Best Things To Do in Sardinia
Most of the best things to do in Sardinia are concentrated on the coasts. The cerulean waters and soft beaches found at places like Cala Mariolu and Parco Nazionale dell'Archipelago di La Maddalena are some of the main draws, but hiking the northern coast's Capo Testa or driving the Costa Smeralda to take in jaw-dropping views of the Mediterranean are popular, too. History buffs will enjoy learning about the mysterious past of the Nuraghi culture at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale – or by touring one or two of the thousands of Nuraghi settlements, such as Su Nuraxi di Barumini, strewn throughout the island.
Updated December 30, 2019
- #1View all PhotosfreeCala Mariolu#1 in SardiniaBeaches, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Reaching Cala Mariolu, a pebble beach segmented by large limestone rocks on Sardinia's east coast, takes some effort – but most travelers say the picturesque spot is worth the exertion. The waters that lap the shore are every shade of blue, and the tucked-away spot feels like a hidden paradise.
Although most visitors say that this beach is truly magnificent, some say that the sheer number of beachgoers can detract from its tranquility. Several visitors recommend renting snorkeling equipment to use at a nearby, swimmable cove.
- #2View all Photos#2 in SardiniaParks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEMore than Full DayTIME TO SPEND
The Parco Nazionale dell'Archipelago di La Maddalena is a collection of islands scattered off Sardinia's northeastern coast. Established as a geomarine national park in 1994, the islands have been on UNESCO's World Heritage site's shortlist since 2006 for their variety of marine and plant life. But tourists tend to visit for the eye candy – the rock formations, the snow-white beaches and the blue-green Mediterranean waters.
Recent travelers said this group of islands rivals those in the Caribbean, thanks to the culture, food and beauty of the place. Others call it a paradise and gush over its crystal clear aquamarine waters.
- #3View all PhotosfreeCapo Testa#3 in SardiniaBeaches, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
With its wind-whipped granite boulders, the rocky coves of Capo Testa on Sardinia's northern headland are almost sculptural in shape and begging to be hiked and photographed. The nearby lighthouse, Faro di Capo Testa, provides another photo op. While here, stop at beaches like Spiaggia Rena di Levante and Spiaggia Rena di Ponente, which boast aquamarine waves that are as ideal for surfing as they are for wading.
Recent travelers recommend getting to the beaches early to ensure you find a parking spot, since this area gets quite busy, particularly during the summer high season.
- #4View all PhotosfreeCosta Smeralda#4 in SardiniaBeaches, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Costa Smeralda is where the jet set land when they arrive in Sardinia. The 35 miles that stretch out over the Emerald Coast are some of the most beautiful in Sardinia – even arguably in the entire Mediterranean – and they're dotted by marvels like Porto Cervo, a cobblestone port village with luxury retailers ideal for window-shopping, and beaches with gentle waters, such as Capriccioli.
Recent visitors to Costa Smeralda were enchanted by its beaches, highlighting Capriccioli for its accessibility and parking, as well as its beach bar and surrounding shade trees. You'll find Costa Smeralda in northern Sardina.
- #5View all Photos#5 in SardiniaSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
To explore the past of the mysterious Nuragic civilization, you should head to Su Nuraxi di Barumini (in southern Sardinia). Although very little is known about the Nuragic people, a lot can be said for their construction prowess. These Bronze Age shepherds and peasants used stone to create elaborate structures, including the settlement at Su Nuraxi, though it's unclear whether they were defensive fortresses, palaces or temples. Here, a tour guide will lead you through the ruins of a Nuraghi fortress with its complex of towers, elaborate inner passageways and outer walls. In 1997, Su Nuraxi was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
Recent visitors were impressed with the site preservation here and recommended history and archaeology buffs take time to tour these amazing structures and the Casa Zapata museum. However, reviewers recommend skipping this attraction if you're traveling with young children as the grounds are not stroller-friendly.
- #6View all Photos#6 in SardiniaMuseums, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Museo Archeologico Nazionale tells a chronological history of the island through art and artifacts. Here, you'll see bronze figurines, or bronzetti, that date back to 1800 B.C., towering sandstone sculptures (referred to as the Giganti di Mont'e Prama) created by the Nuragic civilization, Roman-era busts, and more. Although this museum is one of five establishments grouped together at the Cittadella dei Musei, experts say if you're short on time, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale is the one to visit.
Visitors to the museum say that the exhibits on the mysterious Nuragic culture are particularly interesting, and they warn that most – but not all – of the exhibit descriptions are translated into English.
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