Sardinia is one of the best islands in the world. Let’s find out the best places to visit and the best things to do on your spring holiday.
Sardinia is one of the best islands to visit as a summer holiday destination in Italy. Everyone knows it for its sea and its beautiful beaches. Still, springtime gives it completely different and unknown magic to most people. A myriad of colourful flowers floods the countryside and skirts the sandy shores, with expanses of tulips and brave tiny wildflowers. The sun's rays warm the remains of an ancient world of isolated castles, fairy dwellings and giants' tombs. The blowing wind carries a thousand scents, stories and the sounds of distant songs from traditional festivals.
This island is always beautiful, but it is still a jewel known by few in spring. Here we will give you 7 tips on what to do and what to see in Sardinia (apart from the sea) in spring, the ideal season for excursions in nature, outdoor activities, or visiting the most beautiful cities. It will be like caressing with your fingers the features of an imaginary world taking shape, in a perfect mix of history, nature, fun, and lots of beauty, with the taste of saltiness on your lips. Can you resist the desire to visit it?
7. Visiting the Nuraghi
Nuraghi appear like this, out of the blue, as we drive along some sinuous road in the Sardinian interior. They are massive, rough, truncated cone-shaped towers, made of large stone boulders lying one on top of the other. They have been there for thousands of years, silently observing the surrounding countryside, and some say they were castles, others military fortifications, others astronomical observatories. In reality, all these hypotheses seem to be true: their function changed depending on the context in which they stood.
There are about 7000 of them all over the island, but some have unique characteristics. The Nuragic complex of Barumini is located in central southern Sardinia, in Medio Campidano. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 'Su Nuraxi', the majestic main building from which the site takes its name, is the best-preserved of all Sardinian Nuraghi. The complex consists of an entire village that tells the story of the civilisation that inhabited the island thousands of years ago between the Bronze Age and the 3rd century AD.
In the province of Nuoro, the Nuragic village of Tiscali is an archaeological treasure hidden inside the crest of a mountain in the heart of Barbagia. It is a unique multi-millennial hypogeal settlement reachable through a path that runs along a 200-metre cliff.
In the 'Valley of the Nuraghi', in the territory of Torralba, rises 'Sa Domu de su Re' (The King's House), or rather the Nuraghe of Santu Antine, which has no equal in terms of its majesty and refinement.
6. Discovering Supramonte, the wild, mountainous heart of the island
The howl of the wind pierces the cliffs. The scream of the golden eagle echoes between the rocky walls while its majestic wingspan draws a silhouette on the mountains below. Here, among the heights of Supramonte, a narrow gorge divides the land in two: this is Su Gorropu, Europe's most spectacular canyon. This 500-metre-deep chasm hides dreamlike places. It is home to rare animals and plant species unique in the world, and fossils on its walls tell the story of an underwater genesis that occurred between 190 and 60 million years ago. It is a place that has inspired many legends: there are tales of monstrous creatures that inhabited the caves, and it seems that you can see the stars in broad daylight at one point. It is also said that, at night, the magical flowers of the male fern bloom here.
The interior of Sardinia is a very evocative place, where silence reigns and where Nature has created very strange conformations, first and foremost the Tacchi d'Ogliastra. These are calcareous-dolomitic mountains that rise sheer into the wild heart of the island, reliefs modelled by the time that host unique habitats in Sardinia. Supramonte extends over 35 thousand hectares of plateaus, gorges and steep walls as far as the eye can see between Barbagia and Ogliastra, until it plunges into the Gulf of Orosei.
Orgosolo, in the warm and passionate heart of the mountains of Nuoro, is a village famous for its murals that paint history on the walls of houses and shops and for being an ancient land of bandits. Visiting this place is to feel inside the picture of a world gone by, immersed in a natural setting perfect for lovers of extreme trekking.
We are the wild solitude, the immense and profound silence, the brilliance of the sky, the white flower of the cistus. We are the uninterrupted reign of the mastic tree, of the waves that stream over ancient granite, of the dog-rose, of the wind, of the immensity of the sea. We are a land of long silences, of horizons vast and pure, of plants glum, of mountains burnt by the sun and vengeance. We are Sardinians.
5. Admiring the beaches in bloom
It is amazing how, if we are in the mountainous heart of Sardinia, we can suddenly discover that we have the sea right below us. One of the most attractive characteristics of the Sardinian land is that it always offers new and different scenarios. As you walk along the coast, the landscape changes, the shape of the rocks is different, and the sinuosity of the inlets becomes more pronounced or gives way to vast sandy stretches. Although the water is still quite cold in spring, the beaches are a unique spectacle at this time of year. While the summer crowds are only a memory, Nature seems to awaken with all its enthusiasm, colouring the coasts with a thousand shades of flowers. White lilies grow on the dunes, the fragrant yellow broom of the Mediterranean maquis, daisies, the white or fuchsia flowers of the Sardinian cistus and many more. While we observe so much beauty, strolling on the sand that creeps between our fingers, the world around us seems to stop. All you can hear is the sound of the waves, the wind whispering words in a strange language and the sound of the branches moving in the breeze. You feel a chill on your skin, and the taste of salt in the air mixes with the intense scents of the Mediterranean scrub. Nothing else.
4. Exploring the most beautiful cities in Sardinia
Alghero, Cagliari, Bosa and Carloforte. These are the best cities to visit in different parts of the island. History combined with people's imagination has created very different places in identity and character.
Alghero, in the northwest, is the Spanish city of Sardinia. The long period spent under Catalan rule has left an indelible mark on its customs, on the houses that line the alleyways of the historic centre and on its language. Today, one in five inhabitants still speaks Catalan, in the local variant.
