Things to do in Sardinia when on a budget


Places to visit in Sardinia

Things to do in Sardinia: visiting the Miniera di Montevecchio

Things to do in Sardinia: visiting the Mines of Montevecchio – photo courtesy of Marcello Treglia

Compulsive travellers like myself, those who as soon as they have a free weekend pack their backpack and leave, sometimes forget to think about places to visit that are actually pretty close, and prefer crossing their country’s borders. Well, there is a place where you can click off from your daily life, without travelling too far, and where you can enjoy lush nature, incredible beaches, wild mountains, tasty food and a vibrant cultural life. There are so many things to do in Sardinia, you will have a great choice!

Hiking the Canyon de Su Gorropu is one of the things to do in Sardinia

Hiking the Canyon de Su Gorropu is one of the things to do in Sardinia

Searching for what to do in Sardinia? Hike a Canyon

Searching for what to do in Sardinia? Hike a Canyon

It is thus time to visit Sardinia, right in the centre of the Mediterranean, and the good news is that although it is almost mithologically described as a place for a few rich people, it is actually possible to have a cheap tour of it, and whatever your interests are, you won’t run out of things to do in Sardinia. The best beaches in Sardinia – which are the main attraction in the summer – all have free access. So carry your umbrella and beach towel and relax. Most hikes can be done independently. And almost any tourist location has a camping site where you can pitch your tent.

Is Aruttas is one of Sardinia best beaches

Is Aruttas is one of Sardinia best beaches

How to get to Sardinia:

Sardinia can be reached from Italy with a 50 minutes flight, and with no more than 3 hours flight from the rest of Europe. The main carriers that fly to the island are Alitalia and Meridiana, and British Airways has seasonal flights. Most budget airlines have flights to Sardinia from a number of cities in Italy and Europe. These are Volotea, Ryanair, Easyjet, Vueling and Air Berlin. There are three airports: AlgheroCagliari and Olbia. Any of them is a great starting point for a tour of the island. By booking in advance, making sure you catch a flight during the week (avoid weekends) and playing around with the dates a bit (being flexible), you can even catch a round trip ticket for less than €50.

If you are travelling with your family and children, want to have your own car, or if you simply like ferries (the average trip is 10 hours), you can catch one from Genova to Porto Torres (near Sassari, in the north of Sardinia), Livorno to Olbia or Civitavecchia to Cagliari. For prices, consult the websites of Tirrenia and Moby. Needless to say, if you carry your car on board the prices will raise, so calculate if this is really convenient. You can opt for a passage on the deck (cheapest option), for a reclining chair inside, for a first or second class cabin.

Depending on your budget and how many are travelling, and on the duration of your trip, you can rent a car or decide to visit the island independently, with public transportation. Most well known agencies have stands at the airport, some are actually quite convenient. But be sure to book in advance in order to catch good deals. For information on the times and routes of buses and trains visit the pages of ARST and Trenitalia. Any decent hotel, hostel and bed and breakfast should be able to offer you information on how to get there and even on how to get to places to visit.

When to go

Something for sure is that Sardinia never lets down travellers, in any season. In order to enjoy its beauty you should really spend a year there. But you can still appreciate how wonderful it is even in a few days or weeks. The island is equally gorgeous in winter and in summer, but weather in Sardinia can get really bad in the autumn and winter, when it rains a lot. Should you care to see sea that is even more beautiful than in a tropical paradise, summer may be the best season, from the end of May to the beginning of October. Expect to meet more tourists in August, when most Italians go on vacation. July is a good month, with less tourists and longer days. September is by far the quietest month, days are shorter, and the heat lower.

Find out more things to do in Sardinia off season on my post “The island of wonders.”

Festivals and events in Sardinia

There are a variety of events throughout the year, and one of the best things to do in Sardinia is participating to a “sagra”. During the summer, each village has its own festival, with traditional dance, songs, music and food. Among the most famous events, on first of May Cagliari hosts the spectacular “parata di Sant’Efisio”, where people from villages all over Sardinia, wearing their traditional dresses, go on a march in honour of the Saint patron of Sardinia (Sant’Efisio) whose statue is carried from the church in Cagliari to the village of Pula. Jazz lovers won’t want to miss Time in Jazz in Berchidda, not far from Olbia, currently in its 28th edition. It is a whole week of jazz, across a number of villages in the area, with open air concerts (which are free to attend) and the possibility to stay in camping sites. Wine lovers will enjoy Calici di Stelle in Jerzu. Food lovers willing to try traditional food will have many options, among them the “Sagra del Maialetto” (piglet) in Baunei. If you want a taste of traditional carnival costumes, Muravera Carnival in August is a parade of traditional masks from Sardinian mountain villages.

What I suggest to do is a tour of the island which takes you to cities, archelogical sites, cultural events, and that allows you to enjoy nature with hikes, water sports and relax on the beach.

I will suggest Cagliari as your starting point, as it is the main centre on the island and a beautiful city. You can also start touring from Olbia or Alghero, the other airports, and go on a loop! I will also give advice on where to go in Sardinia, what to do in Sardinia, and on the best beaches in Sardinia.

Care to plan your itinerary across the island? Click here for more useful posts.


 

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43 Comments

  • João Leitão
    6 June 2015 at 11:24

    Wow Sardinia looks fantastic! This place is on my list to go someday. I love the canyon pictures, what a place! Greetings from Morocco.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 11:27

      Thank you. I am from Sardinia, and like all Sardinians I am very proud of my homeland! I saw your blog… your post. AMAZING pictures!!

