Sardinia is a hidden treasure in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s a stunning destination that captivates visitors with its breathtaking landscapes and beaches but also for its fascinating history.
Surfing took me to that Italian island, but what I found there was the perfect blend of nature, culture and, of course, delicious Italian cuisine.
In this article, I will take you on a journey through the most stunning places in Sardinia, revealing their history, points of interest, and what makes each place unique. So get ready to fall in love with this fantastic destination!
- Alghero: Immerse Yourself in History and Scenic Beauty
- Bosa: Be Charmed by the Medieval Spirit
- Cabras: Explore Ancient Ruins and Coastal Beauty
- Oristano: Discover its Historical Importance
- Barumini: The Fascination of Nuraghe Su Nuraxi
- Iglesias: Rich History and Enchanting Landmarks
- Cagliari: A Dive into the History and Life of the Capital of Sardinia
- Nuoro: Culture and Tradition in the Midst of the Mountains of Sardinia
- Orosei: Unveiling the Beauty of the Gulf
- Olbia: Gateway to the Emerald Coast
- The Emerald Coast: The Epitome of Coastal Beauty
- Castelsardo: A Window to the Past
- Stintino: The Magic of Spiaggia La Pelosa
Sardinia: what to visit
Alghero: Immerse Yourself in History and Scenic Beauty
Let’s start with the coastal town of Alghero, the one that was my entry point into Sardinia.
Known as “Barceloneta” because of its strong Catalan influence, Alghero is a mix of cultures and traditions.
While exploring the city, you’ll discover narrow, winding streets, medieval buildings, and a vibrant atmosphere.
Must-sees are the Cathedral of Santa Maria, a stunning Catalan Gothic building, and the Tower of San Giovanni, which offers a panoramic view of the city.
The port of Alghero is one of the liveliest places in the city, as it’s full of seaside cafes and restaurants where you can taste delicious Sardinian food. It’s the perfect place to end your day of sightseeing.
Bosa: Be Charmed by the Medieval Spirit
Heading south from Alghero, about 50 km, along a road that begins right away to unveil the coastal beauty of this island, we arrive in the picturesque town of Bosa.
Bosa’s well-preserved medieval atmosphere gives it a special charm, transporting visitors back in time. The narrow, winding streets of the town are lined with colorful houses that create a charming setting.
The Castello Malaspina, a 12th-century fortress, dominates the town, and the Bosa Cathedral, which houses beautiful frescoes, are two of the key places to visit, but be sure to spend some time on one of the terraces on the main street. Sip a coffee or enjoy an ice cream while watching the bustle of people passing by and the typical ways of the locals.
Also, peek at the Temo River, the only navigable river in Sardinia.
Cabras: Explore Ancient Ruins and Coastal Beauty
As we travel south on the map, just before reaching Oristano, we arrive at Cabras.
The town provides a unique glimpse into traditional Sardinian life. Cabras is known for its fishing heritage, and it proudly displays a picturesque waterfront adorned with colorful fishing boats. While strolling along the promenade, you can immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere and even catch a glimpse of local fishermen bringing in their daily catch.
A short distance from Cabras, we find the ancient Phoenician and Roman city of Tharros. It perches on a peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This archaeological site showcases remarkably preserved ruins, including ancient city walls, thermal baths, temples, and a stunning Roman amphitheater. As you explore the site, you can vividly imagine the bustling life that once thrived in this coastal settlement.
Tharros also treats visitors to breathtaking views of the surrounding coastline, characterized by rugged cliffs, secluded coves, and pristine beaches. Take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty and tranquility of the area.
Oristano: Discover its Historical Importance
Continuing our journey through Sardinia, we arrive in Oristano, a town that carries with it a great historical component. Founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, Oristano was a prosperous town during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
In a stroll through the center, you’ll uncover the Torre di San Cristoforo, an impressive example of medieval architecture, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, a magnificent Gothic-Aragonese building. Other places to stop are the Piazza Eleonora d’Arborea and the San Francesco Church.