Travelling south along the coastal road, one reaches Bosa, one of the most picturesque villages in Italy. Its most famous image is the historic quarter of Sa Costa, with its colourful houses climbing the slopes of the Serravalle hill, dominated by the Malaspina castle.
Cagliari, the capital of reason, is a large and lively city. It is located in the south of the island and offers views of the sea, panoramic terraces and shopping streets. Its four historic districts are home to ancient history, and Poetto is the city's eight-kilometre-long beach. Here, the night lights up on the seafront with its restaurants, clubs, and entertainment. From the top of the Sella del Diavolo (Devil's Saddle), the promontory that separates Poetto from Calamosca, the spectacle that opens in front of your eyes will be something incredible.
In the far southwest, on the island of San Pietro, lies beautiful Carloforte. It is a small town founded by Ligurian families and included among the most beautiful villages in Italy, which still preserves the language and culture of its founders.
In Sardinia, among people who have remained secluded and almost isolated from the rest of the world, a primitive faculty of mixing reality with legend and dream continues, more than in other regions.
3. Attending the most important events in spring
In the traditional festivals, you will understand how Sardinia cannot be separated from its customs and magic. It is the land of religion and superstition, sacred and profane, ancient rituals that have survived the passage of time and attachment to traditions.
Primavera in Gallura - Stazzi e cussogghj is the biggest travelling festival in Gallura. This event aims to retrace the ancient paths of transhumance. Stage after stage, it brings to life the customs and traditions typical of the local farming civilisation, allowing visitors to taste the flavours and discover the handmade products.
Traditional Sardinian costumes are a perfect balance of designs, jewels and colours, where the threads of the fabric create a masterpiece, a tale. They are clothes that narrate the life of the various villages of Sardinia, each in its way. The Cavalcata Sarda takes place on the penultimate Sunday of May in Sassari. It is the most important secular event on the island: here, over three thousand costumes representing municipalities from all over Sardinia parade through the streets, creating an unforgettable spectacle. In the morning, it is time for the procession. In the early afternoon, it is the turn of the 'Pariglie', in which the bravest Sardinian horse riders perform acrobatics on running horses. To end the day, island folk groups sing the melodies of their land.
Since 1652, the festival of Sant'Efisio has been the most significant religious and cultural event in Sardinia. Every year from 1 to 4 May, believers from all over the island participate in a splendid and moving procession, on foot, on horseback or in decorated carts ('tracas') pulled by oxen. They accompany the statue of the saint in a pilgrimage that goes from Cagliari to the small church of Nora, the ancient town situated on the peninsula of Capo Pula, the place of martyrdom.
The 'great path' of Saint Efisio is almost sixty kilometres long, where a deep sense of spirituality blends with the breathtaking landscapes that one crosses. The procession includes several stages. From Cagliari, it heads to La Maddalena beach in Capoterra, then on to Sarroch, Villa San Pietro, Pula, and the archaeological site of the old Phoenician and Roman city of Nora. The small church of Sant'Efisio stands here, a few metres from the sea, and is a place to which the locals are very attached. These events have an incomparable charm, as do the places they involve. Don't miss the opportunity to visit an area rich in natural and historical beauty.
discover more about Pula ❯
The strange thing is that a land of rock, instead of giving a sense of reality, seems to be made of the impalpable fabric of the imagination.
2. Discovering the underground caves: the hidden world of Sardinia
They look like palaces enclosed in the heart of mountains or promontories, which the force of water has modelled over the millennia, giving them the shape it wanted. They have stalactites and stalagmites, large cavities that look like halls, smooth pastel-coloured rocks, and have sometimes inspired legends.
Inside the Capo Caccia promontory, in the territory of Alghero, lies an enormous hidden treasure. It is Neptune's cave, the refuge of the sea god, an underground world, luxurious and ancient.
In the south-western part of Sardinia, next to the mines of Iglesiente, there is underground magic. These are the caves of Su Mannau, in the territory of Fluminimaggiore, a karstic complex created 540 million years ago. Inside there is an ancient underground temple from the pre-Nuragic era, dedicated to the rites of the water cult. You will walk on footbridges suspended over halls, small waterfalls and clear lakes where a tiny, almost transparent, but unique guest lives: a shrimp called Stenasellus Nuragicus.
Inside Monte Meana, also in the Sulcis area, the Is Zuddas caves have amazing rock formations, whose bizarre shapes seem to have been formed by defying the force of gravity.
1. Visiting abandoned mining sites
There is a unique park in Sardinia, where you can discover a piece of history that has shaped the landscape and the people's culture, leaving indelible and fascinating traces on the island. The Parco Geominerario, Storico e Ambientale della Sardegna (Geo-mineral, Historical and Environmental Park of Sardinia) groups eight areas that have in common a past linked to the mining industry. Today, what remains are suggestive cyclopean mines, abandoned villages, and museums that often overlook breathtaking views. We begin in the south, at the entrance to a tunnel dug into a cliff overhanging the sea, in front of the Pan di Zucchero rock. We are talking about Porto Flavia, in the territory of Iglesias, a daring piece of engineering built in the 1920s to take the minerals extracted from the Masua mines directly onto ships.
You can discover this part of Sardinian history, engraved with chisel strokes, in many other sites, such as the remains of ghost villages scattered around the island. Here, if we listen to the silence, we seem to hear the rhythmic noise of a life of toil, and there is a halo of mystery, at times almost disturbing. We will mention two of them. Immersed in the Medio Campidano area's nature lie the abandoned ruins of the Naracauli mine, also known as the Brassey Laveria. In the northwest of the island, Open Mar-Miniera Argentiera is the first open-air mining museum, a place frozen in time where disused plants and an uninhabited village peep out over a bluer-than-usual sea.
This is not the case in Sardinia, where every apparently conquered space conceals a beyond that is never immediately grasped, preserving the mysterious virginity of things only touched.