Gallura is one of the most and visited regions of Sardinia, both for its stunning nature and for the magnificent beaches of the famous Costa Smeralda. If you are just planning your next vacation in Costa Smeralda, you should definitely add San Pantaleo to your itinerary. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, this small hamlet is truly a little gem waiting to be discovered.
Want to know more about it? Then continue reading! I have been to San Pantaleo many times, also recently, and in this guide I will share all the information you need for your visit to San Pantaleo.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Guide To Costa Smeralda.
Table of Contents
Some Background Information About San Pantaleo
Also known as “the village of artists,” San Pantaleo is a hamlet located between Olbia and Arzachena, in the Gallura region of Northern Sardinia, and right by the granite massif of Cugnana. The natural landscape that surrounds San Pantaleo is striking indeed, with the rocks of the massif shrouded in Mediterranean scrub that offer a unique view both by day and by night.
Historically, the village did not experience a significant growth until the late 19th century. San Pantaleo became famous when tourism began to develop in Sardinia in the 1970s, especially on the Costa Smeralda.
In fact, if you are a fan of Ian Fleming’s books and the James Bond movies, you will probably recognize some glimpses of San Pantaleo from the film The Spy Who Loved Me starring Roger Moore, which was released in 1977. Many scenes from the 007 movie were filmed right in Sardinia, and San Pantaleo is the setting of a particular and daring car chase, with 007’s Lotus turning into a submarine, diving into the crystal clear sea of the Costa Smeralda.
What To See And Do In San Pantaleo, Sardinia
A stroll around the hamlet
Despite being populated just by a thousand people, the village of San Pantaleo has a lively and animated atmosphere. Therefore, I recommend taking a stroll around the village, where you can see modern boutiques, as well as the various artisans and artists shops such as painters, goldsmiths, sculptors and potters. What’s more, from May to October, the famous San Pantaleo market is held in the central square.
With about fifty exhibitors and frequented by tourists and locals alike, at the San Pantaleo market you can buy handbags, jewelry, handicrafts and food products typical of the area. Just a small piece of advice: if you want to visit San Pantaleo on market days, you should get to the town early in the morning, in order to easily find a parking spot before.
The main square of San Pantaleo is a lovely place to sit in the late afternoon, towards sunset when the entire village turns pink and the light is simply magic. The church is a pretty sight too!
Magnendi in Carrera
The San Pantaleo market is not the only typical event held in the village. If you visit in July tyou can go to Magnendi in Carrera, an evening dedicated to the tasting of traditional Sardinian dishes from Gallura.
This is an opportunity to try products such as wild boar, cured meats, honey, gnocchetti and handmade sweets, while strolling through the pleasant streets of San Pantaleo and listening to live music played by local jazz and folk groups.
The Cugnana massif at the bottom of which San Pantaleo is located offers several opportunities for trekking and outdoor enthusiasts. One of the best hikes will take you to Monte Due Zero, from which you can watch the sunset among the rocks of the massif.
The most easily accessible trail is that of Stazzu Li Pinteddi a moderate / easy hike which reaches a peak at 320 meters (1,050 feet) above sea level. In general, it’s better you do not hike alone, as most of the trails are not clearly marked. Enquire locally for guided hikes.
Cala Razza di Junco
San Pantaleo is just a few kilometers from some of the most beautiful beaches on the Costa Smeralda, so it is an ideal location if you want to plan a vacation between the sea and the mountains.
Among the most beautiful and easy to reach, I recommend Cala Razza di Junco, where you can dive into the crystal clear water of the sea, surrounded by fjords and pink granite rocks. The white and golden sand is bathed by emerald-colored water, while the shallow seabed is perfect for children or for those who want to enjoy the sea and relax.
Liscia Ruja Beach
Liscia Ruja is the largest beach on the Costa Smeralda. Its length of about 700 meters has earned it the name “Long Beach”. Liscia Ruja is also wide, so it can comfortably accommodate up to 3,000 people and it will never fee too crowded.
The golden sand is surrounded by the typical Mediterranean vegetation and faces a beautifully turquoise sea, with a shallow shoreline that makes Liscia Ruja Beach also suitable for families with children.
Check out my post 8 Best Beaches In Costa Smeralda.
How long should you stay in San Pantaleo?
It really depends! You can stay a week, a day or even just a few hours, which is what I did last time I visited. You can definitely visit on a day trip from other places in the Costa Smeralda, but you can also use it as a base to explore the rest of the area. There’s plenty to see and do.
Best time to visit
Most people visit San Pantaleo in the summer, when they can also spend time in the incredible nearby beaches. I visited at the beginning of July and while it was busy, it was not crowded and I found it very pleasant. You can also visit in the spring months, when there are less people around and you are likely going to get a better rate for your room, and the weather is more pleasant for hiking.
Where to stay in San Pantaleo
There are plenty of good places to stay in San Pantaleo, and if you can’t find something there, you can opt to stay in nearby Arzachena, Costa Smeralda and other places in Olbia. Below is a selection of excellent places to stay.
Petra Segreta Resort And Spa
It’s incredibly reasonably priced considering what you get. Rooms are spacious, in the wonderful setting of a lush garden, and some even have a private pool.
Locanda Sant’Andrea Hotel & Relais
A more budget friendly place to stay in San Pantaleo, with classic rooms, a nice garden and two pools for guests’ use.
Agriturismo Sa Mendhula
Located in Cugnana, a bit outside San Pantaleo, it’s beautifully immersed in the countryside. Rooms are spacious and all have a kitchenette, so you can prepare a quick meal before you set out to explore.
If you want self catering accommodation, this holiday home has everything you need for a small family or for a group of friends.
For more places to stay nearby, read my post 10 Fabulous Costa Smeralda Hotels.
Where to eat and drink in San Pantaleo
San Pantaleo is very small, but has a nice selection of places to eat and drink. There are plenty of budget friendly restaurants such as Pizzeria Ichnos, but if you want something a bit more refined, you do have a few excellent picks too.
My top pick would be Il Fuoco Sacro, a Michelin Star restaurant located on the grounds of Petra Segreta Resort. It’s an adults only resort – so not exactly the kind of place you’d visit for a family dinner; and there is a smart casual dress code. Food is incredibly refined and fresh. It’s expensive but definitely worth it!
For a glass of wine and a nice tagliere (a wooden tray with a choice of delicious Sardinian cheeses and meats) go to La Place Wine & Art. It’s in the main square, so you can’t miss it. The atmosphere is sophisticated yet relaxed, and the wine list superb!
How to get to San Pantaleo
My friend and I went to San Pantaleo by motorbike from Arzachena. This is a truly fun way to travel around Sardinia during the spring and summer months. Otherwise, the best way to get there is definitely by car.
If you are traveling from Olbia, drive north along SS125 then take the SP73 towards Porto Cervo, then turn left at the intersection for Portisco and follow the directions to San Pantaleo. It should take you around 25 minutes.
It’s even quicker from Arzachena: you just have to take the SS 125 Orientale Sarda and then SP73. It takes just 12 minutes. You will find Cantine Surrau along the way – it may be a good idea to stop there for some wine tasting too!
Don’t have a car or a motorbike? Don’t worry! You can also get to San Pantaleo by bus: the bus line 601 is perfect if you want depart from Olbia, Palau or Arzachena.