| October 15th, 2023 | No comments

Looking for the best things to do in Sardinia? You’ve come to the right place.

Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sardinia is an island full of myth, cultural traditions, and unparalleled natural beauty.

One of the lesser-known parts of Italy, Sardinia has long existed under the shadow of more showy holiday destinations like the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the neighboring island of Sicily. Most people don’t know a lot about Sardinia and the island remains shrouded in mystery.

But we’re here to sing its praises. Loudly.

20 Best Things to Do in Sardinia

A rocky outcropping on the water in Tharros, Sardinia

If you’re planning a trip to Italy and want to get off the beaten track to explore the wild and unknown, Sardinia is a must.

There’s truly nowhere else like it in the world. Its authentic charm, rugged landscapes, and the hospitality of the Sardinian people make it a truly unique destination. Oh, and don’t forget the fact that Sardinia is home to some of the best beaches in Europe and – dare we say – the world.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation on pristine shores, a glimpse into the island’s history, or a bit of adventure – Sardinia has something for everyone. In fact, there’s so much to do on the island that condensing this list was extremely difficult. We’ve tried to choose a range of locations and activities to suit everyone’s taste.

Sample Traditional Food and Wine in Sardinia

When it comes to Italy, we’re all about the food. So, naturally, the first thing on our list of the best things to do in Sardinia is to sample as many traditional dishes from the region as you can. Look out for agriturismi (farmhouses) which typically have a set menu of traditional foods, wine, and sweets.

Here are some of our recommendations for the best things to eat in Sardinia:

  • Culurgiones: Delicious handmade ravioli-like pasta filled with a savory mixture of pecorino, potato, and mint.
  • Porceddu: Traditional roasted suckling pig stuffed with meat, rosemary, fennel, and other herbs and cooked on a bed of myrtle wood.
  • Pane carasau: A paper-thin crispy bread that goes well with local cheeses and meats, typically served with every meal.
  • Malloreddus: Small, shell-shaped pasta often served with a rich tomato-based sauce and grated pecorino cheese.
  • Seafood fregula: Small, round semolina pasta served with fresh seafood.
  • Zuppa Gallurese: A layered dish made with pane carasau bread soaked in broth, grated cheese, and cured meats, and baked to create a flavorful dish.
  • Seadas (or Sebadas): A typical Sardinian dessert made of fried pastry filled with a tangy cheese like pecorino and drizzled with honey.

Be sure to pair your meal with a glass of Cannonau wine (a robust red wine produced on the island) or Vermentino di Gallura (a smooth white wine).

Remember, it’s always a good idea to ask locals for recommendations if you’re eating out so you know you’re going to the best spots.

Explore Alghero

Boat in harbor with buildings in the background outside of Alghero, Sardinia.

Nestled in the northwest of Sardinia, Alghero is a charming coastal town offering history, culture, and – like everywhere in Sardinia – natural beauty. All of this makes a visit to Alghero one of the best things to do in Sardinia.

Known for its picturesque old town, Alghero showcases a unique Catalan influence, which is evident in its architecture, language, and cuisine. Be sure to take a guided walking tour if you want to learn about its fascinating history.

Wander through narrow cobblestone streets, marvel at the many churches, and sample affordable and fresh fish at La Boqueria in the market.

If the weather’s too hot and you want to avoid the city as much as possible, head to one of the many surrounding beaches such as Maria Pia Beach and Bombarde Beach. You can also take part in a variety of water activities, including snorkeling at Porto Conte Park.

Day Trip to Bosa

Colorful houses stacked in Bosa, Sardinia.

If you’re staying in Alghero for a few days, be sure to take a day trip to Bosa which is about an hour away. Located on the western coast of the island, Bosa is a picturesque town known for its colorful houses, medieval hilltop castle, and charming riverside setting.

Visit the iconic Bosa Cathedral and stroll along the Temo River before settling down for a refreshing glass of locally-produced Malvasia wine and some chats with the host at Zio Elio.

Visit the Abandoned Mining Towns in Argentiera

If you’re looking to get off the beaten track in Sardinia, be sure to take a drive to the abandoned mining town of Argentiera just north of Alghero.

Once a thriving mining hub known for its rich mineral deposits, today, Argentiera is a ghost town that stands as a haunting testament to its former glory.

The rugged coastal landscape surrounding the towns adds to the mystique and offers stunning sea views. If you want to get a glimpse into Sardinia’s past and take some Instagram-worthy photos at the same time, head to Argentiera.

See the Unique Landscapes at Capo Testa

Rocky formations by the shore in valle della luna

Capo Testa is a natural wonder situated along the northern coast of the island and exploring it is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Sardinia.

Hike through the nearby hills and admire the striking rock formations, crystal-clear waters, and panoramic views as you explore the area. The unique granite cliffs have been sculpted by wind and waves for thousands of years to form intricate and surreal shapes.

Be sure to visit Valle della Luna, a hippie community in the heart of Capo Testa. People from all over the world have been coming here since the 70s to embrace a different way of life.

