Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is a region of Italy known for its diverse landscapes and rich history. Located west of the Italian Peninsula and south of Corsica, it’s a land of mountains, woods, plains, rocky coasts, and long sandy beaches.
Often described as a micro-continent, Sardinia’s ecosystems are as varied as its cultural heritage, which includes the remnants of the Nuragic civilization. The island’s capital and largest city, Cagliari, is a hub of Italian and Sardinian culture, while the indigenous languages and traditions continue to thrive. Whether exploring the ancient Nuraghes or relaxing on a pristine beach, Sardinia offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.
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Attractions and Things to do in Sardinia
Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and the largest city on the island. It’s rich in history, with ancient origins dating back to the Phoenicians. The city is surrounded by coastal ponds and features archaeological sites like the Tuvixeddu necropolis and the Roman amphitheater.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the Molentargius – Saline Regional Park, where you can spot greater flamingos and other water birds.
2. Costa Rei
Located in the Sarrabus-Gerrei area, the beaches of Costa Rei are considered among the most beautiful in the world. They extend to the foot of the hills of Capo Ferrato and offer breathtaking views.
Travel Tip: Visit during the off-peak season to enjoy the beaches without the crowds.
In the southwest part of Sardinia, the sand dunes of Piscinas form a miniature desert. The golden sand dunes penetrate 3 kilometers into the interior, moved by the wind, creating a unique landscape.
Travel Tip: Bring comfortable walking shoes to explore the dunes and the surrounding Mediterranean scrub.
4. Cala Goloritzé
Cala Goloritzé is a stunning beach located in the region of Barbagia. It’s known for its crystal-clear waters and dramatic limestone cliffs, making it a popular spot for hiking and swimming.
Travel Tip: Consider taking a guided hike to the beach to learn about the local flora and fauna.
Gallura occupies the northeastern part of Sardinia, including the Maddalena archipelago and the island of Caprera. It’s known for its polished granite shapes, dark green Mediterranean scrub, and vineyards producing local vermentino wine.
Travel Tip: Visit Giuseppe Garibaldi’s home on the island of Caprera, where he spent his last years.
6. Alghero and Riviera del Corallo
Alghero is a tourist-oriented city known for its Catalan linguistic heritage, beautiful beaches, and naturalistic heritage. The surrounding area is rich in monuments and museums recording its history.
Travel Tip: Explore Neptune’s Grotto, a well-known site near Capo Caccia, for an unforgettable cave experience.
7. Su Nuraxi
Su Nuraxi is a nuragic archaeological site in Barumini, representing the most impressive expression of the Nuragic civilization. It consists of a seventeenth-century BC Nuraghe and a village inhabited from the thirteenth to the sixth century BC.
Travel Tip: Plan a guided tour to fully understand the historical significance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bosa is a charming town known for its colorful houses, medieval castle, and the nearby Castle of Serravalle. It’s a picturesque place to explore on foot, with narrow streets and beautiful views.
Travel Tip: Take a leisurely stroll along the Temo River and enjoy a meal at one of the riverside restaurants.
9. Grotta di Nettuno
The Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune’s Grotto) is a stalactite cave near the town of Alghero. It’s one of the most fascinating geological wonders in Sardinia, with its impressive rock formations and an underground saltwater lake.
Travel Tip: The cave is accessible by boat or a steep set of stairs known as the Escala del Cabirol; choose the option that best suits your fitness level.
10. San Pantaleo
San Pantaleo is a small village nestled in the mountains, known for its bohemian atmosphere and artisan workshops. The village square comes alive on market days, offering local crafts and produce.
Travel Tip: Visit on a Thursday morning to experience the lively market and enjoy local culinary delights.
11. Tiscali Cave
Tiscali Cave houses the remains of an ancient Nuragic village inside a mountain. The hike to the cave offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, and the site itself is a mysterious and captivating place.
Travel Tip: Wear sturdy hiking boots and consider hiring a local guide to enrich your understanding of this unique archaeological site.
12. Maddalena Archipelago
The Maddalena Archipelago is a group of islands known for their scenic beauty and unspoiled nature. The clear turquoise waters are perfect for snorkeling, diving, and sailing.
Travel Tip: Consider taking a boat tour to explore the various islands and hidden coves.
13. Gorropu Gorge
Gorropu Gorge is one of Europe’s deepest canyons and offers some of the best hiking in Sardinia. The rugged terrain and dramatic cliffs make for a challenging but rewarding experience.
