Sardinia (Sardegna), Italy

Beaches in Villasimius Sardinia

Sardinia is the second largest island in Italy and also the second largest island in the Mediterranean.  It’s located to the west of the Italian peninsula and just south of the French island, Corsica.  This is an expensive island – probably the most expensive place you can visit in Italy but still a top vacation destination.

Why to go:  Despite the costs, Sardinia is a favorite travel destination for many people (yours truly included!).  It’s the great combination of beautiful nature, amazing beaches AND Italian language and cuisine!

When to go:  The Island draws big crowds during the summer.   Off season is more relaxed but the weather is less predictable and many hotels and restaurants are closed from November to April.  Best timing to avoid the huge crowds and higher prices but still enjoy the beaches is probably May to early June and September.

Where to go:  You can get there by ferry or by plane, arriving at one of the island’s 3 biggest cities – Alghero, Olbia or Cagliari (capital and biggest city).  The area North of Olbia, known as the “Costa Smeralda”, is particularly popular with tourists (and is the most expensive area of the island).  Just off the Northern coast of Sardinia is the Maddalena archipelago.  This beautiful group of little islands includes a national park where you can see a pink beach (only from the water since access to people has been discontinued).  You really can’t go wrong in terms of which part of the island to visit, although I have a strong personal preference for the South.  About an hour northeast of Cagliari is a charming town called Villasimius. This town is well-known for its transparent water and beautiful fine white sand beaches – our favorites include Punta Molentis and Porto Giunco (pictured).  During the summer evenings the main streets in the town come alive with music, street performers, handcrafts and jewelry for purchase and tourists taking their “passaggiata” (evening strolls after dinner).

What to eat and/or drink:  My favorite Sardinian specialty is a sweet dessert called seadas or sebadas.  It’s a deep-fried pastry filled with a lemony, melted local pecorino cheese and drizzled with warm locally produced honey.  Other local specialties include nougat and “amaretti sardi” (almond cookies).  Sardinia allegedly has the highest consumption of beer per capita in Italy and you will see many people drinking the locally produced favorites – Ichnusa (the local beer) and Mirto (a wine flavored with mirto berries, a local plant).

What to see/do:  The Island is known for its beaches – so make sure to hit those!  However, there are also many historical areas including “Nuraghi”, which are beehive-like stone buildings from the Bronze Age and can only be found on Sardinia.