Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is located west of the Italian peninsula. The island is often referred to as a microcontinent due to a variety of ecosystems; in Sardinia, you can find woody mountains, plains, rocky shores and some of the most beautiful beaches with crystal clear sea. The island’s main draw is a dazzling coastline and the weather is usually warm enough for a swim from early May until late October.
Unspoiled nature of this summer paradise will take your breath away so check out what to see and do in this amazing travel destination!
Getting to Sardinia
The most efficient way of getting to Sardinia could be by plane. Sardinia has five airports in total, but three of them have international connections: Alghero, Cagliari and Olbia. A lot of budget carriers fly to the island, including EasyJet, Ryanair, and Eurowings.
If you are travelling from the mainland by ferry, there are several ferry services to Cagliari, Porto Torres, Olbia, Golfo Aranci and Arbatax operated by different ferry companies such as SNAV, Tirrenia, etc. Ferries from the mainland to Sardinia usually take 7+ hours. In case you are travelling with a vehicle, taking a ferry is your only option, but you could also rent a car once you arrive on the island.
Places to visit on Sardinia
Cagliari – The capital of the island has so much to offer to its visitors; from culture and architectural treasures to wonderful nature and amazing beaches. A must-see attraction is the oldest district of Castello but don’t miss the impressive Duomo, San Remy Bastion with beautiful panoramic views and Cittadella dei Musei, museum quarter with various establishments. The whole island is known for beautiful coast and beaches and Cagliari is no exception; among the best beaches in the area are Poetto and Tuerredda. Cagliari Marina has long promenades, many shops and restaurants.
Alghero – Small town of Alghero is characterized by its Spanish past and Catalan domination; the old town has a number of interesting historical monuments so make sure to visit the gothic cathedral of Santa Maria and Palazzo Guillot. Stroll down the narrow streets and steep steps filled with cafes, restaurants and bars. After exploring the town, spend some time relaxing on one of the beaches in the area such as Spiaggia del Lido. Not far from Alghero, you will find Grotte di Nettuno, or Caves of Neptune, impressive stalactite caves that can be reached either by steep staircase or by sea.
Pula – One of the hidden gems on the Sardinia coast will amaze you with spectacular coastline and mild beaches. It is the right place to visit all year round; during summer you can swim and sunbathe as much as you can, while the most attractive feature in fall and winter is the poetic atmosphere. Capo Pula is one of the most-known sites with the ruins of the Phoenician town. The area is famous for its sandy coastline, golden dunes and remarkable beaches.
Bosa – The only river town in Sardinia in the valley of Temo river is one of the most beautiful and picturesque villages in Sardinia. Typical pastel-colored houses along the river and little alleys in the old town create a magical spirit. The Castello Malaspina, a hilltop castle built in the 12th century, dominates the village from above. The place is known for many shops specialized in corals, gold filigree and filet.
San Teodoro – Once a fishing village and today a vibrant destination with dreamy beaches and lively nightlife, this municipality in the province of Sassari amazes with Caribbean style beaches. La Cinta, 3-kilometer long magnificent beach with the azure sea is the place to be for all active vacationers; there are surf and sail hire, bike hire, tennis courts and many more. For a bit more laid-back vacation, sit under a palm tree, have a gelato and enjoy the view.
Cabras – An ideal place if you want to enjoy both nature and culture, Cabras is an ancient village with the remains from the Neolithic period. The Civic Archaeological Museum contains testimonies from human prehistory to the Middle Ages. Don’t miss a chance to visit Tharros, one of the most evocative archaeological findings in the Mediterranean. The Giants of Mont’e Prama are two meters tall and 2,800 years old warriors and boxers carved in sandstone. Beaches are very special with fine grains of quartz and turquoise sea and the most known are Arutas, Maimoni and Mari Ermi.
Oristano – is a charming city with amazing architecture and art. The Cathedral and its dome dominate the skyline of Oristano. Archeological antiquarium Arborense has the most important archeological collections in Sardinia. Portixeddu is the historic center of the town showing the eventful past. Picturesque pedestrian streets and piazzas abound in boutique shops and restaurants. Many cafes and ice cream shops offer more than welcome break for visitors.
