Sardinia is beautiful. With all its beaches and stunning coastal towns, historical sights, rugged landscapes and traditional culture to lap up, it’s no wonder that it also enjoys a certain level of popularity – especially during summer.
And where better to see the island in all its glory than in North Sardinia?
This region is home to national parks, resorts frequented by the rich and famous, traditional villages, secluded coves, white-sand beaches and a whole lot of things to do and see. It’s got a little bit of everything that makes Sardinia so wonderful.
Plus, exploring just the one region instead of traveling up and down the length of the island allows you to make the most of your time. But even so, if you’ve never been here before, knowing where to begin – and where to go – can be tricky.
Which is why I’ve come up with this awesome itinerary for 10 days in North Sardinia! This guide has just about everything you need – from the best sights and beaches to where to eat and stay along the way.
So if you’re ready, let’s see what’s in store!
Want to go around the whole island? Read my post A Fun Sardinia Itinerary.
A Fabulous 10 Days North Sardinia Itinerary
My guide is carefully curated for North Sardinia, taking in the best parts of what make this region one of my favorite places to explore on the entire island.
From the protected islands of La Maddalena Archipelago National Park to the stunning beaches of San Teodoro; from the high-rolling Costa Smeralda, to Santa Teresa di Gallura, Costa Paradiso, the charming Bosa and the Catalan feels of Alghero.
You can explore all of this in 10 days, of course. But if you’ve got more time, great! I made sure to include a few worthy detours along the way.
TIP: While there is public transport in Sardinia, it’s not the best in the world, so I would definitely recommend renting a car from the airport when you land. It’ll add so much more freedom into your trip, and you won’t have to rely on anything but your own sense of adventure to get you from A to B (and my guide, of course!).
If you like, feel free to follow this itinerary backwards – that’s totally doable, too.
Days 1 and 2: San Teodoro
The first stop on your North Sardinia itinerary, San Teodoro is a favorite holiday destination for locals and tourists alike. Needless to say, since you will be visiting Sardinia in the summer, the main perk of San Teodoro is the may incredible beaches – among them La Cinta, Cala d’Ambra, Li Corri di Li Becchi, Cala Suaraccia, and more! My favorite though is Cala Brandinchi, nicknamed “Little Tahiti” – I leave you to guess why!
San Teodoro is a great starting point for boat excursions over to more sparkling island paradises, such as Molara and Tavolara islands.
If you are looking for something other than a beach, make sure to head to Naracheddu, a nuraghe, and explore the lagoon behind the strip of beaches, which is perfect for birdwatching and home to pink flamingoes.
MORE TIME? Check out the glitzy beaches of Costa Smeralda – Capriccioli, Grande and Piccolo Pevero, as well as Romazzino and beautiful Spiaggia del Principe are all a must-see – and head to glamorous Porto Cervo, home to more billionaires’ yachts than you could ever imagine and a luxury shopping mall.
Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To Costa Smeralda.
Where to stay and eat in San Teodoro
Residence Sardegna Summer Li Cuppulati is a lovely one-bedroom, one-bathroom home just 400 meters from the city center and 500 meters from the beach, perfect for a short stay.
When it comes to food, you’ll have plenty of options in San Teodoro. My go-to place is Il Giardinaccio, which serves excellent seafood and fish dishes prepared with a contemporary twist, in a gorgeous location.
How to get to San Teodoro
You can take a flight from the Italian mainland to Olbia Costa Smeralda International Airport; from there, it’s as simple as hiring a car to travel around. San Teodoro is at around 25 minutes drive south of Olbia.
Day 3-5: La Maddalena
The second stop on your North Sardinia itinerary, La Maddalena offers island living, interesting culture, and carefree beach days. To get over to the archipelago, hop on one of the regular ferries that leave from Palau, located around 30 kilometers northwest of Olbia.
La Maddalena will give you the chance to ease into Sardinian life. The islands are all part of La Maddalena National Park, which protects the beautiful marine life and landscape. It’s here where you can find the small coves of Caprera Island, such as Cala Napoletana, and the famous pink beach on the protected Budelli island. Days here are all about exploring remote coasts, undertaking rugged hikes, discovering old ruins, and enjoying long, leisurely meals.
To make the most of La Maddalena Archipelago, you may want to consider joining one of these guided tours:
- Full day boat trip to the Maddalena archipelago – a very good tour departing from either La Maddalena or Palau.
