Many of us have heard of Sardinia as an expensive luxury resort. In general, this is so: the resorts on this Italian island, indeed, offer high-quality service. But in many guidebooks, the rich architectural heritage of this island is also noted. Now I will tell you whether there really is something to see in Sardinia.
I’ll start with my impressions. In terms of relaxation, Sardinia is an ideal place for many reasons. These are gorgeous beaches, warm azure water, decent hotels with excellent service and food (there are even hotels that operate on the all-inclusive system). But I do not recommend considering Sardinia as a place for an “excursion” acquaintance with Italy. For “real Italy” it is better to go to the mainland. Rome , Florence , Verona – these cities are rich in attractions in the full sense of the word (palaces, cathedrals, art galleries …), you will find southern Italian color in Puglia , incredible natural landscapes – in Tuscany .
The sights of the island of Sardinia are not well-known, the most striking attraction is, of course, the La Maddalena archipelago with its gorgeous beaches and the azure sea. But for those who have already been to the Caribbean, Maldives and other “azure” resorts, this sea will not produce the “wow” effect. And in Cyprus there are no less beautiful places.
However, if you arrive in Sardinia for more than a week, then you should go on a sightseeing tour of Sardinia. In this article, I collected information from various sources, added something from myself and published my photos of the sights of Sardinia.
Car rental in Sardinia
With public transport in Sardinia is very bad, buses rarely and not in all directions. If you want to freely explore the island, then there is no better option than renting a car. Car rental in Sardia is no different from car rental in any other city in Italy. I have a great article
She painted everything in detail and told how we rented a car in Florence. Finding a car for rent in Sardinia is easiest through the autoeurope.com service , you will immediately see which offices there are on the island and what conditions they have. Also there you can immediately sort the results: choose a car on the machine or with full insurance.
Landmarks of Olbia (Sardinia)
The commune in the northeast of the island of Olbia is often called the “gateway” of Sardinia. What to see in Olbia?
The historic center of Olbia
Between the streets of Via Asponi, Via Acenza, Via Santa Croce and Regina Margarita Square is a kind of rectangle with a lot of medieval buildings. Here you can find the remains of the walls of the “Chevita Terra Nova” of the Roman Empire. Getting around the historic city center is real in an hour.
The central square – Queen Margherita Square (Piazza Regina Margherita) – is lined with marble slabs with colorful mosaic decor. In the center is a small fountain. Along the perimeter of the square are numerous wine cellars, bars, restaurants. It is always crowded, especially in the evenings.
Corso Umberto – the main shopping street, all “strewn” with small shops and cafeterias. In late April, a parade of flowers passes through it. The traffic is blocked for several days, and the Corso Umberto turns into one luxurious flower garden.
In the area of Corso Umberto and Piazza Margherita are the best hotels in Olbia: Hotel Centrale 4 * (from 107 euros per day), Kkult Boutique Relais 4 * (from 122 euros per day), Hotel Panorama 4 * (chic view of the historic center, from 125 euros per day).
Basilica of San Simplisio (San Simplicio)
Basilica di San Simplicio – the former cathedral of the city, the church of the late XI century, built in honor of the patron saint of the city – St. Simplicus. Its remains are stored inside the basilica. The facade of the building is conditionally divided into three parts with the help of “fake” columns. On the right is a small bell tower. On the left is a marble slab with an inscription that still cannot be deciphered. Inside, the basilica is divided into a nave and galleries with light marble columns. The decor is a bit. Despite this, the basilica is still the main shrine of Olbia.
Entrance to the basilica is free.
The address of this Olbia landmark is Via Fausto Noce, 8.
Church of St. Paul
St. Paul’s Church is the highest point in the Old Town of Olbia. White stone walls, lack of windows – the church does not impress from the outside until you look up. The huge mosaic dome looks great and makes the building much more magnificent. Inside the church there is a wooden pulpit, frescoes, some sections of the walls are hand-painted by local artists.
Address: Piazza Civitas, 4.
Archaeological Museum of Olbia
The oldest exhibits in the museum date back to the 10th century BC. The collection is divided into blocks:
- ancient household items;
- ceramic products;
- fragments of ancient and medieval buildings;
- remnants of the ships.
