I can spend hours browsing social media just staring at amazing pictures of Sardinia. This island, where I grew up, is the place to be in the summer – though I insist that there’s plenty of things do to in Sardinia throughout the year.
My Instagram feed (oh hey, by the way, my Instagram is @myadventuresacrosstheworld) is a series of Sardinia images of gorgeous beaches (read more about my picks for the best beaches in Sardinia here); of lovely villages; of surfing locations (yes, Sardinia is a fantastic surf destination – read what the best surfing spots in Sardinia are on this post). This really feels like a slice of heaven on earth.
Not only do I like looking at pictures of Sardinia. I also like taking them. I never go out without my camera, and if I don’t have that for whatever reason, I find that my iPhone takes very good photos too. My friends are now used to me taking random photos while we walk around and talk, or asking them to “walk in the picture” when I need that extra touch.
Perda Longa is one the nicest places to take pictures of Sardinia
I appreciate that to many Sardinia is still an obscure destination; a lot of people outside of Europe don’t know where Sardinia is. Besides, too many of those who visit Italy just stick to the mainland, going to Rome or Cinque Terre and little else, because Sardinia takes too much of an effort. With this in mind, I have decided to put together a post with my favorite pictures of Sardinia, complete with the exact photo location and description of the places where I took them.
Let me add a little disclaimer, however: I am based in Cagliari, the main city in Sardinia. It’s so gorgeous that National Geographic enlisted it in the most underrated destinations in the Mediterranean. Anyways, being from Cagliari means that most of my pictures of Sardinia have been taken around the South of the island, where I have the chance to go photo shooting more often. Having said that, I also believe that the north is amazing to visit!
Also, keep in mind that this post is meant to give tips of locations for places to take Sardinia photos in the summer months, so that you can enjoy the beach and take photos at the same time. Needless to say, the places I mention are wonderful any time of year, and while you won’t be able to enjoy the sea in the winter, photos will look even more amazing because there won’t be any crowd at the beach!
Anyways, without further ado, here’s where to take the best Sardinia photos.
Poetto beach is a great location for Sardinia photos
Where To Take The Best Pictures Of Sardinia
Ok, Poetto may not be the best beach in Sardinia in terms of beauty (well at least not for us!). Yet, it makes an excellent location to get a feel for the island and to take some Sardinia images, especially when in Cagliari. Locals love hanging out here, so it’s the place to be if you are after a real local experience.
It’s easy to reach (there’s buses from the city center, in Piazza Matteotti and Via Rome, typically any “P” bus goes there). There’s several bus stops along Poetto, and locals typically identify the spot they hang out with the bus stop number. I took my photo from “sesta fermata” (sixth bus stop).
Poetto beach is incredibly long; and there’s plenty of places to rest for a coffee, a drink and a light meal. The best time of day to take pictures of Sardinia in this location is in the early morning hours, as the beach gets really crowded as the day goes on. Or else, go right before sunset. Do not go when it’s windy, unless you fancy being covered in sand.
I love taking pictures of Sardinia from Sella del Diavolo
Sella del Diavolo
Sella del Diavolo is by far one of my favorite spots in Cagliari, not only as it’s perfect to take gorgeous pictures of Sardinia, but simply because, although being within easy reach from the city center, it feels like a million miles away.
In order to get to Sella del Diavolo, take bus n. 11 from Via Einstein, and get off at the last bus stop in Calamosca. From there, follow the road on the left until you get to the entrance of what looks like a park, and follow the trail. It’s an easy walk, around 30 minutes at most to the panoramic view point from where I took this photo (one of my favorite locations for pictures of Sardinia). The view of the city, Poetto beach below and of Molentargius Protected Natural Oasis are gorgeous. I think the one above is the best view, but the trail goes further so there’s more good Sardinia photos opportunity.
More Sardinia photos opportunities at Sella del Diavolo. The views are stunning!
The best time to go is either in the morning (sunrise from there is splendid) or in the late afternoon (though this isn’t a sunset spot).
I love the dramatic views of this location – it’s perfect to take amazing pictures of Sardinia. The beach below is Calamosca.
Faro di Sant’Elia
To be fair, this isn’t the exact spot on the photo. The lighthouse (faro) is right behind (in the other photo). It’s very easy to reach from the center of town. Just take bus n. 11 and get off on the first stop in Calamosca. It is a short hike towards the lighthouse, but the area is packed with incredible photo opportunities, with some of the nicest pictures of Sardinia that can be taken in Cagliari. I really like the view from the Sant’Ignazio abandoned fortress.
The small beach below is Calamosca (the one I mentioned before), which is one of the urban beaches in Cagliari and a favorite of the locals. The area doesn’t really get crowded. The best time of day to go is in the late afternoon, especially for sunsets (though I wasn’t that lucky when I went last time, as it was just about to rain). To date, I think this is one of the best Sardinia photos I have ever taken.
As far as city life, I am a huge fan of Villanova, in Cagliari. To me this is one of the best places to take pictures of Sardinia
My friend Margherita calls me Miss Vicoletti (narrow alleys) for wherever in the world I may be, I make it a point to take photos of all the small streets. It’s where I find the best photo opportunities, and I enjoy the atmosphere. There’s many streets in Villanova that I like to take photos of. I think this is one of the best places to take city life pictures of Sardinia.
Either way, I love to walk around there to take photos, especially in the summer. Villanova is one of the oldest parts of Cagliari, but it has undergone major works in the last decade, to clean it up and bring new life to the beautiful buildings. The area is closed to traffic (so there’s plenty of time to sit and wait to take the best Sardinia photo), so it is the kind of place where locals and tourists alike enjoy a late afternoon walk and a drink; and where children can be still seen playing football in the streets.
Another shot of Villanova. Go on and tell me this isn’t the perfect place to take city-life pictures of Sardinia
The photos here were taken at various locations around Villanova: Via San Domenico, Via San Giacomo, Via San Giovanni and other small alleys which I find perfect locations for colorful, urban Sardinia images. The best time of day to go to take photos is in the late afternoon – in the summer season, any time between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. That’s when there’s the most action before it gets dark (it’s quite packed at night for those who like night photography).
Lots of people enjoy taking pictures of Sardinia from Castello
Castello (and Stampace)
I have yet to decide whether I prefer Villanova or Castello. In doubt, I spend time in both of them. Castello is another perfect location to take great pictures of Sardinia in Cagliari. It’s one of the oldest parts of town, but contrary to Villanova it hasn’t undergone any major renovation work, with the result that most of its buildings are crumbling (something that the people who live in the area often complain about).
Darling pictures of Sardinia: I love the view of Stampace from Castello
Castello has all the charm of the narrow alleys that Villanova has, but added to that there’s the fact that it’s on a hill, so the views of the city are stunning, making it one of my favorite places for Sardinia images. Furthermore, thanks to it’s orientation, it’s a great place to photograph at any time of day: go to the terrace of Via Santa Croce for the perfect sunset view (and a drink in one of the locals’ favorite spots). On the other side, towards Piazza Mafalda di Savoia, there’s beautiful sunrise views.
More pictures of Sardinia around Castello
And all the alleys in between are perfect throughout the day.
I took the Sardinia images seen in this post various locations around Castello: Via Santa Croce is where the terrace with views of Torre dell’Elefante is located. Looking on the right, the view of Stampace quarters is splendid. And looking behind, there’s just lovely views of the buildings. The other photos were taken in Via Lamarmora, one of the most historic one, and Piazza Mafalda di Savoia. There’s also a photo of the Cathedral, just in case!
The internal side of Via Santa Croce – great for urban-life pictures of Sardinia
I did say before that I am mostly based in Cagliari. So, for as much as I like to travel around the island in search of gorgeous beaches (hey, that’s easy: they are literally everywhere) and to take the nicest pictures of Sardinia, I mostly end up going to the beaches that are no further than a couple of hours drive from home (yes, Sardinia is that big!). So, the following is a very personal selection of my favorite beaches to take Sardinia photos. Please note, it may be subject to change!
Sardinia beaches: no better places to take excellent pictures of Sardinia. This is Baccumandara
I went to this beach for the first time last summer. Kind of strange, considering that it’s on the way to Costa Rei, where I have been going since I was born, and it’s really close to Cagliari (around 40 minutes drive). It’s a great place, and a fantastic location to take iconic summer pictures of Sardinia.
Baccu Mandara is best reached by car. It’s East of Cagliari, on the way to Villasimus and Costa Rei, so once out of the city (either following the main road along Poetto, or SS 554), follow the signs to either Muravera on the new Strada Statale (SS) 125, getting out at Geremeas to then take SP 17, or to Villasimius on the Strada Provinciale (SP) 17, and take the exit after Geremeas. I suggest driving along the SP 17 actually – it’s a bit longer, but there’s plenty of photo opportunities so fabulous to take Sardinia images.
Baccu Mandara orientation is such that the nicest pictures of Sardinia can be taken both in the late morning (that’s when I took mine) or at sunset. In order to take this photo (one of my favorite of my Sardinia photos repertoire) I walked to the left of the beach and climbed the rocks (it’s fairly easy, but do wear at least flip flops as it may be slippery). The view from there are simply stunning.
When hiking, there’s plenty of opportunities to take gorgeous pictures of Sardinia
I am absolutely in love with this tiny cove. It’s never too crowded, even during the peak summer months, and it’s the perfect location for amazing pictures of Sardinia. It’s located west of Cagliari, and there’s no direct road access – either drive west from Cagliari following SP 71 until a sign pointing to La Pinnetta, where there’s a gated parking lot and a short trail.
Alternatively, hike all the way from Cala Cipolla (about one hour drive from town along SP71, take the exit for Chia), then take the trail that goes all the way to Capo Spartivento lighthouse and continue walking. It is a good couple of hours walk – not the best in the summer, though the views are splendid and there’s many a possibility to take Sardinia photos. Finally, another way to do it (the most relaxing one for sure) is by boat. There’s boats departing from Capo Malfatano, further on SP71.
Some of the best pictures of Sardinia are taken from a boat – like this one of Cala Antoniareddu
The images I have of Cala Antoniareddu are among my favorite Sardinia images. I have taken them from pretty much any angle – during the hike, directly from the beach and from the boat. Unfortunately in order to get the best light it’s better to go during the day, when the sun is really strong. But it’s worth it, I promise!
