Visit Sardinia The Jewel Of Italy

Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, is heaven on Earth. Across this island are countless mountain ranges, beautiful beaches and idyllic towns. The great joy of traveling across Sardinia, is uncovering its many hidden treasures. You’ll discover enchanting beaches, inlets and coves; some accessible by car others only by boat. Visitors will also find ample options for hiking, scuba diving, windsurfing and fishing.

The hardest part?

Deciding how you’ll spend your time on this island paradise.

Sella Del Diavolo in Cagliari (img from Pixabay)
Sella Del Diavolo in Cagliari (img from Pixabay)
Traditional Sardinian Garb (img from Pixabay)
Traditional Sardinian Garb (img from Pixabay)
Beautiful Cove In Sardinia (img from Pixabay)
Beautiful Cove In Sardinia (img from Pixabay)



Best Time To Go

July/August are the busiest tourist months. The beaches are packed and prices are at their peak.

May/June and September/Early October are the low tourist months. But even during this time, the island has a lot to offer. It’s the start of the Spring and Fall seasons. The island vegetation comes to life, the beaches are less crowded, the price of accommodations are reasonable and (best of all) there’s plenty Sardinian festivals.

Any other time of year, expect near ghost town conditions of closed restaurants, hotels, and shops.

 

Planning Your Trip

The first decision you’ll need to make while planning your trip is where on the island you plan to stay. The North or South? Sardinia is a very large island. It takes 4 1/2 hours to drive from the top to the bottom and 2 1/2 hours to cross its width.

Where you stay will determine the beaches, day trips and activities that will be available to you.

 

North Sardinia

In general the coastline up North is rockier with only a few long sandy beaches. While looking at this area you need to consider either the Northeast or Northwest. The Northeast is blessed with many beautiful beaches and villages including:

  • Santa Teresa Gallura: I visited this village on the last day of my vacation in Sardinia. This is a breathtaking seaside village, overlooking beautiful beaches with clear turquoise sea that’s great for swimming and snorkeling. Impressive granite rock formations tower around this village, carved by the wind and sea. Walking through this town was a joy. Its narrow streets and colorful homes are romantic, while the village center had a lot of cute shops and good restaurants to choose from. In my opinion, this is a good place to base yourself to discover this part of the island, although it could be a little pricey.
  • Costa Smeralda: This is the famous “Emerald Coast”. As the name indicates the color of the sea is azure and its coastline stretches for 55 km encompassing more than 80 beautiful bays and sandy beaches.
  • Archipelago of La Maddalena: These islands can be reached by regular daily ferries from Palau in approximately 15 minutes. The archipelago is made up of seven large islands and 55 tiny isolotti. This archipelago was declared a National Park 1994 and it has some of the most unspoilt beaches in Sardinia.
  • Golfo di Marinella: located 3km from Porto Rotondo, it has a long sandy beach with clear waters. Perfect for swimming and other water activities. There are boats for hire to explore nearby coves and islands.

The Northwest coast not only has selection of beaches to choose from but also a lively nightlife. I stayed on this part of the island during my trip and, looking back on it,  I wouldn’t recommend anyone stay here. Details below next to the Alghero section.

  • Alghero: This is one of the largest towns on the island. The village itself is nice with some interesting history, good selection of restaurants and a decent nightlife. But people come to Sardinia for the beaches, and sadly Alghero’s beaches are awful. Everything around Alghero was extremely polluted and carried an awful stench. It was extremely upsetting to see people wade into the water, as it was muddied, dark and looked like raw sewage. This almost ruined my vacation, luckily I had rented a car and was able to explore other parts of the island.
  • Stintino: This is small coastal town 50km north of Alghero on the tip of Capo Falcone. The beach here is very beautiful and its waters tranquil and crystal clear. The only problem, this is a popular beach and finding your personal space can be difficult. Also, there’s lots of sea urchins in the water. I found that out the hard way,  I fell on an urchin and got a fist full of pins in my hand. Very painful. Otherwise this is a must visit beach great for families.
  • Grotto di Nettuno: located in Capo Caccia, Grotto di Nettuno is an amazing underground cavern with haunting stalactites and stalagmites. It’s spectacular. There are two ways you can reach it. You can either:
    • Take the Navisarda ferry from Alghero OR
    • You can drive to the site. It you drive, then you’ll need descend a 110m staircase (Escala Del Cabirol) that’s carved into the side of the mountain. The walk down this 654 step staircase is scenic, but the walk back up was serious exercise.
  • Isola Rossa: This village’s name comes from a neighboring red colored islet. Its landscape of pink granite rock, dense vegetation and sandy beaches make it nice place to visit. The water here is shallow and clear.

