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Cala Domestica auf Sardinien, Bild: gevision / shutterstock

Sardinia: A pearl in the Mediterranean

Sardinia is a small oasis in the Mediterranean Sea and is one of the three largest islands in Italy. After Sicily, it is the second largest island in the country and is home to around 1.7 million people. Throughout the year, the island attracts holidaymakers, which scores with its own charm and lovable inhabitants.

The holiday paradise is especially popular with families with children, as the water is ankle-deep and pleasantly warm. Sardinia has more to offer than the dreamlike white beaches and the emerald green sea water. There are numerous sights from the founding period of Italy to explore, which offer a fantastic panoramic view of the Mediterranean.

Facts about Sardinia

  1. Second largest island in the Mediterranean: Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily .
  2. History and archaeology: The island has a rich history that dates back to prehistoric times. The Nuraghi, mysterious stone buildings from the Bronze Age, are famous.
  3. Unique language: Sardinian is spoken in addition to Italian, a Romance language with strong influences from Catalan, Spanish and Arabic.
  4. Diverse landscapes: The island offers a variety of landscapes, from impressive mountain ranges to deep forests and some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.
  5. Rich flora and fauna: Sardinia is home to a rich flora and fauna, including rare species such as the Sardinian deer and the black vulture.
  6. Culinary specialties: Sardinian cuisine is known for its variety and quality, especially pecorino cheese, pane carasau (flatbread) and porceddu (grilled suckling pig).
  7. Traditional Music and Dance: The island has a vibrant tradition of music and dance, including tenor singing and ballu tundu dancing.
  8. Blue Zone: Sardinia is one of the five “Blue Zones” in the world, regions where people have an above-average life expectancy.
  9. Artistic heritage: The island has a rich artistic heritage, ranging from prehistoric art to modern painting and sculpture.
  10. Sailing and water sports paradise: With its clear waters and favorable wind conditions, Sardinia is a popular destination for sailors and water sports enthusiasts.

Important facts about Sardinia

  • Official language: Italian
  • Population: As of 2021, about 1.6 million
  • Flight duration: Depending on the take-off location; e.g. from Frankfurt approx. 2 hours
  • Geography: island in the Mediterranean, second largest island in the Mediterranean, varied landscape with mountains, plains and coasts
  • Capital: Cagliari
  • Form of government: Autonomous Region of Italy
  • Electricity: 230 volts, plug types C and F
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Time zone: Central European Time (CET), Central European Summer Time (CEST)
  • Telephone code: +39 (Italy), Dialling code for Sardinia: 070, 078, 079
  • Arrival by car: By ferry from Italy or France; The main ferry ports are Olbia, Porto Torres, Golfo Aranci and Cagliari
  • Annual tourists: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 3 million per year (varies by year and source)

Award-winning beaches and coastlines of the island

Sardinia, Porto Cervo
Porto Cervo, Image: Balate Dorin / shutterstock

Sardinia is famous for the wide variety of beaches. Both in the north and south of the island there are countless beaches that exude a Caribbean flair. In 2007, the coastal section of Cala Goloritze in the Golfo di Orosei was voted the most beautiful in Europe. This secluded beach can only be reached by boat, which ensures relaxing hours as a couple or with the family.

Just let your mind wander and enjoy the beauty of the island: Holidaymakers can also do this on the stretch of coast in the southwest of Sardinia.

Until the 19th century, the Costa Verde was considered a mining country for zinc and lead. After mining ceased, the area was left to its own devices. In addition to beautiful beaches, the area scores points with culture-interested industry lovers, who can visit and photograph the disused mine shafts.

In addition, Sardinia is blessed with the highest dunes in Europe. Over 2000 kilometres of coastline line the island, which provide a colourful spectacle for the eye with magnificent bays and rocks . Most of the beaches are equipped with fine, golden sand. This makes bathing so pleasant and provides a Caribbean look.

The active north of Sardinia

La Maddalena
La Maddalena, Image: Alexandra Suslova / shutterstock

The north of Sardinia is especially popular with water sports enthusiasts. Small bays, long sandy beaches and good water quality are a real paradise for snorkeling, diving or swimming. The small archipelago
of La Maddalena
is located north of Sardinia and is very popular with sailors and divers alike. For surfers, the north coast with hotspots such as
Palau
or Capo Testa is suitable. In the background, granite rocks rise up, providing a unique panoramic view.

