Not many people realize it, but hiking in Sardinia is actually world class. The island, famous for the incredible beaches and transparent seas that make it the best summer holidays destination in the Mediterranean, has a fantastic array of trails of varying length and difficulty levels, and it’s a fabulous playground for people who love venturing in the nature. Without any doubt, hiking is one of the best things to do in Sardinia.
For more things to do in Sardinia, check out my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia.”
Having lived in Sardinia almost my entire life, I never miss an opportunity to walk out and explore, and each time I am reminded of how much my beloved island has to offer. Hiking trails in Sardinia vary dramatically one from the other. Coastal trails afford stunning views of the Mediterranean. Other trails go well into the mountains and gorges. And there are those that take to archeological sites.
In this post, I select some the best hiking trails on the island dividing them by area, and share some tips on how to make the most of your time hiking in Sardinia.
Hiking In Sardinia: The Best Trails
The best hikes in the South of Sardinia
Sella del Diavolo Hike – Cagliari
The hike to Sella del Diavolo is one of the nicest short hikes in Sardinia, and possibly the most accessible one. The trail starts behind Calamosca beach, one of Cagliari’s urban beaches, and goes to one of the local natural landmarks, Sella del Diavolo. It takes no more than two hours to complete – though chances are that you’ll stop several times along the way to admire the views.
The first part of the trail faces the beach of Calamosca and you get impressive views of the lighthouse and the watchtower. Once you get to the top, the view opens up to show the Gulf of Cagliari and Poetto beach (Cagliari’s main urban beach) with Molentargius lagoon at its back. The trail continues on the plane, and gets all the way to another watchtower.
It’s an easy trail, suitable also to families with children and perfect to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city without having to travel far. There are no fountains on the trail, but you can buy water at the kiosks in the parking lot of Calamosca beach.
TIP: This hike can be enjoyed year round. In the winter time, it is short enough to be walked even when the hours of light aren’t too many; in the summer time, short enough for you not to feel sick with the heat.
The hike to Sella del Diavolo can be done independently, but if you’d rather have a guide that gives you insightful information on the area and its history, you can book one online. These are the best guided hikes to Sella del Diavolo:
The Roman Road to Su Cordolinu
This is one of the nicest, easiest hikes in Sardinia. The trail starts in Pinus Village, a nice summer residence at little over one hour drive from Cagliari, and it follows an old Roman Road along the coast and all the way to Su Cordolinu island and – if you like to continue walking – the beach of Chia and its Spanish tower.
This trail takes around 4 hours there and back – longer if you include a nice lunch break at Su Cordolinu and you continue to the Spanish tower. It’s very easy to follow, and the trail has no particular difficulty. It is large enough for bikes to pass through as well so chances are you’ll encounter a few people on bikes as well.
The coastal views along the way are splendid. Once you get to Su Cordolinu, you have to go down a steeper trail to get to the small beach. When the tide is low, you can also cross to get on the island, from where there are fantastic views.
There are no kiosks along the way, so make sure you take plenty of water and sufficient food or snacks for the hike.
TIP: This is a relatively short hike, so ideal even in the winter months. Make sure to start at around 10:00 or 11:00 am and you’ll have plenty of time to walk, take photos, enjoy a break at the beach and head back.
If you’d rather join a guided hike along the Roman Road, you can book it online. This is the best option:
From Cala Cipolla to Tuerredda
If you are thinking of trekking in Sardinia, you shouldn’t skip this trail that goes from Cala Cipolla, a beautiful cove at around 1 hour drive from Cagliari, to Tuerredda, one of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Check out my post about the best beaches in Sardinia.
The hike goes to Capo Spartivento, a lighthouse now turned into a luxury boutique hotel; and it then gets to a few more gorgeous beaches including Pedra Longa and Cala Antoniareddu, which can’t be reached by car.
It’s an easy to moderate trail, depending on the adds on. The hardest part is the walk up the observatory, from where you get impressive coastal views.
