Would you like to find out what to see in North Sardinia to make your car or motorbike tour unforgettable?
If your idea is to take a trip to beautiful Sardinia, it is good to know what stops you should not miss on an itinerary in the North of the island. In most cases, your disembarkation will be in Olbia, which is why we will start our journey from this coastal city in the northeast.
Remember that these places, in addition to their architectural and landscape beauty, are the scene of fascinating folkloric events that express their true soul. Well, let's not waste any time, get on board your car or motorbike, and we will take you on a tour of Sardinia that will make you fall in love!
In addition to the characteristic Sardinian landscape, Olbia is famous because it is a city full of history. The Archaeological Museum exhibits artefacts found in excavations, including a treasure of nearly 900 gold coins; the Punic-Roman necropolis includes 450 tombs and is located at the foot of the altar of the suggestive medieval basilica of San Simplicio. In this ancient city, the first evidence of man is attested from 4000 BC. thanks to dolmens and menhirs.
About 50 Nuragic settlements date back to the Bronze Age, including the Giants' tomb of Su Mont'e s'Abe, the nuraghe Riu Mulinu, the village of Belveghile and the sacred well of Sa Testa. The city of Olbia then became the main centre of the Roman Empire of which traces of great value remain.
9. Costa Smeralda e Porto Cervo
And here we come to the most exclusive stage of our tour of northern Sardinia by car or motorbike. In addition to these historical gems, it must be said that Olbia is the city that gives access to the Costa Smeralda, known worldwide for its wonderful seascapes and exclusive nightlife. You will find white sand and shades of blue and green in a crystal-clear sea in the many renowned coves of Porto Cervo. Among these, the Grande and Piccolo Pevero, the Romazzino, the Principe beach, cala di Volpe and the islands of Soffi and of the Camere and the islet of Mortorio stand out for their beauty and fame. Capital of high society in the summer, Porto Cervo is famous for its clubs and events in which many young people, as well as many VIPs, participate.
The centre is built on a raised floor concerning the port so that from the Piazzetta delle Chiacchiere to the Sottopiazza you can witness an intrigue of narrow streets, windows and balconies in the Costa Smeralda style. The splendid villas climb up to the surrounding hills, immersed in the Mediterranean scrub.
Continuing along the coast to the north, you will find the town of Palau. It's a village full of lights and events set in a characteristic cove. The main festival is in honour of Santa Maria Delle Grazie at the beginning of September. Also not to be missed is the Carnival: a reason to make Palau your destination even in winter.
Near the town, a natural sculpture appears on a promontory: the Bear Rock, of which the geographer Ptolemy already attested its presence in the second century AD. The landscape of Capo d’Orso is interesting thanks to tombs and remains from the Neolithic age. Other sites to visit are the Luchìa nuraghe and the tombs of Giants of Li Mizzani and Sajacciu, near the church of San Giorgio. The marine nature is no less beautiful: the Sciumara beach and the suggestive coast of Porto Faro are famous. An exclusive aspect characterized by luxurious villas among olive trees, myrtle and lavender is reserved for Porto Rafael.
7. La Maddalena island
In front of Palau and only 20 minutes away by ferry, you can admire the fascinating La Maddalena island, full of alleys and buildings of the eighteenth century. In the small port of Cala Gavetta stands the effigy of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who lived the last 26 years in Caprera. This small island is joined to La Maddalena by the Passo Della Moneta and is famous for the Garibaldi museum compendium.
A few kilometres from the centre is the fjord of Cala Francese with paths that lead to the discovery of peaceful coves and dream beaches. Other wonders not to be missed are the Eagle's Nest and Punta Regge while to the north there are the coves made of white dunes: unmissable Bassa Trinità, Cala Lunga and Monti d'Arena.
6. Santa Teresa di Gallura
Then returning to Palau and continuing along the coast to the North, we arrive at Santa Teresa di Gallura. Vittorio Emanuele I of Savoy founded it in 1808, renaming a place called Longosardo with the name of his wife Maria Teresa. The town is characterized by two inlets: to the east Porto Longone, where the tourist port is located, to the west the bay of Rena Bianca. From above stands the suggestive Tower of Longosardo, built at the behest of Philip II of Spain.
Around the village, we can admire other fascinating beaches: wide and equipped is La Marmorata, more suggestive instead Cala Sambuco, Cala Balcaccia and Santa Reparata.
5. Isola Rossa
After touching the island's northern end with Santa Teresa di Gallura, our journey proceeds eastwards, following the coast. Whether you chose a car or motorbike for this beautiful tour of North Sardinia, the roads here offer breathtaking views and colours. Travelling along the coast, you will see Isola Rossa (namely: red island) at one point. This small fishing village stands on a small promontory with a small red islet in front of it, giving it its name. The undisputed protagonist is a high sixteenth-century tower, a legacy of the ancient Spanish dominion.