There is more in Sardinia than beautiful beaches but indeed, one of the top things to do in Sardinia is going to the beach. Endless hours under the sun, clear water, light breeze and some water sports; could you even ask for more? Here you have our selection of Sardinia’s best beaches.
NOTE: Never take any sand, pebbles or shells from Sardinia beaches, it is illegal and in case you get caught, you will be fairly fined, from 500 to 3,000€. Tourists may not be aware of the severity of their actions but it causes significant damage. Take photos and keep the memories in your head but don’t take anything away because it doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to everyone.
Cala Brandinchi – Often referred to as “Little Tahiti”, it is not a tropical paradise but one of Sardinia beaches with incredibly clear turquoise water. 700 meters long white-sand beach and pine trees providing shadow make it one of the best island beaches. Cala beach is well-serviced with kiosks and chairs with parasols.
Costa Rei – 12 kilometers long stretch of golden sand and emerald sea, this beach is among the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are services on the beach, including kiosks, sunbeds and watersports.
Principe Beach – One of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Smeralda with idyllic bays where different sand and granite formations create a special watercolor. The beach got its name after the Arab prince who fell in love with it in the 1960s. In the region of the Emerald Coast, you can also find Palau, a small beach resort with beautiful views across to La Maddalena Islands and Porto Cervo, a luxury seaside resort. If you are into diving, this area could be the right one for you.
La Pelosa – Another paradise beach with shallow waters and sand for meters and meters. The symbol of the beach is the tower that can be reached by crossing Pelosetta, another amazing cove.
Chia – Long, white-sand beach surrounded by dunes up to 20 meters high. The beach is very exposed to the wind, so when it’s windy, you are better off not going. When you are there, make sure to visit a small cove to Cala Cipolla.
Cala Domestica – Small beach with impressive cliffs looking like fjords. It is possible to take a boat tour that goes around the coast and shows some archeological gems.
Punta Molentis – One of the pearls of Villasimius, Punta Molentis, offers clear sea with amazing colors ranging from emerald to blue. This secluded beach is surrounded by cliffs and slopes.
Argentiera – Not much alike the rest Sardinia beaches, this is a small cove with white sand, deep waters and stunning surroundings. Depending on the wind, it could be a good surfing spot.
Baunei – Completely isolated cove with transparent water, tiny pebbles and no services; visitors have to carry whatever they need on their way to the beach and back. It is one of the few Sardinia beaches that have an access fee, due to the conservation process.
Spiaggia Rosa – Spiaggia Rosa or Pink Beach is the beach famous for the color of its sand; the characteristic pink shade is created by fragments of coral, small pieces of granite and shells. The beach is located in Budelli, one of the islands of the Archipelago. Unfortunately, it can no longer be visited, since it is included in the integral protection area but it is possible to admire it by walking along one of two paths; Strada rosa or Strada azzurra.
Sardinia national parks and nature reserves
If you are taking a trip to Sardinia, you don’t want to miss all the natural wonders Sardinia has to offer. The spectacular environment with breathtaking panoramas goes beyond sea and sun, so make sure to visit stunning national parks and reserves.
Goceano Park – Located in the heart of the island, this park is a heaven for all hiking and trekking lovers. The park got its name after Goths who settled down during the Middle Ages. Badde Salighes Forest is among the most interesting places with authentic and exotic flora and fauna.
Giara di Gesturi – This plateau is famous for its amazing wildlife, regional parks and nature reserves. It is home to the Giara horse, Sardinia native breed of wild horses known for almond-shaped eyes and also to more than 350 plant species, including the cork oak tree.
Monte Arci – Arci massif is a volcanic formation of three volcanic basalt towers with rocks generally black; what is more, in prehistoric times, volcanic glass or obsidian was used for tools and weapons.
Limbara Mountain Park – Another mountain massif characterized by granitic rocks creating different forms and boulder falls. It is a unique landscape with rare species such as Peonia Selvatica. Park is also rich in water springs.