TIP: This trail can be rather long if you plan to walk all the way back from Tuerredda to Cala Cipolla. A good solution may be to go with two cars and park one of them on the main road (SS 195), nearer to the observatory, and the other in Cala Cipolla. Or else, join a guided hike with transportation, so that the driver will pick up the group at a suitable place.
From Masua Pan di Zucchero to Cala Domestica
The hike from Masua Pan di Zucchero to Cala Domestica is only 12 km long (one way), but it’s one of the most challenging hiking trails in Sardinia. The trail starts in Masua Pan di Zucchero, at about 1 and a half hour drive from Cagliari. It’s a fantastic beach and a favorite surfing spot, and goes all the way to Cala Domestica, a small cove in what looks like a fjord.
As far as hiking in Sardinia goes, this is one of the most technical trails, as it is very narrow (in points it’s no more than 50 cm wide) along cliffs and thick Mediterranean bushes which you have to cut through. Yet, it’s incredibly rewarding with spectacular coastal views.
Cala Domestica, where the trail ends, is surmounted by a hill where there is a Spanish watchtower and from where the views are splendid. At its back, there are beautiful sand dunes. There even are the remains of the railway that was used to bring coal to the boats docked here when mining was in full bloom in Sardinia.
There are no facilities along the way, so you’ll have to take your own lunch and plenty of water.
TIP: This is a technical hike and you’ll be better off joining a guided group to make the most of it. A guided expedition will also offer a pick up service from Cala Domestica back to Masua, where you have to park your car. One of the best companies offering the trail is Cooperativa Santa Margherita, whose headquarters are in Nebida, close to Masua.
EXTRA ACTIVITY TIP: The area of Nebida, Masua and Cala Domestica is packed with dismantled mines that can be visited on guided tours. These are some of the most unique places to visit in Sardinia, and I strongly advise you to spend an extra day to explore the area. The pretties place is Porto Flavia. You can also join a guided tour to the mines. Here’s a selection of the best ones:
If you are up for hiking in Sardinia, but are looking for something very moderate, head to Is Cannoneris. This gorgeous oak forest is one of the oldest in Europe and pleasant even on a hot summer day. It’s perfect for families with children, who have the chance to meet animals such as goats and Sardinian deer. The highlight, however, is the view from Punta Calamixi. Guided walks can be booked online:
One of the nicest, easy hikes in Sardinia is that to the gorgeous waterfalls of Sa Spendula, located in the vicinity of Villacidro, at about 45 minutes drive from Cagliari. To be fair, the area is packed with lovely waterfalls but Sa Spendula is the most famous one.
The starting point is the parking lot of Campanas de Sisinni Conti, and the trail, which is well marked and on good terrain, follows a road that was created when the pipes to carry drinking water to the nearby village were placed. The first part of the trail is fairly easy, but the second half, to reach the peak of Monte Margiani at around 900 meters above sea level and is steadily uphill, is more challenging.
The overall hike takes around 2 hours. If you want to go hiking in Sardinia in the summer, this is a good option as it is fairly shady and you’ll get to the waterfalls where you can also get in the water.
You can even join a group hike to Sa Spendula that departs from Cagliari. This is a good option:
The best hikes in the Center of Sardinia
According to some, Gorropu is the deepest canyon in Europe. Whether it is or not, it’s a fantastic place, and here you’ll find some of the best hiking trails in Sardinia, of varying levels of difficulty, and starting in various points.
I have hiked several of them, and each of them is fantastic for different reasons. The trail starting outside Urzulei and going through Sa Giuntura reaches the natural pools of Piscina Urtaddala and Piscina Gorropu via a steep downhill walk – which means that it is a steep walk uphill on the way back.
The trail that starts at about 10 km outside Dorgali, from the parking of Rifugio Gorroppu, is not as steep. It takes between 6 and 8 hours to complete both trails, depending on how fast you walk and how many stops you make. You can complete both trails independently, though having a guide and a group definitely adds to the fun.
Read my post “11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Actually A Bad Idea.”
Once you get to the actual canyon, there is a €5 admission fee. The first part of the walk is fairly easy, but then you have to climb over some massive boulders which are rather slippery. Gorroppu Canyon is a fantastic place for rock climbing too.
