I’m thrilled to take you on an exhilarating journey to the stunning island of Sardinia in Italy. Some close friends and I embarked on an unforgettable adventure to celebrate my best man’s bachelor party, and let me tell you, this Mediterranean gem surpassed all expectations!
Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia beckons with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and a rich tapestry of cultural delights. From the moment we touched down on this idyllic island, we were captivated by its beauty and charm. In our comprehensive travel guide below, you’ll find everything you need to embark on your own extraordinary journey to Sardinia. From insider tips and handpicked attractions to hidden gems and cultural delights, we have crafted this guide with the same passion and care that fueled our unforgettable adventure.
Table of Contents
- EU citizens can travel to Italy with their ID. For other nationalities, please check the necessary travel documents for your country and destination here.
- Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is an Italian gem renowned for its natural beauty and cultural riches.
- Sardinia’s population is approximately 1.6 million, and its official language is Italian. However, in some regions, you may also encounter Sardinian, a distinct Romance language.
- The main international airports are Cagliari-Elmas Airport, Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport and Alghero-Fertilia Airport. For available flights and prices, see here.
- The island is rich in history, with traces of ancient civilizations evident in its archaeological sites and ruins, such as the Nuragic complexes, ancient stone structures unique to Sardinia.
- Sardinia’s captivating flag features a white background with a red cross and four Moor’s heads in each corner, symbolizing the island’s historical ties to the Moors.
- Currency-wise, Sardinia, being part of Italy, uses the Euro (€) as its official currency. Stay up to date with currency exchange rate changes through XE Currency Converter.
- As you venture through Sardinia, you’ll savor the island’s delectable cuisine, which showcases its bountiful seafood, traditional pasta dishes, and unique local cheeses.
- The island also takes pride in its vibrant festivals, including the renowned Sardinian Carnival and the “Cavalcata Sarda,” a colorful horse parade celebrating Sardinian traditions and heritage.
- Italy is part of the EU, which means that free roaming applies to Europeans. However, be aware of your data package limits. For non-EU citizens, it is recommended to check with your mobile provider for roaming charges. If you travel often you may get a ‘surfroam’ sim card, which is recommended for global internet at a low cost. For more info see here.
Getting to and around Sardinia is an exciting part of your adventure, offering various options to suit your preferences and budget. As you arrive on this captivating island, you’ll find several transportation choices to explore its natural wonders and cultural treasures.
Transfer from airport
For travellers arriving in Sardinia, the main international airports are Cagliari-Elmas Airport in the south, Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport in the northeast, and Alghero-Fertilia Airport in the northwest. From these airports, you have convenient options to reach your destination.
Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the airport terminals, providing a comfortable and efficient way to reach your accommodation. The journey from the airports to the city centers takes around 20-30 minutes, and fares may vary based on the distance and time of day.
Bus: Another excellent choice is the public transportation system. Sardinia offers bus services connecting major airports to various locations on the island. Buses are a cost-effective option and you can purchase tickets directly at the airport or online.
Train: Train services are available in certain regions of Sardinia, providing scenic journeys through picturesque landscapes. While train connections may not be available from all airports, they offer a unique travel experience when accessible. More specifically for trains, the following apply.
Cagliari Elmas Airport (CAG): The airport is connected to the city center of Cagliari by train. You can take the Trenitalia train service from the airport to Cagliari Central Station, and from there, you can explore the city and its surroundings. The train journey provides a convenient and cost-effective way to reach your accommodation in Cagliari.
Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (OLB): Olbia Airport is well-connected to the city of Olbia and other parts of the island. While there isn’t a direct train connection from the airport, you can take a bus or taxi to Olbia’s train station, which is located within the city. From there, you can use the train service to reach other destinations on the island.
Alghero-Fertilia Airport (AHO): Alghero Airport is located near Alghero, and it offers various transportation options to the city center and beyond. While there isn’t a direct train connection from the airport, you can use buses or taxis to reach Alghero’s train station. From there, you can travel by train to other parts of Sardinia
If you prefer a more personalized transfer experience, consider private airport transfer services. These can be pre-arranged online, offering convenience and flexibility to tailor your journey according to your needs.
