The fourth installation of our bitesized guide series to the Mediterranean's finest islands sees us sail over to the Italian gem of Sardinia.
With around 300 days of sunshine a year, Sardinia is a pocket of craggy shorelines and flower-strewn hillsides in the middle of the Mediterranean. White-sand beaches, Evian-clear waters, forested valleys, charismatic towns and a rich history all combine to create a magical island setting.
This is one of the most popular resorts on Sardinia, yet it retains the charm and atmosphere of a working fishing village. The medieval old town is the most picturesque on Sardinia, and has a fascinating Catalan heritage and winding cobbled streets. In the evening, head up to the fortified walls of the town’s bastion and watch the sun set over the dramatic cliffs of Capo Caccia.
Isola dei Gabbiani
The tiny island floating just off the shore of Costa Smeralda is a haven for windsurfers and surfers. Access the island via the short bridge, which is lined with board-hire shops. For those who want to stay overnight there is a campsite as well as a few guest houses on the mainland.
The ‘Emerald Coast’ is home to La Cinta, one of the most famous beaches in Sardinia. This stretch of stunning coastline is Sardinia’s answer to the French Riviera and is the perfect place to spot the Prada-clad glitterati whilst sipping on a cappuccino. Porto Cervo is the capital of the area and is a chic town, popular with the jet set.
This charming hilltop town is a centre of wine production and hosts feast days. The town comes alive with colourful celebrations and artisans flock here to flaunt their wares and sample some of the finest foods on the island.
Top things to do:
Sardinia is one of the most ancient lands in Europe and has fascinating sites at every turn. The archaeological site of Tharros was once an ancient Roman city on the west coast of Sardinia and, according to legend, was one of the most important sites on the island. Now an open-air museum perched atop a cliff, visitors can walk through the remnants of temples and artifacts, whilst gazing over the azure sea below.
Situated on the Sinis peninsula, the town of Cabras is home to many cultural treasures and is a haven for nature enthusiasts. A fun time to visit is the first weekend of September, when a local festival sees around 3,000 men race from the town barefoot and dressed in white to the village of San Salvatore where they re-enact an ancient feud over a religious statue.
Scale the Mount La Marmora in the Gennargentu National Park, situated in eastern Sardinia between the provinces of Nuoro and Ogliastra. The mountain is the highest point on the island and is part of the scenic park that has a unique coastal landscape of craggy rocks, aqua waters and hidden caves.
Rattle and Roll
The Trenino Verde, or ‘little green train’, runs for 160km (100 miles) from the east coast to Mandas and is an exciting ride through mountains and meadows, as well as past a nature reserve that is home to wild horses and boars.
What to eat
Sardinia has a unique character, a blend of Italian and Catalan influences that is reflected in its food. There are plenty of places offering distinctive local dishes, such as panadas – a pie made with meat or eels, and malloredus – a saffron-flavoured pasta served with tomato sauce and sausage or cheese. Fish is also a speciality, with as fresh-as-the-sea offerings served up in most restaurants.
There are three international airports in Sardinia: Alghero Airport, Olbia-Costa Smeralda Airport and Cagliari-Elmas Airport. Ferries operate from the island to various ports in Spain, Italy and France.