12 of the most beautiful towns and villages in Sardinia
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Sardinia is Italy’s second-largest island, a favourite among Italian visitors and U.K. holidaymakers alike. It’s home to some of Italy’s most stunning white-sand beaches, as well as the glamourous yachting region of the Costa Smeralda. But what you may not know is that it’s also home to some of Italy’s most charming villages. Whether it be a colourful day trip, a hideaway in the mountains or an idyllic seaside stay, consider a visit to one of Sardinia’s most beautiful villages.
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The River Temo flows through the centre of the colourful village of Bosa. With the medieval Serravalle Castle (also known as the Malaspina Castle), a number of churches, a few museums and even ancient tanneries, there’s plenty to do and see and this village. Plus, Bosa overlooks the sea, and there are several sandy beaches nearby, too.
Located in the Cedrino River valley, this Medieval village is made almost entirely out of stone. Nearby, hike up Mount Tuttavista for panoramic views and to see the famed bronze Christ statue, a route that many pilgrims have trekked over the years. Galtelli, once a religious landmark, has several churches to visit, or there are numerous hiking and rock climbing spots around Tuttavista.
Stintino is home to one of Sardinia’s most popular beaches, La Pelosa. It’s a stunning strip of white sand and calm turquoise waters with views of the Torre Pelosa in the distance. But the town and port of Stintino are just as beautiful. And, Stintino is also known for having some of the most delectable seafood on the island, so make sure to sample some at a local restaurant — fan favourites are the sea urchin, octopus and clams.
Many refer to this hilltop, seaside village as Sardinia’s “best-kept secret.” Well, we’re spilling the beans: Castelsardo is an absolutely gorgeous spot for a holiday. For the best views (you can even spot Corsica on a clear day) hike up to the top of the hill to visit the Castello dei Doria. A short drive away from the village, visit Elephant Rock, a giant rock formation shaped like — you guessed it — an elephant.
Did you know you can ski in Sardinia? The village of Fonni is near some of the highest peaks in Sardinia apt for skiing during the winter season. During the warmer months, explore the town and its many painted wall murals. Nearby, there are plenty of hiking trails and wooded areas to get some fresh air.
Carloforte is located on the small islet of San Pietro, just off the southwestern coast of Sardinia. Here, you’ll experience a very traditional Sardinian village experience: colourful buildings, a charming harbour, ancient churches and even abandoned salt pans. Make sure to sample the tuna when visiting — Carloforte has a yearly tuna festival and competition!
An easy day trip from the nearby city of Cagliari, Pula is best known for its nearby archaeological ruins of Nora that date back to the 4th century BC. Back in Pula, enjoy speciality dishes like the sweet and salty mixture of figs and ham in a lively square such as the Piazza del Popolo. There are many sandy beaches around Pula, too, as well as pine forests with walking and hiking trails.
Calasetta’s white sand beaches and bustling town atmosphere are perfect for a relaxing holiday. If you get tired of the expansive Sottotorre Beach, visit Calasetta’s Contemporary Art Museum (MACC). For gorgeous views of the town, beach and sea, head up to the Torre Sabauda, a stone tower located at Calasetta’s highest point.
9. La Maddalena
La Maddalena is a village located on the La Maddalena Islands just off the north coast of Sardinia. These islands not only have some of the most breathtaking beaches in Europe (if you squint, you might think you’re sprawled on the fine pearly sands of the Caribbean), but Maddalena village is also surprisingly picturesque. Check out the Garibaldi statue in the harbour and the Santa Maria Maddalena Church when you tire of exploring the island’s natural coves and beaches.
Known as the “village of murals,” this UNESCO World Heritage site dates back to prehistoric times. Orgosolo has hundreds of murals painted around town, and the best way to see them is simply to wander around and discover them. The mountainous village also has lots of hiking and walking trails leading directly from the town into the woods and nearby hills.
11. Santa Teresa di Gallura
Overlooking the Strait of Bonifacio, this seaside village is best visited during shoulder season — you’ll avoid the massive influx of tourists that summer sees, but also enjoy the lovely weather that May, June, September and October bring. In between beach trips, make sure to pay a visit to the Longosardo Tower, a 16th-century structure built by one of Spain’s former kings.
Alghero is really a city, but its historical centre feels like its own tiny, quaint village. With a massively long stretch of city beach, it will be a toss-up to decide whether to have a day of sand and sun or roam the old city’s stone walls (yes, there are seven towers guarding them). The fortified walls are also excellent spots for viewing the sunset.
Sardinia is famous for its beaches, but that’s not all this Italian island has. With many tiny seaside villages, mountain collectives and even ski towns, exploring some of these lesser-visited towns is the way to go.
For more beautiful European village inspiration, check out these articles:
- 15 of the most beautiful villages in Europe
- 13 of the most beautiful villages in Portugal
- 15 of the most beautiful villages in Spain
- 19 of the most beautiful villages in Italy
- 19 of the most beautiful villages in France
- 13 of the most beautiful villages in Greece
(Feature image courtesy of Gian Luca Salis / EyeEm / Getty)
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