TIP: There are no fountains or kiosks along the way (other than in the parking lot of Rifugio Gorroppu where you have to leave the car), so you need to carry enough water and food for the duration of the hike.
This is one of the most rewarding hikes in Sardinia. It starts at the parking lot of Su Porteddu, in the Golgo Plateau, right above Baunei, and gets to one of the most spectacular beaches on the island, that can’t be accessed in any other way.
The hike is an almost steady downhill on the way to the beach, and completely uphill on the way back. It takes about one hour and 15 minutes to walk down and roughly the same amount of time to walk back up.
I recommend heading down nice and early so that you can get to enjoy a full day at the beach. Make sure to bring food and plenty of water, as there is no kiosk at the beach. On the way back, you can stop at the coffee shop located in the parking lot to enjoy a much deserved drink before heading back to town.
TIP: This is one of the most beautiful areas on the island. If you are considering hiking in Sardinia, you may want to base yourself here and each day hike to one of the different beaches of the Gulf of Orosei such as Cala dei Gabbiani or Cala Mariolu.
Bidderosa Natural Park is one of the most incredible places in Sardinia. The park is open from May to October and access is restricted to a limited number of cars, but no restrictions are placed on the numbers of visitors who walk there. There are five beautiful coves in the oasis, and a number of hiking and biking trails connecting them and going around the park. You can walk independently, or join a guided hike through the park authorities.
There is a kiosk only in cove n. 3, so you’re better off carrying enough food and water for the day.
TIP: If you plan to arrive by car, you have to reserve your admission in advance by calling the park well in advance. This is the website.
The best hikes in the North of Sardinia
Punta Giglio, Porto Conte
Porto Conte Regional Park is one of the nicest places to go hiking in Sardinia. There are five different trails, all of them go all the way to Punta Giglio, a beautiful viewpoint. Trails are well marked and you can pick between those that go through the nature or those that allow you to visit military sites. Trails vary in difficulty level too. You can even go on a guided hike that you can book here.
Asinara National Park
Off the North tip of Sardinia there is the gorgeous Asinara Island, which can be reached by ferry from either Porto Torres or Stintino. Once a leper colony, then a high security prison, Asinara became a national park in 1997 and nobody – other than the park rangers – lives there.
The park is ruled by nature and wildlife, with wild boars, white donkeys, sheep, foxes and the Sardinian deer all living there, and sea turtles laying their eggs in one of the many gorgeous beaches.
The island, which is highly protected, is packed with incredible biking and hiking trails that offer splendid coastal views. The park is open from April until the end of October, and visitors can stay at the very basic hostel in the white village of Cala d’Oliva.
The trails of Asinara are all well marked and the terrain is good. All visitors are given a map to follow the trails, but if you want to make the most of the island, you may join a guided hike.
TIP: Asinara is a fantastic place to visit for a few days, to disconnect from the stress of daily life. Make sure to book your place at the hostel in Cala d’Oliva well in advance. You can also go on guided trips to Asinara that depart from Cagliari.
Long distance hiking in Sardinia
When it comes to long distance hiking in Sardinia, I believe nothing beats Selvaggio Blu. This is a challenging 7 day and 45 km hike along the east coast of the island, on a trail that goes through forests, along ravines and cliffs, and typically follows the trails of goatherds. Some parts also require rock climbing.
The trail starts in Pedra Longa, not far from Baunei, and from there reaches Porto Cuau (literally “hidden harbour”) and goes to all the most beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Orosei, such as Cala Goloritzé, Bacu Maduloru, Cuile Piddi, Cala Sisine, and finally Cala Luna and Cala Fuili.
You can’t hike the Selvaggio Blu alone, as you inevitably need organizational help (if anything, for the food and water for the duration of the trail). I wholeheartedly recommend joining one of the few reputable companies that organize the Selvaggio Blu a couple of times per year, and enquire well in advance. Follow The Sun Sardinia is the one I recommend the most – the chief and guide Alessandro Abis is experienced and reliable.