Several times a week documentaries are shown here telling about excavations in the territory of Olbia.
Entrance to the museum is free.
Opening hours: from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 17:00 to 20:00.
Address: Via Isola Peddone
Nuraghe Riu Mulinu
The commune of Olbia (Sardinia) carefully preserves ancient secrets. Scientists here have found hundreds of nurag. These are stone structures, towers dating from the Neolithic era and built without a binder. The exact purpose of the buildings remains a mystery. But there are three versions:
- religious building
On Mount Kabu Abbas, in the vicinity of Olbia, stands one of the most famous nuragic complexes – Riu Mulinu. Around it was built in 1300 BC. A tower, a wall (5 m wide, 220 m long), a pair of side nurags have survived to this day. You can see all this for free.
To get there by public transport, you need to take bus number 11 at the Olbia railway station (travel – € 1, when buying from a driver – € 1.5, take about 30 minutes to the final stop). Then you have to walk uphill for about 3 km. The task is not easy, especially on a hot day. It’s impossible to get lost, there are signs everywhere.
If you rent a car , then by car you can reach the point of Mount Cabo Abbas (here will be the sign Nuraghe Cabu Abbas), then – on foot uphill 500 meters.
What to see in the north of Sardinia
The northern part of the island is considered the center of elite tourism. Expensive hotels, luxury boutiques, yachts and yacht clubs, VIP discos.
The Emerald Coast or the Costa Smeralda stretches for 55 km. Geographically located 5 km from Olbia Airport. Until the middle of the 20th century, few people heard about the coast. The heyday came in 1961, when one Arab prince visited here. He fell in love with the area, and decided to arrange a first-class resort for the rich on these lands. He succeeded. Today, the Costa Smeralda consists of luxurious luxury hotels, upscale hotels with excellent service, restaurants, boutiques. Hotel rooms start from 150 euros per day.
Costa Smeralda Resorts
The most popular resorts on the Costa Smeralda: Porto Cervo, Porto Rotondo, Bahia Sardinia. I’ll tell you a little about them.
Porto Cervo is the most elite resort on the Costa Smeralda. The main attraction of the resort is the port of Porto Cervo.
It houses a first-class yacht club – one of the most expensive in the world.
Whose yachts are moored here – one can only guess. A harbor with yachts in Porto Cervo is something you can see in Sardinia on your own.
Porto Cervo is surrounded by picturesque mountain ranges, and local hotels, restaurants and even shops have preserved their authentic Sardinian style. Is it possible somewhere else in the world to see the boutiques of Cartier, Dior and Louis Vuitton, hidden in such authentic, homely in appearance, houses?
Within walking distance from the historical center is the five-star Cervo Hotel, Costa Smeralda Resort (Sheraton chain), built in the Sardinian style and with a chic restaurant on site (from 256 euros per night). The beach is 10 minutes away.
In the architecture of the resort, it is worth highlighting the Stella Maris church, which resembles the creation of the great Gaudi. Pay attention to the curved lines in the facade of the temple, a tiled red roof and two huge statues at the main entrance. One symbolizes St. Joseph, the second – Pope John Paul II. Inside the temple you will see paintings by the Spanish painter El Greco.
The nearest beach to Porto Cervo is Spiaggia Cala Granu, 3 km from the center. Near the beach there is a four-star Grand Hotel In Porto Cervo (from 171 euros with breakfast, from 226 euros with two meals a day).
Porto Rotondo is the next Costa Smeralda resort on my list. The name translated from Italian means “round.” The city resembles Venice: narrow streets, many arches and stairs. Not surprisingly, it was built under the control of the Venetians Luigi and Nicolo Dona-dalle-Rosa. Even the central city square is called Malaya San Marco. The city is constantly inhabited by only 1000 local residents, but in the summer months the city increases in number by almost 20 times. Dozens of hotels and villas welcome guests from all over the world. By the way, the Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi also has his own residence in the resort.
