Every time someone asks me “Is Sardinia worth visiting?”, I always come up with the same, blunt answer: yes. Sardinia is worth visiting, all year round and in its every corner. The thing that you should actually be asking me is why is Sardinia worth visiting?
You see, there is so, so much more than heavenly beaches and luxury resorts on this amazing island, and yet only very few people give the interior of Sardinia a chance – most stick to the (gorgeous) beaches and visit strictly in the summer.
But I promise you, every little place in Sardinia hides its secrets and can potentially steal your heart. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the beaches, mind you! We are proud of our crystal clear waters and we want as many visitors as possible to witness their perfection.
However, today I also want to show you the other reasons to visit Sardinia, and some of the places to visit other than beaches.
Is Sardinia Worth Visiting?
Sardinia has been a cradle for civilizations since the most ancient times, when most parts of Italy weren’t even inhabited yet.
Let’s start from the prehistoric tribes who have left the Giants’ Tombs and Domus de Janas: these people have lived thousands of years before us and were able to build some of the most fascinating megaliths around the world, together with the Nuragic people who lived right after them and resisted – in some inland bits of the island – until the arrival of the Romans.
The Nuragic civilization is a culture unique to Sardinia and the 7000+ nuraghi that are left from it are an eternal witness of their originality. There are various speculations about what these nuraghi’s function was, but the most accredited one is that they were either watchtowers or the tribe’s “king”’s residence, and in some cases both at the same time.
After that, Sardinia has been a haven for the Phoenicians and Punics, who have left us beautiful cities such as Nora and Tharros, and for the Romans, who have improved those cities, built new ones, and created a big chunk of what is the Sardinian road system that’s still used nowadays.
And of course, every single civilization has left behind not only buildings and ruins but an enormous amount of relics that are now exposed inside some great museums such as the Cagliari Archeological Museum.
Sardinia’s wild nature
I always say there’s more than just beaches in Sardinia. Venture inland and you will find gorgeous nature, especially in the area of the Barbagia Mountains. If you decide to go all the way there, you will see the purest, most real version of the island you could possibly find. The forests, the rock formations, and the overall environment are something that can only be seen here.
Hundreds of indigenous animals live here and, if you are lucky – and respectful of their spaces – enough, you can even spot them: bring some binoculars with you and maybe you will have the privilege to see a deer or boars!
If you prefer bird watching, Sardinia has some great wetlands to offer and you don’t even have to drive far from the cities to see them: the Sarrabus area or the Molentargius Park in the heart of Cagliari are just some of the most famous.
Be mindful of the rules set to preserve the wellbeing of animals: you will need to dress with natural colors and keep your distance, especially from the birds. Some species are so shy that, if scared, won’t lay their eggs for the year, and that might compromise the already fragile ecosystem.
Sardinians love their identity and they take great pride in it. They have very strong traditions and are happy to showcase them, especially on the inner bits of the Island.
If you visit some of the villages in the Barbagia region, you will be surprised by how many traditional costumes, masks, crafts will be on display during local festivals. Every village in Sardinia has its own traditional costumes and their art specialties, from basket weaving to button making, from metal engraving to wood carving and so on.
Festivals in Sardinia take place year round, with many concentrated during the fall and winter months and some of the most popular ones – such as Sant’Efisio in Cagliari or the Candelieri of Sassari taking place in the spring and summer.
An excellent place where you can see a part of this kaleidoscope of colors and traditions is Mamoiada’s Museum of Mediterranean Masks, where you can admire a series of traditional costumes both from Sardinia and from the rest of the Mediterranean Basin, and learn a lot about Sardinian traditional Carnival rites, which are, in my opinion, quite fascinating.
However, one of the best museums in Sardinia to learn more about its culture and traditions is the Ethnographic Museum of Nuoro.
Should you decide to visit Sardinia, you must come mentally prepared to the fact that you’ll gain a few pounds. There is just too much food to try: from appetizers to desserts, Sardinia really has it all. And don’t even get me started on the wines of Sardinia: Sardinia Cannonau is superb, if only a bit strong, and there are about another dozen of endemic wines and local liquors you should try.
Among the numerous Sardinian specialties in terms of food, my recommendations are Malloreddus alla Campidanese and Culurgiones (the first is a type of pasta and the second one a traditional dumpling, and they both have tons of variations – every village has its own recipe); the famous pork and lamb meats; the many soups served all around the island and the delicious Carasau bread served with typical local pecorino cheese.
Two very special foods you must try are panadas and seadas: the first one is some sort of a savory pie which is usually filled with potatoes and meat (but, as it is common in Sardinia, the filling may vary). The second one is a dessert made with cheese and covered in honey: once you try one, you are doomed. They are terribly addictive.
Read my post What To Eat In Sardinia.
Sardinia gorgeous beaches – of course!
The main reason people visit Sardinia is and will always be the beaches. And honestly, who am I to suggest otherwise? They are stunning! From the long, sandy shores in the Cagliari area to the rocky coves and breathtaking cliffs of the Orosei Gulf, every meter of the Sardinian coasts has something to experience… and, therefore, you always have something to discover.
Whether you are the type to spend a relaxing holiday in a top-tier resort or have an adventurous road trip around the island, what you will bring home with you will be the same: the memories of some colors, sceneries, and scents you’ll never experience anywhere else (just make sure not to take sand from Sardinian beaches as it is prohibited and you may be fined for that).
One thing you should definitely do if your budget allows you is a boat tour of the area you’re visiting. The colors of the sea are out of this world, and you will have plenty of snorkeling opportunities during a boat tour.
Head over to my post The Best Beaches In Sardinia.
The people of Sardinia
Despite their grumpy appearance and brusque attitude, Sardinians are very warm-hearted people and would do anything for their guests. If you happen to have any trouble while in Sardinia, the locals will probably go the extra mile to help you… and then be shy and embarrassed once you thank them, because that’s just how they are.
Guests are still considered sacred in Sardinia: once you’re there, be prepared to have a lot of things offered to you, especially food! It’s very common, for instance, that many guest house and B&B owners will leave you some extra food or snacks around.
The only thing that you should be careful about is, Sardinians have a strong sense of pride, and often, once you offend, they may never accept an apology. So, if you make friends with some locals, you probably have found wonderful people, maybe even for life, but don’t push them too much: if they suggest something is going too far, drop the joke and change the topic.
Curious to find out more about Sardinians? Read this post.
So, Is Sardinia Worth Visiting?
There are a thousand reasons why Sardinia is worth visiting. There obviously are the many gorgeous beaches. However, I would love it if more people found out about the other beauties of the island. But at the end of the day, it is your holiday we are talking about! You do you. Enjoy whatever experience you are planning to have and rest assured that you will make great memories no matter what.