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 travellers plan their Sardinia holidays every year, especially for the summer.
Whether you are planning a Sardinia honeymoon, a family holiday or are looking for the best beaches in Sardinia, you’ve just landed in the right place. We are going to reveal what are the best places in Sardinia, how to have perfect Sardinia family holidays, we will mention some convenient package holidays to Sardinia, and we will give you useful tips on how to get here, how to move around the island, some great Sardinia beaches, some of the best Sardinia beach hotels, what to eat and what to pack.
Sardinia holidays, your perfect trip to this beautiful Italian island
Here is a list of the best places to visit for both cheap holidays to Sardinia and luxury holidays in Sardinia. There is also a list of the best hotels in Sardinia as well as some of the best restaurants in this Southern Italian region.
- Cagliari city and province for unforgettable Sardinia family holidays
- Oristano city and the West Coast for great Sardinia beach holidays
- Guilcer region for perfect cheap holidays to Sardinia
- Nuoro and Barbagia region for some of the best resorts in Sardinia
- Olbia and the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) for great Sardinia holidays all inclusive
- What to pack for great Sardinia holidays
- How to get around Sardinia
- Best time to visit Sardinia
- How to get to Sardinia
- The best package holidays to Sardinia
Best places in Sardinia, what not to miss
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 or Sardinia holidays all inclusive in case you are looking for daytime activities, an exciting nightlife, local meals and drinks included.
Cagliari has it all, and if you spend your summer vacation in Sardinia, you will enjoy its capital both during the day at its beaches and at night in its lovely and lively Marina district.
Obviously, there are many things to do in Cagliari, not only beaches and pubs, but also historical buildings, ancient churches and monasteries, a beautiful monumental cemetery, and green parks to spend some quiet time far from the traffic. On top of all that, 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 recently deceased 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.
⇒ To know more about what you can do in Cagliari, check out our full guide
Cagliari Hotels 🏨
Among the Cagliari hotels we suggest are Forty-four B&B for a quiet stay in a residential neighbourhood not in the immediate city centre but easy to reach, Hotel Nautilus if you are looking for Sardinia beach hotels or Palazzo Dessy for those who want an elegant accommodation in the city centre. 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 spa and wellness centre with sauna and Turkish bath, and all the most luxurious facilities. Perfect for Sardinia holidays all inclusive, this is considered one of the best hotels in Sardinia.
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Cagliari Restaurants 🍴
Some of the restaurants in Cagliari worth a try are the rustic chic Is Fradis (Via Francesco Coco 1) where you can sample the traditional cuisine, Sa Piola (Vico Santa Margherita 3), also for traditional dishes, Antica Hostaria (Via Cavour 70) and Luigi Pomata (Viale Regina Margherita 18) for gourmet and fish dishes, and Universo Vegano (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 14) per vegans and vegetarians.
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Even though less touristy than Cagliari and the Costa Smeralda, Oristano is a great province for spending your Sardinia holidays. The city of Oristano is a lovely stroll, not too big, flat, nice shops, delicious restaurants and historical buildings.
Visit the cathedral in Piazza del Duomo, which you will spot thanks to its beautiful bell tower Byzantine-style, and continue towards Piazza Eleonora for the statue of medieval ruler Eleonora D’Arborea and Via Dritta, one of the central shopping streets in Oristano ending in Piazza Roma, where is the large and tall 13-century tower of Mariano II, that 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 who’s looking into Sardinia family holidays, Oristano is great, not only 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 the same Oristano. The turquoise hues of its waters will stick to your memory for a long time, and the peace and quiet will make it for a paradise beach holiday. Near San Giovanni di Sinis is 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, and San Salvatore, a ghost town used for a religious festival and that was set for several Western movies. The town of Cabras itself is very interesting as it’s a traditional fishermen village and a big wine producer. Do visit the Contini wine cave, Sardinia’s oldest, for some delicious wine tasting, and do stop at Agriturismo Da Pinuccia for dinner (call first to book as it’s not always open), or at La Peschiera for great fish and seafood dishes.
Apart from Cabras and the Sini Peninsula, other beautiful places to visit along Sardinia’s western coast in Oristano province are Seneghe, very traditional and famous for its olive oil, pastries and food, S’Archittu, a small sea resort that hides a tiny beach facing a calcareous arch, a stunning place for swimming, and Bosa, named one of the most scenic villages in Italy. Near Bosa, there is the gorgeous S’Abba Druche national park where you can explore the different sides of Sardinia, its pristine beaches, its wild vegetation, its rocky views.
