Your Ultimate Guide to Sardinia: Travelling, Destinations, Beaches, and Food!
Updated On: June 12, 2023
Sardinia is an Italian jewel in the Mediterranean Sea. In terms of size, it is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, so it has a variety of destinations to stay in, including cities, towns, and villages. In terms of culture, it was a stronghold of the ancient Roman Empire, so it boasts interesting historical monuments. Accordingly, Sardinia is one of the top destinations in Italy, if not in the world, for spending a holiday full of life.
In order to spend a holiday as it should be, we provide you in this guide to Sardinia with everything you need to know about Sardinia; starting from the preparation to the trip, followed by top destinations and beaches there, and ending with a list of top dishes in Sardinia. It is the ultimate guide to your Sardinian holiday; just prepare your luggage and take notes!
Guide to Sardinia – How to Get There
To enter Italy, visitors from the European Union need to produce a national identity card or passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival. Other visitors need to produce a valid passport issued by their home country.
If you are staying up to 90 days, there are no visa requirements. European Union citizens intending to stay longer than 90 days must obtain “permission of stay.”
Citizens of countries within the Schengen area are free to visit Italy, but they need to get a passport stamp on entry as proof of official arrival. The Italian State Police website provides details on visas, and for further details, contact the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country.
How to Get to Sardinia?
Sardinia has three airports:
- Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport in the northeast of Sardinia.
- Alghero-Fertilia “Riviera del Corallo” Airport in the northwest of Sardinia.
- Cagliari-Elmas Airport in the south of Sardinia.
International flights arrive at these airports from different cities around the world. Cagliari Elmas Airport is the main international airport in Sardinia, and it is connected to most major European destinations. The Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport links 14 countries to Sardinia. Alghero-Fertilia Airport is a small airport that is a gateway to the northwest regions of Sardinia.
There are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand to Italy, so the alternative solution is to fly to Rome or Milan and then change for a domestic flight to Sardinia.
Most domestic flights to Sardinia come from Rome, but there are several flights from other Italian regions, including Milan, Palermo, Pisa, Venice, Naples, Catania, Bari, Turin, Verona, and Bologna.
Weather: The Best Time to Visit Sardinia
Sardinia has a Mediterranean climate, meaning that it experiences hot dry summers and mild winters. The hottest month of the year is July, the coolest month is January, the driest month is August, and the wettest month is January. So, the best time to visit Sardinia is between June and August, especially if you enjoy hot sunny days, and the best time to enjoy the beach is from June to October.
The peak season in Sardinia is, undoubtedly, the summer months; June, July, August, and the first half of September. This is the time when the island gets the highest numbers of tourists. As pleasant as it is, the summer is the most expensive time to visit in terms of flights, ferry tickets, and accommodation.
Where to Stay? Top Destinations in Sardinia
As a big island, Sardinia has everything for every taste. There are different kinds of destinations for different kinds of travellers, and they all promise a non-forgettable holiday. Below are 5 of the best destinations in Sardinia for your holiday:
1- Cagliari: Best for First-Time Visit
Cagliari is the capital city of Sardinia located on the south of the island. It is a beautiful city with endless appeal, characterised by delightful architecture and gorgeous beaches. If it is your first-time visiting Sardinia, Cagliari is a good destination for making numerous unforgettable memories.
Cagliari is an antique city infused with ancient history that can be seen everywhere. For example, there are the Roman Amphitheatre, the striking Royal Palace, and the haunting ruins of Necropoli of Tuvixeddu. Exploring the local culture and the ancient remnants is one of the best experiences ever.
Cagliari is also a city of stunning scenery, a vibrant atmosphere, and perfect beaches. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy where you can unwind in amazing natural surroundings.
2- Costa Smeralda: A Luxurious Holiday
Costa Smeralda is probably the most well-known area in Sardinia for its glamorous resorts and beaches. It is the perfect destination for those looking for a luxurious holiday and a high-life experience. In fact, Costa Smeralda is considered the most expensive location in Europe.
Costa Smeralda is located in northern Sardinia, stretching over ten kilometres between the Gulf of Cugnana and the bay of Arzachena.
Costa Smeralda boasts white-sand beaches with turquoise waters, golf clubs, private helicopter services, high-end restaurants and bars, luxury yachts, and exclusive hotels. All these and more make Costa Smeralda a special destination that attracts VIPs and affluent visitors.
3- Villasimius: Best Destination for Diving
Located about 35 kilometres east of Cagliari, Villasimius is blessed with a rich culture and wonderful tourist attractions that attract people from all over the world. It is a traditional coastal village with gorgeous beaches and diving sites, making it the perfect destination for diving junkies.
Villasimius is the pearl of Sardinia’s south. It boasts some of the most sensational beaches in Sardinia, all blessed with gorgeous blue waters and white sand. The breathtaking scenery of Villasimius includes glimmering crystal-clear waters coloured by intense shades of blue, lagoons, wonderful granite cliffs, enchanting coves, and verdant hills.
