- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Su Naraxi
- Meet a local chef for an entertaining cooking class focused on fish recipes
- Take a boat trip to one of the most fascinating jewels of the Mediterranean: the Caves of Neptune
- Visit a cork producer, a sheep farm, and a vineyard
- Stroll the alleys of the ancient town of Bonifcio
|Day 1||Arrive in Cagliari - Taste Local Cuisine||Cagliari|
|Day 2||Discover the History of Cagliari, Pula, and Molentargius Park||Cagliari|
|Day 3||Explore the Ruins of the Nuragic Civilization - Arrive in Cabras||Cabras|
|Day 4||Day Trip to Oristano - Cook Dinner With a Chef||Cabras|
|Day 5||Go Diving on the Sinis Peninsula - Visit the Ruins of Tharros||Cabras|
|Day 6||Drive Along the Coral Riviera to Alghero||Alghero|
|Day 7||Discover the Caves of Neptune||Alghero|
|Day 8||Stop at a Cork Farm on Your Way to the Emerald Coast||Baja Sardinia|
|Day 9||Day Trip to Santa Teresa di Gallura - Cycling or Windsurfing Experience||Baja Sardinia|
|Day 10||Visit a Traditional Dairy Farm and Taste Pecorino Cheese||Baja Sardinia|
|Day 11||Take a Ferry to Corsica - Explore Bonifacio||Sartène|
|Day 12||Hike Past a Sheep Farm - Discover the City of Sartène||Sartène|
|Day 13||Drive to Ajaccio - Explore Napoleon's Birthplace||Ajaccio|
|Day 14||Explore Ajaccio - Enjoy an E-Bike Tour of a Vineyard||Ajaccio|
Day 1: Arrive in Cagliari - Taste Local Cuisine
Welcome to Cagliari! After settling into your hotel, you'll embark on a guided walking tour of the city. Cagliari is full of picturesque historical districts with sea views, elegant shopping streets, and panoramic terraces. Don't miss the Bastione di Santa Croce, a great place to spend a romantic evening watching the fiery sunset.
Cagliari is 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. The 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 semola 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 2: Discover the History of Cagliari, Pula, and Molentargius Park
Enjoy a leisurely morning before heading out into the city for a bit of history. A good place to start is the Tuvixeddu Necropolis. Tuvixeddu is the most ancient burial area of the city and hosts tombs, grave goods, wall paintings, literature, and popular anecdotes. Some of these artifacts date back to the 6th and 5th centuries BC, proving the human presence since the Neolithic Age.
You can continue your history tour and visit the Phoenician-Punic necropolis, the largest in the Mediterranean basin and developed between the 6th and 3rd century BC. You'll even find Northern African wall paintings dating back to the 3rd century BC.
Afterward, head out to Pula, just 22 miles (35 km) away from Cagliari. Pula is a treasure chest of natural, archaeological, and cultural wealth. Not far from the village, you will find yourself in one of the most well-known sites in Sardinia: Capo Pula with its ancient town ruins. Here you can travel through traces of three thousand years of history. Polish it off with a walk on the golden-sand beach of Nora.
Now it's time to taste some local specialties like spaghetti allo scoglio (spaghetti with seafood) and figs with cured ham. After lunch, drive to The Regional Nature Park of Molentargius, one of the most beautiful nature parks in Sardinia. Don't miss the pink flamingos or the area's vast wetlands that host a number of wild species.
Return to Cagliari and spend the evening at your leisure.
Day 3: Explore the Ruins of the Nuragic Civilization - Arrive in Cabras
Your first stop today is the town of Barumini, which hosts numerous sites of the Nuragic civilization. The village was the center of power for the region of Marmilla, as its filled with rich and fertile territory.
Start your day exploring the historic ruins in Nuraxi, the most well-preserved of the thirty Barumesi Nuragic sites. The archaeological area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and includes a complex nuraghe (stone edifice) and an extensive village of huts. The impressive site is the result of excavations conducted by Giovanni Lilliu. Check out the nearby cultural center where events, exhibitions, and concerts are held.