Transportation within the Island
Sardinia offers a variety of transportation options to explore its enchanting landscapes and vibrant towns. Whether you prefer to navigate its winding streets by public transit or embark on your own adventures, the island has something for everyone.
Public Transportation: Sardinia boasts an efficient public transportation network that includes buses connecting major towns and tourist destinations. ARST is the primary bus operator on the island, offering regular and reliable services to various locations. Tickets can be purchased directly from the driver or at designated ticket counters.
Trains are also available in certain regions, providing scenic journeys through picturesque landscapes. While train connections may not cover the entire island, they offer a unique way to explore specific areas.
Car Rentals: For those seeking independence and flexibility, car rentals are a popular choice on the island. Many rental agencies operate throughout Sardinia, allowing travellers to discover hidden gems at their own pace. Driving through the rugged countryside and along the breathtaking coastal roads is an adventure in itself.
Cycling: Sardinia’s captivating scenery and mild climate make it an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts. You can explore the island’s beauty on two wheels and discover remote beaches, quaint villages, and lush countryside. Some tourist areas offer bike rentals, allowing you to pedal through Sardinia’s picturesque landscapes.
Walking: Embrace the joy of discovery by exploring Sardinia on foot. The island is peppered with charming streets, historic alleys, and scenic trails, making it a walker’s paradise. Many attractions and local hotspots are easily accessible by foot, inviting you to immerse yourself in the island’s authentic charm.
Ferries: As an island, Sardinia is well-connected by ferry services to other parts of Italy and nearby islands. If you’re planning to island-hop or explore coastal regions, ferries offer a scenic and enjoyable means of travel.
What to do in Sardinia
Alghero is a captivating coastal town that offers a delightful mix of history, natural beauty, and Mediterranean charm. With its medieval old town, adorned with narrow cobbled streets and ancient walls, Alghero exudes a unique Catalan influence, evident in its architecture, culture, and language.
One of the town’s major highlights is its stunning coastline, featuring golden sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. The famous Maria Pia Beach, nestled amidst lush pine forests, beckons visitors with its serene beauty and opportunities for sunbathing and water sports. For a more secluded beach experience, head to the enchanting Mugoni Beach, known for its tranquil ambiance and breathtaking views.
Alghero’s rich history is visible in its well-preserved landmarks, such as the imposing Alghero Cathedral, a splendid example of Catalan-Gothic architecture. Take a stroll along the ancient city walls to soak in panoramic vistas of the azure sea and the charming town below. Delight in Alghero’s culinary treasures, where fresh seafood takes center stage in mouthwatering dishes like “Bottarga” (cured fish roe) and “Paella Algherese,” a delectable seafood rice dish with a Catalan twist. Don’t miss out on savoring the town’s renowned coral red lobster, a true gastronomic delight.
In the evenings, the captivating blend of history and modernity comes alive in Alghero’s lively squares and vibrant streets. Enjoy a relaxing sunset promenade along the seafront promenade, followed by an evening of sipping local wines and enjoying live music at one of the cozy bars or tavernas. For nature enthusiasts, Alghero serves as an ideal base to explore the surrounding natural wonders, such as the awe-inspiring Neptune’s Grotto (Grotta di Nettuno) and the scenic Capo Caccia cliffs, offering breathtaking views over the sea.
The capital city of Sardinia! Start your journey by wandering through the historic Castello district, perched on a hill overlooking the city. Marvel at the well-preserved Cagliari Cathedral, a stunning example of Romanesque architecture, and take in breathtaking panoramas of the city and sea from the Bastione San Remy.
Step back in time at the Roman Amphitheatre, where you can imagine the grand spectacles that once took place in this ancient arena. Nearby, the Archaeological Museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts that offer insights into the island’s ancient past.
As you venture down to the lively Marina district, soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the bustling streets lined with colorful buildings, charming cafes, and quaint boutiques. Don’t miss a visit to the Mercato di San Benedetto, a bustling food market where you can savor the flavors of Sardinian cuisine.
