As you probably know from a sneak peek of the photos I posted here, I was utterly blown away by my recent trip to Sardinia, I had never been to anywhere so simple and yet gob smacking. Rather than this being a definitive guide to the island – it’s actually HUGE fyi – I thought I would give you an overview of the road trip we did while we were there. Sadly time didn’t allow us to see the whole island, but if you’re looking for an itinerary I highly suggest this one, as from what I can see you get the best of both sides of the coast whilst not spending too much time in the busy, touristy areas.
Make sure to check out my quick google map of the trip here to get you bearings.
We flew into Olbia airport from Gatwick and hired a car straight away for the whole week. One thing we wanted to avoid was any area that was overly developed or touristy, so instead of going North to the (from what I’ve read) glitzy Costa Esmerelda we headed south to the Golfo Di Orosei and stayed here. The village of Santa Maria Navaresse that we randomly chose to stay was so gorgeous and simple – virtually no tourists and the sweetest little beach with a tree covered bar overlooking the water, where we would go for drinks in the early evening and watch the sun set.
We hired a simple rhib boat in the Marina (from these guys if you’re interested) and took it up the coast for a whole day, which was the most memorable part of the trip – it’s a MUST. Surprisingly the cost of hiring a private boat was almost the same as the combined cost of the two of us going on a tour (around 120 euros for the day), without the hassle of dealing with other people and the feeling of being fully scheduled. Luckily Ben has experience driving a boat, but even if you don’t it seemed like coast isn’t that busy (oh and you don’t need a license – love Italy!). If hiring a boat is too daunting for you, try to get on a tour with the least number of people possible. We took lots of yummy italian deli food along with us like salami, artichokes, and a delicious (virtually free) bottle of red wine and had the most magical day – for two pragmatic and generally unromantic people I have to say we were quite smitten with the beauty and being there together… And that water colour – no words! Our favourite beach was Cala Luna with its white shores and caves and we stopped there for a few hours in the afternoon.
We drove the winding road between Santa Maria Navaresse and Dorgali, which gives an amazing view of the hinterland valleys and mountains, you can stop in Baunei or Nuoro to get an feel for the sweet local villages (where there are lots of leather shops!).On our way back, just by chance, we then stumbled upon heaven. Because the Golfo di Orosei has a national park running along the coast, it’s quite difficult to access all the amazing beaches unless you do a long hike or go by boat. However, just by chance we took a side road and wound down the cliffs until we got to deserted Pedra Longa, finding ourselves in one of the few places you can reach the water in a car. There was a little cliff side trattoria and a track that went down to the most amazing rocky bay, perfect for swimming and general lounging. We finished up with dinner here which was kinda of a modernised agrotourismo (which is traditionally kind of like a farm stay with great food), I loved the courtyard.
On the fourth day we swapped sides of the coast, driving through the middle of the island and visiting a few villages on the way – Orogosolo (famous for streets covered in murals and graffiti) and Gavoi (pretty town known for it’s literary festival with this place to eat delicious homemade pasta). We then landed in the picture perfect town of Bosa at our hotel – although the rooms were basic we were lucky to stay in the part of the hotel overlooking the riverfront which was such a lovely way to wake up. In the afternoon we toured the beaches to the north of Bosa, finding some gorgeous hidden coves.
We did a day trip from Bosa to the town of Alghero which seemed to be where most people stay when they come so was a bit busier and a little more touristy than Bosa (they have very pretty streets though). We had lunch on the ramparts of the town’s fortified wall overlooking the ocean and wandered the streets, topping it all off with some gelato. We headed back in time for dinner in Bosa.
On our last day we travelled back across the island to La Cinta beach near San Teodoro for one last lay in the sun before our flight back to London. The beach was beautiful but so incredibly busy, it was literally heaving, which was a great reminder that we had chosen the right approach by staying out of the busier and more accessible areas.
We loved everything about our little village of Santa Maria Navaresse, including this beach.
We took turns driving… Wearing: Club Monaco top (similar to this dress).
And spent a few hours here at Cala Genone bobbing around.
Didn’t really want to leave.
Loved everything about Cala Goloritze, one of the nicest beaches along the coastline. Apparently you can hike here along the coast, which is a good option if a boat isn’t for you.
Believe me I didn’t want to leave.
We found this secret cove just north of Santa Maria Navaresse, could have spent all day here!
The freedom of having our own small boat was priceless.
That fabric sail is just crying out to be DIYed.
We had an admittedly average meal of paninis here, but the view helped!
We hiked the hills (tried to visit So Gorrupu canyons but the weather turned wet so we had to go back halfway).
This was our ‘secret’ spot at Pedra Longa. Seriously there is no filter involved here, the sea is really just that colour.
Climbers camoflaging amongst the rocks.
Discovering inland Sardinia – such interesting and diverse landscapes.
We stopped for a spot of shopping in Nuoro
The men of Nuoro
Had dinner at Su Gologone
Saw so many interesting murals and graffiti in Orgosolo. I was surprised by the number of which were very globally focused, given the village is in such an isolated hilltop spot (totes no wifi there).
Enjoyed the quiet lanes in hilltop villages.
Had handmade pasta for lunch at Santa Rough in Gavoi
And over on the west coast, we wandered through beautiful fields…
To discover this beach.
Strolled the streets at twilight in Bosa
Admired the pretty tannery sheds in Bosa.
Loved every pink on the walls.
Travelled along the coast road to Alghero and had lunch along the ramparts.
The perfect seas in San Teodoro (but the crowds were horrendous!)