The largest sandy beach of Porto Rotondo is Marinella. It is ideal for water activities and diving. White sand and clear sea. Near the beach is a good five-star hotel Hotel Abi d’Oru . Price – from 308 euros with breakfast, from 373 euros with breakfast and dinner.
Of the attractions of Porto Rotondo, it is worth highlighting the church of San Lorenzo, inside which there are 200 statues, and Via del Molo. The latter is small in area, but the whole is decorated with a mosaic with images of fish.
Between Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo are two well-known Sardinian beaches: Liscia Ruia (or Long Beach) and Romazzino (Romazzino Beach). Both beaches are sandy, with white (even pink and white) sand. Near the beach of Romazzino (Romadzino) is a five-star hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel , which has its own beach area with free sunbeds and umbrellas. The price is not low: from 500 euros per day with breakfast for an ordinary double room. In the high season (August), the price starts from 1500 euros per day.
Bahia Sardinia is another popular beach resort in the north of the island. You need to go here, first of all, for beautiful beaches, a clean sea and good hotel service.
The resort center is very small, and there are no significant sights here.
Small area in the center of the promenade (Piazza Ventaglio). During our vacation, one day there was an exhibition of retro cars (there was some kind of retro run in Sardinia) and one evening – a jazz festival.
Aquadream Water Park is 1.5 km from the square.
Phi Beach is about 1.2 km away. In the season, there are some cool parties, famous DJs perform. I looked for interest – the ticket price was from 200 euros, tickets to VIP zones for the performance of one of the DJs reached 10,000-12,000 euros per group for up to 10 people.
This is how the beach looks at the end of the season, and even in the afternoon
Not far from the center of Bahia Sardinia, you can take a walk along the sea, these are the views:
The main beach of Bahia Sardinia is Cala Battistoni. White sand, comfortable entry into the water, weak currents. Sun beds and umbrellas are paid.
In September 2019, the price was 10 euros per item. Near the beach there are hotels: Club Hotel Baja Sardinia 4 * (the hotel has its own beach, but a transfer takes to it; from 264 euros with breakfast, from 284 euros with two meals a day); Club Hotel Cormorano 4 * (from 250 euros All inclusive), my review of the hotel ; Hotel La Bisaccia 4 * (located on a hill; from 250 euros per night, from 274 euros with two meals a day).
Tre Monti Beach is 1.6 km from the resort center. The beach is small, but there are sunbeds, umbrellas. Unfortunately, I don’t know the price. This beach is considered very romantic because it faces west and there must be very beautiful sunsets.
Cala Bitta Beach – 2.5 km from the center. The golden sand beach is considered suitable for windsurfing and sailing.
Private beaches can be booked in the vicinity of the beaches, but the beaches will have to be reached by bike or car. Therefore, for a relaxing holiday it is better to choose hotels in the center of Bahia Sardinia.
From Bahia Sardinia you can go on a tour of the main “northern” attractions – the archipelago of La Maddalena.
La Maddalena National Park (La Maddalena Archipelago)
Near the resort town of Bahia Sardinia is the La Maddalena Marine Sanctuary, the first in Sardinia. It consists of 60 islands. The coastline is 180 km long. The archipelago is a must-see in Sardinia. The guidebooks even write “If you have not seen the islands of La Maddalena, then you have not been to Sardinia.”
The largest island of the archipelago is La Maddalena. It is distinguished by red volcanic rocks and is visible from afar.
There are several beaches on the island, but I consider the historical center of La Maddalena to be my main value. Perhaps, here you can feel in real Italy – narrow cobblestone streets, cafes, seaport, souvenir shops.
There is one five-star hotel on the island – Grand Hotel Ma & Ma Resort with a pool and gorgeous sea views. Price – from 300 euros per night.
The second most recognizable island is Caprera. It is adjacent to the east with La Maddalena. Here the Italian commander J. Garibaldi lived for 26 years. His house was turned into a museum. Nearby is a memorial chapel and a cemetery. By the way, the whole island is planted with pine trees. Garibaldi personally gave the order.
The island of Santo Stefano (S. Stefano) is located just south of La Maddalena, characterized by a round shape, dark red volcanic rocks, uninhabited.
