Top 15 things to do and see in Sardinia
Sardinia is well-known as a paradise in the heart of the Mediterranean. Obviously, its sunny coasts and its white and sandy beaches are the main tourist attractions, but there is a endless list of places and facets to discover in Sardinia. The Top 15 Sardinian places is a list of not-to-be-missed places during a holiday in the Island. They are all ideal for a stay either as a couple or with the family, although some excursions might prove to be a bit tiring for the tiny tots. They are all ideal for a stay as a couple or for a family holiday in Sardinia, although some excursions might prove rather tiring for the tiny tots.
1) Giara of Gesturi and Nuraghe of Barumini
The Giara, located in the center-east of Sardinia, hosts a rare herd existing in Italy and in Europe of little wild horses and a park with cork oaks forests and Mediterranean maquis. This area is well known also for its archaeological monuments such as the famous Barumini nuraghe, so called “Su Nuraxi” declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The nuraghes are defensive towers to be found throughout the island, marked by their truncated cone shape and built with great blocks of roughly hewn stone, using the dry-stone technique. The nuraghi are defensive towers found throughout the island and are marked by their truncated cone shape; they are constructed in huge stone blocks according to the dry stone technique.
Where to sleep? Antica Locanda Lunetta (Mandas)
2) Maddalena Archipelago
Consisting of 7 major islands, Maddalena Archipelago is another Unesco World heritage (declared in 1994) of Sardinia. Its waters are clear and clean, and each year welcome snorkelling buffs in search of the unspoilt seabed of the Mediterranean. Full day or half day boat excursions are organized: they allow you to visit some small beaches and coves only reachable by boat, whose nature is still preserved and whose beauty is breathtaking. These tours usually include visits to the Island of Spargi; Budelli, where you can admire the famous pink beach; S.Maria; Caprera and finally La Maddalena. Alternatively you can rent a car on the Island of La Maddalena for an independent and adventurous tour of the local beaches. Lovers of pure and pristine sea can choose to stay at the 5-star Grand Hotel Ma&Ma, in the south-west coast of the island, at 350 meters far from the sea. Otherwise, for a more private and secluded stay, La Casitta is the right choice. Offering a familiar and attentive service, it is one of the few villas in the small island of Santa Maria.
3) Chia beach
Dominated by the homonym tower, visible by all its beaches, Chia owes its popularity to the transparency of its waters, which bathe the coast of Chia for about6 Km. In Chia area you can also visit the archaeological site of Nora, of punic origins, considered the most ancient village of Sardinia. Chia area reaches Capo Spartivento, the second most southern point of Sardinia, where is located the spectacular Faro di Capo Spartivento, a lighthouse – still working - turned into luxury Guesthouse.
4) Gulf Of Orosei
The Gulf of Orosei, in central-eastern Sardinia is one of the most beautiful spot in Sardinia. Famous for the Bue Marino Caves, made of stalactites and stalagmites that reflects in the water giving us amazing trick of the light. There are some countries along the coast known for their gastronomic products, handicrafts and archaeological areas such as Tiscali and Serra Orrios, the karst area called Supramonte, the forests of Suttaterra and Ghivine on the sea slopes of Supramonte; the Cedrino river; the canyon of Su Gorroppu , the deepest one in Sardinia and one of the deepest in Europe, finally you can enjoy a spectacular seascape (Cala Mariolu, Cala Sisine, Cala Goloritzè, Cala Biriola, Cala Fuili, Cala Luna).
Situated on the north west coast, Alghero still shows traces of its Catalan past, whose use has been preserved in the variant of the “algherese”, and spoken nowadays in a small percentage. The town boasts a striking Gothic-style historic center with the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Guillot Palace and the 14th-century Church of San Francesco, the Coral Museum and a long natural bay overlooking the emerald sea.
Situated on the north west coast, it has the romantic charm of the river cities and a lot of traditions still alive. The historic district of the city worthwhile to visit, made by colorful houses that climb the hill on the side. The top of the hill is dominated by the Malaspina Castle, so called by the Tuscan family who built it up in the XII century. The Castle can be seen from the historic Ponte Vecchio of Bosa, considered one of the 30 most beautiful bridges in Italy.
Where to sleep? Corte Fiorita (Bosa)
7) Neptune Caves
The most popular caves of Sardinia find in Alghero and are dedicated to the sea God Neptune. They extend for some 6 km and have been dug out over thousands of years by freshwater. They are both reachable via ferry boat and through a 600 steps staircase, offering stunning views over the sea and the coast.
8) Murales of Orgosolo and Mamoiada Museum
Mamoiada and Orgosolo are two traditional Sardinian places located in the heart of the island, the region called Barbagia, in the Province of Nuoro. Orgosolo is well-known for its wonderful Murales (about 150), while Mamoiada for its traditional carnival masks: you can discover all them and much more visiting the Mediterranean masks museum of the town.
Where to sleep? Hotel Su Gologone (Oliena)
It has about 6.400 inhabitants and is the only municipality of the Island of S. Pietro, in the south-western coast of Sardinia. A quiet and lovely place, with small pretty beaches and charming narrow streets, a own dialect which is a variant of Ligurian language, testimony of its history, unique in Sardinia.
Where to sleep? Hotel Riviera
10) Bastion of Saint Remy, Cagliari
Overlooking the city is the ancient area of Castello, a fortified medieval hilltop neighborhood situated uphill from the rest of the city. Also really important are the historical neighborhoods of Stampace (area of bourgeois and merchant), the Marina (area of fishermen and sailors) and Villanova (area of shepherds and farmers). The Bastion of Saint Remy is one of the symbols of the city, situated in the area of Castello, from its terrace you can enjoy a beautiful view of the city and the underlying charming marina. Among the attractions: the Cathedral of Cagliari of the XIII century, the National Archaeological Museum which exhibits artefacts from the Nuragic Age to the Byzantine era, Roman ceramics and also you can’t miss The Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria. Among the archaeological sites worthy of note are the Roman Amphitheater and finally the Poetto, the beach of the city that stretches for about 8 kilometers, starting from the panoramic promontory of La Sella del Diavolo.
