If you’re considering taking a vacation to the beautiful island of Sardinia, you have to know the best places to stay.
For being such a small island (though the second largest in the Mediterranean after Sicily), there is a surprising amount of variety in the different places that you can stay in Sardinia, depending on what kind of vacation you’re after.
There are remote, rural areas you can go to for an escape from the stressors of everyday life.
Or, if you prefer, there are city breaks full of all the art and culture you can take.
Whether you’re booking a romantic getaway with your partner or a big family vacation with all the kids, there will be somewhere for you in Sardinia.
So, without further ado, let’s look for the best towns to stay in Sardinia for your specific needs.
1. Sant’Antioco – Best For A Quiet Local Experience
Just off the south-west coast of mainland Sardinia, you’ll find the charming, quiet island called Sant’Antioco.
Far removed from the busier, developed beaches of touristy Sardinia (which, even in the height of summer, aren’t actually busy compared to most other tourist areas of Europe), Sant’Antioco is a municipality absolutely brimming with history.
If you’re looking for a quiet vacation that allows you to just wander around a small town learning about the history and culture of the area, then you’re not going to find anywhere more peaceful and educational than Sant’Antioco.
We’re not exaggerating about the history, either. There are areas of the island that go back to the prehistoric era.
There are eighth-century tombs to discover and models of Nuraghic homes to view at the archeological museum of Ferruccio Barreca.
Many museums explore the long religious history of Sant’Antioco, or if you’d rather just relax, there are many beaches and reefs that you can explore.
If you’re a diver, then you’ll love the clear waters of Coacuaddus and the gorgeous underwater reefs that exist there.
When you’re done with swimming, you can lay back and enjoy the quiet beaches with views of the stunning Pan di Zecchero rocks rising from the sea.
If you want to stay in Sant’Antioco, then you’ll find the majority of accommodations are either guest houses or vacation homes, though there are also campsites and a few dedicated hotels.
However, the hotels certainly aren’t the massive resorts that you might find in mainland Italy.
2. Cagliari – Best For A European City-Break
One of the most popular and famous areas of Sardinia is the capital city of Cagliari.
Arriving in the city via the sea will award you the most opulent views of buildings that look as though they’re gilded in gold, thanks to the sun.
Cagliari is very similar to a lot of other Italian cities, meaning that it’s steeped in history and teeming with culture.
You can find locals and tourists alike enjoying the beachfront bars and restaurants for a cold Ichnusa beer or a glass of locally made red wine.
The nightlife is probably the most vibrant you’ll find across Sardinia, except for maybe Costa Smeralda, but we’ll get to that later.
If you want to enjoy the water, then you take a short walk to the main beach, called Poetta.
There, you can find people having beach parties, surfing, or playing other water sports.
Would you prefer something a little quieter? You can explore the city’s vast history within the old walls of Il Castello where you can explore the ancient Roman Amphitheatre or the thirteenth century cathedral.
Close by, there are many museums and galleries you can wander around and really soak in the culture, both modern and contemporary.
Cagliari is one of those cities that you need to stay in for a few days in order to take it all in, so we definitely recommend that you book for at least three nights.
There are a myriad of different kinds of accommodation for you to stay in, ranging from luxury hotels to tiny guest houses. Or if you want to save your money for your activities, you could even stay in one of the nearby campsites.
Like most places in Sardinia, it’s definitely recommended that you hire a car if you’re going to be exploring outside of the city.
3. Olbia – Best For Family Vacations
If you’re planning on visiting Sardinia with the whole family and need to find family-friendly places, then Olbia could be right for you.
There’s always something going on in Olbia; whether it’s horseback racing or watersports. There’s certainly no shortage of activities for you and the kids.
The beaches are lined with beautiful shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. This means that you’re never far away from a drink, snack, or toilet if your little ones can’t hold it in.
The beaches are clean and, although the area is popular, never packed, so you will always be able to keep an eye on the kids.
As well as the more commercial areas, there are beautiful classical sites you can explore if you and the family like a bit of history during your vacation.
Olbia is home to Romanesque churches and the Nuragic remains of a warship.
There are some stunning mid-range hotels close to the beach, as well as apartments, B&Bs, and camping sites, so you can explore and enjoy Olbia with the family at your own pace.
4. Costa Smeralda – Best For Luxury Vacations
Found on the northeastern coast of Sardinia, you can find Porto Cervo and the beautiful Costa Smeralda (literally translated to Emerald Coast).
If you have some real cash to spend on an Italian vacation, then you need to get yourself to Costa Smeralda.
The marina area is lined with designer shops and high-end restaurants. There, you can shop around with the rich and famous and have yourself a vacation you’ll never forget.
However, Porto Cervo still remains a Sardinian town. Although there are sectors that have very much become playgrounds for those with capital to spare, there are plenty of areas you can explore and enjoy, even if you’re on a tighter budget.
However, staying in a hotel in the area is going to cost you, so if you want to remain fiscally conservative with your vacation, but still see everything that Sardinia has to offer, you can always stay in any of the other gorgeous areas of the island, and visit the Costa Smeralda on a day trip.
However, if you’re able to, there are some amazing and glamorous resorts with all of the amenities you expect from a luxury hotel.
This means gyms, private beaches, opulent restaurants, and some of the best concierge services in the world.
Places To Avoid
Though there’s nowhere in Sardinia that is actually unpleasant, there are definitely areas that won’t give you the Sardinia you’re expecting.
For example, port towns like Portoscuso and Porto Torres are far more industrial and locally focused than a lot of the areas that see more tourists.
These are still lovely places teeming with life and culture, but they’re certainly more functional than vacation-esc.
Other places that you might want to avoid are the smaller rural towns in the center of the island. These areas are more likely to be off the beaten path, making them much more difficult to get to, especially if you don’t have a car.
You might also struggle to find places where people speak fluent English.
However, if a rural, peaceful vacation, far away from a busy life, sounds like a dream come true, maybe these small towns are perfect. You could stay at an agriturismo and feel completely in touch with nature.
On the other hand, cities like Porto Cervo and Cagliari could also be places that you want to avoid if you would prefer not to spend more money on food and tourist traps.
City breaks aren’t for everyone, so if you prefer peace and quiet, then you’ll want to avoid the main cities in Sardinia.
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There are so many different places to visit in Sardinia, and the best thing is that you can get from one side of the island to the other in a matter of hours.
So, if you want to see more of the island, you can simply drive or take a boat from a port and see everything that it has to offer.
Deciding where in Sardinia you want to stay all depends on what kind of vacation you want.
But whether you’re after a city break or a rural European vacation your friends can only dream about, Sardinia is going to have you covered.