The best places to visit in Sardinia
Do you plan to visit Sardinia during your next trip? Do you want to know more about things to do and see?
Then you’re in the right place. To help you plan your trip, I have prepared for you this guide of the 19 things to see in Sardinia, with all the most interesting attractions of the island.
You will visit Cagliari, the Emerald Coast, the Gulf of Orosei, Alghero, and many other wonderful places to discover during your holidays in Sardinia.
So, what to see in Sardinia? What are the best places to visit?. Let’s discover it together!
Visit Sardinia: The most important places of interest
You can use the map below to find the best hotels in Sardinia.
Let’s start this guide on Sardinia with Cagliari, its capital.
Although the modern part of the city is not very interesting, the old town still deserves to be visited. If you are visiting Sardinia, it is likely that you will start or end your trip with the airport of Cagliari, so why not stay a bit nearby an take a walk in its historical center?
Here are the best places to visit in Cagliari:
- The Castle: a traditional high-rise district where most of the tourist attractions are located.
- Cagliari Cathedral: you should have a look at the Aragonese chapels and the martyrs' crypt.
- The City Palace: located near the cathedral, this small museum exhibits Sardinian paintings and clothing.
- The National Archaeological Museum and its collection of objects and artifacts of the Nuragic civilization. It is one of the main museums in Sardinia.
- The Bastion of San Remo and the terrace Umberto I with its incredible view of Cagliari.
- The Market of San Benedetto in which to try all the Sardinian delicacies.
- Poetto Beach: this 7 km long beach is one of the longest in Italy and is the closest to the city center.
2. The panoramic road SP71 from Porto Teulada to Chia
Another of the places to visit in Sardinia is the panoramic road from Porto Teulada to Chia.
The road SP71 is one of the most beautiful of the island. It stretches along the south-east coast and offers incredible panoramic views. Also called South Coast Scenic Road, the road passes by several beaches with crystal clear water.
There are plenty, just choose one and take a dip. Here is the list of my favorite places along this road:
- Cala Piscinni Beach, you can park right next to the entrance, absolutely suitable for children!
- Torre di Pixinni beach is a pebble beach and one of my favorites during my trip to Sardinia. We were totally alone when we went there.
- Tuerredda beach and its turquoise waters.
- The beach of Su Giudeu is so huge that you will always find a free place
- Cipolla beach is another beautiful sandy beach with beautiful rock formations around and super clear water. It’s my favorite beach on this road!
- The lighthouse of Capo Spartivento: you have to take the path from Cala Cipolla to get there. The view across the coast is really amazing!
Sant’Antioco IslandIf you are looking for the best places to visit in the South of Sardinia, then you should stop on the island of Sant'Antioco. It is the fourth largest island in Italy after Sicily, Sardinia, and the Island of Elba.
The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, so you will not need to take a ferry to get there.
3. Sant'Antioco Island
What to see in Sant'Antioco, Sardinia:
- The city of Sant'Antioco: the main city of the island. You can walk in the port and on the promenade, visit the basilica of Sant'Antioco, go to the archaeological museum, Forte Su Piso, or even to the Hypogeum Village and see the troglodyte houses.
- Maladroxia, a small seaside town with many hotels and restaurants.
- Coa Quaddus Beach, unsupervised with a beautiful view of Torre Canai.
- Cala Sapone Beach: small beach with several bars and restaurants around. You can also rent pedalos and kayaks.
- Cala Lunga Beach: the most beautiful beach of Sant'Antico!
Tip: Climb the path located on the left side of Cala Lunga to have a wonderful view of the beach.
4. San Pietro
Right next to Sant'Antioco, San Pietro is another place worth visiting during your holidays in Sardinia.
What to see on the island of San Pietro:
- Carloforte: where most hotels, shops, restaurants, and cafes are located. There’s not much to see, but it gets very lively at the end of the day, so stop and enjoy a drink!
- Bobba Beach: a trendy beach in San Pietro. There is a large car park, a bar and you can rent a kayak. If you want to take some great pictures of the surrounding rock formations, take a walk on the path on the right side.
- The Conca Coast: from there you will have a beautiful view of the cliffs.
- La Spiaggia Spalmatore, the most famous beach in this area.
- Capo Sandalo, definitely the most beautiful place on the island! From there you have an 180° view on the surroundings.
To go to San Pietro from Sant'Antioco, take the ferry from Calasseta.
There is one every hour and a trip lasts 30 minutes.
Tickets have a price of about € 35 for 2 people and 1 vehicle. It is not necessary to book in advance, arrive early, and take your tickets.
