Dive deep into the landscape, culture, and history of Sardinia on this 12-day itinerary. Starting in the northeastern coastal town of Santa Teresa Gallura, you'll travel across the island and make your way down the west coast to the bustling capital of Cagliari, taking in an ever-changing landscape of rugged hills, sea cliffs, vast sand dunes, and brilliant turquoise waters. Visit the sea caves of Neptune's Grotto, discover mysterious Neolithic ruins, sample Sardinia's distinct cuisine, and relax on some of Europe's best beaches.

Highlights

  • Tour the Bronze Age monuments of Sardinia's Nuragic civilization
  • Explore the colorful medieval village of Bosa
  • Enter a fairytale world of underground lakes & stalagmites in Neptune's Grotto
  • Drive the dazzling coastline & sand dunes of the Costa Verde
  • Soak up the sun on Sant'Antioco's famous beaches
  • Sample the culture & cuisine of bustling Cagliari

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Olbia - Transfer to Santa Teresa di Gallura Santa Teresa Gallura
Day 2 Explore the Gallura Area Santa Teresa Gallura
Day 3 Unusual Sardina: Luras & Calangianus Santa Teresa Gallura
Day 4 Caprera & Maddalena Islands Santa Teresa Gallura
Day 5 Castelsardo - Alghero  Alghero
Day 6 Discover Bosa Alghero
Day 7 Free Day in Alghero Alghero
Day 8 Costa Verde - Sant'Antioco Sant'Antioco
Day 9 Free Day in Sant'Antioco Sant'Antioco
Day 10 Sant'Antioco - Cagliari Cagliari
Day 11 Explore the South of Sardinia Cagliari
Day 12 Depart Cagliari  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Olbia - Transfer to Santa Teresa di Gallura

Santa Teresa di Gallura

Welcome to Sardinia! At the Olbia airport, you will be welcomed by your local guide and privately transferred to your hotel in the colorful beachside town of Santa Teresa di Gallura. Perched on a hill overlooking the Strait of Bonifacio, the town was founded in 1808 on the site where the village of Longosardo once stood. The town’s edge follows that of two inlets: Porto Longone to the east where the tourist harbor is, and the bay of Rena Bianca to the west, a stretch of ultra-fine sand located just a short walk from the town’s main square. You'll love the beaches here, as the crystalline waters sparkle with a thousand hues.

After settling in, set out to discover some of the area's archaeological highlights. The island's northern Olbia region boasts thousands of remarkable archaeological sites and still bears many marks of its ancient cultures, particularly the Nuragic people, whose megalithic stone towers, tombs, and castles (known as nuraghe) still dot the landscape. Spend the afternoon exploring, starting at the medieval Pedres Castle which stands sentry over the countryside along the road to Loiri. Continue to the Giants Tomb, an enormous rock necropolis dating back to 2000 BCE. Three miles (5 km) from the city, along the panoramic road that leads to Golfo Aranci, you can also find the sacred well of Sa Testa, a circular Nuragic water shrine built between 1400 and 1200 BCE.

One of the area's highlights is the megalithic complex of Cabu Abbas, also known as Riu Mulinu. Located on a rocky promontory that dominates the Gulf of Olbia, it's thought to have been used as both a strategic fortress and a place of religious rituals and dates to the Bronze Age. Today it offers spectacular views across land and sea, and a fascinating glimpse into the distant past.

Day 2: Explore the Gallura Area

The windswept coastline of the Gallura region

After a delicious breakfast, venture out today to discover the Gallura region with your private vehicle. 

Aggius, located in Gallura’s heartland, is a quaint village with fine old houses built of granite stone, among the most outstanding examples of local folk architecture. As one might expect, the village economy is based on granite quarrying and processing, but Aggius also has a thriving tradition of hand-loom carpet making and weaving. Aggius’ choir, which the Italian writer D’Annunzio dubbed Gallura’s cockerel, stands out for its striking sounds on an island of impressive choir singing traditions. 

Don’t miss the Oliva Carta Cannas country life museum. It displays the original objects and tools tracing the history, culture, and traditions of Aggius and the whole of Gallura. The village has also another unique museum—on banditry—of which Aggius was the capital for centuries. It is hosted in the old Pretura (court) building, in the oldest part of the village. As for archaeological sites, the most interesting landmark is the Nuragic Izzana, the largest in Gallura, standing in the middle of the Valle della Luna.

