With more than 200 beaches sprinkled along its 1,149 miles of coastline, Sardinia offers seemingly endless choices when it comes to seaside escapes. As the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea—dwarfed only by its Italian sibling, Sicily—Sardinia boasts a haunting beauty.
Royals and aristocrats from all over Europe have been visiting this place for centuries, drawn by its natural splendor. The island’s interior remains rugged and often sparsely inhabited, while the seashores here rank among the finest in the world.
Plenty of beaches in Sardinia feature modest developments selling souvenirs and snacks, along with more sophisticated sit-down eateries. Others remain remarkably wild and practically untouched, save perhaps for a handful of the requisite brightly colored umbrellas and lounge chairs. Here are some of the absolute best beaches in Sardinia.
It’s easy to see why this five-mile powder sand haven on the Quartu Sant’Elena, a stone’s throw from the port of Cagliari, is one of the most popular Sardinia beaches. As both one of the largest and most beautiful beaches in Italy, it’s a favorite weekend escape for residents of the city.
With its clear, shallow waters free from dangerous rip tides or high waves, Poetto is an ideal place for children to splash around in the sea, too.
One of the perks of this beach is the well-developed infrastructure around it, including showers, restrooms, shops, and designated spaces for beach volleyball and tennis. There’s an assortment of kiosks selling both sweet and salty treats, meaning it’s easy to spend a whole day here if you feel so inclined.
Expect to see kitesurfers in the distance when the winds pick up, as well as sea kayakers and other water sports enthusiasts.
If the urge to go exploring strikes, Poetto Beach is within easy walking distance of a 17th-century Spanish tower, which offers a lovely view of the scenery. The historic vie del sale, or “salt streets”, named for their proximity to an ancient Roman salt mill, are also easily accessible.
For anyone looking to escape to a more secluded beach, Cala Fighera, a clothing-optional beach sheltered by rocky coast, is not far from Poetto.
It may require a little extra effort to reach this particular beach on the eastern Gulf of Orosei, a couple of hours’ drive north of Cagliari, but as anyone who’s made the trek will attest, the rewards are more than worth it.
Unless you’re approaching from the sea, the only way to get here involves hiking a short path that winds through alabaster-hued rock formations.
The gin-clear waters framed by rocky cliffs, plus the sight of the famous Aguglia a Tramontana, a jagged limestone karst towering above the beach, make it clear why many consider Cala Goloritzé to be one of the finest Sardinia beaches and indeed, one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean.
That extra step to reach the shore here, combined with the fact that Cala Goloritzé is an Italian National Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is why this breathtaking beach remains so blissfully underdeveloped.
Because of its protected status, the Italian government only allows a limited number of daily visitors, meaning you’ll always have much of this pebble beach to yourself.
Situated roughly a 40-minute bus ride or drive from Cagliari, this gently curved crescent of a bay is one of the best beaches in Pula. The combination of pristine water and honey-colored sand makes Nora undeniably beguiling.
Nearby cliffs help keep the stronger breezes at bay and the shallows extend far enough out for smaller visitors to play in the surf without worrying their parents. Keep an eye out for small fish darting along the pebbled seafloor.
Pretty though the beach itself may be, what really makes Nora stand out is its proximity to an impressive set of ruins dating back to the 9th century BC. As with the rest of the Mediterranean island, a number of civilizations settled in what is now Pula over the centuries.
The archeological park contains evidence of the Phoenicians and Punic peoples, as well as the later Roman ruins. History and architecture buffs will also appreciate the stone church of Sant’Efisio, located within walking distance of the ocean.
Often referred to as the Pearl of the Costa Verde, this otherworldly beach boasts the largest dune desert in Europe. Picture 40–foot high domes of golden sand speckled with greenery and sloping gently above the azure waters.
The dunes of Piscinas, which have UNESCO World Heritage status, extend for miles inland, creating a landscape that looks in places like something plucked from an Arabian desert. Fleet-footed Sardinian deer and protected sea turtles inhabit this fragile ecosystem.
Reaching Piscinas from the central hub of Cagliari requires a 90-minute journey, but there are a number of relatively easy ways to make the trip. Trains make for an easy journey, while local taxi drivers will gladly whisk visitors there a bit faster.
Punta Molentis Beach
Even if you’ve never set foot in Sardinia, there’s an excellent chance this particular beach will look familiar to you. Punta Molentis, a narrow isthmus crowned with towering granite rock formations, makes regular cameos on postcards and films.
All of Villasimius, the surrounding area, is known for its evocative landscape, but this beach is truly one of the many reasons to visit Sardinia. Consisting of a sheltered cove with snowy-white sands flanked by low-lying shrubbery and cacti, this is a textbook Mediterranean beach.
Located about an hour’s drive from Cagliari, Punta Molentis is one of the more popular beaches on the island. Those ultra-soft sands extend right into the ocean floor here and the water tends to be calm.