The town of Castelsardo is a charming medieval village included among “The most beautiful villages in Italy”. From the top of Doria Castle, which dominates the town, you will enjoy exciting views over the gulf of Asinara.
Where to sleep? Bajaloglia Resort (Castelsardo)
One of the most favorite towns in the South of Sardinia popular for its renowned resorts and long white sand beaches with crystal clear waters, coves and a landscape covered in the Mediterranean scrub. Villasimius doubles its population in the summer time. Among the most beautiful beaches you will have Porto sa Ruxi, Campus and Campulongu, La Spiaggia del Riso (so called just because of the "beans" that make it up), Cala Caterina, the enchanting Porto Giunco, the wonderful Punta Molentis and the pink flamingos flying above the blue and clear sea of this miraculous seaside pearl of South Sardinia.
13) Island of Tavolara - Capo Coda Cavallo
Capo Coda Cavallo, in north-eastern Sardinia - Gallura, is a promontory of granite land jutting above coastline in a stretch of sea sheltered by the majestic island of Tavolara, the rocks of Molara and the isle of Proratora. It is a 15,000 hectares of protected marine area, that has conserved its environmental heritage and the fish fauna due to the difficulties in reaching the place. The protected natural marine area of Punta Coda Cavallo is composed of many inlets with cliffs and sandy beaches immersed in the Mediterranean scrub that releases intense aromas; worth to see the beach of La Cinta developing for about 5 kilometers with a very white sand. The marine area of Tavolara-Capo Coda Cavallo is ideal for diving.
14) Sinis peninsula - Tharros
The ancient settlement of Tharros is situated at the southern edge of the Sinis peninsula. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century B.C. near a pre-existing nuragic village from the Bronze Age, it suffered under Carthaginian first then Roman dominations, and finally fell under the Vandals and the Byzantines dominations. A gradual decay led to the abandonment of the site around the year 1050 A.D. The area is like an open-air museum that stands overlooking the sea: ancient streets, houses, shops from the Roman era, the temple and the necropolis are among the ruins that the Sinis Peninsula offers us. You can also visit the small early Christian church of San Giovanni situated nearby Tharros village.
15) Costa Verde - Marina di Arbus
In the South-West of Sardinia, among mounts and shrubs shaped by the wind, in the wildest and most isolated Sardinia, an imposing coastline develops for about 47 kilometers: this is the mighty Costa Verde. A succession of pristine beaches such as Piscinas – with the highest sand dunes in Europe – cliffs that burst deep into a green waters sea, so loved by the most daring surfers. You will be amazed by the fantastic sunsets along this coast, where your eyes get lost in a strong elation for the sky turning into pink. Marina di Arbus is not just about the sea: there is the declared archaeological mining site of Montevecchio and also Bugerru, Ingurtosu plus the one of Porto Flavia in Masua. You can’t miss the sea stacks of Pan di Zucchero and the defensive Tower of Torre dei Corsari. In the village of Arbus you’ll find the Knife Museum, which has the heaviest flick-knife in the world.
Where to sleep? Le Dune Piscinas
Sardinia is an ideal holiday destination thanks to its splendid beaches and great historical, cultural and natural heritage. Visitors can cross the island from the North (Santa Teresa di Gallura) to the South (Chia) by car in 5 hours, taking the cross-island highway known as the “Carlo Felice”.
The ideal is to concentrate on those localities near your accommodation – don’t miss at least one of the following
The best ancient hamlets of Sardinia are:
The best archaeological sites in Sardinia are:
- The Nuragic village of Su Nuraxi (Barumini)
- The ruins of Tharros, a coastal town founded by the Phoenicians, near Oristano
- The Sacred Well of Santa Cristina
- The archaeological complex of Pranu Muttedu, with the highest concentration of menhirs and megaliths on the island
- The petrified forest of Martis
The best beaches in Sardinia are:
- Cala Mariolu - Punta Ispulgi - Baunei - Ogliastra
- Cala Spinosa - Santa Teresa Gallura – Olbia-Tempio
- Cala Coticcio - Isola di Caprera – Olbia-Tempio
- Tuerredda - Teulada – Cagliari
- La Pelosa - Stintino – Sassari
- Solanas - Sinnai – Cagliari
- Scoglio di Peppino - Castiadas – Cagliari
- Rena Majori- località Rena Majore, Aglientu – Olbia-Tempio
- Cala Goloritzé - Baunei – Ogliastra
- Cala Domestica - Buggerru – Carbonia-Iglesias
- Su Giudeu - Chia, località Capo Spartivento – Cagliari
- Spiaggia Rosa Budelli - Arcipelago di La Maddalena – Olbia-Tempio
- Punta Molentis - Villasimius – Cagliari
- Cala Brandinchi - San Teodoro – Olbia-Tempio
- Porto Giunco - Villasimius – Cagliari
Romantic places suggested for couples in Sardinia are:
- Capo Testa
- The beaches of Villasimius and Chia
- Costa Smeralda
- Santa Teresa di Gallura
- Mine of Masua: Porto Flavia
Places suggested for family vacation visits are:
- The beaches of Villasimius
- Nuraghe Su Nuraxi
- The Archaeological Museum of Cagliari
- Orgosolo, the city of Murales (mural paintings)