Where to stay in Sardinia
Where to stay in Sardinia considering this is the the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea? My favourite area is the north of the island, but it really depends on the time of the year and the type of holiday
Sardinia is the number 1 destination for Italians thanks to its unique sea and some of the most magnificent beaches in the world, especially on the northern side of Sardinia.
The best place to stay in Sardinia for couples is around Costa Smeralda or La Maddalena, especially for young couples, but it will be hard to find a budget-friendly hotel there. Families with kids should also look somewhere else, being this corner of the island more of a glamour destination.
In this guide, you will find the best areas to stay in Sardinia based on your type of holiday and the time of year you are planning your holiday. The same town and beach can be a totally different experience in August and September. A place I would suggest in June may not work in July.
Where to stay in Sardinia – Key points
This island is big, the second largest in the Mediterranean Sea, and just smaller in size than Belgium. For example, you need to drive at least 4 hours from Cagliari in the south (capital of Sardinia) to Porto Cervo in the north.
Unless you are into a Sardinia road trip, like a 14-day itinerary, where you move every second day, I recommend selecting a base and from there exploring the nearby destinations and attractions.
In the table below I have summarized where to base yourself in Sardinia, comparing the 11 best areas, towns and cities to stay in Sardinia. Click on the area name to read a full description with pros, cons and suggestions on places to see and experience, besides the best hotels and AirBnb.
Swipe left and right to see the entire table on a mobile. Keep reading for a full map of the island.
|Area/Town||Ideal for||Best Hotel||Pros||Cons||Budget||Accessibility||Attractions||Beaches||Families||Nightlife||Restaurants||Character|
|La Maddalena||Couples (off-season only)||Tatiana Garden||Beautiful beaches, romantic atmosphere||Crowded in peak season||Moderate to High||Ferry from Palau||Archipelago National Park, Spalmatore Beach||Excellent||Moderate||Good||Good||Historic|
|Chia||Couples time by the beach||Hotel Su Giudeu||Beautiful beaches, less crowded||Limited nightlife||Moderate||Bus from Cagliari||Chia Beach, Faro Capo Spartivento||Excellent||Moderate||Moderate||Good||Peaceful|
|San Teodoro||Young couples||Hotel Bonsai||Beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife||Can be busy||Moderate||Bus from Olbia||Luxury shopping, beautiful beaches||Very good||Good||Very good||Good||Vibrant|
|Stintino||Beach lovers||B&B Villa Piera||Beautiful sheltered beaches||Can be crowded||Moderate||Bus from Sassari||La Pelosa beach||Excellent||Good||Moderate||Good||Scenic|
|Ogliastra||Secluded beach experience||Arbatax Park Resort||Beautiful secluded beaches, value for money||Difficult to access some areas||Low to Moderate||Car recommended||Amazing coastline, imposing cliffs||Excellent||Moderate||Moderate||Good||Natural beauty|
|Costa Smeralda||Luxury vacation, nightlife||L’Ea Bianca Luxury Resort||Glamorous, beautiful beaches||Expensive||High||Bus from Olbia||Luxury shopping, beautiful beaches||Very good||Moderate||Excellent||Excellent||Glamorous|
|Villasimius||Families with small kids||Residence Fenicia||Beautiful beaches, close to Cagliari||Limited nightlife||Moderate||Bus from Cagliari||Punta Molentis Cove, Castle of San Michele||Excellent||Excellent||Moderate||Good||Family-friendly|
|Santa Teresa Gallura||Families with grown-up kids||Villa Gioietta||Beautiful beaches, close to Olbia||Can be busy||Moderate||Bus from Olbia||Torre di Longonsardo, Capo Testa Lighthouse||Excellent||Excellent||Good||Good||Family-friendly|
|Alghero||Nightlife for young crowd||Hotel Villa Piras||Vibrant nightlife, beautiful beaches||Can be busy||Moderate||Bus from Sassari||Lazzaretto Beach, Maria Pia Beach||Very good||Good||Excellent||Good||Vibrant|
|Cagliari||Without a car & city lovers||Residenza Scalette||Rich history, vibrant nightlife||City feeling||Moderate||Train and bus||National Archaeological Museum, beaches||Good||Moderate||Very good||Very good||Historic Centre|
|Olbia||Without a car||Conte Hotel||Gateway to Costa Smeralda||Can be very busy||Moderate||Train and bus||Church of San Paolo, Basilica of San Simplicio||Good||Moderate||Good||Good||Historic Centre|
Here below is a map with a few quick tips. Keep reading for more information.
