We just returned from six wonderful nights in Sardinia after trying to fit a trip to this magical island into our schedule for the past few years and never succeeding. I was bound and determined this year to get us there, and I am very happy that I did! We had visited Sardinia twice in the past, but those trips were over twenty-five years ago, and honestly I do not remember much of those trips. I do know that we didn’t stray far from Porto Cervo however, and on this trip, I planned to explore a lot more of the island.
We took our car by ferry from the port in Civitavecchia to Olbia, which is around five and a half hours. Although it is a long trip, it was worth it to us to bring our car along rather than fly there and rent a car on the island. The ferry boats are huge, and they really fill them up with cars and people.
Most importantly, they do allow you to bring your dogs on the ferries, but strangely do not permit dogs in the common areas. You either sit out on the windy deck with your dog, lock your dog into one of the ship’s kennel cages, or sneak them in with you to the sitting lounges as I did with our five pound Yorkie Zoe in her carry bag.
My husband wanted to take his bike with him as well, and it is much easier to do that in your own car. My husband rises very early every morning and therefore was able to ride two hours and return by eight thirty when I was up, showered and dressed for the day. It is a habit that works well for both of us!
Once on the island, it was evident that Sardinia has a remarkably unique landscape. We visited Corsica four years ago, and being so close together, the two islands do share a similar look in many ways, but Sardinia has a magical feel all of its own. The coastline is stunning and the waters a clear turquoise blue.
We made our way from Olbia to our first hotel Le Palme, which sits just above Porto Cervo. The hotel is quite spread out and sits on a large piece of property shared with a second hotel, and includes a small private beach. Because we were traveling with a dog, the hotel upgraded us to a small suite with a door leading out to the patio which was very handy.
We spent two nights at Hotel Le Palme, and although we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the hotel, I realized that I am not a Porto Cervo kind of girl anymore and prefer the more down to earth locations.
We had great weather for our entire stay in Sardinia, and all the hotels that I chose were great. I would certainly stay in every hotel again apart from Hotel Jazz in Olbia. Although the hotel was new, very clean and modern, it was close to the airport and had a impersonal feel to it.
I had originally chose this hotel because I had thought that we would be taking an early morning ferry back to the mainland, but it turned out that our ferry wasn’t until later in the afternoon so we could have stayed in Olbia, or somewhere along the coast.
Days One & Two
Hotel Le Palme
Località Liscia Di Vacca,
Porto Cervo, 07022
Trattoria Maria Giuseppe
Via Colombo, 6,
Castelsardo SS, 07031
Phone: +39 329 413 9872
On our first full day in Sardinia, we decided to drive the northern coast up to Santa Teresa Gallura all the way to Castelsardo where we ended up for lunch. Our other option was to take an all day boat ride around the Archipelago Islands, but I preferred exploring the large island of Sardinia, so that is what we did.
It was a lovely trip and we stopped off in a couple of small towns before arriving at the gorgeous Castelsardo. This town has been named one of the charming towns of Italy, and it is easy to see why. The restaurant I chose, La Trattoria da Maria Giuseppa, was highly rated, but when we finally found it, we discovered it had a no dogs allowed sign on the door. We waited in line anyway, and the owner sat us without saying a word about Zoe, so I assume they just do not want large dogs in their establishment.
We had a lovely multi-course seafood lunch, then headed back to our hotel, taking an inland route through an amazing landscape of rocks that had almost a lunar feel to it. That night, we headed to Porto Cervo, and after exploring the expensive shops and gazing at the multi- million dollar yachts, we decided to head back closer to our hotel for dinner and had pizza at a small restaurant just down the street from Le Palme.
Our Drive From The Ferry To Porto Cervo.
Hotel Le Palme Porto Cervo
Private Beach At Hotel Le Palme.
Hotel Le Palme Grounds.
Two Most Expensive Drinks Ever! Porto Cervo.
Rows Of Multi Million Dollar Yachts In Porto Cervo.
Rocky Coastal Views of Sardinia.
Busy Beaches At Santa Tersa Gullara.
