10 Best Things to Do in Sardinia: Sun, Beaches, Culture

June 23, 2024

best things to do in sardinia

Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, located off the southern part of Italy. 

Famous for its beautiful sandy shores, historic ruins, and magnificent landscapes, Sardinia is ideal for tourists interested in history, gastronomy, and active vacation. 

From stunning beaches and beautiful coastlines to charming towns and contemporary cities – Sardinia will remain etched in your memory for a long time.

Here are the 10 best things to do in Sardinia that provide a comprehensive overview of the island’s highlights and hidden gems.

1. Discover Nuraghe Santa Sabina

The main archaeological sites in Sardinia are Nuraghi, constructed by the Nuragic civilization that existed between 1900 BC and 700 BC. These peculiar stone towers provide the guests with some information on the island’s past and heritage.

The Nuraghe Santa Sabina is one of the most elaborate and well-preserved Nuraghe compounds in the whole of Sardinia.

When you move around the ruins, you can see how the architects and builders used their ingenuity to construct towers.

2. Stay at a Local Agriturismo

For an authentic experience of rural Sardinian life, consider staying at an agriturismo or farm stay accommodation.

These family-run farms often cultivate crops, produce local delicacies like wine and cheese, and provide cozy accommodation.

Staying at an agriturismo lets you soak in the picturesque countryside, sample delicious home-cooked meals made from fresh, organic produce and get to know the local culture. Many agriturismo properties offer fun activities like cooking classes, horseback riding, hiking trails, and wine tastings. You’ll get to interact with the owners and other guests for a personalized Sardinian holiday. Popular regions for agriturismo stays include Gallura, Ogliastra, and Sardinia’s rolling interior countryside.

3. Visit a Winery

Sardinia has a flourishing wine industry and the island produces over 15% of Italy’s wine. The Mediterranean climate and diverse terroir create excellent conditions for growing grapes.

Some of Sardinia’s best-known indigenous grape varieties used in its top wines include Cannonau, Vermentino, Carignano, Monica, and Nasco.

Visiting a winery is one of the best things to do in Sardinia. It will provide you an opportunity to learn about the winemaking process, interact with producers, and of course, taste the wines paired with local food.

Recommended wine regions to visit include the Vermentino white wines of Gallura, Cannonau reds of Ogliastra, Carignano based reds near Cagliari, and more.

4. Visit Grotta del Bue Marino

One of Sardinia’s most awe-inspiring natural attractions is the Grotta del Bue Marino or ‘Cave of the Sea Ox’ located on the east coast near Cala Gonone.

This spectacular sea cave houses an underground lagoon filled with crystalline blue waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. As you enter the massive cave mouth, you’ll be stunned by the otherworldly azure colors reflecting off the lagoon. The lagoon extends over 300 meters into the cliffside and has two openings to the sea.

Taking a dip in the perfectly still, cool waters surrounded by towering limestone walls is an unforgettable experience. And if you’re lucky, you may even spot some of the native sea oxen or monk seals that give the cave its name.

5. Explore the Coast on a Private Zodiac Boat

With endless miles of spectacular coastline, Sardinia is perfect for nautical adventures.

One of the best ways to experience the island’s dramatic shores and secluded coves is by taking a private zodiac boat tour. These rugged, inflatable boats allow you to hug the contours of the coastline and access hard-to-reach areas.

On a zodiac tour, you’ll likely spot unique geological formations like sea stacks, arches, and cliffs created by wind and wave erosion. You can enter hidden sea caves and grottoes only accessible from the water.

Some top areas in Sardinia to explore by zodiac include the UNESCO-protected Maddalena Archipelago, the Costa Smeralda around Porto Cervo, and the caves of Golfo di Orosei.

With the wind in your hair and mesmerizing coastal scenery all around, a private zodiac tour promises an unforgettable marine adventure.

6. Horseback Riding

In addition to its famous beaches, Sardinia’s interior is filled with captivating rural landscapes perfect for exploring on horseback. Ambling through flower-strewn meadows, dense forests and hilly terrain atop a sturdy Sardinian horse is a wonderful way to soak in the pastoral beauty.

Some of the best regions for horseback riding in Sardinia include the verdant Barbagia countryside, coastal trails along the Stintino peninsula, and sandy paths through the dunes of Porto Pino. 

7. Beaches of the Sinis

Peninsula famed for its turquoise waters and powdery white sands, the Sinis peninsula on Sardinia’s west coast has some of the island’s most stunning beach landscapes. The protected Sinis Natural Marine Reserve shelters the pristine beaches and coves bordered by juniper groves and lagoons teeming with birdlife.

Must-visit beaches include Is Aruttas with its surreal quartz sand dunes, Maimoni with its famous white sand ‘desert’, and Mari Ermi nestled between cliffs and juniper trees. The dreamy S’Archittu beach features a famous limestone arch rock formation.

Beyond the beaches, the Sinis wetlands are home to wild boars, pink flamingos, and other wildlife, best seen on a nature walk or boat tour. For history buffs, the ancient ruins of Tharros date back to the 8th century BC.

8. Visit an Ancient Roman City

Sardinia has remarkable archaeological remains from the ancient Roman civilization that once dominated the island. Two sites worth exploring are the well-preserved ruins of Nora on the southern coast near Cagliari and the sprawling ruins of Tharros located on the Sinis peninsula.

Founded in the 8th century BC, Nora served as an important trading hub. Wandering through the excavated ruins today, you can see mosaic floors, bath complexes, temples, and a Roman theater. Tharros similarly contains fascinating vestiges like baths, tombs, cisterns, and churches from the Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine eras when the city thrived. Both Nora and Tharros feature remarkable hybrid architecture showcasing Roman, Carthaginian, and Phoenician influences.

Besides the ruins themselves, the sites allow you to soak in sweeping coastal views from their clifftop perches.

9. Go Caving at Neptune’s Grotto

The rugged limestone cliffs along Sardinia’s coast have been sculpted over millennia into spectacular sea caves, grottos, and caverns. The Grotta di Nettuno or Neptune’s Grotto close to Alghero is the largest and most spectacular sea cave in the Mediterranean region, attracting visitors since Roman times.

Descending 100 meters via staircases takes you to an enchanting underground world of stalactites, stalagmites, and saltwater pools.

Beautiful colored rock formations created by centuries of water erosion adorn the expansive cavern interiors. Strange rock shapes like petrified waterfalls and natural sculptures add to the magic.

10. Windsurf at Porto Pollo

With constant winds blowing across the Maddalena Strait, the bay of Porto Pollo on Sardinia’s northeastern coast has become one of Europe’s premier windsurfing destinations. The protected gulf offers ideal wind conditions for surfing, along with stunning scenery.

Here you’ll find turquoise shallow waters and white sand beaches backed by small dunes, creating the perfect playground for windsurfing.

Rental shops and surf schools line the beach, catering to all levels from beginners to advanced.

The bay acts like a funnel, accelerating the winds to create waves ideal for performing jumps and tricks.

From the archeological sites including the Nuraghe ruins that are listed by UNESCO to the beautiful coastal terrains and beautiful beaches, Sardinia is packed with so many things to see and do. You can visit archaeological sites, tour a countryside winery, or take a leisurely cruise along the stunning coastline – the options are limitless.