5. The Nuraghi
During your trip to Sardinia, you have to go to see at least one Nuraghe, they are everywhere on the island.
But first of all, what is a Nuraghe? If you have never heard of it, don’t worry: I also didn’t know what they were before going to Sardinia.
Practically, the nuraghi are rock structures dating back to the Bronze Age and to the Nuragic civilization. It is not known exactly what they were used for, but studies state that they were used as observation towers and for sacred rituals.
Initially, they consisted of a simple tower, but some Nuraghi were transformed into complex towers.
The most visited of all Sardinia is the Nuraghe of Su Nuraxi. It is a large complex located in Barumini and the only one listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It consists of a central tower with a bastion, 4 side towers, a courtyard, and a well. Fortifications and other towers were added over time. A small Nuragic village with 50 houses was built around it.
Only guided tours are available. Other Nuraghi of note are the Nurago of Arrubiu, Di Palmavera, and Santu Antine.
6. The Iglesiente Coast
What to visit in Sardinia? The Costa Iglesiente is definitely another place not to be missed during your trip. The coastal road SP 83 along the Iglesiente is well known for its breathtaking views of the sea and the mountains.
It also crosses ancient mining towns, an important feature of this part of Sardinia. This area held most of the island’s resources such as lead and silver.
Today this mountainous area is characterized by wild and preserved landscapes.
Here are all the attractions not to be missed along the Iglesiente coast, in Sardinia:
- The beach of Fontanamare: a long sandy beach well known among surfers.
- The Pan di Zucchero Rock named after the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With a height of 133 meters, it is one of the highest rocks in Sardinia.
- Nebida and its lookout on the Pan di Zucchero.
- Masua and its beach, the panoramic view of the Pan di Zucchero from there is really beautiful.
- The Porto Flavia mine: the cliff was dug for almost 600 meters to allow the transport of minerals. You can only visit it with a guided tour, but it must be booked at the tourist office in Iglesias.
- Cala Domestica, a small beach surrounded by limestone cliffs.
- Buggerru, a former mining village.
- Portixeddu, a 3 km long sandy beach surrounded by pine trees.
7. Tharros and the Sinis Peninsula
Continue our journey in Sardinia going to the peninsula of Sinis.
This area is located in the central-western part of Sardinia, near the Gulf of Oristano. Here you will find a good number of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia, the most famous of which are undoubtedly Is Aruttas and Putzu Idu.
The peninsula also hosts an important Sardinian archaeological site: the archaeological site of Tharros.
This former trading station was founded by the Phoenicians and quickly became an important commercial center, thanks to its strategic position. It was completely abandoned in 1070 and today only the ruins remain.
The site is open every day and the entrance fee is 5€.
Immediately after Tharros, you can take a nice walk in Capo San Marco. Climb the tower of San Giovanni to enjoy a panoramic view of the archaeological site and the surrounding beaches. The view is really amazing!
Another beautiful place to visit during your trip to Sardinia is definitely the city of Oristano, in the western part of the island.
Oristano is a really nice city, perfect for an hour’s walk in the old town. It is very small but it is adorable and you will find several restaurants and cafes. There is also a shopping street.
Visit Oristano, in Sardinia:
- Start by going to Piazza del Duomo and admire the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
- Continue with the Church of San Francesco.
- Go to Piazza Eleonora d'Arborea. It pays tribute to the judge of Oristano, who drafted the Carta de Logu, known as one of the first civil codes in Europe.
- End your visit with Piazza Roma, where the Torre di Mariano II is located. During the medieval period, Oristano was a fortified city, and this is one of the two remaining towers.
Do not leave Oristano without having an ice cream from Barbagelato, located in Piazza Rima.
Allow me to get to the point: it is definitely the best ice cream I’ve had the chance to taste in Sardinia, and probably also the best I’ve ever eaten in my life. They are so delicious, especially the flavors of Poison and Sweet Milk!
If you are wondering what to do in Sardinia, then you should visit Bosa, a charming Sardinian town.
Bosa is a pretty town with pastel-colored houses, located next to a river. With its castle on the hill, it is in my opinion one of the most beautiful villages in Sardinia.
The best vantage point to take a picture of Bosa is located on the road, just a few minutes before entering the city.
Here are the main tourist attractions of Bosa:
- The old bridge to access the old town.
- Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main avenue of the city, with many restaurants and souvenir shops.
- The Cathedral of Bosa.
- The Museum Casa Deriu to see some works in lace and embroidery, very popular here.