If your visit to Sardinia coincides with Carnival, Oristano is definitely a place to visit. During that time, the traditional “Sa Sartiglia” festival brings together riders who demonstrate their equestrian skills in an exciting event.
Barumini: The Fascination of Nuraghe Su Nuraxi
As we continue south, let’s briefly detour inland to Barumini. It is there that we find an archaeological treasure called Nuraghe Su Nuraxi.
This ancient prehistoric structure exemplifies the impressive Nuragic culture that flourished in Sardinia thousands of years ago.
The Nuraghe Su Nuraxi is a tower-shaped stone complex that served as a fortress and residence and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A visit to this site is essential to understand the rich history and heritage of the Italian island. So take a guided tour through one of the most amazing settlements in prehistoric Sardinia.
Iglesias: Rich History and Enchanting Landmarks
Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of southwestern Sardinia, the city of Iglesias beckons visitors with its rich history and captivating landmarks. Founded in the 13th century, Iglesias owes its name to the numerous churches that dot its charming streets. In this medieval town you’re going to found a timeless charm, with its narrow alleys, ancient walls, and well-preserved architecture.
Some of the attractions in Iglesias are the Cathedral of Santa Chiara, a imposing Gothic-style church, the Iglesias Museum of Mining, located in a former mine building, and the picturesque Piazza Sella, a lively square surrounded by colorful buildings and bustling cafes.
Just a short drive away from Iglesias, you’ll arrive at Spiaggia di Piscinas, a enormous stretch of sand flanked by rolling dunes.
Cagliari: A Dive into the History and Life of the Capital of Sardinia
Following this itinerary to Sardinia, we come to the capital, Cagliari.
Cagliari sits on the southern coast as a lively city that perfectly combines history and modern urban life.
While exploring Cagliari, you’ll encounter a fascinating mix of historic buildings, such as Santa Maria Cathedral and the Torre dell’Elefante, with cafes, fashionable stores and a vibrant cultural scene.
Make sure to walk through the Castello district, where narrow streets and panoramic city views await.
Of course, like any other capital city, Cagliari is also where you will find the largest influx of visitors. One of the main reasons is that Sardinia’s main airport is in the area.
Don’t leave the area without visiting (and perhaps taking a dip in) Poetto Beach, the longest stretch of sand in the region and where you’ll find many hotels, bars, and restaurants.
Nuoro: Culture and Tradition in the Midst of the Mountains of Sardinia
Our next stop on this adventure is Nuoro, a town in the heart of the Sardinian mountains. The town is known as the island’s cultural centre, home to renowned Sardinian artists, writers and musicians.
Some of the points of interest in Nuoro include the Sardinian Ethnographic Museum, which displays Sardinia’s rich cultural heritage, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria della Neve, a neoclassical-style church.
About 7 km east of Nuoro is the granite peak of Monte Ortobene. This place, covered by dense woods and topped by a bronze statue of the Redeemer, is a popular picnic spot. Mount Ortobene is also the center of Nuoro’s annual Sagra del Redentore festival.
Orosei: Unveiling the Beauty of the Gulf
After reaching the island’s east coast, let’s head to Orosei. This coastal town grants access to the magnificent Gulf of Orosei. The gulf is a true paradise for nature lovers, with crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. This is also one of the favorite destinations for those visiting Sardinia in the summer months or traveling by boat.
Therefore, Marina di Orosei is one of the main points of interest, from which you can explore beautiful coves and secluded beaches along the coast, such as Cala Luna and Cala Goloritzé.
So be sure to take a boat trip to admire the impressive rock formations and crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Orosei.
Olbia: Gateway to the Emerald Coast
Continuing our exploration, we arrive in Olbia, a coastal town located in northeastern Sardinia. In the city, you can visit the Basilica of San Simplicio and the center filled with stores, restaurants and cafes.
But the real charm lies beyond the town, as Olbia serves as the gateway to the stunning Emerald Coast, a region known for its breathtaking beaches.
The Emerald Coast: The Epitome of Coastal Beauty
The Emerald Coast is one of Sardinia’s great attractions, encompassing an area that stretches along the island’s northeast coast.