Cagliari’s coastline beckons with stunning beaches, such as Poetto Beach, stretching for miles along the azure waters. Relax on its soft sands, take a dip in the inviting sea, or indulge in water sports like windsurfing and kiteboarding. For a touch of serenity, head to the Molentargius-Saline Regional Park, a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. The park is home to pink flamingos and various bird species, thriving in the saline ponds.
In the evening, Cagliari comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. Sample local wines and delicacies at the lively bars and trattorias scattered throughout the city. The Piazza Yenne is a popular spot for socializing and people-watching.
Visit Porto Cervo
A glamorous gem on the stunning shores of the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia. This enchanting destination exudes luxury, sophistication and natural beauty, making it a favorite playground for the jet-set crowd and discerning travellers alike. As you arrive in Porto Cervo, you’ll be captivated by the pristine turquoise waters, powdery white-sand beaches and lush Mediterranean landscapes that surround you. The village itself is a masterpiece of Italian architecture, boasting chic boutiques, high-end restaurants, and elegant hotels.
Indulge in a stroll along the picturesque marina, where sleek yachts from around the world dock, creating a scene straight out of a postcard. Savor the fresh sea breeze as you take in the mesmerizing views of the coastline and surrounding hills. For those seeking relaxation and serenity, Porto Cervo offers a plethora of luxurious beach clubs and exclusive resorts. Lounge on the sun-kissed shores of Liscia Ruja Beach, bask in the tranquillity of Capriccioli Beach or explore the hidden coves and secluded bays dotted along the coast.
Food lovers will be delighted by the diverse culinary scene of Porto Cervo. Savor the fresh catch of the day at waterfront seafood restaurants or indulge in traditional Sardinian dishes bursting with flavors. For a touch of sophistication, dine at Michelin-starred restaurants offering exquisite gastronomic experiences. As the sun sets over the Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo comes alive with a vibrant nightlife. Trendy bars and chic clubs offer the perfect setting for sipping cocktails and dancing the night away under the starlit sky.
Explore the Costa Smeralda
Translated as the “Emerald Coast,” this stunning region lives up to its name with its breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and crystal-clear waters. The Costa Smeralda is a paradise for beach lovers, boasting some of the most pristine and idyllic beaches in the Mediterranean. Fine, powdery sands meet the gentle lapping waves, inviting you to soak up the sun and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze. Whether you choose to relax on the famous beaches of Liscia Ruja, Capriccioli, or Cala di Volpe, each moment spent on these shores is pure bliss.
Beyond its stunning coastline, the Costa Smeralda offers a wealth of activities and experiences to suit every traveler’s desires. Adventure seekers can explore the rugged beauty of the nearby islands of Caprera and Maddalena, where hiking trails and hidden coves await discovery. For water enthusiasts, the azure waters of the Costa Smeralda offer a playground for various activities, including snorkeling, diving, and sailing. Embark on a boat tour to uncover the secret gems of the coastline and witness the region’s extraordinary marine life.
Indulge in the local Sardinian cuisine at charming seaside trattorias and elegant restaurants, where the flavors of the Mediterranean come alive. Taste the freshest seafood, complemented by local produce and traditional dishes that will leave a lasting impression on your palate.
Discover the Nuragic Complexes
Sardinia is home to several remarkable Nuragic complexes, fascinating archaeological sites built by the ancient Nuragic civilization. Among them, Su Nuraxi di Barumini stands out and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These ancient stone structures, dating back over 3,000 years, provide an intriguing glimpse into Sardinia’s prehistoric past. Exploring the Nuragic complexes is a captivating journey through history, offering a deeper understanding of the island’s cultural heritage.
Experience the Maddalena Archipelago
The Maddalena Archipelago is a breathtaking island group situated off the northeastern coast of Sardinia. It is composed of seven main islands and numerous smaller islets, forming a mesmerizing natural wonder in the Mediterranean Sea. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and rugged landscapes, the Maddalena Archipelago is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy activities such as snorkeling, diving, sailing, and hiking to explore the pristine beauty of this protected marine park. The archipelago offers a serene escape from the bustling world, providing an unforgettable experience for those seeking tranquility and natural splendor.