 

South Sardinia

The south of the island is dominated by the capital Cagliari, which is located in the pretty Bay of Angels. Cagliari is full of fragments of the past – spanning Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Spanish and Italian eras. It has a long coastline ( 8 miles ) with plenty of beaches to choose from. Being the largest city on the island you’ll have the best selections in terms of restaurants and bars.

Outside of Cagliari, on the East moving towards coast of Quartu Elena, there are plenty of beaches to see. Continuing down this coastal drive is Villasimius ( one of Sardinia’s most beautiful areas ).

Stinto Beach (Img from Pixabay)
Stinto Beach (Img from Pixabay)
Cagliari skyline
Cagliari skyline
Santa Teresa Gallura
Santa Teresa Gallura


Events

Sardinia is unique in that there many festivals that occur throughout the year. There are festivals every month that commemorate different aspects of Sardinian or Italian history. Most of the festivals include some sort of religious procession or parade in which the residents of Sardinia dress up in traditional costumes. Also, most of the festivals include live music, games, and competitions of all sorts.

  • Cavalcata Sardo:  One hundred and twelve years have passed since the first Cavalcata Sarda took place to honor King Umberto 1 and Queen Margherita, who made a visit to Sardinia in 1899. This festival is held on the second-last Sunday of May, every year. Traditionally, there’d be large horse races throughout the town, where thousands of manned horses would speed through the cobblestone streets of Sassari. In the last few years the comune deemed this activity dangerous and moved the races to the Ippodromo (Domed stadium) in Sassari. The procession begins at 09:00 in Via Asproni and continues through the city finishing up in Via Giuseppe Manno. 
  • The Sant’ Agostino festival starts on August 28 and lasts 10 days. The festival includes a religious procession, dancing, singing, music, fireworks, a parade with horses, games, and sporting competitions.
  • The San Bachisio festival takes place on May 10 ever year. The festival lasts for three days and consists of a religious procession, dancing, a poetry competition in which people recite versus in the Sardinian language, and a parade of decorated carts that are pulled either by oxen or vehicles.

This site has complete list of all festival across Sardinia through a calendar year.

 

Transportation

Sardinia does have public transportation, below is listing of the regional transportation available.

It is possible to get by without renting a car, but I’ve heard that the transportation isn’t always reliable. On a personal note, when I visited Sardinia my greatest memory was of my time driving through the North part of the island discovering its beaches and towns. So while you don’t need to rent a car, I’d strongly recommend it if you want to properly explore Sardinia.

ARST (Azienda RegionaleSarda Trasporti) – Operates many bus services all over the Island  (http://www.arst.sardegna.it)
FdS (Ferrovie della Sardegna) – Operates many bus services and certain small gauge train services (http://www.ferroviesardegna.it)
FS (Trenitalia) – Operates the main train services connecting Cagliari to Sassari with a branch line to Olbia (http://www.trenitalia.com)
FMS – Operates several bus services in the South West of the Island centered on the city of Iglesias  (http://www.ferroviemeridionalisarde.it)
TT (Turmo Travel) – Operates a few services including Olbia to Cagliari passing Nuoro and Olbia to Sassari. (http://www.turmotravel.it)

 

Personal Vlogs From Sardinia

Below is my vlog from my trip to Grotto di Nettuno