Boasting thousands of years of history, a gorgeous natural landscape, stunning beaches, and millenary traditions, Sardinia is becoming extremely popular among Italians and in-the-know Europeans. Thanks to affordable flight connections with major European cities, in fact, always more travelers plan their Sardinia holidays, especially for the summer.
Whether you want a Sardinia honeymoon, a family holiday, or are looking for the best beaches in Sardinia, I’ve covered it all. We are going to reveal what are the best places in Sardinia and how to have perfect Sardinia family holidays.
Here, you will find useful tips on how to get to Sardinia, how to move around the island, where to find great Sardinia beaches, and some of the best Sardinia beach hotels. Our recommendations will also include what and where to eat in each city we cover and what to pack for a perfect Sardinia trip.
In the end, I will also tell you about some convenient package holidays to Sardinia if you don’t feel like doing all the planning and taking care of boring logistics.
- 1 Best places in Sardinia, unmissable things to do on the island
- 1.1 Visiting Cagliari metropolitan area: what to see and do
- 1.2 Visiting Oristano city and Sardinia’s western coast: what to see and do
- 1.3 Visiting the Guilcer region and central Sardinia: what to see and do
- 1.4 Visiting Nuoro and Barbagia region: what to see and do
- 1.5 Visiting Olbia and the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast)
- 2 What to pack for a perfect holiday in Sardinia
- 3 How to get around Sardinia
- 4 Best time to visit Sardinia
- 5 How to get to Sardinia
- 6 The best package holidays to Sardinia and local tours
Best places in Sardinia, unmissable things to do on the island
Here is a list of the best places to visit for both cheap Sardinia holidays and luxury holidays in Sardinia. I included also some of the best hotels in Sardinia as well as some of the best restaurants in each city and province I mention.
Visiting Cagliari metropolitan area: what to see and do
Cagliari is the capital and a gorgeous city lapped by the Mediterranean Sea and some 6 km of pristine sandy coastline. This is what makes it a perfect destination for great Sardinia beach holidays. In Cagliari province, you can also find great hotels for Sardinia holidays all inclusive. They include daytime activities, exciting nightlife, local meals, and drinks.
Cagliari has it all. If you spend your summer vacation in Sardinia, you will enjoy its capital both sightseeing during the day and at night in its lively Marina district.
Obviously, there are many more places to visit in Cagliari. Not only beaches and pubs, but also historical buildings, ancient monasteries, a beautiful monumental cemetery, and green parks are worth visiting. Shopping is also something you will love doing in Cagliari as they have some pretty great shops.
Around Cagliari, you can visit the town of San Sperate for its murals and the open-air museum of the late sculptor Pino Sciola who could make stones sing. Or the island of Sant’Antioco for a gorgeous natural lagoon, beautiful beaches, and the museum-lab of the byssus, sea silk.
Where to stay in Cagliari
Among the many Cagliari hotels, when we went, we picked Fortyfourbandb B&B for a quiet stay in a residential neighborhood, not in the immediate city center but easy to reach. Among the other Cagliari accommodations, Hotel Nautilus is great if you are looking for Sardinia beach hotels. Palazzo Dessy is for those of you who want an elegant hotel in the city center.
If you are looking for luxury hotels in Sardinia, then Forte Village Resort in Santa Margherita di Pula is your choice. A 5-star resort featuring a spa and wellness center with a sauna and Turkish bath, and the most luxurious facilities. This is considered one of the best hotels in Sardinia.
Where to eat in Cagliari
Some of the restaurants in Cagliari worth trying are the rustic chic Ristorante Sa Ide e S’Ollia Cagliari (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 370) where you can sample the traditional cuisine, and Sa Piola (Vico Santa Margherita 3), also for traditional dishes.
Seafood lovers should try Antica Hostaria (Via Cavour 70) and Luigi Pomata (Viale Regina Margherita 18) for gourmet fish dishes.
Visiting Oristano city and Sardinia’s western coast: what to see and do
Even though less touristy than Cagliari and the Costa Smeralda, Oristano is a great province for your Sardinia holidays. The city of Oristano offers a lovely stroll. Not too big in size, flat, and also easy to bike. In Oristano city, you will find nice shops, delicious restaurants, and historical buildings.
