Sardinia. Most people only think of its picturesque beaches. But don’t be fooled, there’s so much more…
This gorgeous Italian island located in the heart of the Mediterranean is a true gem. The second largest island in the region, there’s no questioning its popularity as a summer beach destination. However, if you’re able to pry yourself away from some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, there are so many incredible things to do in Sardinia.
From quaint villages, breathtaking archaeological sites, stunning hikes, thrilling adventure sports and so much more, let us be your Sardinia travel guide so that you can enjoy every nook and cranny of this unbelievably island.
In this section we will add recommendations so that you can fully enjoy the place or activity which we have proposed. Also, if you feel there is something which we haven’t included in our list then we would love to hear your suggestions! Share your Sardinia vacation with us on our social media networks by including the hashtag #BlauHotelsExperiences and #BlauTips and help other travelers discover the beauty of Sardinia. Or if you prefer, you can also write us at email@example.com with details your experience. Let the fun begin!
1) Sardinia Caves
Come and explore the underground labyrinth of grottoes and caves in Sardinia. With more than 300 caves open to tourists, you’ll be fascinated by the incredible stalactites, underground lakes and towering walls of moss. While the list is nearly endless, we’ll introduce you to three caves we feel you should definitely visit during your holiday in Sardinia.
a) Neptune’s Grotto
Location: near Alghero
Address: Porto di Alghero banchina Garibaldi, 07041
Distance from Arbatax Park: 3 hrs
Telephone: +39 079 979054
Price: €13 adults / €7 children
Reachable by car, bus or boat, Neptune’s Grotto, Sardinia is a must see during your holiday. One of the largest marine caves in Italy, it was formed roughly two million years ago and offers incredible features such as stalagmites, a sandy beach and a huge underwater lake. One hundred meters long and nine meters deep, the beauty of the crystal clear waters and enormous stalagmite in the center of Lake La Marmora will take your breathe away.
b) Tiscali Sardinia
Location: near Nuoro
Address: Bar SA BARVA, 08022, Dorgali NU, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 1 hr 40 min
This ancient Nuragic village which sits amongst a cave atop of Mount Tiscali is a must see. Only accessible by foot, the hike can take roughly two hours but offers incredible views of the surrounding landscapes. Hiring a guide is highly recommended as they can help you traverse the complicated trails and caves.
c) Su Marmuri Cave
Location: near Ulassai
Address: Piazzale Grotte sui Marmuri, 08040 Ulassai NU, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 50 min
Telephone: +39 0782 79859
This famous cave sits 880 meters above sea level and is 850 meters long, making it one of the top things to do in Sardinia. Boasting a mostly flat surface throughout, the cave is only accessible by a guided tour which takes roughly an hour and a half. With the internal caverns rising up to 50 meters in areas, along with the incredible rock formations, the Grotta Su Marmuri is one of our favorites.
Visiting caves in Sardinia can be a cold experience, so bring a sweater! You should also be in relatively good physical condition as they all require a fair amount of walking. If you’ll be visiting the Tiscali cave then you’ll find it quite physically demanding so keep that in mind. We also advise renting a car as it will allow you much more freedom to come and go as you please. Finally, we highly advise calling caves which can only be visited by guides to find out when they offer tours in English and if there are tickets available.
2) Best Villages in Sardinia
From charming cobblestone alleyways, spectacular views and architecture out of a fairytale, Sardinia villages are some of the most picturesque in Europe. With each village home to its own unique history, art and culture, we highly recommend visiting a few during your Sardinia vacation. Here are a few of our favorites!
Boasting a population of roughly 45,000, Alghero’s unique history was formed by the Carthaginians, Phoenicians, Arabs and Catalans among others. Alghero, Sardinia is a lively city which features a rich history, unique architecture, vibrant culture, plenty of shopping and great food and wine. With a Gothic-style historic center, we advise strolling the cobblestone alleyways, enjoying a drink in Piazza Civica and exploring the cathedral.
Who wouldn’t want to visit a town which means “happiness” in Greek? The heart of Olbia, Sardinia is a true gem which features unique archaeological landmarks along with numerous boutique shops, wine bars and piazzas (public squares). Primarily known for its spralling beach resorts to the north and south, the center of Olbia is certainly a must visit in Sardinia!