Travel Tip: Bring plenty of water and snacks, and consider hiring a guide if you’re not an experienced hiker.
Tharros is an archaeological site on the Sinis Peninsula, showcasing the remains of an ancient Phoenician city. The site overlooks the sea and offers insights into various civilizations that once thrived here.
Travel Tip: Visit the nearby beaches of San Giovanni di Sinis and Is Arutas for a relaxing end to your historical exploration.
15. La Pelosa Beach
La Pelosa Beach is renowned for its white sand and shallow turquoise waters, making it a family-friendly destination. The nearby Aragonese Tower adds to the scenic beauty of the area.
Travel Tip: Arrive early during peak season to secure a spot, as this popular beach can get crowded.
Orgosolo is famous for its murals, which depict political, historical, and cultural scenes. This small town offers a unique glimpse into Sardinian identity and tradition.
Travel Tip: Take your time to explore the various murals and perhaps enjoy a traditional Sardinian meal in one of the local eateries.
17. Capo Testa
Capo Testa is a small peninsula known for its unusual rock formations and beautiful beaches. It’s a great place for hiking, swimming, and enjoying the sunset.
Travel Tip: Explore the hidden coves and trails, but be mindful of the winds, as they can be strong in this area.
Unique Activities in Sardinia
1. Olbia: Visit a Gallura winery with tasting
Discover the exquisite wines of Gallura at a local winery. Enjoy a guided tour of the vineyards and cellars, followed by a tasting session where you can savor the unique flavors and aromas of the region’s wines.
2. Alghero: Dinner in the vineyard
Experience a memorable evening in a vineyard near Alghero. Dine under the stars and enjoy a menu that showcases the best of Sardinian cuisine, all while surrounded by the serene beauty of the vineyards.
3. Alghero: Sardinian Home-Cooking Class and 4-Course Meal
Learn the secrets of traditional Sardinian home cooking in this immersive class. Prepare a 4-course meal under the guidance of a local chef and then enjoy the fruits of your labor with fellow participants.
4. Olbia: Traditional Pasta-Making Guided Workshop
Dive into the world of Sardinian pasta-making in this hands-on workshop in Olbia. Learn the techniques and traditions behind making authentic pasta and enjoy tasting your creations afterward.
Day Trips from Sardinia
Sail across the Tyrrhenian Sea to Corsica, France’s captivating island known for its diverse landscapes and rich history. Delight in its scenic coastal towns, rugged mountains, and dense forests.
Travel Tip: Book a direct ferry from Santa Teresa Gallura in Sardinia to Bonifacio in Corsica to minimize travel time and get a picturesque view during the journey.
Hop over to Sicily, Italy’s largest island, which boasts a blend of cultures, ancient ruins, and delectable cuisine. Explore historical cities like Palermo and Catania or delve into the mystique of Mount Etna.
Travel Tip: Make use of early morning flights from Cagliari to Catania to maximize your day in Sicily and try the island’s renowned street food.
Embark on a journey to the eternal city, Rome, where history meets modernity. Wander through ancient ruins, iconic landmarks, and indulge in its world-famous culinary scene.
Travel Tip: Consider taking a morning flight from Cagliari and prioritize key attractions like the Colosseum and the Vatican to make the most of your day trip.
Where to stay in Sardinia
Sardinia, a beautiful island in Italy, offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit various preferences and budgets. With over 14,000 hotels scattered across popular cities like Cagliari, Alghero, and Olbia, visitors can choose from luxurious 5-star resorts to budget-friendly stays. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, Sardinia’s hotels provide exceptional amenities and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Casa Mimi garden with a view Cuglieri Sardinia (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Situated in Monasterolo del Castello, this property offers a garden view and is 48 km from Tharros Archaeological Site.
- Price: €37 per night
- Rating: 10 (Exceptional)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Palazzo Doglio (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Located in Cagliari, this 5-star hotel offers 19 health & hygiene measures and is known for its cleanliness rating.
- Price: Price not available
- Rating: 9.5 (Cleanliness rating)
3. Budget Hotel
Hotel Goloritzé (★ ★)
- Description: Located in Baunei, this budget hotel offers a garden, free private parking, a shared lounge, and a terrace.
- Price: €72 per night
- Rating: 9.0 (Superb)
4. Hotel for Family
Hotel delle Rose (★ ★ ★ ★)
- Description: Situated in Porto Cervo, this hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a fitness center, and a garden. It’s perfect for families with children.
