There are many fabulous archeological sites in Sardinia.
You may already know that the Italian island of Sardinia is world-renowned for pristine beaches and crystalline waters, but did you know that Sardinia is also famous for breathtaking archeological sites? Sardinia is home to a rich history that dates back millennia. The ancient megalithic edifices called nuraghe built between 1900 and 730 BC are perhaps the most infamous archeological sites and structures; however, there are plenty of other incredible archeological sites in Sardinia well worth visiting.
Although I’m no Indiana Jones, I certainly have spent my fair share of time exploring the antiquated and ancient ruins and revenants left behind from the old world in Sardinia.
So, put on a hard hat and pack a bag of snacks. Get ready, because we’re about to dive deep into the depths of the top archeological sites in Sardinia! Full speed ahead!
12 Incredible Archeological Sites In Sardinia
Su Nuraxi of Barumini
Of the nearly 7,000 nuraghes left standing on Sardinia, Su Nuraxi of Barumini is one of the most expansive and extraordinary nuraghe left from ages old. Around this nuraghe, a complex still stands filled with huts, towers, and other ancient structures. All of the buildings at Su Nuraxi of Barumini are made from basalt, volcanic stone.
Su Nuraxi of Barumini has been described as one of the archeological treasures of Sardinia. A quick Google search of a birds-eye view of Su Nuraxi will prove how unique this archeological site truly is. Labyrinth-like in nature, this nuraghe isn’t one to be missed. In fact, the complex is the only designated UNESCO World Heritage site in Sardinia.
For some background, the site was inhabited from 1600 BC until the 3rd century AD. The town of Barumini is in the South of Sardinia, around 50 kilometers north of Cagliari.
Su Nuraxi is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 or 8:00 pm depending on the season. You will find it at about 45 minutes drive from Cagliari and great for a day trip. Admission fee is €15. Once there, you will need to join a guided tour in your language – tours depart every 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour.
Nuraghe of Santu Antine
The nuraghe of Santu Antine is arguably the other top nuraghe to visit in Sardinia as it’s one of the largest left in existence. The main tower stands 16.5 meters tall; however, it used to stand at a height of 23 to 24 meters— the tallest in all of Sardinia. You are allowed to climb the stairway inside the tower to take in the sweeping 180-degree views of the idyllic countryside below.
Surrounding the tower lies the remains of an ancient Nuragic village. There are 14 circular huts to wander around.
Situated in the northwestern Sardinian province of Sassari, fairly close to the town of Torralba, the nuraghe of Santu Antine is an incredible place to spend an hour or two exploring! While there are no guides on site, there is an app you can download that provides audio content to guide you around this archaeological site. You might be surprised when walking around that no matter how hot it is outside, you’ll feel the coolness of the stones once you’re inside.
Santu Antine is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the winter, and to 8:00 pm in the summer. Admission fee is €8.
The Ancient City of Tharros
In the central region, perched on the west coast of Sardinia lies in the ancient city of Tharros, one of the best archeological sites in Sardinia. Tharros is an open-air museum that still has an active excavation taking place. While you’re wandering around this site, you just might hear the tink-tink of hammers or the soft swishing sounds of dust being shifted.
The Phoenicians founded the city of Tharros in the 8th century BC; however, a previous Nuragic settlement did exist here during the Bronze Age, so there is a nuraghe to visit as well. The city of Tharros was inhabited from the 8th century BC to the 10th Century BC by the Phoenicians, then the Punics, then the Romans.
Among the fantastic structures to check out are the temple foundations, the tophet (an open-air sacred space), the bath installations, and a small area with houses and artisan workshops.
While this is one of the top archaeological sites in Sardinia, what I really love is how you get there. Tharros resides on a remote ocean-side setting that is accessible by walking paths. I loved walking along the shoreline, only to have my jaw drop when I first laid eyes on the site!
Tharros is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 or 8:00 pm depending on the season. Admission fee is €6.50 but you can get a combined €10 ticket to also visit the Civic Museum of Cabras – where you can admire the magnificent Giants of Mont’e Prama.