Villasimius has every kind of beach resort every vacationer dreams of. There are also marshes, salt pans, and flamingos found behind the amazing beaches. Moreover, the Marine Protected Area Capo Carbonara has wonderful diving sites where you can see barracuda and seagrass meadows. There is also the archaeological museum of Villasimius, which features an exhibit on treasures found at the bottom of the sea.
4- Alghero: Admirable Historical Site
Located in north-western Sardinia, Alghero is one of the best medieval cities on the island. It is a vibrant historic site that also offers many excellent restaurants, bars, and boutiques. It is the perfect destination for those looking for exploring historical sites besides having fun on the beaches.
Alghero has much to offer, including some interesting archaeological sites and towers to explore. Walking through the old town admiring the small houses, the cobbled streets, and the amazing churches will be an unforgettable experience.
On top of the list of historic cityscapes in Alghero is the sea walls protecting the city. Built in the 16th century, the walls run from Piazza Sulis in the south to Porta a Mare and the marina in the north. They are crowned by a walkway for pedestrians offering spectacular views over the blue sea.
5- Orosei: Charming Village
Orosei is a picturesque small town in the Province of Nuoro in east Sardinia. It is one of the best spots to stay while in Sardinia, and it is the perfect fit for different kinds of travellers.
Orosei boasts some 20 miles of beaches and coves along the Gulf of Orosei. It is home to some of the most stunning beaches in Italy.
Not only picturesque beaches but Orosei also offers rich historical heritage. It is a great place where you can walk through cobblestoned streets and admire the beauty of the natural monuments and the old houses. This charming village will take you on an adventure to discover the great, ancient culture of Sardinia.
Best Beaches in Sardinia
From north to south and east to west, Sardinia boasts many spectacular beaches along its coasts. Below are 10 of the most beautiful beaches in different parts of Sardinia.
1- Cala Goloritzé
Located in the Gulf of Orosei, Cala Goloritzé is a small cove that is considered one of Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches.
The beach was created by a landslide in 1962, and it is known for a 143-metre-tall pinnacle rising above it. the beach also boasts unique rock formations, especially a beautiful arch at the southern end.
With endless white pebbles, vibrant blue waters, Mediterranean shrubs, and a forest of holm oaks, Cala Goloritzé tops the list of Sardinia’s best beaches. Besides, the water in Cala Goloritzé is incredibly transparent that you will have good visibility even when it is 15 meters deep. Thus, it is a perfect place for swimming and snorkelling.
2- Cala Brandinchi
Located in north-western Sardinia between Olbia and San Teodoro, Cala Brandinchi is one of the most famous beaches in Sardinia. It is often called “Little Tahiti” in reference to its crystal-clear waters.
Cala Brandinchi is a wonderful cove featuring 700 metres of powdery white sand and shallow waters perfect for swimming. The rock formations emerging from the waters provide the perfect environment for marine species. Thus, Cala Brandinchi is a perfect place for snorkelling.
Besides, the beach is surrounded by Mediterranean pine woods making a serene atmosphere, and there are small sand dunes behind the beach protecting it from strong winds.
The easiest way to get to Cala Brandinchi from Olbia and San Teodoro is by car, but it can also be accessed by bike or bus.
3- Chia Beach
Located on the south coast of Sardinia, Chia Beach is one of the most iconic beaches in Sardinia. The beach features turquoise crystal-clear waters that meet fascinating peach-coloured sand. The clear water is perfect not only for swimming but also for snorkelling, scuba diving, and windsurfing.
There is a beautiful lagoon behind the beach where you can spot some cute pink flamingos. Dolphins can also be seen occasionally swimming in the pristine sea. In addition, Chia beach is sided with golden sand dunes dotted with beautiful juniper trees, which shelter the beach from the wind.
4- Porto Giunco
Porto Giunco Beach is located in Southwestern Sardinia, about 40 km from Cagliari, and just a short distance from the town of Villasimius. It is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches in Sardinia.
Porto Giunco Beach features clear, shallow waters that meet soft white and pink sand. The shallow waters are perfect for swimming, and their transparency makes them perfect for snorkelling and diving. In fact, there is so much marine life to admire in Porto Giunco.
At the back of the beach, there is a lagoon called “the Stagno di Notteri” which is home to beautiful pink flamingos and other birds. In addition, there are Mediterranean shrubs behind the lagoon with some juniper and eucalyptus trees.
5- Principe Beach
Principe Beach is one of Costa Smeralda’s most popular and beautiful beaches. With its crescent shape, Principe Beach stretches in a small cove bordered by rocks and surrounded by Mediterranean shrubs. The name of the beach is related to the Arab prince Aga Khan who discovered it.
Principe Beach is a white sandy beach that boasts amazing, clear, blue waters. It is also a good place for snorkelling as several species of fish swim in its shallow waters.
The beach is divided by rocks in its middle, and the rocks stretch out into the ocean for about 250 metres long. Besides, the beach is surrounded by mountains that give it a comfortable atmosphere.
6- Tuerredda Beach
Tuerredda Beach is a V-shaped beach that stretches for over 500 metres on the south coast of Sardinia, about 58 kilometres from Cagliari. It is a rustic beach sheltered from the wind thanks to its shape.