Address: Bosa, 08013 Province of Oristano, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 2 hrs 15 min
This quaint town of roughly 8,000 people is popular for its pastel colored houses which are nestled along the River Temo. The colorful houses rise along the hillside which lead to the Malaspina Castle overlooking the surrounding area. The romantic fishing village of Bosa, Sardinia not only boasts bright colors, but also offers a vibrant culture, beautiful architecture and plenty of shops and eateries.
Address: 07031 Castelsardo, Province of Sassari, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 3 hrs
The medieval town of Castelsardo was built around the Doria Castle and is certainly considered one of the most beautiful places in Italy. Peaceful and tranquil, this is a great place to wander the narrow alleyways and pop in and out of the unique shops scattered throughout. From the castle you’ll enjoy incredible views of the surrounding area, but we also advise enjoying the local cuisine and stopping at the famous Elephant Rock for a picture.
Address: Orgosolo, 08027 Province of Nuoro, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 1 hr 10 min
Orgosolo murals…you need to see the murals! This mountain village is famous for its murals, paintings and frescos which are painted directly on the houses. The majority of the more than 200 murals in Orgosolo boast some sort of political message or rememberance of international events. Truly unique, this is one of the best things to see in Sardinia!
We would highly advise renting a car if you plan on visiting any of the lovely Sardinian towns as it will give you more freedom and allow you to stop along the way if you so choose. It’s also highly recommended to do a tiny bit of research before you go in order to find out where the best (and cheapest) place to park in the town is. If driving in the countryside be aware of livestock that may have wandered into the roadways.
3) Sardinia Historical Sites
With such a rich history and myriad of cultures which have left their influence on the island of Sardinia, there are numerous historical sites which are worth seeing. From cultures like the Phoenicians, Arabs, Carthaginians and many more shaping the history of the island, you’ll find everything from fortresses to castles and so much more. Here are a few of our must see historical sites in Sardinia!
With more than 7,000 scattered across the island, these prehistoric stone structures are a bit of a mystery. Some studies say they were used as observation towers, for sacred rituals, fortresses and tombs. Regardless, nuraghes are a true marvel and we highly recommend visiting at least one during your time in Sardinia. Here are a couple options:
Su Nuraxi (Barumini)
Address: Viale Su Nuraxi, 09021 Barumini SU, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 2 hrs 15 min
Telephone: +39 070 936 8128
Information: The island’s only UNESCO World Heritage site, Su Nuraxi is by far the most popular nuraghe. With more than 30 towers, some of which offer multiple levels and separate rooms, the Su Nuraxi Nuraghe provides guided tours in several languages.
Location: central northwest
Address: Nuraghe Santu Antine, 07048 Torralba SS, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 2 hrs
Telephone: +39 079 847 481
Information: One of the largest nuraghe towers in Sardinia, it’s named after Saint Constantine. Parts of the nuraghe date back to the 15th century BC and is built from giant basalt blocks. Offering three floors, the top of which has since fallen, this impressive nuraghe is definitely worth a visit.
Abbasanta (Nuraghe Losa)
Address: Strada Statale 131 Carlo Felice, 09071 Abbasanta OR, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 1 hr 45 min
Telephone: +39 0785 52302
Information: One of the most unique nuraghes in Sardinia, it is shaped in equilateral triangles, much like the bow of a ship. One of the few nuraghes which lacks an internal courtyard, the original name means the nuraghe of tombs due to the Roman cinerary urns cut out of the rocks lining the edge.
b) Monte D’Accoddi
Address: Monte D`Accoddi, 07100 Sassari SS, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 2 hrs 40 min
Telephone: +39 334 807 4449
Possibly the oldest historical site in Sardinia, it can be dated back to roughly 3,650 BC. Stretching some 27 meters in length and 5 meters high, the structure still baffles historians and archaeologists. Taking the form of a pyramid, it is presumed that the stone altar found within Monte D’ Accoddi was used for sacrifices.
c) Basilica di Saccargia
Address: 07040 Codrongianos, Province of Sassari, Italy
Distance from Arbatax Park: 2 hrs 15 min
Telephone: +39 079 435019
Built upon the ruins of a monastery, this famous Romanesque church in Sardinia is a true gem. Finished in 1116, left abandoned in the 16th century and then later reopened in the 20th century, it’s beautiful design and unique history make it a must see in Sardinia.
