You’ll need 8 days to cross Sardinia from north to south. Three steps are necessary to enjoy each province’s specificities.
Except the Costa Smeralda #jetset, the second biggest mediterranean island is surprisingsly discreet. The ancient Greeks claimed that the Atlantide was located here. For them, the shoreline had been drowned and the villagers had sought refuge in the mountains separated by natural borders. We naturally felt the need to explore the most beautiful Sardinian lands.
North and Maddalena
Our trip starts in Corsica, from Bonifacio with a one hour crossing. We arrive in Santa Teresa di Gallura in Sardinia, the island’s natural entrance from Corsica or north Italy. We immediately notice similarities between Corsica and Sardinia, starting with the flags. Sardinia’s has four Moors king’s heads wether turned left or right, wether blindfolded or not, depending on the political message :)
A traditional Sardinian resort, calm with several entirely private polished rocks creeks and a furnished space on the big white sand Licciola beach.
From the Valle dell Erica, admire a 360° panorama on the Corsican island (Lavezzi) and the Maddalena archipelago.
A twenty minutes car ride will bring you to Palau port to enjoy snorkeling and many other activities.
Excursions are possible to visit the seven islands of Maddalena (only two are populated) and about sixty small island famous for their white sand beaches, granit rocks and crystal clear waters.
We stop on Cala Corsara and Soraya. Nearby, Budelli’s pink sand beach which you can only admire from the boat. Strictly forbidden to stop on one of Italy’s most protected beaches.
Relaxing on the boat’s deck and we’re totally disconnected and relaxed (don’t forget your sunscreen !).
At night, we try the zuppa gallurese, our first taste of the Sardinian cuisine. Between a soup, a gratin and lasagnas. A rich dish !
Next, the seada, a delicious honey flavored cheese ravioli.
To get to the second step, we go through Sardinia’s center, the city of Nuoro with a break in Oliena. A small city famous for its typical local red wine: the Cannonau Nepente di Oliena and also for its traditional scenes paintings decorating the houses’s facades. Here starts the hikes to the Supramonte’s abrupt rocks.
If you have more time, you can go head to Castelsardo, in the National Park of Asinara ( northwestern end) and to Alghero.
If you wish to cross Sardinia from one end to the other arriving by Santa Teresa di Gallura, rent a car from Autonoleggio Sardinya, the only agency ( to this day) allowing you to take your car here and leave it in Cagliari in the south of the island, our last step. If you arrive by Olbia’s airport, all the agencies allow you to do so.
West Coast - Cabras & the Sinis
The arrival to Cabras immediately makes you feel like you entered an hispanic origin village. One level houses, colorful facades, patio in inner courtyards and churches, small squares and paved streets which makes you think about Mexico. Same feeling when you enter the Aquae Sinis hotel.
In the front, the large pond of the same name, many sand dunes, swamps and tens of kilometers of pine trees. Ideal spot to observe the wild life and the flamingos. #sardiniancamargue
The very fertile lands offers cereals, olive trees, citruses and vineyards which produce the Vernaccia. A 15C° local wine, with a lot of body, perfect with cheeses and the bottarga* la boutargue, a local specialty. Salted and dried mullet eggs covered in wax. You can find it grated in many pasta dishes.
In the morning, we head to Tharros, fifteen minutes away from Cabras, on the Sinis peninsula. This breathtaking scenery was one of the most important Phoenician and Roman commercial port. One track of land, two coasts to moor depending on the winds and two towers : the Torre vecchia and the Torre di San Giovanni. Climb to the top of the San Giovanni Torre, contemplate the shades of blues and choose its creek for a bath. West coast : sand and agitated sea; east coast : calm and non profound seas with rocks.
As a backdrop the Roman remains and columns, under the water, the rest of the port which was drowned. Unusual.
Ten minutes away from Cabras, the small village of Riola Sardo will charm you by its calm and authenticity. Surrounded by beaches and swamps, we choose to stay in an old family house, the Lucrezia hotel and its hacienda atmosphere #crush. We discovered the finocchio* liquor, fennel liquor and the typical Sardinian liquor, il mirto* myrtle (other similarity with Corsica; alcoholic maceration of berries).
Cabras and Riola Sardo are really close which allows you to leave your luggages in one or the other and visit the surroundings.
Drive between ten and thirty minutes and you can discover very long and deep blue beaches. Is Arenas (dunes and pine trees) almost looks like the Atlantic coast.