If it’s beaches that you are after, Monte Turnu is a great place to take pictures of Sardinia
I love this small cove, it’s the perfect location to take amazing pictures of Sardinia. It’s on the way to Costa Rei, very easy to find – drive east of Cagliari on SS125 towards Muravera, take the first exict to Costa Rei, drive a couple of km until you reach a small bridge and a traffic light. Go straight and then take it left, but go slowly as the turn for the beach is soon after, on the right.
Monte Turnu tends to get crowded in the summer. I won’t let it deter me, especially if I am after Sardinia photos. The best time to go to take photos actually is between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. That’s when I took my photo. I walked right at the kiosk and got straight into the water.
Sunrise pictures of Sardinia are best taken on the east coast. This is Costa Rei
This is home to me, and here’s what I think is one of the best beaches in Sardinia. My parents would take me there as a baby, then they bought a property where we’d spend the summer months when I grew up. And even now, that’s where they spend the summer, so I go all the time. It’s among my favorite locations to take pictures of Sardinia.
Costa Rei can actually be reached by bus – there’s regular buses leaving from Cagliari main bus station, it takes a couple of hours. Otherwise, it takes around one hour by car, depending on traffic, along SS125. Alternatively, follow the old SP17 to Villasimius and take SS125 from there – there will be plenty of opportunities to get good Sardinia photos along the way.
As I go to Costa Rei all the time, I take photos at about any time of day. The orientation is such that this is a good place for sunrise – so wake up extra early for beautiful sunrise pictures of Sardinia. Or else, the best time for photos is when the sun is bright in the sky, between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Santa Giusta in Costa Rei: gorgeous to take pictures of Sardinia, but expect crowds in the summer
Also, don’t expect this to be a secluded beach with no crowds. Quite the opposite: as it is easy to access, it gets really crowded in the summer months. So perhaps your best shot for some solitary Sardinia photos in the area is at sunrise.
For my sunrise photo, I walked down Via delle Rose and left once on the beach. I just shot randomly with no specific idea in mind, but I loved finding the boats on shore as they added an extra touch to the photo.
I took the other photo from Santa Giusta, where I went on top of the massive rock – an incredible location for great pictures of Sardinia. Keep in mind I took that at the beginning of October, that’s why the beach looks so empty. Unfortunately it’s not nearly as peaceful in the peak summer months as there’s a resort nearby. Either way, the views are gorgeous.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Sardinia, and I took it in my beloved Costa Rei
The last of my pictures of Sardinia in Costa Rei was taken near a kiosk called “I Tarocchi” – the kiosk isn’t too nice, it’s quite run down to be honest. But there’s a bit less people on this stretch. I walked along the beach, to the left, until I got to this massive rock that I climbed and that gave me great views of the water and all the action.
Bodderosa is an incredible location for pictures of Sardinia. This was taken on beach 4
This is one of the most amazing places in Sardinia, and the best part of it is that access is restricted to only 140 cars per day in the overall natural park, which counts 5 beautiful small beaches. This means that Oasi Bidderosa is never crowded, and it’s simply perfect to take amazing Sardinia photos. Do keep in mind though that, as access is restricted, it’s better to book in advance.
Bidderosa is at about 10 km north of Orosei, a lovely village on the East coast of Sardinia. The best way to get there is from Nuoro (along the route of SS131 bis), one of the main cities on the island. Once there, take SS129 and, from Orosei, SS125 heading north.
The beaches in Bidderosa are numbered, and it’s possible to move from one to the other throughout the day – better to walk, though, as the parking lots near the various beaches get full. I find beach 4 to be an excellent location to take iconic pictures of Sardinia, as there’s beautiful rocks that give photos that extra depth.
As Bidderosa never gets crowded, it’s a fantastic location to visit even throughout the summer months. The best photos are taken during the day (it’s facing east, so unfortunately there’s no sunsets). I took my Sardinia photos of Bidderosa during the early afternoon, at beach 4; whereas the photo of me walking almost like a soldier was taken a bit later on the walk between beach 3 and beach 4.
Straight to business: walking around to find perfect locations to take pictures of Sardinia
More Amazing Pictures of Sardinia
As I have said, my list of locations to take pictures of Sardinia is not exhaustive. There are fantastic places that have lots of street art in Sardinia – the traditional kind though! There are some incredible and unique archaeological sites, such as the famous nuraghi.
And sailing in Sardinia gives a chance to take even more amazing photos – it is one of the top things to do in Sardinia. You can also read my guide of “The Best Places In Sardinia To Discover Its History, Culture And Traditions.”
I have browsed Trover and found some more incredible pictures of Sardinia, complete with locations. I have compiled a list and embedded it below for you to see. If you have any other Sardinia photos to add to this, get on Trover and also let me know!
View photos near Sardinia on Trover
If you have been to Sardinia and would like to recommend your favorite places to take pictures of Sardinia, you should upload them on Trover so others can be inspired too!
Pin It For Later!
It finally is that time of year and giving my selection of the best beaches in Sardinia sounds about appropriate. I have not done it in the past because I have a real hard time to keep the list of Sardinia beaches short. There are so many that deserve to be visited that it would literally take a lifetime to see them all – and when I fall in love with one, I keep going back.
Anyways, it is only fair that I write a post about the place I call home and where I spend all my summers – because there’s no point in going anywhere else if I can literally step into to paradise any time I walk out the door! And if I can’t possibly name all of Sardinia beaches, I will at least give my very own personal selection of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Don’t know where Sardinia is? Read my post “Where is Sardinia?” to find out.
The good news about Sardinia beaches is that they are all free to access (unlike in other countries in Europe), so that even those who are traveling on a budget can enjoy them. Only highly protected beaches require a small fee to get in.
One big recommendation I have to give is to never steal any sand from Sardinia beaches. It is strictly forbidden by law and tourists who have been caught with sand in their luggage have been fined dearly. Furthermore, this endangers the beautiful Sardinian environment. If the beaches in Sardinia are so gorgeous, we may as well do our best to keep them this way!
Those who care to see even more gorgeous photos of Sardinia beaches can head to my Instagram account for inspiration. Now, without further ado, let’s talk about the best beaches in Sardinia. I am also adding a few tips on how to get there, extra activities, and where to stay and eat. Keep in mind they are listed randomly – though I will point out what my favorite one is!
People can say whatever they way: to me Poetto remains one of the best beaches in Sardinia
My Personal Selection Of The 13 Best Beaches In Sardinia
Many will disagree with my choice of placing Poetto among the best beaches in Sardinia. Fair enough, it isn’t the most amazing among Sardinia beaches, but anybody from Cagliari like myself is bound to be in love with this 8 km long, fine sand beach that stretches from Sella del Diavolo (Devil’s Saddle), one of the symbols of Cagliari, till Quartu Sant’Elena. Not to mention, Cagliari is one of the coolest places to visit in Sardinia.
What makes Poetto one of Sardinia best beaches is the scenery around it: on its right hand side there’s the stunning view of the Sella del Diavolo. Right behind it there’s the Parco di Molentargius, a stunning nature park where pink flamingoes nest and where it is possible to observe an incredible amount of other bird species.
Poetto is one of the most appreciated Sardinia beaches thanks to the services it offers. There’s a large selection of places where it is possible to rent umbrellas and sun beds; there’s plenty of life guards and children entertainment; there’s restaurants and ice cream places around; parts of it can be accessed with dogs; and the waterfront is a great place to run, bike or skate – in fact it’s where most people in Cagliari go exercise.
Poetto is undoubtedly one of Sardinia best beaches
Needless to say, as the main beach of the biggest city and most popular among the places to visit in Sardinia, Poetto does get incredibly crowded in the summer months. My advice is to enjoy it early in the morning, or to go there in the late afternoon for a quick swim and then a drink in one of the many beautiful kiosks.
Local tip: don’t go to Poetto if the mistral wind is blowing. The beach isn’t protected at all and sand flies everywhere, making it pretty much unbearable to stay. If it is windy, opt for one of the many other Sardinia beaches nearby, such as Calamosca (also in Cagliari).
How to get to Poetto
As I have said already, what makes Poetto one of the best beaches in Sardinia is that it is fully serviced. Indeed, Poetto can be easily reached via a quick bus ride from the centre of Cagliari. Buses PF and PQ both go there. There’s various stops along the way and along Poetto beach too.
Activities in Poetto
The range of activities at Poetto is such that it is easy to see why it is one of Sardinia best beaches. There are surfing, SUP and wind-surfing schools; it is possible to rent kayaks and there’s even guided kayak tours to Sella del Diavolo that leave right from Poetto. I haven’t done it yet, but my sister, who’s a keen kayaker, told me it is gorgeous. If the sea around Sella del Diavolo is as gorgeous as it seems from above, this is bound to be an amazing tour.
Speaking of views, a hike up Sella Del Diavolo offers incredible views of the coast, and especially of Poetto. Hiking is one of the best things to do in Sardinia, and to me it is incredible that it can be enjoyed right in the city! There’s a guided hike of the Devil’s Saddle that can be booked online.
Cagliari is one of the best places to visit in Sardinia
Where to stay in Cagliari
One of the benefits of Poetto and one of the reasons I included it in the least of the best beaches in Sardinia is that it is in Cagliari, which means having a wide range of accommodation choices, from the budget backpackers’ Hostel Marina to the one of the best hotels in town, T Hotel – which has the bonus of a fantastic spa, or the amazing Palazzo Dessy, in the heart of La Marina quarters.
Read my guide on the best hotels in Cagliari.
To read more about Cagliari, check my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Cagliari.”
Best restaurants in Cagliari
I don’t go really go out to eat all that much in Cagliari. But eating is one of the best things to do in Sardinia, so I’m only going to recommend my favorite restaurants in town. If I want to gorge on seafood and splurge, I go to Ristorante Italia, in Via Sardegna. Further down the same street but much much cheaper is La Stella Marina di Montecristo, which is extremely popular and has to be booked in advance.
Budget friendly options include pizzeria Framento in Corso Vittorio Emanuele – again, book in advance; and gourmet burger place Bombas, in the heart of Castello (one of the coolest areas of town). They both make it a point of only using local ingredients – and they are located in some of the coolest places to visit in Sardinia.
Best Beaches In Sardinia – tours departing from Cagliari
These are some of the best tours that go to some of the amazing beaches in Sardinia and conveniently depart from Cagliari:
Costa Rei is one of the best beaches in Sardinia
Costa Rei (Muravera)
Located on the south east coast of the island, Costa Rei is definitely one of the best beaches in Sardinia. It is a gorgeous 12 km long stretch of the finest, golden sand. The water is incredibly clear. As there are various points of access and parking lots scattered along the beach, it is suitable for families with children and disabled people.
