Country: Italy
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Peak Season: April-June, September
Shoulder Season: November-March
Median Temperature: 17.70 C / 63.86 F
Main Languages: Sardinian, Italian, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, train, ferry, car rental, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 7 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $170.00/day
Tourist Passes: n/a
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With rich confluence of Italian and Spanish culture, sunny Sardinia—the vast island spread at 9,300 sq. miles (just 120 miles from the mainland)—is fit for anyone’s cultural appetite. Compared to most islands in the Mediterranean, Sardinia’s rise was met civility between its feared-yet-sparing conquerors (Arab, Roman, Byzantine, Carthaginian and Spanish), making it retain a vast amount of its historic attractions, including those dating back to 1,500 BC (Iron Age). Sardinia’s blend of religious, laid-back towns like Bosa and Alghero and its sandy, surf-bound beaches in the north/north-east make it a delightful holiday retreat for families and backpackers. The island is dotted with festivals from January until October—ranging from humble town fiestas to its clamorous Carnival, which coincides with Holy Week. The locals themselves are heartily Italian, preferring undisturbed afternoon siestas and going on vacation during the entirety of August.

The island capitalizes on its ideal location, flanked by both the Tyrrhenian Sea eastwards and the Mediterranean Sea westwards, leading to a gratuitous array of very affordable fish dishes fresh off their nets. Meat connoisseurs will not be left out because Sardinians have mastered Italian tomato/pasta dishes and hefty meat treats. The island is abundant in natural resources both on its plateaus and valleys, and the swathes of uncultivated land make for a great hike trail/nature exploration. And should you prefer the pleasantries and conveniences of modern living, take a few days out in Cagliari, which flourishes with romantic Art Nouveau structures. Upscale Cagliari possesses the charms of the archetypical Mediterranean seaside city.

Both Sardinia and nearby Corsica can be reached easily by ferries from many ports in the mainland: Genoa, La Spezia, Livorno, Piombino, Civitavecchia and of course, Rome.

Packing List

  • Local currency and credit cards for island purchases—just be discerning of how much it costs there in contrast to the mainland; good finds would be coral beads, perfumes, paintings and handicraft
  • Casual, fashionable clothing—Italians like to don colorful, accented dresses; and if in places like Cagliari and Olbia, you’ll be obliged to wear your best; the city has 300 days of sunshine, so don’t pack sweaters
  • Beachwear, sunscreen, tanning lotion, parasols, and snorkeling/diving gear; beaches are often crowded, but the people are very civil and you won’t have a hard time setting up parasols and lounge chairs
  • Essential medication and toiletries if you’re staying at old towns far from Cagliari; for staples, you’ll find that Sardinia has a sprawl of meat and fish markets (as well as wine houses) if you prefer to DIY
  • A decent camera, plenty of film and batteries—Sardinia’s natural beauty perfectly complements cameras; bring a guitar if you want to learn the famous cantu a chiterra, or just listen to cantu a tenore

Things to Do

  • Hitting the beaches and old quarters of Alghero, situated next to the Balearic; the district is also visited by archeologists for the remnants of the once-flourishing Phoenician and (earlier) Nuraghe civilizations
  • Exploring Cagliari, your first likely stopover due its portside location—its skyline is dotted with skyscrapers, but there are Roman traces intact, including an old district with many religious buildings
  • Visiting the Hamptons of Italy—Costa Smeraldo—known for its affluent hotels and yacht clubs, but more importantly, its turquoise waters and white sandy shores; it is resided by mostly opulent personalities
  • Leering around the narrow streets of Nuoro, billed as the “Athens of Italy” due to many world-renowned intellectuals and artists hailing from the city; for a small commune, it impresses with its four museums
  • Socializing in Olbia, famous for its nightlife venues and surrounding beaches; due to its being a portside location, Olbia enjoys a daily influx of tourists, who usually visit the Church of St. Paul for good travel

DON'T

  • Forget that Sardinia, while tucked away from the mainland, still retains Italian values and idiosyncrasies; observe/respect siestas, don’t expect punctuality, use hand gestures sparingly, and don’t be crass
  • Spend too much on restaurant food and accommodations—island destinations are known to charge premiums for almost everything; buy fish and lobsters from wet markets and grill them on the beach
  • Visit the country during August, unless you’re totally down with the idea of closed shops and no people to provide ambiance; this low season, however, provides a better way to enjoy the serenity of beaches
  • Be afraid to explore the island on your own (even at night)—if anything, Sardinia is one of the safest cities in the world; cases of kidnapping are isolated to affluent families, while hold-ups are really rare
  • Be surprised to see nudists on some secluded beaches—the island is somehow tolerant of the activity; Sardinia (and a few other resort destinations in the Mediterranean have gained popularity to naturists