Sardinia holidays

Experience Sardinia

Experience [destination]

Best Places to Visit

All-inclusive holidays to Sardinia wouldn’t be complete without appreciating its stunning coast. The coastline is ever-present when you visit this beautiful island - but don't take it for granted. Make time to appreciate the stunning views from its cliff tops, its beautiful beaches - some of which are inaccessible except by boat - and the water sports that can be enjoyed at the water's edge, such as snorkelling and scuba diving. Every inch of the island's perimeter has something new to offer and something new to see. Head to the nearest beach or cove or consider a trip further along the coast to see how the landscape changes and interacts with the lapping waves of the sea.

Stintino in north-west Sardinia is a relatively humble community, which still has plenty to offer visitors. Located on the very tip of the island, it's quite small, not to mention remote, more than 100 miles north of Cagliari on a spur of land jutting out from the north-west corner of the island. Your reward for travelling to this remote location is a tourist paradise, where you can take in the architecture of a small Sardinian community, and watch the fishing boats bobbing around in the harbour. The beach here, La Pelosa, is almost too good to be true, with brilliant white sands and shallow turquoise water, a true idyll within just a couple of kilometres of Stintino itself. If you have small children, the gentle slope of the shallows makes this a perfect beach, allowing them to paddle out quite far without even nearing their depth.

By contrast, head to the far north-east and the archipelago of La Maddalena, which will require a short boat journey if you want to visit the island itself. Since 1994, the archipelago has been home to the Archipelago di La Maddalena National Park, which unusually incorporates not only a section of land but also a section of sea. Together these span 180 km of the island's coastline and more than 12,000 hectares of surface area. Once again, it's a big journey, especially if you are based in the south of the island, but it's worth it for the unspoilt nature and the beautiful beaches of the archipelago.

Top Landmarks

As you might imagine, many of Sardinia's landmarks are based around the island's coastline too. One of the most spectacular among these is the vertical cliff face of Capo Caccia, which is easy to get to if you have hired a car. While it may be fairly busy at peak times of year, the area is likely to be all but deserted out of the summer season, and a visit in the winter gives you the perfect opportunity to spend some time there without being disturbed. Take the walk slowly and drink in the views with every step, as no two viewpoints are quite the same - and don't forget to look at the cliff face itself for the tell-tale signs of cave entrances.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Cagliari is one of those buildings where everybody finds something different to like. For some people, it's the workmanship in the facade, for others the exterior is underwhelming and it's the inside that fires their imagination. The stained glass windows capture the hearts of many, and for others still a visit to the cathedral is not complete until they have explored the crypts.

Finally, if you are in the Pula area, head for the ancient city of Nora, but bear in mind that it can only be accessed as part of a guided tour. The site is wonderfully preserved, and the guides will enrich your visit with historical trivia. One possible bone of contention here is if you are the only English speakers in an otherwise Italian group, as quite understandably you may find your tour guide speaking in Italian the whole way round the tour. Despite this risk, the visit is still well worthwhile as having the guide there at all is your ticket to get on to the site, even if you can't tell what he or she is saying about the archaeological ruins.

Entertainment

Sardinia is a world away from the Italian mainland, and the people who live on the island directly contradict the stereotype of loud, outspoken Mediterranean residents. As such, you are less likely to find boisterous entertainment here than in some other locations, but this only makes for a package holiday with a pleasant difference. Many of the best places to spend a few hours are based around relaxation rather than excitement, for instance spending a day in a hammock on the beach, or after dark heading to a pub or bar. There are a number of nightclubs, but these can be very exclusive, and some are largely the preserve of the rich and famous unless you book your entry weeks in advance.

The best option might simply be to head out on foot to the town or village where you are staying, and tour the available venues until you come across one with the kind of atmosphere you want. In some cases that might mean live music, or just recorded music, or you might hear the hubbub of voices and feel drawn towards the energy of it. But often Sardinia's seductive and sedentary way of life will overcome even the most energetic of revellers, until you find yourself sat savouring a drink in a beachfront bar, looking out across the sand, the harbour or the water, and appreciating the slower pace of life in this part of the world.

Dining Out

Dining out on Sardinia can be a challenge. Traditionally, between 4 pm and 7 pm, no food is served in restaurants. If you do want to eat at this time, you will have to head to one of the most tourist-centric areas of the island and hope for the best. The alternative is a cold sandwich with ham and cheese, which is called a 'panini' but bears little resemblance to the flattened and grilled hot sandwiches served under that name in the UK.

When the restaurants do open though, the cuisine is largely similar to that on the Italian mainland, and you may find pasta, gnocchi and pizza widely available. One Sardinian speciality to try is Culurgiones. These pasta parcels might remind you of Ravioli, but inside they are stuffed with Pecorino cheese, potatoes, garlic, mint, onion and egg. A further local delicacy is Casu marzu, which is basically rotten cheese. It is prohibited to sell this, but it is allowed to be produced, so if you want to experience it for yourself, you will need to befriend a local resident and find a way to procure yourself a supply without falling foul of the law! Work is underway to have Casu marzu declared a 'traditional' food, which would avoid the legalities about its production, but until this happens it is unclear whether or not it can legally be bought and sold.

