This summer Enrico and I took an epic six-week road trip around Italy. It was one of my favourite experiences to date, featuring a lot of pizza, amazing beaches and some pretty stunning scenery. The first part of this trip was spent in Sardinia, as we were heading to a friend’s wedding. Sardinia has been on my hit list for a while now as it is said to have the best beaches in Italy, so I was very excited to see them for myself. We had one week for our Sardinia road trip and managed to fit in a lot, but still had time to relax and most importantly, check out the beaches.
Sardinia Road Trip – 1 Week Itinerary
Sardinia has two main international airports, Cagliari and Olbia. We recommend flying into Cagliari for this itinerary, but either would be fine. We then hired a car with rentalcars.com and collected it at the airport.
Isola di Sant’Antioco – 1-2 Nights
After flying into Cagliari, we headed straight to Sant’Antioco. This is a small island off the South West of Sardinia. We were visiting this part of the island for a friend’s wedding, but it’s definitely a worthwhile addition to a road trip. The main town, also called Sant’Antioco, is located immediately upon crossing the mile-long causeway which connects the island to the mainland. Before we reached the town, we had already stopped the car after spotting hundreds of pink flamingos in the pond of Santa Caterina!
Sant’Antioco is one of the oldest parts of Sardinia and also one of the most underdeveloped when it comes to tourism. There are some great little guesthouses in the town and it’s a lovely place to spend an evening. Have an aperitivo in Piazza Italia before dinner at one of the family-run Osterias. There are beautiful beaches on this island, in particular, Spiaggia di Coacuaddus and Cala Sapone, so take some time to swim and relax in this quiet part of Sardinia.
Sant’Antioco to Bosa (2 hours 50 / 225km)
The drive up the coast from Sant’Antioco is incredibly scenic, with lots of places to stop and take pictures or have a swim. If you’re a fan of surfing, make sure you stop at Capo Mannu. This is one of the best places to surf in the Mediterranean. There is a surf school and board hire available on the beach.
Bosa – 1-2 Nights
Bosa was my favourite town in Sardinia. It is absolutely stunning; filled with quaint colourful houses lining the hillside and an impressive castle at the top. We spent one night in the area, but I would have loved to stay longer. There are lots of lovely shops, restaurants and cafes along the cobbled streets and lanes, and a walk along the River Temo is a must, as well as a visit to the castle for the superb views.
There are plenty of hotels in Bosa, but we spent the night in nearby Tresnuraghes. This was another area that felt undiscovered by tourists. We stayed at a great hotel called Maison Tresnuraghes, a lovely restoration of two old houses with a huge garden. The hotel had a great restaurant, but we also tried out a local pizzeria, which was one of the best of the Sardinia road trip!
Bosa to Alghero (1 hour / 46km)
A short drive, but plenty of gorgeous scenery and lots of photo opportunities.
Alghero – 2 Nights
This is a popular town with tourists, as many use it for a base to explore the incredible beaches north of Alghero. Sadly we didn’t have the best weather while we were there, but it did mean that we had more time to explore the town and enjoy our lovely hotel. We spent two nights at the stunning Villa Las Tronas, which was once a residence of the Italian royal family. As you would expect it’s a pretty luxurious place, with grand dining rooms and lounges and gorgeous views of the sea.
Alghero has a strong Spanish influence and was once ruled by Catalans, so you’re as likely to find paella on the menu as pasta. You can easily lose a few hours wandering the narrow streets and the coastal walls. If weather permits, relax on the beaches of San Giovanni shore and Maria Pia.
Alghero to Cala Gonone – The Scenic Route (3 hours 46 / 260km)
From Alghero, we considered heading north to the islands of Maddalena, but as we only had a few days left and needed to get back to Cagliari in the south, we decided to cross the island to Cala Gonone on the west coast. You can drive this in just over 2.5 hours, but we wanted to visit some of the west coast beaches along the way, so took a longer route.
