Crystal clear water, amazing food, and cheap accommodations. Three things most people wouldn’t associate with a European vacation – unless you’re going to visit Sardinia.
Sardinia is the perfect summer getaway in Europe if you’re looking for a place where you can chill out on the beach all day, catch a tan, and load up on delicious Italian food at night.
When we booked our trip to Sardinia a lot of people asked why we would go there – somehow, it’s not a destination that is popular amongst European travelers – it’s only a hotspot for Italian vacationers. Back when we visited, we actually struggled to find much content on where to go or what to do there because there are so few visitors who aren’t Italian who visit each year. Personally, I love going to destinations where only locals go. When I’m on vacation I want to feel like I’m really away from home (both away from my Dutch and American homes) – so when we encounter a horde of American or Dutch tourists, I can’t help but cringe. It’s not that I don’t love my fellow Americans or my adopted people in Holland… it’s just that hearing the accents of people I’m normally always surrounded by somehow makes me feel like I’m not sufficiently far enough away!
Travel through Sardinia
I strongly recommend renting a car in Sardinia to get around. There is really no better way. Public transport is sparse, and the best way to see the island is to tour it by car so you can take in all the nature – and see as many beaches as possible.
We started at the bottom and drove back up to the top (to take the ferry from Olbia back to Genoa). Our original plan was to stay in Cagliari for most of our trip, but we left within a few days of arriving. Cagliari just wasn’t what we had expected. The beaches weren’t as nice as we had hoped – they were more crowded and a bit dirty. The city in general didn’t feel as relaxed as we had hoped for, so we opted to visit the nearby beaches of Chia and Mari Pintou on the days we slept there.
After we left Cagliari we headed north, guided by a blog post we found which mentioned the best beaches in Sardinia. We headed north to the town of Dorgali on the east coast where we stayed for a few nights before venturing farther north to stay in Olbia and travel to see La Maddalena Archipelago to discover even clearer waters and gigantic yachts.
When you visit Sardinia there are some must visits – we spent 9 days there and these were the highlights of our trip:
Visit Sardinia to see…Chia Beach – South Sardinia
If you’re staying in the south near or in Cagliari, Chia Beach is a must visit. The water here is not nearly as blue and clear as the beaches on the Tyrrhenian Sea side of the island, but it’s a beautiful beach none the less.
Visit Sardinia to bask in the sun at Mari Pintou – South Sardinia
Mari Pintou is a must when you visit Sardinia. It’s also located in the south of the island, but it is east of Cagliari and also within striking distance of the city.
The water here is so warm it feels like you’re floating in a bathtub. It’s clear, it’s warm, and it’s the perfect place to let your worries float away from you on vacation.
Visit Sardinia to explore the beaches around Dorgali – East Sardinia
We used Dorgali as a jumping off point to explore the beaches on the east coast of the island which are only accessible by boat – and preferably by speed boat 😉
There are tons of speedboat operators near Dorgali you can book a whole day trip with which can take you up and down the coast to admire the impressive cliffs dropping down into the water, the blue grottos, and beaches which you can’t reach by land. If you visit Sardinia, these tours are a must do – if you don’t go, you won’t experience the full beauty of the island.
Visit Sardinia to see the bluest of blue at La Maddalena Archipelago – North Sardinia
In the north of the island a short drive from the port of Olbia lies La Maddalena Archipelago. If you thought the water looked clear in photos above, then strap yourself in, because La Maddalena boasts even clearer waters. Although there isn’t much to do besides admire the water and go for a swim, it’s a great stop during your trip. You can snorkel – but you won’t see much. Just book a boat tour and enjoy the clear waters – what more do you need to do on vacation?
Life in Sardinia
Sardinia is unlike the rest of Italy – and has tried to secede. We learned from our AirBnB hosts that the economy in Sardinia is pretty rough. There’s not much work for most people in the winter once tourist season has passed. Our AirBnb host told us that every autumn she gathers wood for the winter and gears up for several months of no work. Sardinia really depends on tourism, so you know, do your part and book your trip 😉
What did I miss? What should I do on my next visit?