Sardinia, known for its stunning turquoise waters, varied coastline and enchanting locals, is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. This autonomous region of Italy is located in the Western Mediterranean, just south of the French island of Corsica and west of mainland Italy.
Whether you arrive by boat or by plane, stay in sleepy villas or luxury hotels, Sardinia offers something for everyone. Looking to retreat in luxury? Check out these super luxe Sardinia vacation rentals.
“Life in Sardinia is probably the best a man can wish: 24,000 kilometers of forests, countryside, shores immersed in a miraculous sea, this corresponds to what I would suggest God to give us as paradise.” Fabrizio De Andrè.
Here’s 10 Can’t Miss Experiences To Enjoy in Sardinia
1. Visit Sardinia’s must-see beaches
Whether you’re looking for sandy beaches, rocky beaches, pebble beaches, or shingle beaches – Sardinia’s got you covered. The incredibly varied Sardinian coast line is dotted with an infinite number of enchanting inlets and coves, some easily accessible, while others are entirely impossible to reach, unless from the sea. The eastern and southern coasts have the best beaches with only a few in the north-west making the cut. Need a visual? Check out this awesome infographic of Sardinia’s top beaches.
2. Hike the “Wild Blue” for stunning goat’s eye views of the Orosei Gulf
Head into the wildest part of Sardinia, home to mysterious caves, blinding white beaches and gigantic giant’s tomb. For a goat’s eye view of the Gulfo di Orosei, try Selvaggio Blu or “Wild Blue”, a walking route of 30 undulating and challenging miles. The path works its way under olive trees, past old stone shepherds’ huts and along dazzling overhangs that thrum with swallows. It drops to quiet coves and steep limestone inlets that few tourists ever see. The most extreme hikers bring harnesses and ropes to rappel sheer cliffs that lead to the loneliest sections of coast. Others hike by day and hire rubber dinghies to whisk them back to quaint inns each night. No matter the method, hiring a guide is a must because finding the route among the many paths made by animals can be difficult.
3. Take the coastal highway to the celebrity-clad Emerald Coast
Just a two hours’ drive from Orosei, lies the playground of Italian playboys and Arab oligarchs whom moor their mega yachts in twinkling harbors, while the paparazzi have a field day. Rent a car and embark on the fascinating journey on Sardinia’s panoramic SS131 coastal highway road, which leads from Sassari to Porto Torres then on to the magnificent Emerald Coast.
4. Get a taste of Sardinia through its delicacies
Sardinia is a foodie’s haven with lots of unique experiences. Despite being an island, Sardinia has only recently centered on fish and seafood within its cuisine. At constant risk of invasion from the coast, locals retreated inland and to the mountains, and so the food was often rustic and basic. Like mainland Italy, the Sardinian diet is wholly based around breads and antipasti, olive oil, meat, pasta, cheese and wine.
However, if you are brave enough, you can try the roasted trattalia, which consists of lungs, liver and heart lamb, wrapped with its pleura and then braided as a plait with the intestines. Interested in trying some boiled snails? Locals favor a version known as, baballoccias, a dish of shelled slugs baked with breadcrumbs, parsley and garlic. Of course, no trip to Sardinia is complete without trying casu mrazzu. This Sardinian specialty is made out of sheep cheese, which has been fermented and set outside to allow cheese flies to lay eggs inside of it. The larvae (maggots) then break down the cheese’s fats and making it spreadable. It’s not my cup of tea, but the locals are crazy about it!
5. Get lost in Cagliari
Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital city, offers African palm trees, Mediterranean sunlight and romantic promenades. Get lost in the maze of alleys, squares, trattorias, steps, museums, domes and ocher-colored façades that rise to Castelllo. Be sure to stop by Poetto, a very long strip of sand that runs between a transparent sea and a pink pond framed by flamingos in flight.
6. Sail out to The Minor Islands
There are three of them and all spectacular. The island of San Pietro is known for its high and rocky coastline. La Maddalena is popular for the elegance of its squares, for its holiday atmosphere, and its sapphire-colored sea teeming with marine life. Tavolara because it rises majestically from the middle of the sea, magnificent and rocky; popular for diving among the limestone spires of the Shoal of the Pope, and its white sand of the beaches.
7. Visit Sardinia’s Seven Royal Cities
If you’re after scenic views, check out Castelsardo, perched on a high promontory, on the Gulf of Asinara, just 30kms northeast of Sassari. Castelsardo is one of the seven Sardinian Royal Cities. Today, the castle provides the stunning venue for the town’s Museum of Basketry and Wickerwork, in which visitors are introduced to one of the oldest of Mediterranean crafts.
8. Dive into the sapphire waters of Sardinia
Sardinia, with its 1897 km (1178.74 mi) of coastline, is a divers’ paradise. In the north, visit Capo Testa, in the headland of Santa Teresa di Gallura, and the Maddalena Archipelago. In the east, there’s the Orosei Gulf with myriads of hidden caves that spread underneath the cliffs. In the south, explore the protected marine area of Capo Carbonara, which includes the islands of Cavoli and Serpentara, with the mysterious shipwreck of the Romagna in Capitana. In the west, dive amongst the tuna-fishing nets, relics and statues around the islands of San Pietro and Sant’Antioco.
9. Take it slow on the Trenino Verde
Looking to take it easy? Climb abroad the Trenino Verde, a slow, sluggish, quiet steam engine train that remains one of the best ways of exploring Sardinia’s midlands. This train glides just at the right speed to appreciate the island landscape in every aspect, while you proceed, gingerly, in an environment unreachable by other means. There are several tourist routes that run between mid-June to mid-September.
10. Sip your way through Sardinian wine country
Cannonau is the wine synonymous with Sardinia. The grape is grown all over this island, a special variety of what is generally known as grenache, producing explosive, potent wines. The great majority of the vineyards, and the highest-quality wines, are produced in a triangle that stretches along an idyllic coastline from Orosei to Bari Sardo, and then into the wild mountainous interiors as far as Atzara. After centuries of small vineyards making wine solely for family consumption, a new generation of independent winemakers has emerged creating larger vineyards and concentrating on making quality cannonau. Each village here is producing wines that have their own special character.
Sardinia offers a pristine landscape for foodies, adventurists, historians and nature lovers alike. Don’t miss out on all that the beautiful island of Sardinia has to offer.
Have you been to Sardinia? What are you looking forward to most about visiting?
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