Sardinia is the gorgeous autonomous region of Italy located in the Mediterranean Sea. Known for its rich history and seductive beaches and stunning landscapes, it is the perfect place to enjoy all that Italy has to offer without the noise and bustle of the mainland.
Divided into eight provinces, the island’s most populous is the Cagliari Province in the southeast. Apart from the beaches and coastal views, the best thing about Sardinia is visiting the many Sardinian towns.
To make the most of your visit to Sardinia, you have to visit some of the best towns in Sardinia. We’ve covered a few of our favorite regions and towns to explore.
Best towns in Sardinia
Here are a few of the best regions and towns in Sardinia.
Bosa: Small but beautiful medieval Sardinian town
Bosa is on the northwestern coast of Sardinia, 45 km south of Alghero, down a spectacular coastal road. A mix of traditional and modern, it has a unique and compelling historic centre. There is a warren of cobbled streets with pastel coloured medieval tower houses called Sa Costa.
The main street in the old town, Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, is lined by 19th century palazzos with wrought iron balconies, and interesting shops, cafes and bars. Castello Malaspina, dating from 1112, guards Bosa at the top of the hill. The river Temo runs through Bosa and is lined with palm trees on one bank and derelict tanneries on the other, which are of historic and national significance.
Bosa has an illustrious and wealthy past, based on its position in a well-defended valley, along the only navigable river in Sardinia, and its (now defunct) leather tanning industry. There is a large cathedral and many smaller churches in the town and surrounding countryside. The feeling is relaxed and the local people are friendly and welcoming.
As it is a real working city, albeit small (8,000 inhabitants) it has an authentic, original character rather than just being an ersatz tourist village. Tourists do come to Bosa, but they tend to be people looking for culture, history, natural and architectural beauty as well as a sun and sand holiday.
There are numerous beaches nearby. The largest one is Bosa Marina, which is regularly voted cleanest beach in Italy. It is a sandy strand, fringed with bars and caffes run by locals, protected by a rocky arm with a Catalan tower at the end. There are also smaller cove beaches accessible by footpath or boat, and stunning and unusual rock formations and natural swimming pools. The sea is clear and amazing shades of blue. The prevailing northwest wind, La Mistrale, cools the air during the hottest summer months.
Just south of Bosa is a fertile valley, where Malvasia di Bosa, a sherry like wine, is produced in tiny artisan vineyards. There is a wine trail and it is possible to go on tasting tours. The sun is strong and the colours are bright — if you are visually orientated the place will amaze you. If you like music and dance, there are frequent public festivals and open air concerts.
If you have a sense of adventure, with every day bringing a new discovery, Bosa will not disappoint. It is a great place to go for a family holiday, or to relax and unwind, and get in touch with yourself. If you are looking for a place with lots of clubs and pubs full of drunken young people, this is not the place to come. There is lots to do and see in the area, but it is more chilled than frantic.
Costa Smeralda: Some of the worlds most beautiful beaches
Costa Smeralda is a coastal area in the north east of Sardinia, between Palau and Olbia. It is home to some of the worlds most beautiful beaches – great for sun worshippers. In order to have access to the best of the beaches you will probably need to hire a car (mopeds are not so good on the bumpy tracks down to the beaches).
Driving on the coastal roads gives great views over the yacht lined Costa Smeralda coastline. The best of the beaches are Liscia Ruia, Cappriccioli and Romazzino.
You can pick up fantastic bargains from the beach traders who sell jewellery, clothes, CDs etc. But if you want to be as stylish as the rich tourists of Costa Smeralda you may go to Porto Cervo or Porto Rotondo for expensive clothing.
You can get up close to the super yachts when they come in to Porto Cervo in the evening. For snorkeling take a trip around the archipelago Della Maddalena from Porto Palau.
Most restaurants on the Costa Smerelda are overpriced. For authentic Sardinian cuisine try the campsite restaurants where all the locals go.
It can be quite difficult finding accommodation in the Costa Smeralda as the area is mainly serviced by Italian tour operators but some local operators provide detailed accommodation information online. If you don’t have your own private yacht to stay on and can’t afford the £300 per night prices of the exclusive hotels then you might want to hire a villa through a website. Alternatively you can hire bungalows at a number of the Sardinia campsites on the coast, the best of which are Isola dei Gabbiani, situated on promontory in the sea to the west of Palau. It has a particularly good restaurant and is the place to go for windsurfing. Alternatively try Villagio Camping Cugnana, situated on the road to which has great facilities and a massive swimming pool.
Cala Gonone: A small fishing village prior to becoming famous among travelers
Cala Gonone is a town in Sardinia, Italy. It lies on the border of the National Park of the Bay of Orosei and Gennargentu. It was a small fishing village prior to becoming a famous tourist destination because of its beautiful beaches. All the variety of seafood is available at local restaurants.
A highlight is to take a boat tour to Cala Luna, Grotta del Bue Marino, Cala Mariolu, Cala Goloritzè. You can choose from the variety of tours offered at the local harbour. Rent a boat to explore the Bay of Orosei on your own. A boat hire is available for about 80€ for a day + gas. Also visit Gennargentu National Park and/or do some rock climbing at Cala Luna.
Ogliastra: A beautiful natural theatre
Ogliastra is a beautiful natural theatre that opens from the mountains of “Supramonte”, on the border with Barbargia, towards the central-eastern Sardinian coast. The name comes for “Olivastro”, the local wild olive three.
Ogliastra is known and admired for its magnificent coastal area, all surrounded by mountains and cliffs, and for some of the most untouched coast of Italy.
Its natural Mountain-Sea park includes famous spots and landmarks like the “Cale” (beach-harbours); among the most famous ones Cala Gonone, Cala Sisine, Cala Goloritze, and Cala Luna.
Another impressive natural landmark is the massive “Pedra Longa”, a natural cliff literally planted into the sea. Ogliastra is becoming a popular area for lovers of nature, wild landscapes and fabulous local food, it is the area of the island most loved by conscious tourists that like to escape from the crowded areas of the north and the south of the island.
The two major towns of the area are Lanusei and Tortoli. Together, they are the administrative capitals of the recently born “Province of Ogliastra”.
- Lanusei is a very ancient mountain town overlooking the valley of Ogliastra.
- Tortoli is a coastal settlement that reached the status of economical centre of Ogliastra, thanks to the proximity of Arbatax port, the main gate to the area from the sea.
Population in Ogliastra is very little, around 45000 people only, with some of the lowest densities in Italy. Dozens of minuscule villages spot the region of Ogliastra, each one with its tradition and its proud heritage. Sardinian language is widely spoken as in most of the Island. English starts to be spoken among the young people, while several elder ones can be surprisingly good in German thanks to the emigration of the 60′ and 70′.
The best towns in Sardinia feature typical Italian small town vibes – great food, beautiful sights, quaint buildings, and, of course, cobblestone streets.