  • April
    6 June 2015 at 11:48

    Very well rounded, comprehensive article. The photos are breathtaking. You have definitely created a draw for this location. Seems like a beautiful place to explore

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 11:54

      I am glad you like it. I am from Sardinia, and I am very attached to it. I hope you get to visit one day!

  • Valeria @ Rome, New York, London, World
    6 June 2015 at 12:35

    Claudia no!!! Sardinia is one of the few places in Italy that’s not constantly invaded by tourists, let’s leave it that way 😀 I’m joking of course. Although I always remember when I went in June and the ocean’s water was freezing, would you say it gets warmer in, let’s say, July and August?
    PS; Where in Sardegna are you from?

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 13:43

      The best time to swim is actually September – the water does get warmer indeed. I am from Cagliari 🙂

  • Giulia Blocal
    6 June 2015 at 13:20

    Ciao Claudia! 🙂 I’ve spent all my childhood holidays in Sardinia, and maybe that’s why now I don’t go there so often anymore, but you wrote very good and inspiring suggestions (I especially loved the Mines of Montevecchio tip! I’m into industrial archaeology but I’ve never visited such places in Sardinia!). Also, I like a lot Cagliari… it’s very beautiful, with a hip student life and amazing beaches (such as Poetto) just a short ride from the city center. do you live in Cagliari?

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 13:43

      I do, and believe it or not, I never go to Poetto!!

  • Sarah Ebner
    6 June 2015 at 13:28

    My goodness, this looks gorgeous! We would love to visit here – sounds perfect for families too!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 13:44

      Definitely a place for families 🙂

      • Sarah Ebner
        13 June 2015 at 10:02

        Yes! So much to do and see. I am going to look into it, definitely!

  • Mindi
    6 June 2015 at 13:37

    Sardinia looks lovely. I’d love to plan a visit in September, as I’m not a fan of crowds.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 13:44

      Do so, you won’t regret it!

  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family
    6 June 2015 at 13:47

    I loved Sardinia when I visited. It was years ago though so I’m definitely overdue for a visit there.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 15:19

      You need to come back! Which parts of Sardinia did you visit?

  • Natalie Deduck
    6 June 2015 at 14:03

    I definitely need to go to Sardinia.
    Every time my husband and I land in Italy we go straight to the north of the country… Friends, good food and nature call us from there.
    But with those beautiful photos of the mountains you convinced me! Time to head south!

    All the best,
    Nat

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      6 June 2015 at 15:20

      Grrrrrrrrrr I need to have a quick talk with you, so next thing you do, you buy a ticket to visit Sardinia!

  • Travelwith2ofus
    7 June 2015 at 15:32

    Great info and tips about things to do in Sardinia. Water looks so clear. Would love to visit.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      7 June 2015 at 17:25

      You should!

  • Stephanie
    8 June 2015 at 0:29

    Wow, Sardinia looks beautiful! Old fashioned architecture and lovely scenery.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      8 June 2015 at 10:42

      So many places to visit in Sardinia 🙂

  • Vanessa
    8 June 2015 at 2:43

    It looks beautiful – but I want to hear more about the food!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      8 June 2015 at 10:44

      Hey Vanessa, I actually wrote a post about food in Sardinia for Cook Sip Go 🙂 now go get hungry!!

  • Fiona @ London-Unattached
    13 June 2015 at 10:02

    I haven’t been to Sardinia – very much on my wish list

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      13 June 2015 at 21:17

      Time to go!

  • Aileen
    13 June 2015 at 10:48

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sardinia, and your post just made me realize that I should visit this place soon! Great post 🙂

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      13 June 2015 at 21:18

      And now it is the PERFECT season!

  • Tanj from A Travelogue
    13 June 2015 at 12:51

    I have been to Italy but haven’t visited Sardinia. When I come back to Italy, I will definitely visit this town.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      13 June 2015 at 21:18

      Errrr – it’s an island, actually

  • Natasha
    13 June 2015 at 14:12

    Every year I plan to go to Sardinia, but have not quite made it yet. I will save this article for inspiration. Thanks!!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      13 June 2015 at 21:18

      There’s more on my blog 🙂

  • Wandering Carol
    13 June 2015 at 15:34

    Oh my gosh, those photos. I definitely have to put Sardinia on my list.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      13 June 2015 at 21:18

      You have to!

  • Jennifer
    13 June 2015 at 16:37

    Great thorough information – nice article and beautiful place.

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      13 June 2015 at 21:19

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  • noel
    13 June 2015 at 19:23

    I want to visit Claudia, it looks amazing! One of these days I’ll take some time to visit your lovely island!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      13 June 2015 at 21:19

      You’d have Clelia and me as guides 🙂

  • Vicky and Buddy
    14 June 2015 at 2:21

    Sardinia looks lovely and I can’t believe tickets can be so cheap! I believe any place can be done on a budget if you do a little research. Thanks for putting these tips together!

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      14 June 2015 at 10:31

      Indeed! It may take a little bit more effort but it is totally worth it 🙂

  • Kate
    14 June 2015 at 23:03

    I love Italy and have been to a few places but not Sardinia. It loves like it could be good value with lots of outdoor things to do and see. Great photos and information

    • Claudia Tavani
      Claudia Tavani
      15 June 2015 at 10:33

      Yeah, it is great 🙂

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