Italy

Sardinia

Castello

Duck into strangers’ doorways as cars thread the needle-tight streets in Cagliari’s classiest neighbourhood. Catch a sunset from the Bastione and don’t miss the ancient bronzetti statues at the Museo Archeologico.

Nuraghi

Marvel at some of the 7,000 or more mysterious stone towers that dot the Sardinian landscape. You won’t find them anywhere else on Earth. In their most complex form, they are true Bronze Age castles. The best are Santu Antine, Su Nuraxi, Losa, and Arrubiu.

Giara di Gesturi

Admire the world’s only species of miniature wild horse, which has survived high on the Gesturi plateau since Carthaginian times. As you hike the park on the look out for these endangered creatures, keep an eye peeled for orchids, nuraghi and shepherds’ pinnetta huts.

Nora & Tharros

Wander among the colourful tiled mosaics and visit the theatre at Nora, Sardinia’s earliest Phoenician settlement. Or, if you‘re in the west of the island, head to the key Punic-Roman trading post at Tharros, which faces the sea from a lonely peninsula.

Carloforte

Bring your appetite and your bathing suit to the Genoese settlement of Carloforte on Isola di San Pietro. Part Cinque Terre, part North Africa, it’s full of old-world colonial grace. Fish lovers will enjoy the tuna caught at Carloforte’s annual mattanza fishing festival.

The Iglesiente

Pass the morning in the surprisingly sophisticated old mining town of Iglesias and the afternoon touring the abandoned mines of Sardinia’s Wild West. Don a hard hat to visit the pit at Porto Flavia, ride the train at Galleria Henry and admire sweeping views of the deserted southwestern coast.

Costa Verde

Explore Sardinia’s wildest and least developed shoreline. You’ll need a resilient car and an adventurous spirit to get there, but the green macchia, deep blue sea and sandy dunes of ‘Italy’s Sahara’ are worth the effort.

Santa Cristina

Marvel at the Bronze Age precision of Sardinia’s most refined Nuraghic relic, the keyhole-shaped holy well at Santa Cristina. Scan the heavens from an opening at the bottom of the conical ceiling that early Sardinians cleverly aligned to track the moon’s orbit.

Bosa

Watch women stitching lace, kayak the Temo river and try not to lose your footing or your breath as you ascend the medieval alleyways to the castle above beautiful Bosa. Beyond the town’s Aragonese watchtower and beach, follow one of Sardinia’s most scenic roads as it hugs a volcanic cliff along 42 km of undeveloped coastline towards Alghero.

The Barbagie

Experience some of Europe’s most ancient traditions in Sardinia’s unyielding centre. Take the time to admire Orgosolo’s poignant murals, ascend the island’s tallest peak, Punto La Marmora, and see Sardinia’s traditional costumes paraded through the streets.

Hiking the Supramonte & Gola Gorroppu

Lace up your boots to hike in the bald Supramonte mountains. Descend through a sinkhole to discover the huts at Tiscali. Nearby in Ogliastra, trek down to Europe’s deepest ravine, Gola Gorroppu.

Golfo di Orosei

Explore this magnificent stretch of coastline which is also Sardinia’s least accessible. For some 40 km, limestone cliffs dive dramatically into the emerald sea. There are no roads, so the only way to see them is to hop aboard a boat and cruise around for the day.

Trenino Verde

Pack a copy of DH Lawrence’s Sea and Sardinia and pierce Sardinia’s mountainous backbone aboard Italy’s most popular tourist train. For five hours, the antique carriages plunge, climb and twist through some of the island’s least explored and most stunning landscapes.

Costa Smeralda

Iron your Versace (or Levi’s) shirt, wash your Lamborghini convertible (or Fiat) and head to the world-famous Costa Smeralda resort. This playboy playground isn’t Sardinian but its faux-Arabian villas are certainly unique and its sparkling beaches are drop-dead gorgeous. What’s more: you no longer need to be a millionaire to live it up here.

La Maddalena Archipelago

Unlike the Costa Smeralda, these seven dazzling islands sprinkled off Sardinia’s northeast coast remain largely uninhabited and off the radar for European celebrities, with the exception of Italy’s most famous warhorse, Giuseppe Garibaldi. Spend a day puttering from island to island in your own boat – or someone else’s.
 
Alghero

Stroll the cobblestone lanes, try the spicy paella and whip out your Catalan dictionary in Sardinia’s most attractive town. Four hundred years of Iberian rule have rendered this seaside settlement a virtual Spanish colony; its residents cling proudly to their ancient language and their newfound nickname, ‘Little Barcelona’.

Grotta di Nettuno

Marvel at the stalactites, stalagmites, columns and fanciful colours in one of the world’s great caves. Half the fun is getting there: visitors must come by boat from Alghero or descend the 656-step Escala del Cabirol! 

Monte d’Accodi

Climb the ramp to one of Sardinia’s anthropological mysteries and archaeological masterpieces: the western world’s only Neolithic truncated pyramid temple. Monte d’Accodi is a cross between a Mesopotamian ziggurat and an Aztec temple.

La Pelosa

Wade through Evian-clear water at one of Sardinia’s most perfect (and popular) beaches. While you’re tanning, peer across the strait at Asinara Island, named after the world’s only species of albino donkey.

Castelsardo

Blessed with a picture-perfect setting high above a rocky bluff, Castelsardo may be more gorgeous than functional these days. But thanks to its medieval castle, famous handicrafts and a killer sunset, you’ll see why locals linger on despite the steep climbs.

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