The first beach we stopped at was Cala Suaraccia, a small bay with white sand and turquoise water. It was a little cloudy, but even without the sun, the water was a stunning colour.
After a quick swim, we moved onto Cala Bradinchi, which is nicknamed ‘Little Tahiti’. It’s a really lovely spot and easy to see why it earned the name.
Further south is La Cinta, a huge beach set in front of a lagoon. This is another great place to spot flamingos!
Shortly before arriving in Cala Gonone, we drove through Dorgali and past the stunning Lago Del Cedrino. Definitely worth stopping for a photo!
Cala Gonone – 2 Nights
Cala Gonone is a great little town, but most people stay here to access the Golfo di Orosei, which is reached by boat (and then a swim to shore) or a hike. However there are some lovely restaurants in town and the beach is gorgeous, so well worth having a few nights here. We stayed at Hotel Nuraghes Arvu, which has a huge swimming pool and lovely sea views.
When researching Sardinia, a beach I’d come across over and over again was Cala Goloritze; which is only accessible by boat or a 90-minute hike through the mountains. We decided the boat sounded like the more enjoyable option and hopped aboard a trip with Prima Sardegna. As well as visiting Cala Goloritze, we stopped at numerous beaches along the Golfo di Orosei, some of which I found to be even more beautiful than Goloritze. My two favourites were Cala Mariolu and Cala Biriola. The trip ends with a visit to Bue Marino Grotto, part of a huge cave network. A guide will lead you through different sections of the cave around 1km deep, which contains striking stalactites and stalagmites.
Cala Gonone to Cagliari, The Scenic Route (2 hours 40 / 225km)
At this point in the trip, I found my favourite Sardinian beach (so far): Cala Sinzias. This beach really is stunning; it has the clearest turquoise water and white sand, easily as beautiful as beaches I’ve been to in the Maldives and Australia.
All along this stretch of coastline (Costa Rei) are a number of stunning beaches. We only had time to enjoy Cala Sinzias before heading to the airport for our flight, but I would definitely like more time to check out the others.
What Would We Do Differently?
I’m pretty happy with our road trip itinerary and there isn’t anything I would change for a one week trip. If we had ten days I would definitely head up to the northeast to Maddalena and check out the islands up there. But overall it was great!
What To Eat In Sardinia
As with all over Italy, there are lots of delicious things to eat in Sardinia. A couple of typical things to try whilst on the island are:
A filled pasta, similar to ravioli, but in the shape of a small Cornish pasty. It’s usually filled with potato, pecorino cheese, garlic, olive oil, nutmeg and mint leaves and is served with a tomato sauce.
There are a lot of sheep in Sardinia, so it’s hardly surprising that they make delicious cheese from the milk. Sardinians have been making this cheese for over 2000 years!
There are lots of different Sardinian breads, but the one you’re most likely to see is pane carasau. It looks more like a cracker or a poppadum than bread, and has been a Sardinian staple for many years; shepherds would eat them while they tended their flocks. They were often on the move for large periods of time and pane carasau lasts for over a year without going stale, so was the perfect food to take on the road. Its name means music paper bread.
As with most islands, fish is a key part of the Sardinian diet. You’ll find lobster in Alghero, bottarga (dried fish eggs) in Oristano and dogfish in Cagliari.
Where To Stay In Sardinia
We stayed in a classic room at Hotel Nuraghes Arvu, which starts at £116 (€130) per night per room (double). Alternatively, you could stay in at one of the other hotels in Cala Gonone, such as Casa Marzane from £35 per night.
3 nights’ bed and breakfast at Maison Tresnuraghes with Just Sardinia starts from £263.50, based on 2 adults sharing a standard room. Alternatively, you could stay in at one of the many hotels in Bosa, such as B&B Sandalia from £45 per night.
How To Get To Sardinia
British Airways flies direct from London to Cagliari. Return fares start from £84 in Economy.
This is our suggested Sardinia Road Trip – If you have any suggestion for the next time feel free to share it!
Travelling to Italy? Check out our foodie guide to Emilia Romagna here.
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