Sentiero Sardegna is the local section of Sentiero Italia and Sentiero Europa, and goes through the highest peaks and along the most challenging trails in Sardinia. You can either start in the top north in Santa Teresa di Gallura, and walk all the way to the south in Castiadas, at about one hour drive from Cagliari, or the other way around. It takes a minimum of three weeks to walk the entire trail, but you can also opt to walk bits of it.
A book with detailed description of the trail of Sentiero Sardegna and maps is available for download on the website of the environment authority of Sardinia, here – but unfortunately it is only in Italian.
Cammino S. Barbara
One of longest yet rewarding hiking trails in Sardinia is Cammino Santa Barbara. It’s a circular route of 386 km in the south of the island, in the Sulcis Iglesiente region. Most of the trail is on dirt roads and mule tracks, and a smaller percentage on tar road and paved road.
The trail is composed of 24 different stages, each of around 16 km, and on any stage you can mix a walk in the nature with visits to archeological sites and villages.
When to go hiking in Sardinia
I typically recommend to avoid the summer months if you intend to go hiking in Sardinia, but truth be told, some of the nicest hikes are those that finish at one of the incredible beaches so you may want to battle the heat to be rewarded with a swim in the cold waters.
Other than that, the best time to go hiking in Sardinia is the fall and the spring, until May – then it starts becoming too hot. Winter can be good as well, but keep in mind that the days are much shorter so you’ll have to pick shorter trails.
Main cities in Sardinia
The main city in Sardinia is Cagliari – a gorgeous city between the Campidano plane, the Mediterranean Sea, and the mountains. Cagliari has a lot to offer to its visitors, with plenty of historical charms in the 4 main districts, and several archeological sites, good museums and gorgeous churches. It’s also where you’ll find the best restaurants, accommodation options and the best nightlife.
For more information about Cagliari, check out my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Cagliari.”
If you are keen on learning more about the history and culture of Sardinia, make sure to visit Oristano and Nuoro, where a combination of good museums, local events and festival is bound to keep you entertained. From Nuoro, you’ll also have access to the best trails of Central Sardinia such as those of Gorroppu.
Discover all the places in Sardinia where you can learn about its history and culture in this post.
Best places to stay in Sardinia
Sardinia is packed with good accommodation options, scattered around the island. This is only a selection:
- Hostel Marina is in the heart of the Marina district in Cagliari. It’s a great budget option in town. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Apt Is Fradis is a lovely small apartment in Villanova, Cagliari. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Antico Corso Charme is a beautiful bed and breakfast in the heart of Cagliari. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Le Pavoncelle is a fabulous apartment in Alghero. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Your home in Alghero is another niceapartment in the heart of Alghero. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- In Nuoro, Domo Mea is an excellent bed and breakfast with comfortable rooms and right in the center of the city. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- In Baunei, Hotel Bia Maore is a very good hotel with large, comfortable room and fabulous views of the mountains and the coast. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
You may also want to check out my post on “Where To Stay In Cagliari.”
How to get to and around Sardinia
The best way to get to Sardinia is by plane. There are three airports in Sardinia: Cagliari, Alghero and Olbia. All of them are connected to the rest of Italy and Europe via standard and budget airlines.
You can also get to Sardinia by ferry. There are ferries departing from mainland Italy and other places in France and Spain getting to Sardinia. You can check ferry prices online here.
Once you are in Sardinia, the best way to move around is by car. You can rent one here.
Other tips for hiking in Sardinia
Make sure to be properly equipped when you go hiking in Sardinia. Always wear a good pair of hiking boots that provide good ankle support, and thick hiking socks. Make sure to layer up, with a good technical shirt, a light sweater and a wind proof jacket to stop the rain and the wind.
Keep in mind that oftentimes hiking trails in Sardinia start in one point and end in another, and if you plan to hike independently this may require a bit of organization (and two cars at least) to make sure that you can get back to your car at the end of the hike. Guided hikes have the benefit of having a driver dropping you off at one place and picking you up at another.
Have you ever been hiking in Sardinia? What are your favorite trails?
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