Do you have a travel bucket list? I certainly do. From countries I’d love to visit to weekend trips I want to take, I keep an ever-growing list of places to go. This summer has been good for checking off island destinations, starting with my trip to France’s under-the-radar Ile de Re and ending with Italy’s sun-drenched Sardinia. The latter is where my boyfriend and I have spent the last four days, and it has certainly lived up to expectations.
I’ve focused on where to go in northern Sardinia, having had to make a tough decision between north and south given my limited time on the island. I got a great deal on my flight, snagging an Avios-and-cash deal on BA for 15,000 points and £35 back in March, and now I’m in Olbia excited to explore.
One of the best things about Sardinia is the beaches, and the advice I received before traveling was to drive around seeking secluded little coves with the pure white sand and turquoise water that the island is known for. Coincidentally, Goldcar offered me a rental car just as I needed one, and after a quick and easy pick up, I’m off to see the best places to go in northern Sardinia.
Not far from Olbia, Porto Rotondo is a pretty area on the Mediterranean Sea with lots of little beaches, lovely marinas, and great coastal views from the roads that rise up above the water. I have a two-night stay here at the five-star Hotel Abi d’Oru, which local travel experts from Wonderful Sardinia set up for me. The hotel has expansive grounds with lush gardens and a private area on a crescent beach below.
While in Porto Rotondo, I make a point of exploring the surrounding area’s beaches.
At the advice of a Twitter follower, I head to Cala Sassari, a beautiful beach with shimmering golden sand. While there, I can’t resist lunch at Fino restaurant, which serves fresh grilled seafood just steps away from the water.
Porto Cervo and the Costa Smeralda
North of Porto Rotondo lies the stunning Costa Smeralda and the glitzy town of Porto Cervo. I spend a night there compliments of Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection hotel with a beautiful beach and lovely grounds.
Back in the car, I drive around the Costa Smeralda to explore the area’s highlights. I stop at the little Spiaggia del Principe beach, which I read about in a list of the best beaches in the north of Sardinia. It was named after the Aga Khan, who developed the Costa Smeralda in the 1960’s, and its rocky cove with white sand and clear water is everything I imagined a Sardinian beach to be.
I also explore the area’s dining scene with a dinner at I Frati Rossi in the picture-pretty hilltop village of Pantogia. The red prawn tartare is excellent with its hints of pepper and spice, and the rich porcini mushroom pappardelle is one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. The meal is so good that my boyfriend says he would travel back to Sardinia just to eat here again.
At the end of my time in the Costa Smeralda, I visit the town of Porto Cervo itself. Glamorous yet oddly Flintstone-like in its architecture, it’s full of luxury goods stores and waterfront restaurants fronted by huge sun umbrellas.
The Far North and the Maddalena Islands
My travels in northern Sardinia continue with a trip to the very north of the island. I spend a night at the five-star Resort Valle dell’Erica Thalasso & Spa compliments of Wonderful Sardinia. It’s so close to Corsica I can see the fringes of the French island from my room.
The resort is one of the biggest I’ve ever stayed in, with endless little beach coves for sunbathing in seclusion and great hiking trails in the hills.
It also has the advantage of being close to the Maddalena Islands, a satellite archipelago that seemingly everyone rates as the best place to go in northern Sardinia. The resort offers me a day trip to the Maddalena Islands on a sail boat, and I join 10 others for the excursion.
The trip takes us up to the islands of Razzoli, Santa Maria, and Budelli, where we have an hour to swim and sunbathe. Afterwards we head back down to Spargi, where we have a great seafood lunch on board before visiting one of the most beautiful white sand beaches I’ve seen in Sardinia.
The two main islands of Maddalena and Caprera can be visited by car on a ferry from nearby Palau, and if I had more time in Sardinia, I would make the trip.
But sadly I don’t have more time, and I head back to Olbia to return the rental car and fly back to London. I’m glad I went to Sardinia at last, and the trip has affirmed that while travel bucket lists are worth having, they’re even more worth checking things off. Now that I’m back, I’m looking for more great island travel destinations to add to my list. Suggestions welcome!