Your next stop is Su Nuraxi, an area of volcanic-stone ruins with a history staring in the 16th century BC. The ruins were built using innovative techniques and furnishings, showing an advanced community in contact with other civilizations. The impressive complex consists of a central tower and four corners connected by a bastion, surrounded by a labyrinth of 50 huts, wells, and cisterns. Don't miss the meeting hut and the rotunda.
Enjoy a picnic lunch, then continue to Cabras and check-into your unique accommodation, an albergo diffuso. These are essentially "spread-out hotels”, a movement that renovates stunning, yet dying, villages to create authentic resorts.
Grab dinner at one of the many traditional restaurants in the city center and taste malloreddus with sausage, a typical pasta dish known as "Sardinian gnocchetti". For dessert, try mustazzolus, a traditional pastry consisting of a soft and spiced cake-like interior. But if you really want to taste the specialty of Cabras, you must try the fish.
Day 4: Day Trip to Oristano - Cook Dinner With a Chef
In the morning, you'll meet your guide and take a tour of lively Oristano, the main city on the central coast of Sardinia. Oristano is an ideal gateway to Sardinia's historical significance, with its monuments and rich history. From the 11th century, the town center was embellished with palaces, fortifications, towers, and religious buildings, so many visit the city for the architecture alone.
Front-and-center is the majestic Tower of Saint Christopher (also know and the Tower of Mariano) and the Monument of the Giudicessa Eleonora, an important judge who promoted the Carta de Logu, one of the first codes of law written in Europe. Nearby is the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the largest one in Sardinia. Countless works of art enrich the temple, including the wooden statue of the Annunciation, the marble statue of the Madonna del Rimedio, and the baroque altar with its polychrome wooden altarpiece. You'll also find a round canvas depicting the Assumption and two rectangular works by Marghinotti (Adoration of the Magi and The Last Supper).
After exploring the city's most important sites, don't forget to stroll down the tiny alleys and mingle with the locals. As you wander, pop into a restaurant or cafe for a leisurely lunch. Then you'll meet a local chef for an entertaining hands-on cooking class focusing on fish recipes. Taste your creations for dinner.
Day 5: Go Diving on the Sinis Peninsula - Visit the Ruins of Tharros
Enjoy a leisurely morning with breakfast and a stroll along the beach; then explore Cabras at your own pace. The Civic Archaeological Museum is a great starting point as it contains the Giants of Mont'e Prama, the Mediterranean's greatest archaeological discovery of the late 20th century. Walk through the museums many rooms, some featuring stone statues of the Giants and the burial area of Mont'e Prama.
If you're up for an adventure, trade the museum for a diving lesson in the waters of the Sinis Peninsula. Sinis is without doubt one of the most charming and significant areas of the province of Oristano. You'll find sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs with plenty of viewpoints. And as you dive, you'll see an entirely different scene underwater, including European locust lobsters and encrusting corals.
In the afternoon, you'll meet your archaeologist guide and visit the ancient archaeological area of Tharros, one of the most important and evocative archaeological legacies in the Mediterranean. The ruins of this ancient city, founded in the 8th century BC and abandoned in the 11th century AD, are essentially an outdoor museum, with natural amphitheaters overlooking the sea. At the top of the hill, you'll find the remains of a Nuragic village, framed by hilly views of San Giovanni di Sinis and su Murru Mannu.
There is a lot of history at Tharros, as well as artifacts from thousands of graves, including ceramics, jewelry, amulets, and scarabs. Walk along the old defensive walls of the fortified city and admire the sophisticated network of streets and drainage channels, as well as a complex sewer system and an aqueduct. Don't forget to enjoy the pre-Roman religious buildings, tombs, crypts, and mausoleums before you leave.
After returning to Cabras, enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Day 6: Drive Along the Coral Riviera to Alghero
Today's drive will take you along the “Coral Riviera”, considered one of the most beautiful drives in the region. After arriving in Alghero, get settled into your beautiful hotel overlooking the sea.
