Top 10 Things to Do in Sardinia

by Jessica on May 24, 2010

by | May 24th, 2010  

sardiniaMost people are familiar with the Italian island of Sicily, but not everyone knows there’s another large island off the coast of Italy. Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian) lies to the west of the peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea just to the south of the French island of Corsica.

Only Sicily is a bigger island in the Mediterranean, but Sardinia remains far less visited – so I thought it made sense to introduce you to the best things to do in Sardinia (part of my ongoing “top 10 things to do in Italy” series) with this excellent list of recommendations by Sardinia resident, Paolo Rossi. Take it away, Paolo!

The Sardinian tourism promotion office created a slogan for this Italian island; ‘Almost a continent.’ I couldn’t think of a more striking slogan.

Sardinia is one of the most ancient bodies of land in Europe. Many nations have tried to conquer Sardinia since around 6,000 BC, but not many were able to control the island for a long period of time. Phoenicians, Romans, Moors and Catalans, all have ruled (parts of) Sardinia, and left their tracks at its sandy beaches. This has not divided Sardinia, but has resulted in a culture with a wide variety of flavors, of which ten have been listed below.

Top 10 Things to Do in Sardinia (According to Paolo)

  1. 1-nuragheVisit one of the 8,000 Nuraghi
    Nuraghi are beehive-like stone dwellings from the bronze age, and can only be found on Sardinia. The exact use of these structures is unknown, but many believe that they were either used as religious temples, or military strongholds. The most well known Nuraghe is Nuraxi su Barumini, which has been declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Barumini is located at approximately 60 kilometers North of the Sardinian capital Cagliari.

  2. 2-stintinoSee your feet in clear blue water
    Sardinia is believed to have the most beautiful beaches in the entire Mediterranean Sea. Beaches like Cala Gonone, Li Coggi beach, or the touristic Costa Smeralda consistently appear in the top of ‘The World’s Best Beaches’ lists of international magazines and travel websites. However, the most amazing beach is La Pelosa, near Stintino, at around 50 kilometers North of Alghero Airport. Usually, the small town of Stintino only has 1,200 inhabitants, but this number is a LOT higher during the summer, when literally thousands of Sardinians and tourists visit these stunning beaches.

  3. 3-flamingosTake photos of Sardinian wildlife
    Just like many other islands, Sardinia has a very rich and unique wildlife. The isolation has pretty much given it the gift of diversity. None of the animals that live on or near Sardinia are poisonous or very dangerous, so you can explore the island without fear. Unique species of deer and foxes live in the woods and mountains, while many different types of birds, including the Chaffinch and Flamingo, visit the island every year in great numbers. Monk seals and turtles live in the Sardinian waters, and the Balaenoptera Physalus (or fin whale) can been spotted near the shores quite regularly.

  4. 4-la-maddalenaFeel completely relaxed at La Maddalena
    Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Di La Maddalena is a national park in the North of Sardinia. During clear days, you can see the coastline of the French island Corsica from the most Northern island of La Maddalena, Isola Razzoli. This archipelago, of which most islands can only be reached by boat, offers an unspoilt nature, stunning views, friendly people, and nearly anything else you need to feel completely away from this world. The Louis Vuitton Trophy, one of the most prestigious sailing races in the world, visits La Maddalena with a good reason!

  5. 5-bastion-san-remyEnjoy the view of Bastione San Remy
    The Sardinian capital Cagliari was built on seven hills. The oldest part of the city, Castello, lies on top of one of these hills, resulting in a stunning view of the Gulf of Cagliari, or Angels Gulf. Especially from Bastione San Remy, which was built in the typical local white lime-stone, you can see most other parts of Cagliari, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. When you have reached the top of Bastione San Remy, the beautiful Romanesque Cathedral of Cagliari is at walking distance, making the climb even more worthwhile.

  6. 6-yachtsOoh and aah at Porto Cervo Marina

    The Costa Smeralda, in the North-East of Sardinia, is the favorite holiday destination of some of the most wealthiest people in the world. Ever since Prince Aga Khan visited this region in the 60′s, many celebrities have chosen the Sardinian Emerald Coast to spend their vacation. This makes finding an affordable hotel during the summer months relatively difficult, but the side effect is that there’s a lot to see when you’re strolling along the shoreline.

    In July and August, many millions of Euros float in the harbour of Porto Cervo, which is the place to be for luxury yacht spotters during the summer. At Porto Cervo Yacht Club, spotting multi-million dollar yachts, such as the Maltese Falcon, is not very difficult.

  7. nora_newSee the proof of Roman civilization at Nora or Tharros
    If you rather see archeaological findings, in stead of luxury yachts, that’s possible too. At Tharros, near Oristano in the west, or Nora, near Pula in the south, you can still see what the Romans have left behind two thousand years ago. Both sites are basically open air museums, allowing you to literally wander through ancient Roman streets, while seeing ruins, columns and thermal baths. Both Tharros and Nora are located near the see, which makes combining a visit with a dive in the sea a wonderful option.

  8. 8-carasauTaste the local food and drinks
    One of the absolute must-do’s when visiting Sardinia (or in fact during any of your travels), is to enjoy the local food and taste. Sardinian food is characterized by very strong flavours, of which Cannonau, the local wine, is the perfect example. Carasau (a type of thin crispy bread), Porcheddu (a frequently basted young pig) and Culurgiones (a ravioli-like pasta filled with pecorino cheese, mint and other ingredients) are other products of the Sardinian gastronomic tradition. Local restaurant Su Combidu, located in the centre of Cagliari, is a great place to explore the different tastes of Sardinia, but there are many more great traditional restaurants across the island, too.