Make sure to read my post A Quick Guide To Tharros Archeological Site.
The site of Mont’e Prama is actually tiny compared to the others mentioned in this post, and an even smaller portion has been excavated and researched. This is where the famous Giants of Mont’e Prama – which can be seen in the Civic Museum of Cabras and in the Archeology Museum of Cagliari – were first found. There is still much speculation on what the site actually was – likely a necropolis.
The site is still being excavated, so it is not normally open to the public. You can visit on special occasions (I had the chance to visit during the Isola dei Giganti Festival) and strictly on guided tours which last about one hour and which go through the discovery and the main findings on the site.
For enquiries on openings and tours, send an email to [email protected]
The Ancient City of Nora
Southwest of Cagliari on the shore lies a true Sardinian archaeological treasure— the ancient city of Nora. Dating back to the 8th century, Nora has a similar history to the aforementioned archaeological site of Tharros, as it was first inhabited by Phoenicians, then by Carthaginians, and then by the Romans.
Since Nora has a vast history, you can’t miss out on all the sites inside the city that span the ages. The top sites to see in Nora are the tophet (a Phoenician-Punic cemetery), the Temple of Tanit, and the Nora Stone. Moreover, the thermal baths are one of the main reasons that Nora is famous and one of the best archeological sites in Sardinia! There is a temple with a six-column entrance hall, a necropolis, and an aqueduct to see as well.
Travel along the coastline and see structures from the 3rd Century AC, like a nobleman’s house and an atrium. There’s also an amphitheater to check out that originally could seat one thousand people. Head to Aesculapius’s sanctuary from the 4th century.
At the archaeological park of Pula, you will find the Patroni Museum with great exhibits to see. You can also go snorkeling or scuba diving and see ancient Roman roads and remnants from times past at the bottom of the isthmus. Fish are pretty cool, but seeing history unfold underwater is an unparalleled experience!
Nora is open daily from 9:00 am until one hour before sunset. Admission fee is €6. I highly recommend getting a guide for your visit. There are some on the site.
If you’d like to join a guided tour departing from Cagliari, click here.
Check out my post A Quick Guide To Nora, Sardinia.
Tomba dei Giganti
Tomba dei Giganti translates to Giants’ Grave in Italian. There are 350 tombs to visit sprinkled throughout Sardinia that all date back to the Nuragic civilization and the Bronze Age. It’s rumored that these ancient tombstones are remnants of the lost city of Atlantis. But how did they earn their name? Local folklore says the tombs were created for the giants that once populated the mountains in western Sardinia. However, archaeologists believe it was more likely to be used as a mass burial site — much more somber, right?
Don’t worry, I won’t cover all 350 Tomba dei Giganti sites in Sardinia, but I’ll touch on my favorite Giants’ Gravesites to visit! There are also quite a few in the Arzachena area, near Costa Smeralda. As a heads up, you can buy a combination ticket that covers seven archeological sites in one. As you’ll read below, the Tomba dei Giganti di Coddu Vecchiu and the Tomba dei Giganti dei Li Lolghi lie in the Arzachena region, but the S’Ena e Thomes tombs dwell further south in the central region of Nuroro.
The Tomba dei Giganti di Coddu Vecchiu is an enormous Sardinian gallery grave, stele, and stone megaliths. There are 11 granite stones arranged in a semi-circle that spans 12 meters in diameter. Coddu Vecchiu is one of the most well-preserved tombs and is my top recommendation!
The Tomba dei Giganti dei Li Lolghi covers about 30 meters in length and stands 5 meters tall. There are 14 stones arranged in descending order of height, in a semi-circular fashion. The carved monolithic stele is a beauty.
The S’Ena e Thomes is situated in the province of Nuoro, in the central-eastern region of Sardinia. It’s one of the most impressive tombs in Sardinia — it’s mighty indeed! The funeral corridor is nearly intact, complete with a flat-arch covering composed of stone slabs placed horizontally along the corridor walls.
The Nuragic Village of Tiscali
The Nuragic Village of Tiscali is an archaeological site in the central-eastern region in the province of Nuoro.