Visit the cathedral in Piazza del Duomo. You will spot it very quickly for its beautiful bell tower Byzantine style. Continue towards Piazza Eleonora for the statue of medieval ruler Eleonora D’Arborea and Corso Umberto I known as Via Dritta, one of the central shopping streets in Oristano ending in Piazza Roma. Here is the large and tall 13th-century tower of Mariano II, which in origin was one of the gates into the city walls.
All around Piazza Roma, you will find many nice restaurants, cafes, and bars so having lunch or dinner won’t be a problem. Taking Via Tirso and walking up to almost its end, there is also a shopping mall with some nice shops and inexpensive eateries.
For those who are looking into Sardinia family holidays, Oristano is great, not only for the city but the whole province.
If you ask me, one of the best beaches in Sardinia is San Giovanni di Sinis near Cabras, not too far from Oristano. The turquoise hues of its waters will stick to your memory for a long time. The peace and tranquillity will make it for a paradise beach holiday. Near San Giovanni di Sinis are also the Punic/Roman archaeological ruins of Tharros, a gorgeous ancient site to explore and from where you will have unprecedented views of San Giovanni beach.
Not far is also San Salvatore, a ghost town used for a religious festival and that was a set for several Western movies. The town of Cabras itself is very interesting as it’s a traditional fishing village and a big wine producer. Do visit the Contini wine cave, Sardinia’s oldest, for some delicious wine tasting. For eating, do book at Agriturismo Da Pinuccia for dinner (call first to book as it’s not always open), or at Sa Pischera ‘e Mar ‘e Pontis (SP6, 6 – Google Maps link) for great fish and seafood dishes.
Apart from Cabras and the Sinis Peninsula, there are many other beautiful places to visit along Sardinia’s western coast in Oristano province. One is Seneghe, very traditional and famous for its olive oil, pastries, traditional food, and its beloved mountain. While S’Archittu, not far from Seneghe, is a small sea resort on Sardinia’s west coast that hides a tiny beach facing a calcareous arch. A stunning place for swimming, diving, and snorkeling.
Always in the same area is Bosa, named one of the most scenic villages in Italy. Crossed by the Temo river, Bosa is famous for its colorful houses, historical Malaspina Castle, the Aragonese tower and the production of Malvasia wine. Actually, that’s not all. What makes Bosa a fantastic destination for your long holiday or even short breaks in Sardinia is its natural wonders. One of these is Cane Malu natural pool. Think of crystal waters, rock formations and marine life.
Near Bosa is the gorgeous S’Abba Druche national park where you can explore the different sides of Sardinia, its pristine beaches, its wild vegetation, and its rocky views.
Where to stay in Oristano province
In Oristano city, we suggest the beautifully restored Residenza d’Epoca Regina d’Arborea, set in a 19th-century building in the very city center and equipped with opulent and modern comforts.
For more affordable accommodations, B&B Il Melograno, located in a quiet residential neighborhood some 800 mt from the city center, is a sound choice. Simple but with all necessary equipment, it includes free Wi-Fi, shared bathrooms (rooms are only three), and a delicious breakfast. We stayed here for New Year’s Eve and everything was perfect, the city center is within easy strolling reach.
Midway from Oristano city and the beach are the traditional towns of Riola and Narbolia, where you can find lovely accommodation options.
In Riola, we visited the Hotel Lucrezia, named after an old owner, a wealthy woman much loved in the village. We absolutely fell in love with this accommodation in the Oristano province. As you enter, you will be surrounded by greenery and a big garden with tables, chairs and sofas, all at guests’ disposal. The whole mansion was recently renovated and equipped with modern comforts, with both rooms and common areas retaining their original charm and style.
In Narbolia, a lovely little village located 18 km from Oristano and 10 km from the beach, is the fantastic bed and breakfast S’Ommu Ezza, “the old house” in the Sardinian language. Here, too, you will enjoy a blend of traditional and modern. The rooms feature air-conditioning, free WiFi, and a modern bathroom, while the rest of the property has the perks of a common area for breakfast, well-equipped kitchen guests can use, and a lovely courtyard where you can relax and even use the herbs and veggies the owner plants.
Those who want to enjoy their trip to Sardinia entirely and don’t feel like cooking will love Narbolia’s delicious pizzeria serving also whole-grain pizza.
