Holidays to Sardinia are something else. This Italian island has a Spanish side and a special dish…

Sardinia might be just 120 miles from Italy, but it doesn’t always feel like it. Before you group this island with the mainland, check the language – while Italian is widely spoken, Sardinian – or sardo – is the official language here. Alghero, on the island’s northwest coast, was ruled by Spain for more than 400 years, so the menus in this city’s cobbled old town come in Catalan, too. You can see the Spanish influence in the architecture and its landmark cathedral. The best beaches are up this way. The island’s coastline is nearly 2,000 miles long, and is full of cute bays and sandy coves.

Why pick Sardinia

The beach life

Sardinia is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world, like the well-loved Costa Smeralda, which puts a glamourous spin on the usual beach scene. For something quieter, the calm coves of Cala Gonone and the cliffs of Cala Goloritzé are super peaceful and perfect for a spot of snorkelling.

A mix of history

This island’s rich history can be found across its archaeological sites and old monuments. The Nuragic complexes, particularly Su Nuraxi in Barumini, are unique to the island and offer a look into the prehistoric era. Sardinia's bustling old towns, like Alghero and Cagliari, blend medieval architecture with a more modern style, and provide a scenic backdrop for evening strolls along the ancient walls.

Natural landscapes

If you head inland, you’ll find dramatic mountains and lush forests for hiking and biking adventures. The Gennargentu National Park packs challenging trails, breathtaking views and the chance to spot wild horses and golden eagles – we recommend hiking to the top of Punta La Marmora, the highest peak on the island. Then, the limestone caves of Neptune’s Grotto are a must-visit for their stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Windsurfing in Porto Pollo is another popular pick. With clear waters and consistent winds, it’s a windsurfer's paradise. It doesn’t matter if you're a beginner or pro, you'll love catching the waves here.

Where to stay

Cagliari

Sardinia’s historic capital is everything you want it to be on the south coast, with lively markets, a hilltop castle and a big marina. The city's charming districts like Castello and Villanova have cute, cobbled streets and a classic Italian feel. On this coast, you’ve got top beaches like Poetta Beach just a few steps away.

Alghero

This city has been fought over for centuries and was ruled by Spain for more than 400 years. It’s been nicknamed ‘Barceloneta’ for its Catalan cuisine and dialect, but the small piazzas and old town bars are best enjoyed with a very Italian Aperol spritz. You’re not far to visit the iconic Neptune’s Grotto from here and you can take a dip at Maria Pia Beach.

Costa Smeralda

Costa Smeralda is one of the most expensive and exclusive destinations in Europe. Its beaches are unreal and mostly kept tucked away in little coves. This northeastern part of the island includes places like Olbia, Porto Cervo, La Maddalena and Santa Teresa. You’ll definitely find the five-star hotels, high-end spas and Michelin-starred restaurants here.

Festivals and events

Every year, Sardinia hosts a load of festivals and events that showcase the island's unique heritage. From the colourful costumes of the Sagra del Redentore to the equestrian spectacle of the Cavalcata Sarda, you really get to see Sardinia up close.



Sa Sartiglia

What: A medieval horseback tournament

Where: Oristano

When: Last Sunday of Lent and Shrove Tuesday

Key highlights: Skilful horseback displays, elaborate costumes and traditional folk music.



Sant'Efisio

What: A religious procession and celebration

Where: Cagliari

When: 1st-4th May

Key highlights: Colourful parades with people dressed in traditional Sardinian costume, followed by feasts and local music.



Top tip – If you want to see these traditional celebrations firsthand, plan your trip to Sardinia during the peak festival season, which typically falls in the spring and summer months. This is when the island comes alive with music, dancing, and cultural festivities that you won't want to miss.

Getting around

Bus

Sardinia's ARST bus network connects major towns and tourist destinations, and you can buy tickets from machines or when you get on the bus. You can also get them in local shops – they’ll have signs on their windows to show they’re selling bus tickets – and that way you can also ask them about the timetable.

In Cagliari, you can download the CTM Bus Finder app on iOS and Android to buy local bus tickets online, but most other places are a bit more old fashioned.

Train

The Trenino Verde is an experience itself, offering scenic rides through the island's prettiest parts. The service means ‘little green train’ and travels down old narrow-gauge tracks to connect the coast to the hinterland. It’s a bit of the island’s history and a fun alternative way to see the landscape.

Bike hire

Cycling is a great way to explore Sardinia. There are loads of rental shops where you can rent them for the day or longer to explore the coastal paths and rugged mountain tracks.

Ferry

To see Sardinia's coastlines and nearby islands, ferry trips are a laidback way to travel from one place to the next and see the island from the sea. You can even sail to Corsica for a daytrip from Sardinia.

The non-touristy pick

Instead of joining the usual tourist paths, visit the less explored but equally stunning La Maddalena Archipelago. You get there by boat and this group of islands offers unspoiled natural beauty and some quieter beaches.



Our pick

Take it from someone that's been there – here’s a top tip from our team:

“We went on a great boat trip from Alghero. You get a boat across the bay to a rocky cove where you can swim and snorkel for a couple of hours – we saw loads of colourful fish and starfish. Then, the crew made us some lunch and we got to sail to another spot before heading back to the harbour.” – Daisy Colley



Picks that don’t cost a penny

You can visit the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari for free on the first Sunday of each month. It’s a great spot to dive into Sardinia’s ancient history without spending a euro.

At a Glance

  • Hop between sandy coves on the north coast
  • Spot stalagmites in Neptune’s Grotto
  • Hike to the top of Punta La Marmora

Top Destinations

TOP THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN SARDINIA

BEACHES

SHOPPING

NIGHTLIFE

FOOD & DRINK