Situated in the extreme north of Sardinia, Santa Teresa di Gallura has the Strait of Bonifacio and Corsica to the north, La Maddalena Archipelago to the east, and the whole rest of the island to the south.
Unlike Costa Smeralda, Santa Teresa is more down to earth. Don’t expect late-night partying and over-the-top glamour here. Instead, you can look forward to an authentically local atmosphere, even though it still draws the crowds each year.
Centered around the main town square with its shops and restaurants, the territory of Santa Teresa includes rugged stretches of coastline, ancient archaeological sites, charming towns, old wartime fortifications, and dozens of beaches.
If you’re planning a trip here, you’re in good hands. I’ve created this in-depth guide to Santa Teresa di Gallura after having been there a million times!
The Best Beaches In Santa Teresa Di Gallura
The gorgeous beaches are obviously the main draw to Santa Teresa di Gallura. You will be in for a real treat. To give you some inspiration for those beach days, here are my top picks for Santa Teresa di Gallura’s best beaches.
The main beach in town, Rena Bianca is a 700-meter-long slice of sun, sea, and sand situated north of central Santa Teresa di Gallura. It boasts beautiful views of Isola di Municca, as well as the rugged cliffs of Corsica in the distance.
This is a stunning Blue Flag certified beach; as such, it’s super clean and boasts shallow turquoise water – all backed by picturesque cliffs. Because of its amenities and its shallow, calm water, this is an excellent spot for families with children.
FACILITIES: Toilets, showers, lifeguards, parasols and sun loungers for hire, bars and restaurants nearby.
How to get to Rena Bianca
From the centre of Santa Teresa, it takes around ten minutes on foot. Getting down to the beach involves 300 meters or so of steps. There are a few car parks nearby, but in summer, these fill up fast.
Located at the mouth of the Rio Cantaro, and named after the nearby village of the same name, Rena Majore is a yellow-sand beach 9 kilometers to the southwest of Santa Teresa di Gallura.
This vast beach (2 kilometers long!) is a wild and rugged one, with a stretch of sand dotted with rocks and boulders and waves that crash against the shore. It’s not always the best beach for swimming – especially when the winds are high – but it’s a popular favorite for windsurfers.
That said, in summer, families flock here to linger in its calm – and ultra-clear – waters.
FACILITIES: Parking, bar.
How to get to Rena Majore
From Santa Teresa to Rena Majore, it’s an 11-minute drive along SP90, or there’s a direct bus (Line 728; 20 minutes, €3.90) that takes you to Rena Majore town. There’s plenty of parking on site.
Rena di Ponente and Rena di Levante
The twin beaches of Rena di Ponente and Rena di Levante are situated on either side of the isthmus that connects Capo Testa to the mainland. Depending on the wind direction at the time (it’s always changing in Sardinia), one may be better for you than the other.
Ponente has soft white sand with a brilliant array of colors in the sea, while Levante has a low cliff and clear, shallow waters.
FACILITIES: Parking, sun loungers and parasols, bar, restaurant.
How to get to Rena di Ponente and Rena di Levante
From the center of Santa Teresa di Gallura, it’s either a 5-minute car ride on Via Capotesta, or you could walk the same route (it’s only 3 kilometers), or take the coastal path, which is longer.
Cala Spinosa is situated in an inlet surrounded by cliffs and rocks on the northern side of Capo Testa. With its crystal clear waters set in a beautiful blue bay, there are lots of rocks to climb and explore here, as well as a wonderful view of Bonifacio across the sea.
For those who like rocky beaches, this is a great option. Because of all the rocks, it’s suitable for snorkeling. It is quite popular, especially in high season, so make sure you come early to get a spot.
FACILITIES: Parking along the road, restaurant with impressive views.
How to get to Cala Spinosa
Cala Spinosa is an 8-minute drive from the center of Santa Teresa along the Via Capotesta.