- Price: €458 per night
- Rating: 9.2 (Superb)
5. Hotel for Couples
La Locanda del Mare (★ ★ ★)
- Description: Set in Valledoria, this hotel offers a restaurant, free private parking, a bar, and a private beach area. It’s a fantastic location for couples.
- Price: €123 per night
- Rating: 9.3 (Superb)
6. Hotel for Solo Travelers
Hotel Bia Maore (★ ★)
- Description: Located in Baunei, this hotel offers free Wi-Fi and air conditioning. It’s a comfortable and convenient option for solo travelers.
- Price: €66 per night
- Rating: 9.1 (Superb)
Did you know? Facts about Sardinia
- Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, located west of the Italian Peninsula, north of Tunisia, and south of Corsica.
- The island’s landscape is diverse, with mountains, woods, plains, rocky coasts, and long sandy beaches, leading to its metaphorical description as a micro-continent.
- Sardinia’s indigenous language and Algherese Catalan are recognized as two of Italy’s twelve officially recognized linguistic minorities, reflecting its rich cultural heritage.
- The island has an ancient geological formation, with rocks dating back to the Palaeozoic Era, up to 500 million years old, and is not earthquake-prone.
- Sardinia’s highest peak is Punta La Marmora, part of the Gennargentu Ranges, standing at 1,834 meters (6,017 feet).
- The island is home to the Nuragic civilization, which flourished from the 18th century BC, leaving behind around 7,000 Nuraghes, round tower-fortresses that dot the landscape.
- Sardinia’s climate varies across the island, with mild winters and warm summers on the coasts, and cold winters and cool summers in the mountains.
- The island has few major rivers but 54 artificial lakes and dams that supply water and electricity, with Lake Omodeo being the largest reservoir in Sardinia and Italy.
- Sardinia has been ruled by various powers throughout history, including the Vandals, Byzantines, Pisa, Genoa, the Iberian Crown of Aragon, and the House of Savoy, reflecting its strategic importance.
- The coastline of Sardinia is 1,849 km (1,149 mi) long, characterized by high and rocky shores, deep bays, and many smaller islands off the coast, offering diverse opportunities for exploration and recreation.
FAQ about Sardinia
What is the Climate Like in Sardinia?
Sardinia experiences a variable climate, with a major concentration of rainfall in winter and autumn, and snowfalls in the highlands. Summers are almost totally rainless, and temperatures range from mild winters to warm summers on the coasts. The Mistral wind can blow quite strongly, but it is usually dry and cool.
What are the Main Geographical Features of Sardinia?
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, known for its high and rocky coasts, long sandy beaches, mountains, woods, plains, and streams. The island’s highlands are formed of various rocks, including granite, schist, trachyte, basalt, sandstone, and dolomite limestone.
What are the Historical Highlights of Sardinia?
Sardinia has a rich history, including the indigenous Nuragic civilization, Roman occupation, rule by the Vandals and Byzantines, and control by the Iberian Crown of Aragon. The island was later ceded to the House of Savoy and became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
What Languages are Spoken in Sardinia?
Italian is the official language of Sardinia, but the island also recognizes minority languages such as Sardinian, Sassarese, Gallurese, Ligurian (Tabarchino), and Catalan (Algherese).
What are the Must-Visit Natural Attractions in Sardinia?
Sardinia offers a variety of ecosystems, including mountains, woods, plains, rocky coasts, and long sandy beaches. Some must-visit natural attractions include Cala Goloritzé in Baunei, Lake Omodeo, the Gennargentu Ranges, and the Strait of Bonifacio.
What is the Nuragic Civilization, and Where Can I Explore It in Sardinia?
The Nuragic civilization flourished in Sardinia from the 18th century BC. It is known for building round tower-fortresses called nuraghes. Today, around 7,000 Nuraghes dot the landscape, and some of the most complex and monumental ones include Nuraghe Santu Antine, Su Nuraxi, and Nuraghe Arrubiu.
What are the Travel Options to Explore Sardinia’s Coastline?
Sardinia’s coastline stretches 1,849 km (1,149 mi) and offers high and rocky coasts, headlands, bays, inlets, and islands. Travelers can explore the coastline through various boat tours, beach resorts, hiking trails, and coastal drives.
What are the Unique Cultural Aspects of Sardinia?
Sardinia’s culture is influenced by its diverse history and geographical isolation. The island has its own indigenous language, unique traditions, and customs. The local cuisine, festivals, and crafts reflect a blend of different cultural influences, including Roman, Byzantine, Spanish, and Italian.