This is an island where coastal drives thrill, prehistory puzzles, and sheep (four million of them) rule the roads. Sardinia captivates with its wild interior, dazzling beaches and endearing eccentricities.
Believe the hype: Sardinia has some of the dreamiest beaches you’ll find without stepping off European shores. Yes, the sand really is that white, and the sea the bluest blue. Imagine dropping anchor in Costa Smeralda’s scalloped bays, where celebrities and supermodels frolic in emerald waters; playing castaway on the Golfo di Orosei’s coves, where sheer cliffs ensure seclusion; or sailing to La Maddalena’s cluster of granite islands. Be it walking barefoot across the dunes on the wave-lashed Costa Verde or lounging on the Costa del Sud’s silky smooth bays – unroll your beach towel and you’ll never want to leave, we swear.
Whether you go slow or fast, choose coast or country, Sardinia is one of Europe’s last great island adventures. Hike through the lush, silent interior to the twilight of Tiscali’s nuraghic ruins. Walk the vertiginous coastal path to the crescent-shaped bay of Cala Luna, where climbers spider up the limestone cliffs. Or ramble through holm oak forests to the mighty boulder-strewn canyon of Gola Su Gorropu. The sea’s allure is irresistible to windsurfers on the north coast, while divers wax lyrical about shipwrecks off Cagliari’s coast, the underwater Nereo Cave and Nora’s submerged Roman ruins.
As DH Lawrence so succinctly put it: ‘Sardinia is different.’ Indeed, where else but here can you go from near-alpine forests to snow white beaches, or find wildlife oddities like the blue-eyed albino donkeys on the Isola dell’Asinara and the wild horses that shyly roam Giara di Gesturi. The island is also a culinary one-off, with distinct takes on pasta, bread and dolci, its own wines (Vermentino whites, Cannonau reds) and cheeses – including maggoty casu marzu pecorino, stashed away in barns in the mountainous interior. In every way we can think of Sardinia is different, and all the more loveable for it.
Sardinia has been polished like a pebble by the waves of its history and heritage. The island is scattered with 7000 nuraghi, Bronze Age towers and settlements, tombe dei giganti ('giant's grave' tombs) and domus de janas ('fairy house' tombs). Down every country lane and and in every 10-man, 100-sheep hamlet, these remnants of prehistory are waiting to be pieced together like the most puzzling of jigsaw puzzles. Sardinia is also an island of fabulously eccentric festivals, from Barbagia’s carnival parade of ghoulish mamuthones, said to banish winter demons, to the death-defying S’Ardia horse race in Sedilo.