This beach is a classically beautiful one – think curving stretch of white sand (350 meters of it), rocks at either end, shallow turquoise seas, all backed by greenery. There’s actually a smaller, 200-meter-long beach alongside it, too, called La Laurina beach.
The sand here gently slopes into the emerald waters, making the water calm and great for families. Kayaking is popular, as is taking out a pedalo to explore. Be warned; because there’s a holiday resort nearby, this beach can get very busy in the peak summer months!
FACILITIES: Parking, lifeguard, sun loungers and parasols, restaurants, bars, water sport hire shops (kayak, pedalo, jetski, etc.).
How to get to La Marmorata
Situated around 6 kilometers from Santa Teresa, La Marmorata can be reached in around ten minutes by car along Via la Filetta.
Something of a hidden gem, Cala Balcaccia is often a much quieter spot than other beaches in the area. That’s probably because it’s a little more difficult to access it.
But once you’re there, you’ll find a beach in a large cove – bordered by rocks and Mediterranean macchia – that runs for 330 meters. It’s mostly made up of fine, white sand, though in the western part, it is more gravelly. The seabed here is shallow and sandy, making it a good place to cool off.
FACILITIES: None (rudimentary parking).
How to get to Cala Balcaccia
From Santa Teresa di Gallura, it’s about 10 kilometers to Cala Balcaccia. By car, it will take 25-30 minutes to get there, but you’ll need to ask permission to drive the private (dirt) road, which is a left turn after passing through Marazzino on the SS133bis.
This beach is a well-rounded mix of everything Sardinia’s beaches have to offer. There are interesting rock formations, fine sand, macchia, and (of course) crystal clear waters. It’s also quite small, just 160 meters long.
The views from Santa Reparata are equally beautiful, with the southern coast of Capo Testa over the Baia La Colba making up the backdrop to your beach day.
Because of its beauty, small size, and easy access, it’s a popular beach, but never too overcrowded. Note that when winds are strong, waves get very large here, so it’s best avoided. Other times, it’s perfect – like a swimming pool!
FACILITIES: Lifeguard, cafe, bar, parking, sun loungers and parasols, pedalo rental.
How to get to Santa Reparata
It’s an easy 5-minute drive from Santa Tersesa di Gallura to Santa Reparata beach. Or you could walk (it takes about half an hour).
9 Cool Things To Do In Santa Teresa Di Gallura
There’s so much more to Santa Teresa than just the gorgeous beaches. Here are some of my favorite things to do here.
Visit the Torre di Longosardo
Torre di Longosardo is the ruins of a tower sitting on the coast of Santa Teresa di Gallura. It was built by the Aragonese (now Spain) in 1559 as a defense against Moorish invasions.
The remains of the fortification can still be seen today. It’s not only history that can be glimpsed here, though – with the top of the tower 41 meters above sea level, it’s also a stunning viewpoint.
Stick around for sunset, which is equally beautiful. After the sun disappears, this iconic part of Santa Teresa is illuminated to create some interesting shadows.
GOOD TO KNOW: Feel like a walk? Close to the adjacent beach, you will find the hiking trail to Capo Testa, which starts at this point.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: It costs €2.00 to enter the tower and reach the top, which has a small gift shop inside. It’s open 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm daily.
Take a day boat trip to Corsica
While you’re in Santa Teresa, why not take a day trip over to neighboring Corsica? Santa Teresa di Gallura is the closest town to Corsica (you can easily see it on clear days), so it’s very easily accessible.
This large Mediterranean island is French but has a unique culture and language of its own, much like Sardinia. During a day trip you will be able to visit fantastic beaches on the jewel-like Isola Piana, for example; while Lavezzi is an archipelago of islets and reefs in the Strait of Bonifacio – think coves, beaches, and rugged beauty.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Tour companies will whisk you to a handful different destinations, making them the easier option. Expect to pay between €70 and €80 for a full day trip – with or without lunch, and depending on the kind of boat and how many passengers it carries. Trips leave from the tourist harbor right outside the center of town.
