There are many scenic roads in Sardinia, and a Sardinia road trip is a great way to enjoy the incredible lanscape of the island.
You may have heard me said this before, but it’s worth repeating: the best way to get around Sardinia is by car, whether is yours or rented. Public transportation works well in the most populated parts of the island, but not quite so in the smaller villages. Besides, even when it’s well managed and punctual, you are forced to follow certain schedules and rules.
With a car, you are instead free to move and explore at your own pace, with zero limitations to time and places to see during your trip. Renting a car or bringing your own to the island (you can do it by ferry!) has a huge number of advantages, one of those being the fact that you choose your own itinerary.
Planning your drives means that you can decide which roads to use to get to your destination. But since you are driving to some beautiful places, why not kill two birds with a stone and also have a nice, panoramic drive? Sardinia has shortage of scenic roads.
Continue reading to discover the most famous scenic roads in Sardinia.
Make sure to read my post The Best Itinerary For A Road Trips Around Sardinia.
The Most Scenic Roads In Sardinia
Fabulous coastal roads in Sardinia
Since it is an island, it goes without saying that the most popular scenic roads in Sardinia would be coastal ones. Windy, often slow and usually heavily trafficked during the peak summer months, these roads will nevertheless entertain you with breathtaking views.
Litoranea Costa Paradiso – Santa Teresa di Gallura to Castelsardo
Santa Teresa di Gallura and Castelsardo don’t need any introduction – they are among the most beautiful small towns in the north of Sardinia. But there’s a lot more in between these two places, and you can see them all if you have a car.
If you start your road trip from Santa Teresa di Gallura, you can’t miss a quick stop in Capo Testa, a small peninsula overlooking the Bocche di Bonifacio and Corsica. Here, you can take great pictures (the colors of the sea are stunning!) and see one of the most essential lighthouses in northern Sardinia, an irreplaceable beacon to sail in this always rough portion of the sea.
The second must-visit places on this itinerary are called Vignola and Trinità d’Agultu, two close villages that have both great beaches and pretty attractions, such as the Trinità Church and the Zincu-Denti natural park. Vignola is especially famous for its coastal hamlet, Costa Paradiso, made of several beautiful turquoise coves, and a small islet called Isola Rossa (Red Island) because of its unique color.
Despite these being the main attractions in your drive from Santa Teresa di Gallura to Castelsardo, the rocky coast and the wild hinterland are full of surprises: you will surely find some incredible places that you will remember for life, be it a secluded beach or a small clearing in a forest. The drive is overall incredibly scenic, making you want to stop for photos at every turn!
Strada Costiera Alghero – Bosa
If you are spending your holidays in Alghero, you should definitely try driving the about 50 kilometers (31 miles) that separate it from Bosa: you won’t regret it! The State Road SP 105 is, in fact, a palette of colors and sceneries, worth your time and some incredible pictures – easily one of the most scenic roads in Sardinia.
After some days hanging around Alghero’s beauties, such as the defensive walls (make sure to watch a sunset or more from there!) and its famous beaches, and maybe after visiting Capo Caccia and the famous Neptune’s Caves, you can take a day off (or two) and have an adventure: explore a bit further and drive to Bosa.
You will drive along the north-western coast of Sardinia, full of coves where to stop for a quick swim, rich in colorful flowers and trees (the brooms paint everything in yellow when they are in full bloom). If you are lucky, you can even see some of the rarest inhabitants of the island, like the dolphins and the falcons. Keep your eyes open!
Bosa itself is a small jewel of a city. You will be enchanted by its colorful buildings: here, it looks like time has stopped. You can have a small cruise on the Temo River, visit the Malaspina Castle and enjoy some excellent, typical food. Try a glass of their Malvasia wine, it’s delicious.
Fontanamare – Nebida – Masua
Another scenic coastal drive, this time in the heart of the Sulcis Iglesiente (south-west Sardinia), which has been one of the core places for silver and other metals mining for centuries. You can still see the countless remains of the old mining structures, the miners’ houses, the refining buildings, the washhouses, and so on.
The most important places on this itinerary are Fontanamare, Nebida, and Masua, but as usual, every corner of this coast is potentially fated to steal your heart. Pay attention to your surroundings, everything is breathtaking during a scenic drive!
