Sardinia, an island at the centre of the Mediterranean, offers visitors unique panoramas and a wild, unspoilt nature. The territory amazes for its natural contrasts: crystal clear sea, dream beaches, towns with ancient traditions and unique monuments, that bear witness to an ancient culture. Let's discover some of the wonders of the region, for a mix of nature, history and culture!
10. Archaeological site: Su Nuraxi di Barumini
Located in the heart of Sardinia, the territory of Barumini, in the province of Medio Campidano, is a special place, of great importance since ancient times, due to the presence of the nuragic village Su Nuraxi, discovered in the 1950s. This large village of huts, developed around a large Nuraghe, between the 13th and 6th centuries BC, has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997.
The Nuragic civilisation developed in Sardinia over a period of about 1000 years (1500-500 BC) and takes its name from the most characteristic monument of the time: the Nuraghe, an ancient stone tower, similar to a medieval castle but much older, used to defend the surrounding territory. More than 7000 nuraghi have been found in Sardinia and Su Nuraxi is one of the largest and best preserved nuragic villages in the region. Sardinia is famous for its Nuraghi, which are the largest and best-preserved megalithic monuments in Europe.
9. The Caves of Neptune
About 24 km from Alghero, in the marine protected area of Capo Caccia-isola Piana, inside the Porto Conte park, we find a wonderful underground landscape: the Neptune caves. Discovered by a fisherman in the 18th century they immediately became a tourist attraction that attracts more than 150,000 visitors every year. They are among the largest sea caves in Italy and among the most fascinating in the Mediterranean. They were formed around two million years ago and inside you can admire “rooms” with stalactites and stalagmites, a huge underground lake with clear, salty water and a beautiful sandy beach.
They can be reached by land via a 654-step path - the Escala del cabirol or 'stairway of the deer' - along the western ridge of the Capo Caccia promontory. Alternatively, they can also be easily reached by sea, with boats departing daily from the tourist port of Alghero or from the dock of Cala Dragunara in Porto Conte. The sea route allows you to enjoy the wonderful panorama of the Coral Riviera and the spectacle offered by the sheer cliffs.
On the north-western coast, in the province of Oristano, we find the picturesque village of Bosa, which combines tradition, history and beautiful landscapes. There are several places of interest, first and foremost the medieval castle dating from the 12th century, which dominates the village and offers enchanting views over the town. The historic quarter (sa costa) is striking with its colourful houses and the town's cathedral or church of the Immaculate Conception, with its beautiful frescoes. Walking along the river Temo, you will come across the historic Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) and the old tanneries, buildings dating back to the 19th century where high-quality leather was produced.
Bosa is the main town in the historic Planargia region, a place of craftsmanship and food and wine traditions. The area's excellent products include malvasia, one of the best-loved sweet Sardinian wines, coral jewellery, asphodel baskets and filet di Bosa, an ancient embroidery technique, handed down by the women of Bosa. The village's ancient traditions also include the Bosa Carnival, one of the most characteristic in Sardinia. Finally, the coast of Bosa offers a crystal-clear sea and dream beaches, starting with Bosa Marina, a much-appreciated location that wins awards every year for its clear waters.
Located on the north-western coast of Sardinia, Alghero is a charming seaside town that still shows traces of its Catalan past. Its Spanish origins are still evident in the architecture and daily life of Alghero, where a Catalan dialect is spoken and the city is called 'little Barcelona'. This elegant fortified city, with its Mediterranean climate, has a beautiful historic centre, surrounded by powerful walls, interspersed with bastions and high towers that offer splendid views of the sea.
Places of interest in the centre include the Piazza Civica, surrounded by medieval buildings, the Jewish quarter, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, Palazzo Guillot, the 14th-century Church of San Francesco and the Coral Museum. Much of the local craftsmanship is related to coral work, as the largest coral colony in Sardinia lives along the Alghero coast.
Close to Alghero there are many places of interest that should not be missed: the famous Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune's Cave), one of the most impressive caves in Italy, the cliffs of the Capo Caccia peninsula, the beautiful beaches and coves of the Riviera del Corallo (Coral Riviera) and the Nuraghe di Palmavera.
6. La Maddalena Archipelago
The Maddalena archipelago, declared a national park in 1994, is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas in Sardinia. It is located off the Costa Smeralda, on the northern coast of Sardinia, and is composed of seven major islands (La Maddalena, Caprera, Budelli, Santo Stefano, Santa Maria, Spargi, Razzoli) and countless smaller islands, all with beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters.
The island of La Maddalena is the only inhabited centre of the archipelago. Ferries to the island depart daily from Palau and once you arrive on the island you can visit the village and the beautiful fine sandy beaches. We could mention many beaches in the archipelago but the truth is that they are all wonderful and unmissable. The best way to appreciate the beauty of the archipelago is to take part in an organised day trip, by boat. Normally the one-day tour includes a visit to the island of Spargi, the island of Budelli with the famous Pink Beach, the island of Santa Maria, Caprera and La Maddalena. The tour gives you the opportunity to see and spend time in the small coves and beaches, which can only be reached by sea. Sea lovers will find their paradise here!
5. Orgosolo: the village-museum
Let's leave the sea and go to Orgosolo in the heart of the province of Nuoro, in the centre of Sardinia, in the so-called "Barbagia di Ollolai". We are far from the sea, in the deepest and least known Sardinia!
The village, at about 620 metres above sea level and immersed in the spectacular landscape of Supramonte, has about 4500 inhabitants and is defined as a museum town for its murals that decorate the houses of the historical centre and for its ancient traditions. Walking through the historical centre, you can admire a heritage of 150 works by local and international artists, which speak of politics, culture, dissent and popular struggles, social justice, daily life and traditions.