You can book your boat tour of Corsica Islands from Santa Teresa di Gallura here.
Make sure to also read my post How To Get From Corsica To Sardinia.
Go surfing in Porto Liscia Sciumara
Because of the different winds that blow around Sardinia, water sports are top-notch here, and that includes surfing!
One of the best spots for surfing anywhere in Sardinia is Porto Liscia (or Liscia Sciumara). The constant winds here make for ideal conditions and create something of a surfer’s paradise.
It’s not just the surfing that’s good here, but also windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing – anything wind-powered. You may even catch sight of paragliders floating above you!
GOOD TO KNOW: Not an expert surfer? Don’t worry; there are surfing schools here.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: It takes around 13 minutes to drive from Santa Teresa di Gallura to Porto Liscia, along the SS133bis. You can catch the bus (Line 601); it takes 20 minutes and costs €1.90.
Check out my post Where To Go Surfing In Sardinia.
Admire sunset in Capo Testa
If you’re big on sunsets catching a sunset at Capo Testa is a must-do.On the northwest of this former island (now connected to the mainland artificially), friends, locals and holiday makers gather to watch as the sun sinks below the horizon, the light changing through deep oranges, pinks and reds. It’s a beautiful sight.
GOOD TO KNOW: Head to the lighthouse and find a rock to perch on to get the best view!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: While it’s possible to hike (leave at least an hour one-way), by car, it’s a 10-minute drive to reach the parking lot on the cape.
Visit Valle della Luna / Cala Lunga
Cala Lunga – better known today as Valle della Luna – is a mysterious place in the west of Capo Testa. A popular hotspot with hippies since the 1960s, today, this decidedly bohemian hang-out attracts those looking to wind down and enjoy nature.
Named after its moon-like landscape, Valle della Luna is made up of seven mini-canyons divided up by huge rocks and boulders dotted with caves. This makes it a popular spot for rock climbers, too.
The beach, with its laid-back vibe and turquoise water, is a great place to chill for an afternoon.
GOOD TO KNOW: The International Jazz Festival Musica sulle Bocche takes place here every year in August and September.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can drive from Santa Teresa di Gallura (around 10 minutes) to Capo Testa. From there, it’s a bit of a walk along the trail down to Valle della Luna, so make sure you wear appropriate shoes.
Visit Batteria Ferrero
For history buffs Batteria Ferrero ticks all the boxes.
This hidden gem offers an insight into the more recent history of Sardinia, with the remains of World War II military defenses still on show. Here you can find bunkers, open-cast mines, light and heavy artillery (including cannons) still left in place.
It’s pretty surprising how unknown this place is, given how extensive it is.
More intrepid urban explorers may want to take a look around the abandoned military complex, but take care – this isn’t a developed tourist site. No tickets necessary!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: From Santa Teresa di Gallura, drive to the neighboring village of La Ficaccia and take Str. Batteria de Calori, keeping to the left. This takes around 20 minutes to drive. From La Ficaccia, it’s possible to walk along the road (about 40 minutes’ walk).
Visit the nearby Nuraghe sites
Nuraghe are ancient buildings that give their name to the Nuragic culture – a civilization that was indigenous to Sardinia thousands of years ago. There are a few within striking distance of Santa Teresa di Gallura. Lu Brandali is a small complex of Nuragic sites that can be explored easily on foot (allow 30 minutes to an hour).
It’s also near here that you’ll find a Tomba Dei Giganti – a stone tomb dating back to the Bronze Age.
Also nearby is the Vignamarina Nuraghe, situated slightly south of town. It’s an overlooked yet well-preserved site. Others around the area include Nuraghe La Colba, Nuraghe Lu Naraconi, and Nuraghe Li Fichi.