Santa Teresa Gullara.
Red Rocks of Isola Rossa.
Northern Sardinia Coastal Views.
Trattoria Maria Giuseppe in Castelsardo- Very Busy, Great Food!
Cork Trees Can Be Found Throughout Sardinia, But Mainy In The North Central Areas.
Rocky Terain Seen Along Highway In The North.
Days Three & Four
Is Morus Relais
S.S. 195 km 37, 400
Santa Margherita di Pula, 09010
Viale Nora 38,
We left Porto Cervo and headed to the west coast of Sardinia, stopping off in Oristano for lunch. The restaurant that I wanted to dine at was unexpectedly closed that day so we chose another that was okay, but certainly not memorable. After lunch we headed down south to Santa Margherita di Pula which sits along the southern coast just west of Cagliari.
This hotel sits on a huge property right on the water and has two small private beaches, along with a gorgeous infinity pool. As well as rooms within the main building, the hotel had little cabins that were lovely, and very well furnished. Because of the dog, we were given a cabin which turned out great as we had more privacy, the main building was just a short walk away, and we had green areas to walk Zoe whenever we needed to. We drove to Pula that evening which is a very busy tourist town and we sat and people watched for an hour or two over cocktails before having a light dinner in the main piazza.
The next day I decided that we needed to add some culture into our schedule. We had already missed the archeological site of Tharros near Oristano, and I wanted to explore some of the nuraghi that Sardinia is famous for. Nuraghi are cone shaped stone buildings that existed for thousands of years.
There are over 7,000 nuraghi in Sardinia, and it is still unknown exactly what their function was. It is thought that they might have been rulers’ residences, military strongholds, meeting halls, religious temples, ordinary dwellings or a combination of these. One of the largest nuraghi settlements is called Su Nuraxi and is in Barumini.
It was an hour and a half drive from our hotel to this nuraghi settlement, and after buying our tickets for the guided tour (you cannot visit the settlement on your own) we discovered that no dogs are allowed, even tiny dogs that you can wear in a pouch. We returned our tickets, stopped off in town for a coffee and headed back to our hotel.
We were told that no dogs are allowed in any of the archeological sites in Sardinia which I found odd because when visiting Sicily last year, we visited many of the sites and no one said anything about our dog! My husband kept joking that it was a very long drive for a mediocre coffee! Oh well, I tried to add some culture into our trip!
We ended up enjoying lunch on the terrace of our hotel overlooking the sea and had a lazy afternoon by the pool before heading back to Pula for drinks and dinner that evening. After trying to get into a number of very busy restaurants with no luck, we ended up making reservations at Lobina’s Ristorante which was a great find.
My husband enjoyed baby octopus in tomato sauce followed by a whole grilled fish, while I had a delicious creamy shrimp pasta dish followed by grilled prawns. The owner ran the front of the house while his brother headed the kitchen and it ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable meal.
Satue of Elanora D’Arborea in Oristano.
Sleepy Sunday In Oristano.
Hotel Relais Is Morus In Santa Margherita di Pula.
Our “Room” at Hotel Relais Is Morus.
Private Beach At Hotel Relais Is Morus.
Watch Tower Along Beach In Pula.
Every Street & Highway In Sardinia Had Rows Of Cactus Growing!
Umbrella Streets in Pula.
Church in Pula.
Narughi at Barumini.
Seaside At Pula.
Still Beaches At Pula.
Monte Turri Luxury Resort
Via Faro Bellavista,
We left Pula the next day heading to the easter coast of Sardinia but first, we stopped in Cagliari to explore the covered market. The market is the largest covered market in Italy, and the entire first floor is seafood.
The second floor contains market stalls in row after row selling everything from the freshest, most vibrant colored produce, to cuts of meat and poultry of every description, freshly baked bread, and a huge selection of Sardinian cheese. Unfortunately, since we were traveling, we couldn’t buy anything, so we just enjoyed the atmosphere and marveled over the amazing displays of products being sold.
