There are a few beautiful beaches in Cagliari, and some incredible ones in the immediate surroundings. They are worth going to in any season. However, they are an absolute must if you visit Sardinia in the summer.
Cagliari is one of the most underrated Mediterranean destinations. Though I feel that people visiting Italy are missing out by not coming to Cagliari, in a way I feel that the fact it is still relatively unexplored contributes to its charm. People who visit are immediately captured by the incredible atmosphere and gorgeous setting, including the incredible Cagliari beaches.
Indeed, one of the things that make Cagliari an incredible place to visit is that it is right by the sea. We locals enjoy Cagliari beaches year round, whether it is to go for a walk on a warm afternoon during the winter; for a run or to bike during the spring; or even better to spend a few hours relaxing in the sun and swimming in the summer.
We are lucky, because we don’t have to make too much of an effort (or to spend a lot of money) to get in vacation mode. All we need to do to relax for a day or even just a few hours at the end of a work day is heading to the beach.
In this post, I highlight the nicest beaches in Cagliari and a few ones in the immediate surroundings, and share some tips so that you can make the most of them.
Before I go on to highlight Cagliari beaches, one word of warning: never take any sand from Sardinian beaches. In fact, never take any sand or rocks or shells from anywhere in the world. To become a more responsible tourist, check out these few tips.
For more things to do in Cagliari, make sure to read my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Cagliari.” And if you are planning a longer trip around Sardinia, head over to my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia.”
Guided Tours That Go To Cagliari Beaches
Guided tours aren’t the best way to enjoy the beaches in Cagliari. After all, they are really easy to reach by public transportation. However, there are a few interesting things to do and places to visit that are right by the beach and you may want to join a guided tour to make the most of them. These are some good options:
- Top sights of Cagliari tour – this tour goes to all the main landmarks of Cagliari and, if you want, they can even arrange an additional ride to Poetto beach.
- Tuk tuk tour in the center of Cagliari 4 district and flamingo spotting – this nice tuk tuk tour goes to the historic center of Cagliari and ends in Molentargius, a nice oasis right by Poetto beach where you can spot pink flamingoes.
- 2 hour bike tour in the flamingo oasis – a bike tour of Molentargius to spot flamingoes. You’ll be starting from the entrance in Poetto beach.
- Electric bike naturalistic tour – similar to the tour above, but it’s by electric bike.
- Half day private sightseeing tour – a nice classic tour that goes to all the landmarks in the city, including Poetto.
- kayak and trekking tour at Devil’s Saddle – on this tour, you’ll be kayaking from Poetto beach and hiking to Sella del Diavolo promontory, from where you’ll enjoy an incredible view of Cagliari.
- Kitesurfing lessons and courses in Poetto – this is the perfect activity for those that want to get full frontal with the water.
- Stand up paddle excursions and lessons – they offer it in several locations, all in Cagliari and its surroundings.
If you’d like to get out of town towards one of the beaches in Cagliari’s immediate surroundings, your best bet is to hire a car so that you can be completely independent. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour. Keep in mind the following don’t necessarily go to the beaches I mention below.
- Full day Villasimius beaches tour
- Sardinia beaches day trip from Cagliari
- Zodiac and snorkeling tour from Cagliari
- West beaches tour
- Half day sailboat rent in Cagliari
7 Beautiful Beaches In Cagliari And Its Surroundings
Locals love Poetto. It may not be the best beach in Sardinia, but for an urban beach it’s actually one of the most beautiful you will see in the world. This Cagliari beach is a whopping 8 km long stretch of fine sand that starts in Sella del Diavolo (Devil’s Saddle), one of the landmarks of Cagliari, and goes all the way to Quartu Sant’Elena. It is extremely photogenic, which is why I argue it is one of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Looking for more beaches in Sardinia? Read my post “The Ultimate Guide To The Best Beaches In Sardinia.”
What you will love about Poetto is the incredible setting. On one side you will get the gorgeous Sella del Diavolo. Right behind it the lagoon of Parco Molentargius, where you can go observe pink flamingoes and other bird species. Along Poetto, you will find a running and biking lane. Of all the beaches in Cagliari, this is a local’s favorite to exercise throughout the year.
The water at Poetto is clear and very shallow, so it is ideal for families with children who can safely play there.
