A Useful Guide To Carbonia, Sardinia

The Sulcis Iglesiente region of Sardinia, located in the southwest of the island, is one of the lesser visited areas of Sardinia. Save from the beaches which are well known to locals and tourists alike, not many actually venture there. It’s a pity, because it has a lot to offer, especially to travelers looking to to discover the history and traditions of the island.

If you are planning a trip to this area and are looking for a good base, then Carbonia is the right place. From there, you can access a wealth of archeological sites, abandoned mines, and the best beaches of southern Sardinia.

Continue reading my guide to get information about Carbonia and its immediate surroundings and for information on everything there is to see in and around the city center.

You should also read my post The Best Hidden Gems In Sardinia and The Nicest Small Towns In Sardinia.

Photo by Rodolfo Baldussi @shutterstock

Some Background Information About Carbonia, Sardinia

Carbonia is the ninth largest city in Sardinia in terms of population, and the most populated of the Sulcis territory. It is surrounded by hills, among which the most famous is the Mount Sirai, where there is also an archeological park.

Carbonia is a pretty recent city, in fact it was founded in 1937 and inaugurated 1938, in order to provide housing for workers of the coal mine, which at the time was the largest energy supplier in Italy. And indeed, the name Carbonia derives precisely from coal, due to the city position right next to the coal mine.

Although Carbonia is a relatively modern town, its territory was occupied by different prehistoric civilization – including pre-nuragic and nuragic civilizations – as well as the Phoenicians, the Punic, as well as the

The center of Carbonia is home to several historic buildings, museums, and also hosts a necropolis. Many of the city attractions are related to its mining tradition. Let’s discover the main attractions in Carbonia and its surroundings.


What To See In Carbonia, Sardinia

Piazza Roma

Carbonia’s main town square is a great place from which you can begin exploring Carbonia’s various historic buildings, or simply take a stroll through the town’s tree-lined streets. The wide Piazza Roma houses the Church of San Ponziano, the Civic Tower, the Theater, and the Town Hall. Around the square are the various buildings, once built to house miners and their families.

Carbonia chiesa di San Ponziano
Photo by BGStock72 @shutterstock

Church of San Ponziano

Located in Piazza Roma, the Church of San Ponziano is the main place of worship in Carbonia. It was built in 1938, so it has several features of the typical fascist architecture of the period. It features a 45-meter-high (147.6 feet) bell tower, while the church itself has a rectangular shape, with the exterior made of granite and trachyte. The inside features three naves: a central nave and two lateral naves. The church houses a wooden crucifix, created for the inauguration of the city.

Church of Santa Maria di Flumentipido

A deconsecrated small church, Santa Maria di Flumentipido is located in the hamlet of the same name. Located on a small hill, the church was built in the 11th century following the Romanesque architectural style. As a result, the structure of the church is quite simple, with a single nave and a small bell tower.

Despite this, Santa Maria di Flumentepido is a pleasant and pretty place to visit, partly thanks to the scenic landscape. The building has been restored recently, in fact it is well maintained both outside and inside. The restoration managed to keep some components intact, such as the original masonry.

Serbariu Carbonia

Coal Museum (Sito Minerario di Serbariu)

The most interesting places to visit in the surroundings of Carbonia are all related to its mining past. Serbariu Mining Complex is by far the most interesting. It dates back to 1937, and until 1964 it was central to the economy of Sulcis, as well as one of Italy’s main energy resources. With the closure of the mine, the complex was renovated and turned into a museum.

The Museum of Coal consists of practically all the buildings and mining structures of the Serbariu site. The visit includes three exhibits: the Lampisteria, the underground gallery, and the winch room.

In the Lampisteria you can see a collection of mining tools, photographs, documents, and videos illustrating the daily work in the mine, as well as the life of the miners.

In the underground gallery you will see the tools, the machines and the coal mining techniques used in Serbariu.

The winch room hosts the machinery used to transport miners and coal.

If you are interested in visiting the Coal Museum, I suggest you book a visit, since it can get pretty crowed in the peak season and you may not be able to buy a ticket on the site. For more information, make sure to visit the official website of the museum.

Make sure to read my post 9 Sardinian Mines You’ll Enjoy Visiting.

Villa Sulcis Carbonia
Sailko, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Villa Sulcis Museum

Opened in May 2008, the New Villa Sulcis Museum hosts the archeological findings of the ancient civilizations that populated the Sulcis region over the millennia. The exhibit will take you on a trip across time, from the birth of villages, to the first human advances in agriculture. It contains materials found at various archaeological sites in the Sulcis region, such as Canna di Sotto, Monte Crobu and Su Carroppu.

