Sardinia, almost a continent
A continent in miniature, Sardinia certainly is as diverse as countries ten times its size, but crystallised into an island as old as time. An island brushed by sea breezes, herb-scented mountains and unhurried Sards, always ready to show their generous and warm hospitality to new visitors.
Very few places are as magnificently unspoilt and undiscovered as this enormous island; the second largest in the Mediterranean, with a history dating back 5,000 years. This is a land that still remains largely untouched by mass tourism, a land where you can still escape to the interior, explore mysterious ruins, or ride narrow gauge trains into the mountains..
Although part of Italy for more than a century, Sardinia retains its ancient, unique culture and language.
The coastline is one of endless variety: secluded rocky coves, soft, white sandy beaches, lonely wild beaches and towering cliffs. Hundreds of miles of beautiful scenery await you.
Inland, Sardinia is mountainous and rugged and boasts countless archaeological sites, the most enigmatic of which are the 7,000 prehistoric nuraghi – massive stone structures built entirely without mortar. Then there are the many fascinating Roman and Phoenician remains, and the enchanting Romanesque churches, scattered throughout the countryside.
For most visitors however, the main attraction is almost guaranteed sunshine, amazingly coloured seas and beautiful beaches. Sardinia is perfect for a relaxing beach holiday, with friendly and welcoming people and delicious food.
The Sardinian climate is typically Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot summers. The prevailing wind, the “Maestrale” blows from the northwest, whilst the hot winds from the south are known as the “Scirocco”. Sardinia has a long summer usually throughout May until October, with temperatures reaching as high as 38 C in July and August. Sea breezes influence the weather and swimming in the sea is fairly comfortable from May to October. Most of the rainfall is in autumn and spring and the weather can be warm and pleasant.
South West Sardinia
The south west of Sardinia boasts some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, together with two of its most fascinating offshore islands.
Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia. Often bypassed by arriving tourists heading for the beaches, Cagliari is a fascinating city, with an old city centre, cathedral, museums, a smart Marina quarter and long beach.
SANTA MARGHERITA DI PULA
Pula and Santa Margherita di Pula sit just 35 minute’s drive from Cagliari. Santa Margherita di Pula occupies a beautiful long sandy stretch of coastline, backed by pinewoods and the majestic Sulcis mountain range. Here you will find the world-renowned Forte Village Resort. The town of Pula sits 3km inland and is a lively place especially in summer, when locals and visitors alike stroll around its central piazza, or dine in one of the many cafes and restaurants. For those interested in history, the archaeological remains of Nora are close by.
Continuing west, the dazzling white sand dunes of Chia are some of the best on the island. Set in a transparent sea of greens and blues, this is definitely an area for beach lovers.
The offshore islands of Sant’ Antioco and San Pietro provide a fascinating contrast to the larger island. Joined to the Sardinian mainland by a three-kilometre causeway, Sant’ Antioco is a sparsely populated island, and home to some lovely beaches Its principle town is Sant’ Antioco, which has a good choice of restaurants and cafes. Its neighbouring island is the charming San Pietro, those only town is Carloforte, a delightful place, where the Genoan style of architecture, cuisine and dialect, date back to its first settlers; a Ligurian colony from the north of Italy.
Sardinia North & North East
Originally a sparsely populated area of rocky, impregnable Mediterranean scrub and 55 kilometres of virgin shoreline, the coast is a continuous succession of islets, rocky promontories and bays, with beaches of fine white sand, all bathed by a clear, emerald-coloured sea, from which the area takes its name. The potential of this natural paradise in north east Sardinia was first spotted by the Aga Khan, who began to develop the area in the 1960's, transforming it into one of the world's most exclusive resorts. Porto Cervo, with its natural harbour, is the hub of the Costa Smeralda and the centre of its social life. There are designer boutiques, chic bars and renowned restaurants including The Grill, Il Pescatore and Il Pomodoro, plus famous discotheques such as Billionaire, Sopravento, Pepero, and Il Ritual. One of the best-equipped marinas in the Mediterranean, it attracts many world famous yachting events and tournaments. For golfers, the Pevero Golf Club offers an 18-hole, 72-par course, designed by Robert Trent Jones.
Just across the bay from the Costa Smeralda, the small town of Porto Rotondo owes much of its Venetian influence to its major developer, the Count Dona Delle Rose. Although less well known in the UK than the Aga Khan's famous Porto Cervo development, Porto Rotondo attracts its own "jet setters" and celebrity spotting is still a popular pastime. Situated in the heart of town is the small Piazzetta San Marco, from which narrow cobbled streets, lined with shops, radiate outwards. Shopping, however, is not the town's main attraction, but rather the ancient round harbour, from which the town gets its name and which is now a bustling modern marina.