Poetto is a very well serviced beach. You can easily get there by bus from several locations in town, and once there you can find various places to rent umbrellas and sun beds. There are life guards on duty; children entertainment; small restaurants and kiosks where you can get a light meal or a drink. Dogs are welcome in designated areas – so it is perfect if you are traveling with your furriend.
Among Cagliari beaches, Poetto is the one that gets most crowded during the summer months. Go in the early morning to find a good spot near the waterfront if you want to spend the whole day at the beach; or in the late afternoon for a quick swim and a drink in one of the kiosks.
LOCAL TIP: Poetto is very exposed to the wind. Unless you are not bothered by it, I’d strongly recommend not going when the mistral is blowing: chances are you’ll be covered in sand in now time. Alternatively, head to Calamosca or Cala Fighera for a more protected location.
LOCAL TIP: If you are into surfing, Poetto can get good waves during the winter months, on very windy days and after storms. Check out my guide on “11 Amazing Surfing Spots in Sardinia.”
How to get to Poetto
Poetto can be easily reached by bus from the center of Cagliari. Hop on either PF or PQ to get there. There are various stops along the beach. Some are more crowded than others. For a less crowded bit, get off at the 6th stop or at Ospedale Marino.
I admit I don’t visit Calamosca beach nearly as much as I should. It’s a pity, as this is one of the most scenic beaches in Cagliari. It really is a small cove, with two promontories protecting it on each side: on the western side, you’ll see the famous Sella del Diavolo (on the other side of which there is Poetto); on the eastern one you’ll find Capo Sant’Elia with its ancient lighthouse.
Calamosca is characterized by very fine, white sand and beautifully transparent waters. As opposed to Poetto, is protected from the strong winds so a good option on a windy day. As the water is very shallow, it’s a good beach for families with small children.
Right on the beach there is an old hotel and behind it some historical buildings – these actually add to the charm. If you continue walking from the main entrance to the beach, you will get to “Le Terrazze” – a place where you can rent beach equipment but, most importantly, enjoy a drink with the most beautiful sunset view.
Calamosca is a well serviced beach with a small kiosk where you can enjoy a light lunch, gelato or a drink.
LOCAL TIP: Taking the road on the left of the parking lot, you’ll reach the starting point of a well marked trail that goes to Sella del Diavolo. It’s an easy hike that should take you no more than two hours (there and back) but which will afford you incredible views over the Gulf of Cagliari, Poetto beach and Molentargius Park. You’ll need hiking boots.
For more incredible hikes in Sardinia, read my post “Hiking In Sardinia – 14 Incredible Trails.”
How to get to Calamosca
You can easily get to Calamosca beach by getting bus 5-11 from the center of Cagliari. There are bus stops along Via Roma.
Cala Fighera isn’t just one of my favorite beaches in Cagliari – it may well be one of my favorite places in Sardinia. I never tire of going and of admiring the incredible views of the sea from above.
This tiny rocky cove isn’t the most comfortable of places. It’s all pebbles and rocks, so not really suitable unless you are a fan of rocky beaches and definitely not a good place for families with children. Having said that, it’s very well protected from the wind, and the water is transparent and the rocks create a fantastic habitat for marine life.
Cala Fighera is a nudist friendly and gay friendly beach. There is a kiosk there where you can rent umbrellas and sun beds, and right above it there is La Paillote, one of the nicest restaurants in Cagliari (good food and absolutely unbeatable location).
How to get to Cala Fighera
There is no public transportation to get to Cala Fighera. However, you can take bus 5 – 11 to Calamosca and then walk or bike from there. Alternatively, opt for a taxi. It’s a short ride from the center, and there hardly is any traffic, so it won’t be expensive. Once you are at the end of the road, it is a short hike down to the beach.
Sant’Elia is one of the least popular beaches in Cagliari, yet it is lovely. Locally known as Cala Diga, this small beach is located very close to Sant’Elia stadium, the old stadium of the city of Cagliari, and right by the Levante del Porto pier.
The beach is characterized by very fine white sand and clear waters, but unfortunately it is not very well kept (think about the odd plastic bottle here and there). It’s a pity, because it’s otherwise very beautiful and in a gorgeous setting.
It is not a serviced beach – there are no lifeguards on duty and there is no kiosk. It’s mostly a local beach so the chances of meeting other tourists there are slim.