Gorropu Gorge – This remarkable canyon situated on the eastern coast is one of the largest gorges in Europe. It is home to yew trees up to 1,000 years old and some majestic animals like mouflon wild sheep.
National Park Asinara – Wild nature and integrity of the ecosystem are Asinara’s landmarks. The park holds several albino or white donkeys, typical for the island and the sea surrounding the area is rich in sea life.
Molentargius, Saline Regional Park – This unique place includes freshwater ponds and a saltwater pond, but is renowned for several species of aquatic birds, including pink flamingos; hundreds of birds stay or fly in the shallow water.
Sardinia is an island full of old customs and traditions and it abounds in different festivals and events; from religious festivals to food and wine festivals. Throughout the year, you can visit colourful carnivals, religious processions and many more and experience a piece of real Sardinia.
Sant’Efisio is the most popular local festival taking place on the 1st of May for over 400 years. Representatives of villages of Sardinia walk 50 km from Cagliari to Pula in traditional clothes to celebrate Sant’Efisio, patron saint of the island.
San Simplicio is the patron of Olbia and there is a celebration in his honour every year, in the week around the 15th of May. Every day there are different festivals in the city, from traditional parades to concerts, this celebration is one of the biggest in Sardinia.
I Candelieri, another religious holiday takes place in Sassari with a parade in the evening of the 14th August. Over 100.000 visitors respect the old tradition in honour of Madonna Assunta and pray for protection. There are small markets with traditional food stalls during the celebration.
Carnevale estivo takes place every August in Orotelli, Nuoro. This summer carnival is celebrated under traditional masks of Sardinia. The festivity is popular with both locals and tourists not only for the party but also for lamb dish and Cannonau wine.
Time in Jazz is an international jazz festival featuring many concerts, exhibitions and shows that takes place each August in a unique location of the village of Berchidda and surrounding area. A full week of the open-air concerts by the Sardinia Jazz Network and other local jazz groups will please all music lovers.
Eating in Sardinia means so much more than having a meal, it means family and tradition and a meal is a chance to spend some quality time with your closest ones.
Sardinian cuisine is really varied and each area has its own specialties, from pasta and bread to cheese, meat and seafood.
Typical dishes are:
Pane Frattau – Thin layer of bread with no crust and no soft inner part. Six wafers of carasau are stuffed with tomato sauce and prepared on the pan with a poached egg above. It is crunchy and tasty and our recommendation is to eat it with salami of Irgoli.
Pecorino Fiore Sardo – Cheese is a specialty of the region and Sardinia has the largest production of pecorino in the whole of Europe. Pecorino Fiore Sardo is a DOP product, meaning the production of it is completely protected and regulated. The cheese has an intense smell and aroma.
Seafood Fregola with saffron – Fregola is a typical Sardinian pasta rolled into small balls. The most delicious way to eat it is with seafood and a touch of saffron. Sardinia is a major saffron producer in Italy.
Zuppa gallurese – Not a soup, but a dish similar to lasagna, prepared with slices of bread (different types of bread can be used), cheese and lamb broth, all baked in the oven.
Lamb with artichokes – traditional plate, usually cooked during Easter time. The freshness of the ingredients is guaranteed.
Culurgiones – Little bundles of dough stuffed with mashed potatoes and flecked with fresh mint and sheep’s milk ricotta cheese, and served with a light tomato sauce.
Seadas – Thin dough filled with fresh pecorino cheese, melted with milk flavored with lemon; later fried and covered with melted honey.
The best food should be accompanied with some wine and Sardinia has a treasure of wines to discover. The dry and sunny climate offers the best conditions for the cultivation of wines in many vineyards across the island. Among the best-known wines is Cannonau, red wine with high alcohol content bottled in wood. Carignano is aristocratic red dry wine with sweet spiced aromas of cinnamon and clove. Nuragus is one of the most planted white vines on the island, dry and with a slightly acid note and Malvasia is a sweet wine ideal to accompany desserts.