Oristano Hotels 🏨
Among the Oristano hotels, we suggest the fantastic Archelao Agriturismo, perfect for a Sardinia honeymoon immersed in nature, not far from the beach and also for lunch and dinner as they have a lovely slow-food and gourmet restaurant. If you are looking for Sardinia family resorts, Archelao Agriturismo is perfect, but you will need to rent a car as it lies outside the city and no bus comes close. If you prefer staying in Oristano city, we suggest the beautifully restored Residenza d’Epoca Regina d’Arborea (Piazza Eleonora d’Arborea 4), set in a 19th-century building in the very city centre and equipped with opulent and modern comforts, or the more affordable B&B Il Melograno (Via Giovanni Spano 20), located in a quiet residential neighborhood at some 800 mt from the city centre, simple but with all necessary equipment, free Wi-Fi, shared bathrooms (rooms are only three), and delicious breakfast. We stayed here for New Year’s Eve and everything was perfect, the city centre is within an easy strolling distance.
Mid-way from Oristano city and the beach are the traditional towns of Riola and Narbolia, where you can find lovely hotels. In Riola, we have 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 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 even though both rooms and common areas retain their original charm and style.
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In Narbolia, 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 Sardinian language. Here, too, you will soak in a blend of old and modern traditional style. The rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, free WiFi, and a modern bathroom, while the rest of the property features a common area for the breakfast, a well-equipped kitchen guests can use and a lovely courtyard where you can relax and even use the herbs and veggies the owner plants. If for dinner you don’t feel like cooking, in Narbolia there is a great pizzeria that also serves whole-grain pizza.
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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 Hotel Ristorante Sa Pedrera providing all necessary facilities and free WiFi and parking.
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Oristano Restaurants 🍴
Some of the restaurants in Oristano city we really like are Lo Zen (Via Umbria 5) for huge portions, delicious pasta dishes with seafood, veggies, or meat, salads and second courses (you will want to try the fried squid, or calamari fritti (you’ll thank me later) and pretty affordable prices, 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 restaurants, gourmet cuisine, delicious food and more expensive fares. Very close to Piazza Roma is Zia Berta (Via Diego Contini 11) that serves an unlimited buffet for around 10 € per person, not a super great quality but convenient for a quick light lunch.
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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 hoping for cheap holidays to 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), Ghilarza, famous for another Aragonese House, although mainly used for events and exhibitions, and the house of Antonio Gramsci, Italian philosopher and politician founder of the Italian Communist Party, the sacred well of St. Christine (Pozzo Sacro di Santa Cristina), a wonderful archeological construction dating back to the 12th century BC, Abbasanta, a village adjacent to Ghilarza 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 travelling to Sardinia in July, on the 7th you can visit Sedilo, also a small town in the Guilcer region, as they celebrate the festival of St. Constantine with a reckless horse race, concerts, fairs and lots of drinking.
Towns and villages of the Guilcer are laid out all around the Omodeo Lake, 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, and 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, and its owner, Aurora, will love to talk to you about the area, the dam, the lake and plenty of anecdotes surrounding their construction.
To visit the Guilcer you can stay in Oristano as it’s pretty close, some 40/50 km, but if you want to visit more places, the archaeological sites, the villages, explore the traditions and the delicious food, I recommend you stay here a couple of nights, too.
Guilcer Hotels 🏨
A good choice is the town of Ghilarza as it’s central and has shops, post office, 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 condition and flat-screen TV.
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Guilcer Restaurants 🍴
Apart from Sa Cantinedda on the lake, great restaurants in this region are Al Marchi in Ghilarza (Via Concezione 4), which moves to the stunning Sas Mendulas in summer, just outside Ghilarza, where you can sample truly delicious gourmet cuisine and also a great pizza (book before going, phone +39 329 1111409 and +39 329 1048314), Su Carduleu in Abbasanta (Via Sant’Agostino 1, very small so by all means book before going, phone: +39 0785563134 or +39 3458342224, email [email protected]), serving amazing gourmet food, and Da Armando, on the road going to Sedilo.
Wild and traditional, this is hands down one of my favourite regions and if you ask me, no Sardinia holidays are complete without a stop in one of these towns. Nuoro itself is very interesting as there are several museums. Alongside the regular Archaeological, Ethnographic and Art museums, here you can visit 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 and 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, do get out of the city and explore the villages and the archaeological sites in the countryside. This is the province of Orgosolo town, famous for its murals and bandits, of Mamoiada, a village famous for its ancient traditional carnival and archaeological sites all around its countryside, and Dorgali, a beautiful town very popular especially from Spring and in summer for Su Gorroppu canyon and the sandy and rocky beaches of its coastline, the most famous being Cala Gonone.
Part of Sardinia’s eastern coast is also Orosei, a long sandy beach, and the natural park of Oasi Bidderosa, close to Cala Liberotto beach, a gorgeous coastal forest and five small inlets that make the place a true paradise. Oasi Bidderosa is open daily 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.