Santa Maria has great beaches, and tourists often come here to relax. There are many people, especially in high season. However, there is no infrastructure.
Here is such azure water there:
The most northern island – Razzoli (Razzoli) – is characterized by bizarre cliffs and picturesque landscapes. Sightseeing boats do not enter here, therefore, it is quite possible that there are not many tourists in the vicinity of the island.
Wildlife will meet you on the island of Budelli. On it is the pride of the archipelago, a natural attraction of Sardinia – the “pink” coast (pink beach) Spiagga Rosa.
But the entrance to the beach is prohibited both from the island and from the sea. All pleasure boats pass at some distance from the island.
The island of Sparga with bizarre cliffs is located between Sardinia and Corsica. It is also uninhabited, but “very touristy”. Of course, there is no infrastructure, so if you are sailing here in the midst of summer, take umbrellas with you.
You can get to the archipelago by ferry, which departs from the port of Palau. Schedules and prices can be found on the official website http://www.maddalenalines.it/destination.asp
Between the islands they move as part of an excursion group or rent a boat (boat) on the island of La Maddalena.
You can get on an excursion to the La Maddalena archipelago from several points on the island (excursions are held from April to October, canceled during bad weather):
From Palau. You can buy an excursion at a local travel agency or book online. Here you can choose any tour that suits you.
1-2 boats per day depart from Baia Sardinia. Departure from Bahia Sardinia at 9.15-9.30 (also from La Conia at 9.00, Cannigione at 9.15), return at 17.00-17.30. Tickets can be purchased at the waterfront kiosk (on the road from the center of Bahia Sardinia to the La Bisaccia Hotel) or right at the pier about 15 minutes before departure.
I paid EUR 47.50 for the tour, this price included all taxes and fees, as well as lunch on the boat (pasta with sauce).
Tourist boats also depart from Porto Cervo, but I cannot say where and how much.
The picturesque commune in the northern part of Sardinia belongs to the list of what to see in Sardinia by car and deserves to make a stop here for a few hours. The city is constantly inhabited by 6 thousand people. It offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Gulf of Asinara. In the city and the surrounding area there are many architectural monuments of the Mesolithic era. In the historical part of Castelsardo you will find the medieval castle of Doria, the Cathedral of St. Anthony, the baroque church of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
What to see in the south of Sardinia
The south of Sardinia is more interesting in terms of attractions, but there are not as many beaches with azure water and white sand as in the north. Cagliari (Sardinia) is the capital of the island. Translated from the ancient Phoenician language, the name means “City of God.” There are lush Mediterranean vegetation, bright sun almost all year round, clear coasts.
City of Nora
30 km south of Cagliari is Nora – the first city of the island of Sardinia. Its main part is under water today. At different times, it was owned by Phoenician merchants, soldiers of Carthage and Roman gladiators. The first archaeological excavations were carried out only in 1950. It is known that there was a Roman theater, public baths, a couple of temples, a necropolis and many living quarters. Columns and a monumental foundation are well preserved. It is curious that the city cannot be examined alone. Once every 45 minutes, the guide collects tourists, and as part of the group you go around the ruins. Guides do not comment, they simply silently accompany you. You can ask for an audio guide in English. The cost of visiting the city is € 6. It will take you no more than 45 minutes to bypass the entire territory. Free parking is available near the administration building.
Sights of Cagliari in 1 day
One day is not enough to examine all the significant places. I recommend staying longer by staying in one of the hotels of the city, for example, Hotel Regina Margherita 4 * (from 128 euros) or a guest house with excellent reviews Sardinia Home Design (from 80 euros with breakfast).
Now I will tell you what to see in Cagliari.
Cagliari Attractions on the map
The main square of the city was recently freed from car traffic. The nearest bus stop is Regina Elena. Bus lines number 6 stop on it. Walls with arches and a huge number of buildings are installed along the perimeter of the square. Here is the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Royal Palace, various museums, the former Town Hall. Attractions were built at different times. In the interior of the square you can follow the development of urban architecture for 7 eras!