Now that you have got an overview of where to base yourself in Sardinia, let me add more on how you can have the best Sardinia holidays based on your interests and type of trip.
- Best places to stay in Sardinia without a car: you have two possibilities here. If you are after a few Sardinia resorts to spend a week in, then you should check out close to the Olbia and the Cagliari airport. Alternatively, if you prefer to visit around you can base yourself in Olbia (north) or Cagliari (South) and use public transportation from there, easy. Read more on a trip without a car
- Where to stay in Sardinia for couples: one of the most beautiful and romantic beaches is Chia, down in the southernmost point of Sardinia, not too far from Cagliari. This is a great location, especially in peak season, less busy than the north of the island. Alternatively, on the north coast of Sardinia, you can check out San Teodoro, again with beautiful beaches and enough nightlife for a nice meal and a drink. La Maddalena island is an amazing option but only till mid-June and from mid-September (this island is absolutely packed in July and August, surely not as romantic). Read more on a trip for couples
- Where to stay in Sardinia for best beaches: such a hard call! Stintino in the north with La Pelosa beach has been rewarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, not only for the quality but also the fact that it’s well repaired by any wind making the water so flat and amazing. The Maddalena Archipelago is one of the most unique places in the world, it’s a little Caribbean microcosmos. True, it’s busy on peak season but this should not put you off. Another great destination is the Ogliastra area, on the east coast, with the amazing coastline made not only by beautiful beaches but also imposing cliffs. Villasimius, with the many beaches around, is also a great base. Read more on a stay for beaches
- Where to stay in Sardinia for families: here are two amazing areas of Sardinia where you will find amazing beaches with shallow water not too far from the airport. Santa Teresa Gallura, in the north part of Sardinia, is a great colourful town with easy access to some lovely small sandy bays. In the evening you can have a walk in the main square, enjoy dinner and have a nice ice cream. Villasimius in the south, not too far from Cagliari, is another amazing place to go with kids, especially if toddlers or small ones. The beaches are amazing, it’s so quiet, a few restaurants here and there, perfect for a relaxing holiday with small kids. Read more about a family trip to Sardinia
- Best areas to stay for nightlife in Sardinia: This island has some amazing nightlife, especially in the summer months. There are two destinations that stand out, Costa Smeralda and Alghero. They cater to different types of travellers and budgets too. Read more about the nightlife in Sardinia with a few tips.
Is it expensive to rent a car in Sardinia? Honestly yes, if you compare it to the rest of Italy, but you can still find great prices if you book well in advance.
I usually rent my cars from DiscoverCars, a great website that compares the best deals from local and global operators. It also gives the possibility to add a 7 Euro/day Full insurance (no excess) which is a fantastic piece of mind.
Where to stay in Sardinia without a car
Sardinia is a whole lot of Island to explore. While driving offers the convenience of allowing you to explore more remote areas it can also be an unnecessary extra cost.
Then there is the stress of getting parking which can be challenging when you decide to drive to the beach, especially in July and August, or to the historic centres, usually unreachable due to ZTL (Limited Traffic Zone).
It can be easier for you to rely on the public transport system on the island, although it must be said, it’s not always as reliable as you read on paper.
If you are renting a car in Sardinia you will, of course, have a different experience, with more freedom and the possibility to explore whatever you want whenever you like. But it all comes at a cost
If you prefer public transportation then book your accommodation either in the north or the south of Sardinia and the best places to stay in Sardinia to base yourself are two Olbia and Cagliari.
Olbia – Best town to stay in Sardinia to explore the North-East
Located in North-Eastern Sardinia, Olbia is one of the most important tourist hubs on the island.
And with beautiful beaches like Spiaggia di Cala Sabina as well as attractions like the Parco Fausto Noce it is not so hard to see why.
As a result of this popularity, the town has one of the most extensive public transport systems with numerous bus routes and trains at the Olbia Transit Station.
This makes it easy to navigate around the town and to surrounding hubs for a wholesome trip.