- Full day boat trip to the islands of La Maddalena – another excellent full day tour.
- La Maddalena archipelago catamaran tour – perfect if you want to travel on a smaller boat.
MORE TIME? If you have a little more time to spare, you should definitely consider spending more than a couple of nights in La Maddalena. The islands have a wealth of beaches that have to be seen to be believed, and there’s history here, too. Visit the home of the 19th-century Italian hero Garibaldi in Caprera and find old forts and prisons.
Where to stay and eat in La Maddalena
Though it’s a small place, good places to stay abound in La Maddalena. If your budget is small, you are better off staying in town and base yourself there to explore the rest of the national park and the beaches. My choice would be Clelia Boutique Rooms and Suites, a lovely boutique-style home away from home set in a bed and breakfast.
When it comes to food, you will have many options in La Maddalena. My favorite places there are Trattoria del Genovese, a lovely homestyle restaurant, and La Locanda del Mirto, which is a bit more pricey.
Days 6 and 7: Costa Paradiso
From the beaches and bars of San Teodoro, the next leg of the itinerary across North Sardinia will take you on to Costa Paradiso, which – as the name says – is truly paradisiac and home to some of the most unique beaches on the island.
Technically speaking, Costa Paradiso goes all the way from Santa Teresa di Gallura to Castelsardo (more about those in a bit). It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Sardinia for lovers of water sports such as surfing – best enjoyed at Isola Rossa, windsurfing, sailing, diving and more.
Li Cossi and Li Tinnari are the most beautiful beaches in the area. You will need to walk about 1 km from the parking lot to reach Li Cossi but I promise you the view is worth it. Another great beach is Cala Saracena – or Cala Sarraina, as it is known locally. It’s a lovely spot though keep in mind it’s not the best place to swim when the wind is blowing strong.
After two days in Costa Paradiso, it’s an early morning start to get to Bosa. The best way to get there is by following the coastal road that will take you to the attractive village of Castelsardo, which has a hilltop castle and makes for a good stop-off.
MORE TIME? Check out the lovely Santa Teresa di Gallura, home of the gorgeous Cala Spinosa, Rena Bianca and Rena Majore beaches, and of the stunning Capo Testa sunset spot. From there you can even take a boat from the town’s tourist harbor over to the French island of Corsica, or book a boat trip to the Corsican islands of Isola Piana and Lavezzi.
Make sure to check my posts A Quick Guide To Castelsardo and A Complete Guide To Santa Teresa Di Gallura, Sardinia.
Where to stay and eat in Costa Paradiso
If you are looking for a budget friendly place to stay in Costa Paradiso, opt for Villa Agnese, a fantastic family run bed and breakfast that is a quick ten-minute drive from the beach. Rooms are small but the place is spotless.
Antica Osteria is by far the best restaurant in the area. It’s a local trattoria where you can try some of the staples of Sardinian cuisine.
Day 8: Asinara Island
One of the best kept secrets (but not for much longer) of North Sardinia is Asinara Island. A National Park since 2002, the island is completely uninhabited since the last high security prison was finally closed in 1998. You won’t be able to take your car there – only service vehicles can circulate in Asinara – which means you can completely relax and enjoy the blissful silence, the sights, the wildlife (Asinara is home to the lovely white donkeys) and the pristine beaches.
Most visit Asinara on day trips from either Porto Torres or Stintino, but I recommend spending at least a night there to enjoy the incredible atmosphere – once day trippers leave on the last ferry, you will have the place to yourself.
The island is best explored on foot, as there are many hiking trails. But if you go in the summer and just for one day, it may be too hot for that and you may want to rent a golf cart or an e-bike to explore it and reach its many viewpoints and beaches. The most accessible beaches are Cala Sabina, a short hike from Cala d’Oliva, and the lovely cove of Cala dei Detenuti.
I also recommend visiting the many former prisons – the one in Cala d’Oliva is the main one and the most interesting.
Make sure to read my post Your Guide To The Astounding Island Of Asinara.
MORE TIME? Plan to spend another night in Asinara or – for more beach action – visit other beaches in North Sardinia. On your way to Alghero you could stop at La Pelosa beach, in Stintino, or – for a more hidden gem – go to Rena Majore della Nurra. This gorgeous beach is a bit hard to get – you need to hike there for about 15 minutes downhill (and it’s actually hard on the way back up) and is not serviced at all, but it’s a breathtaking spot.