Stroll through the lively town of Alghero, one of the island’s most loved cities for its popular walkway along the port’s bastions, the red roofs that touch the sky, and the gorgeous natural bay that flows into the emerald sea. The shoreline is home to a major colony of the finest coral. Alghero is one of the few Italian cities that have preserved their walls and towers intact.
In Alghero you can experience part of the history of the Mediterranean with an exhibit at The Coral Museum. The museum is in the lovely Art Deco Villa Costantino that takes its name from the home's original owners. Every display within the museum centers around the precious coral, including the works of the craftsmen of Alghero that have created and crafted with coral.
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 7: Discover the Caves of Neptune
Today you'll take a private boat trip to one of the most fascinating jewels of the whole Mediterranean: The Caves of Neptune. Neptune’s grotto is one of the largest marine caves in Italy, formed about two million years ago. Inside you'll see rooms with astounding karst formations, a white sandy beach, and a huge underground lake. The Coves de Neptú (in Catalan language) was discovered by a fisherman in the 18th century and soon became a tourist attraction. By the boat, enjoy the spectacular sight of the cliffs overlooking the sea.
On the bottom of the cave's lake, a distinctive stalagmite formation called the ‘Christmas tree’ stands out between large flowstones and calcitic festoons. A short, slightly downhill path takes you to the room of the ruins and then to the majestic palace room with its tall column with two spectacular arches. Next, there is the smith room, dedicated to an English captain who was one of the cave's earliest explorers.
The tour ends with a visit to the music stand, a balcony overlooking the ‘palace’, the lake, and the beach. You'll return to Alghero for lunch.
In the afternoon, you can visit one of the most important wine resorts and olive oil producers in North Sardinia. Amongst palm and olive trees, the vineyards are immersed in Sardinia’s Mediterranean scrub. The property includes a modern winery, vineyards, and a prestigious wine resort. The winery features a spectacular barrel cellar in which the finest wines of the farm rest and ripen. Walk through the vineyards before a guided tasting of the wines and olive oils, paired with typical sausages and different cheeses from local artisan farmers.
Don't worry, while tasting wine you'll still get your history lesson! During the 15th century BC, the Nuragic populations settled in this area, which was considered to be excellent for cultivation due to the microclimate that maintains optimal temperatures for the growth of the vines. In fact, the Nuragic population is considered the first to produce wine in the Mediterranean. This is proven by an ancient wine press found in Sardinia and dating back to the 9th century BC, attributed to the first wine productions in history.
After your tour of the winery, you'll return to Alghero to relax for the rest of the evening.
Day 8: Stop at a Cork Farm on Your Way to the Emerald Coast
On your way out of Alghero, you'll stop to visit a cork producer and learn how this natural material is extracted while respecting the trees. The cork oak grows naturally only in the western part of the Mediterranean. Cork oaks form forests in which they are either the dominant species or in association with holm oaks and other types of trees.
At the end of the visit, head to Tempio Pausania, an enchanting town in the heart of Gallura. You can meander the streets of the picturesque old town, lined with granite buildings and old trees. Mentioned in the Giudicato period as Templo, it added the second name in 1879 with reference to the old diocesan seat of Phausania. The town is famous for working granite and cork, but also for its Moscato wine. Enjoy lunch at a local winery.
After lunch, you'll get settled into your seaside resort overlooking the turquoise sea of the Costa Smeralda, where a sparkling nightlife awaits you! The Emerald Coast is Sardinia’s most glamorous vacation resort, offering an array of bars, prestigious restaurants, and nightclubs. Don't miss a romantic walk to Porto Cervo among the moored boats, aperitifs on the beach, or an evening at famous beach resorts where you can see unforgettable sunsets. If you appreciate good food, you will find the Costa Smeralda rich in gourmet cuisine for all tastes. There are many restaurants where you can enjoy delicious local recipes, traditional or redefined.
