If you’re looking for a beach holiday in Italy, your destination has to be no other than Sardinia. As the second largest island in the Med and surrounded by azure blue waters, Sardinia is an island paradise which offers beautiful beaches, a world of outdoor adventures and timeless historical charm. This autonomous island off the Italian peninsula is divided into four provinces, each one interesting and unique, and each one dotted with archaeological remains which are the window into the country’s faraway past. And with hot summers and mild winters, this island is wonderful any time of year.
Visit Sardinia on your next Italian break and enjoy some of the best kept secrets in Europe; picture-perfect beaches, breathtaking nature, beautiful Bronze Age architecture, and ageless Sardinian cuisine which takes a lead from old, Italian recipes. Browse the very best in Sardinia villas with Bridgewater.
Getting to Sardinia is easy and convenient. The island attracts visitors from other parts of Italy as well as international travellers every single year. You can travel to Sardinia by flying or by ferry.
Airports in Sardinia
There are three international airports on the island of Sardinia; Alghero-Fertilia Airport in the north, Costa Smeralda Airport in the city of Olbia, and Cagliari-Elmas Airport near the island’s capital of Cagliari. The three major airports are connected with destinations across Europe including Spain, Germany and the UK.
Arriving by Ferry
Ports on the island include Cagliari, Olbia, Golfo Aranci, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Porto Torres, Palau and Arbatax. The ferry links service all regions of Italy and a few recommended ferry companies are Tirrenia (Italy’s main ferry company), Grandi Navi Veloci (Italy’s luxury ferry company), Moby Lines, Sardinia Ferries and Saremar.
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Top Ten Things to Do – Your Sardinia Villa Holiday
The ‘Nuraghe’ is the main kind of ancient megalithic edifice found on the island of Sardinia and the Nuraghe of Barumini is the most well preserved of the 7,000 structures from the Nuragic Age spread across this part of Italy. Cited as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nuraghe of Barumini is an iconic symbol of Sardinia and a must-see tourist attraction.
This famous seaside town is a defining area of Sardinia. Named the “secret seaside” of the vast island by Telegraph Travel, Cala Gonone is one of the best lesser known beach resorts. With spectacular mountain backdrops, your seaside experience here will be one like no other.
Voted the ‘Travellers’ Choice Winner’ on Trip Advisor in 2014, Cala Goloritz is one of the better known beach resorts of Sardinia. This little piece of paradise boasts bright turquoise waters, dramatic limestone cliffs and a number of national parks nearby which are all worth exploring.
This hilltop castle is the most iconic structure of Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital. Overlooking the rest of the city, and with great views of the sea, the castle is home to a university, cathedral and museums.
There is so much to do and see in Cagliari. The capital is filled with exciting tourist attractions but no visit to this municipality is complete without experiencing the electric atmosphere of Piazza Yenne. It’s a local meeting place which lights up at night.
In the northern part of the island is Costa Smeralda, quite possibly Sardinia’s most desirable coastal resort. Costa Smeralda is a beach lover’s paradise, with around 20km of white, powdery beaches. Costa Smeralda is the Italian equivalent of St. Tropez, offering a choice of prestigious golf clubs, luxury hotels and villas, and a view of millionaires’ yachts dotting the harbour. Brimming with celebrities and an affluent crowd, dining out can be pricey but everywhere you go the service will be nothing short of excellent.
The striking city of Olbia is in the north eastern part of Sardinia and often overlooked by travellers heading to Costa Smeralda for white sandy beaches. But this lesser known coastal city is a Sardinian treasure that has all the beauty of Smeralda yet the charm of the south. With an international airport, Olbia is one of the most accessible cities of Sardinia; it’s the perfect base for those looking to explore the northern coast as well as other coastal communes such as San Teodoro, Golfo Aranci or Posada.
For some outdoor adventure, head to “Europe’s Grand Canyon”, Su Gorropu Gorge. Despite the appeal of kicking back at the flawless beaches, locals will insist that the only way to truly experience Sardinia’s coast is to hike. And the Su Gorropu Gorge in the Parco Nazionale del Gennargentu (along the eastern coast), is one of the top natural sites for hikers. Make your base at Cala Gonone and take a few days to explore the beautiful national park.
Explore Sardinia’s Roman Catholic history in the religious administration of Alghero e Bosa. For history buffs or practicing Catholics, this Roman Catholic diocese under the rule of a bishop is an interesting and peaceful destination. Alghero e Bosa can be reached by bus; it has some wonderful religious architecture and monuments, and offers fantastic views of the sea.
Off the northern coast, the Maddalena Archipelago entices holiday makers with low-key tourism and crystal clear waters. Escape the glitz and glam of the Costa Smeralda and explore the smaller islands of the Maddalena Archipelago. The 7 major islands are Isola Maddalena, Caprera, Budelli, Santo Stefano, Santa Maria, Spargi and Razzoli but there are 55 other small islands which complete the group.
Like the rest of Italy, Sardinia boasts pleasantly hot summers and mild winters. If you’re a sun worshipper, you will have the opportunity to enjoy great weather throughout the long summer season. Famed for its ‘six month summers’, Sardinia is the ultimate hot weather destination, with July and August seeing temperatures of 30°C or more. If you prefer a more comfortable climate, spring is the optimum time to visit.
Autumn begins in October and waters remain warm enough to swim in until November time. The highest levels of rainfall are in the winter months of December and January, with very slim chances of thunderstorms during the hotter months.