  9. 9-mining-areaGo underground in Sardinian mines
    The long mining history of Sardinia started probably around the 6th millennium BC, which means that mining has played an important role in the island’s history. The small village of Ingurtosu, together with the nearby Montevecchio was one of the most important mining areas of Sardinia, until the mid of the last century. To prevent this region to become isolated or abandoned, UNESCO has decided to declare it World Heritage. Lots of old mining facilities have been renovated, restored, turned into a hotel (Le Dune), or are open to visit, making this region very attractive for travelers and culture-lovers trying to avoid mass-tourism.

  10. 10-kite-surfingGaze at kite surfers at Isola dei Gabbiani
    I found it very hard to choose the 10th item in this list, as it meant that I had to leave out lots of other great things. Hiking in the Sardinian mountains, walking along the rocky coastline or visiting one of many interesting museaums are excellent recommendations, but the same goes for visiting Isola dei Gabbiani. During the summer months, many wind- and kite surfers visit this island near Palau, in the north of Sardinia. It’s amazing to see the professionals fly over the water, trying yourself is even better. There are many surf shops where you can hire equipment, and there are surf schools at Isola dei Gabbiani as well.

It is impossible to capture an island that is ‘almost a continent’ in just 10 highlights. In order to really experience Sardinia, you will have to come and visit it. Although you can reach it by boat (for example from Civitavecchia, near Rome), it’s probably best to take the plane. That’s a lot faster, which means you’ve got more time to spend in Sardinia.


Paolo Rossi works for travel agency Charming Hotels Sardinia, where he can do the two things he loves most: helping others finding the perfect vacation, and talking about his beloved Sardinia all day long. He (and his colleague Giulia) also blog regularly about Italy at Charming Italy.

photo at top by robad0b, photo of #2 above by Dirk Hartung, photo of #3 above by cristianocani, photo of #7 above by Effervescing Elephant, photo of #8 above by roboppy, photo of #10 above by Fab:o Fo:s; all other photos via Charming Sardinia.


Melanie May 24, 2010 at 8:17 am

I don’t know what I like better: reading this great list of things to do in Sardinia or looking at Paolo’s profile pic. Darn you, Italian men! :-)


Jessica May 24, 2010 at 9:59 am

Ha! I hear you, Melanie. Good thing I have a policy of posting a photo next to guest post bios, eh? ;)


Loki03 May 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Great post Paolo! As a Sardinian I can tell you that on of the top 10 things should have been to ride your motorbike along the SS 125 – known as Orientale Sarda – an old road which connect Cagliari with Olbia (north to the south) passing along the east coast and through hundreds of small villages that seems stuck in the 1930….. a “Bonsai version” of the Route 66 full of history, breathtaking landascapes, unspoilt nature, bucolic villages…. and plenty of curves!


Paolo May 25, 2010 at 10:07 am

Melanie, you’re making me blush :)

Loki03, you’re absolutely right! Like I mentioned in the article, it was more difficult to decide which things to leave out of the article, than which things to include…


monique van proosdij May 30, 2010 at 2:06 am

What I really miss in this top 10 is a visit to one of the oldest places of Europe! Sant’Antioco which is an island you can reach easily by bridge so no boats. But the history it captures and the beauty of the beaches is a must-see! I like to say that Sant’Antioco is sardina in miniature. The Italian have yey discovered Sant’Antioco. In august there is an invasion of Italians so if you want to visit Sant’Antioco it’s best to do so in the other months!


Rachael May 30, 2010 at 9:15 am

Hello Paolo

I wanted to thank you for a superb blog. I’m coming to Sardinia in the summer and this post is brilliant for advising where to go, although, i would love a separate post about the top ten restaurants or cafes etc for places to eat whilst in Sardinia…. thanks again



Jessica May 31, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Thanks for the suggestion, Monique!

Rachael, I think it would be tough to list the top 10 places to eat for the entire island – that would be like saying the top 10 places to eat in Tuscany. It’s a big region, and it’s hard enough to narrow down great places to eat in one city sometimes! :)


Keith January 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Great post about Sardinia! I can’t wait to visit it! :)


sonia suarez March 30, 2011 at 6:42 am

Dear Madam/Sir

My name is Sonia and I am working within the marketing team of my client, with the objective to help promote cruises around the world.
Through searching the internet I found your website and believe the content to be relevant and useful to my client’s target audience. As part of a program of online marketing activity I am ideally looking for a placement for a widget on your website

I can pay you for the Widget space each month or I am able to pay for this advertising space quarterly with the first instalment upfront once the advertisement is live and we have approved it.

I would be most grateful if you could respond and let me know if this is something in which you would be interested and I can send you further details on how I would like to proceed.

I will look forward to your reply.

Best Regards

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Jessica March 31, 2011 at 11:18 am

You can learn more about advertising on WhyGo Italy in the about section here:


Damiano May 4, 2011 at 2:43 am

Dear Jessica is there any chance to make for you a guest post about for example music & teather festival in Sardina during summer. Regards
Damiano. here is an example of another post:



Jessica May 5, 2011 at 11:07 am

Thanks for the note, Damiano – you can read about my guest post policy on my About page here:


Damiano Usala June 15, 2011 at 2:23 am

Dear Jessica

thank you for your info.



Randy Willis April 30, 2012 at 2:36 am

I lived in Sardinia for 2 years while serving in the USAF in a small town called Uta close to the southern coast. It was the most wonderful time of my life. The people were warm and friendly, and as close to family as you could get. I can not explain the beauty of the Island in this paragraph, it is something that you will have to see for yourself. This wonderful little island will forever hold a special place in my heart.


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