5 itineraries for slow travel in Sardinia and discover the most authentic island, in the silence of the granite landscapes and junipers by the sea.
The best time to enjoy the scents and breathtaking views of Sardinia?
Before and after the summer, even better if through authentic experiences, provided by the tour operators on site.
Far from the tourist routes and the main attractions, you can immerse yourself in the silence of the granite landscapes, among the centuries-old olive trees and junipers climbing over the sea.
So prepare comfortable clothing, phone portable charger, water and suitable shoes: we will take you to explore 5 options of slow travel in Sardinia, through the scents of the Mediterranean scrub and unforgettable views!
Slow travel in Sardinia to discover the most authentic island
In recent years there has been a lot of talk about environmental impact and over-tourism: social media, together with increasingly low-cost flights, have exasperated the phenomenon of so-called mass tourism, but not all destinations are ready to welcome such large numbers and flows increasingly abundant and above all concentrated - as in the case of Sardinia and Southern Italy - in the central months of summer.
An excellent antidote to this phenomenon, which threatens economic and environmental balances, is that of conscious and slow tourism, together with the deseasonalization of visits.
It's about moving in a conscious and as sustainable way as possible, combining sporting activity with experiential activity in the environment and tradition.
Sardinia is a splendid example of a real approach in this sense, as it presents the characteristics suitable for the implementation of slow tourism: an abundance of events and festivals all year round, which goes hand in hand with the rhythms of nature and of traditions (you can consult them here, in the Salude&Trigu calendar; an ever-wider diversification of the offer of outdoor activities, from the sea to the mountains, from archeology to religious tourism; and finally a magnificent territory, of inexhaustible beauty, and dotted with quality food and wine medals.
Many travelers, especially from Germany and Northern Europe, have from longtime understood that the beauty of Sardinia is not necessarily linked to the sea in summer!
We therefore want to inspire you by presenting 5 mini-itineraries of slow travel in Sardinia.
First stop: cycling around the Costa Smeralda
Forget the image of the Costa Smeralda as a port of only yachts and luxury tourism, because this area also offers a lot for those who want to enjoy a low-impact holiday in contact with nature, doing sports and moving around respecting the environment.
Between mountains and hills, beaches and bays, paths and cliffs where you can admire the sunrise, the Costa Smeralda offers excellent opportunities for excursions on foot, by bicycle, or even by SUP and canoe.
But lately, cycle tourism is one of the most requested and practiced experiences.
After the boom of 2017, when Sardinia hosted the hundredth Giro d'Italia, profound awareness and enthusiasm was created towards practicing on two wheels.
In fact, the island lends itself very well to slow exploration by bicycle, especially out of season, where the roads have little traffic and the climate is still mild.
Furthermore, the bike is the ideal companion for reaching corners that would be impractical by car, so the advantages are many... and more and more cycle tourists!
Adventures, sea and nature, villages where you can stop and well-branched cycle paths are the perfect ingredients for discovering the Coast by bike.
For passionate - and fairly trained - cyclists, starting from San Teodoro, for example, it is possible both to move along circular routes and to carry out a linear route with arrival in Palau.
The latter, with an expected journey time of around 5 hours, can be spread over one or even two days, to better admire the sea views and the immersive experience in nature.
Passing along State Road 125, you can easily reach Porto San Paolo from San Teodoro, greeted by the majestic scenery of the Island of Tavolara.
Once past Porto Istana and Le Saline, you arrive in Olbia, the city of Vermentino. If you want to indulge for a tasting, there are numerous initiatives and events dedicated to the fine white wine.
Once you've got rid of the alcohol and fumes a bit, you can continue to Liscia Tujia and the Caribbean Capriccioli.
We are at the final sprint of this route overlooking the sea, entering the territory of Arzachena and Cannigione, up to the beach of Porto Faro in Palau.
Priceless is eating a stuffed focaccia with the view of the small white lighthouse, set among the rounded rocks, shaped by the sea wind.
Second stop: trekking among the rocks between Palau and La Maddalena
Perhaps the most famous image of the north-eastern coast: the fascinating profile and chiaroscuro of the Bear Rock of Palau!
A singular granite boulder, excavated and shaped by atmospheric agents into its characteristic shape which recalls a large bear.
After stopping in Palau, in its restaurants or visiting the Monte Altura Fortress, you can take a trip to Talmone Beach and have fun jumping from one boulder to another. They are all different, and certainly lend themselves to splendid photo sets.
While you are here, why not take the opportunity to visit as many islands as possible in the La Maddalena archipelago?
By taking a ferry to this, the largest of the islands, you can enjoy a coffee and ice cream in the streets of the splendid port center. Then continue by car to the small Isola Giardinelli, connected by a very thin strip of land.
The beach is located here Capocchia d'u purpo, or Octopus Head, from the rock of the same name that dominates the view. An enormous light boulder, hollowed out inside and rounded.
In the midday sun the water will be crystal clear and the sand shiny, it will seem like you are in the Maldives!
But not only that, by continuing on the bridge to the island of Caprera, passionate Instagramers will also be able to immortalize the unique snake-shaped, or turtle-shaped, rock present in Cala Andreani.