As many of these sites are exposed to the elements, be sure and plan accordingly when it comes to clothes depending on the time of year you visit. As with many of our recommendations, renting a car will make your visit easier and more convenient. You can also visit several sites in the same trip, such as Santu Antine, Monte D’ Accoddi and Basilica di Saccargia. Finally, always check to make sure the site will be open the day you want to visit.
4) Water Sports Sardinia
Sardinia: the island paradise situated in the heart of the Mediterranean and mecca for enjoying a beach holiday full of water sports. With these wet activities primarily attracting travelers in the summer months, they can certainly be enjoyed year-round depending on safety regulations and your tolerance for cold. Here are a few of the water sports you can embrace during your visit.
a) Sardinia Surfing
Sardinia is actually well known for great surfing in the Mediterranean. The best times of year to find good breaks are generally autumn and spring, but you can find surf all year-round depending on the weather. Arguably the most popular surf spot for experienced surfers is Capo Mannu located on the west coast. However, the east coast of Sardinia near Arbatax also offers great surfing which is more suitable for beginners.
b) Sardinia Scuba Diving
Some argue that Sardinia offers the best diving in the Mediterranean due to its crystal clear waters, rocky coastlines and abundance of marine life. You’ll find scuba diving throughout Sardinia, but the east coast is quite popular as it is sheltered from the strong westerly winds. The north east and south also offer some of the best diving in Sardinia.
c) Sardinia Snorkeling
Snorkeling is one of the most popular water sports in Sardinia due to crystal clear waters, fascinating marine life and the simplicity of the activity itself. The east coast of Sardinia, near Arbatax, is littered with some of the best snorkeling in Sardinia such as Cala Goloritzé, Budoni and Tavolara.
d) Sardinia Kitesurfing
Whether you’re an expert or just want to learn, Sardinia is a great place for kitesurfing. The north and south of the island provide particularly great conditions for enjoying this water sport in Sardinia, while also offering plenty of places to rent gear and/or pay for lessons. A few of the best areas for kitesurfing are Porto Pollo and Badesi.
e) Sardinia Kayaking
Kayaking in Sardinia is also quite popular, especially because the island offers incredible kayaking conditions and amazing scenery. While sea kayaking is the most popular, Sardinia also offers river and lake kayaking. While you can rent a kayak and go off on your own, we highly recommend going on a guided tour if you truly want to experience the beauty of the island.
While some water sports are easier than others, ensure you are physically able to partake in the activity before doing so. With regards to equipment, there are many places to rent the appropriate equipment for whichever water sport you would like to enjoy, and your hotel may very well provide equipment. We also recommend that you take care of your skin and apply plenty of sunscreen, while at the same time ensuring you have plenty of water and food to last for the duration of the activity if you will be leaving the resort area.
5) Boating in Sardinia
With Sardinia situated in the heart of the Mediterranean and offering some of the most stunning scenery in Europe, there’s no wonder it’s one of the most highly sought out boating destinations in the region. From sailing to specialized boat tours to yachting, this is certainly one of the top things to do in Sardinia.
a) Sardinia Sailing
There are many ways to enjoy sailing in Sardinia: you can go out for a day trip, enjoy a multi-day adventure or sail to the island from elsewhere. Renting a sailboat or going out on a guided tour are easily accessible on the island, it merely depends on what you are looking to do. The eastern part of the island is also great for sailing as you have locations such as Cala Gonone, Santa Maria Navarrese and Villaputzu.
b) Sardinia Boat Tours
There’s a boat tour for nearly everything in Sardinia! From luxury boat tours, sightseeing sours, dolphin tours, party cruises and so much more, Sardinia has a little bit of everything. One of the most popular, and rightfully so, tours in Sardinia is the La Maddalena boat tour. This tiny archipelago off the northern coast of Sardinia is known for its pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear water and unbelievable scenery. With dozens of boat tours leaving directly from Arbatax, you’ll find one perfect for you!
c) Yachting in Sardinia
For those looking for a more lavish holiday, Sardinia yacht charters are very common and can be enjoyed throughout the island. Chartering a yacht in Sardinia can be done in many ways, for varying periods of time, so whatever type of experience you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it here.