What makes it one of the most popular Sardinia beaches is the fact that it is fully serviced: there are kiosks all along the beach and it is possible to rent umbrellas and sun beds. As most of Sardinia beaches, it can get very crowded in the peak summer months – but it is worth going.
Costa Rei is the beach I am most attached to. It’s where my parents used to take me camping when I was still a baby, and where they own a holiday home. I spend each and every summer weekend there. And it is simply stunning: easy to see why I list it among the best beaches in Sardinia.
Local tip: get up before the crack of dawn to enjoy a fabulous sunrise; or if lazy, go to the nearby Monte Turnu (another of Sardinia best beaches) to enjoy sunset.
How to get to Costa Rei
As one of the best beaches in Sardinia, Costa Rei can be reached fairly easily via SS (road) 125 by either car, private shuttle or bus. Buses leave from Cagliari main station and take about 2 hours. Private shuttles generally offer pick up service from the airport. If traveling by car, when leaving Cagliari, follow the signs to Muravera on SS 554 until you get to the SS 125 junction and then take the exit for Costa Rei. It takes about one hour.
Around Costa Rei there’s some more beautiful Sardinia beaches
Activities in Costa Rei
As with most Sardinia beaches, Costa Rei offers a wide range of activities (other than relaxing in the sun and cooling down in the water). Most kiosks have an adjacent agency that offers SUP, wind surf, kite surf and even obey cat lessons. It is also possible to either rent a zodiac or take a boat tour to go to the nearby islands (Isola dei Cavoli or Serpentara) or to go beach hopping. The best diving site is at Sant’Elmo’s Rock.
Where to stay in Costa Rei
As one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sardinia, Costa Rei has a wealth of accommodation options for any budget, that range from camping sites to holiday rentals (a bunch of agencies can be contacted for this), bed and breakfast, hotels, all inclusive resorts and luxury resorts.
One of the best things to do in Sardinia when on a budget is camping. In Costa Rei, Camping Le Dune is one of the best around, with a pool, a grocery store, restaurants and wide range of activities. Tiliguerta Camping Village is beautifully immersed in nature and has the bonus that it is also pet friendly.
Free Beach is a good all inclusive resort. It’s been in Costa Rei for as long as I can remember, but it’s been beautifully renovated. It boasts a gorgeous swimming pool, and all the amenities of a top notch resort. Not to mention, it is located at the footsteps of one of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Finally, the best luxury resort in the area is Villas. If budget allows, there no better way to match a visit to one of Sardinia best beaches with a stay at a fabulous resort.
Best restaurants in Costa Rei
One of the best things to do in Sardinia is eating the fabulous food. There’s various restaurants in Costa Rei, generally ok. But I always recommend my friends to go to Chaplin (right by the beach) for a delicious meal at more than reasonable prices: the swordfish carbonara is to die for. If wanting to splurge, my go-to place is Sa Cardiga e Su Pisci, a Michelin star restaurant: it’s expensive but worth every penny.
Porto Giunco is undeniably one of the best beaches in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Mattia Perra
Porto Giunco (Villasimius)
Even though it is only about 1 hour drive from where I live (Cagliari), I was 23 the first time I went to Porto Giunco. I immediately understood that this is one of the best beaches in Sardinia. A long, white sandy beach with shallow and incredibly blue waters, surmounted by a Spanish watch tower. Behind it, there’s a lagoon where pink flamingoes nest.
Porto Giunco deserves to be mentioned among Sardinia best beaches as it is easily accessible, even to families with children and to the disabled. It offers a variety of services, including umbrella and sun bed rentals, wind surf and SUP classes, and boat trips to the nearby beaches and islands including the marine oasis of Capo Carbonara.
Local tip: the centre of the beach gets less crowded because it is a bit harder to reach. Keep walking along the beach from one of the access points to get there and enjoy one of the most beautiful Sardinia beaches.
How to get to Porto Giunco
Porto Giunco is easily reached from Villasimius, from where there are regular shuttles. Villasimius is one of the most popular places to visit in Sardinia in the summer, and it can be reached by bus or car from Cagliari, via SP 17. This isn’t the best road to drive on – but the views are stunning. Once in Villasimius, follow the signs to the tourist harbor (Via degli Oleandri) and from there to Porto Giunco. There’s various parking lots and access points.
Activities in Villasimius
From Villasimius it is possible to rent zodiacs or to take part in guided boat tours that go to some others of the best beaches in Sardinia, such as Punta Molentis. I love that beach, but I wholeheartedly recommend avoiding it in the peak summer months as it gets almost unbearably packed. Enjoying it from the boat though is simply amazing!
Where to stay in Villasimius
Villasimius is one of the nicest places to visit in Sardinia and it is where some of the best beaches in Sardinia are located. As such, it has a wide range accommodation options that go from camping sites to luxury resorts. The best place to stay is by far Hotel Cala Caterina, which is close to the beach. More central, there’s the brand new Hotel Belvir which is on Villasimius main street.
Best restaurants in Villasimius
I don’t go out to eat in Villasimius all that often, but as it is one of the top places to visit in Sardinia there’s a lot of restaurants. A place I really enjoyed last year is Mesa de Janas – the fritto misto is excellent. Right on the main square there’s what I deem the best gelateria in Sardinia, called La Chiccheria: try the pistacchio and nocciola flavors!
Cala Antoniareddu – a new entry among my favorite Sardinia beaches
Cala Antoniareddu (Teulada)
Located on the southern coast of Sardinia, I first discovered Cala Antoniareddu when I went on a hike in December 2015 and immediately decided it was one of my favorite beaches in Sardinia. I went on the exact same hike last April and could only confirm my feelings: it is simply stunning. I eventually managed to enjoy a swim there when I went on a boat trip along the southern coast of Sardinia.
Cala Antoniareddu is a small cove that is actually quite hard to reach, which means that it’s hardly ever crowed. What makes it one of Sardinia best beaches is the incredible emerald color of the water, there swimming literally feels like jumping in paradise. The views from the hills above are simply stunning.
Local tip: Cala Antoniareddu is a a mixture of sand and rocks (very common among Sardinia beaches) and can be uncomfortable. Carry an inflatable pillow if wanting to relax.
How to get to Cala Antoniareddu
Interestingly, I have classified some beaches as the best beaches in Sardinia also based on the fact that they are easily accessible. In the case of Cala Antoniareddu, it is its isolation that makes it all the more charming. There’s no direct access to this beach.
In order to enjoy Cala Antoniareddu, it is necessary to either drive all the way to Cala Cipolla (incidentally, one more of the amazing Sardinia Beaches) following SS 195 and then hiking along the coast through Capo Spartivento Lighthouse and Perdalonga beach. It’s also possible to drive along SS195 then turn onto SP71 until a sign that points to “Pinnetta” village, where there’s a bar and a gate to a parking lot that costs €5 for the day, and a short trail that leads all the way to the beach.
Other than that, the best way to get to Cala Antoniareddu is by boat. Boat trips are among the best things to do in Sardinia and I wholeheartedly recommend them. When I visited, I took a boat trip that went all the way from Capo Malfatano to Tuerredda (one of Sardinia best beaches, by the way!), Cala Antoniareddu, Perdalonga, Chia and other beaches.
Activities in Cala Antoniareddu
If one of the best things to do in Sardinia is snorkeling in its transparent waters, Cala Antoniareddu is the perfect place to go. The beach isn’t serviced, so it is not possible to rent kayaks or umbrellas there. It is however nice to follow the path on its left side to get stunning panoramic views.
Where to stay and eat near Cala Antoniareddu
There isn’t much around Cala Antoniareddu in terms of accommodation options. I think the best place to stay in the area is Pula, a lovely village which caters really well to tourists needs and from where it is possible to access a bunch of Sardinia beaches. Pula is packed with good gelaterie, restaurants and accommodation options. A bit of a way in Domus de Maria, I truly enjoyed dinner at Trattoria da Angelo.
If treating oneself to a fabulous luxury resort if among the best things to do in Sardinia Forte Village Resort is the place to go. Yet most of us don’t have an unlimited budget to count on, so Helianthus is a good option. There’s even some good camping sites.
Cala Domestica deserves to be mentioned among the best beaches in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Gian Marco Leoni
Cala Domestica (Buggerru)
Cala Domestica is a fantastic small beach in the region of Carbonia Iglesias, on the south west coast of Sardinia. It used to be a harbor where boats would be loaded with the minerals extracted in the nearby mines. Nowadays, it simply is one of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Cala Domestica looks a bit like a fjord – with impressive cliffs on both sides. There’s a smaller cove that can be easily reached on its right, and white sand dunes right behind it. Another thing that makes this one of Sardinia best beaches is the impressive view from the Spanish tower that surmounts it. There’s also a small kiosk that sells sandwiches, ice cream and drinks, and that rents umbrellas and sun beds.
Local tip: avoid when the mistral wind blows. All the Sardinia beaches of the coast of Sulcis Iglesiente get fierce waves when it’s windy and it is impossible (not to mention dangerous) to get in the water.
How to get to Cala Domestica
The best way to Cala Domestica (and to other Sardinia beaches nearby) is by car from Cagliari, following SS 130 to Iglesias and then follow the signs to SP 83 to Buggerru.
Activities in Cala Domestica
One of the things that made me pick Cala Domestica as one of the best beaches in Sardinia is the fact that there’s also hiking trails around it, all providing astounding views of the coast and of the beach below. Other than that, it is a great place to snorkel, to relax, and depending on the wind it is possible to also surf. It’s also possible to take a boat tour around the coast that goes to some of the best beaches in the area and also shows some archeological gems.
Where to stay and eat near Cala Domestica
Buggerru isn’t one of the most touristy areas in Sardinia, which has its benefits but also implies that the choice of places to stay is a bit more limited. Personally, I always visit Cala Domestica and all the other Sardinia beaches around it on day trips from Cagliari. However, those who want to spend the night there can stay at B&B Armas. Ristorante La Pregiata seems a good option for dinner.
Another one of the amazing Sardinia beaches: Is Arutas
Is Aruttas (Cabras)
Is Aruttas is located on the west coast of Sardinia, not far from Oristano. It is a beach like no others and well deserves to be mentioned among the best beaches in Sardinia. Its main characteristic is the tiny white quartz pebbles and the incredibly clear blue waters that are almost immediately deep. Aside from that, Is Aruttas boasts a gorgeous sea bed that is fun exploring and some incredible rock formations from where it is possible to also take gorgeous pictures of the entire beach.
