North of Tunisia and south of Corsica, the sultry island of Sardinia ranks as the Med's second-largest isle. One of the quieter Italian destinations, in terms of tourist footfall, what this place lacks in swarms of selfie sticks it more than makes up for with its therapeutic landscape. Owing to the variety of its ecosystems - think dramatic mountain range, wild woodland areas, rock-strewn coastlines and stretches of golden sand - the island is often referred to as being a micro-continent. Though it may be sparsely populated, there are plenty of vibrant pockets to explore. Join us as we head to the free-spirited city of Olbia.
Located in the province of Sassari in northeastern Sardinia, Olbia has a reputation for its foodie scene, and offers lots of opportunities to work up an appetite in readiness for a flavour-packed five-course meal. Trek the dusty trails of the River Park Padrongianus, unleash your inner boffin at the National Archaeological Museum and marvel at the remains of the city's legendary Carathaginian walls, all before rambling around its independent boutiques and art galleries.
Festa della Repubblica Italiana (Italy's Republic Day) takes place on Thursday 2 June. It's no secret that Italians know how to throw a party. Look to schedule your trip for the first week in June and join colourful, joyous crowds of locals celebrating the magic of their country.
Where to stay?
Try KKult Boutique Hotel, in part for its central location, but mainly for its bright and airy bedrooms. We're spending our morning paddling in the rooftop pool, before slipping downstairs to the first-class spa area. It would be rude not to treat yourself to a deep tissue massage, followed by a recharge in the low-lit sauna.
Where to go for lunch?
A waterfront terrace, seafood-stuffed pasta dishes and a mouthwatering dessert menu: Bambusa Porto Rotondo is one of Olbia's tastiest restaurants. Situated in the tranquil Nuova Darsena district, this elegant spot seamlessly fuses old-school design with a contemporary finish. Get comfortable in an oyster-white chair beneath an enormous plant-lined pergola to savour a proper Sardinian pranzo (lunch).
And for dinner…
Everyone bangs on about Italian pizza and, truthfully, we were fully committed to avoiding clichés at all costs. That is, until we stumbled across Mint Julep. A bar-restaurant in the heart of the city, this isn't the sort of place you'd come to for award-winning interiors, but we'd argue that its lack of design savvy makes it even more special. Choose between one of the indoor candlelit tables or one in the charming outdoor courtyard, then settle down for a fruit-flavoured cocktail and some five-cheese-topped slices. Heads-up: this is one of Olbia's best-loved foodie hangouts, so be sure to book to avoid any margherita FOMO.
Who to take with you
Sardinia has a special air of romance that trickles through its tiny towns and rustic villages. Being just a two-hour flight from London, we can hardly think of a better place to spend a long, lazy weekend with our better half. Join locals dancing in the streets, feast at traditional ristorantes or lose yourself down discreet passageways and lively piazzas.
When to go
Northern and western Sardinia are prone to taking the hit of the harsh mistral wind, particularly between October and April. We suggest looking to visit in June, when the waters are calm and the gentle breeze tempers the scorching heat.
Essentials to pack
Bikinis are out and swimsuits are in. Pack this Valentino one-shoulder printed cozzie and spend days bobbing in the waves in style.
How to get there
Take a direct flight from London Gatwick Airport to Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, which is just minutes from the city centre.