Gennargentu National Park & Gola di Gorropu
Gennargentu National Park is a vast protected area in Sardinia, Italy, covering a large portion of the island’s central and eastern regions. It is the largest national park in Sardinia and offers diverse landscapes, including rugged mountains, deep valleys and lush forests. The park is home to a rich variety of wildlife and plant species, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers.
Gola di Gorropu, on the other hand, is a spectacular canyon located within the Gennargentu National Park. It is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Europe” due to its impressive size and dramatic rock formations. The canyon was formed by the Flumineddu River, which carved its way through the limestone over millions of years. Gola di Gorropu is a natural wonder and a must-visit attraction for adventure seekers and hikers looking to explore its awe-inspiring beauty.
Immerse in Local Festivals
Experience the vibrant culture of Sardinia by joining in the island’s traditional festivals. Celebrate the colorful Sartiglia in Oristano, witness the equestrian spectacle of the Cavalcata Sarda in Sassari, or immerse yourself in the ancient rituals of the Sant’Efisio Procession in Cagliari.
Visit Archaeological Sites
Discover the rich history of Sardinia by visiting its archaeological sites. Explore the Roman ruins of Nora near Pula, marvel at the ancient Phoenician city of Tharros in Cabras, or wander through the ancient ruins of the Roman Amphitheater in Cagliari.
Bosa is a charming and picturesque town located on the western coast of Sardinia. Nestled between the Temo River and a hilltop castle, Bosa offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. The town’s colorful houses, cobblestone streets, and historic architecture create a captivating atmosphere that transports visitors back in time.
Start your exploration by wandering through the narrow alleys of Bosa’s old town, where you’ll discover charming shops, traditional crafts, and cozy cafes. Don’t miss the iconic Malaspina Castle, perched on top of the hill, offering panoramic views of the town and the river below. A highlight of Bosa is its beautiful beaches, such as Bosa Marina, with its golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Take a leisurely stroll along the riverfront and admire the colorful fishing boats moored along the riverbanks.
As you explore Bosa, you’ll encounter historical landmarks like the 12th-century Cattedrale dell’Immacolata, showcasing a mix of architectural styles. Art enthusiasts will appreciate the contemporary art collections at the Bosa Contemporary Art Museum. Bosa is also renowned for its local wine production, so consider visiting nearby wineries to savor some of the island’s finest wines.
Best Places to eat in Sardinia
A highly regarded restaurant located in the heart of Cagliari. This charming eatery offers a delightful culinary experience, combining traditional Sardinian flavors with modern twists. The restaurant’s name “Ammentos” translates to “memories” in the local Sardinian dialect, and the ambiance reflects a warm and welcoming atmosphere that makes diners feel at home. The menu at Ammentos is a celebration of Sardinian gastronomy, showcasing a wide array of dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. From delectable seafood creations to savory meat dishes and vegetarian options, there’s something to please every palate. The restaurant takes pride in preserving traditional recipes and techniques, ensuring an authentic taste of Sardinia with every bite.
Ristorante Santa Maria
Found in the scenic village of Castelsardo. The restaurant takes pride in using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create flavorful and authentic dishes that showcase the region’s rich culinary heritage.
The menu boasts a selection of delectable seafood dishes, including fresh catch-of-the-day, succulent shellfish, and seafood pasta prepared with finesse and passion. Guests can also indulge in a variety of traditional Sardinian specialties, such as porceddu (suckling pig), culurgiones (filled pasta), and flavorful stews.
Sa Domu Sarda
A charming and inviting restaurant in Cagliari which offers an unforgettable culinary experience. With a focus on traditional Sardinian cuisine, this restaurant takes pride in serving homemade pasta, meats and more with locally sourced ingredients. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be captivated by the warm and welcoming atmosphere, reflecting the island’s rich culture and heritage.