Cathedral of Santa Maria
This is the residence of the Archbishop of Cagliari. The complex was built in the III century. It is based on the Romano-Gothic style. After numerous reconstructions, baroque and Renaissance elements were added to it. The interior includes 3 naves with side chapels. The arch of the central nave is generously decorated with paintings telling about the spread of the Christian religion on the island of Sardinia. Very beautiful wall painting and painted ceilings. The room has excellent acoustics. Every Saturday there are musical concerts, opera. The doors of the temple are open for visitors from 8:30 to 12:30 and from 16:30 to 20:00. Free admission.
Exact address: 4 Piazza Palazzo.
Royal Palace (Palazzo Regio)
Date of foundation – XIV century. A strict three-story building was built on the orders of Viceroy Peter IV. In the architecture of the building traced baroque and classical elements. It is framed by monumental pilasters. The rectangular windows of the third floor are decorated with fancy balconies. On the facade you can see many relief images. Today, the city administration sits in the palace. Visitors can view 8 richly furnished rooms. Entrance ticket – € 2. Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 18:30.
One of the largest museums in Sardinia. It contains the largest collection of nuragic art. On the ground floor you can see exhibits from the Neolithic era until the Middle Ages. These are numerous jewelry, tools, weapons. Religious paraphernalia and artifacts from later times are exhibited on the second and third floors. You will be glad to see every day from 9:00 to 20:00. Ticket – € 4.
City fortress and bastion of San Remy
The city fortress stands above the historic center of Cagliari. It is a wall of white stone, two well-preserved towers. The complex was built in the Middle Ages to protect the city from enemies. The terrace offers beautiful views.
Part of the fortress is the bastion of San Remy. It was built much later – at the end of the XIX century. He connected the lower quarters of the commune with the Old Town. Today, exhibitions and concerts are organized under the gates of the bastion, and a market is opened every Sunday. I advise you first to inspect the bastion from below, then climb the stairs to the terrace of the fortress.
Fortress San Michele
To the northwest of the center of Cagliari, on a hill, stands the fortress of San Michele in the Spanish architectural style. It looks gloomy: no windows or decorations. Inside the building is an art gallery. It hosts exhibitions and film screenings, lectures are given. Across the hill is a beautiful park. A steep staircase leads from it to the gates of the fortress. Entrance fee is € 3. Additionally paid a ticket to an exhibition or other event.
Towers of San Pacratio and Del Elephant
Among the attractions of Cagliari (Sardinia) are two towers – San Pacratio and Del Elephante. They are depicted on the flag of the capital. Built at the beginning of the XIV century from white limestone, and still retain their original appearance. San Pacracio reaches a height of 36 m, Del Elephante is lower – 30 m. Observation platforms are equipped at the top of the towers (entrance – € 3).
Stampache and Marina districts
Narrow cobbled streets, workshops, souvenir shops and siesta – this is how you will see the Stampache district, one of the oldest in the city. There are no monumental buildings, but there is a unique Italian atmosphere. Marina area is located near the port. This is a place of concentration of first-class restaurants, night clubs, boutiques.
Crypt of St. Restituta (Cripta di Santa Restituta)
You will find a cave crypt full of mysteries and legends at Via S. Efisio, 8. Water drips monotonously from the vaults, there is little lighting, an echo is heard – the situation is a bit scary. Previously, religious rituals were performed in the cave. According to legend, in the 5th century Restitut came here in search of refuge, one of the first Christians in the city. Here she found eternal peace. On the walls of the crypt you can see frescoes, images of the saint. Free admission.
Among the attractions of the city of Cagliari can be distinguished the ancient arena dating from the II century. It is located on Viale Sant Ignazio Avenue. This is the southern part of Cagliari. The amphitheater was built directly in the rock, and at the same time accommodated up to 10 thousand spectators. It held various performances and, of course, gladiatorial battles. Places for spectators were divided into zones according to social classes: high-born persons sat closer to the stage, and commoners in the “gallery”. Each zone had a separate entrance and exit. Strong staircases adorned with marble décor went throughout the amphitheater. The tall stands are already half submerged in the rock. Admission is € 3, children under 6 years old are free of charge. Opening hours: from Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 18:00, on Sunday from 10:00 to 16:00. Monday is a day off.