Where to stay and eat in Asinara Island
There are only two places to stay in Asinara. One is a basic hostel located right above Cala d’Oliva village, with options for private rooms and dorms. The other is a recently opened boutique guest house called La Locanda del Parco, which only has a total of six rooms! Both of them also serve meals. If your budget allows, definitely opt for the guest house – it’s a million times better than the hostel.
How to get to Asinara Island
From Costa Paradiso, drive to Porto Torres or Stintino, where you’ll have to park your car, and hop on Delcomar a ferry to either Cala Reale or Fornelli. The boat ride lasts between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours. depending on your starting and ending point.
Days 9 – 10: Alghero
Your North Sardinia itinerary ends in Alghero – but the fun’s not over yet. Alghero is a Catalan enclave, its language and part of its population descended from medieval Catalan conquerors.
But aside from the facts, it’s a great city to explore. Think narrow alleyways to wander, historical churches to discover, medieval walls and bastions to stroll along, boutiques and shops for gifts and treating yourself. And let’s not forget the food: there are plenty of bars and restaurants to tuck into here!
While the city is perfect for a few days’ by itself, there’s a lot to uncover for yourself just a stone’s throw from the city. And if it’s beaches you’re interested in, don’t worry; there are some great beaches near Alghero. Lazzaretto and Le Bombarde with their coves and pine trees are easily the most popular.
For more options, check out Mugoni Beach. Located in Porto Conte Nature Reserve, this crescent of powdery white sand boasts some great views of Capo Caccia. North of Alghero you will find the small, but beautiful, Argentiera, and further north you can go all the way to La Pelosa, in Stintino.
If you’re a fan of diving, Capo Caccia is the place for you; more specifically, Neptune’s Caves and its veritable forest of stalagmites and stalactites make diving here particularly awesome.
For sunsets, Capo Caccia can’t be beaten. Sunsets here – sometimes called the best in Sardinia – are simply breathtaking.
MORE TIME? Take a day trip to Bosa, one of the most charming small towns in Italy. Explore the village by walking along the Temo River; walk up to Malaspina Castle – also known as Castello di Serravalle – for the best views of the town and the coast; enjoy Cumpultittu beach and jump in the clear waters of Cani Malu (literally “bad dog”), a fantastic swimming hole. And don’t forget to try Malvasia wine!
Make sure to read my post What To See And Do In Bosa Sardinia.
Where to stay and eat in Alghero
Looking for a place to stay in Alghero? Well, you’ll be spoilt for choice – there are plenty of options. My recommendation is Hillary’s Loft a one-bedroom, one-bathroom rustic loft located in a historic building in the center of Alghero.
When you’re hungry, definitely make a beeline for Nautilus. Situated at the entrance to Alghero’s walled harbor, it’s an unpretentious sort of place with some of the best food in town. Terrace tables are popular (the views over the harbor are lovely), so book in advance if you want one.
Other Useful Information To Plan Your Trip To North Sardinia
How To Get To Sardinia
As I mentioned earlier, since you’ll be starting this itinerary in San Teodoro, your best bet is to fly in via Olbia Costa Smeralda International Airport (flying out of Alghero Fertilia International Airport).
There are frequent domestic flights from Italy, and international budget airlines fly here, but you can’t always be guaranteed a direct flight – some will be connecting flights via Milan or Rome (depending on where you are coming from).
For countries outside of Europe, both airports will offer flights to and from Sardinia on a less regular – more seasonal – basis.
Make sure to read my post How To Get To Sardinia: Routes From Italy And Europe.
How To Move Around Sardinia
Public transportation works in North Sardinia, but if you want to reach the best beaches and if you are tight on time, you are definitely better off renting a car. You can get one in Olbia Costa Smeralda International Airport as soon as you land, and return it in Alghero Fertilia Airport before leaving.
Make sure to check out my other posts:
- The Best Itinerary For A Road Trip To Sardinia
- The Best South Sardinia Itinerary
- What You Should Know Before Traveling To Sardinia
- Is Sardinia Safe?
- Where To Stay In Sardinia: The Best Areas And Hotels
- The Most Beautiful Beach Resorts In Sardinia
- The Most Unique Airbnbs In Sardinia – With Prices!
- The Best Guide To Renting A Car In Sardinia
- A Guide To Renting A Car In Alghero
- A Guide To Renting A Car In Olbia
- How To Get From Cagliari To Olbia
- How To Get From Cagliari To Alghero