Although it is a small beach, Tuerredda Beach boasts breathtaking, natural beauty. It offers spectacular views over Isola di Tuerredda, which is located 150 meters off the coast. Besides, it overlooks a breathtaking sea view in all shades of blue.
Tuerredda Beach features fine white sand and clear waters that get deep within a few meters. Therefore, it is an ideal beach for swimming and snorkelling.
7- La Pelosa Beach
La Pelosa Beach is located on the westernmost tip of Sardinia, in the gulf of Asinara 2 kilometres from Stintino. It is one of the most beautiful beaches not only in Sardinia but also in Italy and Europe. stretching along 300 metres, the beach offers some splendid views
La Pelosa Beach features white sand and shallow turquoise waters, making it good for swimming and diving. There are two diving centres near the beach as well as a windsurfing centre for renting surfboards and canoes.
The beach has an ancient watchtower dating back to 1578, which was part of the marine defence system in Sardinia. The tower is the symbol of the beach, and it can be reached on foot.
8- Cala Domestica
Cala Domestica Beach is a hidden gem on the south-western coast of Sardinia. The beach stretches along 60 metres in an area that used to be a mining site where there still are some ruins left, making the beach surreal.
Cala Domestica Beach is perfect for basking, relaxing, and swimming in the clear waters. It features rich marine life, making it a popular destination for snorkelling and scuba diving.
There is a rocky path on the right-hand side of the beach leading to a smaller beach called “Cala Lunga.” It is a 20-metre-wide beach that can be reached by going past a cave in the rocks. Cala Lunga is less windy than Cala Domestica and more private.
9- Spiaggia Rosa
Spiaggia Rosa, or Pink Beach, is a unique beach, a natural masterpiece, and a paradise on Earth. It is located on Budelli Island on the northernmost tip of Sardinia. Being untouched, this beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole world.
Spiaggia Rosa owes its name to the colour of its sand. The sand is white with a pinkish hue due to fragments of sea shells, corals, and molluscs that the waves carry to the sand. The pink sand meets the pristine waters frontwards and the amazing Mediterranean vegetation behind.
Spiaggia Rosa is a private and preserved beach where it is forbidden for visitors to rest and for boats to moor. In the early 90s, the authorities closed access to the beach in order to preserve it, and no one could approach it whether by land or sea. However, it is now possible to admire the beauty of this beach by boat and from a distance.
10- Is Aruttas Beach
Located on the west coast of Sardinia, Is Aruttas is a splendid beach and a popular destination during the summer. The beach is situated near the small town of Oristano but is surrounded by wildness; there is nothing but some beautiful Mediterranean shrubs around.
Is Aruttas Beach is an arc featuring translucent, pristine waters that meet white sand made of tiny white and pinkish quartz pebbles. The sand of this beach is its most exotic feature; it is so soft resembling little grains of rice, and it glows in the sun. The water is incredibly transparent, and the seabed is rocky, which makes the beach a perfect spot for snorkelling.
The beach stretches along 480 metres, and it is a part of the Protected Marine Area of the Sinis Peninsula. There are spectacular rock formations on each side of the beach. Some people like to climb the rocks for some panoramic views or even for a jump.
Food: Top Dishes in Sardinian Cuisine
A holiday is never complete without hearty food, and a holiday in Sardinia promises such experience. Sardinian cuisine grabs everything with a special twist. You will find starters, snacks, main dishes, and desserts all with amazing and unique tastes. Below is a list of 5 hearty dishes from Sardinia that you should not miss during your holiday; take notes!
Culurgiones are a delicious plate of stuffed pasta that originated in Sardinia. The pasta is stuffed with potatoes, pecorino cheese, mint, olive oil, garlic, and animal fat. Sometimes a topping of sweet tomato sauce is added for extra flavour.
2- Spezzatino di Vitello con Piselli
“Spezzatino di Vitello con Piselli” is the Italian translation for “Veal Stew with Peas.” As simple as its name, this dish comprises a veal stew served with peas. However, it has a rich and strong flavour that you will never forget. This traditional Sardinian dish is originally from the countryside.
3- Pane Carasau
“Pane Carasau,” which means “toasted bread,” is a classic starter in Sardinia. It is a thin, crispy flatbread that can be eaten dry or wet with water or any sauce. Pane Carasau is a perfect snack or brunch that can be eaten on its own or accompanied by cheese and meat. It is often called the “Sardinian cracker” for its thin and crispy texture.
Seada is a must-try, rustic Sardinian dessert. It comprises a large ravioli filled with fresh Pecorino cheese and lemon peel. It is then deep-fried in olive oil until it gets a golden colour. It is served with honey and sugar drizzled over the top, which gives the dessert its sweetness.
5- Zuppa Gallurese
Zuppa Gallurese is a traditional dish from Sardinia’s northwest, precisely Gallura, that is partly similar to lasagne. It comprises some meat broth with pecorino cheese and some species including parsley, onion, mint, celery, and dried tomatoes. All these ingredients are added amid layers of stale bread, making it a unique and mouthwatering dish.