After leaving Cagliari, we headed to the coast before heading up to Arbatax, our next stop for the night. We stopped along the way for a light pasta and seafood lunch before arriving at our hotel late afternoon.
Hotel Monte Turri Resort sits above Arbatax on a huge piece of property along with its sister hotel. Unfortunately parking is tight, but we found a spot along the road just across from the hotel.
This hotel was unique in that it sits so high above the sea that the views are stunning and you need to take an elevator to get down to the beach. As well, everyone checking in gets both a room key and a key to the animal park down the road.
The park contains a large number of animals you can visit including miniature donkeys and sheep that walked up to you begging to be petted. Being an animal lover, I was amazed at this perk and could have spent hours visiting the animals!
That evening we decided to dine at the Sardinian restaurant located within the animal park. It was a very traditional meal and you are seated on logs with huge slabs of stone for tables. The food served was very rustic but delicious, and just kept coming and coming.
It was a truly unique Sardinian experience. Being just two of us (Zoe had to stay home because of the animals), we were seated with a group of German tourists who were very nice but spoke almost no English. It was still an enjoyable experience and one I would highly recommend.
Although I would certainly stay at Monte Turri Resort again, I would ask to stay in the main hotel building next time. Our room was situated in a separate building a long flight of steps below the hotel, and it was a bit much walking up and down the stairs all the time. The breakfast buffet was generous however, and the views from the terrace during meals were unparalleled.
Covered Market in Cagliari.
Gorgeous Produce At Cagliari Market.
Dramatic Seafood Display At Cagliari Market.
View From Monte Turri Resort In Arbatax.
A Few Friends I Met At The Animal Park In Arbatrax.
Traditional Sardinian Dinner In Arbatrax.
View From Hotel Monte Turri Resort.
Hotel Monte Turri in Arbatrax.
Our Breakfast Table At Hotel Monte Turri.
Shared My Breakfast With This Little Guy Who Wanted To Come Home With Me!
Via Degli Astronauti 2,
Via delle Terme 30,
On our last full day in Sardinia, I wanted to check out the murals in Orgosolo, which was inland a bit on our trip up to Olbia where we would catch the ferry home the next day. Orgosolo has been called the bandit capital of Sardinia and has a long history of conflict.
Over the years, locals have started to paint murals on the walls of buildings and homes throughout the town. Many are political, some protest Sardinian independence, while others are simply satirical in nature. Despite being off the beat and track, the small city was bustling with tourists meandering around town photographing the vast number of murals. The townsfolk have also put together an independent walking tour of the murals, and souvenir shops line the main street.
After exploring the town and admiring the many murals, we headed up to Nuoro for a quick lunch before heading to Olbia for the night. As I stated above, we stayed the night at the Jazz Hotel, and although it was a very nice hotel, it had no charm, and I doubt I’d stay there again.
After checking in, we made our way to the city center of Olbia which was quite charming for a port city and is lined with shops, coffee bars, and restaurants. We explored the town for a while, then made our way to L’Essenza Bistrot for dinner. We arrived early but the restaurant filled up quickly, and they were soon turning folks away who did not have reservations.
My husband had a huge raw seafood appetizer that could easily have been a meal, while I had a large breaded and fried ball of buffalo mozzarella served with a sauce of gazpacho. We both chose pasta dishes for our main course, I lobster and my husband a bowl of seafood fregola. Although I had planned to try one of their amazing sounding desserts that evening, I had no room for anything else after finishing dinner.
Famous Murals In Orgosolo.
Busy Streets Of Port City Olbia.
Shopping Street In Olbia.
The next day we checked out of the hotel after breakfast and went to Porto Rotondo to spend a couple of hours before heading to the ferry to return to the mainland. I liked Porto Rotondo much more than I did its elite sister Porto Cervo, and would even like to stay there in the future.
Our trip to Sardinia was a wonderful break from daily life in Umbria, and both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed driving across the entire island. Although we returned to Umbria late at night only to find that the power had gone out while we were away and that all the food had spoiled in our refrigerator and large chest freezer, it still couldn’t put a damper on our relaxing experience on the stunning island of Sardinia!