Day 9: Day Trip to Santa Teresa di Gallura - Cycling or Windsurfing Experience
After breakfast, enjoy a day trip to Santa Teresa di Gallura, a picturesque village 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 some time strolling through the winding streets, drive just outside the village to the archaeological site of Lu Brandali. The site includes:
- The Nuraghe, built on a granite promontory. This mighty bastion with towers (which were used to defend the nuraghe) is well preserved and worth a visit.
- The Nuragic village that develops outside the fortified area consists of huts and a large number of natural granite caves, which were used as shelters, homes, or tombs. Archaeological excavations in progress provide information to help you understand the habits of daily life of the village.
- The Tomb of the Giants is a funerary monument located in the southeastern part of the settlement. The grandeur of these buildings led historians to believe that these tombs housed legendary giants. It's actually the tomb of the village.
At the end of your visit, return to Santa Teresa di Gallura for a leisurely lunch before heading back to your seaside resort. In the afternoon, you can experience an outdoor adventure, either a cycling tour of the region or a windsurfing lesson. If you opt for the cycling tour, you'll discover little villages and take advantage of the striking views that the coast offers.
Or you can head out to Porto Pollo, which is by far one of Europe’s best windsurfing spots! Here you can enjoy an unforgettable windsurf experience in the company of a professional instructor.
Day 10: Visit a Traditional Dairy Farm and Taste Pecorino Cheese
Today you'll head inland to visit an artisanal dairy farm, where the traditional Pecorino Sardo cheese has been produced for generations. Discover how fresh local sheep’s milk is processed in accordance with the ancient and traditional methods maintained over the years, then enjoy a delicious tasting.
The pastoralism, alongside the dairy production, has a long history. In Sardinia there are around 3 million sheep and 60 cheese factories, making sheep farming one of the most important economic fields on the island. High productivity and quality of milk is thanks to the sheep's grazing in the scenic Sardinian mountains, which are filled with different species of grasses and legumes.
After your cheese tasting, you'll return to your accommodation and enjoy a leisurely afternoon at your own pace. There are many activities from which to choose, including the following:
- Relax at one of the wonderful beaches of the Emerald Coast.
- Visit Arzachena, a symbol of luxury in Sardinia with breathtaking landscapes, beaches of incomparable beauty, hills covered with vineyards, and archaeological treasures.
- Discover the giants graves in Arzachena.
Grab dinner near your seaside resort and enjoy a relaxing evening on the Emerald Coast.
Day 11: Take a Ferry to Corsica - Explore Bonifacio
Say goodbye to your seaside resort and take the 1-hour ferry across the Straits of Bonifacio to Corsica. Upon arrival, meet your local guide and stroll the ancient town of Bonifacio. Protected by vast smooth walls, the town itself stretches along a narrow, top-heavy promontory, undercut by creamy-white limestone cliffs hollowed out by centuries of ceaseless waves. Down below, connected by steep footpaths and a single winding road, you'll find its harbor and modern marina.
The medieval old town in Bonifacio is the oldest town in Corsica and has many tall houses and cobbled streets. The town is split into two main parts with the main town near the city's gateway. A walk to the end of the peninsula will get you to the old town where there are military fortifications and a cemetery.
Visit the emblematic Bastion d'Etenard inside the citadel’s old gateway, the Porte de Gênes. Dating back to the 15th century and dominating the port, this is the highest fortress in France. Partly dug into the rocks, the underground halls are certainly worth the visit. The circular vaults of the big hall remind us of the medieval architecture of the ancient defense tower. A museography, indicated by signposts and video projections, retrace the history of the town’s fortifications.
Another popular site in Bonifacio is the 'Staircase of the King of Aragon', a stony staircase carved into the vertical side of a limestone cliff. It cuts across the face of the cliff at a near 45° angle and is comprised of 187 steps. According to legend, the staircase was dug by troops in a single night during the unsuccessful siege of Bonifacio. In reality, the staircase is believed to have been dug by the Franciscan monks long before the troops set their feet in Bonifacio.
