We welcome local expert and resident travel blogger Claudia Tavani to share her tips on where to stay, what to see and which dishes to eat when in Sardinia… she’s confident you’ll want to come back for more!
Summer is almost here, and it is time to think about our well deserved holidays. The good news for me is that was born and raised in Sardinia, which may well be the most beautiful place on earth. I don’t plan to move from here during the summer, as this is when I can enjoy all the most amazing beaches on the island. They are so gorgeous in fact, that I find it hard to be impressed with beaches anywhere else in the world.
I know that a lot of people think Sardinia is expensive to travel to but flights needn’t be so expensive if you book in advance, and there are accommodation options for every budget (see below for more info!). Sardinia can be either luxurious or affordable, with just a little careful planning.
The best thing to do when visiting Sardinia is to pick a gorgeous location – which, with all the amazing places to visit in Sardinia, won’t be hard at all. Rent a car (unfortunately public transportation isn’t up to scratch) and explore as much of the island as possible, enjoying the gorgeous beaches, the beautiful cities and villages, the natural and archeological sites, and prepare as well to gorge on delicious Italian food.
Where To Stay
Cagliari isn’t a major tourist destination yet and therefore one of my favourite recommendations for first time visitors. Most people that visit Sardinia typically land in Cagliari (or get there by ferry) and almost immediately go to one of the many beautiful beach destinations around the island however Cagliari is a great place to mingle with the locals if that’s your style of travel. Here you can find plenty of accommodation options in town, from the typical hotels and hostels to charming bed and breakfasts. For those looking for a more luxurious resort experience however you might prefer to check out these stunning Sardinia vacation rentals in the likes of Olbia, Porto Cervo and Costa Paradisco. You may just find yourself spending this summer lounging in an infinity pool overlooking the Gulf of Asinara, a glass of Italian spritz in hand.
Sardinia is the second biggest island in the Mediterranean, and it is very mountainous, making traveling from one place to another quite time consuming. I cringe when I hear people saying that they want to come just for a weekend. That won’t be enough, ever! Don’t even pretend to want to visit all of it in one go – I think a year wouldn’t be enough for that. Just pick one location and start exploring from there and accept the fact that you will get addicted to it and will want to come back.
Cagliari is a great place to begin exploration of the South of Sardinia. This is the main city and it is well connected to the rest of Europe via a bunch of low cost flights. While most people that visit Sardinia in the summer head straight to the beach resorts and never venture far, I think Cagliari is a fantastic place to get a bit of local feel and to enjoy nightlife the way we like it.
Cagliari is on the hills, it has a bunch of urban beaches, such as Calamosca and Poetto, which are within easy reach via public transport (at least them!), and it is lively, packed with good restaurants, bars, interesting sights and museums.
From Cagliari, it is possible to visit some of the most amazing beaches of Sardinia. Costa Rei, in the south west coast of Sardinia, is about one hour drive from the city, and it is a long stretch of fine, white sand and crystal clear waters. It may well qualify as my favorite place on earth. Surrounding Costa Rei there are a bunch of other smaller coves, such as Monte Turnu, Cala Pira and Cala Sinzias, which are fabulous.
The area of Villasimius, on the southern coast of Sardinia, is a real gem. Beaches like Punta Molentis and Porto Giunco are simply unmissable. There are two roads that go there, one is faster but has no views. Another one takes longer, as it goes along the mountainous coast. But the views are spectacular. So I always recommend people who are visiting for the first time to take the long way and enjoy the views.
West of Cagliari, Chia and Cala Cipolla are at less than one hour drive and can be visited on the same day as they are really close to each other. Tuerredda, with the small island right in front of it, and Porto Pino, with its famous sand dunes, are a bit further away but so beautiful that I truly recommend going.
Further North of the island and of course the Costa Smeralda is deservedly famous and you won’t have to travel far to find an amazing beach with white sands and turquoise sea. Marinella is one I could recommend, and you might even spot a celebrity or two hiding from the paparazzi.
The weather in Sardinia is great during the summer – sunny, dry and hot. I doubt that anyone could tire of the gorgeous beaches, but in case, there are some unique archeological sites to check out. The old Roman city of Nora is right by the sea, and it is possible to combine a cultural visit with an afternoon at the beach. Nuraghe, which are archeological sites that are unique to Sardinia and that date back to between 1900 and 730 BCE, are scattered around the island. The most famous one in Sardinia is Barumini, which is only one hour drive from Cagliari.
What and where to eat in Sardinia
I always recommend people who visit my island to head to one of the local markets (Mercato di San Benedetto is the most famous one) and stocking on fresh produce to cook with. But I understand that after a long day at the beach, one may be too tired to cook. Most towns are packed with great restaurants, pizzerie and trattorie, not to mention some delicious gelaterie.
The best pizza can be found at Framento, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Cagliari. It is a tiny place, so reservations are recommended. Gelato is great at Cremoso, near Largo Carlo Felice, and at La Chiccheria in Via Dante.
The area of La Marina, not far from the harbor of Cagliari is packed with fish and seafood restaurants. The best one out there is Ristorante Italia: it is pricey, but worth it and the best place to try our famous fregola. This is a traditional pasta made with semolina, water, and salt, which are mixed together. The dough is then rubbed between the hands to give it round and rough shape, a bit like a thicker cous cous. Fregola is typically prepared with clams (arselle) and a light broth of tomatoes, parsley and garlic, so wherever you end up staying or visiting on the island be sure to try it.