First trip to the Island of the Four Moors? Here are for you five unmissable cities to visit in Sardinia discovering its most authentic spirit!
Traveling is one of the most beautiful things in the world, there's no doubt about that. But what is the most fascinating aspect of traveling? We believe that the greatest wonder of discovering new places especially refers to finding unique beauty and authenticity by moving across the territory, looking for all the shades that characterize the most relevant traits of a region and its people. So, what better places to visit if not cities?
Buckle up, then! Today we want you to join us on a trip to Sardinia by tracing an ideal itinerary, from North to South, to experience first-hand the magic of this fantastic island leaving to Sassari, Olbia, Alghero, Oristano and Cagliari: the 5 unmissable cities to visit in Sardinia on your next holiday to the Island of the Four Moors!
5. Cities to visit in Sardinia: first stage, Sassari
Let's head into this journey discovering the unmissable cities to visit in Sardinia starting from North. We are in Sassari, located in the North-West of Sardinia and the largest and most populated city in the whole Northern area, a very impotant historic and cultural core which best expresses the purity of the traditions of North Sardinia.
Although it has no direct access to the sea, within a few kilometers it is possible to visit awesome locations bragging a great tourist interest such as Alghero (which we'll cover later in this article), that hosts the nearest airport, the village of Castelsardo, the suggestive Porto Torres and the magical peninsula of Stintino, from which it is possible to reach the Marine Protected Area of Asinara.
Sassari stands as a key place in Sardinia for culturale and naturalistic tourism thanks to the monumental, historical, cultural and archaeological richness that visitors can enjoy both in the city or nearby: some examples are the Cathedral of San Nicola the Church of the Holy Trinity in Saccargia, the ancient nuraghic sites, the ruins of old castles and chirches and some beautiful natural glimpses like the waterfall Pilchina di li Caaddaggi.
The historic center of Sassari, characterized by an architecture based on warm colors which is consistent throughout the city, can be visited completely within one day and, more likely, during your stroll you'll be intrigued by the desire to try the delicious local street food: speaking of, don't miss the event Weekend dei Gusti (Weekend of Tastes)!
4. Second stage, Olbia
Olbia is a North-Eastern town in Sardinia known as the "capital" of the famous and beautiful Costa Smeralda, a seaside tourist destination acknowledged throughout the world for its crystal clear waters and the naturalistic beauty of some unmissable beaches in North Sardinia.
But Olbia, hosting an airport and the most important port in the Northern area of the region with connections to the Italian mainland, is also a location of tourist interest that goes beyond the traditional seaside holiday, hosting in its territory truly evocative places such as the Tavolara - Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area (Southern Olbia), around twenty islands and numerous nuragic and natural monuments and archaeological sites, such as the Rock of the Elephant, Punta Casteddacciu and the waterfall of Rio Pitrisconi.
The municipal area of Olbia is even among the top 25 Italian municipalities by extension, but the city center can easily be visited within a day, leaving you time and space to dedicate on discovering other famous locations, especially along the Northern coast, such as Golfo Aranci, Porto Rotondo, Porto Cervo and above all Palau and the Maddalena's archipelago, the home of the beautiful Festival delle Isole che Parlano (Talking Islands Festival).
3. Third stage, Alghero
Located on the North-Western coast of Sardinia and about 45 minutes far by car from Sassari, Alghero is known as the "Barceloneta Sarda" or "little Barcelona": a curious nickname, not much from a geographical or tourist point of view, but especially because it has preserved through centuries the use of the Catalan language, so much that it is acknowledged as a monitored language both by the Italian Republic and by the Sardinia Region.
Alghero is considered the capital of the Riviera del Corallo (Coral Coastline), a part of North-Western Sardinian coast that extends towards South up to the picturesque Bosa and so called for the presence of red coral in its waters, a precious raw material to make handcrafted jewels and ornaments since the age of ancient Rome.
Alghero is also one of the most important tourist destinations in Sardinia, hosting fascinating and involving events that liven up the town such as concerts and live music shows of JazzAlguer, and it ranks every year among the top ten favorite destinations in the region, above all by foreign tourists. Among the main tourist interesting places there are many historical architectures from the Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical periods, as well as its medieval system of fortifications alongside the seaside, the so-called "Bastioni di Alghero" ("Bastions of Alghero") dating back to the 13th century.
Alghero is very close also to many nuraghic sites, such as the "giants tomb" of Laccaneddu, and to one of the most interesting natural territories over the whole island: the Porto Conte Regional Natural Park, a protected area that hosts at its Southern end the Neptune Caves, a popular tourist attraction rich in limestone conformations such as stalactites and stalagmites, as well as an underground lake below the sea level.
2. Fourth stage, Oristano
Geographically located in the center of the Western coast of Sardinia and not far from the seaside, Oristano is an ancient city of medieval origins that, as most of the whole island, share a past connected with the Spanish history and culture.
One of the most famous monuments is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary), dating back to 1130 in its original Romanesque-Gothic aesthetics, and rebuilt in the first half of the eighteenth century with a Baroque style and consecrated in 1745. Among the other attractions that surely deserve to be visited in the city, we recommend you the Tower of St. Christopher or Marianus II, a medieval Romanesque-style tower in the historic center of the city and the only one surviving of the ancient walls entrance doors, and the suggestive statue of Eleanor of Arborea, one of the most iconic and influential historic character on this side of Sardinia.
From a tourist point of view, Oristano is a strategic point for visiting one of the most interesting areas of the entire West coast of the siland: the Marine Protected Area of the Sinis Peninsula, an uncontaminated coast that witnesses an ancient civilization.
1. Fifth and last stage, Cagliari
Capital of the autonomous region of Sardinia and located on the Southern coast of the island, Cagliari is undoubtedly among the richest cities in the entire region, boasting a long history characterized by several foreign influences and dominations that have contributed to giving the city a great and unique cultural and architectural heritage, which expresses especially through colours.
In the "upper" part of the city you will find the fortified district of Castello, the medieval heart of Cagliari and residence of the nobles even until the period of the second world war, given its peculiar position on a limestone hill rising 100 meters above sea level. The oldest church in Cagliari is the Basilica of San Saturnino (or San Saturno), built in the 5th century and modified in the Romanesque period. Near the historic center and the central station, the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu is worthy of note: it is the largest existing Punic necropolis which also preserves tombs from the Roman era.
Among the unmissable cities to visit in Sardinia, Cagliari is capable of guaranteeing you a travel experience that doesn't end only with the visit of the city itself, indeed continuing to discover very interesting and beautiful places in the hinterland, such as the Monte Arcosu Nature Reserve, the waterfalls of San Pietro Paradiso and Rio Sa Modditzi, the Settefratelli Forest Land and the numerous Nuragic sites; if you prefer the seaside, don't miss the suggestive Southern beaches of the island like the Marine Protected Natural Area of Capo Carbonara's ones, a true naturalistic panorama!