Start your gastronomic journey with mouthwatering antipasti, such as the famous “culurgiones,” a Sardinian ravioli stuffed with potatoes, cheese and mint. For the main course savor the tenderness of a grilled Sardinian lamb dish, showcasing the authentic flavors of the region.
Known for serving mouthwatering and authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas. With a focus on quality ingredients and traditional pizza-making techniques, Impasto offers a delightful dining experience for pizza lovers.
The pizzeria’s menu features a wide variety of pizza options, including classic Margherita, flavorful marinara and creative combinations with locally sourced toppings. Each pizza is prepared with a light and airy crust, made from a slow-fermented dough that gives it a deliciously chewy texture and a hint of sourness.
In addition to their exceptional pizzas, Impasto also offers a selection of appetizers, salads, pasta and desserts to complement your meal. Their wine list includes a range of Italian and Sardinian wines that pair perfectly with the flavors of their pizzas.
With its prime location near the sea, Il Fana takes pride in serving fresh and flavorful seafood dishes. The restaurant’s menu features an array of seafood delights, from traditional Sardinian specialties to Mediterranean-inspired creations. Guests can indulge in a variety of dishes, such as grilled fish, seafood pasta, succulent shellfish, and seafood risotto, all prepared with the finest locally sourced ingredients.
When to go
When to go to Sardinia depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. The best times to visit are during the shoulder seasons of late spring (April/May) and early autumn (September/October). During these months, the weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15-25°C (59-77°F), making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the island’s natural beauty.
Summer (June-August) is the peak tourist season, and Sardinia comes alive with beachgoers and vacationers. The weather is hot and sunny, with temperatures often reaching above 30°C (86°F). It’s perfect for enjoying the stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, but keep in mind that popular tourist spots can be crowded, and accommodation prices might be higher.
Winter (December-February) in Sardinia is mild compared to many other European destinations. While the temperatures can drop, it rarely goes below 10°C (50°F). The island experiences fewer crowds during this time, making it a great choice for a tranquil and budget-friendly visit. Some tourist facilities may be closed during the off-season, but you can still enjoy exploring the historical and cultural attractions without the hustle and bustle of peak months.
Ultimately, Sardinia offers captivating experiences year-round, and the best time to go depends on your interests and travel preferences. Whether you’re seeking vibrant beach holidays, exploring historical sites, or enjoying nature’s beauty, Sardinia has something to offer throughout the year.
Useful Sites & Apps
In the last few years we have been travelling we have singled out some applications, which we use before every trip or during it. We have chosen them over others for their validity, ease of use and variety in the options they have to offer. We describe below in detail what these are together with their characteristics.
Booking.com is a popular online booking platform for accommodations worldwide. With a vast selection of hotels, apartments, villas, and more, Booking.com offers travellers the convenience of finding and booking their ideal stay in just a few clicks. The site’s user-friendly interface and extensive filtering options make it easy to narrow down search results based on specific preferences such as price, location, amenities, and more. As a result, Booking.com has become a go-to destination for travellers looking for hassle-free booking options. With competitive pricing and a loyalty program that rewards repeat bookings, Booking.com is a top choice for travellers seeking great deals and a seamless booking experience. Find available rooms here.
One of the best, most trustworthy, and most convenient 5-star airport taxi companies for your airport transfer based on user reviews across various platforms such as Google, Tripadvisor, and Trustpilot. Welcome Pickups offers a great experience and safety to its travellers. Local English-speaking drivers, flat, pre-paid fee, flight monitoring for delays, 24/7 Customer support + free cancellation. Check your options here.
With over one million properties all around the world, and always increasing, ideal for a low-budget stay even in expensive areas. Furthermore, because you stay in people’s villas, houses or flats you are made to feel more at home by the host of each destination and the homely surroundings.
Hotels.com is a leading provider of hotel accommodations worldwide, offering booking services through its network of localised websites. Once you reach 10 nights, you’ll have a free night which you can apply at checkout. You can earn multiple free nights by continuing to book with Hotels.com, though. The platform gives travellers one of the widest selections of accommodation on the net, including both independent and major chain hotels as well as self-catering in hundreds of thousands properties worldwide. The company offers a one-stop shopping source for hotel pricing, amenities and availability. Find the best deals here.