Although it is easily accessible by car (there is a large parking lot) and there’s a couple of restaurants and kiosks in the area, and despite the fact that I have seen families with children there, I wouldn’t recommend this as one of the best beaches in Sardinia for families with small kids: the sand is impossible to play with and the water is immediately deep and kids may get bored.
Local tip: while I much prefer Is Aruttas as a beach, I think S’Archittu, another one of Sardinia beaches at about 20 minutes drive, offers the best sights and photo opportunities. At about 10 minutes drive there’s Mari Ermi, a very similar and gorgeous beach which is significantly less crowded.
How to get to Is Aruttas
Bus 430 regularly leave Oristano city centre to get to Is Aruttas and takes about 50 minutes. Alternatively, those wanting to reach this and a bunch of other Sardinia beaches nearby should follow the directions to Cabras and from there follow SP 6, turn right on SP 7, and then left on SP 59.
Activities in Is Aruttas
From the nearby Mari Ermi, another of the amazing Sardinia beaches, there are regular boat tours that go to the gorgeous Isola di Mal di Ventre.
Admiring the sunset is one of the best things to do in Sardinia
Where to stay in Cabras
At a mere 10 minutes walk from Is Aruttas beach, there’s a camping site called Is Arutas. It may be a no frills place, but it has the incredible benefit of being located at a stone’s throw from one of the best beaches in Sardinia. Alternatively, the best access point to Is Aruttas is the village of Cabras. Gioia Guest House is a good option.
Where to eat in Cabras
The area around Cabras is packed with “ittiturismo” – the fish equivalent to “agriturismo,” where they serve strictly locally sourced fish and seafood. Eating seafood is one of the best things in Sardinia, and the choice in Cabras is wide. There’s a good restaurant right by the beach that serves good fish dishes in a very plain setting (think plastic dishes). At dinner, I ate at Trattoria da Attilio and had a delicious plate of mixed fried seafood.
Whichever way I look at it, Cala Goloritzé is one of the best beaches in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Marcello Chiodino
Cala Goloritzé (Baunei)
Cala Goloritzé isn’t just one of the best beaches in Sardinia, it is one of the most amazing beaches in the world. It is located on the east coast of Sardinia. It is a tiny and completely isolated cove characterized by tiny white pebbles, incredibly transparent and blue waters, a rock arch and a pinnacle that is a favorite of climbers.
It is it’s isolation that makes Cala Goloritzé one of Sardinia best beaches. This is a place where goats roam free and get down to the beach to drink the fresh water that springs from the limestone formations, much to the entertainment of tourists.
Differently to other Sardinia beaches, there are no services whatsoever at Cala Goloritzé – no kiosks, no toilets, and not even baskets for garbage. Visitors have to carry whatever they may need for the day, and carry their garbage back with them; they also have to pay a fee to access (it’s one of the very few beaches in Sardinia where tourists have to pay): money goes towards its conservation.
Local tip: although Cala Goloritzé is nicely tucked away, it is better enjoyed when the sea is completely calm. Do check the weather broadcast in advance.
More amazing Sardinia beaches near Cala Goloritzé – photo courtesy of Gian Marco Leoni
How to get to Cala Goloritzé
The only way to get to Cala Goloritzé is via a hike that leaves from the Golgo Plateau, one of the nicest places to visit in Sardinia. It takes about 90 minutes of a steep downhill walk to get to the beach, and roughly the same amount of time to get back up. Hiking shoes are highly recommended as the terrain is uneven.
Boat tours that take to Cala Goloritzé and other fabulous Sardinia beaches nearby (such as Cala Mariolu, Cala Sisine, Cala dei Gabbiani, Cala Luna and Cala Biriola) leave regularly from either Cala Gonone and Santa Maria Navarrese. However, due to strict protection, boats are not allowed to dock at Cala Goloritzé: the only way to really enjoy it is embarking on a hike.
Activities in Cala Goloritzé
Given that the only way to get to Cala Goloritzé is via a hike, I doubt anybody would care for other activities once there. Anyways, this is one of the best beaches in Sardinia to go snorkeling: the rock formations around the beach are fun to see, and near the arch there is a nice grotto where it is possible to swim. I don’t recommend climbing the arch to dive – I have done it a few times and the last one I almost got stuck up there.
Where to stay in Baunei
Baunei, is the main access point to Cala Goloritzé and to some others of the best beaches in Sardinia. The nearest place to the beach is Il Rifugio, which functions both as a camping site and as a bed and breakfast. The rooms are modest, but the location perfect and they even have a good restaurant on site.
Bia Maore is by far the best hotel in Baunei village (which by the way is one of the nicest places to visit in Sardinia). I stayed there in 2012 when it had just opened and loved it. Rooms are cozy and spacious, they all have an amazing view of the valley below, and the breakfast is scrumptious.
Best restaurants in Baunei
Interestingly, for as many good accommodation options there are in Baunei, there hardly is any equivalent in terms of restaurants. If eating traditional food is one of the nicest things to do in Sardinia, I advise going to Il Rifugio (mentioned above) or to look for a local shepherd – they often organize dinners for tourists.
La Pelosa is by far one of the best beaches in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Marcello Chiodino
La Pelosa (Stintino)
I go to La Pelosa once every few years, and each time I am mesmerized by its beaty. This really is one of the best beaches in Sardinia. Located at the top north west of Sardinia, La Pelosa is a fine white sand beach that offers spectacular views over Isola Piana and Asinara. A beautiful Spanish watch tower is located on the west side of the beach.
As the vast majority of Sardinia beaches, access to La Pelosa is free and the beach is fully serviced: there are several kiosks where it is possible to enjoy a drink or eat a light meal or ice cream, as well as rent umbrellas and sun beds.
Local tip: La Pelosa is possibly the most famous and photographed among Sardinia beaches. Being so popular, it also means it gets very crowded. My advice is to avoid it in the busiest summer months, and enjoy it in either early June or late September. It that is not an option, to ensure a spot on the beach either go super early or plan to go around lunch time, when at least some tourists leave to go have lunch.
How to get to La Pelosa
La Pelosa is best accessed from the nearby village of Stintino. The bad news is that those who drive there have to pay to park their car a very expensive fee (something like €2 euro per hour). The good news is that, like other Sardinia beaches, La Pelosa can be accessed by bus from Stintino.
Activities in La Pelosa
What makes La Pelosa one of Sardinia best beaches is the range of activities it offers. There, it is possible to windsurf, kayak, and even sail. Right before the access point to the beach there’s also a dive centre that goes on diving expeditions in the stunning Asinara island. Not far from La Pelosa there are a bunch of other amazing Sardinia beaches, such as Le Saline.
Where to stay in Stintino
Being one of the top places to visit in Sardinia for its amazing beaches, there’s a good selection of places to stay in Stintino that go from holiday homes to bed and breakfast to more upscale options. My choice is Amaremare, a lovely bed and breakfast managed by a dear friend. It has a gorgeous view, cozy bedrooms and a beautiful garden. Park Hotel Asinara has amazing views. Al Martin Pescatore is a good budget option nicely located in the centre of the village.
Best restaurants in Stintino
Stintino has a good selection of places to eat for all budgets. Eating seafood is one of the best things to do in Sardinia and I fully enjoyed it at a restaurant called Da Antonio.
Photos don’t do justice to Cala Sabina, one of Sardinia best beaches
Cala Sabina (Asinara National Park)
Asinara National Park would actually deserve a whole post for it is an amazing place – definitely one of the most incredible places to visit in Sardinia. Asinara is off the top north west coast of Sardinia. There are some incredible beaches there, but my favorite is Cala Sabina – which should rightly be mentioned among the best beaches in Sardinia.
What makes Cala Sabina one of the top Sardinia beaches is the incredibly clear, shallow waters, the fine white sand and the fabulous setting, completely surrounded by untouched nature. Asinara National Park is highly protected; nobody lives on the island and fishing is not allowed there.
Cala Sabina is not serviced at all, but even in the peak summer months there’s hardly anybody there so although it is one of the most amazing Sardinia beaches, chances are the few visitors will have it all for themselves.
Local tip: most people visit Asinara on day trips from either Stintino or Porto Torres and end up spending a mere 30 minutes at Cala Sabina. Yet, this is one of Sardinia best beaches and deserves way more than that. Plan to spend a night in Asinara for full enjoyment.
How to get to Cala Sabina
The island of Asinara can be reached by boat from either Stintino or Porto Torres. Once there, there is a shuttle bus that regularly goes around the island and stops in the main points of interest. There is an easy hiking trail that goes from the village of Cala d’Oliva, where the hostel is located, to Cala Sabina. It is better to wear shoes. The view of Cala Sabina from above is stunning – easy to see why it is one of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Activities in Cala Sabina and Asinara
Cala Sabina is the perfect place to relax and snorkel. Asinara Island, on the other hand, is one of the best places to visit in Sardinia, thanks to its untouched nature (it is home to sea turtles, white donkeys, foxes, boars and other animals) and amazing seas. Aside from touring the former high security prison and the sanatorium, it is possible to hike and bike around, or to go on a jeep tour around the many points of interest and beaches.
Where to stay and eat in Asinara
As one of the best places to visit in Sardinia, Asinara National Park is highly protected and the only people living on the island are the park rangers. The only accommodation option on the island is the hostel in the village of Cala d’Oliva, which has both dorms and private rooms (with shared bathrooms).
The hostel is quite basic but clean, but the location is splendid. It is the kind of place where the only noise at night is that of animals living in the wild. If one of the best things to do in Sardinia is enjoying nature, this is the place to go. The hostel also provides a (rather basic) breakfast, packed lunches and family style dinners. Don’t expect any fancy food – it is plain, but good.
Located in Costa Smeralda, Capriccioli is one of the best beaches in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Marcello Chiodino
The first time I went to Capriccioli I was only a child – my parents had taken me there during a road trip around Sardinia. I went a few more times, although it is quite far from where I live, and I concluded that this really is one of the best beaches in Sardinia. In fact, there actually are two small beaches, separated by an easily crossed rocky passageway.
Located on the north east coast of Sardinia, in the famous Costa Smeralda, what makes Capriccioli one of Sardinia best beaches is the fine white sand and the thick Mediterranean vegetation that surrounds it. The water is shallow and incredibly transparent. Both beaches are serviced and it is possible to rent umbrellas, sun beds and even kayaks.