Situated at the northern tip of the Costa Smeralda, facing the Maddalena archipelago, Baia Sardinia has more than its fair share of glamour and style. This lively resort, only 10 minutes drive from Porto Cervo, boasts prestigious villas, hotels, restaurants, bars, discotheques and boutiques. The combination of white sandy beaches, clear, turquoise waters and a wild, rugged interior, make this the perfect location for a memorable holiday.
Cannigione is a little town situated on the shore of a sheltered inlet which forms the Gulf of Arzachena. The town has a selection of shops, supermarkets, restaurants and bars, plus a busy marina during the summer season. The perfect base for boat excursions to the archipelago of La Maddalena, Cannigione is just a short car drive to Baja Sardinia and Porto Cervo.
PALAU & LA MADDALENA
Palau is situated along the north-eastern tip of Sardinia, facing the archipelago of La Maddalena. Palau is the gateway to La Maddalena with regular daily ferries to the islands. It has a busy marina and a selection of restaurants, shops, cafes and bars. La Maddalena has a picturesque seafront promenade with cafés, bars and restaurants and has a somewhat Ligurian flavour. It has beautiful coves and beaches with amazing crystal clear waters. A bridge connects La Maddalena to its sister island of Caprera, home of Garibaldi (now a museum)
BADESI MARE & ISOLA ROSSA
Badesi Mare is located on the north coast of Sardinia between Castelsardo and S. Teresa di Gallura some 80km from Olbia airport. A long sandy beach stretches for 8km with a few beach shops, snack bars and water-sport facilities. Nearby is the market town of Badesi.
Isola Rossa is a little picturesque fishing village with a pretty harbour. The village has a few restaurants, bars and pizzerias and some excellent beaches nearby.
ORISTANO (West Coast)
Oristano may be Sardinia's smallest province, but it boasts some of the most dramatic and untouched scenery on the island. Natural oasis, vast lagoons with flocks of pink flamingos, imposing Roman ruins, magnificent medieval buildings and ancient Romanesque churches, await you in this remarkably unexplored corner of Sardinia. At the same time, you are never far from its enchanting coast, whose highlights include the spectacular cliffs of Sinis, the pristine waters of the white quartz beach at Mari Ermi, the unspoilt beaches of Putzu Idu and the untouched beaches of the isle of Mal di Ventre, which with the Sinis coastline formes a Marine protected zone and a diver's paradise. Oristano is the provincial capital, with a picturesque medieval town centre.
OLIENA (central), CALA GONONE & ARBATAX (east coast)
Oliena lies on the slopes of Monte Corrasi, overlooking the Cedrino valley. Nestling amongst vineyards, almond trees and olive groves, it has a picturesque old town and market square; the traditional houses typically built in unfired brick and straw. The surrounding area produces olives, excellent wines and exquisite cheeses. Oliena is also well known for handicrafts, including embroidery and jewellery. Beautifully situated in the Golfo di Orosei, the former fishing village of Cala Gonone huddles around its small port, and despite recently improved access, has still not entirely lost its sense of isolation. With its imposing mountain range, wooded hillsides and hidden beaches, this is an area for explorers; for those who wish to experience simple pleasures in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The small town of Arbatax lies on Cape Bellavista situated on the east coast. A commercial port and seaside resort, Arbatax is also the terminus of the narrow gauge railway.
The surrounding area offers spectacular cliffs,amazing sandy beaches with pristine waters, unspoilt inland forests, caves and picturesque villages scattered amongst the mountains.
Sardinia South East
TORRE DELLE STELLE, VILLASIMIUS & COSTA REI
The south east coast of Sardinia is an area of exceptional natural beauty. This will soon become apparent as you begin the tortuous coastal road, just after the salt lagoons on the outskirts of Cagliari towards Villasimius/Costa Rei. Rugged mountain ranges, partially covered by Mediterranean flora, drop precipitously into a clear sea. The resort of Torre delle Stelle is situated some 30km from Cagliari; a cluster of villas, scattered around a rugged promontory covered with Mediterranean flora, leading to two white sandy beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. Torre delle Stelle has its own supermarket, shops, restaurant and pizzerias, bars and additional facilities nearby. Further south you reach the resort and town of Villasimius some 50km from Cagliari. Coastline around Villasimius is dotted with small salt-water lagoons and islets, where white sandy beaches and coves, flanked by smooth granite boulders, face an emerald sea. Considered by many to offer some of the best beaches on the island. To cater for guests, the town has bars, pizzerias, restaurants, supermarkets, shops, a bank, discotheques and a leisure marina. West of Villasimius, the road curves and dips, following the contours of this beautiful coast and affording wonderful views of the islands of Isola dei Cavoli and Serpentara. Approximately 15km from Villasimius, and some 65km from Cagliari, begins the ribbon of beaches known as the Costa Rei. This 8km stretch of coastline is renowned for its golden sands and transparent waters; the luminous hues varying from turquoise blue to emerald green.
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