Proceed then to Tempio Pausania and visit the famous nuraghe of Majore, one of the oldest artifacts of the ancient civilizations that lived in Sardinia. There you will taste some typical cheese served with typical vermentino white wine. Your last stop is Arzachena, where you can visit the Bread Museum. Bread is truly an art form in Sardinia, and here you can learn about the island's traditional baking techniques passed down for generations. 

Afterward, return to Santa Teresa di Gallura for the evening. 

Day 3: Unusual Sardina : Luras & Calangianus

The Neolithic Dolmen of Luras

Today you'll embark on a full-day tour to discover "Unusual Sardinia." 

The day starts at Luras, standing on a scenic hilltop at the north-eastern edge of the Limbara plateau. Here you'll see the Neolithic stone Dolmen of Luras, an important worship and burial site for some of the island's earliest inhabitants.

Proceed then to Calangianus where you'll visit a local cork factory, where artisans craft items from one of the island's most famous natural resources. End the day with a visit to the magnificent Olivastri, where you'll walk amongst living history in a grove of ancient, protected olive trees. The oldest is knowns as the "patriarch" and dates between 3,000 and 4,000 years old, making it one of the oldest trees on earth. 

Day 4: Caprera & Maddalena Islands

A hidden cove in the Maddalena archipelago

Today is devoted to discovering the isles of Maddalena and Caprera.

On Maddalena, enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour, passing through the old navy port area, now an exclusive tourist resort, with an elegant marina for large yachts. Stop for a photo at Spalmatore beach, a small bay with incredible crystal clear water.  

Proceed to Caprera, a small and beautiful island located along the Maddalena archipelago, just off Sardinia's coast. It has been declared a nature reserve due to the variety of rare species found on the island. Caprera is best known for its pink granite rocks that lend beauty to the shores, and its calm, peaceful atmosphere and natural scenic beauty. Caprera remains uninhabited and there are restrictions on building and construction activities to preserve the natural environment.

Return to your accommodation in Santa Teresa di Gallura in the afternoon, and enjoy your last evening in the seaside town.
                   

Day 5: Castelsardo - Alghero

Alghero's colorful dome of San Michele

After a leisurely breakfast, check out of your hotel and say goodbye to Santa Teresa di Gallura.
 
Head to Castelsardo, a charming town located on the north of Sardinia, with a medieval old town built on a promontory overlooking the sea and the Asinara Gulf. The town is known as the capital of handicrafts in Sardinia. and the narrow streets of the old town are teeming with shops and galleries. Browse the dizzying array of handmade and one-of-a-kind ceramics, baskets, carpets, fabrics, shawls, gold and silver filigree, and corals.

Continue inland to see Elephant Rock, another famous symbol of the island. Time and erosion have carved the mass of ancient volcanic rock into the shape of a giant elephant, housing small caves and two prehistoric burial chambers filled with stone carvings and etchings.

In the afternoon proceed to Alghero and arrive at the port. From here you'll join a boat trip to the famous Nettuno Grotto (Neptune's Cave), one of Italy's largest sea caves. After a magical tour of the illuminated vaulted ceilings, stalagmite forests, and underground lakes, return to Alghero for the evening to settle into your accommodation and enjoy a traditional Sardinian meal.

Day 6: Discover Bosa

Rugged landscapes around Bosa

Hit the road today after breakfast for a half-day exploration of the surroundings of Alghero. Following a breathtaking coastal road between rugged hills covered with Mediterranean scrubland and small coves, reach the beautiful village of Bosa. This pastel-colored medieval village, dominated by the evocative castle of Malaspina, sits on the banks of the peaceful Temo River, and its numerous shops and small cafes make it one of the most charming and characterful spots on the island.

Take a stroll through the town, starting at the 12th-century Romanesque church of San Pietro Extra Muros, then continue to the 13th-century Castle Malaspina built on the hill of Serravalle. At 265 feet (81 m) high, it provides panoramic views across the surrounding landscapes. Inside the castle walls, you can also visit the Nostra Signora Sos Regnos Altos and its richly decorated frescoes.

