- Around its coast Sardinia boasts some of the most idyllic beaches
in the Mediterranean and many of them are unspoiled.
The exploration of the island’s capital Cagliari reveals it
as cosmopolitan enclave quite apart from the rest of the island. The
hilly labyrinth of the sandy-colored medieval Castello district and
the bright pastel colors of restored facades are jostling for your
attention. The city’s long Poetto beach is good for a city-side
splash. The nearby salt marshes occasionally attract flocks of pink
flamingos. The precipitous stone walls of medieval Cagliari enclose
Il Castello, a once virtually impregnable fortress town. The grand
white Torre di San Pancrazio the right of the northern city gate,
is one of two medieval Pisan defensive towers still standing. The
Museo Archeologico Nazionale contains precious material dating from
pre-Nuraghic to late Roman times. The Cagliari waterfront is also
known as Marina. It’s remarkably blessed with churches.
Southeast of Cagliari, past the Poetto strand, the road east pretty
much hugs the coast all the way around to Villasimius and then north
along the Costa Rei. A few kilometers short of Villasimius, a road
veers off south along the peninsula that leads to Capo Carbonara,
the most southeasterly point of Sardinia. The main strand on this
side of the peninsula is Spiaggia del Riso. On the east side is a
nice long beach, Spiaggia del Simius. Villasimius makes a comfortable
base for exploring the attractive coastline. Southwest of Cagliari,
the small town and beach of Chia marks the start of the beautiful
Costa del Sud. It winds its way west to Porto Teulada and offers several
enticing beaches, like Cala Teuradda, en route. Le Grotte Is Zuddas
are one of the island’s many spectacular natural sculpture museums.
The largely limestone rock lends the stalactites and stalagmites a
particularly translucent quality.
Iglesias in the southwest of Sardinia is a surprisingly charming spot.
The Spaniards are long gone but the place retains an Iberian feel,
with chatter in the air, deep summer heat and Aragones style wrought
iron balconies. Sights are the Castello Salvaterra, a Pisan fortress,
the Duomo and the Museo dell’Arte Mineraria. The Tempio di Antas,
a Carthaginian-Roman temple about 15km north of Iglesias is set in
a wide, picturesque valley. Just 8km west of Iglesias is the local
golden beach of Funtanamare facing the Golfo di Gonnesa. The islands
Sant’Antioco and San Pietro, off the southwestern coast of Sardinia,
have sandy beaches and quiet coves. Some beaches worth seeking out
include Maladroixa and Spiaggia Coa Quaddus along the east coast.
From Capo Pecora in the south to Capo Frasca in the north, the Costa
Verde boasts some of the least spoiled and most beautiful beaches
in Sardinia. Keep an eye out for signs to Spiaggia Scivu, a spectacular
Oristano’s focal point for most visitors is the ancient site
of Tharros on the Sinis peninsula and the beaches to the north. West
of Oristano stretches the Sinis Peninsula, with sandy beaches, the
ruins of the ancient Tharros and the chance to see flamingos. The
ancient city of Tharros is set impeccably by the sea at the southern
extreme of the peninsula. Just before Tharros is the settlement of
San Giovanni di Sinis. Interesting beaches are Spiaggia di San Giovanni
di Sinis, Is Arutas and the beach at Putzu Idu. Further north of the
Sinis Peninsula are some beaches around the low-key resort of Santa
Caterina di Pittinuri. One of the most important and most visited
of the island’s nuraghi is the Nuraghe Su Nuraxi, barely half
a kilometer to the west of the village of Barumini.
Bosa lies within the fat finger of Nuoro province that slips its way
to the west coast between Sassari and Oristano provinces. Bosa is
a pretty stop that combines the curiosity of the medieval town and
its monuments with the broad sandy beach nearby. It lies 3km inland
from a fine beach on the banks of the Temo River.
Alghero, a medieval centre with its sea walls still intact, is one
of the most charming of Sardinian towns. It makes an agreeable base
for exploring the northwest. Sights are the Cattedrale di Santa Maria,
the Torre Porta a Terra and the Bastione della Maddalena. The town’s
beaches are Spiaggia di San Giovanni and the Spiaggia di Maria Pia.
About 10km west of Alghero on the road to Porto Conte is the Nuraghe
di Palmavera. The road west from the nuraghe heads to Porto Conte,
a lovely bay, and on around to Capo Caccia, a dramatic cape jutting
out high above the Mediterranean.
Sassari is Sardinia’s second city. Two grand churches, the cathedral
and Santa Maria di Betlem, are impressive and the Museo Nazionale
Sanna, an archeological museum is a must. North of Sassari stretches
the local’s favorite beach, such as Platamona and Marina di
A small village lies at the core of the peninsula Stintino. Towards
the northern end of the peninsula is the magnificent Spiaggia della
Pelosa. The main island stretching off to the north is Isola Asinara.
Together with Palau, the seaside resort Santa Teresa di Gallura is
an affordable alternative to the villages on the Costa Smeralda. Four
kilometers west of Santa Teresa, the granite headland of Capo Testa
seems more like a divine sculpture garden. The place also has a couple
The Isola della Maddalena is the principal island of an archipelago
of seven islands and 40 islets. Linked to La Maddalena by a narrow
causeway is Isola Caprera. A walking trail leads down to the secluded
Cala Coticcio beach. The three northernmost islands are Isola Budelli,
Isola Razzoli and Isola di Santa Maria.
Porto Cervo is the main village of the Costa Smeralda. Among the nicest
beaches are Spiaggia Liscia Ruia, Capriccioli and Spiaggia del Principe.
Arzachena, 19km inland from Porto Cervo, is the launch pad for a driving
tour to explore ancient Nuraghic sites.
Ferries from Livorno, Civitavecchia and Fiumicino run to the Golfo
Aranci. The place has some pleasant beaches on the coastal route to
A handful museums and the town’s hilly position in the shadow
of Monte Ortobene make the provincial capital Nuoro worth a stopover.
Sights are the Museo della Vita e delle Tradizioni Sarde and the Museo
Archeologico Nazionale. About 7km out of Nuoro rises Monte Ortobene,
a favorite picnic spot with locals. The Nuraghic village of Serra
Orrios is worth a stop. The site lies 11km northwest of Dorgali. The
southeastern sector of Nuoro province is known as the Ogliastra. From
Dorgali the highway winds south through the high mountain terrain
of the eastern end of the Parco Nazionale del Golfo di Orosei e del
Gennargentu. A first detour comes a few kilometers south of Dorgali
with a road dropping off to the southwest past Monte Sant’Elene
towards the Nuraghic village of Tiscali.
Santa Maria Navarrese is located at the southern end of the Golfo
di Orosei; this delightful spot is a tempting alternative to its busier
northern counterpart, Cala Gonone. The pleasant beach is lapped by
transparent water and the setting is a gem. Offshore are several islets,
including the Isola dell’Ogliastra, and the leafy northern end
of the beach is topped by a watchtower.
The seaside resort of Cala Gonone, just 10km east of Dorgali, is an
excellent base from which to explore the coves along the most startling
stretch of the Golfo di Orosei’s coastline. Several beaches
stretch to the immediate south of the port. Some better ones are Cala
Cartoe, Cala Luna and Cala Sisine.