If you’d rather stay in Cabras to explore more of the fascinating surroundings, check out great accommodations like Torremana and Agriturismo Sa Crannaccia, both equipped with all necessary facilities, WiFi and air conditioning. Outside Cabras, set in the Sinis Peninsula some 3 km from the beach is also the recommended Hotel Ristorante Sa Pedrera.
Where to eat in Oristano province
One of the restaurants in Oristano city we really like is Lo Zen (Via Umbria 5). Customers go for their huge portions, delicious pasta dishes with seafood, veggies, or meat, salads and second courses (you will want to try the fried squid or frittura di calamari, you’ll thank me later) and pretty affordable prices.
We also recommend Da Cosimo (Via Giovanni XXIII 3), also inexpensive and great for trying some scrumptious local dishes, and Cocco & Dessì (Via Tirso 31), which is a more luxurious restaurant serving gourmet cuisine.
Visiting the Guilcer region and central Sardinia: what to see and do
The Guilcer is a fascinating and mysterious region in Oristano province on the way to Nuoro. What makes the Guilcer a charming place is the cluster of small towns and villages all different from each other, yet all connected.
If you are planning for cheap holidays in Sardinia, then this area is a great choice. Among the villages you will love to visit are Fordongianus, famous for its ancient Roman thermal baths and the medieval Casa Aragonese (Aragonese House), and Ghilarza, famous for another Aragonese House, mainly used for events and exhibitions, and the house of Antonio Gramsci, Italian philosopher and politician founder of the Italian Communist Party.
Other places to visit in the Guilcer are the sacred well of St. Christine (Pozzo Sacro di Santa Cristina), a wonderful archeological construction dating back to the 12th century BC, and Abbasanta, adjacent to Ghilarza and famous for its nearby Nuraghe Losa, one of the best examples of Nuragic architecture dating back as far as the 15th century BC.
If you are traveling to Sardinia in July, on the 6th you can visit Sedilo, a small town in the Guilcer region, where they honor the memory of St. Constantine with S’Ardia reckless horse race, concerts, fairs, and lots of drinking.
Towns and villages of the Guilcer are laid out all around Omodeo Lake. This is a manmade basin inaugurated in 1924 by Italian King Vittorio Emanuele III right before the beginning of the Fascist regime. The purpose of the lake was to build a dam to provide electricity to the area.
Many villagers were employed in the works, girls included, who were often in charge of carrying bags of sand. Close to the old dam (not in use anymore as now there is a new one), is a delicious restaurant, Sa Cantinedda. The owner, Aurora, will love to tell you about the area, the dam, the lake and plenty of anecdotes surrounding their construction.
Where to stay in the Guilcer region
To visit the Guilcer you can stay in Oristano some 40/50 km away. But if you want to visit more places, the archaeological sites, and explore the traditions and the delicious food, I recommend you stay in the Guilcer for a couple of nights, too.
A good choice is the town of Ghilarza: it’s central and has shops, a post office, the hospital, restaurants and all the basics you might need. Here some of the best stays are La Vallata B&B in Sardegna, a lovely Sardinia accommodation close to all amenities offering continental and Italian breakfast, free WiFi, private bathroom and a great view of the Chenale valley, and B&B Perdalonga, a rustic B&B close to the town’s amenities and providing free WiFi, a nice Italian breakfast, air conditioning and flat-screen TV.
Where to eat in the Guilcer region
Apart from Sa Cantinedda on the lake, one of the best restaurants in this region is Al Marchi in Ghilarza (Via Concezione 4), the stunning Sas Mendulas just outside town, where you can sample truly delicious gourmet cuisine and also a great pizza (book before going, ring them up +39 329 1111409 and +39 329 1048314).
Try also Trattoria Sarda Armidda (Strada Provinciale n 15, km 44, 09071 Abbasanta) serving amazing gourmet food, and Da Armando, on the road to Sedilo.
Visiting Nuoro and Barbagia region: what to see and do
Wild and traditional, this is hands down one of my favorite regions full of fantastic places to include in your Sardinian itinerary. If you ask me, no Sardinia holiday is complete without a stop in one of these towns.
Nuoro itself is very interesting as there are several important Sardinia museums. Alongside the regular Archaeological, Ethnographic and Art museums, here you can visit the house and a permanent exhibition devoted to Literature Nobel Prize Grazia Deledda.
Considered one of the most important Italian writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, she was born in Nuoro in 1871. She was the first Italian woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature. The museum devoted to her, Museo Deleddiano, is located in the house where she was born and displays manuscripts, photos, documents and personal objects belonging to the writer.