Tharros and the Sinis Peninsula

A rocky outcropping on the water in Tharros, Sardinia

Tharros and the Sinis Peninsula offer an extraordinary journey through ancient ruins and stunning natural beauty, making them a must-visit destination in Sardinia.

Situated on the western coast of the island, Tharros is an ancient Phoenician and Roman archaeological site and one of the most significant historical sites in Sardinia. The area showcases remarkable remnants of past civilizations that once inhabited the island. Visitors can explore the well-preserved ruins, including temples, bathhouses, and mosaics.

The Sinis Peninsula lies adjacent and is known for its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and diverse wildlife. Discover the flamingos at the lagoons of Cabras and unwind on the golden sands of Is Arutas beach.

Take a Trip to Castelsardo

Perched on a hill overlooking the Gulf of Asinara, Castelsardo is a medieval town with a postcard-perfect setting. It’s no wonder it’s one of the must-visit places in Sardinia.

Climb the hill to explore the well-preserved castle and admire the craftsmanship in the traditional shops offering handmade baskets and ceramics. From the top, you’ll be treated to mesmerizing views of the north part of the island and – if visibility is good – nearby Corsica. If you want to learn about the town’s history, we highly recommend joining a guided walking tour (with an aperitivo at the end, of course!)

Once you’ve done enough sightseeing, head to one of the nearby beaches to cool off. The locals recommend Spiaggia Lu Bagnu, which boasts emerald waters and sandy dunes.

Get Lost in Cagliari

Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and is well worth a visit, whether you’re flying in here or not.

Explore the city’s winding streets, where ancient architecture and modern vibes coexist in perfect harmony. Get lost in the enchanting Castello district, perched atop a hill, which offers breathtaking views of the coast.

As you explore, you’ll stumble upon hidden piazzas, charming cafés, and quaint shops, each with its own story to tell. Visiting the island nation’s capital is the best way to discover its unforgettable food, friendly locals, and vibrant soul.

If you can’t wait to get out in the water, head to nearby Poetto Beach or – if you’re feeling more adventurous – join a kayaking tour around the Cagliari coast.

Marvel at La Maddalena Archipelago National Park

La Maddalena is one of the top tourist spots in Sardinia – and for good reason.

A collection of stunning islands located off the northeastern coast, this protected area boasts turquoise waters, secluded beaches, and rugged cliffs that will take your breath away. There are plenty of opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and hiking.

The best way to explore the archipelago’s hidden coves is by boat. Several affordable tours leave from various towns along the coast. Boat trips typically last a whole day and stop off at the best beaches in the area along the way. The majority have a bar on board and include a typical Italian lunch, so you can embrace la dolce vita in style.

Go Back in Time to Tempio Pausania

Stepping into Tempio Pausania is like taking a journey back in time to discover the rich history and timeless charm of Sardinia. The drive there traverses lush landscapes and rolling hills, which makes it a wonderful experience in itself.

Discover ancient churches, such as the majestic San Pietro Church, as you explore the historical center. Immerse yourself in the town’s past by visiting the Galluras Museum, showcasing artifacts that shed light on the island’s ancient civilizations.

We recommend stopping for lunch at Ristorante Museum Bar in Piazza Gallura, where you can get a menu del giorno (which typically includes two plates, water, and coffee) for less than €15.

Costa Smeralda and Porto Cervo

Golden sunset over costa smeralda, Sardinia

If money is no obstacle, embracing luxury along the Costa Smeralda is one of the best things to do in Sardinia. Located on the stunning northeastern coast, this renowned destination has long been a playground for the rich and famous – a fact that is reflected in its hiked-up prices.

Immerse yourself in the luxurious atmosphere with upscale boutiques, high-end restaurants, and exclusive yacht-filled marinas. Lounge on pristine beaches and enjoy world-class dining experiences at Michelin-starred restaurants before enjoying the vibrant nightlife scene. Go on, treat yourself!

Visit Stintino and La Pelosa

Stintino is a picturesque coastal town home to narrow streets, colorful houses, and a charming atmosphere. The surrounding area is breathtaking, but most people head here to visit La Pelosa Beach which is famous around the world for its pristine white sands and crystalline turquoise waters.

We were warned that even during the off-season, La Pelosa would be completely packed – and it was. However, it’s well worth finding a spot to lie down and take a dip. Various other equally pristine beaches along the coast make a great alternative if you can’t stand the crowds.

Get off the Beaten Track on Asinara Island

If you’re looking for hidden gems in Sardinia, you can’t beat Asinara National Park. Renowned for its rugged landscapes, diverse wildlife, and fascinating history – this island offers tranquility and untouched nature. It is only permitted to visit the island with a guided tour by bus, jeep, or foot.

Discover untouched trails, crystal-clear waters, and panoramic vistas. Be sure to visit the former prison and look out for the iconic albino donkeys that call the island home.

Asinara Island is a sanctuary for nature lovers and adventurers seeking to escape the crowds and immerse themselves in the unspoiled beauty of Sardinia. With this in mind, be sure to respect nature and take all your litter home with you.

Visit the Nuraghes

One of the best things to do in Sardinia is undoubtedly learning about its history by visiting some of the 7000 nuraghes that dot the island.