LOCAL TIP: Not far from Sant’Elia beach you’ll find the beautiful Torre del Prezzemolo, from where you’ll get incredible views of the sea. Another nice walk in the area is that to the Fortino di Sant’Ignazio, which however can be accessed from Viale Calamosca, on the way to Calamosca Beach.
How to get to Sant’Elia beach
The easiest way to get to Sant’Elia beach is by car. Follow the directions to Poetto beach and take it right towards San Bartolomeo / Sant’Elia. Follow the signs to the Lazzaretto and from there take it left to go towards Ristorante Lo Scoglio. It’s shortly after that. There is a small parking lot.
At less than 30 minutes drive from the center of town, Cala Regina is one of the nicest beaches in Cagliari and its immediate surroundings. It is a really tiny cove, very well protected from the wind and as such an excellent choice on a windy day. It is surmounted by a promontory with a Spanish watch tower, from where you can get incredible views of the coast.
Cala Regina is pebbly, and the very transparent water is almost immediately deep – so not a good choice for families with children. On the other hand, if you like snorkeling it’s an ideal place, as hidden in the rocks you will find a lot of marine life.
This is not a serviced beach – there are no places to rent any sort of equipment and not even a kiosk or a lifeguard on duty. It’s almost as wild as it gets.
How to get to Cala Regina
From the center of Cagliari, follow the directions to Poetto and continue straight until you get to the end of the beach and a very large roundabout. Take it right to follow the directions towards Villasimius – you will be driving on SP17. You’ll find a sign on your right pointing towards Cala Regina. The speed limit along SP17 is 50 Km per hour so you won’t have trouble seeing the sign.
Whenever I am in need of a tropical quick fix, I head to Mari Pintau. The name literally translates as “painted sea” and it is easy to understand why this small beach was given this name, once you see it. It is simply wonderful, and one of the nicest beaches in Cagliari and its surroundings.
Mari Pintau is a pebbly beach, so if you want to be a bit more comfortable make sure to take a chair or sun-bed with you. Planting an umbrella is a bit tricky and requires a bit of patience, but it is doable.
The pebbles soon give way to a fine white sand in the water, which is transparent and of an incredibly turquoise color. Although kids can’t play in the sand, since the water is shallow this is a good place for families with children.
Here, you’ll find mostly locals and the occasional tourist. It is a well serviced beach where you’ll find a kiosk on the trail that leads to the beach, toilets and hot showers (for which you’ll have to pay a very small fee) and a place to rent umbrellas and chairs.
LOCAL TIP: Mari Pintau is one of the few nudist and gay friendly beaches in Cagliari. To be fair, I have never noticed any nudist: they all head to the very far right of the beach. Check out Nomadic Boys post about the nicest gay friendly beaches in Italy.
How to get to Mari Pintau
Mari Pintau is a bit further down on the same road that goes to Cala Regina (in fact, I sometimes swim from one beach to the other). Just continue driving along SP17, and you’ll eventually see it on your right. There is no real parking lot so you’ll have to park along the road and then head to the beginning of the trail that leads to the beach.
Nora is one of the nicest beaches within easy reach from Cagliari. It’s not very big, but truly special as it is located right by Nora archeological site, which is beautiful and well kept.
On one side of the beach you’ll spot a promontory surmounted by Coltellazzo tower. Right on the beach you’ll also find the tiny church of Sant’Efisio: it’s not uncommon to see weddings being celebrated there during the summer months. Behind the beach there is a lagoon populated by pink flamingoes.
The bay is well protected from the wind so ideal when the mistral is blowing. As opposed to many other beaches in Cagliari, this never gets too crowded.
Nora beach is well serviced with a kiosk and places to rent umbrellas and sun-beds. It is accessible to disabled.
LOCAL TIP: Make sure to pay a visit to Nora archeological site as a nice add on to a day at the beach.
How to get to Nora
From Cagliari, drive along SS195 towards Pula. Take the first exit to Pula and follow the directions to Nora, continuing along until you get to the parking lot. You’ll have to pay a small fee to park your car.