The coolest thing about the Tiscali Village is that it’s inside a massive cave in Monte Tiscali – which makes it one of the coolest archeological sites in Sardinia! Inside the cave are the remnants and remains of various circular and rectangular dwellings that date all the way back to the 15th to 18th centuries BC. Archeologists have also proven that this cave was repopulated around the 1st century BC and then inhabited through the Middle Ages— that’s a substantial span of time! This mountain cave was probably inhabited during pre-Nuragic times.
There are two separate complexes built inside Tiscali, one comprised of circular stone huts and the other of about 30 rectangular dwellings. Right in the center of the cavity, you can bask in the glory of a millennial grove of trees— holm oaks and mastic trees. I mean, what’s cooler than a forest inside a cave? Come on!
Get ready for a bit of a trek; to reach the Nuragic village of Tiscali, you’ll need to face two hours of hiking. Seeing this mysterious and majestic Sardinian archaeological wonder is worth every step.
Tiscali is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 or 7:00 pm depending on the season. Admission fee is €5. You are better off joining a guided tour to get there, as the hike can be strenuous. This guided tour departs from the nearby Orosei.
Check out my post The Best Hikes In Sardinia.
Tuvixeddu Necropolis in Cagliari
The Necropolis of Tuvixeddu in Cagliari is a Punic necropolis, one of the largest in the entire Mediterranean. The word Tuvixeddu translates to “hill of little holes” in the local Sardinian language. The name is quite appropriate as between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, the Carthaginians had to dig deep into this hillside filled with limestone rock to create burial chambers. Many of the burial chambers are lovingly decorated with painted murals, pottery, and other special items.
Best of all, visiting the Necropolis of Tuvixeddu is completely free! Not bad for one of the best archeological sites in Sardinia.
The site is open daily from 6:00 or 7:00 am to 9:30 pm or midnight, depending on the season. Access is free.
You may want to consider taking this underground tour of Cagliari. Honestly, it’s one of the coolest things to do in town!
Roman Amphiteatre of Cagliari
The Roman Amphitheatre of Cagliari was constructed during the 2nd century AD and was half carved directly into the rock! The other half was erected out of white limestone. It stands around 20 meters tall, and the surface of the area is approximately 1,100 square meters and could house up to 10,000 spectators.
True to its name, this Roman Amphitheatre was home to many gladiator fights! There were also wild animal fights; cages for wild animals were discovered along the corridors surrounding the arenas.
This Roman Amphitheatre is truly a sight to behold. Keep in mind that it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the Villa di Tigellio located in the city center of Cagliari and within easy distance from the Castello quarter, where you can also visit the Museum of Archeology.
The site is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 or 7:00 pm, depending on the season. It is closed on 25 December and 1 January. Admission is €3 but you can also get a city pass for a higher fee to visit the other sites and museums in town.
Arzachena Archeological Park
The Arzachena Archeological Park includes seven enthralling sites – which definitely should be included among the most interesting archeological sites in Sardinia.
Arzachena is the capital city of the world-renowned Costa Smeralda in the northeastern part of Sardinia and is a top tourist destination. Amazingly, the Arzachena Archeological Park extends around the town itself— expect to spend a full day seeing all the sites!
In the park, you will encounter several nuraghes and Nuragic complexes from the Bronze Age, as well as a Giant’s Tomb and a necropolis. Moreover, Li Muri and the Mushroom Rock are the two oldest sites in the Arzachena Archeological Park, dating back to approximately the fourth millennium BC. That’s all the way back in the Neolithic Age!
We’re talking about seeing 6,000 years of history at the Arzachena Archeological Park. Isn’t that mind-blowing?!
I already mentioned one of the sites, the Giant’s Grave of Coddu Vecchiu, in a previous section, so I won’t go over it again here. My favorite site in the park is the Nuraghe of La Prisgiona. This nuraghe is surrounded by nearly 100 circular huts and is close to the Tomba dei Giganti di Coddu Vecchiu. This sprawling nuragic village is amazing to wander around, touring the towers, walking through the chambers, and the courtyard.
