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The capital of Sardinia has beguiled travellers for many years. Comparing it to Jerusalem D.H. Lawrence declared it “strange but wonderful” and there is, indeed, plenty to wonder at. Its myriad golden-hued palazzi are, perhaps, more reminiscent of nearby Tunisia than the imperial grandeur we associate with Rome. Yet there is much here that is distinctly Italian - amongst the domes and facades that rise towards the climactic rough-hewn grandeur of Il Castello there are plenty of tree-lined streets and squares with Vespas nipping past gelatis and cafes. In fact, Cagliari’s rich history is told through its collection of Roman ruins, museums, churches and galleries and the party scene you will find down on Poetto Beach is definitely tinged with a familiar Italian touch.
Old Town - Most of the the historic and architectural attractions in Cagliari are very close to the main city centre and can be found in the Old Town around Via Roma and Piazza Yenne. A walking tour of the ruins will help bring the area to life but they also provide a wonderfully atmospheric backdrop to a spot of people watching or, from Il Castello, offer majestic views which need no explanation at all.
Poetto Beach - The five mile long beach that starts wending its way along the coast to the east of Cagliari offers all the watersport action you may like and attracts a party crowd but is also fine for families to enjoy the calm, blue waters at.
Villasimius - If it is perfect beaches you seek then take a drive east of Cagliari where you will find a string of them. Ones to look out for include Porto Sa Ruxi, Piscadeddus, Campus, Cala Caterina, Cala Burroni, Porto Giunco, Timi Ama, Simius, Punta Molentis and Spiaggia del Riso. For more beach action why not take a beach tour and make sure you have taken in all the best?
Nora - Of the many splendid archaeological sites in easy reach of Cagliari is Nora. This ancient Roman town near Pula was said to have been founded by Norax, the mythological son of the messenger god Hermes. Historians believe it to be the first town founded in Sardinia and there are plenty more interesting facts and mythic stories to discover on a trip here.
Things to See around Cagliari
The Roman amphitheatre is an inspirational sight but it is the views from the romantic Il Castello that win most hearts. Nearby there are a number of worthwhile archeological excursions that offer plenty to see: try the first Sardinian settlement at Nora or the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Barumini. Back in Cagliari the Parco Naturale Molentargius-Saline and the Orto Botanico will delight nature lovers.
For fine dining you are spoilt for choice but the best restaurants are clustered in the romantic enclaves of the Old Town. The museums and galleries in the city are well worth a visit, if you can pull yourself away from the watersports and relaxing on the beach that is, of course.