Around a 40 minute drive from Santa Teresa, the charming Nuraghe La Prisgiona (which is a must-visit) and Nuraghe Albucciu are great places to learn about the history of Nuragic culture. They can both be visited on a day trip, and both have entry fees and opening hours.
GOOD TO KNOW: Some nuraghe can easily be found while you’re exploring. It would be easy to pass them by, so try out Nurnet, a handy map of known and possible nuraghe across Sardinia.
Try the famous Vermentino
The region of Gallura is home to one of the most celebrated Sardinian wines – Vermentino. It goes without saying that one of the highlights of your trip to Santa Teresa should be visiting a winery (or more, in fact). You will find several in the immediate surroundings, and a few more not far from town in places such as Arzachena (around 40 minutes drive) or Olbia, at little over one hour drive.
Among the wineries you should consider visiting there are Mancini and Siddùra, both located in Luogosanto – a quick drive from Santa Teresa; and Capichera and Surrau, just outside Arzachena and famous for their fantastic Vermentino.
Whether you like to window shop or delve deep amid the bargains and boutiques, there are certainly going to be some good places where you can browse and buy.
Notably, there are a lot of jewelry shops to check out in Santa Teresa di Gallura; there are also a fair few fashion boutiques, such as Azul Bottegacreativa – it’s smart and contemporary with a relaxed atmosphere.
For traditional crafts and locally-made items, La Gallina Matta is a Sardinian craft shop with handmade items that make for awesome gifts. If you’re in the market for something bigger – from lamps to ornaments – the Ceramiche Artistiche Leoni Arte is the place to shop.
Artigianato Tipico Sardo Margherita is a good option if you’re looking for small, friendly souvenir shop; so is Casa dell’artigianato Muntoni, which stocks earthenware and local wines, too (you’ll find it near the main square).
There’s also the nightly market hosted on the pedestrianized Via Umberto and Via Carlo Alberto in summer. For wine and food at any other time of year, there are shops for that.
L’Isola del Mirto is a wine store with everything you need, including other small souvenirs; you can even sit in and sample the wine. Elsewhere, Panificio Filigheddu sells delicious fresh bread.
Check out my posts The Best Places To Go Shopping In Sardinia and What To Buy In Sardinia: The Top 9 Best Souvenirs From Sardinia for more shopping ideas.
Practical Information To Plan Your Trip To Santa Teresa Di Gallura
How to get to Santa Teresa di Gallura
The nearest airport to Santa Teresa di Gallura is Olbia. From there, it’s a one-hour drive along SS125 until Palau, where you’ll have to take SS133.
If you are coming from Cagliari, you have two options:
- Driving north along the SS131 until you get to the exit marked Olbia/Nuoro, then continuing up towards Palau before turning off for Santa Teresa. This takes basically 4 hours to drive.
- Drive north along SS131 until turning off through Tempio Pausania. This is a less fun drive and can be very windy, even if it is shorter (around three hours 40 minutes).
If you are driving from Sassari or Alghero, go via Castelsardo – it’s significantly more scenic as the road goes along the coast, and albeit a bit longer it’s much better as it is not as windy.
If you don’t have your own car, no worries; public transport is also an option.
From Cagliari train station, you can catch the train to Olbia (4 hours and 10minutes), then hop on a bus (Line 601) to Santa Teresa di Gallura. The total? Seven and a half hours. Long, yes – but it could be an experience!
Where to stay
Accommodation in Santa Teresa di Gallura ranges from down to earth bed and breakfasts to upscale resorts with their own swimming pools and restaurants.
Here are just some good options
Best Luxury Hotel – Nonna Pasqualina B&B
This bed and breakfast uses traditional touches and contemporary style to make it look the part, complete with a lush garden. It’s immaculate, there’s breakfast served up each morning, and it’s a 15-minute walk to town, 3 minutes to the beach. What’s not to like?