Nuraghes are enigmatic megalithic stone constructions that were built by the ancient Sardinian population and date back to 1800 BC. Many are well-preserved and can be visited for a small fee.

Some of the main nuragic sites on the island include Su Nuraxi in Barumini, Nuraghe Serra Orrios in the Nuoro region, and Nuraghe Maiori just north of Tempio Pausania, which is also home to a colony of tiny bats!

Discover the Mountain Village of Orgosolo

Orgosolo is a hidden gem in Sardinia that offers a glimpse into the island’s authentic traditions, folklore, and vibrant street art culture.

Wander through the narrow streets and admire the striking murals that adorn the walls, depicting scenes of local life and historical events. Explore the town and discover hidden corners and squares where you’ll likely be greeted by friendly locals.

If you want a taste of rural mountain village life, a visit to Orgosolo is one of the best things to do in Sardinia.

Take a Boat Trip Around the Gulf of Orosei

Woman swimming in the water in gulf of orosei, Sardinia Italy.

If you want to swim in glistening, clear water and explore the best beaches in Sardinia, a boat trip around the Gulf of Orosei is a must. There are plenty of organized excursions that leave every day from ports like Arbatax, Cala Gonone, or Santa Maria Navarrese.

Marvel at dramatic cliffs, hidden caves, and pristine beaches as you relax on the open sea. You’ll stop at spectacular hidden coves, including Cala Luna, Cala Mariolu, and Cala Goloritzé, where you can swim in turquoise waters and soak up the sun on soft, golden sands.

Many boat trips also offer snorkeling equipment, so you can see the underwater world teeming with colorful corals and marine life.

Go Hiking in Baunei

Want to explore Sardinia off the beaten path? While most people prefer to spend long summer days lounging on the beach, there are plenty of things to do in Sardinia if you feel adventurous and want to escape the crowds. One of them is to hike one of the rugged trails in Baunei.

There are many paths of varying difficulty, so do your research before setting off. Some trails lead to secluded coves, like Cala Goloritzé, which is only accessible by foot. If you’re traveling alone, consider joining a guided hike to ensure you don’t get lost. Be sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen.

Explore Sant’Antioco and Carloforte

The islands of Sant’Antioco and Carloforte are two of the best hidden gems in Italy that shouldn’t be missed. The former is home to ancient Phoenician ruins, medieval churches, and some of the best beaches in Sardinia. Explore the town center and visit traditional artisanal shops before stopping for an Aperol spritz in one of the lively piazzas.

We recommend staying at Bella Calasetta Guesthouse, which is run by a lovely family and situated just a 5-minute walk from one of my favorite beaches on the island, Spiaggia delle Saline.

A short ferry ride away is Carloforte, a smaller island with a distinct Genoese influence. Lose yourself in the colorful alleys filled with traditional Ligurian-style buildings and be sure to sample the island’s famous tuna dishes.

Soak Up the Sunshine in Villasimius

Villasimius is one of the top tourist spots in Sardinia due to its coastline of golden beaches and crystalline waters.

Beyond the idyllic beaches, Villasimius is a hub of activity for water sports enthusiasts. Adventure seekers can try their hand at snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, or sailing, taking advantage of the favorable conditions and clear waters.

If you want to relax and unwind on some of the best beaches in Sardinia, be sure to add Villasimius to your itinerary.

(Don’t) Get Lost in Grotta di Su Marmuri

Sardinia is full of impressive caves. One of the best sites is Grotta di Su Marmuri, located near Ulassai.

The position and size of this cave are unique: it opens at an altitude of 800m and extends for 850m, and the entire vault can be fully visited.

To enter you’ll need to join a guided tour group. Once you descend into the cavern, expect to find stunning stalactites and stalagmites and pools of water.

Best Time to Visit Sardinia

It’s generally considered a smart move to visit during the shoulder months of April to May and September to October. This way, you can escape the scorching hot temperatures (while still enjoying pleasant weather and swimming conditions) and the crowds.

It’s also a good idea to note that accommodation and car rental prices tend to be hiked up significantly during the summer months. So, if you’re traveling to Italy on a budget, be sure to avoid the most popular time of the year.

Best Way to Get Around Sardinia

The best way to get around Sardinia is by car. Although there are transport links between the main towns and cities on the island, renting a car gives you much more freedom to explore Sardinia and get off the beaten track.

Ok, without further ado, here are the best things to do in Sardinia.

Best Things to Do in Sardinia Wrap Up

There you have it! The best things to do in Sardinia. With so much history, culture, and unique natural beauty to discover, we doubt you’ll ever get bored during your time on this incredible island.

As always, happy travels and we’ll see you on the road!

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sara monty

Written by Sara Monty

Sara first met the team behind Just a Pack at the back of a rickety bus in Vietnam. Little did she know she'd still be writing for us years later.

Born in Wales, she moved to New Zealand as a teen. After living in Italy and Spain, she has settled in London (for now) where she divides her time between writing and teaching. Over the years, she's traveled to more than 30 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australasia - and has no intention of stopping anytime soon! The next place on her bucket list: South America.

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