The museum is divided into three rooms, each with a different theme. Room 1 is dedicated to the prehistorical period, to the bronze age and to the iron age; Room 2 hosts materials from the Phoenician period in Sulcis, while Room 3 features the Punic and Roman periods.

Museo Etnografico delle Attività Pastorali

This museum is actually located in Iglesias, 25 km (15.5 miles) from Carbonia. It’s a great place to visit if you want to learn more about Sardinian pastoral traditions. In the museum you will see faithful reconstructions of some of the activities carried out by shepherds and artisans. There are also exhibits dedicated to other jobs of the past, such as blacksmithing and carpentry, which preserve some disused tools of the trade, such as plows, scythes, and carts.

Make sure to also read my post The 18 Best Museums In Sardinia.

Monte Sirai Carbonia
Photo by Terefere @shutterstock

Monte Sirai Archaeological Park

Mount Sirai is a hill that rises near Carbonia, home to an impressive archaeological site that dates back to the 9th century BC. In the Monte Sirai Archaeological Park you will see the ruins of houses, squares, temples and necropolis of Phoenician and Punic origin. The site is truly impressive, also because of its elevated location.

The Monte Sirai Archaeological Park is divided into three sections: settlement, necropolis and tophet.

The settlement features Punic-era living areas, with a main square where the temple of Astarte, Phoenician goddess of birth, fertility and war, once stood. The necropolis section features tombs from the Phoenician era, as well as a Punic necropolis, consisting of 13 family tombs with sarcophagi and niches. The tophet, on the other hand, is a cemetery dedicated to children who died at birth or at an early age, whose remains are contained in urns.

Cannas di Sotto
Alex10, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cannas di Sotto

The Parco Urbano Cannas di Sotto hides a vast domus de janas necropolis, dating back to the Neolithic period. The size of the necropolis and the fact that is right in Carbonia, makes the Parco Urbano particularly unique and since it is in the town center you should make it a point to visit.

Within the necropolis there are various types of tombs, reworked over the ages and located in 26 caves. During Carbonia’s mining years, some of the tombs were used as warehouses and furnaces. Make sure to visit the impressive Tomb 4, which features a large inner chamber.

Head over to my post The Prettiest Domus De Janas In Sardinia.

Stazione Barbusi  near Carbonia
Alex10, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Barbusi is a nice hamlet of Carbonia that I recommend visiting especially at certain times of the year, during religious and gastronomic festivals. In the first week of July you can experience the Festa della Madonna, while between late July and early September there is Sant’Isidoro, during which several processions take place. As for gastronomy, in September the Festa de Su Curruscioni allows visitors and locals to taste dishes typical Sardinian pasta, as well as being able to watch its preparation.

Masua Pan di Zucchero carbonia Sardinia

The beaches

If you visit in the summer months, you really can’t miss the gorgeous beaches near Carbonia. Here are my favorite ones.

MASUA PAN DI ZUCCHERO – A fantastic beach if you have a knack for small coves; it overlooks the spectacular Pan di Zucchero stack. and it’s right by Porto Flavia mining site.

PORTO PINO – An impressive long sandy beach surrounded by white dunes (that you can’t climb) and with shallow clear waters.

CALA DOMESTICA – Another small cove that looks more like a fjord, it has clear waters and is surmounted by impressive cliffs. There are sand dunes here too, but like the rest of the dunes in Sardinia they are protected.

Practical Guide

Where to stay in Carbonia

Carbonia is a small town, but you won’t have trouble finding good accommodation options. Most people visiting in the summer months opt to stay in the nearby beach hamlets, but if you’d rather stay in Carbonia the following are all good options:

B&B Il Sogno di Mario – very modern rooms in a nice setting outside the center of Carbonia. A fantastic breakfast is served every morning to kick start your day.

B&B Paolo e Daniela – nice family run guest house, incredibly budget friendly.

Agriturismo SA Scalitta – outside Carbonia, immersed in the countryside, rooms are decorated in classic style and all set around a nice garden.

A Casa di Angela B&B – nice, spacious room facing a gorgeous garden where you’ll also find a pool. It’s a bit outside of town.


How to get to Carbonia

The most obvious starting point to travel to Carbonia is Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. From there, it’s easy to get to Carbonia by car. From Carbonia, you’ll also be able to reach the nearby Sant’Antioco and Calasetta.

From Cagliari the road trip takes one hour along SS130 Iglesiente. You have keep going until you get to Domusnovas. Once there, take SP2 and follow the directions to Carbonia.

If you prefer to get to Carbonia by bus, from Cagliari you can take bus number 801, 802, 803 or 811. Carbonia is also connected to Cagliari by train – it takes about one hour and 40 minutes.

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