Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily) and arguably one of the most beautiful.
Sardinia is an Italian island however it is extremely protective of its Sardinian identity and even has some autonomy from the state.
Home to over 1.5 million people and visited by millions of tourists every year Sardinia has something for everyone.
Sardinia is often referred to as the Med’s answer to the Caribbean, it has over 2000km of coastline, majority of which offers up blue flag beaches with turquoise sea’s and bright white (and sometimes pink) sands. However, if it’s not the beach that interests you then that poses no problem for Sardinia.
Lined with acres of countryside and layered with mountains in its interior, Sardinia has a lot to offer for the intrepid explorer. With caves, canyons, peaks, trails and Neolithic sites there are ample opportunities to go hiking, rock climbing, canyoning, history hunting and so much more.
Sardinia is the perfect summer holiday destination; I have been here 4 times and each year have discovered something new and spectacular.
When is the best time to visit Sardinia?
Sardinia welcomes visitors all year round, however, if you want to get the best of the sunny weather it’s best to visit during the summer season between May – October, where temperatures can reach up to and over 30 degrees celsius.
Although I must let you know, every time I have come to Sardinia during peak season there has been some sort of rain or storm. I would advise packing a jumper or hoodie to keep you warm if you encounter stormy weather. Usually, you will find that these storms pass quickly and the sunshine returns.
What is the best way to get to Sardinia
There are three main airports that serve Sardinia, these are Olbia (North East), Cagliari (South) and Alghero (East). You can fly into these regions from most London airports, and if you catch it at the right time you can get return flights for as little as £60.
If you are looking to do either Northern or Eastern Sardinia as mentioned in this post I would advise flying into Olbia Airport.
What is the best way to see Sardinia?
Rent a car
If you want to experience the best of Sardinia then your only option is to drive/rent a car. There is no Uber on the island and taxi’s are also ridiculously expensive (it’s roughly €75 for a 20-minute journey). There are local bus routes you can use but again these are timely and buses are infrequent.
The roads and motorways that serve Sardinia are often through the mountains, so not only will your destination be a treat for the eyes but also your journey too!
If you are looking to rent a car I would advise going with Maggiore. The car cost us €340 for 1 driver for 1 week including full insurance. Whatever you do, DO NOT rent a car with Sixt. We were originally booked with them but had such a bad experience that we swapped to Maggiore.
Where to stay in Sardinia?
If you stay in Northern Sardinia, I would recommend staying in the regions and surrounding areas of Santa Teresa di Gallura or Palau which are located roughly an hour from Olbia Airport. Here you are in the perfect location to visit the La Maddelena islands (which I have discussed further down this post) as well as some of Sardinia’s top-rated beaches such a Capo Testa.
Click here to take a look at the accommodation we stayed at during our time in Northern Sardinia.
If you are looking to stay in Eastern Sardinia I would recommend staying in the Dorgali region which is 1.5 hours from Olbia Airport. We stayed in Cala Gonone at Hotel Bue Marino, next to the coast, but if you prefer the mountains I would recommend this hotel.
Alternatively, if you are driving through Europe and have a campervan, you can book to stay at some camping sites or find some wild camping spots. My best advice would be to download Park4Night and CaraMapas to help you find your perfect spot for the night.
Budgeting for Sardinia
Unfortunately, Sardinia isn’t the cheapest place, but thankfully you can get coffee for as little as €1.50, an Aperol spritz for just €5 and a carafe of wine starting at just €7. In terms of dining out most dishes start from around €15+. We spent between €55-€100 for 2 people on both lunch and dinner (obviously this was dependant on how much alcohol we drank and if we had enough room for dessert).
If you are thinking of going on an excursion or boat trip most prices will start at around €80 and prices with fluctuate depending on what time of year you are visiting.
Best things to eat and drink in Sardinia
The food in Sardinia does not disappoint. I can safely say I have never had a bad meal whilst holidaying here and have definitely returned back from my holidays a few lbs heavier, but it is worth every bite and every gulp.
Gnocchetti alla Sarda
This dish uses malloreddus pasta. It’s not actually gnocchi as the name would suggest, it just holds a similar shape to gnocchi but in miniature form, hence ‘gnocchetti’. This is a tomato based, sausage pasta dish which is so delicious, I order it multiple times when I’m away. If it’s available, the dish is best served with lashings of pecorino cheese on top rather than your traditional parmesan.
This is a wafer-thin light and crispy bread (kind of like Sardinia’s answer to a poppadom). You will almost certainly get with every starter when you eat out.
Not quite to everyone’s taste, but a ‘must-try’ if you want to tick trying all the authentic Sardinian cuisine of the list. These are deep-fried pastries filled with pecorino cheese and drizzled with honey. Essentially, it’s like a sweet ravioli.
A delicious white wine that is grown and produced predominately in Sardinia. This is a great accompaniment to all of your Sardinian dinners.
Cozze Alla Marinara
Cozze Alla Marinara is my favourite starter of all time. It’s a simple dish of mussels marinated in garlic and white wine sauce. My favourite thing to do is devour the mussels and then mop up the sauce with some chunky bread.
Mirto is a liqueur that is popular on the islands of Sardinia, Corsica and Capraia. Mirto is made from the Myrtle leaf which grows all over Sardinia. Mirto is an acquired taste, but again if you want to try something authentically Sardinian then put this on the list.