Local tip: of the two Sardinia beaches of Capriccioli, the one to the left of the parking lot gets significantly more visitors. If caring for some quieter time (well, sort of!), opt for the other.
How to get to Capriccioli
Capriccioli can be easily reached by car from either Arzachena, Olbia and Porto Cervo. After having left the old SS 125 (along which are located some of the best beaches in Sardinia) follow SP 59 all the way to Capriccioli, where there’s a large parking lot.
Activities in Capriccioli
Capriccioli is one of the best beaches in Sardinia to go snorkeling, as its sea bed is full of life. Other than that, it is possible to rent kayaks, zodiacs and paddle boats for entertainment.
Where to stay near Capriccioli
Local laws are quite strict when protecting Sardinia beaches, and it is now forbidden to build on the coast. For this reason, there are no hotels or holiday rentals directly in Capriccioli. The best access places are Cannigione, Arzachena, San Pantaleo or the exclusive Porto Cervo, where there’s plenty of hotels, camping sites and holiday homes.
Ca’ La Somara in San Pantaleo is a fantastic property at reasonable prices, that also allows self catering. Another good option is Bed and Breakfast Yin and Yang. Cala di Volpe is a luxury property in Porto Cervo perfect for those who want to pamper themselves and have enough money to splurge.
Best restaurants around Capriccioli
Eating with a splendid view is one of the coolest things to do in Sardinia. Phi Beach in Baia Sardinia is located in a gorgeous small cove and it is a great place to enjoy a sunset drink. I recommend booking in advance. In Cannigione, Osteria Gourmet Li Finistreddi is the go to place for fish and seafood.
Beautifully isolated, Cala Coticcio is one of the most amazing Sardinia beaches – photo courtesy of Marcello Chiodino
Cala Coticcio (Caprera)
I actually haven’t been to Cala Coticcio (or perhaps I have, when I was a small child and my parents took me to Caprera, but I can’t remember). But judging from the stunning pictures that I come across on Instagram, it’s got to be one of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Cala Coticcio is located on the Maddalena archipelago, off the north east coast of Sardinia. It’s tropical look has gained it the nickname “Tahiti.” Such beautiful place is completely isolated and strictly protected, as many of Sardinia best beaches. There are no services on the island so visitors have to carry anything they may need for the day.
Local tip: Caprera is one of the top places to visit in Sardinia. I highly recommend doing a boat trip around the island to enjoy more or Sardinia beaches such as the Spiaggia del Relitto, Cala Napoletana and Cala Garibaldi. The island is also where Garibaldi, who worked towards the unification of Italy, spent his last years. His home has been turned into an excellent museum.
How to get to Cala Coticcio
As many of Sardinia best beaches, Cala Coticcio is completely isolated can be reached on boat trips leaving from either La Maddalena or Palau. Boat tours can bought online for more than reasonable prices. Alternatively, it is possible to reach La Maddalena by ferry from Palau, and reach Caprera by car or by public bus. Once in Caprera, it is possible to get to Cala Coticcio via an easy hiking trail (proper hiking shoes are necessary).
A good option if traveling in a group is to actually hire an entire zodiac with a skipper to go around the many island and thus see more Sardinia beaches. It may seem expensive but the costs can be shared and it is really worth the price
Activities in Cala Coticcio
To be honest, one doesn’t need to look for activities in Cala Coticcio. This is one of the best beaches in Sardinia for snorkeling and relaxing!
Here are some of the best tours of La Maddalena Archipelago:
Where to stay near Cala Coticcio
I’d recommend Palau as the best access point to reach Caprera to visit Cala Coticcio and other amazing Sardinia beaches, both on the archipelago and on the actual main island. La Vecchia Fonte is a good place to stay. Alternatively, opt for a holiday home such as Casa Vittoria.
Best restaurants near Cala Coticcio
Del Porticciolo is a good option for budget meals in Palau. It offers traditional Sardinian dishes, seafood and fish, and at night pizza. If splurging on food is one of the best things to do in Sardinia, La Gritta is the place to do that in Palau.
Highly protected Spiaggia Rosa in Budelli is one of Sardinia best beaches – photo courtesy of Marcello Chiodino
Spiaggia Rosa (Budelli)
Budelli is a small island part of Maddalena National Park, and is located off the north east coast of Sardinia. That’s where the Spiaggia Rosa, one of the best beaches in Sardinia, is located. Nobody lives on the island, except for its guardian – and I am sure he feels like he’s living in Paradise.
Spiaggia Rosa is an incredibly tiny and inaccessible beach characterized by pink sand. Among the many Sardinia beaches, this is perhaps the most strictly protected. Literally nobody can visit, and this is in order to preserve its beauty. However, as of summer 2017 several hiking trails allow access to the beach. The hikes are all led by local tourist guides.
Local tip: a sailing tour of the Maddalena archipelago is likely to make a stop near Spiaggia Rosa and other Sardinia beaches in the area. Disembarking may not be possible, but it is still a good way to take a look.
How to get to Spiaggia Rosa
As previously stated, Spiaggia Rosa is one of the most strictly protected Sardinian beaches. It can be seen on boat tours that leave from either La Maddalena or Palau. As of summer 2017 it is possible to get there via a guided hike that leaves from Isola Budelli.
Where to stay and eat near Spiaggia Rosa
The best access point to Budelli, Spiaggia Rosa and other fabulous Sardinia beaches in the area is either Palau, which I have mentioned above, or La Maddalena. In La Maddalena, the options vary from holiday rentals such as Casa di Susanna, to bed and breakfast such as Leonardo da Vinci or Hotel Garibaldi, to more upscale places such as Residenza Mordini. Sottovento is a good option for those wanting to eat seafood.
With such transparent waters Biderosa is bound to be among the best beaches in Sardinia
Oasi Biderosa (Orosei)
Oasi Biderosa is located on the east coast of Sardinia, at around 15 km from the lovely village Orosei. This natural park is home to some of the best beaches in Sardinia. Imagine long, white sand beaches and the clearest and cleanest shallow waters, surrounded by gorgeous, thick Mediterranean vegetation.
To preserve its beauty of the Sardinia beaches located in Biderosa and of the entire natural park, this is highly protected and access is limited to no more than 140 cars and 30 motorbikes per day. This means that contrary to some of the best beaches in Sardinia, Biderosa is practically deserted and visitors enjoy a beautifully empty beach.
The Oasis is divided in 5 smaller beaches (called Oasis). The entire Oasis stretch for about 2 km and the beaches are all linked. A lovely walk along the coast means seeing some of the best Sardinia beaches. Oasis 3 and 5 have picnic tables in the gorgeous pine forest behind; while there is a food truck (selling sandwiches, drinks and ice cream) in Oasis 4. All oasis have life guard service, sun bed rental and a toilet.
Local tip: try to avoid on windy days, as sand flies all over and it is not safe to place umbrellas. If this can’t be avoided, the pine forests provides shelter from the sun and the wind. The nearby beaches Cala Liberotto and Berchida are among the most beautiful Sardinia beaches.
How to get to Oasi Biderosa
The best access point to Oasi Biderosa is Orosei (from where it is possible to reach some other of Sardinia best beaches). Orosei can be reached from SS 131 bis and then SS 129. From Orosei, follow SS 125 until Oasi Biderosa. Once at the main gate, it is another 2 to 7 km to get to the various oasis. There’s a shuttle bus that goes from the main gate to the oasis for those who don’t have a car. As access to Biderosa is limited, it is necessary to book it in advance and visitors arriving by car are asked to be there no later than 10:00 am (or else the spot will be given to other last minute arrivals).
Activities in Oasi Biderosa
Other than toasting in the sun and enjoying the clear waters, it is possible to go on guided or self-guided hiking and biking tours of the Oasis, as well as rent kayaks – top activities to enjoy one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sardinia.
Where to stay and eat in Orosei
Since Orosei provides access to some of the best beaches in Sardinia, there is something for every budget. There are camping sites, as well as holiday homes such as Studio Mimula; “spread hotels” (where a hotel rents room across the village) such as the stylish Albergo Diffuso Mannois. I opted to stay at Kaktus, a good budget friendly option. As for restaurants, Belohorizonte is a good choice.
Ready to enjoy Sardinia beaches?
Further Information About Sardinia
When to enjoy Sardinia best beaches
Writing a post on the best beaches in Sardinia, it goes without saying that the best months to visit are the summer ones. However, these are also the busiest ones. Furthermore, keep in mind that Italians generally go on vacation in August. I’d wholeheartedly recommend to avoid traveling to Sardinia in August.
Personally, I find July to be the best month to fully enjoy Sardinia beaches: the days are still very long, the weather is dry and hot, and there’s not nearly as many tourists as in August. Alternatively, June is a good option to have long days – but the sea is still a bit cold for swimming. In September the days are shorter, but the temperature of the sea is pleasant.
Having said so, I am a big fan of Sardinia in any season, and I think there’s way more things to do in Sardinia than just going to the beach. Hiking is incredible here (and it is actually a great way to admire Sardinia beaches). There’s a wealth of archeological sites; beautiful cities and villages; good museums; traditional festivals; music festivals and what not. It’s not without reason that even D. H. Lawrence fell in love with Sardinia.
To read more about all the amazing activities Sardinia has to offer, check my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia.”Check out my post on “The Best Places In Sardinia To Discover Its History, Culture And Traditions.”
How to get to Sardinia
Sardinia is well connected to Italy, the rest of Europe and even extra European countries via either direct or connecting flights. There’s direct flights from London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and even Tel Aviv. A bunch of budget airlines fly to the three Sardinian airports (Cagliari, Alghero and Olbia) and even the most important ones such as KLM or British Airways operate seasonal flights so that people can come enjoy Sardinia beaches.
Sardinia is connected to Italy, Spain and France by ferry – a good option for those who want to take their car along to move around and enjoy all the best beaches in Sardinia. The main ports are Cagliari, Olbia and Porto Torres.
Getting around in Sardinia
The public transportation system in Sardinia is fairly decent – trains and buses connect the most important cities on the island. Blah blah car is a good system to get around. Yet, having a car is the best way to move around as it means complete freedom to reach the best beaches in Sardinia. Car rentals are available all over the island.
Another option is going around by motorbike. I admit this is one of my biggest dreams – and the views of Sardinia beaches when driving are stunning.
Have you ever been to Sardinia? Of the best beaches in Sardinia, which one did you like the most?