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Need to know

Need to know [destination]

Language

While you are in the larger towns and cities on Sardinia, there is a good chance of people speaking English, if you are unable to speak Italian or Sardinian. However, once you leave the more densely populated areas where English-speaking tourists are most often encountered, you run the risk of finding yourself surrounded by people who only speak Italian and their own dialect of Sardinian. One exception to this is that some may speak French as their third language, a possible common tongue that is worth a try if English is getting you nowhere.

Currency

The local currency on Sardinia is the euro, and you can expect to primarily see notes and coins featuring the Italian designs - each participating country in the Eurozone has its own designs for the currency, and it's sensible to take Italian euros with you if possible, as Sardinian shopkeepers are more likely to feel comfortable accepting the familiar designs from foreigners. There are plenty of ATMs on the island - look for the word 'bancomat', literally indicating an 'automatic bank'.

Visas

Sardinia is an autonomous region of Italy, so generally the same entry requirements apply. This means you should be able to travel to Sardinia without a visa of any kind. You will need to hold a valid British passport in order to travel, and this should not expire during your stay. As long as the expiration date is after your return journey though, there is no need for any additional valid period - unlike some countries where you can only travel if you have six months or more left on your passport.

Climate

Sardinia is warmest where it is closest to sea level, and a little cooler at high altitudes, giving it a summer temperature range from over 30°C to around 25-26°C on high ground. Winter is warm, staying in or around double figures at sea level, and it's unusual to see more than two inches of rain in a month. If the breeze is blowing in from the north-west, it might be the Mistral, a cool and dry wind most often felt in spring and winter, and credited with making the island a paradise for sailors.

Main Airports

Reaching Sardinia from the UK, you have several options. The island has three main airports, all well-connected with departure points in Western Europe and Great Britain. Cagliari-Elmas Airport is the biggest of the three and is about 6 km west of Cagliari itself. It ranks among Europe's 100 busiest airports, with well over three million passengers each year, and onward connections are easily made thanks to the frequent bus service.

Sardinia's second airport is Olbia, 3 km south-west of the town with the same name. Again, a regular bus service connects Olbia with its airport, allowing passengers to make the transfer roughly every 30 minutes throughout the day.

Flight Options

Routes served by Olbia Airport include direct flights to and from Britain, as well as continental Europe including France, Germany and Spain. Finally, Alghero-Fertilia Airport handles around half as much traffic as Cagliari, but still ranks as the 20th busiest airport in Italy. It is located 10.5 km north-west of Alghero, and although the bus service runs hourly, the slightly longer distance between the airport and the town can make for a slower transfer time.

Travel Advice

Alghero-Fertilia Airport is focused mainly on domestic flights, although both Frankfurt and London airports have links with it. Together, the three airports provide plenty of choice when planning a journey to Sardinia, and all three benefit from frequent transfer buses, helping to avoid the extra expense of a taxi.

Other Transport Options

As an island, it should come as no surprise that sailing is a realistic way to get to some parts of Sardinia. If you have the budget, there are yacht charter companies that can help you to set sail in true style, which is bound to make an impression on onlookers as you put into port at your destination. Alternatively, you can charter a sailboat, with or without its crew.

Getting Around

Travelling around Sardinia is not too difficult, with plenty of different options open to you. Bus and train services are regular and there are many opportunities to hire a car, so you can truly explore. There are also ferry services that help to remove the limits when you reach the island's edge, so that you can explore other nearby islands or even sail to the mainland if you wish.

Bus

Bus services are regular and cheap, although not always reliable. This can slow down your journey - an issue compounded even further if you have to change bus routes halfway through because there is no direct link to your chosen destination. If you're in no hurry then, at least, you can sightsee out of the window, rather than have to concentrate on the road as you would need to do if driving a hire car.

Train

There are four main train lines that cover 1000km of the island, so travel by train is a great choice when on holiday in Sardinia.

MAP

SARDINIA`S WEATHER TODAY

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AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Sardinia is not part of Italy, although many people who live there use Italian as their first choice of language. It is an autonomous region, although it is officially owned by Italy.
  2. Sardinia is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Italy. If you need to picture its position, imagine the 'boot' shape of Italy - Sardinia lies in a north-south orientation, in front of Italy's 'knee' and more or less in place to be kicked by the toe of the boot, if it were to arc forwards and up!

FACTS

  1. Sardinia is not part of Italy, although many people who live there use Italian as their first choice of language. It is an autonomous region, although it is officially owned by Italy.
  2. Sardinia is located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Italy. If you need to picture its position, imagine the 'boot' shape of Italy - Sardinia lies in a north-south orientation, in front of Italy's 'knee' and more or less in place to be kicked by the toe of the boot, if it were to arc forwards and up!

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