- Serravalle Castle: With a view of the entire city, you should definitely come here to enjoy the view of the sea and the mountains. You can also visit the castle, famous mainly for its chapel and the ancient frescoes.
A few kilometers from Bosa you will also find the coastal town of Bosa Marina.
The place is not very good, so if you want to take a beach break after visiting Bosa, you should rather go to the beaches located north of the city, such as the beach of Compultittu or de S'abba Drucche.
10. Asinara Island
During your trip to Sardinia, how about visiting the island of Asinara. Located on the north-western tip of the island, the place has a rather unique history: from the First World War until December 1997, it hosted prisoners of war and even Mafia prisoners!
In 1997 the prison was closed and the island of Asinara became a National Park, thanks to its rich flora (with many endemic species) and fauna.
Nowadays, cars are not allowed on the island of Asinara, except, of course, for tourist excursions.
To visit the island, you must first take a boat to Stintino. The trip lasts about 30 minutes and usually, there is only one departure per day, around 9:00. You must book in advance!
There are 3 ways to discover the island:
You can take a jeep tour with a guide, hop on the tourist mini-train or rent a bike (the only way to visit the island independently). Everything is booked very quickly, so do not forget to book your excursion in advance.
In any case, be on time! Because if you lose your boat, there won’t be another one to go back to Sardinia!
Once on the island, you can visit the prison, have a picnic in a bay, and see the famous albino dwarf donkeys of Asinara.
Being a protected area, you will not be able to swim here. Swimming is forbidden on most beaches.
Alghero is another city that deserves to be visited during your holidays in Sardinia. Located on the northwest coast, the city is famous for its old town and its cobbled streets, full of monuments to visit.
For sure, Alghero is a very beautiful city, but to be honest, it is also very touristy. There are gift shops, restaurants, and cafés everywhere. There are also many shops that sell coral jewelry, the specialty of the region.
So, what to see in Alghero, Sardinia?
- Take a walk on the ramparts, have been recently restored, so they are really in great shape.
- Walks in the old town and through its narrow streets.
- Go for a walk along the promenade.
- Discover the cathedral of Alghero.
- Climb the bell tower of the cathedral.
- Have a drink in Piazza Civica, the main square of Alghero.
- Visit the Museum of Coral, to discover the local crafts.
- Book a tour to the caves of Neptune.
Park your car in one of the car parks near the sea, before arriving in the old town.
12. Neptune Caves
The caves of Neptune are another of the places to visit in Sardinia during your trip.
Located near Alghero, there are several ways to reach the caves of Neptune:
- By boat from Alghero. The boat will drop you off at the entrance and pick you up after your visit. You must book your tickets in advance.
- By boat from the pier of Porto Conte, the last village before the caves.
- On foot! You will have to cross the 654 steps dug into the cliff, they are quite impressive. Do not forget that you will also have to climb them later! It is the most exhausting option, but in a certain sense it is the most "safe": when the sea is a bit rough, boats cannot disembark passengers and must return to port.
The caves are 4 km long but only a part of them is open to the public. During your visit, you will see numerous stalactites and stalagmites and even an inland lake.
Only guided tours are available, starting every hour from 9:00 to 19:00. So keep in mind that if you arrive at the cave at 09:10, you will have to wait for the 10:00 tour.
The tour lasts about 45 minutes and has a price of 13€ per person (7€ for children).
If you do not want to do the guided tour of the caves because you think it is too expensive or there is too much crowd, you should still walk down there. You can take a look at one of the cave halls and take some pictures before climbing up!
Castelsardo, a delightful medieval village located in the province of Sassari is an excellent choice for a stop of a few hours.
And saying medieval village, I mean... castles and bastions! Castelsardo will not disappoint you absolutely.
You can take a nice walk in the village, discover the cathedral, the bell tower, the church of Santa Maria and the castle. You will find a museum dedicated to the famous local handicraft: the basketry.
You can also see on the street some old ladies who still practice this art. They will be happy to give you a demonstration!
Castelsardo is a very popular stop during tours, so you will also find the usual gift shops and local craft shops, along with many bars and restaurants. Allow yourself about 1 or 2 hours for the entire visit.
Speaking of Castelsardo, do not forget to make a stop at the Rock of the Elephant which is nearby. As the name suggests, this rock, the most famous in Sardinia, has the shape of an elephant.
There are also two Neolithic tombs inside. You must stop here to take some pictures!
14. Costa Paradiso
I can’t talk about the best places to visit in Sardinia without mentioning the Costa Paradiso, a beautiful coast with many coves. It is really a place that you should visit during your trip to Sardinia.
