The second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is surrounded by both the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Sea of Sardinia, which are elements of the Mediterranean. Approximately 500km from the Italian mainland peninsula, this island is the perfect beach destination.
If you’re on a time crunch, you’re going to need to split Sardinia into quadrants and pick an area to explore. We opted to travel through South East Sardinia, specifically Villasimius and here’s why.
Villasimius, or Crabonaxa as it is called in Sardinian language, is a small town of 4000 residents and is surrounded by at least 12 beaches. Crystal clear calm water, enclaves of sand, rocks, and mountains.
The nearest major airport is Cagliari Elmas Airport, you can either take a domestic flight from anywhere in Italy into the island or you can travel internationally with a layover at the larger Italian airports. From Cagliari, you’ll need to get to Villasimius, the coastal city on the South Eastern side. You can do this in a few ways. Opt to rent a car and take the scenic route through the coastal mountains for about an hour (hint: you’ll most likely end up with a manual car, so if you can’t drive manual try local transport). There’s a wonderful Cagliari Airport-Villasimius Shuttle, offered by VillasimiusExpress and costs 15 euros each way. Reservations need to be made before hand, and you can get tickets here. The more affordable option is taking the local bus, which is only about 4 euros but runs longer; the time table is available here.
Where to Stay
Now that you’ve finally made it to Villasimius, the question is where to stay. Hands down the best place to stay was Hotel Stella D’Oro. Tucked in the little alley ways of downtown, this hotel gem has the kindest hosts, the food is incredible (keep reading and you’ll see why) and the location could not be any better. The rooms are not luxurious but for young mid-budget travelers – it’s an excellent choice. Bonus: if you chose to rent a car and drive, Stella D’oro will allow you to park your car in their private garage to avoid parking tickets!
What to Do
This is coastal city, so you’re here for the beach. In this case, there are many spiaggia or beaches worth seeing! Here are the best beaches in Sardinia.
Spiaggia di Simius – the closest beach to the center, not the prettiest but if you arrive late or just need to take a stroll on the sand in the evening this will do the job.
Punta Molentis – another close beach enclave with the perfect mountain for a backdrop.
Mari Pintau Beach – this is where a rented car comes in handy. Mari Pintau is absolutely breathtaking, about 30 minutes from west from Villasimius’ city center but a must.
Costa Rei Beach– also a bit further away from downtown more so to the upper east, but worth the drive/trek. It’s about a 20 min drive!
Besides the beaches?
City center is such a serene place to walk through. The vintage architecture, the street vendors selling everything from wine, to chocolate and handmade souvenirs and of course the many local mom & pop shops.
Most importantly, you can’t beat the view. The mountains in the background of the low-leveled buildings and the night lights is quite the scene.
Where to Eat
Hotel Stella D’Oro– we weren’t being lazy when we had dinner at our hotel. But Stella D’oro is ranked as the one of the top seafood restaurants in Villasimius. & it sure delivered. Growing up with parents that lived in a port city and ate seafood as much as they had water, we’ve become experts in fishing out the best seafood.
Pizzaria La Tartana– you’re in Italy, so you’re going to have to have some pizza. La Tartana has a beautiful outdoor terrace, specialty cocktails, great food and is right in the center.
Maracuja– stop for some of the freshest juice and smoothies! Enough said.
You’ll need to fly out of Cagliari again, so why not make a pit stop and wander a bit more? PlanetWare has a great city guide to follow if your time allows. Here are snippets of what you’ll see in Cagliari.
First off, you’ll be surrounded by great architecture, colorful buildings, rustic homes and shops and a grand castle in the middle of downtown.
Villanova District & Il Castello
One of the four ancient districts of the city, Villanova dates back to the 12thcentury and leads to the Il Castello District. Walk through the narrow streets lined with ancient homes and Aragonese churches.
In the center of the city is plaza Yenne, or Piazza Yenne with a ton of food options, outdoor cafes and bars. Right across is a roundabout with a statue, Monumento a Carlo Felice. & through the narrow alleys you’ll peak Church of Saint Michael.
End the day at the Marina District, another area filled with outdoor restaurants and shops leading right up to the port.