Sardinia, Italy’s second largest island after Sicily, is one of the 20 regions of the Bel Paese. The beauty of this region goes beyond the white sand beaches and emerald sea (and that alone would be enough): go inland and you will find a magnificent rugged landscape; or marvel at Sardinia’s ancient Nuragic civilization at one of the archeological sites scattered through the island (roughly 7,000 nuraghi survive); visit one of its cities or smaller towns for a glimpse into Sardinian daily life; and taste the island’s delicacies, from Sardinian pecorino to pane carasau, from malloreddu pasta to spaghetti with sea urcins.
Surely, the main reason why people travel to Sardinia is to revel in its marvelous beaches and coastline. Places like San Teodoro, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Poltu Quatu, and Baia Sardinia are only some of the amazing spots not to miss. Another great highlight is the Maddalena Archipelago, with the chance to sail along the Maddalena National Park, and perhaps scuba-dive.
The resort of Stintino, on Sardinia’s northwestern coast, right in front of the Natural Park of Asinara Island, is a fishing village offering plenty of leisure activities, from hiking to scuba diving, from cycling to horseback riding.
The popular La Pelosa Beach stands in front of a 16th-century Aragonese structure, one of the oldest sighting towers in Sardinia. The Gulf of Orosei, on the central-east coast, offers wilderness and amazing white sandy beaches.
Caves and coves not to miss include Cala Biriola, Grotta Bue Marino, Cala Liberotto and Cala Goloritze.
What to see in Sardinia, Italy
When writer DH Lawrence arrived in Cagliari, Sardinia’s main city, in the 1920s, he described it as “…strange and rather wonderful, not a bit like Italy.” Cagliari, on the southern coast, is indeed an incredibly fascinating city to visit, surrounded by sea and hills, sitting on top of a continuous stratification of human settlements dating back 5,000 years. Opt for a half-day or full-day guided “Ancient and Underground Cagliari” walking tour to discover the city’s history and most interesting sites. Cagliari’s Sardinian name, Casteddu, translates as “castle”, and the tour starts with a walk along the narrow lanes of the medieval neighborhood of Castello. Here, you will admire imposing medieval towers, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Royal Palace and its Bastions overlooking the sea. Large terraces facing the bay offer unforgettable views of the city.
On your Sardinia, Italy, visit, you should taste the excellent regional cuisine. With simple and natural ingredients and delicious recipes, Sardinia is a foodie destination. Head just outside Cagliari to rural Seridiana, an area dotted with olive groves, agricultural fields and vineyards, where bread, olive oil and wine have been produced for thousands of years. On “A Taste of Sardinia” tour, you will be able to learn about the local cuisine and visit the winery of a Sardinian family.
Moving toward the north of Sardinia is the glitzy Emerald Coast, a favorite with the jet-set. The gateway to the Costa Smeralda is Olbia, a port town with historic surroundings. “Olbia: The Enchantment of Sardinia” tour takes you on an exciting journey of discovery of the mysterious Nuragic civilization. Sites visited on this tour include the Tomba dei Giganti, a massive megalithic gallery grave dating back to the Bronze Age, and La Prisgiona, one of the best preserved Nuragic villages, where you can admire the enigmatic round structures and ponder the significance of the nuraghi. And because Sardinia offer a delicious local cuisine, the half-day tour concludes with a lunch of local food and wines. Opt for the full-day tour if you wish to explore the enchanting natural beauty of Olbia’s beaches on the Emerald Coast.
Where to stay in Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia’s luxury resorts are legendary. Why not treat yourself to a wonderful stay then! The Hotel Cala di Volpe, in Porto Cervo on the Emerald Coast, with its charming archways, porticoes and turrets, was inspired by the old fishing villages of Sardinia. It was built by the Aga Khan in 1962. All the rooms have a private balcony with sea view or garden view.
For a stay away from the stress of the city, opt for Petra Segreta, a luxury wellness hotel located in the splendid valley of Buddeo, a few minutes from the picturesque village of San Pantaleo, with a spectacular view of the Gulf of Arzachena. The resort features a Wellness Center with experts in Ayurvedic massage and medicine.
On Sardinia’s southern coast, immersed in a lush landscape of laurel trees, myrtle, junipers, eucalyptus and wild olives, stands Is Morus Relais, a 15-acre property with independent villas and cottages and two restaurants offering fresh local products.
Also on Sardinia’s southern coast is Hotel Cala Caterina in Villasimius, 35 km from Cagliari. A short walk through the gardens shaded by pine trees and palms lies the secluded Cala Caterina – a small bay of crystal clear water edged with smooth granite rocks and a white sand beach. Sardinia, Italy, at its best.