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Staring at an incredible view – just one of the many things to do in Sardinia
“You should really visit Sardinia,” I said to my friend Diana a few weeks ago. She was on her way to Madrid, from where she’d start traveling across Europe for roughly two months. I thought this would be her chance to finally get to the island of wonders.
“But it is winter, still. There won’t be many things to do in Sardinia now, right?” she argued.
“What?! There’s so many things to do in Sardinia, in any season!” I pointed out, frustrated to have to explain one more time that really, there are plenty of reasons to visit Sardinia outside of its amazing beaches and that yes, Sardinia has a lot to offer regardless of the weather. There I was, once again trying to debunk some of the hardest to die myths around Sardinia tourism. After all, what do I expect when most of the world doesn’t even know where Sardinia is?
Read more about Sardinia on my post “Where is Sardinia, anyways?”
A beautiful sunrise in Sardinia
Finding things to do in Sardinia – other than going to the beach
For a bunch of reasons that are too long to explain on this post, there is a common misconception about Sardinia, according to which the best things to do in Sardinia all involve a beach. Public authorities and local businesses alike have done little to change this belief, and continue investing most of their funds in summer tourism. It really is a pity though, because there is way more to Sardinia than just beaches – which, granted, are as gorgeous as it gets.
Read more on some of the best beaches in Sardinia on my post “How I got to one of the best beaches in Sardinia (and almost killed myself there).”
Sardinia tourism has already invested a lot on the gorgeous beaches to be found on the island
I have lived in Sardinia most of my life, this is what I call home and where I feel I belong and I won’t ever get tired to say that Sardinia is a great place to visit any time of the year. So there I was, yet again having to do my best to demonstrate that really, one should not limit herself to visit Sardinia only in the summer months. The thing is, I know for a fact that with a little extra effort, with even small funds invested in some good marketing campaigns and using the already existing resources in a more effective way and with a bit more vision, Sardinia tourism would thrive in any season.
Already last September I went on a mission to show another side of Sardinia, attending Autunno in Barbagia in the village Oliena. Autunno in Barbagia is a festival that spans over the course of three months across 29 villages, and which celebrates Sardinian traditions, culture and food. Back then, I insisted that there are way more things to do in Sardinia than one could ever imagine, and was glad to see that finally more effort was done to promote Sardinia tourism in the low and shoulder seasons.
Read more about things to do in Sardinia in the shoulder season on my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia.”
There’s always things to do in Sardinia, even on a gloomy day – photo courtesy of Giuseppe Mercorella (flickr)
Sardinia has all that it takes to keep its visitors entertained, whatever their interests may be. This island never stops amazing me: every time I think I got Sardinia figured out, it surprises me again with another of its many hidden treasures. Yes: there are way more things to do in Sardinia other than going to the beach and there are many more places to visit in Sardinia than just beaches.
Sardinian beaches are gorgeous, but there’s way more things to do in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Luca Manca (flickr)
In my crusade to show Diana that it is really worth to visit Sardinia throughout the year, I told her how, every time I think I have done most of the things to do in Sardinia, I realize that there is an event I have yet to attend, one that makes traveling to Sardinia worth it and a keepsake of how varied this island is. From Sartiglia – a spectacular equestrian event that takes place on the last Sunday and the last Tuesday of Carnival – in February, to Sant’Efisio – a huge parade in traditional costumes from all over the island – in May; from Berchidda jazz festival in August to the many wine and food festivals that take place all over Sardinia throughout the year (a reminder of the fantastic wines produced in the island and of its culinary traditions); from archeological sites to biking, hiking and climbing trails, I explained to my friend that there is always a good reason to visit Sardinia.
Attending the Sartiglia is one of the many things to do in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Luca Eskimo (flickr)
Read more about the many perks of Sardinia tourism on my post “Sardinia dos and donts.”
Knowing Diana is passionate about discovering new cultures and interested in nature and history, I told her that many of those who visit Sardinia find it a great destination to enjoy nature and archeology. I explained to her that population density is so low here that there are vast portions of the island still completely uninhabited, where nature rules and the only signs of life in sights are just a few shepherds whose multitude of sheep and goats herd freely.
Hiking and photography as a proof that Sardinia tourism can thrive all year long
As I told Diana, there’s no doubt that one of the best things to do in Sardinia is hiking. This is one of my favorite ways to explore a place and I regularly go hiking – hardly ever to the same place. A few days ago, my conversation with Diana almost forgotten, I joined a hiking expedition that took me all the way from Masua Pan di Zucchero, a beach on the wild South West coast of Sardinia, to Cala Domestica, another lovely beach tucked away in what almost looks like a fjord. For the duration of the hike, which was 11 exhausting and very technical km long, we walked along the coast.
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Sardinia
This wasn’t a leisurely walk at the beach – and after all, this isn’t yet the season to spend the day frying under the sun or swimming in the sea. This was a strenuous trek, with lots of steep uphills and downhills through a difficult terrain, over high cliffs, through the thick bushes of Mediterranean vegetation whose aroma was sweet and intense – something that those who visit Sardinia often find fascinating.
But I was well compensated for my efforts with some of the most incredible views I could have wished for. At every turn, the blue waters of the Mediterranean laid in front of me, stacks scattered along the coast, with Pan di Zucchero towering above the rest. And I couldn’t help stopping continuously along the way to capture them with my camera. It was just to underline yet again that one of the things to do in Sardinia is taking photos of its amazing landscapes, and to point out how photogenic Sardinia is.
Overjoyed with the spectacular views: those who visit Sardinia always enjoy hiking
Visit Sardinia to discover some unique archeological sites
“Let’s make one more effort and walk up to the tower,” suggested our guide just as we thought the hike was over, as we had finally reached Cala Domestica.
Relaxing at the beach is only one of the many things to do in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Carlos de Paz (flickr)
I was already savoring the idea of relaxing at the beach before making my way back to the village from where we had started walking, when the guide mentioned the presence of a Spanish tower that looked over the beach from the top of the hill.
“But I am exhausted,” I – as well as many others in the group – prayed.
“I promise you it is worth it. The view from up there is spectacular,” he insisted. I was intrigued: one of the best things to do in Sardinia is visiting its unique archeological sites – many of them tucked behind a gorgeous beach – and anybody who visit Sardinia would have to agree on that. So up we walked, one last effort.
An archeological site on top of a hill overlooking an incredible beach – this is what people get when they visit Sardinia
What can I say, other than the guide surely wasn’t lying? The Spanish tower stood lonely up on a hill beaten by the strong winds – surrounded by rocks and short bushes of the only plants that manage to resist the sweeping winds. The view from up there was breathtaking. After all, enjoying the spectacular landscapes is one of the most fantastic things to do in Sardinia, and I should only know it too well.
Sardinia tourism will thrive thanks to the sheer beauty of the island. This is the view from the Spanish tower of Cala Domestica
The Spanish tower of Cala Domestica was built during the Spanish domination of Sardinia and used as a watch tower, to overlook and protect the small beach below which – together with many others along the south-western coast of Sardinia – was used as a harbor for the shipment of the minerals that were extracted in the area. It was also used during World War II as an observation point.
But Cala Domestica and its tower are only one of the many places to visit in Sardinia for anybody who enjoys nature, archeology and adventure. As I stared at the spectacular view from the Spanish tower, my mind started running…
“If only people knew Sardinia is that beautiful all year long,” I thought, my mind racing to my friend and wishing he could appreciate what I was seeing.
“If only people knew how many things to do in Sardinia there are…” I wished.
Sardinia tourism could thrive in any season – photo courtesy of Giuseppe Mercorella (flickr)
And, even more so, if only I could show to as many people as possible that Sardinia tourism is active year round. Because really, putting together a passion for nature, archeology and adventure is so easy here, with so many archeological sites hiding behind amazing beaches or tucked away in thick forests; so many trails that walk along a gorgeous coast line. Indeed, one of the best things to do in Sardinia is exploring the many unique sites that are scattered across the island, and that date back to various times in history – from the nuraghe dating back to the 17th century BC to the mines along the south west coast of Sardinia (actually not far from Cala Domestica and Masua Pan di Zucchero) and that today make up the Mining Park, so unique in its value that it is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And these archeological sites are only some of the places to visit in Sardinia that have yet to become famous.
Visiting old mines now turned into museums is one of the most incredible things to do in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Ezioman (flickr)
“Are we ready to go?” soon enough, the guide interrupted my thoughts and it was finally time to get back to reality. But not before celebrating a fantastic day with a great meal, duly accompanied by some delicious Sardinian wine, just as we like doing here.
Yet more things to do in Sardinia – savoring the island
As we arrived to the restaurant, exhausted after the strenuous hike, starving and in need of a good drink, an array of appetizers was laid in front of us. Beautifully grilled vegetables, cold cuts and cheeses, olives, stuffed breads such as coccoi prena. And then the pasta came – a selection of malloreddus (Sardinian gnocchi) with a rich sausage and tomato sauce served with grated pecorino cheese; and culurgiones, a ravioli style pasta stuffed with potatoes, mint and cheese and served plainly boiled with grated pecorino cheese.
Tasting culurgiones: one of the top things to do in Sardinia – photo courtesy of Pasqualino Piludu (flickr)
As if this was not enough, the feast went on and we were served the slowly roasted suckling pig – so delicious it melted in my mouth. And to conclude, we got a mix traditional Sardinian sweets. All of this was served with a great cannonau wine – one of the best known indigenous grapes. It was a feast for the eyes and even more so for our taste buds. No wonder people who visit Sardinia are always impressed with the food.
Sardinian food is based on fresh ingredients – shopping for them is one of the coolest things to do in Sardinia
Most of the food in Sardinia is prepared using strictly seasonal local ingredients of the best quality. It’s not surprising then that everything here is just so delicious – so much so that Sardinia tourism is slowly placing more focus on eno-gastronomy. One of the best things to do in Sardinia is taking part in food and wine tours that travel across the island to awaken the taste buds of tourists, unveil the secrets of some of the best local recipes and with that give a lot of insights into Sardinian traditions and culture.
It’s always time to visit Sardinia
On the bus that took me home that night, phone at hand, I resumed the conversation with my friend Diana. I sent her some of the amazing pictures I took that day and she was truly impressed with what she was seeing.
“Are you still convinced that there are no things to do in Sardinia at this time of year?” I joked.