Pack a snorkel mask to take in the underwater scenery, or take an easy hike up the surrounding rocky promontories for a panoramic shot.
Sa Colonia Beach
Take a bus or taxi from Cagliari and make a beeline for this jewel of a beach on the southernmost end of the island. Known for its broad stretch of golden sand on the coast of Chia, Sa Colonia is the former site of an ancient Phoenician city.
Gentle waves lap the beach and the shallow seabed is free of any sharp rocks. It would be easy to spend a full day here, but Sa Colonia also happens to be close to a number of other top-notch beaches, including Nora, su Giudeu, su Porto, and Cala Cipolla.
Should you find yourself growing restless from basking in sunshine, it’s easy to flit between these.
Su Giudeu Beach
Not far from Sa Colonia lies one of Chia’s most beloved landmarks. Amber sands and crystalline waters make Su Giudeu feel almost dreamlike.
Stroll out along the sandbar to the small natural island at low tide, then make your way back for an Aperol Spritz accompanied by superb people-watching as the sun melts into the sea.
Cala Pira Beach
Between the villages of Sant’elmo and Villasimius lies this broad sweep of sand on the Costa Rei, about an hour’s drive east of Cagliari. On clear afternoons, you can see the Isola Serpentara, an island marked by the Torre di Cala Pira.
The tranquil waters lure a considerable number of visitors during peak season in August, but the ambiance remains refreshingly laid-back. Don’t be surprised if you see a number of sailboats dropping anchor in the natural harbor.
Cala Fuili Beach
If you’re planning to visit the Grotte del Bue Marino, a three-mile limestone cave with Neolithic wall markings, accessible by boat, you may want to spend the rest of your afternoon on this oasis in the Gulf of Orosei.
High, sheer rock faces draped in foliage surround the stretch of pearl-white sand and pebbles. Climbers regularly scale these cliffs, especially during high seasons, while casual hikers will find a number of trails winding through the nearby vegetation.
Capo Comino Beach
Sardinia’s famous pink flamingos, which locals affectionately refer to as sa genti arrubia, or “red people” in the local dialect, pass through this area in droves. Although you’ll rarely spy these charismatic birds on the beach itself, they land in large flocks in a pond just slightly to the north.
Snorkelers will spy schools of fish swimming in the shallows here, while scuba divers may wish to venture slightly further out to explore a number of shipwrecks, including the Comandante Bafile, which sank to the depths during the Second World War.
Capo Comino is admittedly a bit of a road trip from Cagliari, but still very much doable in a day trip and besides, the journey there is exceptionally beautiful. Among the many reasons to visit is the excuse to have lunch at Il Moletto, a local institution since 1980 specializing in superlative seafood overlooking the water.
Nestled between Capo Spartivento and Capo Malfatano near the southwestern tip of Sardinia, Tuerredda has a full half-mile of sandy shore. Even on an island with some of the most memorable vistas in the world, the spectrum of cerulean shades here looks too brilliant to be real.
In the summer months, low-key eateries do a brisk business selling light bites, while watersports rental companies supply canoes, kayaks, and surfboards for anyone hoping to head into the waves.
While Tuerredda is understandably popular with visitors in high season, it’s never difficult to get away from the crowds. Off from the main beach lie a number of smaller coves surrounded by rocks, all within easy walking distance.
Meanwhile, a few hundred feet from the beach itself lies a small island, where strong swimmers head to bask in the solar rays in near total solitude.
Cala Domestica Beach
Dramatic cliffs rise above emerald waters all around this inlet on the island’s southwestern coast. Looking around at the unspoiled scenery, it’s hard to believe that Cala Domestica was an important mining hub well into the 1940s.
Today, the vibe is decidedly sleepier, although nearby remnants of the once-booming industry add an element of intrigue. Despite its deserved fame, Cala Domestica feels somehow like a secret, thanks to the way its unusual geography shields it.
That being said, there’s a comfortable, but not intrusive, level of development here, including a picnic area and a small campsite. For a phenomenal view, climb up to the top of the 18th-century Spanish tower, which was used once again as a lookout point during World War II.
To learn more about the area’s history, head to the nearby town of Buggerru. Or if you’d prefer to get to an even more serene location, amble over to La Caletta, a tiny cove hiding right near the main beach.
Nowadays, Poetto may hog the spotlight a bit when it comes to Cagliari’s beach scene, but that doesn’t mean Giorgino should be overlooked. Historically, Italian aristocrats regularly made trips to this smaller beach to soak up the sun.
Giorgino remains especially famous for the Fisherman’s Feast, held twice a year. Like Poetto, it’s an excellent place to go kiteboarding, or simply to watch the pros do aerial flips in the distance. Take a table at Ristorante Zenit, which offers rustic pastas and seafood dishes with a view of the ocean.
The fritto misto, with all manner of shrimp, squid, and fish fried to crisp perfection, is especially good when available. It’s ideal for a Sardinian-style lunch: long, late, and accompanied by a chilled bottle of white.
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