Is Arutas or Mari Ermi (our favorite) are quartz grains beaches which became a local matter. It’s forbidden to fill a plastic bottle of this rare sand and bring it home.
The parking are fee required ( about 2,5€ for two hours).
The West coast gives you a real feeling of freedom. Its vast preserved wild lands, its authentic and diverse influences and its local cuisine genuinely charmed us.
If possible we advise you to go Bosa, Oristano and the Piscinas dunes.
Let’s go to the south ! For the beauty of its long crystalline water beaches, Marcellooo! finishes its Sardinian adventure in the Chia area (pronounced Kia, not like the seeds).
Tourism, in the form of hotel complex and sea resort has spared the coasts.
Su Giudeu or Monte Cogoni are Caribbean worthy !
Surrounded by hills or pine trees, the small creeks or stretches of sand sometimes face small islands.
Our favorite ? Tuerredda. Let’s take off.
Sunset and aperitivo at the Turredda Beach Club. Try la Ichnusa, the local beer which bottle proudly wears the Sardinian flag.We have dinner at the Mirage situated on the side of a seafront road. The atmosphere is familial with as much tourists as locals. Safe bet, we enjoy the fresh fish, pizza, antipasti and the must-try specialty: la fregola* little crumb. A ball shaped rolled crust cooked in its sauce or seafood broth. It almost looks like a couscous’s distant cousin.
One small hour away, Cagliari, the region’s capital which is well rehabilitated. The historical quarter of Castello has been rejuvenated : its main streets and churches like the Duomo are beautifully enhanced.
Walking is the best way to admire the Citadel palace, discover its artisan and arrive to the Bastion di Saint Remy. Sumptuous view of the city swamps and the salines.
Other interesting sites that we didn’t get the time to visit : the Sant’Antioco island, the archeological site of Su Nuraxi (nuragico period) and Villasimius’s long beaches and the south-east end.
Note : beaches are free access. If you want to enjoy and a deckchair and a parasol, count around 20€ for two persons. Paying parking almost everywhere.
3 QUESTIONS TO TAMARA AMADU
PR & Marketing Manager, Delphina hotels & resorts
1/ AN IDEAL VIEW TO ADMIRE SARDINIA ?
In Palau, where I live, there is a spectacular panoramic point of view, in a place called Barrage. From here, we face the unlimited sea of North Sardinia, with its crystalline waters, and the various shades of blue. And in the middle, the archipelago of the Maddalena with its 60 islands and small ones, protected Natural Reserve.
The islands of Caprera, Spargi, Santo Stefano...On the right, the rock of the Capo d' Orso, and its famous monolith in the shape of bear, who overhangs, controls and protects all the territory. A wonder of nature. This gave the name to one of the hotels of the group, Capo d' Orso Thalasso and Spa.
Walking to the rock deeply recommended ! On the left, we perceive on the horizon, Corsica, and closer to us, exclusive area of Porto Rafael with wonderful houses (and yachts). At our feet, the town of Palau and its harbour animated by the crossings of ferry towards the Maddalena.
2/ A MUST SEE ADDRESS ?
Who comes in North Sardinia can not miss a stop in the quite and small village of Aggius, less than 2000 inhabitants, classified "Bandiera Arancione" (label quality) and among the most beautiful authentic villages of Italy. The inhabitants are strongly attached to their traditions, and to their culture. Warming and welcoming, they are always happy to share a moment with the tourists, by offering a coffee or a good glass of red wine.
A charming village, made of small granite houses, with flowery balconies, and surrounded by a protected nature. Two museums tell the history of the place (Etnographic museum and that of ... Banditisime). Aggius is famous for craft manufacturing of big weaved and colourful carpets. Colors are completely natural. The yellow results for example from barks of onions.
The women producing these carpets are very happy to open their workshops, to share proudly this knowledge, passed on from generation to generation. For our guests, we organize an excursion to discover this village, and see an "other Sardinia", from the inside. Moreover, Francesco Muntoni, the founder and CEO of Delphina Hotels was born in Aggius, where his family still lives. He gas been mayor there and worked a lot for the protection of this Sardinian authentic village.
3/ AN EMBLEMATIC FIGURE FROM THE REGION ?
Without hesitating, the jazzman Paolo Fresu. He has been all around the world, by collaborating with the biggest artists, singers and musicians, rewarded by numerous prizes. He has always been very attached to his Sardinian origins and returns regularly in his home town, in Berchidda. Moreover, he created the festival Time in Jazz, " because when we believe in the future, even in a small village, then it can become the center of the universe ".