Crystal clear water, amazing food, and cheap accommodations. Three things most people wouldn’t associate with a European vacation – unless you’re going to visit Sardinia. I don’t know how we ended up choosing to vacation in Sardinia one summer, but I’m glad we did, and just for you, I’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in Sardinia.
Sardinia is the perfect summer getaway in Europe if you’re looking for a place where you can chill out on the beach all day, catch a tan, and load up on delicious Italian food at night.The Sardinia beaches are incredible and are beyond what I had expected them to be. If you love beaches, you’ll find the Sardinia beaches to be amongst some of the most beautiful you’ve ever seen – trust me! In this blog post you’ll find a list of the best beaches in Sardinia.
When we booked our trip to Sardinia a lot of people asked why we would go there – somehow, it’s not a destination that is popular amongst European travelers – it’s only a hotspot for Italian vacationers. Back when we visited, we actually struggled to find much content on where to go or what to do there because there are so few visitors who aren’t Italian who visit each year. Sardinia is just one of several of the best islands in Europe to plan a vacation. It shocked me a bit that there were so few tourists from countries besides Italy, because Sardinia beaches are the perfect getaway from city life.
Personally, I love going to destinations where only locals go. When I’m on vacation I want to feel like I’m really away from home (both away from my Dutch and American homes) – so when we encounter a horde of American or Dutch tourists, I can’t help but cringe.
It’s not that I don’t love my fellow Americans or my adopted people in Holland… it’s just that hearing the accents of people I’m normally always surrounded by somehow makes me feel like I’m not sufficiently far enough away!
How to get around Sardinia
I strongly recommend renting a car in Sardinia to get around. Driving in Sardinia is the best way to get around. Public transport is sparse, and the best way to see the island is to tour it by car so you can take in all the nature – and see as many beaches as possible.
We started at the bottom and drove back up to the top (to take the ferry from Olbia back to Genoa). Our original plan was to stay in Cagliari (the capital of Sardinia) for most of our trip, but we left within a few days of arriving. Cagliari just wasn’t what we had expected.
The beaches in Cagliari weren’t as nice as we had hoped – they were more crowded and a bit dirty. The city in general didn’t feel as relaxed as we had hoped for, so we opted to visit the nearby beaches of Chia and Mari Pintou on the days we slept there.
After we left Cagliari we headed north, guided by a blog post we found which mentioned the best beaches in Sardinia. We headed north to the town of Dorgali on the east coast where we stayed for a few nights before venturing farther north to stay in Olbia and travel to see La Maddalena Archipelago to discover even clearer waters and gigantic yachts. Italy is no stranger to incredible destinations, and this can be just part of your trip – for more inspiration, check out this 10 day Italy itinerary.
The best beaches in Sardinia
Best beaches in Sardinia, Chia Beach – South Sardinia
If you’re staying in the south near or in Cagliari, Chia Beach is a must visit. The water here is not nearly as blue and clear as the beaches on the Tyrrhenian Sea side of the island, but it’s a beautiful beach none the less. Here you’ll likely find plenty of space to lay out – when we were there the beach was relatively empty, and we had tons of space to set up our umbrella.
Sardinia Beaches: Mari Pintou – South Sardinia
Mari Pintou is a must visit, and is easily one of the most beautiful and best beaches in Sardinia. It’s also located in the south of the island, but it is east of Cagliari and also within striking distance of the city.
The water here is so warm it feels like you’re floating in a bathtub. It’s clear, it’s warm, and it’s the perfect place to let your worries float away from you on vacation. This beach was much more crowded than the others that we visited – it was filled with families and locals all taking a break from the summer heat, so be sure to get there early to snag your spot!
Dorgali – East Sardinia
We used Dorgali as a jumping off point to explore the beaches on the east coast of the island which are only accessible by boat – and preferably by speed boat 😉
There are tons of speedboat operators near Dorgali you can book a whole day trip with which can take you up and down the coast to admire the impressive cliffs dropping down into the water, the blue grottos, and beaches which you can’t reach by land. If you visit Sardinia, these tours are a must do – if you don’t go, you won’t experience the full beauty of the island.
Dorgali and its beaches were some of the best places we visited during our time in Sardinia. The water and beaches were all so gorgeous.
Visit Sardinia to see the bluest of blue at La Maddalena Archipelago – North Sardinia
In the north of the island a short drive from the port of Olbia lies La Maddalena Archipelago. If you thought the water looked clear in photos above, then strap yourself in, because La Maddalena boasts even clearer waters. Although there isn’t much to do besides admire the water and go for a swim, it’s a great stop during your trip. You can snorkel – but you won’t see much. Just book a boat tour and enjoy the clear waters – what more do you need to do on vacation?
Life in Sardinia
Sardinia is unlike the rest of Italy – and has tried to secede. We learned from our AirBnB hosts that the economy in Sardinia is pretty rough. There’s not much work for most people in the winter once tourist season has passed. Our AirBnb host told us that every autumn she gathers wood for the winter and gears up for several months of no work. Sardinia really depends on tourism, so you know, do your part and book your trip!
Where to stay in Sardinia
We stayed in several AirBnB’s in Sardinia, but there are loads of great hotels as well. We always book with Booking.com because you’re able to change your reservation up til the last minute for most hotels!
How to get to Sardinia
Well, since Sardinia is an island there are two main ways to reach it: by plane or by boat. If you’re planning on flying to Sardinia, you can fly Olbia in the north of Sardinia, which is the most popular airport, or fly into Cagliari in the south of the island. Easy Jet has flights to both.
You can also reach Sardinia by boat – actually its a big ferry. We departed from Livorno with MOBYlines ferry. This trip will take about between 6.5 – 8 hours. You can also take MOBYlines to reach Sardinia from Genoa. If you are going from Rome to Sardinia, depart from the port of Civitavecchia. Finally, if you’re near Naples, you can take the ferry from there to Cagliari.
Looking for more beach inspiration? Check out these posts to get in the summer spirit:
- The best beaches of Kuta, Lombok
- What to do in Monterey and Carmel, California
- The ultimate Southern California road trip
- Ao Nang, Thailand: the ultimate guide
- The best of Gili Air, Indonesia
Did this help you decide the best places to go in Sardinia? Let me know in the comments below!
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.