With its crystal clear waters and stunning beaches, a seaside trip through this region unveils a true paradise for sun and sea lovers.
Be sure to peek at Capriccioli Beach’s stunning coves and rock formations and Porto Cervo, known for its marinas and nightlife.
The Emerald Coast is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the beach, and admire Sardinia’s natural beauty.
Castelsardo: A Window to the Past
After touring the Emerald Coast, the journey takes us north to visit Castelsardo, a town on a hill overlooking the sea. With its cobblestone streets, medieval buildings, and breathtaking panoramic views, Castelsardo is a real treasure trove, and anyone who sees it from afar will feel like a pirate.
The highlight of Castelsardo is the Castello dei Doria, an imposing medieval fortress that houses the Museu dell’Intreccio Mediterraneo, dedicated to the tradition of weaving in Sardinia.
While exploring the town, you’ll discover craft stores where you can purchase unique handmade products, such as wicker baskets and traditional pottery.
Stintino: The Magic of Spiaggia La Pelosa
We reached the end of our trip, but not before making our first stop in Stintino, a coastal town in the far northwest of Sardinia. Here we find the stunning Spiaggia La Pelosa, one of the island’s most famous and picturesque beaches. With crystal-clear turquoise waters and snow-white sand, this beach is a true travel postcard.
While relaxing at Spiaggia La Pelosa, you can enjoy panoramic views of the sea and Piana Island while admiring the ancient Tower of La Pelosa, a watchtower dating back to the 16th century.
Going to Sardinia? Don’t forget your travel insurance!
The Gastronomy of Sardinia
Sardinian cuisine is a unique gastronomic experience that combines Mediterranean influences and ancient traditions. Using fresh ingredients and authentic flavors, Sardinian food is known for its simplicity and intense flavor.
A highlight of the local cuisine is the variety of seafood-based dishes, such as lobster, sea urchin, and octopus, caught daily in the island’s waters.
Special Sardinian dishes include “Porceddu”, a slow-roasted suckling pig seasoned with aromatic herbs, and “Culurgiones”, a pasta filled with potatoes, pecorino cheese, and mint, served with a homemade tomato sauce.
To taste these dishes and explore the richness of Sardinian cuisine, visit the traditional agriturismos. These family farms serve meals prepared with locally grown ingredients. In addition, seaside restaurants in coastal towns such as Alghero, Cagliari, and Olbia offer various fresh and delicious dishes.
Be sure to also try the “pecorino” cheeses, such as the famous “Fiore Sardo”, and local wines, such as “Cannonau”, a full-bodied and aromatic red wine.
Sardinian cuisine is a true celebration of authentic flavors and local traditions. As you explore the island, you can immerse yourself in this rich culinary tradition and discover the pleasures of Sardinian food in every mouthful.
Getting to Sardinia
There are three main airports for entering Sardinia:
- Cagliari Mario Mameli Airport (CAG): This is the main airport in Sardinia and receives domestic and international flights.
- Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (OLB): The best option for those visiting the island’s northwest, namely the Costa Esmeralda.
- Riviera del Corallo International Airport (AHO): Also known as Alghero Airport, this is the smallest airport on the island, but ideal if you visit Sardinia’s center or northwest coast.
Once in Sardinia, the best way to visit the island is by renting a car, allowing you to move around freely and flexibly to discover Sardinia’s hidden treasures.
In addition, Sardinia is a relatively large island, and many of its points of interest are scattered in different regions. With a car, you can easily move from one town to another, explore picturesque villages, visit remote archaeological sites, and enjoy the most secluded and unspoiled beaches.
Sardinia is a magical destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture and natural beauty. From the medieval charms of Alghero to the stunning Spiaggia La Pelosa in Stintino, each place reveals a different part of this Italian island’s rich heritage and stunning landscape.
If you are planning your vacation in Sardinia, be prepared to marvel at its cities, heavenly beaches and the warm welcome of the Sardinians.
So enjoy your trip and create unforgettable memories in this Mediterranean paradise!
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