Sardinia Villa Holiday Guide
Italy’s second-largest island lies 230km off the Italian coast—and feels very different from the mainland. Stubborn independence has a long history here: the Romans never managed to quell the islanders, and in the 14th century Eleanor of Arborea fought for freedom from Spanish rule. Away from the buzz of Cagliari, the seafood restaurants of Alghero, and the glitz of coastal resorts such as Porto Cervo, it is a traditional place, with a slow, Mediterranean rhythm of life. But if you like getting active, on land or water, then a villa in Sardinia provides the perfect location for your holiday.
Eating and drinking in Sardinia
Sardinians eat from the sea—they are surrounded by it, after all—and pretty much any menu will offer squid, clams, and Mediterranean white fish. The seafood dining is especially good in Alghero, where it takes on a Catalan twist; lobster is a speciality. Inland, the sheep is king: pecorino sardo (hard sheep’s milk cheese) is a major export, and festivities around Christmas often involve eating lamb. You’ll also be able to pick up fresh local ingredients from the island’s supermarkets and open-air markets, so you can prepare your own delicious meals in your villa. Fancy a tipple with your home-cooked meal? Among Sardinia’s wines, Vermentino is a great match for local seafood—the finest Vermentino comes from Gallura, in the north-east. Grenache-like Cannonau is the perfect match for local lamb or a strong cheese.
Sardinia city stays
While most of our holiday villas in Sardinia are located along the coast, you’ll enjoy taking day trips to the city and larger towns. The port city of Cagliari is the only major urban centre on the island. For nightlife, check out a bar in its Castello quarter; Sardinia’s best museums are in the Cittadella dei Musei. Sássari, in the north, has a cramped, atmospheric old quarter that huddles around its baroque cathedral—you will feel like you are in Spain. Just outside the city is the Santissima Trinità di Saccargia church, built in the 12th century to a typically Pisan-Romaneqsue design, complete with trademark striped exterior.
Arts and culture in Sardinia
Sardinians are culturally distinct from mainlanders—they have their own language (not a dialect), Sardo, and a semi-autonomous government run from Cagliari. The city houses the island’s key museums; its Archaeological Museum has the best collection of relics from Sardinia’s distant past. The feeling of separateness is even more marked in Alghero. This pretty walled town was ruled from Barcelona for over four hundred years from the mid-1300s—architecture has an Iberian feel, and you might even hear a Catalan dialect spoken in the streets.
Nature in Sardinia
Sardinia’s most photographed natural wonder is the Neptune’s Cave, close to Alghero, a vast coastal cave dripping in stalactites and stalagmites. To appreciate the island’s natural beauty and sea views at their best, drive the SS125 from Cagliari to the north-east region of Gallura. Although it is best known for seaside fun at Palau and the jet-set marina and designer shops of Porto Cervo, Gallura’s interior is thickly forested with cork oak trees—and there is no shortage of hiking and biking trails.
Away from its azure sea, Sardinia is mostly a rugged, mountainous island populated sparsely—a shepherd here, a remote hill village there. In the empty Gennargentu National Park, Sardinia’s highest peaks fall from the heights of La Marmora (1,834m) almost straight into the sea at the east-coast Gulf of Orosei. Not all the interior is bare and barren, however. Close to Chia, the Is Cannoneris holm-oak forest is crisscrossed with hiking trails.
Active pursuits in Sardinia
If lounging around your private villa leaves you eager for adventure, you’ll find plenty of exciting activities to enjoy nearby. Sardinia is a sparsely populated island, and escape is easy. Hiking is wild and rugged in the Gennargentu National Park: hire a guide or buy a good map to explore the abandoned nuraghic settlement of Tiscali. Down by the sea, Porto Pollo is one of Italy’s leading centres for windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, and pretty much any other water sport you can imagine. Nearby Palau is the jumping-off point for boat trips and dive excursions around the Maddalena Archipelago
Sardinia coast and beach stays
A private pool is the ultimate way to relax, but if you fancy a break from your villa in favour of a day at the beach, the coves and hidden bays of the Sardinian coast are designed perfectly for both pirates and sunbathers, and it is harder to find a bad beach here than a good one. Blockbuster sands include La Pelosa, in the far north-west, and those around Cala Gonone, in the east. Along the Costa del Sud, close to Chia, there are spectacular sands at Sa Colonia and around Capo Spartivento. In the north-east, the Costa Smeralda (‘Emerald Coast’) and its principal resort, Porto Cervo, has become a glamorous summer playground for Italy’s beautiful people—it is Sardinia’s own Côte d’Azur.