by the lack of sea as they put together what could be best described as a caricature of a beach, complete with palm trees, over-sized deck chairs, ice-cream sellers and beach volleyball. The latest addition to the beach at Bassin de la Villette offers free pedalos and rowing boats from which you can float along and enjoy the games of pétanque, giant sand castles, free concerts, and everything else that’s going on beside the Seine-side, beside the Seine!
Pont Neuf to Hotel de Ville (right bank of the Seine), Bassin de la Villette
Google map: bit.ly/LwXCYr
Enjoy an unrivalled view of the still magical Pompidou Centre from the cafes and wine bars opposite, as the external escalators whisk visitors to the top. Or people-watch the many hundreds who throng the square every day from the cobbled slope at one end, itself always packed with people of all nationalities. Better still, buy a baguette and sit on the edge of the pool in the adjacent place Igor Stavinsky and follow the progress of the zany, multi-coloured, mobile statues and fountains, all linked to works by Stravinsky, as they spray their water everywhere. Fun for the children and a delight for adults too.
Piazza and place Igor Stravinsky outside the Pompidou Centre in the Beaubourg.
Google map: bit.ly/NC8Tsg
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