Best Budget-Friendly Hotel – Hotel Canne al Vento
One of the things I loved most about this place is the sea-themed decor in my room – think white-washed walls, wooden furnishings and turquoise accents. What’s also great is how welcoming and friendly the hosts are, and the plentiful breakfast, of course. Coupled with a central location, it truly is terrific value for money.
Best Apartment – Residenza Lucia
A simple but clean and modern space, this bright apartment comes with everything you need for a place to call home. Located a few km from town, close to the beach, it comes equipped with a kitchenette, comfy beds, and a seating area, all topped off with a balcony that boasts sea views.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Hotels In Santa Teresa Di Gallura.
Where to Eat and Drink
When in Santa Teresa, make sure to try the local Zuppa Gallurese – it’s a very earthy dish, honestly not exactly summery, but oh-so-good!
Check out my post The Most Delicious Sardinian Food: Everything You Must Try.
You may also want to consider joining a guided tour or cooking class to make the most of local food. Here are a good options:
- Cooking class at a Cesarina’s home in Santa Teresa di Gallura – Cesarine in Italy are repositories of traditional food recipes. This class is the best option if you care to learn about local recipes.
- Small group street food tour – a good option if you are interested in learning about local recipes.
- Small group Pasta and Tiramisu class in Santa Teresa di Gallura – it focuses on Italian rather than local food.
Here is a selection of the best restaurants in town:
DA THOMAS – Excellent fish restaurant. I’ve tried it personally and can attest that everything here is nothing short of delicious – from the lobster linguine to the fresh oysters.The interiors are smart and minimal, with white-washed walls and bright, modern artwork adorning the walls. Although it’s popular and can get quite busy, the staff offer excellent service, and there’s a pleasant atmosphere. The prices, too, are acceptable! It’s located at 22 Via Valle D’Aosta, and opens daily from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and again from 6:45 pm to 12:00 am.
LOCANDA DEI MORI – Another seafood restaurant, more traditional compared to Da Thomas. With spots to sit outdoors in a picturesque terrace in summer, the only thing better than the cosy setting is the food itself. It’s an agriturismo spot, which means locally sourced and very fresh ingredients. It’s situated just off of the Castelsardo-Santa Teresa di Gallura road (SP90), around 8 minutes’ drive from the centre of town. If you want wine with your meal, you can take the bus (Line 728; 24 minutes, €1.30). Check their website for bookings and opening hours.
PIZZERIA LA LUCCIOLA – If you’re a fan of pizza, this is the place to go. With its kitsch and colorful exteriors, you won’t miss it! The interiors are cosy, the owner is super friendly, and the pizza is served quick, fresh and hot. You buy it by the slice (around €2-3.00) and can eat it either inside or out on their balcony. Eat a few slices with a cold bottle of Ichnusa beer – Sardinia’s own refreshing lager (for more Sardinian beers, check out this post). It’s located at 42 Via Maria Teresa. It’s open every day from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, and from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm; on weekends, it’s open from 10:30 am to 9:00 pm.
PARADISE BEACH – Situated on Rena Majore beach, it’s a great place to hang out all day, or grab a mojito (or any other cocktail of your choice) as the sun begins to set for an aperitif. Food here comes in the form of simple plates of meats, olives, and bruschetta, as well as burgers and panini. It’s a cool beach bar that looks like it’s been made of driftwood, all with a soundtrack of chilled music – just what you need for a day at the beach. It’s open every day from 8:30 am to 10:00 pm.
Planning a trip to Sardinia? Check out my other posts!
- Where Is Sardinia?
- A Wonderful 10 Days In North Sardinia Itinerary
- What You Should Know Before Traveling To Sardinia
- 13 Reasons To Visit Sardinia In Winter
- The Best Hikes In Sardinia
- The Most Beautiful Waterfalls In Sardinia
- 10 Absolutely Unmissable Things To Do In Sardinia
- Your Guide To The Astounding Island Of Asinara
- A Complete Guide To La Maddalena, Sardinia
- The Nicest Small Towns And Cities In Sardinia