Here you can also visit the Garibaldi Museum - right here in Caprera the hero of two worlds lived his last years, and here he died and was buried - and the famous Spiaggia del Relitto, Cala Napoletana and of course... his majesty Cala Coticcio, renamed "little Tahiti".
These comparisons to exotic destinations are perhaps superfluous, because the Sardinian sea does not need to compete with other places.
But not just the sea, because there are many views capable of capturing attention and arousing surprise!
How many photos you would have already taken?
Third stop: Costa Paradiso between coves and secret villas
Costa Paradiso, Costa Rossa. Place of turquoise waters, red rocks jagged by the wind... and great love.
Iconic film sets, and equally iconic characters. In fact, here lies the famous Bini Shell, the Dante Bini Dome, a pioneering villa that belonged to the director Michelangelo Antonioni as well as his love nest with the unforgettable Monica Vitti.
Here the Costa Paradiso became a territory conquered by the rich and famous, attracted by that hidden and exclusive lifestyle, in futuristic villas equipped with every comfort, but camouflaged among the rocks, and by the social parties in the secret coves, frequented by actors and actresses of Cinecittà, up to directors such as Andrej Tarkovsky, up to the major entrepreneurs.
Therefore it was renamed "Costa Paradiso", a paradise far from everything, from the grayness of their cities.
But apart from this hive of villas set on the red ridge and the bodies of water, there are dirt paths and natural pools of turquoise water.
Perhaps the ideal stretch of north coast for SUP and paddle, perfect for exploring all the inlets, especially if impossible to reach by land.
Starting right from Costa Paradiso, it is possible to complete a simplepath ring, first visiting the splendid Li Cossi, with its singular landscape of stretches of water that segment the beach, and turquoise sea. We then continue towards Li Canneddi, up to the inlets of Cala Tinnari. The view is truly enchanting, harsh and angular due to the disorderly rocks, but which enclose mirrors of water of a thousand shades of blue, they look like precious jewels. And what about the sunsets here? Truly suggestive.
If you want to continue linearly instead, you can get to Isola Rossa, and visit its center, a former fishing village, and its fish tourism facilities.
It could be the right time to enjoy a splendid seafood fregula, even if you certainly can't say no to a zuppa cuata or zuppa Gallurese!
Fourth stop: the Asinara Park, a jewel between the slow travel in Sardinia
The Asinara National Park is truly a jewel of slow tourism.
The island is still uncontaminated, except for some recent reception facilities, the hostel and the guide transport service. But the best way to get around it is still by bike, or on foot. Between the low Mediterranean bush, and the encounters with the shy donkeys that inhabit the island, this is a destination for silent walkers and lovers of the scents of the deepest Sardinia, which are here enclosed in a truly unforgettable olfactory bouquet.
Numerous officinal natural products are also made from these plants, and there are also educational laboratories to be able to recognize them and know how to use them.
Myrtle, Helichrysum, Calendula, but also olive oil and donkey milk, these are the scents that you will not forget when visiting the island and getting to know its products.
Those who live there speak of Asinara as a small continent in itself; a world apart, preserved by the long activity of the prison - now a museum - which made it inaccessible to free visitors, and by its harsh ups and downs between paths and hills, which are felt under the sun. The best time to enjoy these overwhelming silences and shining beauty is undoubtedly spring, where the scrub explodes in its brightest scents and colors.
And obviously there is also time for the first dives, in the crystalline coves that are accessible on the island.
In short, a truly timeless experience, far from the noise and too many comforts, and with a scent that you won't soon forget!
Fifth stage: horse riding at sunset, along the Porto Ferro Bay and the Porto Conte Park
We have reached the last stop, and the last mini itinerary, which ends in the city of Alghero, the small Barcelona of Northern Sardinia.
But it is not inside the city that we want to take you, given that there will be no shortage of opportunities and reasons to visit it, given its always rich events or culinary specialties.
This time we want to accompany you to discover its coast far from urban centers, in the Marine Protected Area of the Porto Conte Park.
Although it can be visited on foot or by bike, it is the horseback ride that we really want to recommend. The slow pace, the stops and the placid handling of the animal will give this experience a totally different mood, a truly slow and immersive breath in nature.
The breeding and companionship of horses is part of the tradition of Sardinia, and also equestrian tourism is reaching increasingly levels of new awareness and entrepreneurship.
Here, starting from Lake Baratz, in about two hours you can slowly explore the paths surrounding the gulf of Porto Ferro. From the lake we proceed towards the Porto Ferro beach, headquarters of the area's surfers and Blue Flag, and reach the two Aragonese towers that dominate the view, the White Tower and the Black Tower.
Going backwards, you instead proceed towards the path that runs along the Belvedere over the sea, from Lake Baratz to the Mont Girat Tower, also known as the Porto Ferro Tower.
From there, if you want on foot, you can walk along the sea along the low Mediterranean bush paths, from Cala del Turco and Cala del Vino, up to the splendid Torre del Porticciolo.
A slow and breathtaking route, where you can breathe in the salt air deeply, and perhaps come across some passing deer.
We also consider caution due to the presence of wild boars, it is better to move in a group, also because such spectacular sunsets are more beautiful if shared!
Happy walking, and happy slow tourism!
It's good for make memories and the environment.