Inside the town, there is the Longa beach of Funtana Eccia and the small port. Rossa island is also surrounded by an enchanting cliff with natural coves and paths among the Mediterranean nature.
Moving westwards, not to be missed is Castelsardo, an enchanting medieval village, also located on a promontory that overlooks the centre of the Asinara Gulf. Its naturalistic beauties, splendid inlets, the typical products, the craftsmanship, the traditions and the characteristic port make it one of the most evocative tourist resorts in Sardinia. The origins of the village are ancient: Castelsardo was built around the Doria Castle, dating back to 1102, now home to the Museum of Mediterranean Weaving, one of the most visited in Sardinia.
At the beginning of the 16th century, it was renamed Castillo Aragonés and became a bishopric until the construction of the cathedral of Sant'Antonio Abate (1586), splendid for its bell tower overlooking the sea. Today it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
The capital of Sassari was also founded in the Middle Ages and became a municipality in 1294 with the promulgation of the Sassari Statutes, which represent a fundamental body of laws in the history of the island. It then expanded beyond the fourteenth-century walls, which surrounded it connected by 36 towers. Today there are six left. Today in Sassari the rites of Holy Week are evocative while, speaking of tradition, in the kitchen it offers honeycomb and 'monzette', a variety of snails that is very popular in the area. There is no shortage of parks, including the green oasis of Monserrato park. The expanse of sand of Platamona, in the Gulf of Asinara, is historically the beach of the Sassari people.
Continuing our journey along the Sardinian coast, in the extreme north-west point, the town of Stintino shines with its light, located on one of the most beautiful coasts of the whole island. The sea of Stintino is one of the most crystalline in the whole Mediterranean, and its beaches are very white. The turquoise colour of the water will be one of the most unforgettable memories you will take with you after a car or motorbike tour of this part of Sardinia.
Famous are the La Pelosa and La Pelosetta beaches, closed by a characteristic Aragonese tower dated 1578. You cannot miss the natural oasis of Stintino characterized by two ponds full of peculiar flora and fauna. From the glimpses placed at a height of two hundred meters, you can then enjoy the unique panorama that also embraces the Piana island and the Asinara national park, uncontaminated and wild. Stintino is the closest embarkation point to visit.
If you are passionate about sailing, the Municipality of Stintino has been hosting a famous regatta since 1983. The country is the "capital" and icon of wooden gozzo boats with Latin sail.
Alghero is also the gateway to the island, thanks to the Fertilia airport. So if our tour of the Sardinian coast ends here, you could also take a plane back home.
Sardinia's authentic villages
But the top tip for those touring Sardinia by car or motorbike is to visit the authentic villages and hamlets of Sardinia. Places where tradition and folklore are still firmly rooted.
True explorers will find the true soul of the region: unspoilt nature and a lot of history. These places preserve unique and precious customs and traditions, which the world vitally needs to know and savour.
Are you wondering which ones to go? Let's try to give you an idea...
- Bulzi is a small village in the historical region of Anglona, but where people speak Logudorese (traditional Sardinian language);
- Osilo: a medieval village and the second-highest municipality in the province of Sassari;
- Trinità d'Agultu e Vignola: here travellers will find a splendid coastline with soft white beaches and a beautiful hinterland that includes the Zincu Tenti forest flora and fauna reserve;
- Aglientu: in the historical sub-region of Gallura, it rises a few kilometres from the sea, in a predominantly granite territory;
- Nulvi: an ancient mountain centre in Anglona, with an agro-pastoral tradition, that preserves around 80 nuraghi;
- Martis: a small village in the centre of Anglona, characterised by a territory rich in relief;
- Tegu: a small village with an agricultural vocation and less than 600 inhabitants, famous for its beautiful Church of Nostra Signora;
- Laerru: 30 km from Castelsardo, famous for its briar pipes and surrounded by beautiful landscapes;
- Chiaramonti: a small village at the foot of a castle, famous for its craft tradition;
- Tempio Pausania: in the heart of Gallura, it is famous for its Carnival and owes its name to the 'granite temple' surrounded by water and greenery.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the towns and cities of Sardinia reveal their most authentic soul in folkloristic events and popular festivals. These are moments of charm, the perfect icing on the cake for an unforgettable trip. The most beautiful events in North Sardinia are part of the Salude & Trigu calendar. The Sassari Chamber of Commerce project aims to enhance this unique territory, rich in millenary traditions. Here you will discover local customs, flavours, and music. Here, you will find that all-Sardinian way of celebrating, honouring its land and history, and celebrating a beauty that never ceases to thrill.
So, have we convinced you?! Our tour of North Sardinia by car or motorbike is over, but if you want more information on these and other events, run and read our article with all the unmissable events in Sardinia.