Sardinia Holidays: How to Plan a Perfect Trip to Sardinia
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, especially for the summer.
Whether you want a Sardinia honeymoon, a family holiday or are looking for the best beaches in Sardinia, we’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, we will also tell you some convenient package holidays to Sardinia if you don’t feel like doing all the planning.
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. We included also some of the best hotels in Sardinia as well as some of the best restaurants.
- 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, unmissable things to do in the island
What to do in Cagliari city and province
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, an exciting nightlife, local meals and drinks included.
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 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.
Sardinia accommodation: Cagliari Hotels
Among the Cagliari hotels, for us, we picked Forty-four B&B for a quiet stay in a residential neighbourhood, not in the immediate city centre 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 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 the most luxurious facilities. This is considered one of the best hotels in Sardinia.
Where to eat: Cagliari Restaurants
Some of the restaurants in Cagliari worth trying are the rustic chic Is Fradis (Via Francesco Coco 1) 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. Universo Vegano (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 14) is fantastic for vegans and vegetarians.
What to do in Oristano city and Sardinia western coast
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. Here, 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 Via Dritta, one of the central shopping streets in Oristano ending in Piazza Roma. Here 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.
Things to do in Sardinia’s western coast
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 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 fishermen 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 La Peschiera 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 their beloved mountain. While S’Archittu, not far from Seneghe, is a small sea resort in Sardinia west coast that hides a tiny beach facing a calcareous arch. A stunning place for swimming, diving and snorkelling.
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 colourful 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 a 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, its rocky views.
Sardinia accommodation: Oristano Hotels
Among the best Oristano hotels, we suggest the fantastic Archelao Agriturismo. Perfect for a Sardinia honeymoon immersed in nature, it’s not far from the local beaches. Recommended also for lunch and dinner as they have a delicious slow-food gourmet restaurant. If you are looking for Sardinia family resorts, Archelao Agriturismo is excellent. 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. For more affordable accommodations, B&B Il Melograno (Via Giovanni Spano 20), located in a quiet residential neighbourhood some 800 mt from the city centre, 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 centre is within an easy strolling reach.
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 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, with both rooms and common areas retaining their original charm and style.
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 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 the 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. For those who want to enjoy their Sardinia trip 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: Oristano Restaurants
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 calamari fritti, 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. Very close to Piazza Roma is Zia Berta (Via Diego Contini 11) that serves an unlimited buffet for around 10 € per person. Not the best quality but convenient for a quick light lunch.
What to do in the Guilcer region, central Sardinia
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 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), 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 travelling to Sardinia in July, on the 7th you can visit Sedilo. Also a small town in the Guilcer region, they honour the memory 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. 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.
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.
Where to stay in Sardinia: Guilcer Hotels
A good choice is the town of Ghilarza: 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. There is also 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.
Where to eat: Guilcer Restaurants
Apart from Sa Cantinedda on the lake, one of the best restaurants in this region is Al Marchi in Ghilarza (Via Concezione 4), which moves to the stunning Sas Mendulas in summer. Just outside Ghilarza, here you can sample truly delicious gourmet cuisine and also a great pizza (book before going, phone +39 329 1111409 and +39 329 1048314).
Try also Su Carduleu in Abbasanta (Via Sant’Agostino 1, very small so by all means book before going, phone: +39 0785563134 or +39 3458342224, email firstname.lastname@example.org) serving amazing gourmet food, and Da Armando, on the road to Sedilo.
What to do in Nuoro and Barbagia region
Wild and traditional, this is hands down one of my favourite regions. 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 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. 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.
The beautiful town of Dorgali is very popular especially from Spring and in summer for Su Gorroppu canyon and its sandy and rocky coastline, the most famous beach being Cala Gonone.
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 Sardinia: Nuoro Hotels
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 centre 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 B&B in the city centre, 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: Nuoro Restaurants
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), Ciusa (Viale Francesco Ciusa 55, Nuoro). They all serve delicacies from the traditional cuisine.
In Cala Gonone sea resort, a good place to eat is Il Pescatore (Via Lungomare dell’Acqua Dolce 1, Cala Gonone).
What to do in 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 favourite 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 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.
Sardinia accommodation: 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 centre. 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 centre are 4-star Hotel Panorama featuring a roof terrace con vista and a luxurious wellness centre, 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 an historical building in the city centre and providing free WiFi and all the necessary facilities. If you prefer the privacy of an apartment, Smeralda Flats include a kitchen with oven, fridge and a coffee machine, a sitting area, free WiFi and air conditioning.
Where to eat: Olbia and Costa Smeralda Restaurants
Some of the restaurants in Olbia worth trying 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.
What to pack for a perfect holiday in Sardinia
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. 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.
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 planning to go.
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 colours.
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.
Avoid annoying airlines surcharges with our guide to the best digital luggage scales.
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.
Click here to check the prices and book a car.
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 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 or Fall. From March to May, even June, or from September to November, even beginning of December, 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, summer heat in Sardinia is more extreme than winter cold.
How to get to Sardinia
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 the 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.
The best package holidays to Sardinia and local tours
The daring traveller in you will love Intrepid Travel’s Sardinia and Corsica Sailing Adventure. It will take you island-hopping and sailing on crystal clear waters, snorkelling around hidden coves and discovering every day a new place, from sandy beaches to natural parks.
Click here to see the price and to book.
The active travellers will love Walking in Sardinia tour package with Exodus Travels. Spend 8 days hiking and trekking scenic places such as Su Gorroppu gorge, Su Gologone spring and explore local archaeological sites.
Click here to see the price and to book.
Among the favourite Sardinia tours are also the cycling holidays such as Cycling in Sardinia to visit wonderful beaches like Piscinas and Is Arutas and the archaeological site of Tharros.
Click here to see the price and to book.
READ MORE: If you are planning a longer trip to Italy to explore also other regions, check out our 2-week Italy itinerary for some suggestions.