Practical Information For Your Trip To Cagliari
Where to stay in Cagliari
There are a bunch of excellent places to stay in Cagliari, scattered around town, for any budget and any taste. You can pick a hostel, a small boutique hotel, an apartment or a hotel proper. This is just a selection:
- Hostel Marina is the only hostel in town, located in the Marina district. It’s the perfect place to stay if you want easy access to attractions, restaurants and nightlife. And you can easily move around by public transportation from there. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Villa Fanny is right outside the center of Cagliari, minutes away from Stampace. It is a fantastic boutique hotel with beautiful rooms and a gourmet restaurant on site. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- T Hotel is near Piazza Giovanni, one of the main in Cagliari, and right in front of the beautiful Parco della Musica. It is a great business style hotel whose main perks are a spa and a fantastic lounge and bar area where locals often go get a drink. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Apt Is Fradis is a nice small apartment in Villanova, one of the historic districts of Cagliari. It’s perfect for self catering. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Antico Corso Charme is a gorgeous bed and breakfast in the center of Cagliari. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
Where to eat and drink in Cagliari
Cagliari has a great variety of restaurants for all tastes and budgets, and a great selections of bars to have pre-dinner or late night drinks. The ones I mention here are my go to places – so you can trust they are local!
Framento is my favorite pizzeria in the world – it even won a prize for the best 50 pizzas in Italy! They only use local ingredients; the dough is made with natural yeast and so fragrant and moist. Make sure to make reservations.
My two favorite gelaterie are Cremoso, right off Largo Carlo Felice, and Gocce di Gelato e Cioccolato, in Piazza del Carmine.
The best area in town if you are looking for seafood is La Marina. There you will find La Stella Marina di Montecristo, a trattoria style kind of place where for a reasonable price you’ll get a very good meal. It’s nothing fancy, but the food is really good. Ristorante Italia is one of the best restaurants in Cagliari. Osteria Kobutta is one of the up and coming places, that does a lot of fusion. Sabores is the best place in town to try local specialties such as prosciutto and Sardinian cheese, all accompanied by local wine. Lo Scoglio is one of the best seafood restaurants in town, in a lovely location facing the sea.
The best burgers are at Bombas in Via Università. They are prepared using only local ingredients.
Libarium is my favorite place in town for pre-dinner drinks. The sunset views from the terrace are simply stunning. Antico Caffé is an all day kind of coffee shop and also good for quick meals. It’s one of the most historic coffee shopps in town. De Candia makes good cocktails and serves good craft beers. Caffé dell’Elfo is in a great location, right by Largo Carlo Felice which is a main local hang out.
Soon I will be writing a complete guide to Sardinian food and one on the best restaurants and bars in Cagliari.
How to get to Cagliari, Sardinia
Cagliari is well connected to the rest of Italy via ferry, with rides from and to Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo (all of them take around 13 hours), and it is also a cruise port so the best cruise companies all get here.
However, the best, cheapest and quickest way to travel to Cagliari is by plane. There are regular and budget airlines flights to Cagliari from various locations in Italy and Europe.
The airport is well connected to the city center.
Traveling to the center of Cagliari from the airport takes only 7 minutes. The station is right outside the terminal and takes you to the heart of Cagliari, by the harbor.
There are plenty of taxi right outside the arrivals terminal. Depending on the time of day or night, you will be paying between €17 and €20 for a ride to anywhere in Cagliari – it’s a flat rate.
By private transfer
If you are worried about having to juggle a taxi in a different language and just want to have it easy, you can even book a private transfer with an English speaking driver. The price is more or less the same. You can book it here.
How to move around Cagliari
Cagliari has a good public transportation system. If you plan to only stay in the city and just visit Cagliari beaches, you can rely on the buses that leave from the city center. They are cheap and easy to use. If, on the other hand, you plan on traveling around a bit more and hitting some of the beaches that are outside of town, I recommend renting a car – unless you want to opt for guided tours. You can get a quote for car rental here.
When to visit Cagliari
If you care to enjoy the beaches in Cagliari at their best, I suggest to visit in the summer months – between June and September. Having said that, any time is a good time make the most of Cagliari beaches. Locals go there year round to run, bike, walk, get a breath of fresh air or just meet friends for a coffee. Depending on your travel plans, I recommend spending between 4 and 6 days in Cagliari to make the most of it!
Other useful information
As always, I recommend getting a good travel insurance for your trip – no matter the length of it. Make sure to read why I do so in my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get a quote for a good travel insurance here or here.
Have you ever been to Cagliari, Sardinia? What are your favorite among the beaches in Cagliari?