After visiting Nuoro, explore the villages and the archaeological sites in the countryside. This is the province of Orgosolo town, famous for its murals and bandits, and Mamoiada, a village famous for its ancient traditional carnival and archaeological sites all around its countryside.
Part of Sardinia’s eastern coast is the long sandy beach of Orosei and the natural park of Oasi Bidderosa. Close to Cala Liberotto beach, this is a gorgeous coastal forest counting some five small inlets that make the place a true paradise. Oasi Bidderosa is open every day from May to October from 7.30 am to 8 pm. There is an entrance fee: 12 € for the car, 6 € for the motorbike, 1 € per person, whether you enter by car, bike or on foot.
Where to stay in Nuoro city and province
To explore this region, you can stay in Nuoro for the night. Or even the towns around as they have lovely B&Bs. In Nuoro, we suggest the apartments of Residence Grandi Magazzini in the city center featuring free WiFi, parking, balcony, a flat-screen TV and a dishwasher.
Another good accommodation is B&B Pascal House Nuoro, a fantastic bed and breakfast providing all the necessary comforts and facilities in traditional, yet modern settings. Or Nughe ‘e’ Oro Guesthouse in the city center, decorated with handmade furniture by local artists and providing all comforts, a continental breakfast, and free WiFi.
Just outside Nuoro, on the way to the Ortobene Mount, is Casa Solotti, a traditional country house turned into a small hotel. Surrounded by a garden of some 3000 sq mt, it features a continental breakfast, a beautiful view, and all necessary facilities.
Where to eat in Nuoro city and province
Get ready to tuck into truly wonderful food. Among the restaurants to try in Nuoro city are Rustico (Via della Costituzione 71/73, Nuoro), Il Portico (Via Monsignor Giovanni Bua 13, Nuoro), Ristorante Ciusa (Viale Francesco Ciusa 55, Nuoro). They all serve delicacies from traditional cuisine.
In Cala Gonone sea resort, a good place to eat is Il Pescatore (Via Lungomare dell’Acqua Dolce 1, Cala Gonone).
Visiting Olbia and the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast)
Very little introduction is needed for the Emerald Coast. Costa Smeralda, Sardinia’s VIP coastline, is probably the area that more than others hits the headlines, especially when presidents, singers, and all types of celebrities arrive. If you are looking for pampering Sardinia holidays all inclusive, you are likely to find it here. Luxury and entertainment are key, and summer means a never-ending party, exciting nightlife, and endless beach time.
I’ll be honest, this is not my favorite Sardinian region as I find very little of the island’s identity and traditions. But if what you want is luxury and fun, great Sardinia family holidays, you will definitely enjoy your vacation. Here you will find some of the best hotels in Sardinia, as well as some of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Costa Smeralda is often included in package holidays to Sardinia because it quickly became a must-see, but it’s not one of those places you would include in your planning of cheap holidays to Sardinia. For this, I would rather suggest the places I mentioned above.
The major city close to this part of the coastline is Olbia. Worth a visit in itself, it offers historical buildings, great restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Olbia has also one of the three airports in Sardinia and many flights land here.
Olbia and Costa Smeralda Hotels
Set in Porto Cervo, Le Ginestre is one of the most famous 5-star hotels in Sardinia. A short stroll from the beach, this beautiful resort features a private beach with water sports facilities, a tennis court, and a fitness center. Guests can enjoy also its restaurant serving Italian and international cuisine and its American Bar for drinks and cocktails.
Some great hotels in Olbia city center are the 4-star Hotel Panorama featuring a roof terrace con vista and a luxurious wellness center, and Jazz Hotel, close to the airport and featuring a swimming pool and the most modern facilities.
For a more affordable option, try B&B Antares set in a historical building in the city center and provides free WiFi and all the necessary facilities. If you prefer the privacy of an apartment, Smeralda Flats include a kitchen with oven, fridge, and coffee machine, a sitting area, free WiFi, and air conditioning.
Where to eat in Olbia and Costa Smeralda
Some of the restaurants in Olbia worth trying are L’Essenza Bistrot (Via delle Terme 10) for gourmet food with a rustic chic feel, Bacchus (Via degli Astronauti 2) for traditional local dishes, or In Vino Veritas (Corso Umberto I, 4) for an aperitif or after dinner with delicious wines and nibbles near the port.