The necropolis of Li Muri is another site I want to highlight as it’s one of the most famous monuments in the park. The ancient stones are lined in a concentric circular fashion. There are five stone cisterns that were the graves themselves. In case you were curious, this site dates back to the 4th century BC.
The archeological park is open daily, but you are better off calling in advance to make sure you find someone on the site. This is the number to call:+39 3457200094 and +39 078983401. Admission fee to one site is €4 but keep in mind that if you want to visit more sites in Arzachena Archeological Park (there are 7 in total) you can opt for a cumulative ticket. Depending on how many sites you wish to visit, the ticket will cost you up to €20.
If you’d rather join a guided tour, click here.
Parco Archeologico Naturalistico di Santa Cristina
The Parco Archeologico Naturalistico di Santa Cristina is where the renowned Sanctuary of Santa Cristina is located. Constructed in the 12th century BC, the Sanctuary of Santa Cristina is a mysterious Nuragic water temple. The architecture is particularly curious as it is nearly perfectly balanced and geometric in design, which suggests a certain level of craftsmanship, skill, and mathematical knowledge. That’s pretty hard to wrap one’s mind around as we are talking about the BC era here!
Located in central-western Sardinia close to the village of Paulilatino, this triangular-shaped deep water well and temple was erected at a precise angle and fashion to reflect the moon in a specific way during certain times during the year. This mind-boggling water temple is laid out in a lock-and-key design and is one of the most unique archeological sites in Sardinia!
The site is open every day from 8:30 am until dusk. Admission fee is €5. You can visit the site on guided day trips from Cagliari such as this full day tour to Well Temple and Cabras museum.
Temple of Antas of Fluminimaggiore
The Temple of Antas of Fluminimaggiore is an ancient Carthaginian-Roman temple located in the south of Sardinia. The temple of Antas is a Roman Temple, however underneath it is a Carthaginian one, dedicated to the god Sid Addir who was actually a later incarnation of the local god Sardus Pater Babai. As you might have guessed, given the likeness of names, that was the main god of Sardinia during the Nuragic era.
The original Carthaginian temple was constructed in 500 BC on a limestone outcropping. The Roman temple was built under the direction of emperor Augustus starting the year 27 BC. It was still in use up until the 5th century!
Today, you can see the temple, complete with eight-meter-tall columns in the Ionic style. There are also the remains of a small necropolis, as well as a Nuragic village from the 13th to 10th centuries BC.
Although I just gave you a lot of background history, this really is one of the most breathtaking archeological sites in Sardinia. It’s located on a scenic road and is a lovely, albeit lonely, monument to bear witness to.
The temple is open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 or 7:30 pm depending on the season. It is closed on 25 December. Admission fee is €4 and you can rent an audioguide for €2. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour once you get there.
Final Thoughts on the Archeological Sites in Sardinia
Sardinia is positively brimming with exceptional archeological sites that provide a unique lens into captivating civilizations from long ago. Covering nearly 6,000 years of history is no small feat, and Sardinia does it multiple times over. From the Roman Amphitheatre in Cagliari to the Nuraghe la Prisgiona, there are an astounding number of archeological sites in Sardinia that will take your breath away. How about the Nuragic Village of Tiscali located inside a cave? Now that’s an archaeological wonder for the books!
If you’ve visited Sardinia and spent some time wandering through nuragic villages or snorkeling to see ancient Roman ruins, let me know! I’d love to hear about your archeological adventures!
Planning to visit the island? Make sure to read my other posts:
- The Most Incredible Day Trips From Cagliari
- 10 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Sardinia
- The 15 Best Beaches In Sardinia
- 15 Great Things To Do In Cagliari, Sardinia
- What To See And Do In Bosa Sardinia
- What To See And Do In Alghero Sardinia
- The Nicest Small Towns And Cities In Sardinia
- The 12 Best Museums In Sardinia
- The Most Captivating Castles In Sardinia
- The Most Beautiful Churches in Sardinia
- 9 Sardinian Mines You’ll Enjoy Visiting
- The Most Beautiful Waterfalls In Sardinia
- The History Of Sardinia And Where To Discover It