Things to do in Sardinia: Attractions and places to visit

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The Italian Mediterranean island of Sardinia is a holiday destination full of fascinating contrasts. Between the glamorous Costa Smeralda in the north and the historic island capital Cagliari in the south lies a fascinating landscape that has something to offer for every holiday wish. You can expect lively holiday resorts with everything that belongs to a perfect beach holiday.

You will find lonely areas with romantic villages, whose charm you can discover on extended hikes. Those who like sports will find excellent conditions for surfing, kiting and demanding hiking or climbing tours. If you are interested in culture and history, the numerous buildings from the eventful history of the island will inspire you.

Sardinia also has a lot to offer in culinary terms. Great wines grow on barren soils and the many small restaurants surprise again and again with delicious local specialities. It is worth planning one or more days of holiday for exploring this great island.

Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Sardinia:

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1. Alghero and the Nettuno Grotto

The small town in the northwest of Sardinia is characterized by its Spanish past. The old town, surrounded by thick walls, is picturesquely situated on a rocky promontory. A stroll through the medieval town centre leads through narrow alleys and steep steps to numerous historical sights of Sardinia. Especially the gothic cathedral Santa Maria and the venerable Palazzo Guillot are worth seeing.

Not far from Alghero lies the Grotte di Nettuno, one of the most impressive stalactite caves in Sardinia. The entrance to the 4 km long cave system is located just above sea level on a towering rock face. The cave is reached by a steep staircase with more than 600 steps, from which spectacular views of the sea and coast are offered. If you like it more comfortable, you can also take a boat to the entrance of the cave.

2. The island capital Cagliari

The vibrant island metropolis lies in the extreme south of the island. The biggest attraction is the oldest district of Castello. The quarter is surrounded by a mighty wall and is prominently situated on a hill. From the panoramic terrace of the San Remy Bastion you can enjoy a wonderful view of the panorama of the city and the vast Gulf of Cagliari.

The cathedral Santa Maria di Castello is worth a visit. The impressive church building dates back to 1217 and has been extended again and again over the centuries. The façade and the magnificent interior show an interesting cross-section of all architectural styles from Romanesque to Baroque. Also worth seeing is the National Archaeological Museum, which gives a comprehensive impression of the history of Sardinia.

3. Castelsardo and the Elephant Rock

Near the medieval town of Castelsardo lies the Elephant Rock, one of the most popular and much visited monuments in Sardinia. The Roccia dell’elefante is a large weathered boulder whose contours resemble an elephant. This unusual rock served the nuraghers, the prehistoric inhabitants of Sardinia, as a burial place for the urns of the deceased.

Castelsardo owes its high ranking on the list of the “I borghi più belli d’Italia”, the most beautiful municipalities of Italy, to the lovingly maintained townscape. Here you will find great photo motifs and ideal conditions for an extensive exploration tour.

4. Sinis Peninsula and Ruins of Tharros

The 20 km long peninsula reaches far into the open sea and is a nature reserve where flamingos and other rare bird species live. On Sinis stands the church of San Giovanni, the oldest Christian sacred building in Italy. The area offers a variety of interesting sights.

The main attraction is the open-air museum with the ancient settlement of Tharros on the southern tip of the peninsula, which is only 100 m wide. A stroll through ancient streets, past temples, houses and shops gives an idea of how Carthaginians, Romans and Byzantines lived here almost 2,000 years ago.

5. Villages Mamoiada and Orgosolo

The two villages Mamoiada and Orgosolo are located at the edge of the National Park Gennargentu. The small town of Mamoiada is famous for its typical Sardinian masks, which can be admired in the collection of the Museo delle Maschere Mediterranee. Orgoloso lived long from the myth of being the most notorious “bandit village” in Sardinia.

Whether that was ever right is still unclear today. Today in Orgoloso you will not meet bandits, but the Murales. This is a variety of artistic murals that have been decorating the facades since 1968 and that repeatedly take up new political, social or cultural themes and present them in an original way.

6. Gola Gorropu Gorge

A walk through the gorge of Gola Gorropu leads you into a breathtaking landscape. Between up to 500 m vertically towering rock faces you cross one of the deepest gorges in Europe. Already the footpath to the gorge offers a wonderful landscape experience.

It runs through extensive forests with many holm oaks, which provide cool shade even in midsummer. The light is particularly pleasant in the early afternoon, when this sight is transformed into an almost magically illuminated natural spectacle. Be sure to think of enough liquid in your luggage!

7. Nuraghe of Barumini & Natural Park Giara di Gesturi

The nuraghi are among the most famous sights of Sadinia. Nuraghe is the name given to prehistoric, tower-like buildings, the remains of which can still often be found in Sardinia. The Nuraghe of Barumini is one of the best preserved collections of these typical buildings, which were once used as residential and defensive structures, but also as places of worship and burial. The Barumini Nuraghe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Giara di Gesturi Nature Reserve begins not far from the charming town of Barumini. The Cavallini della Giara live here between macchia and cork oaks. These are small wild horses that live together with sheep and semi-wild pigs in this largely untouched landscape. At the edge of the natural park you can admire other nuraghi, which are much smaller than those of Barumini.

8. The legendary Costa Smeralda

This stretch of coast in northeastern Sardinia owes its famous name to the intense emerald green of the sea. The Costa Smeralda stands for luxurious tourism at the highest level and has a magical attraction for stars and celebrities from all over the world. Here you will find a fascinating coexistence of breathtaking scenery, countless opportunities for prestigious shopping and a highly decorated star gastronomy.

All places of the Costa Smeralda originated only about 50 years ago and were fitted into the landscape with a lot of sense of proportion. The architecture is mostly restrained and simple and behind inconspicuous facades hide luxury hotels or representative luxury villas. A stroll through the narrow streets of the fashionable capital Porto Cervo will inspire you and a visit to a café on the famous Piazzetta will give you a lasting holiday memory.

9. La Maddalena Archipelago

The archipelago of Arcipelago della Maddalena lies on the northern edge of the Costa Smeralda and offers a wonderful contrast to the pulsating hustle and bustle around Porto Cervo. The archipelago comprises seven large and numerous smaller islands, all with dream beaches in magnificent bays. The best way to explore the islands is with a rented motorboat, which you can drive without a licence, depending on their size.

The water is crystal clear and offers excellent conditions for snorkeling and diving. The most beautiful beach is on the island of Budelli. The Spiaggia Rosa, the “Rosa beach” owes its name to the intense colour of the sand, which is interspersed with tiny pieces of red coral.

10. Wine tasting at a Sardinian winery.

The dry and sunny climate of Sardinia offers the best conditions for the cultivation of vines. All restaurants and cafés offer simple local wines that taste fantastic and go perfectly with the regional cuisine. Especially from the local grape varieties Cannonau and Vermentino top wines are pressed, which count internationally to the best of their kind.

If you are interested in Sardinian wine, you should visit one of the hospitable wineries and taste their great wines during a guided tour. The Sella e Mosca winery in Alghero, which offers daily guided tours and tastings, and the Argiolas winery in Serdiana, where you can taste the award-winning wines of this renowned winery after registering, offer good opportunities for this.

More things to do and activities for your Sardinia holiday

Best time to visit Sardinia

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Sardinia:

May, June, July, August, September, and October

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Sardinia.

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