Regional Food & Wine
Some people may characterise Sardinia’s regional food by its most extreme dishes – Casu Marzu and Sardinian blood soup – but there’s so much more to the island than just maggot-ridden cheeses and gory broths. Sardinian cuisine can often be hard to define as the dishes vary across the provinces of the island but one thing remains the same throughout; the unmistakeable Sardinian style of cooking which hasn’t strayed far from ancient times.
Sardinian cooking takes influences from its ancient roots of agro-pastoral ingredients and later developments with fishing and coastal flavours. Delicious dishes include the Maialetto roasted piglet which is famous worldwide, Spaghittus cun Cancioffa e Bottariga which is served with dried salted fish eggs, the classic Sa Fregola con Vongole soup made with clams to give a real flavour of the island, or the surprisingly tasty Sa Cordula made from lamb’s intestines.
Sardinia Wine Region
To Italy’s frequent travellers, Sardinia is perhaps the lesser known region. Which makes wine tasting in Sardinia all the more exciting. With its warm climate, volcanic soil and hilly landscapes, Sardinia is the perfect breeding ground for delicious grapes and today, the island is one of the most innovative areas for wine production.
Cannonau di Sardegna is a signature red which can’t be found outside of Sardinia – so this is a truly unique wine tasting experience. Other great reds include the rich and spicy Cantina Santadi ‘Terre Brune’, Cantine Argiolas (Turriga), or the full bodied Alberto Loi Riserva. Lovely whites to try are Capichera, the light and refreshing Canayli Vermentino, or Ramandolo.
Sardinian cuisine is an eclectic mix of land and sea. Although the dishes vary across the provinces, the distinctive Sardinian flavours are apparent in every meal. Much of the island’s cooking is descended from old-age recipes and this time-honoured style of cooking makes it almost impossible to have a bad meal in Sardinia. From Cagliari in the south to Olbia in the north, cafes and restaurants all serve up fresh, delicious and authentic Italian dishes. Here are a few recommended restaurants.
Antico Caffè 1855 (Cagliari)
Eating in the capital is a diverse and exciting experience. For something true to the island’s history, a visit to Antico Caffe 1855 is a must. Established back in 1855 like its namesake, Antico Caffe is an ode to the past. For decades, this has been a meeting place for locals and today it offers a restaurant, wine bar, cocktail bar, tea room and a patisserie to cater for food and drink cravings at any time of day.
Ristorante Dal Corsaro (Cagliari)
Ristorante Dal Corsaro in the capital is a refined yet casual affair. With simple yet elegant interiors, this family run restaurant offers the sophistication of high-end dining and the warmth of a family business. Close to the marina, this is the perfect place for seafood. Other dishes to try include the fantastic beetroot risotto and the restaurant’s delicious squid starter.
Ristorante Borgo Antico (Alghero)
In the religious commune of Alghero, you can find this fabulous restaurant with charming food and attractively low prices. If you want to escape the glamorous waterfront establishments of the Costa Smeralda, grab a table at the Ristorante Borgo Antica in Alghero e Bosa and enjoy the unfussy service and relaxed dining atmosphere.
Blue Restaurant (Olbia)
Facing the bay of Golfo Aranci, this high-end restaurant in Olbia is a popular place for stylish, affluent crowds. Rub shoulders with the rich and famous and enjoy contemporary twists on regional dishes such as Catalan style spiny-lobster, Dentex steak with baked pumpkin and Pennyroyal oil, or tonnarelli pasta served with rabbit ragout.
Corso Dodici (Cagliari)
The perfect place for young travellers, Corso Dodici is an affordable yet stylish restaurant. Located right in the heart of the city centre, it’s close to bars and cafes for a lively atmosphere. Corso Dodici is furnished with traditional wood and a stylish parquet floor, and the menu is simple yet satisfying.
Much like the locals telling you that the only way to truly discover the Sardinian coast is by hiking, the only way to fully understand Sardinian culture is to do as the locals do. And what better way to live like a local than to attend a festival? Here are some fantastic annual events that could really enhance your holiday experience in Sardinia.
Sardinia Day in Cagliari (28th April)
The annual celebration of Sardinia takes place every April when the long summer season starts to run its course. This folk festival brings together Sardinian locals to celebrate the release of Sardinia from Piedmont control in 1794.
Sant Efisio in Cagliari (May)
Shortly after Sardinia Day, Sant Efisio will depend upon the capital. This is one of the most important traditional festivals of the island. This four day food festival celebrates being rescued from the 1652 plague by a saint, and each year sees a lively procession in the streets of Cagliari.
Cavalcata Sarda in Sassari (May)
Watch as a procession of over 3,000 horses dressed in traditional costumes take to the streets in Sassari. There will also be a number of horse-riding events across the area for locals and visitors who want to get involved in the island’s celebrations.
Cherries Festival in Belvi (June)
In the province of Nuoro is the small village of Belvi. In this quaint part of the island, the Cherries Festival takes place every June when the weather is approaching the height of summer. Promoting cherries from the Gennargentu area, this festival celebrates with the production of delicious fruit pastries and other sweet treats. A superb festival for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Sardinia Reggae Festival in Cargeghe (August)
For music lovers, the Sardinia Reggae Festival is a must. Taking place every year in August, this energetic festival in Cargeghe (Sassari) aims to showcase some of the country’s best reggae acts. Reggae artists from Sardinia and beyond perform during the 4 day event and crowds of all ages can enjoy all-day and all-night dancing on the beach.
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