Relaxing at the beach after a strenuous hike – one of the things to do in Sardinia
Needless to say, Diana has finally made up her mind and she will visit Sardinia soon. I promised her that I will take her around to some of the best places to visit in Sardinia. I suppose that, like her, more and more people are finally understanding that there are many things to do in Sardinia all year long – thanks to the work of some visionary and passionate people (no bragging, I promise!) who regularly take on the difficult task of spreading the word about the many reasons to visit Sardinia.
Filling the gaps of Sardinia tourism
Not only that. There actually are a few, yet very reliable people who work in the tourism industry who have noticed the existence of a gap in what Sardinia tourism has to offer and are working hard to fill in that gap and invest in alternative forms of tourism – involving traveling to off the beaten path places, biking, photography workshops and food and wine tours – to entertain visitors all year long.
Bird watching is one of the best things to do in Sardinia: pink flamingoes nestle on the island – photo courtesy of Michele Fadda (flickr)
There are many young travel professionals who aim to share the vibes of the island of wonders with anybody who loves nature and wildlife (Sardinia is a paradise for bird watchers!), adventure, archeology, culture, music, food and wine through itineraries that have been carefully crafted with the help of local experts. These people strive to inspire travelers to experience the other (many) sides of Sardinia that don’t necessarily involve Sardinian gorgeous beaches because these are already well-known. The idea is to show that there are way more things to do in Sardinia other than going to the beach.
Gaveena strives to promote Sardinia tourism to off the beaten path places, such as the lovely Bosa – photo courtesy of Antonio Romano Liscia (flickr)
While all tours look interesting to me, photography tours are particularly intriguing since, as of late, despite being a total amateur, I am enjoying experimenting with pictures, exposition and post-production. There would be nothing better than discovering some of the most beautiful villages in Sardinia, some of the places to visit in Sardinia that are off the beaten path, as well as some fantastic archeological sites and natural reserves, experiencing some of the best events on the island and are gorging on the delicious local food and wine. And to think that all of this would occur in the company of a professional travel and landscape photographer who would be available to provide tips on how to take good photographs and who would have some sessions on image analysis and post-processing!
Would you like to visit Sardinia? What are the things to do in Sardinia that you look forward to the most?
One of the biggest misconceptions of the tourism industry is that some regions of the world are meant to be visited during a specific and limited season, or else travelers should be ready to face bad weather, hurricanes, heavy rains, cold temperatures and the overall inability to visit what seemingly are the only tourist attractions in the area. This would mean that Costa Rica should not be visited between April and October (although the best time to spot turtles is actually July or August); that Cuba should be avoided in September (despite the fact that hurricanes hardly hit it) and that Sardinia is best visited between June and September to properly enjoy its amazing beaches.
I enjoy debunking myths, which is why I can’t help but point out that there are many things to do in Sardinia that actually do not involve laying in the sun all day. Although Sardinia tourism is mostly centered in the summer months, and despite being the biggest fan of Sardinia beaches, I often recommend travelers to visit Sardinia during the fall months in order to put together the most varied trip.
Find out more things to do in Sardinia on my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia.”
It is during the fall that Sardinia shows its visitors and its inhabitants the multiple aspects of its millenary and unique identity. That’s when it flourishes with the sound of the music and singing that accompanies the traditional ritual dances; the flavours of its traditional food and of its delicious wines; the soft noise of the traditional weaving; and the concentrated faces of men who craft the traditional jewels. There is no better time to immerse oneself and fully experience the identity of Sardinia than the fall. In fact, among one of my favourite things to do in Sardinia is participating at one of the regular Autunno in Barbagia events. “Autunno” means fall, and Barbagia is one of the most beautiful mountainous regions of Sardinia, a gorgeous chain with high peaks, forests, canyons (Gorropu is the deepest canyon in Europe), caves and small villages scattered around.
Good news! There are other things to do in Sardinia other than going to the beach
Debunking the myth: there actually are things to do in Sardinia during the fall and winter months!
In 1996, for the first time in Barbagia, the municipality of Oliena organised an event, called Cortes Apertas – literally translated it means “open courtyards”. Historic homes opened up their courtyards and visitors could take a journey through the artistic expressions, the food and wine, and the traditions of the village. The success of the event was such that the local tourism board did not take long to understand the great potential to generate a good and steady revenue. It was visionary enough to see that Sardinia could profit from tourism and create long term employment opportunities that could stretch far beyond those of seasonal work.
Sardinia tourism goes well beyond summer time
It was finally time to take the challenge and prove that Sardinia tourism can flourish year round, and that the territory has much more to offer than just splendid beaches. There are so many things to do in Sardinia that it is reasonable to believe that its attractions can be a source of income all year long, and that a return to the customs and traditional occupations is perhaps the key to lead the region towards a more sustainable development, one that respects the territory, the culture and the people and that, in a region where unemployment and poverty are the biggest social evils, can finally lead out of the financial crisis that hit it badly.
The way out of the financial crisis? A clever use of Sardinia tourism industry
With this in mind, Cuore della Sardegna (Heart of Sardinia) saw its birth in 1997 to coordinate the promotion of tourism in the region. In 2001 it favoured the cooperation and coordination between the tourism board and a multitude of villages in Barbagia, thus leading to the first edition of Autunno in Barbagia in 2001.
But Cuore della Sardegna doesn’t just strive to promote Autunno in Barbagia and encourage visits of the villages that are involved in the festival. One of its aims is to show that Sardinia tourism can thrive all year long, that among the places to visit in Sardinia there also are archeological and natural sites, that it is possible to visit Sardinia on a limited budget too and that there are things to do in Sardinia to keep visitors busy and engaged throughout the year.
Things to do in Sardinia: enjoy Autunno in Barbagia
As I have already pointed out, Autunno in Barbagia is a series of festivals that, starting from the first weekend of September (when, truth be told, the weather in Sardinia is still perfect to enjoy a day at the beach!) and ending in December, involve 28 villages. It is like a moving exhibition, that hops from village to village, and where each one of the 28 participating communities gets to showcase some of its peculiarities, its traditional costumes, its crafts. It is a feast of local customs.
This lovely old lady tried to talk to me – too bad I don’t speak her variety of Sardinian. Perhaps learning how to speak Sardinian properly is one of the the things to do in Sardinia?
Not to mention, there is lots of delicious traditional food involved (I really enjoy the cheese, bread and pasta-making workshops) and even though I am not much of a foodie, I am not one to miss an opportunity to sample some of Sardinia delicacies.
This is to say, I love this kind of cultural events and that is why I did not think about it twice to say yes when I was asked to attend Cortes Apertas in Oliena. This little town of less than 8000 people is famous for the peak of Monte Corrasi, a limestone summit easily visible from the village that glows in the dusky light. It is also known for its Nepente, a Cannonau wine famously loved by Italian writer, poet, journalist, playwright and World War I soldier Gabriele D’Annunzio. Not to mention Oliena is also the birthplace of Gianfranco Zola, Sardinian favourite football player in England.
Waiting in line to enjoy a sample of Nepente – tasting wine is one of the things to do in Sardinia. Can you spot me?
Little did I know then that I, a Sardinian born and raised girl who often brags about knowing most of the hidden secrets of her region, would learn that there are so many more things to do in Sardinia than anybody could possibly conceive.
Sardinian women are strong and proud – visit Sardinia to check
When in the early hours of Saturday my friend Alessandro picked me up in his camping car and we made our way to Oliena, I was not sure what to expect of the weekend that was ahead of me. It didn’t take us long to realise that Cortes Apertas in Oliena is one of the most popular events of Autunno in Barbagia, as we saw many buses on the motorway, all packed with people traveling from the main cities. Sardinians are unique in this sense: they travel the world far and wide, but they are so proud of their land that they love to visit Sardinia and being tourists in their own region.
Lots of people attend Cortes Apertas in Oliena: it is one of the things to do in Sardinia!
The multitude of people that attend Autunno in Barbagia may be a deterrent to some visitors who may consider it as too much of a touristy thing to do. Yet, the fact that most of those who go are actually Sardinians makes it such that it still feels like a very real, local experience. This also gives an idea of how varied Sardinian culture is: each village has its embroidery style, its own way of preparing the same food (which is inevitably the best one), its local dialect (one of the many varieties of Sardinian, the minority language that is spoken all over the island); each is unique in its own way, so much so that Sardinians feel the urge to roam their island to unveil its well kept secrets.
However, before actually reaching Oliena, we opted for a brief detour and got off the beaten path to explore some of Sardinia’s unique archeological and natural sites. That’s how we discovered some places that I had not even heard of before (shame on me) and that very few actually visit.
Where to go in Sardinia to get off the beaten path: the mountains and sites of Barbagia
Sardinia is packed with archeological sites and one of the things to do in Sardinia is exploring them. A few of them are well known and get a fair share of visitors. They even are included among the UNESCO World Heritage sites for their uniqueness. Others, on the other hand, are more difficult to spot and reach and they are hardly mentioned in tourist guides. They are the kind of places that only the people living in the area know about and are able to point at. Not far from Nuoro – Barbagia’s main city – and right outside the pretty village of Dorgali (easy access to more well known sites such as Tiscali and to some of Sardinia’s most amazing hikes such as that to Gorropu Canyon), there is the a scarcely known archeological site, S’Ena ‘e Thomes, that is hard to find but worth visiting.
Looking for a unique experience? One of the things to do in Sardinia is visiting its “secret” archeological sites – this is S’Ena ‘e Thomes
When we got there through a local’s tip, I realized I had actually driven past it a dozen times without ever noticing it, so well hidden it is – once again the confirmation that Barbagia is where to go in Sardinia to get off the beaten path. S’Ena ‘e Thomes is known as a giants’ tomb which, according to legend, was indeed built by giants. The site is actually located in the land belonging to a local shepherd, and in fact there is little more than a sign at its entrance and a warning to visitors to keep the gate shut to stop grazing animals from escaping.
The site has been hardly explored and its main feature is a stelae of about 4 meters, around which the tomb (of about 11 meters diameter) was built. The surroundings are stunning: countryside and mountains offer a spectacular view of one of the best places to visit in Sardinia.
I often say that one of the things to do in Sardinia is enjoying its many hiking trails. Valle di Lanaittu, not far from Oliena, is one of the places to visit in Sardinia to get close to nature. It is a karst valley of about 8 km which is best explored hiking or cycling, and where one can forget about the stresses of daily life. I would have loved to camp here for a night or two with Follow the Sun Sardinia camping car, to just listen to the sound of nature and admire the starry sky – and my friend’s camping car would have been perfect for that (it’s top opens up to reveal a tent – with a real mattress – that sleeps two persons, and there is all the necessary gear to be location independent, such as a small stove, a sink and even a fridge).