Su Nuraxi Fortress
50 km from Cagliari is the following attraction of Sardinia – the fortress of Su Nuraxi. Estimated date of construction – XII century. You will find it along the Barumini-Tuili road. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the main testament to the Nuragic culture on the island of Sardinia. The central tower has a barrel-conical shape. It is surrounded by 4 smaller towers, which represent 4 cardinal points. Scientists have found that until the III century BC people lived here. Nurag was perfectly protected from uninvited guests, it was an impregnable fortress. You can visit the complex as part of an excursion group for € 12.
The “center” of the island also has something to see. I highlighted 5 remarkable places: the cities of Alghero and Bosa, the grotto of Neptune and the city of Orgosolo with wall painting.
Attractions in Bosa (Sardinia)
The commune in the province of Oristano, in which the Middle Ages and modernity merged – Bosa (Sardinia). Alghero is 47 km away. The city is small in area, built on the banks of the island’s only navigable river in the distant 15th century. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides. On an area of 136 km² built 10 large temples. Apparently, very religious people live here.
From the architecture you can distinguish the castle of Serravalle and its ancient sculptures. They were created by the Italian master Nino Pisano. In the castle there is a basilica with beautiful Spanish frescoes.
In Bose, your attention will most likely be attracted to residential buildings. They are very narrow, consist of 4-5 floors. On the ground floor there is a bathroom and toilet. On the second – bedrooms. The third floor is reserved for the living room, on the upper floors there is a kitchen and laundry room. The floors are interconnected, of course, not by an elevator, but by a staircase. Can you imagine how many steps you have to overcome every day?
The city comes to life only in the high tourist season. The rest of the time there is a measured calm life. It is so pleasant to walk through the narrow streets on a good day, and in the cozy cafeterias you can taste excellent Italian cuisine.
Attractions Alghero (Sardinia)
Alghero (Sardinia) is the island’s fifth largest city. A lot of expensive red coral grows in the surrounding waters, hence the second name of the settlement – Coral Riviera. Here you need to explore the Piazza Sulis, medieval towers, bastions of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus. In the vicinity of Alghero you will find beautiful beaches. Among them, I will single out the white sand coast of Lido San Giovanni, which is surrounded by a palm grove. It runs rental beach and water equipment.
Among the hotels near the Alghero beach: Alma di Alghero Hotel 4 * (from 126 euros per night), Hotel San Marco 4 * (from 99 euros), high-rated guest house Starry Sky Charming House (from 200 euros per night).
Grotto of Neptune
Neptune’s Grotto is located on Cape Capo Caccia, 12 km from Alghero. Among the must-see attractions in Sardinia, this is among the undisputed leaders. The grotto was found in the 18th century. About 1 km of territory is open for visiting. Inside you will see a magnificent beauty lake with sea water, columns and arches of natural origin. The grotto is conditionally divided into halls, which even have names (Hall of Ruins, Tsarsky, Musical Tribune). Opening hours: from 11:00 to 17:00. You can get inside at the beginning of each hour, because the duration of one visit is 45 minutes. You can enter the grotto only as part of an excursion group. Ticket price for adults – € 13, children – € 7.
Orgosolo and wall painting Murales
Another commune in the Sardinia region, Orgosolo, is surrounded by the Supramonte massif. By area, it is slightly larger than the city of Bosa. Alghero is 154 km away. In Orgosolo, the first cheese-making, winemaking and Sardinian shepherd originated. Where, if not here, to try the real Sardinian cuisine?
Do not expect from the city architectural delights or a large number of sculptures. It is famous for its murals, which tell about the problems of ordinary people. The history of Murales began in 1960. They became a sign of protest against American imperialism. Among graffiti you can find a display of major international events, stages of the history of Sardinia. Everyone who wants to paint is painted on the walls – from professional artists to schoolchildren. In total, Orgosolo has 300 large Murals. The sardis themselves call the city “Open Air Museum.”
That’s all. An interesting study of Sardinia and great weather!