Visit an Agroturismo for Porchetta Su Porcheddu
All over the island, you will find a plethora of Agrotourismo’s. These are independently owned farms of which parts of the land have been transformed into a restaurant/accommodation combos. The food provided is organically produced fresh from the farm.
If you visit an Agroturismo I would highly recommend trying Porchetta Su Porcheddu which is a suckling pig that is cooked slowly on a spit and usually accompanied by roast potatoes.
Best things to do in Northern & Eastern Sardinia
Now obviously I haven’t been to every amazing spot in either Northern or Eastern Sardinia, but below is a list of the top places either me or my family have been to in these regions, so hopefully, this helps you put together a decent itinerary if you’ve been inspired to take a trip here.
La Maddalena Island and La Maddalena Archipelago
Sardinia has a lot of stunning beaches, but La Maddalena island and the surrounding islands in the Archipelago has to be one of Sardinia’s biggest gems. Some of the beaches here even have pink sand, but these are protected from the public.
To get on to La Maddalena Island you can take the ferry from Palau. Click here to access the timetable. If you take a trip here make sure you head to Caprera.
Other islands in the La Maddalena Archipelago are only accessible by boat, so I would highly recommend booking a tour that takes you around to multiple islands. I always book with Palau Excursions, it’s a great day out filled with food, drink, snorkelling and swimming.
Take a day trip to Corsica
If like me you like fitting in as many countries as possible, then this day trip to Corsica Island (belonging to France) will be for you. You can catch the ferry from Santa Teresa di Gallura which takes you to the town of Bonifacio in Southern Corsica. Click here to look at the ferry timetable.
9 times out of 10 if you Google “best beaches in Sardinia” Capo Testa will come up in the search. This beach is located in the town of Santa Teresa di Gallura. The road running through town splits the beach into two parts so you have two sides of the beach to choose from. One side is noticeably windier than the other so make sure you choose wisely.
Additionally, if you get bored of sunbathing there is a local nature reserve nearby where you can hike and get some stunning views of the beach and surrounding area.
This is one of the best areas to come if you are a keen scuba diver. It’s also the place to come if you like to party and to socialise on your holiday. Make sure you head to Phi Beach and Nikki Beach to find some of the best bars in the area. Phi beach is also a great place to watch the sunset.
If you want to explore and experience a billionaires playground then Porto Cervo is the place to come. It’s home to some amazing superyachts and the famous Billionaires nightclub.
Located just 25 mins from Olbia Airport, Cala Brandinchi is the perfect place to catch the last bit of sun before you head home. It’s also just a great beach to visit if you are staying in this area.
When you arrive you will have two car parks to choose from either north or south. The beach isn’t that long and it’s quick to walk from one end to the other so don’t worry about what car park you choose. It’s important to note that parking here can be quite expensive. It cost us roughly €8 for 3 hours
Castelsardo is a small, picturesque town built on an old medieval fortress. Its views are like that of a miniature Positano so it’s definitely worth a little trip there for the day.
Golfo Di Orosei
Golfo Di Orosei is a series of stunning beaches backdropped by the rugged Sardinian mountains. Much like the La Maddalena Archipelago, this spot is one of the most highly rated spots in Sardinia. The best way to access these beaches is by boat. Many of these beaches can be accessed by boat only. You can catch a boat trip from the Cala Gonone Marina where you have plenty of tour providers to choose from.
If like me you are unable to catch a boat tour due to windy weather conditions you can hike to some of these beaches. From Cala Gonone, you can drive 7 minutes to Cala Fuili and take the 2-hour hike to Cala Luna (pictured below). It’s not the easiest hike so make sure you pack the right shoes.
If you are unable to catch a boat and want to visit some of the other beaches along the gulf such as Cala Goloritze then you will have to drive to Golgo Plateau in the province of Baunei. This is approximately 1.5 hours from Cala Gonone. The hike from Golgo Plateau to Cala Goloritze will take you another 1.5 hours.
Lago Di Cedrino
Lago Di Cedrino is a peaceful lake located in the Dorgali region, just a 15-minute drive from Cala Gonone. Head here to do a spot of kayaking if you are up for a bit of adventure. Alternatively, if you just want to enjoy these views, you can visit Villa Cedrino for a spot of lunch.
Gola Su Gorropu is one of the deepest gorges in Europe.
If you are staying in the Cala Gonone region you can take a day out to do this hike. It’s just a 30-minute drive from Cala Gonone. The drive up to the designated parking is just as beautiful as the hike it’s self.
Put Bar Silana into your sat nav and the car park is located nearby. The walk takes 1/2 – 2 hours one way. Once you get down near the gorge you will have to pay a €5 to enter. How far you can go into the gorge will depend on the weather and the time of year.
When you decide to head back a whole 2 hours of uphill walking is in store. If you are feeling particularly tired you can pay €15 to catch a jeep back up. However, this will drop you off at a slightly different point.
I hope I have inspired you to book Sardinia for your next summer holiday. However, if you are looking for more summer holiday inspiration click here to view my guide to Sagres in The Algarve.
If you are looking for more summer holiday inspiration check out my guide to the Dominican Republic.