One of the best ways to visit Sardinia is via a camping car – perfect to be 100% location independent
But we were tight on time so we just decided to drive through Valle di Lanaittu. Yet we were able to appreciate the thick vegetation and crips and clean air. This is an area where the most famous Sardinian banditi (bandits) would easily hide, as it is scattered with caves such as the Grotta Rifugio (which was used by the Bonu Ighinu people as a burial ground between 4700 and 4000 BC), the Grotta del Guano, where cooking utensils and ceramics dating back to a period between 3800 and 2900 BC were found, and the Grotta Sa Oche e Su Ventu, two caves linked through a natural siphon. There also are a multitude of other caves that are best explored by speleologists and in fact one of the things to do in Sardinia is speleology (including underwater speleology) and many people visit Sardinia just for that.
One of the best things to do in Sardinia is enjoying its nature
Driving through Valle di Lanaittu, we got to the stunning and very isolated archeological site of Sa Sedda ‘e Sos Carros. This consists of a series of nuraghe huts (buildings which are unique to Sardinia) built around a temple of an evocative cult of sacred waters performed during the Nuragic age, between 1300 and 900 BC. The entrance ticket, which includes a visit to the caves and to the archeological site, costs a more than reasonable €10. We were fortunate to have a guide explain us the main features of the site, and in fact I do recommend hiring one to get a better understanding of the relevance and history of the sites.
A glimpse of a possible future for Sardinia tourism – learning from the past
Once we finally made it to Oliena in the early afternoon of Saturday, we understood why this is one of the most popular villages among those that participate in Autunno in Barbagia. The atmosphere was simply fantastic, confirming once again that attending village festivals is one of the things to do in Sardinia. Men, women and children proudly walked around wearing the symbols of their identity, parading in their traditional costumes, some so richly embroidered that, as an embroider explained us, may well cost over €5000 (the average time needed to embroider a muccadori, the showl worn during festivities, is about 3 months).
Women and children wear the traditional costumes: Sardinia tourism will benefit from a return to traditions
A traditional wedding was celebrated in the main church, beautifully adorned for the occasion. Among the various rituals, the bride and the groom kneel in front of their mothers, who pray for them and then move on to break plates in a noisy yet amusing ceremony.
One of the most interesting things to do in Sardinia is seeing a traditional wedding ceremony
The exhibit in the town hall showed a collection of incredibly intricate traditional jewels, from the buttons used to close the vests, to the earrings, the rings and the rosaries offered to brides and the traditional toothpick which is more a work of art than a utensil. Traditional music was played at every street corner.
Embroidery of a “muccadori” – one of the things to do in Sardinia is admiring its traditional crafts
The locals gladly engaged with the visitors, showing them how cheese is made, explaining the secrets to bake a perfect panedda, a bread that has a shape similar to pita bread but a completely different taste, or to fry a good sebadas, a thin pastry filled with mild cheese, fried and served hot, topped with one of the local honeys. They offered samples of the delicious local wine and oil. There also were many places to eat at very convenient prices (from as cheap as €5 for pasta and a glass of wine). One of the things to do in Sardinia is eating the delicious food and I surely did not want to miss on that.
One of the things to do in Sardinia is learning how traditional bread is made
The success of Autunno in Barbagia, the magic atmosphere we experienced, the traditions, the stunning archeological sites, the beautiful surroundings once more confirmed that there are things to do in Sardinia throughout the year, that is it worth to visit Sardinia even in the shoulder season and that Sardinia tourism can actually thrive thanks to its traditions. I was more than happy to see that Sardinians strive to preserve and protect their cultural identity and that are investing on it as a real economic resource.
A child cracks open a bunch of almonds which will be used to prepare traditional sweets – visit Sardinia to learn how they are made!
Have you ever been to Sardinia during the fall or winter? Have you been to one of its festivals? What did you like the most about it?
A huge thank you goes to my dear friend Alessandro Abis for joining me on this adventure and sharing his amazing pictures with me.
We Sardinians are very proud people. We are completely, deeply, madly in love with our land to the point that we have a saying according to which when God created paradise he actually ended up creating Sardinia. Yes, it is a gorgeous place and many a visitor find it so. I have heard people stepping to a beach here say “I want to die here” or “I want to stay here forever”. Even my father, who’s not originally Sardinian, once here decided to never leave. You can figure out the story, right?
I had to show my Sardinian pride even when I was in Chile!
But, can you figure out where Sardinia is? Because really, not many people outside the Mediterranean region actually know it. And when they do know where it is, they have no idea what it is all about, what it is like, what we Sardinians look like and how we live. Not even my very Italian grandmother knew it, and according to legend, when she came to Sardinia for her son’s (my dad) wedding, she got off the ferry that brought her here, she looked around and apparently exclaimed: “Oh, so you do have streets!”
That’s where Sardinia is – photo courtesy of http://www.freelargeimages.com/
Yes, Sardinia is an almost mythical land. It is Italy, but not really Italy. Sardinians are Italian on paper, and we do speak Italian, but next to that we also speak Sardinian, which by the way is not a dialect but a fully fledged minority language (don’t ever dare asking a Sardinian if we do have our own dialect!), as well as Catalan (the same they speak in Barcelona) in some areas in the North of the island. But we are different. We feel different. So different that when we go to Italy we call it “the continent” (AKA Europe) and as soon as we set foot there we feel like we are in a different country altogether. Mind you, it also goes the other way around: Italians visit Sardinia and they do get the same impression. It’s the same country but the vibes are different, the people are different and the atmosphere is different.
How can anybody ignore Sardinia?
So, imagine how frustrating it is for us to find out that not everybody in the world knows how amazing Sardinia is, and that in fact the majority of the world doesn’t even have a remote idea of where it is. Because really, most people don’t know (and why would they? I am terribly ignorant when it comes to the world, a gap in my knowledge that I am filling in through travelling). When I am travelling and get to meet other people – at times locals, at times other travellers – I normally have conversations where one of the first question we ask each other is “where are you from?” Then I say I am from Italy. This obviously prompts the next question, because well, everyone knows where Italy is, right? That’s when I drop the bomb and say I am from Cagliari, Sardinia. The look I get in return is a blank face, much like this
Sardinia? What? Where? – photo courtesy of Brian Talbot (flickr)
Then a number of questions follow: is that near Rome/Milan/Venice? Is that North or South? Next on, the comments on mafia, which by the way is meant to be Sicilian (that means, not Sardinian), but actually exists all over the world (Shantaram and the Bombay mafia docet). Then I eventually hear the “oooooh, beautifuuuuul!” exclamation, which translates into a “I have no idea where that is, but I will say it is beautiful just in case”.
Yes, Sardinia IS beautiful
Where is Sardinia, anyways?
However, the funniest “where the hell is Sardinia” anecdote that I have to date is one that dates back to the year 2001, when I was studying at the University of Denver, Colorado. I was sitting at the library, with another Italian friend. We were talking, perhaps a bit too loudly, so a lady nearby could hear us and realise we were not from the US. She was delighted to hear us speaking Italian, and thus she sat by us. She had been to Italy the previous summer and she was keen to tell us how amazing she thought it is. She then asked us where we were from. My friend replied he’s from Bologna, and it turned out this lovely lady had been there and could even remember some of the landmarks of the city. She then looked at me and when I said I am from Cagliari, Sardinia, she gave me the blank face and said: “ooooh, beautifuuuuul!” – as good measure.
Would you dare to say Sardinia is not beautiful?
But I felt like being a bit mean that day (shame on me!). So, although I knew she had no idea where Sardinia was on the map, I asked her if she had been there. She hadn’t, she said. But she quickly added that she and her husband drove by it once. That’s when I returned the blank look. What? I then told her Sardinia is actually an island. That’s when she asked me if I was sure. In an effort not to explode in laughter, I replied I was quite sure, since I grew up there. That’s when she gave up, but not before adding that in fact they did take the ferry to it one day to visit for a few hours. Pity was, as I explained, that it takes 13 hours to get to Sardinia by ferry from mainland Italy (FYI, nowadays there are faster ferries that take around 4 or 5 hours too), so it would be highly unlikely that she had been there for a few hours. She finally stated she had never been to Sardinia!
People from Latin American countries actually have a better idea of where Sardinia is. No, it is not that they are genius at geography or that they have all travelled there – although maybe some have. It is thanks to their passion (or rather obsession) for football. Even in the most remote places in Honduras, Panama, and Colombia the receptionist of the hostel where I had just arrived happily returned my passport to enumerate the various football players from their home country that in better times (when Cagliari was a team worth following) have played in Sardinia.
What’s the big deal then?
What makes me – and many other Sardinians, bloggers or not – a bit sad is that most people visiting Italy for the first time, or returning there, skip Sardinia altogether. They don’t know where it is, they don’t know what’s in it and they don’t think it is worth visiting. Besides, those who actually know about Sardinia are convinced that it is too expensive to travel here. It really is a pity, because Sardinia has a lot to offer to travellers, whether they are flashpackers who only have a few days to enjoy its beauty, backpackers who have a limited budget, people who can afford a more luxurious vacation, adventure seekers, nature lovers and even family with small children.
Sardinia is special in any season. It is perfect during the summer, when it is possible to enjoy its gorgeous beaches (where access is free, by the way!) and swim in its incredibly crystal clear waters.
Swimming in the clear waters of Sardinia is great in the summer
It is great during the spring, fall and winter, when we have lots of wine and food festivals, lots of cultural events like the Sartiglia (the carnival) in Oristano or the Sant’Efisio parade in Cagliari, and it is time to enjoy some of the best hikes in Europe.
Find out more things to do in Sardinia on my post “A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia.”
A lovely couple proudly parades on Sant’Efisio day – photo courtesy of Marcello Treglia
It has beautiful cities and villages.
Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is full of charme
Bosa is one of the prettiest villages in Sardinia
There are unique archeological sites that won’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Nuraghe archeological sites such as that of Barumini are unique to Sardinia
Its food is delicious. Its people reserved yet warm and welcoming.
Sardinia may have some faults (who doesn’t?) but don’t be surprised in finding that only Sardinians are allowed to talk about them and to criticise Sardinia.
So, now that you know where Sardinia is, don’t make the mistake of not visiting!
Have you been to Sardinia? What did you like the most about it?