Sardinia, a mountainous granite island, is blessed with gorgeous vistas and endless sun-filled activities. It is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea at 155 miles long by 62 miles wide (250 km long by 100 km wide). The Italian island’s closest neighbors are Corsica to the north, the Italian peninsula to the east, Tunisia to the south and the Balearic islands to the west.
Sardinia is home to a fascinating history beginning with the mysterious Nuragic civilization who built cylindrical towers and fortified villages in the middle of the island as early as 1500 B.C. During the First Punic War, both Carthage and Rome fought for the island, but Rome ultimately won the challenge. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, pirates frequently pillaged the coastal regions, forcing villagers inland. And during the Middle Ages, both Pisa and Genoa colonized a large percentage of Sardinia. In the 14th Century, Spain conquered the entire island which then saw little controversy until the rise of the House of Savoy resulted in its return to a united Italy. During Italy’s period of fascism, Sardinia was exploited for its mineral resources and finally in 1948, the island received the status of autonomous region which it still possesses to this day.
After World War II, the island changed from a principally mining region to a tourist center. This was aided by the development of the Emerald Coast (Costa Smeralda) by Aga Khan in the 1960s. Today, the population is relatively small with just over 1.5 million residents who maintain a distinctly Sardinian culture. This includes two regional languages which are spoken by the entire population, Italian and Sardinian.
As the second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia has a wide range of topside activities to keep you busy. Visitors may enjoy chartering a sailboat for a round the island trip or popping by the Asinara National Park to seek out its famous albino donkeys. Make some time to visit the gorgeous beaches surrounding the island or hike across the mountainous terrain. Horseback riding has long been part of Sardinia’s identity and as such several ranches can be found scattered around the island. Owing to its rich history, Sardinia also hosts a huge variety of monuments, including Barumini, a witch house and UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have the chance to visit in the summer, don’t miss the opportunity to participate in one of the island’s folklore festivals which often feature colorful costumes and rich traditions.
Here’s a hot tip. Avoid visiting in August when the island is filled to capacity with tourists and accommodation prices double. May and October are good for diving and far less crowded topside.
There are three airports on Sardinia, Cagliari-Elmas Airport, Olbia Airport, and Alghero-Fertilia Airport. All three welcome both domestic flights and flights originating throughout Western Europe.
It is also possible to travel by ferry from the Italian mainland, Sicily, Corsica, and Barcelona to Sardinia’s ports of Cagliari, Porto Torres, Olbia, Golfo Aranci, Arbatax, and Santa Teresa di Gallura.
Once you have arrived in Sardinia, options for travel around the island include taxi, private car, bus, train, bicycle and boat charter.