The lighthouse of Capo Testa is considered one of the most popular sights on the island. From there you have a fantastic view of the setting sun, which seems to disappear into the sea.
In the northeast, impressive mountains are lined up with granite mountains of Gallura. The mountain range invites you to hike and walk and offers an extraordinary flora and fauna.

Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Image: Gabriele Maltinti / shutterstock

If you are looking for some glamour, you should pay a visit to the Costa Smeralda in the northeastern part of the island. There, many stars and starlets spend their holidays in trendy clubs and beach bars. The waters of the stretch of coast are emerald green and provide a breathtaking view.

In the port city of Porto Torres , numerous Romanesque remains can still be seen today. For example, the Basilica San Gavino is the oldest basilica in Sardinia, built in 1065 BC. The Ponte Romano bridge is also part of the Roman heritage and crosses the Riu Mannu.

The coastal town of Olbia is one of the largest on the island and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country. The municipal museum shows the history of the country and exhibits old warships. If you prefer a leisurely stroll, you should pay a visit to the nearby beach with the well-developed promenade with cafes and bars. The city is very popular with tourists. For quieter holidays, the cities of Alghero or Sassari are suitable. These cities are not so crowded and offer a special atmosphere with their cobblestone old towns and city walls.

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Cultural highlights in the south of Sardinia

Cagliari
Cagliari, Image: Roman Babakin / shutterstock

The south of Sardinia is just as blessed with Caribbean beaches as the north. The area is flatter than the north and has long sandy beaches that few tourists know about.

The capital of the island is Cagliari: around a third of the local population lives there. The big city has a lot to offer and is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Along with Olbia, it is the first port of call for holidaymakers, as the two cities have their own airport. A special highlight is the Roman amphitheater , which has existed since the 2nd century. Many churches and well-maintained parks line the city. In the old town are the basilica and the cathedral. An absolute must is a visit to the Elephant Tower. Above the entrance to the tower, a small marble elephant adorns the gate. This and two other towers were considered military defensive towers until the 19th century.

Not far away, hikers can reach the ancient ruins of the Acquafredda Castle . The watchtower of Nuraghe in Barumini or the Su Nuraxi settlement are ancient remains of the Nuragic villages that can still be visited today. They are registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tell of days long gone.

The caves of Bue Marino offer a special experience: The stalactite cave convinces with its stalagmites and stalactites and the colorful lakes in the grotto, which can only be reached by boat.

The south of Sardinia offers not only fantastic beaches, but above all cultural sights.

Experience species-rich flora and fauna

Sardinia is not only popular with beach vacationers, but also with hikers. The beauty of the island is discovered especially during a walk or hike through the mountains. The mild climate and the mostly prevailing dry season are a paradise for flora and fauna. There are numerous nature reserves and parks in Sardinia designed to protect the wonders of nature. On selected hiking trails, holidaymakers and locals can smell flowers and grasses such as lavender or myrtle , while black vultures fly over the shady forests of cork oaks .

Cagliari
Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, Image: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Cagliari, the capital in the south of the island, has a good 150,000 of Sardinia’s 1.6 million inhabitants. The most striking feature of the city is the large cathedral. It dates back to 1217 and has been rebuilt many times since then. In the process, different extensions were added as well as new architectural styles. The interior is in Baroque style and offers a variety of art objects, from the colorful ceiling paintings to the detailed frescoes and a valuable silver tabernacle. The Pisan pulpit in the west nave and the heavily decorated crypt are also particularly famous.

Smaller, but almost as well-known, is the baroque Basilica di Nostra Signora di Bonaria. And the old town itself is also well worth seeing, because here one historic building follows the other. Among them are the square “Bastione di Remy”, which is considered a good viewpoint, as well as a series of towers in different architectural styles.

Other sights around and in Cagliari include the ancient amphitheatre, where numerous events still take place today – a unique experience for the spectators due to the scenery alone. Also worth a trip are the massive Castello di San Michele and the botanical garden, a lovingly landscaped, green oasis in the city.

Culture and history

Alghero, Sardinia
Alghero, Image: Anibal Trejo / shutterstock

The beautiful small towns of Sardinia, which are spread over the island, are also highly recommended as visiting destinations. One of the prettiest is Alghero, a small coastal town with picturesque houses, colourful shutters and beautiful beaches. Special features are also the colorfully covered roof of the local cathedral and the fact that Spanish is mainly spoken. Bosa also has an exceptionally beautiful townscape, characterized by winding streets and authentic houses. The historic fortress is also worth seeing. Tip: Try wine! The cultivation areas are located around the city – it doesn’t get any more local. Olive groves and the last griffon vultures of the island can be found in the area.