Nuoro Hotels 🏨
To explore this region, you can stay in Nuoro for the night, or even the towns around have lovely B&Bs. In Nuoro, we suggest the apartments of Residence Grandi Magazzini in the city centre that feature free WiFi and parking, balcony, flat-screen TV and a dishwasher, B&B Pascal House Nuoro, a fantastic bed and breakfast in Nuoro providing all the necessary comforts and facilities in a traditional yet modern accommodation, Nughe ‘e’ Oro B&B in the city centre decorated with handmade furniture by local artists and that provides all facilities, 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 and featuring a continental breakfast, a beautiful view and all necessary facilities.
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Nuoro Restaurants 🍴
This province boasts 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), Ciusa (Viale Francesco Ciusa 55, Nuoro), all serving delicacies from the traditional cuisine, while in Cala Gonone sea resort, a good place to eat is Il Pescatore (Via Lungomare dell’Acqua Dolce 1, Cala Gonone).
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Very little introduction is needed for the Emerald Coast, Costa Smeralda, Sardinia’s VIP coastline, as it’s 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 here, this is not my favourite Sardinian region because it retained very little of the island’s identity and traditions, but if what you want is luxury and fun, great Sardinia family holidays, to find some of the best hotels in Sardinia, and some of the best beaches in Sardinia, you will definitely enjoy your vacation.
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 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 as it offers historical buildings, great restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Olbia has also one of the three airports in Sardinia.
Olbia and Costa Smeralda Hotels 🏨
Set in Porto Cervo and often considered one of the best hotels in Sardinia, 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 centre. Guests enjoy also its restaurant serving Italian and international cuisine, and its American Bar for drinks and cocktails. Some great hotels in Olbia city centre are 4-star Hotel Panorama that features a roof terrace con vista and a luxurious wellness centre, Jazz Hotel, close to the airport and featuring a swimming pool and the most modern facilities, the more affordable B&B Antares, set in an historical building in the city centre and featuring free WiFi and all the necessary facilities, or, if you prefer the privacy of an apartment, Smeralda Flats that include a kitchen with oven, fridge and a coffee machine, a sitting area, free WiFi and air conditioning.
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Olbia and Costa Smeralda Restaurants 🍴
Some of the restaurants in Olbia worth a try are L’Essenza Bistrot (Via delle Terme 10) for gourmet food on 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.
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Sunscreen. Especially if you travel to Sardinia in summer, the sunscreen is more important even than the swimwear. The heat is unforgiving and the sun hits hard, so depending on your skin, choose a high SPF factor. Obviously, in Sardinia, you will find it, but if you are not going shopping from the beginning, then you might want to pack it and enjoy the beach as soon as you arrive.
Swimwear. Sardinia is more popular in summer, and be it for the hot temperatures or simply because you want a beach holiday, you will likely swim a lot. A swimwear is a must.
Wind jacket. Whether it’s on the coast or inland, warm or cold season, Sardinia is very windy. I strongly recommend a wind jacket, warm or light depending on the season you are travelling.
Travel-size cosmetics. Women are likely to wear makeup, so better if travel-size and doesn’t take too much space in your luggage. Check out Stowaway Cosmetics for a large choice of products for every complexion and several makeup colours.
Camera. Sardinia is very picturesque, both the coast and the villages, so make sure you don’t forget your camera. Whether it’s a smartphone, a compact or a DSLR, you will want to snap plenty of pictures and memories to take home with you.
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 RailEurope 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 most well-known car rentals at every airport so you can choose the company you prefer depending on your travel needs and budget.
Click here to book your car.
Depending on what type of holiday you want, Sardinia is a perfect travel destination all year round. If you want a beach holiday, then fly to Sardinia in summer, from June to September is the best time, with August being the most crowded month.
If extreme heat is not your favourite weather for travelling (I hear you!), then you might prefer Sardinia in Spring, from March to May, even June, or Fall, from September to November, even beginning of December is often mild.
January and February are the coldest months, but the visitors who come for the Carnival can 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, summer heat in Sardinia is more extreme than winter cold.
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. Through Skyscanner website, you can compare the prices of the different airlines and even set up an email notification for the destination you want to travel to.
Click here to book through Skyscanner
If you are already in Italy, 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 timetable and book your ferry to Sardinia
If you don’t feel like organizing the trip, renting a car and taking care of details and itineraries, and yet you want to visit as much as possible, probably you are thinking about a Sardinia all inclusive. There are many tours to Sardinia that show the island and its fascinating culture and traditions, and often you will save time and get to know the place better than if you were travelling by yourself.
If you are a daring type of traveller, you will love Intrepid Travel’s Sardinia and Corsica Sailing Adventure that will take you island-hopping and sail on crystal clear waters, snorkel around hidden coves and discover every day a new place, from sandy beaches to natural parks.
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⇒ If you are planning a longer trip to Italy to explore also other regions, check out our 2-week Italy itinerary for some suggestions