White sandy beaches and seas in Caribbean blue frame an island, rugged and vulnerable, where nature prevails. Sardinia, land of folklore and traditions, of shepherds and fishermen, of crystal-clear lakes and rugged mountains, of simplicity and luxury. Prehistoric 'Nuraghe' emerge among jagged rocks, and slender flamingos alight in shallow pools. On the menu are suckling pig, 'Bottarga', Sardinian caviar, and bread as thin as paper. Overlooked quality wines, with the taste of the sea, delight the senses on the terraces of the exclusive Porto Cervo, and further on floats the beautiful Maddalena Archipelago. As a local proverb says, "After Sardinia, only heaven can disappoint".
DAY 1 : DEPARTURE TO CAGLIARI
Pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to your hotel. You will stay near Villasimius, in the southeast and located right by the sea and beach. If you wish, you can also choose a hotel west of the capital Cagliari and also located by the beach.
DAY 2 : EXPLORING THE AREA
Staying in the southeast, you can admire the pearly white beaches of Costa Rei and Villasimius. From the port of Villasimius, you can go on a boat excursion to discover this wonderful coastline of southeastern Sardinia. Those taking the car can discover the rugged and spectacular inland, including the 'Stagne di Colostrai', pools of flamingos and the medieval municipality of Muravera. Those staying west of Cagliari can visit the archaeological site of Nora, the spectacular beaches of San Pietro and Porto Pino, the island of Sant'Antocio, the caves of Is Zuddas and the former coal mine of Carbonia.
DAY 3 : CAGLIARI
You visit the bustling capital Cagliari, with its Roman amphitheatre (2nd century) and its southern 'Castello' district, surrounded by impressive ramparts. Stroll along narrow streets lined with tall patrician houses and past the cathedral, town hall and palace of the viceroys of Sardinia. One of the few entrances to this district is the Elephant Tower, which offers a magnificent view of the city. Those wishing to take a break can head to the botanical gardens, an oasis of calm with exotic trees, cacti and gurgling fountains.
DAY 4 : BARI SARDO AND PREHISTORY
Today you head north towards Cardedu where you will stay in a hotel located on a beautiful white sandy beach. 7 km away is Bari Sardo, with its rustic cottages and colonial villas. The symbol of the town, known for its textiles, is the 16th-century Aragonese tower, perched on a rock by the sea. There are numerous archaeological remains in the area, including the prehistoric tombs 'Domus de Janas' (witches houses) at Pizzu 'e Monti and the 'nuraghe', Bronze Age towers, at Sellersu.
DAY 5 AND 6 : NATURAL PARKS AND AZURE BAYS
The town of Baunei is panoramically set against the Monte Santo ridge. Surrounding the village is the 'Supramonte' mountain range, a paradise for hikers and climbers. A gully leads to 'Pedra Longa', a high rock point, a natural monument by the sea. 8 km of hairpin bends lead you to the Golgo plateau, with 'Su Sterru', the deepest vertical gorge in Europe (270m), offering breathtaking views of the Gennargentu Natural Park and the Bay of Orosei. A little further away is Santa Maria Navarrese, with its 11th-century church and 17th-century watchtower. Here you can take a boat trip from the harbour along beautiful azure bays with hidden caves and enchanting white beaches accessible only by boat or on foot. It's no wonder that this coastline, including the beaches of 'Cala Goloritzè' and 'Cala Luna' and the magnificent 'Grotta del Fico', is one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean.
DAY 7 : DORGALI - OLIENA
You can stop along the way in the charming town of Dorgali, where some of the buildings and churches in the old centre are made of volcanic rock. Situated northwest of the town is 'Serra Orios', one of the island's best-preserved 'nuragic' villages. You then continue towards Oliena where you will stay in a rural hotel near Oliena. Here you will be immersed in the real Sardinia of folklore and traditions, away from well-trodden paths.
DAY 8 : ORGOSOLO
From the hotel, take a walk to the Su Gologone spring that rises from a deep gorge out of the rocks. You visit Orgosolo, a pleasant pastoral village known for its 'murales', murals often with revolutionary political messages and social themes that testify to a proud people.
DAY 9, 10 AND 11 : LA COSTA SMERALDA
From today, you'll be staying near the exclusive 'Costa Smeralda', an enchanting 55 km coastline, bought in 1960 by the wealthy Aga Khan Karim IV, as a playground for the jet set. Make sure to go for a stroll in Porto Cervo with its cobbled streets and colourful houses, which house expensive boutiques. The marina is where the finest and largest luxury ships of 'the rich and famous' anchor and on the horizon is the enchanting Maddalena Archipelago. The seven islands can be reached by boat from Cannigione or Palau and can also be admired from Capo d'Orso further north. This 'Bear Cape' is named after a jagged granite rock, sculpted by the wind into the shape of a bear. From here, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the street of Bonifacio and the island of Corsica. The natural park 'Capo Testa' near Santa Teresa di Gallura is also highly recommended. Inland is the utterly charming mountain village of San Pantaleo, with its lively weekly market, and the smaller town of Arzachena, where it's lovely to shop!
DAY 12 : GOING HOME
Sadly, your holiday is over. You drive back to Olbia airport where you will return your rental car and head back home.
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