What to pack for a perfect holiday in Sardinia
- Sunscreen. Especially if you travel to Sardinia in summer, sunscreen is more important even than swimwear. The heat is unforgiving and the sun hits hard. Depending on your skin, choose a high SPF factor. Obviously, in Sardinia, you will find it, but if you don’t want to look for it immediately, you might want to pack it and enjoy the beach as soon as you arrive.
- Swimwear. Sardinia is more popular in summer. Be it for the hot temperatures or simply because you want a beach holiday, you will likely swim a lot. Swimwear is a must.
- Beachwear. If you are traveling to Sardinia in summer, don’t forget to pack some clothes for the beach such as flip-flops, a hat, and a loose dress.
- Wind jacket. Whether it’s on the coast or inland, in warm or cold seasons, Sardinia is very windy. I strongly recommend a wind jacket, warm or light depending on the season you are planning to go.
- Walking shoes. Whether you are planning to hike in the mountain or explore a city, a pair of comfortable walking shoes is essential.
- Comfortable clothes. This applies to every season. In summer, you might prefer cotton and linen, while in winter, wool and cashmere are best.
- Travel-size cosmetics. Women are likely to wear makeup, so better if travel-size without taking too much space in your luggage. Check out Stowaway Cosmetics for a large choice of products for every complexion and several makeup colors.
- Camera. Sardinia is very picturesque, both the coast and the villages. Make sure you don’t forget your camera. Whether it’s a smartphone or a DSLR camera, you will want to capture plenty of memories to take home with you.
How to get around Sardinia
Public transport in Sardinia is terrible. Never rely on buses, there are not many, most places don’t have connections and timetables hardly meet people’s needs. Trains are slightly better, especially the connection between Cagliari and Oristano. Check out Omio (former GoEuro) for train connections, timetables, and booking.
Your best bet, if you want to enjoy your Sardinia holidays, is to rent a car. You will find the desk for the most well-known car rentals at every airport so you can choose the company you prefer depending on your travel needs and budget. However, if you are traveling in the busiest season, I recommend booking your car online in advance otherwise you risk finding all booked.
Best time to visit Sardinia
Depending on what type of holiday you want, Sardinia is a perfect travel destination all year round. Do you want a beach holiday? Fly to Sardinia in the summer. June to September is the best time, with August being the most crowded month.
If extreme heat is not your favorite weather for traveling (I hear you!), then you might prefer Sardinia in spring or fall. From March to May, even June, or from September to November, even the beginning of December, the weather is often mild.
January and February are the coldest months, but the visitors who come for the Carnival truly enjoy the island during this time of the year, too. Winter cold is not too extreme, sometimes it snows for a couple of days, especially in the Barbagia region, but it never lasts long. If you ask me, the summer heat in Sardinia is more extreme than the winter cold.
How to get to Sardinia
There are two ways to reach Sardinia, by ferry and by plane. Here’s how.
Convinced yet? Book your flight! Many airlines connect the island to Italian and European cities, so the best way to find cheap flights to Sardinia is to compare them. There are plenty of comparisons travel websites to use if you don’t feel like checking out the website of each airline or if you don’t know which airlines land in Sardinia.
Whether you are already in Italy or in other European coastal towns, you might want to reach Sardinia via ferry. This is possible from several cities such as Rome (Civitavecchia port), Genoa, Naples, or even from Marseille and Nice in France and Barcelona in Spain.
Click here to check the schedules and book your ferry to Sardinia.
There are more ferry operator companies landing in Sardinia, especially during the busy season. They all have different prices and travel duration. You can use the easy search box below to compare ferry companies and check their schedules and prices.
The best package holidays to Sardinia and local tours
The daring traveler in you will love the Sail Sardinia & Corsica adventure. It will take you island-hopping and sailing on crystal clear waters, snorkeling around hidden coves, and discovering everyday new places, from sandy beaches to natural parks.
Active travelers will love the Walking in Sardinia tour package with Exodus Travels. Spend 8 days hiking and trekking scenic places such as Su Gorropu gorge, Su Gologone spring and explore local archaeological sites.
Among the favorite Sardinia tours are also the cycling holidays such as Cycling in Sardinia by Exodus Travels to visit wonderful beaches like Piscinas and Is Arutas and the archaeological site of Tharros.