North or South Sardinia?
Find out the main differences between the northern and southern coast of the Island
From North to South, the island has some common traits: crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches, a delicious cuisine and an ancient wine culture, welcoming tourist towns and inner areas where old traditions are still alive. But Sardinia is a large region. The coastline changes continuously and towns and tourist destinations are quite different from each other.
The maximum distance from North to South is the one from Capo Falcone, in the extreme northern tip of Sardinia, to Capo Teulada, in the south of the island: about 270 kms. From West to East, there is a maximum distance of 145 kms from Capo Comino to Capo dell'Argentiera. The latter is much closer to the North African coast than to Italy.
Sardinia extends for 24,090 km² and as to size is similar to the German Federal state of Brandeburg, to the Italian region of Lombardy, to the French region of Brittany or to the US State of Maryland.
The coastline in the North of the island is much more indented then in the South. There are many small rocky bays and coves and only a few long sandy beaches. The North Eastern part is mountainous, while and the Gallura subregion is characterized by granite cliffs.
In Northeast Sardinia, each village and tourist destination has its own peculiarities: the Costa Smeralda is characterized by a crystal clear sea and a glamorous atmosphere. The La Maddalena Archipelago features a stunning sea and breathtaking views. Santa Teresa Gallura is the closest town to Corsica. Here you can take a ferry to visit Bonifacio.
Driving along the North-western coast of Sardinia, you find Isola Rossa, Stintino and Alghero. These are the most popular tourist destinations, not only for the beaches (which are growing longer every year), but also for the lively nightlife, especially on July and August.
What to see in northern Sardinia
- The Archipelago of La Maddalena
- Dreamy islands and beaches ideal for snorkelling. We recommend the Island of Caprera and the Pink Beach (Budelli) a La Maddalena.
- A fortified hamlet with brightly coloured houses and a medieval castle perched on a black rock.
- Arzachena and the Tombs of the Giants
- In the locality Coddu ‘Ecchiu there are sepulchres of large size of nuraghic origin, the tallest in Sardinia.
- The lighthouse of Capo Testa
- In the vicinity of Santa Teresa di Gallura there is a truly unique site, surrounded by a rocky shelf with enormous smooth granite blocks shaped by wind and wave. Ideal to enjoy the dawn or sunset. For a beach in the area we suggest Cala Spinosa.
- Porto Torres
- Not to be missed are the Roman remains, including the bridge and baths of Maetzke.
- The Asinara
- An ideal island and nature park for trekking, snorkelling or a day on the beach. Ferry boats take you each day to the island; a beach we strongly recommend is La Pelosa.
- A coastal city worth a visit for the medieval Basilica of San Simplicio and a sea front with many cafés and restaurants. For those keen on archaeology, the Olbia Museum offers war ships and remains of nuraghic civilisation.
Where to stay in Northern Sardinia
The inland of the Southern part of the island is dominated by a vast green plain called Campidano. The shoreline here is more heterogeneous. The coast is quite regular and it features many long sandy beaches, less crowded than in the North, even during the high season.
Many beaches in Sardinia are so spectacular that recall those of the Caribbean islands. Cagliari, the capital city of Sardinia, is located right in the middle of the Southern coast. Both East and West of Cagliari there are some wonderful beach resorts, such as Chia and Santa Margherita di Pula to the West, and Villasimius, Costa Rei and Ogliastra to the East.
What to see in Southern Sardinia
- A city rich in churches and historic buildings, museums and parks. Don’t miss the Torre dell’Elefante and the Sanctuary of our Lady of Bonaria
- Villasimius and Costa Rei
- Great stretches of white beaches on the south-east coast.
- Pula and the Roman ruins of Nora
- An ancient city founded by the Pheonicians, this hamlet is a complex of churches, noble buildings, watch towers on the sea front and dreamy beaches.
- An ideal place thanks to its natural beauties – islets such as Su cardulinu and coastal wetlands where visitors can admire the pink flamingos.
- The mine by the sea of Porto Flavia
- Situated in the south western portion of Sardinia, it is set in on a rocky shelf and is now open to visitors.
- The Castle of Acquafredda
- Situated near Cagliari, the ruins of this fortress are set against a rocky backdrop – easily reached with a brief trek.
- Nuraghe of Barumini or “Su Nuraxi”
- Amongst the largest nuraghic villages on the island – it reveals the remains of a fortification.
Your travel style
To sum up, there is no doubt about the beauty of the sea and the beaches in the whole island, but before choosing where to spend your holidays, there is one fundamental question you have to ask yourself: what kind of holiday are you looking for?
If you are looking for a glamorous holiday in a luxury hotel, the Costa Smeralda is the right place for you. If you wish to find peace and quiet and less crowded beaches, you can choose among many resorts in the North, which have just what you need.
If you love hiking, snorkeling and bike tours and you want experience an active holiday in order to to explore a different bay everyday and walking in the mountains, the Ogliastra region is your goal. It is located in Central Eastern Sardinia and it is considered as an “island in the island”.
Both the Southern and Northern beaches, with fine sand and shallow waters, are perfect for a family holiday. You can find several children friendly hotels with services and activities dedicated to small guests. Furthermore, the Sardinia Family Hotels are usually placed at a short distance from small towns and beach resorts with nice restaurants, lovely shops and boutiques.
In order to discover the most traditional and fascinating side of the island you might explore the central part of Sardinia or choose to visit the island during the low and mid season.
If you are travelling with children, choose one of our Budget Family Resorts in Sardinia.