A Euro Summer Escape: How To Travel Sardinia
A Mediterranean love affairBy Kiri Johnston | 6th February 2024
When planning a holiday, I always seek the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure. While I enjoy beach lounging, there’s a deeper thrill in immersing myself in local culture. I love exploring on foot, savouring traditional cuisine, and discovering hidden gems off the beaten path. This is why Sardinia, the Mediterranean’s second-largest island, caught our attention when looking for a European summer getaway in July last year. It boasts raw authenticity, unique Italian flair, and often overlooked charm that far exceeded our expectations.
Our exploration of the island with a rental car allowed us to traverse from north to south during our 10-day stay, covering a substantial portion of the island. Yet, some moments truly stood out as highlights of our trip.
We stayed in a quaint village near Costa Smeralda, renowned for pristine shorelines, celebrity sightings, and luxurious villas. Afternoons were spent exploring Porto Rotondo, relishing paninis and espressos while enjoying live music at Piazzetta San Marco Square – a perfect spot for people-watching by the harbour, surrounded by cafes and curated boutiques. We also ventured to Golfo Aranci’s beaches and joined locals for aperol spritz in San Pantaleo’s bustling market square, which came alive in the evenings.
One standout moment was our visit to La Maddalena Island, just a short 15-minute ferry ride from the mainland. Mornings involved strolls through charming pastel-coloured streets in search of delicious focaccias, while we admired vibrant fishing boats in the port, sipping espresso and listening to locals converse at coffee shops. The real magic, however, lies in the neighbouring islands. Caprera, connected by a bridge, boasts magnificent crystal-clear beaches. Some require a short hike, but they are well worth it. Though we missed the iconic pink sand beach named Budelli, it’s said to be a true treat for fortunate visitors.
The Baunei Coast, like the rest of Sardinia, captivated us with its untamed charm and wild beauty around every corner. Each cove had its unique allure, with personal favourites being Cala Goloritzè, Cala Luna, and Cala Birìala, not to mention the breathtaking view of the Pedra Longa rock formation from our boat. We enjoyed a memorable night in the quaint village of Baunei, staying in a traditional Italian flat with picturesque mountain views. Continuing our journey, we drove down to Spiaggia di Santa Maria Navarrese, where we rented a deckchair and relaxed by the sea for a full day.
Finally, we reached Cagliari, the vibrant capital effortlessly blending heritage, tradition, and mesmerising landscapes. Our last stop led us to a night in the charming old town of Castello, with cobblestone streets and panoramic sea views. Culinary delights awaited us at every turn in the town’s bustling outdoor dining scene. Warm hospitality and authentic cuisine were set against a backdrop of lively ambiance. As our holiday neared its end, we explored the Orto Botanico, a lush oasis in the heart of the city, providing a perfect conclusion to our adventure.
Sardinia proved to be the ultimate European summer escape – a place where we could both unwind and explore, precisely what we were seeking. This Mediterranean gem, often overlooked, pleasantly surprised us with its unfiltered charm, authentic Italian vibes, and an abundance of hidden gems away from the crowds. From relaxing in Olbia to exploring the islands of Maddalena Archipelago and embarking on a boat tour of the Baunei Coast, Sardinia exceeded our expectations, and we’re eagerly anticipating our return!