Enjoy lunch at your leisure in one of the many restaurants in the heart of the citadel and taste the authentic Corsican cuisine. Mainly based on the products of the island, you can find Corsican traditional cheeses, charcuterie, soups, and fish.
After lunch, drive to your Domaine in Sartène, in southern Corsica. You'll learn more about a unique concept of a "spread out hotel", gathering about 20 shepherds' houses and landlord mansions from the 17th century. Almost all have their own private heated pool, a fireplace, and modern comforts.
Enjoy dinner at one of the three restaurants of the property. Taste the products of the working farm, including the veal and the lamb, as well as the fruits and vegetables, the olive oil from the mill, and the cheeses of the ewes.
Day 12: Hike Past a Sheep Farm - Discover the City of Sartène
Today is up to you! You will enjoy the day at your own pace, perhaps starting with a little relaxation at the exclusive beach at your accommodation.
Alternatively, you can enjoy an amazing hiking excursion in the company of a professional hiking guide. You'll reach Giannucciu by departing from Monacia d’Aullène. This hike is quite sporty, so come well equipped. Along the way, you'll encounter the old forester’s house with its bread oven, as well the Presarella sheep pen. This is an inevitable hike for mountain fans, as climbing to l’Uomo Di Cagna gifts exceptional views of the coast and surrounding hills.
Another option is to visit Sartène. With its grey granite houses and secretive dead-end alleys, the hill village of Sartène has long been renowned for encapsulating Corsica’s rugged spirit. To the French novelist Prosper Mérimée, this was the ‘most Corsican of Corsican towns’. It certainly feels a long way from the glitter of the Corsican coast. Sartène continues to offer an authentic glimpse of how life used to be lived in rural Corsica.
In Sartène, you can enjoy dinner at one of the many cafés and restaurants in the center of the city.
Day 13: Drive to Ajaccio - Explore Napoleon's Birthplace
After breakfast, you'll drive north along a scenic road to Ajaccio. Visit the marvelous waterfront city of Ajaccio, known first and foremost as Napoleon’s birthplace. Commanding a lovely sweep of bay, this picturesque city hosts a pastel-toned, cafe-filled historic core and the trendy waterfront promenade that stretches west. Visit the house where Napoleon was born in 1769, The Maison Bonaparte, now serving as a museum to his memory.
With frequent ferries from mainland France, Ajaccio is always bustling with activity. Constructed on the rocky headland during the 16th century, the imposing military fortress that adjoins old Ajaccio still belongs to the army. It has been vacant for years, but remains off limits to visitors, so you can only admire its stout walls and deep grassy moat from outside.
In the afternoon, you'll have free time to explore and choose one of the town’s many enticing restaurants for dinner. Ajaccio’s most atmospheric bars tend to be concentrated along the western waterfront and in the old town.
Day 14: Explore Ajaccio - Enjoy an E-Bike Tour of a Vineyard
Spend your final day enjoying the enchanting city of Ajaccio at your leisure. If you want to explore the region a bit more, take in the vineyards of a local winery by electric bike. Sneak between the vines via the dirt trails and breathe in the sweet scent of nature. Climb the hills of the estate with ease and admire the many views from the vineyard over the Mediterranean Sea. Then meet the winegrowers who will share the history of their estate and allow you to taste a few of their wines.
Another option is to visit the Isles Sanguinaires (The Blood Islands). These islands are, for any visitor of the Corsican capital, an absolute must. Their name intrigues as much as their history fascinates, and their beauty fills will leave you in awe. Located at the entry of the gulf of Ajaccio, the Iles Sanguinaires archipelago is composed of four porphyry islets of a dark red hue, which gives them their emblematic name. Don't forget to visit the famous lighthouse, dating back to 1870.
Return to Ajaccio for a delicious seafood dinner at one of the restaurants or cafes.
Day 15: Departure
After your final breakfast, say goodbye to beautiful Corsica! You'll transfer to Ajaccio Airport for your return flight home, or to your next destination.