Our first piece of advice is to book in advance to ensure that (a) you are able to book the boat, tour or charter you are after and (b) to potentially save money with early booking offers. If you are taking a day trip, make sure and clarify if the tour offers food and drinks, otherwise you will need to ensure you bring your own. For those of you who may struggle with seasickness, we highly advise taking dramamine (or an equivalent) to ensure you have an enjoyable time. Finally, be sure and bring appropriate clothing and accessories. If you’ll be going during the summer ensure you have plenty of sunscreen with you.
6) Sardinia Hiking
While Sardinia is widely recognized for being a beach destination, don’t be fooled by the beauty of its interior. One way to explore this beauty is on foot, and the Sardinia hiking trails are truly some of the most picturesque around. Here are a few of our favorite hikes:
a) Selvaggio Blu
Starting location: Santa Maria Navarrese
Distance from Arbatax Park: 20 min
Hike Difficulty: Very Difficult
Hike Duration: 5-7 days
Alright, so this is for the expert hiker/climber. Often considered one of Italy’s most difficult hiking trails, the Selvaggio Blu runs 40 km along Sardinia’s east coast from Santa Maria Navarrese to Cala Gronone. Technical and extremely demanding, you’ll come across some of the last true wilderness in the Mediterranean as you pass through narrow sea cliffs, hidden beaches and limestone cliffs. If you wish to do part or all of this hike we highly advise you hire a professional guide.
b) Gorropu Canyon
Starting location: Urzulei
Distance from Arbatax Park: 40 min
Hike Difficulty: Easy, Challenging or Expert
Hike Duration: 4 hrs, 5 hrs or 8 hrs
There are several different ways to get to Gorropu Canyon, one of them being guided tours. There are several different starting locations as well, so be conscious of that. Considered the Grand Canyon of Europe, it is one of the deepest canyons on the continent and without a doubt one of the best hikes in Sardinia. The trail starting in Urzulei passes by some natural pools and is slightly more difficult. There’s another trail which starts at Rifugio Gorroppu which is not as steep and takes roughly 6-8 hours. Once you arrive to the canyon you will be required to pay a €5 entrance fee, but trust us, it’s well worth it.
c) Oasi Biderosa
Starting location: Oasi Biderosa
Distance from Arbatax Park: 1 hr 50 min
Hike Difficulty: Moderate
Hike Duration: 5-6 hours
A beautiful hike in Sardinia which leads to the famous Oasi Biderosa, this is a great day out as a couple or family. Certainly worthy of its name, this oasis is surrounded by junipers, pines and holm oaks to make it truly picturesque. While there is limited access by car from May to October, hiking in will allow you to marvel at the beauty of the nature reserve and is allowed all year.
Sardinia trekking is most enjoyable during the fall and spring months as the temperatures are mild. Always make sure and bring appropriate footwear, along with clothing which can withstand the elements (i.e. rain jacket, fleece sweaters, good socks etc.). It is very unlikely that you will find anywhere to buy food and drinks once you set out on your hike, so ensure you bring enough with you. Renting a car is also the easiest way to arrive at your destination, but you can also hire tour guides which will arrange for your pick up and drop off. Sardinia has many hiking routes, and Wikiloc is a great tool for finding the perfect hike for you!
7) Sardinia Adventure Sports
Some might call Sardinia a playground for adults! Having covered hiking and watersports, lets move on to a few more activities which get your blood rushing. With Sardinia’s wild terrain and untouched landscapes there is plenty of adventure for those looking to leave the beach behind. Here are a couple of our favorite adventure sports in Sardinia:
a) Sardinia Cycling
While you can most certainly road bike across Sardinia, we want to get off the beaten path and show you the rugged interior for mountain biking. From narrow single path trails to dirt roads, there is mountain biking in Sardinia for all levels of riders. Komoot is a fantastic resource for finding biking trails on the island, and a few trails that aren’t far from Arbatax include the Monte Tuttavista Loop from Orosei, the Nette Furt Loop from Arbatax and the Aussichtspunkt Loop from Barì
b) Sardinia Climbing
With the island’s rocky interior and coastal areas, it is a true mecca for rock climbing. Offering great temperatures throughout most of the year, along with nearly 4,000 bolted sport routes and 1,000 multi pitch routes, rock climbing in Sardinia is great for all levels. You’ll find primarily limestone, granite and basalt on the island, with the granite routes being primarily untouched to allow for trad climbing. A few of the most popular climbing areas include Cala Gonone, Cala Goloritzé and Gorropu Canyon.