Learn more about the area's rich history with a visit to one of its excellent museums. Museo Casa Deriu dates back to the 16th century and offers a glimpse into the past of the historic noble house, while the Museo delle Conce celebrates the history of leather tanning in the region, and is located in an old tannery restored to recreate the original work environment.

Day 7: Free Day in Alghero

Alghero's sea wall

Today you are free to explore Alghero at your own pace. Stroll along the town's popular port walkway, admiring the red roofs that touch the sky and the gorgeous natural bay that flows into the emerald sea, or spend your day relaxing on the beach. 

Alghero’s Catalan origins survive in the structure of the old city, but a Spanish flavor is also preserved in the local cuisine. In the evening, enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants in the historic center serving the most famous local dishes, including llagosta (lobster), bogamarì (sea urchin), copatza de peix (fish soup), and allada (a traditional and savory garlic sauce). 

After the sun sets, turn your focus to Alghero’s bars and the town’s nightlife. Hang out on the ramparts for sunset and stroll from bar to bar along the Spiaggia di San Giovanni beachfront. Most close around 1 am or 2 am. After that, head for the waterfront south of the city, which stays busy in the summer months until dawn.

Day 8: Costa Verde - Sant'Antioco

Wildflowers and grasses dot the Piscinas dunes

Today you depart Alghero for Sant'antioco, with the chance to visit the Costa Verde along the way. One of the most beautiful regions of Sardinia, the wild and remote landscape is dotted with idyllic beaches, imposing cliffs, high dunes, and sandy deserts that lead down to the sea. Make sure to visit the dunes of Piscinas and the abandoned mine of Laveria Brassey.

At the end of your long day, arrive in Sant'Antioco for the evening. Located at Sardinia's southwestern edge, this offshore island is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

Day 9: Free Day in Sant'Antioco

Relax on the beaches of Sant'Antioco

Spend today at your leisure—with a quiet day at the beach, a visit to the nearby San Pietro Island, exploring the 5th-century catacombs at the Church of Sant'Antioco, or touring the local archaeological museum and the nearby Tophet, an ancient Phoenician and Carthaginian sanctuary.

Day 10: Transfer from Sant'Antioco to Cagliari

Sardinia's capital of Cagliari

This morning you'll hit the road and be privately transferred to Cagliari, Sardinia’s main and most populous city, as well as the island’s gateway port and main Mediterranean hub. The city’s history goes back thousands of years, from prehistoric times to the reign of the Savoy. The popular Castello quarter sits perched on a hill, overflowing with ancient bastions that today are the heart and soul of the city's nightlife. You'll find grand old homes lining the streets, including Palazzo Regio and Palazzo di Città, as well as the Cathedral of Santa Maria. Two medieval towers, dell’Elefante and San Pancrazio, stand guard at the entrance to the castle and are well worth a visit.

Enjoy the evening at one of the several pubs, restaurants, and bars in Cagliari's buzzy nightlife. Don't miss some of Sardinia's staples, like spaghetti with bottarga (cured mullet or tuna roe with artichokes), burrida made with catshark and walnuts, and fregula con cocciula (balls of semolina with clams).

Keep the night going with visits to the historical districts of Marina, Stampace, Castello, and Villanova, where you'll find an array of live concerts and DJs. In the summer, Lungomare Poetto becomes an especially lively place thanks to the popular beach kiosks.

Day 11: Explore the South of Sardinia

Nora's sandy beach
Nora's sandy beach

Today, you will have time to visit Nora, southwest of Cagliari, as well as some of the most beautiful beaches of southern Sardinia.

The old port of Nora, which was once the center of maritime traffic in the Mediterranean, is one of the main archaeological areas of the island. The ancient city retains vestiges dating from the Nuragic period and the first Phoenician settlement in the eighth century BCE. You'll see this evidenced in the town's beautiful Roman theater, and the many remaining baths, temples, cobbled streets, and precious mosaics of the patrician houses.

Take in breathtaking views from the Torre del Coltellazzo, which overlooks a golden sandy beach that leads to the Church of Sant'Efisio, patron saint of Sardinia.

Continuing south, you'll pass a series of beautiful and fascinating beaches, each with its own characteristics, such as those of Giudeu, Cala Cipolla, and Tueredda, before returning to Cagliari for the evening.

Day 12: Depart Cagliari

Cagliari
Ciao Cagliari!

Time to say arrivederci to Sardinia—for now! Head to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!