Unique in Sardinia worldwide is the Bonnanaro culture and the Nuragic culture based on it, beginning in 2200 and ending in 400 BC. As its remnants, there are numerous nuraghi, towers of different sizes and complexities built of stones. They usually consist of one or more rotunda, although their purpose is disputed. The most famous and particularly large nuraghe is Su Nuraxi near Barumini. One of the ancient testimonies of earlier peoples is the ruined city of Tharros, which is located in the west of Sardinia on the Sinis Peninsula. The oldest buildings probably date back to the 13th century BC, after which the city was used by various peoples. Among the remains are also very complex structures such as a large port, bathing establishments and sewers. Finds of gold and precious stones as well as goods from sometimes distant countries suggest a status as an important trading city.

Get to know Sardinia’s nature

Spiaggia del Principe, Sardinia
Spiaggia del Principe on the Emerald Coast, Image: Balate Dorin / shutterstock

Sardinia offers different natural areas – mainly the well-known steppe-like maquis, but also dense forests and mountain ranges. They can all be found in at least one of the 33 protected areas, four of which have the status of a national park. The Asinara and La Maddalena Archipelago parks are located on islands and can be visited via boat tour. These excursions can also be used for swimming and snorkeling in selected areas.

The Gennargentu National Park is located in the mountains of the same name and is characterized by forests, lakes and spectacular peaks. Here you can go on long hikes and observe eagles and wild sheep, among other things. On the other hand, magnificent rocky and coastal landscapes for hikers, bathers and climbers alike can be found in the Golfo di Orosei. The beaches of the Costa Verde are gentler, where you can stroll between fine sandy dunes, pine forests and juniper bushes. But even those who are drawn to the mountains can be more than happy in Sardinia. There are sought-after hiking trails in impressive panoramas, for example, around the former volcano Monte Arci, the basalt plains of the Giara di Gesturi or the region of Monte dei Sette Fratelli. The latter is particularly characterized by its wild mountain streams and picturesque oak forests.

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The island has a rich and varied fauna, such as white donkeys, Sardinian deer, wild cats and turtles. The tourism industry, which is increasingly geared towards sustainable tourism, allows visitors to get to know it without causing damage.

Sardinia has many natural beaches spread around the island. Among the most beautiful are, for example, the bay of Capriccioli or Cava Spalmatore. Cala Luna and Cala Mariolu are among the absolute beauties of the island and captivate with rock formations, caves and magnificent underwater world. An unforgettable sight is the Neptune Grotto with numerous limestone formations.

The most famous and largest cities

Cagliari

Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is located on the south coast of the island. This lively port city is known for its rich history, which is evident in the old town of Castello, where medieval buildings, narrow streets and panoramic views of the city and the sea are impressive. The Cathedral of Santa Maria and the National Archaeological Museum are also worth seeing. The long sandy beach of Poetto attracts both locals and tourists.

Sassari

Cathedral of San Nicola in Sassari
Cathedral of San Nicola in Sassari, Image: Gabriele Maltinti / shutterstock

In the northwest of Sardinia lies Sassari, the second largest city on the island. It is known for its well-preserved old town with impressive historic buildings such as the Cathedral of San Nicola and the Palazzo Ducale. Sassari is also an important educational and cultural center with the University of Sassari and numerous museums. The town offers a mix of traditional Sardinian flair and modern life.

Quartu Sant’Elena

Quartu Sant’Elena, located not far from Cagliari on the southeastern coast of Sardinia, is known for its proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, including Poetto beach. The city offers historical landmarks such as the Basilica of Sant’Elena Imperatrice and the Church of San Pietro di Ponte. Quartu Sant’Elena is an ideal place for beach lovers while offering glimpses of everyday life in Sardinia.

Olbia

Olbia is a dynamic city in the north-east of Sardinia that is considered the main access point to the Costa Smeralda. The port and airport make it an important transport hub. Olbia combines modern amenities with historical landmarks, including the Basilica of San Simplicio and the Archaeological Museum. The town is also a popular starting point for excursions to the magnificent beaches and luxury resorts of the Costa Smeralda.