If you are a beginner in either sport then we highly advise hiring a guide who can take you to appropriate routes and knows the area. For expert climbers we advise bringing your own equipment as you are comfortable with your own gear which can be very important for expert routes. As with most outdoor activities in Sardinia, fall and spring are the best times of year, with the summer being highly unadvisable. And finally, renting a car will allow you to travel freely about the island and enjoy numerous climbing and/or biking trails on your schedule.
8) Sardinia Food
Sardinia offers a hybrid cuisine which was heavily influenced by the invaders who at one point conquered the island. Italians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and Spanish have all left their mark on the local cuisine. With a unique mix of food from the sea and food from the land, here are a few traditional Sardinian foods that you must try.
a) Sardinia Pasta
Pasta is abundant in Italy, and obviously Sardinia, but there is one particular pasta which is unique to the island: malloreddus. Also referred to as gnocchetti (or Sardinian gnocchi), this local delight is made from wheat semolina flour, water and salt. Malloreddus can be served in many different ways, but arguably the most traditional is malloreddus alla campidanese which includes fennel sausage, saffron and tomato sauce.
b) Sardinian Minestrone Soup
Referred to by some as “Sardinian Longevity Minestrone,” this famed soup has been enjoyed for decades by some of Sardinia’s longest living families. Generally eaten for lunch, this soup is normally made with seasoned vegetables, fava beans and fregula. Add in a glass of Sardinia red wine and you’ll enjoy a truly traditional lunch!
Porceddu, or more often referred to as roasted suckling pig, is normally served at special events such as weddings and large family reunions. A true Sardinian food specialty, the body of the small pig is stuffed with basic ingredients such as rosemary, herbs, fennel, meat and other additions. The piglet is then roasted over juniper and myrtle wood to create a tender, moist and tangy roast.
d) Sardinian Cheese
There are roughly 3.5 million sheep, goats and cows on the island of Sardinian, so to say the least cheese is a big deal! With the quality milk produced by both sheep and goats, Sardinian cheeses are both unique and delicious. Here are a few “must trys” during your visit:
- Ricotta – from smoked to mustia and salata, Sardinian ricotta is made from sheep’s milk
- Fiore Sardo PDO – made from whole sheep’s milk and offers a dense, firm texture with a nutty and salty taste
- Casizolu – made from whole cow’s milk, this pear shaped cheese usually offers a spicier flavor when it is aged
- Casu Marzu – possibly not to everyone’s liking, this cheese is also referred to as ‘maggot cheese’ because it is literally rotten cheese with live magots; technically illegal in the EU, this cheese is not easy to find
e) Sardinian Bread
Bread in Italy is a staple to the diet, and more so in Sardinia which has a unique shepherding tradition. With this in mind, many traditional breads were created to last on long journeys and thus they are dry and crisp. Arguably the most famous is simply referred to as Sardinian flat bread which is seasoned with aromatic rosemary and coarse sea salt. This bread can be eaten either dry or wet with a variety of sauces, wine or water.
We highly advise asking your hotel or host what are some good, local restaurants in your area to try the best traditional food. Don’t get pulled into the ‘tourist traps’ if you truly want to experience the best Sardinian cuisine. And while Casu Marza sounds interesting, we highly recommend staying away from it due to it’s sanitary problems. Finally, one of the best ways to experience the local food is eating at an agriturismo. These ‘farm stays’ offer a full menu where you’ll enjoy antipasti, a starter dish, main dish, dessert and digestive, along with wine and water, usually for a fixed price around €25.
Well there you have it, our travel guide of the best things to do in Sardinia! While this list could carry on for ages, we have offered up a taste of what’s to come on your next trip to Hotel Sigillum Borgo or Hotel Sigillum Monte Turri at Arbatax Park. A truly incredible holiday destination which offers a unique culture and some of Europe’s most breathtaking landscapes, be sure and enjoy every minute of your trip to this famed Italian island!
And if you’re looking for more adventures in the Mediterranean then be sure and check out our Mallorca travel guide and enjoy another breathtaking island!