Alghero – Image courtesy of angedras.it
Top attractions in Sardinia
Sardinia offers a choice of must-see attractions for inquisitive couples celebrating a honeymoon or romantic getaway, including:
Cagliari Old Town
Stroll through the maze of ancient alleyways surrounded by huge defensive stonewalls, in Cagliari's historic Castello Quarter, the most atmospheric part of town. Climb to the top of the Torre San Pancrazio, which was built in 1305 and offers panoramic views over the city and its bay.
Visit the 13th century Cattedrale, with its magnificent carved pulpits illustrating the life of Christ, the ornate 17th century baroque tomb of Martin II of Aragon and Marie-Josephine of Savoy, the wife of Louis XVIII of France.
Admire archaeological artefacts at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, including a series of bronze statuettes dating back to 1200 BC and Sardinia's Nuraghic people, as well as those from the Phoenician, Carthaginian and Roman eras.
See remains of the 2nd century Anfiteatro Romano, Sardinia’s largest Roman ruin, then stroll among more than 500 species of Mediterranean and tropical plants in one of Italy's most famous botanical gardens – the Orto Botanico.
Don’t miss the 5th century Basilica di San Saturnino (Church of San Saturno), Sardinia's oldest church, located to the east of the old town in Piazza di San Cosimo.
Stroll the ancient remains of Sardinia’s oldest city, founded by the Phoenicians then occupied in turn by the Carthaginians and the Romans. See the Roman theatre, the Temple of Tanit, ancient roads and baths with some well-preserved mosaics.
Also view the 11th century church of Sant'Efisio and a 16th century watchtower. Then unwind on the golden-sand beach and swim in the crystal clear water. Nora is located 3km south of Pula and 28km southwest of Cagliari, around 30 minutes by bus or car.
Wander the ancient narrow streets of Sardinia’s most beautiful town, lined with ramparts, towers, palaces and churches in the old town or Città Vecchia, which was built on a rocky ledge above the sea by its former Spanish occupiers.
Pop into the Cattedrale di Santa Maria, an impressive example of Catalan architecture, and the Chiesa di San Franceso, which dates from the 14th century.
Later, unwind on the golden sands of Alghero’s 5km-long beach or head to the Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune’s Cave), one of Sardinia’s greatest natural attractions, accessed by boat or on foot by descending 654 steps down the cliff face. The immense cavern is filled with a collection of small lakes and a forest of stalactites. Alghero is located on the northwest coast, around 229km from Cagliari.
Discover a collection of some 50 prehistoric stone-built dwellings that date back to the 14th century BC. Marvel at the beehive-shaped central tower and the ruins of a palace built by the Nuragic people, a civilisation that produced the most advanced architecture of this period in the western Mediterranean. Nuraghe Palmavera is located 12km from Alghero.
Su Nuraxi Barumini
Stroll around the remains of the largest and most famous of Sardinia's nuraghic complexes, dating from around 1500 BC. Marvel at the partially collapsed 15m-high tower and its outer defences and chambers connected by alleyways and stone staircases.
The well-preserved remains were only discovered after a torrential rainstorm washed away earth from the slopes in 1949. This fascinating site is located 1km from the village of Barumini, around 50km north of Cagliari.
Feast your eyes on one of Sardinia’s most spectacular festivals, a three-day event that includes horseback parades, masked participants, lavish costumes, medieval pageantry trials of equestrian prowess climaxing in a joust, when galloping contestants attempt to lance a ring (or sartiglia), suspended in the air. Oristano's flamboyant Sa Sartiglia festival ends on Shrove Tuesday.