Orgosolo is also the home of 'canto a tenore', a Sardinian choral singing style of great importance in the local tradition and a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. There are also some interesting cultural events, such as sa Vardia 'e mes'Austu, a wild horse race that takes place in mid-August and Gustos e Nuscos, an event of typical products and local handicrafts, that takes place in mid-October. On this occasion you can taste 'sa purpuzza', an ancient meat recipe!
4. The Gulf of Orosei: Cala Goloritzé, Cala Mariolu e Cala Luna
On the central-eastern coast of the island, halfway between Olbia and Arbatax, we have the beautiful Gulf of Orosei. This area, which for centuries was only accessible by sea, is characterised by sandy beaches and coves, overhung by imposing limestone walls. Many rare animal and plant species live here and for this reason the area is protected by the National Park of the Gulf of Orosei and Gennargentu, a nature reserve rich in archaeological sites, which is worth a special visit for its extension. The beaches in the Gulf of Orosei are all wonderful. Below 3 beaches you should not miss!
It is one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in Italy. It can be reached on foot after a more than one-hour walk through the Mediterranean maquis, ending in an unspoilt oasis where sea and mountains meet. Transparent sea, a beach of white pebbles (unique in its kind), a stone arch that plunges into the sea and Punta Caroddi, a spire 147 metres above sea level, which towers over Cala Goloritzè with its fascinating eagle shape. This beach has been a natural monument since 1993 and has been protected from pollution and human presence since 1989. In fact, navigation is prohibited in the surrounding stretch of water, with any type of boat.
The inlet of Cala Mariolu lies at the foot of an imposing cliff that in some places reaches a height of about 500 metres. Its clear turquoise waters and fine white sand are unmatched by any other beach. The beach is divided by a large rock from which adults and children dive, and its waters, always rich in fish, are a paradise for snorkelling enthusiasts. It can be reached by sea with dinghies and boats that leave from the towns of Arbatax, Santa Maria Navarrese and Cala Gonone. It can be reached by land via a trekking path suitable only for experienced hikers.
Cala Luna is a cove between cliffs with 800 metres of fine golden sand at its centre, plunging into the blue sea that contrasts with the green of the surrounding vegetation. Behind the beach there is a small freshwater lake, surrounded by a grove of oleander and Mediterranean scrub and several caves where you can find shelter during the hottest hours of the day. The cove is protected by steep cliffs overlooking the sea and is a destination for many climbers. Due to its wild charm, this beach has been chosen as the set for several successful movies. If you like trekking, you can reach the cove via a one-and-a-half-hour walk along the coast. Alternatively, it can be reached by sea, with private boats, rubber dinghies or boats departing from the ports of Arbatax, Santa Maria Navarrese and Cala Gonone.
3. The Bay of Chia
Chia Bay, located about an hour's drive from Cagliari, is one of the most enchanting coastlines in southern Sardinia and has been awarded both the 5 sails and the title of most beautiful beach according to Legambiente. The landscape is made unique by the beautiful crystal clear sea, the fine pink sand dunes and the presence of flamingos in the pond nearby, which turns pink at sunset. Once in Chia, you will have only one wish: dive into its splendid sea!
One of the most beautiful beaches is Su Giudeu, a white sandy beach surrounded by junipers and with a small island in front of it, which can also be reached on foot. Near Su Giudeu is Cala Cipolla, a small beach of fine sand, surrounded by pink granite boulders, hidden by hills and sheltered from the winds. Also worth seeing is Sa Colonia, a beach about 1 km long that heads towards Monte Cogoni. It is characteristic for the presence of small sand dunes and for the pond located in its westernmost part. Near Sa Colonia we find Cala del Morto, a beach of fine sand enclosed by pink granite rocks with Mediterranean pines and junipers behind it. The beauty of this bay and its nature will leave you speechless.
Cagliari is the largest city on the island and the centre of Sardinia's political, economic, tourist and cultural life. The city offers interesting historical districts to discover. First of all the ancient medieval quarter of Castello, situated on the hill above the city and guardian of Cagliari's millenary history and tradition. Here you will find the Bastion of San Remy, one of the symbols of the city, with the Terrace of Santa Caterina from which you have a beautiful view over the city and the port. The districts Stampace (district of bourgeoisie and merchants), Marina (district of fishermen and sailors) and Villanova (district of shepherds and farmers), are also very interesting. Important attractions include the 13th-century Cagliari Cathedral, the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria, the Roman Amphitheatre and the National Archaeological Museum.
In Cagliari you can also relax on the beach and take a walk in nature. The long coastline of Poetto offers beautiful white beaches and is dominated by the Sella del Diavolo promontory, which can be reached by a nature trail that takes about an hour and offers a beautiful view of the entire city and coastline. Near Poetto beach there is also the Molentargius-Saline protected oasis where you can admire flamingos.
1. Gorropu Gorge
In the centre of Sardinia, between the regions Barbagia and Ogliastra, in the mountainous complex of Supramonte, we have the deepest canyon in Italy: the Gorropu gorge.
The gorge, created by the waters of the Flumeneddu river, is a monument of nature and is located in one of the wildest and most unspoilt areas of the region. You can access the canyon only on foot, with expert guides and after several hours of walking. The path, which runs along the river bed and where you can see boulders, caves, cliffs, dolines and nuragic settlements, is several kilometres long and is divided into three levels of difficulty: easy, medium and difficult. The flora and fauna are typical of the area, with various endemic species, holm oaks, junipers, thousand-year-old yews and specimens of mouflon and golden eagles. Gorropu is the ideal place for trekking lovers. It is a masterpiece of nature, a world apart!
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