Tripadvisor helps hundreds of millions of people each month become better travellers, from planning to booking to taking a trip. Travellers across the globe use the Tripadvisor site and app to discover where to stay, what to do and where to eat based on guidance from those who have been there before. With more than 1 billion reviews and opinions of nearly 8 million businesses, travellers turn to Tripadvisor to find deals on accommodations, book experiences, reserve tables at delicious restaurants and discover great places nearby. Find available offers and book your accommodation here.
Omio is a leading travel platform that helps you easily plan and book your trips. With a comprehensive network of trains, buses, and flights across Europe and beyond, Omio allows you to compare and choose the best travel options for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or an extended vacation, Omio’s user-friendly interface and competitive prices make it easy to create unforgettable travel experiences. Check available routes here.
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search engine, helping millions of travellers find the best flights, hotels and car rentals. With a user-friendly interface and powerful search technology, Skyscanner makes it easy to compare prices and options across hundreds of travel providers, giving you the best deals for your trip. From budget to luxury, domestic to international, Skyscanner has everything you need to plan your next adventure. So whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, start your journey with Skyscanner and discover the world like never before. Available flights and prices can be found here.
GetYourGuide is an online marketplace for booking travel activities and experiences. With a wide variety of tours, activities, and attractions available in destinations around the world, GetYourGuide makes it easy to find and book unique experiences for your next trip. From city sightseeing tours and food and wine tastings to outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, GetYourGuide has something for every type of traveller. With a user-friendly website and mobile app, and a commitment to customer satisfaction, GetYourGuide is a top choice for travellers seeking memorable and authentic experiences. Book your activities here.
DiscoverCars.com offers a hassle-free car rental booking experience, with a wide range of rental car options available worldwide. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, DiscoverCars.com offers competitive rates, 24/7 customer support, and flexible cancellation policies. With no hidden fees and a user-friendly interface, booking your rental car has never been easier. Choose from a variety of car rental options, including economy, luxury, and family-friendly vehicles, and enjoy the freedom of the open road on your next adventure. Book with DiscoverCars.com today and start exploring the world on your own terms!
Here you will find last-minute discounts on vacancies from hotels. This is an amazingly simple app and it doesn’t take long to book a room. You may search in each town for sights and maps. Furthermore, you can check the reviews and photos of other travellers to be sure about the reliability of each hotel. It also has 24/7 customer service. If you’re stuck somewhere and you need a room desperately, this is the perfect app for you.
City Maps 2Go
Maps for travelling, hiking, mountain cycling and many other activities. A necessary app for every adventure, activity or touring abroad. You may only download one map per country, whereas it was possible to download two in the past. For an additional map you need to pay. Alternatively, as soon as you have looked at the information on a map you can delete it and then download a new one.
You can mark all the places of interest on the map you have downloaded. Whether they are sights, shops, or restaurants you can use the directions guide to get there. The great advantage to this app is that you don’t need to have internet connection although it might get stuck a few times. Nevertheless, it is quite a reliable and useful app.
EXTRA TIP: When you mark most points of interest before your trip, you can see approximately in which area you will need to book a room. To be as close as possible to all points of interest.
iVisa.com is an online platform that helps travellers obtain electronic visas, eVisas, and other travel documents quickly and easily. With an extensive database of travel requirements for over 200 countries and a user-friendly application process, iVisa.com makes it simple for travellers to apply for and obtain the necessary documents for their trips. Whether you’re planning a vacation, business trip, or other travel experience, iVisa.com can help you navigate the complexities of travel documentation with ease. More information for the necessary travel documents, depending on your nationality and destination can be found here.
Designed for digital nomads, remote workers and frequent travellers. Unlike other international travel insurance, it has global coverage for a monthly fee. The company offers some different insurance packages like nomad insurance, remote health etc. Find which package suits you best here.