Fontanamare is a beautiful 4-kilometers-long beach that takes its name from the miners’ village that flourished until the last century. It’s highly appreciated by locals and tourists year round: despite being – of course – quite overcrowded in the summer, many love to go there, and its fame doesn’t fade with the summer heat. Surfers and locals go there during the coldest months too, because of the unique views it offers.
Very close to Fontanamare, you will find Masua and its most famous natural monument: the Pan di Zucchero Islet. Masua was another flourishing mining center and still offers quite a few places to visit if you are interested in the topic, but the main attraction is undoubtedly the beach with the small island. You can see stunning sunset and take similarly stunning pictures from there.
The last place you need to see during your drive alongside the Sulcis coast is called Nebida: here, you will find the most important remains of Sardinia’s mining era. You can’t skip a tour of the mines, houses, offices, and everything related to this activity, essential to the area’s economy for quite some time.
Chia – Teulada
If you picked the south of the island for your holidays, my recommendation is to explore the coast best as you can. A drive from Chia to Teulada might be a great way to do so. Chia is one of the main touristic hubs in the area, famous for its resorts, beaches, and attractions. If you find yourself around there, you can’t miss a trip to Capo Spartivento and its lighthouse – which has been converted into a pretty boutique hotel. You can reach it on a short walk from Cala Cipolla beach.
Of course, the drive is an opportunity to discover new and hidden spots in the area: there is no shortage of things to see and do during a scenic road trip. You can’t miss the many watchtowers built during the Middle Ages to keep track of the pirates, nor can you skip a brief stop in Domus de Maria, a unique village alongside the road.
The last stop of this drive would be Teulada, which is famous both for the NATO base and for the beautiful beaches in its municipality. Among the most famous ones, you should definitely visit Tuerredda and Perdalonga, and try to snap some pictures of the Isola Rossa. Teulada is located on the border with the Sulcis area and has been a miners’ center for some time too, as the nearby villages: if you are interested in this part of Sardinian history, you should definitely have a tour of some of the mines in the area.
Strada Panoramica Cagliari – Villasimus
The panoramic road from Cagliari to Villasimius is probably one of my favorite scenic roads in Sardinia – one I know really well as I drive along it at least once a week during the summer months. And let me tell you: I never get tired of the views!
This itinerary is a great opportunity to discover some of the most beautiful beaches of South Sardinia and take some excellent pictures while being immersed in a stunning scenario.
The first stops (starting from Cagliari) that can’t be skipped are the Sella del Diavolo – have a walk around there! – and the Molentargius Nature Reserve, where you can see several rare swamp birds and plants. And while you’re at it, swim at the Poetto beach, Cagliari’s locals’ favorite – if you happen to be there in the off-season, it’s still a great place for a walk.
Some other beaches with your time are the ones in Quartu Sant’Elena municipality, especially Cala Regina and Mari Pintau (both pictured above): their colors are stunning – but again, all this coastal area is painted with gorgeous shades of blue you could think of. You just have to pick a place and plant your umbrella in the sand. By the time you arrive in Villasimius, you will probably have seen all the famous and less famous beaches along the road and filled your camera’s memory card.
Scenic mountain and inner roads in Sardinia
Sardinia is highly mountainous (though don’t expect the snow-capped peaks of the Alps or of the Himalayas!) and with that come many windy mountain roads that offer gorgeous views throughout. Contrary to coastal roads, mountain roads in Sardinia don’t get much traffic – so stopping for photos or to rest is actually much easier. The following are my favorite ones.
Baunei – Dorgali
If you fancy a scenic drive inside one of the wildest areas of Sardinia, you might try driving from Dorgali to Baunei. Mind you – while this is one of the most scenic roads in Sardinia, it’s so windy that your stomach (even as a driver) will be put at a test!
Ogliastra is a region that’s attracted thousands of tourists every year for decades now. Its beaches are among the best preserved on the whole island, and the hinterland is simply stunning, almost as if it’s out of a fairy tale.
Driving around this area means that you will be surrounded by the most typical Sardinian flora (secular olive trees and oaks, Mediterranean scrub), have the opportunity to see wild and rare animals such as mouflons, and find yourself in one of the areas that are most densely filled with very ancient historical ruins.