Porto Cervo

Porto Cervo in Sardinia
Porto Cervo in Sardinia, Image: Andrew Mayovskyy / shutterstock

Porto Cervo is a luxury resort located on the famous Costa Smeralda in northeastern Sardinia. Known for its exclusive marina, designer boutiques and high-end restaurants, Porto Cervo is a meeting place for the rich and famous. The architecture of the place is characterized by Mediterranean influences, and the surrounding landscape offers breathtaking views of the turquoise sea. Porto Cervo is a symbol of luxury and glamour in Sardinia.

Alghero

Alghero, located on the north-west coast of Sardinia, is known for its Catalan past, which is reflected in the city’s architecture and culture. The charming old town with its cobblestone streets, Gothic buildings and imposing city walls offers a picturesque ambience. Alghero is also a popular spot for divers and nature lovers, thanks to the nearby Capo Caccia Nature Reserve and the famous Neptune Grotto. The coastal city combines historical beauty with natural splendor.

Holidays and festivals in Sardinia

In Sardinia, as in the rest of Italy, various national and local holidays are celebrated. The most important national holidays include:

  1. New Year’s Day (Capodanno): January 1
  2. Epiphany: 6 January
  3. Easter Monday (Pasquetta): Date varies
  4. Liberation Day (Festa della Liberazione): 25 April
  5. Labour Day (Festa dei Lavoratori): 1 May
  6. Corpus Christi (Corpus Domini): Date varies
  7. Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica): 2 June
  8. Assumption Day (Ferragosto or Assunzione): 15 August
  9. All Saints’ Day (Ognissanti): 1 November
  10. Immaculate Conception (Immacolata Concezione): December 8
  11. Christmas (Natale): December 25
  12. St. Stephen’s Day (Santo Stefano): December 26

In addition to these national holidays, Sardinia also has local holidays and festivals, often associated with traditional processions, festivals and other cultural events. Some of the notable local festivals include:

  • Sa Sartiglia in Oristano: A medieval equestrian tournament that takes place in February.
  • Sant’Efisio in Cagliari: One of the largest and oldest religious processions in Italy, starting every year on May 1st.
  • Cavalcata Sarda in Sassari: A traditional parade of traditional costumes, music and equestrian shows that takes place in May.
  • Ardia di San Costantino in Sedilo: A horse race in honor of San Costantino that takes place in July.

These festivals are an important part of Sardinian culture and offer insights into the rich tradition and cultural heritage of the island.

The climate of Sardinia

Month Average temperature (°C) Rainy days Precipitation (mm)
January 10 6 49
February 11 5 56
March 12 6 46
April 14 6 50
May 18 4 34
June 22 2 16
July 25 1 5
August 25 2 18
September 22 4 40
October 18 6 67
November 14 6 89
December 11 6 73

 

The holiday to Sardinia is booked – What do I have to consider?

  1. Do I need vaccinations for Sardinia?
    • Special vaccinations are not required for Sardinia. However, it is recommended to keep the standard vaccinations up to date according to the vaccination calendar of the Robert Koch Institute.
  2. How long is the flight from Germany to Sardinia?
    • The flight duration from Germany to Sardinia varies depending on the place of departure and destination in Sardinia. Direct flights usually take between 1.5 and 2.5 hours.
  3. What passport do I need to enter Sardinia?
    • Sardinia is part of Italy and therefore part of the European Union. For EU citizens, a valid identity card or passport is sufficient. For non-EU citizens, the general entry requirements for Italy apply.
  4. Are there any requirements for customs in Sardinia?
    • Since Sardinia is part of the EU, the usual customs regulations apply within the EU. For travellers from non-EU countries, EU import regulations apply.
  5. What payment methods can I use to pay in Sardinia?
    • In Sardinia, you can pay with euros. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops. However, it is advisable to have cash with you as well, especially in smaller towns or for smaller purchases.
  6. How much do you tip in Italy?
    • In Italy, it is customary to tip 5-10% in restaurants, as long as the service was satisfactory. In bars or for smaller services, rounding up the bill is sufficient.
  7. How much do common foods cost in Sardinia?
    • Food prices can vary depending on the location and store. In general, food is cheaper in supermarkets than in tourist areas. Fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and local products such as cheese and wine are often inexpensive. In restaurants, prices vary depending on the location and type of restaurant.