Usually, on the way to the coast and the village, you will have to cross a fenced road with a guard. I say "usually" because when we went there, the gate was open and there was no guard in sight.
Subsequently, the road descends towards the sea and crosses many holiday homes more or less hidden in the surrounding nature. Even if overall everything looks very nice, it won’t take you long to understand that you have arrived in the super tourist area of Sardinia, with its large tourist resorts and absurd prices.
The most famous bay of Costa Paradiso is Li Cossi. You can get there by following a very nice (and easy) path about 10 minutes walk from the parking lot. The bay is gorgeous but rather small, so it is always a bit crowded. It makes sense since there are a lot of houses in its vicinity.
On the beach, you will find a bar and you can also rent pedalos and kayaks. You should really consider doing this kind of activity there: with pink granite rock and turquoise water, the landscape is really beautiful!
15. Capo Testa
Capo Testa was one of my favorite places during my trip to Sardinia. Capo Testa was used in Roman times to transport granite and is now a long stretch of gigantic rock formations with spectacular shapes! This phenomenon is due to erosion in this area located near the sea.
It’s really a fantastic place, you can walk around the site at your own pace and take pictures of all these giant rocks.
You will also find some beautiful beaches in Capo Testa:
- The Beach of Zia Culumba with its large rocks and crystal clear water.
- Cala Spinosa, turquoise water, and wonderful rock formations.
- Cala Francese, accessible via a path from the lighthouse of Capo Testa.
- Spiaggia di Ponente beach of Rena di Levante, 2 large beaches of fine sand.
16. La Maddalena
The island of Maddalena is definitely one of the best places to visit in Sardinia.
The island is part of the National Park of the Archipelago of La Maddalena, consisting of 7 islands.
The 2 largest, La Maddalena and La Caprera (you will find more information a little further down) are the only two that you can visit by car. The other smaller islands can only be explored by boat. To get to the island of La Maddalena, there are ferries departing from Palau.
The trip lasts about 20 minutes and has a price of 40€ round trip for 2 people and a car. You will find several companies that offer daily this trip.
The main attraction of La Maddalena are undoubtedly the beaches. There are no specific towns or villages to visit.
You should rent a car and drive along the scenic road around the island to enjoy the view. Of course, you should take breaks at the beach whenever you feel like it.
Here are the best places to take a dip on the island of La Maddalena:
- Bassa Trinità: white sand and clear water await you. It is also a very popular beach so you will often find a lot of people.
- Monte di Rena Beach: a large sandy beach, also quite popular.
- La Spiaggia del Cardellino: a rather quiet beach located just after the Monte di Rena.
- The beach of Spalmatore, one of the most touristic of the island.
- The beach Testa del Polpo or Capocchia du Purpu. You have to stop here, in my opinion, it is the best beach in La Maddalena. Shallow turquoise waters and large rocks.
If you wish to visit the other islands accessible only by boat (such as Budelli or Spargi), you should book your day trip now (click here).
This full-day trip will take you around the islands with numerous beach breaks and visits.
During your boat trip from Palau to reach La Maddalena, you can see in the distance to your left the famous Rock of the Bear, a rock in the shape of a bear. The view from the boat is amazing, so don’t forget to take some pictures!
Caprera is the second-largest island in the archipelago of La Maddalena. It’s really easy to get there, you just have to cross the bridge connected to his nearby island, La Maddalena.
Here you will find many wonderful beaches too:
- Cala Serena: easily accessible on foot (10 minutes from the beach of Garibaldi) is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful beach of La Caprera.
- Cala Caprarese: located on the mouth of a river, it seems to be in a small fjord.
- Cala Napoletana: the most famous beach, with many boats moored close by
- The isolated beaches: Cala Brigantina and Cala Coticcio. You will have to walk a bit to reach them.
After the beach, head to the viewpoint of the tower of Teialone. A staircase will take you to the highest point of the island, 212 meters above sea level.. Obviously, do not forget to visit the house of the famous patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi.
You may not know it, but the Italian patriot bought the island and made it his home when he retired. Today you can take a guided tour of his house. The best way to end your visit to La Caprera is to go to the Poggio Rasu Superior Battery.
This ancient military battery offers the most beautiful view of the island and its surroundings. You can also spot some wild goats.
During your lunch break on the island of Caprera, you have to go to "I Mille".. This kiosk is in a perfect location, you will find plenty of shade, tables, and hammocks. Their sandwiches, made with local cheese and cold cuts are great and delicious!