This itinerary is nothing but a peaceful drive (there hardly are any cars!) away from the noisy cities and touristic places, the best option if you like silence, relax and, of course, driving.
Siliqua – Porto Pino
Siliqua is an ancient village famous for its vicinity to the Arcosu WWF protected area and the Acquafredda Castle located on a hill nearby. Driving from this nice place on the hinterland to the marine village of Porto Pino is a trip inside the Campidano’s nature and colors.
The area is rich with ancient ruins, forests, and watercourses: the ideal trip if you want to see something different from the beaches or simply relax in a shaded, ancient grove filled with the typical Mediterranean fragrances.
The drive itself is a lot of fun – while the road is windy, it’s undoubtable it also is one of th emost scenic roads in Sardinia.
Once you get to Porto Pino, the view changes drastically: the oaks are replaced by pine trees and the rocks by crystal-clear waters and a long white, sandy beach with beautiful sand dunes. Porto Pino is popular beach: every year, several thousands of visitors flock to the area to enjoy some nice sunbathing or do some birdwatching in one of the ponds where rare birds nest and raise their chicks.
Vecchia Orientale Sarda (Campu Omu)
The Old State Road Orientale Sarda (SS 125) is the oldest roadway in Sardinia and was opened in 1928 with the goal of linking Cagliari to the northern cities on the Island. It’s a very long road and, therefore, offers a wide variety of sceneries and landscapes.
One of the most suggestive ones is the 25-kilometers-long portion called Campuomu. I have driven along it myself many times as it’s a great alternative to the new road connecting Cagliari to Costa Rei during peak summer days, when there’s lots of traffic. The views are certainly stunning, though be prepared for a very windy road where the maximum speed you’ll manage is 50 km/h!
Campuomu is a drive through mountains and canyons in the wild Sarrabus (Cagliari Province) area, following the ancient course of rivers and smaller waterways, through curves and incredible rocky formations. You will be driving around the typical south Sardinian landscape, ancient granite mountains, and Mediterranean flora, hearing only the animals’ cries and the sound of water around you.
This is a scenic drive that’s highly appreciated by bikers, so, if you have a thing for adventures on a motorbike, you should definitely try it.
Mountain road from Jerzu to Gairo Vecchio
The drive along SP 13, SP 11 and SP 198 that connects Jerzu – a small town famous for producing one of the best Cannonau wines of Sardinia – to the ghost town of Gairo Vecchio is short (a mere 20 minutes drive for about 12 km) but will reward you with beautiful views.
The drive will take you through Ulassai, one of the small towns of the Ogliastra region, beautifully located among limestone peaks and thick forest at an altitude of about 800 meters (around 2,625 feet) above sea level.
From there, the road continues to Gairo Vecchio, a village that was progressively abandoned following a series of landslides that started in the late 19th century until back in 1951 all the inhabitants were finally moved to a different, safer location nearby.
You will catch the first glimpse of Gairo Vecchio from Osini, on the other side of the mountain – and I assure you, you will want to stop for photos!
Inner road from Alghero to Laconi
I drove along this road for the first time during a road trip with my Greek friend, and while we obviously ended up there by mistake, we certainly didn’t complain about the views – which were stunning throughout.
Leaving Alghero, you will follow SS 131 BIS to Ittiri, a small hilltop town that has a few notable churches. From there, you can continue along the same road until you reach the Nuraghe Santu Antine of Torralba – one of the best kept nuraghe in Sardinia. You will be able to spot it from a distance and it is indeed quite a sight!
Make sure to stop for a quick visit. The ticket office is located on the left hand side of the road – from there, a short walk will take you to the nuragic complex which is beautifully immersed in the hills of Sardinia.
The rest of the drive to Laconi is along a rather windy road. You can expect random herds of sheep to block traffic, but that’s part of the fun of driving in Sardinia!
Are you planning a trip to Sardinia? These posts will come in handy!
- How To Get To Sardinia
- Where To Take The Ferry To Sardinia
- How To Get From Rome To Sardinia
- The Best Flights From London To Sardinia
- How To Travel Around Sardinia By Public Transport
- A Guide To Traveling By Train In Sardinia