Check directly on the ASPO website the transportation schedule and all the destinations you can reach on the north-east coast. Here below a quick table with a few examples
|Destination||Distance (km)||Cost (EUR)||Main Attractions|
|Porto Cervo||30||From €4||Luxury shopping, beautiful beaches, nightlife|
|San Teodoro||30||From €2||La Cinta Beach, Capo Coda Cavallo, San Teodoro Lagoon|
|La Maddalena||35||From €5||Archipelago National Park, Spalmatore Beach, Caprera|
|Nuoro||85||From €8||Museo Etnografico Sardo, Mount Ortobene, Man Museum|
|Sassari||105||From €8||Rosello Fountain, Sassari Ducal Palace, Sanna Museum|
|Alghero||140||From €12||Neptune’s Grotto, Maria Pia Beach, Alghero Cathedral|
|Cagliari||280||From €16||Poetto Beach, Bastione of Saint Remy, National Archaeological Museum|
The station also happens to be a short walking distance from the wildly popular Dolceacqua. This seafood restaurant would be ideal for a quick snack before your trip or a proper end-of-day meal after a long day of exploring the island.
Another great restaurant in the area is Ristorante Pizzeria La Lanterna. This classy little spot is perfect for solo meals, romantic dates and group dinners with its perfect combination of stylish décor and amazing Italian dishes. Make sure to try their popular pasta dishes and unique fish balls.
Cagliari – Best town to stay in Sardinia to explore the South
The south coast is ideal if your main agenda for your holiday is to have some beach bumming fun. In this case, you can access a lot of them from the city just by taking a bus.
These include the famous Poetto Beach and Calamosca Beach.
Check directly on the CTM Website for the scheduling and destinations you can reach by bus. Here is a quick table with a few possible destinations.
|Destination||Distance from the centre (km)||Cost (EUR)||Attractions|
|Poetto Beach||6 (bus PQ)||From 1||Beach, Bars, Restaurants|
|Calamosca Beach||7 (bus PF)||From 1||Beach, Hiking, Lighthouse|
|Quartu Sant’Elena||10||From 1||Churches, Beaches, Parks|
|Pula||30||From 3||Nora Archaeological Site, Beaches, Forest of Is Cannoneris|
|Oristano||90||From 7||Torre Grande, Archaeological Museum, Church of Saint Chiara|
|Nuoro||150||From 12||Museo Etnografico Sardo, Mount Ortobene, Man Museum|
The best thing about these beaches is that most are close to or attached to eateries so you don’t even have to leave the water to eat.
One such restaurant is Le Palmette Beach Club. This high-end spot is popular for its fresh catches and craft cocktails you get to enjoy with an amazing view of the water.
Best 2 resorts close to Olbia and Cagliari
If you prefer to book a resort, seat and relax for the whole holiday then the below two places may be just what you are looking for.
- Hotel Colonna San Marco in Porto Rotondo: This quaint little bed and breakfast spot is a mere 45 minutes by bus #2 from the Olbia airport. It is one of the top-rated hotels on the island with a wonderful combination of great service and state-of-the-art facilities. When you are not sipping craft cocktails by the pool, the hotel also offers quick access to the beach as well as to the town for shopping and restaurant hopping.
- Hotel Aquadulci in Su Giudeu Beach: The hotel is 2 hours by bus from Cagliari airport and is worth every second of the commute. You will get to enjoy luxurious 4-star accommodations in a place that combines both traditional Italian styles and modern décor. Its location also makes it perfect if you are looking for a peaceful getaway with amazing views.
Best places to stay in Sardinia for couples
Sardinia is one of the most beautiful destinations to stay in Italy for couples. It’s very difficult to beat the unique beaches, the lovely nature, the stunning landscape and the historical town centres.
If you are asking yourself where to stay in Sardinia for a romantic holiday then look no further than Chia, San Teodoro and La Maddalena. These are peaceful and charming destinations with a few options also for a late-night drink and dance.
Chia Coast – Best place to stay for a relaxing beach time
Chia is a beautiful little coastal village in the south famous for having some of the most breathtaking beaches.
Chia Beach was voted the most beautiful beach in all of Italy by Lega Ambiente in 2017.
Lega Ambiente is an Italian non-profit organization in charge of monitoring the quality of the Italian landscape. So if they say that place is beautiful then you can bet your bottom dollar it is.
In addition to the crystal clear waters and clean white sandy beaches, the village has many cute little spots you and your partner could explore including the nature trails and the Faro Capo Spartivento lighthouse.
It also has many awesome restaurants including Torre Chia. The best part about this casual spot is the outdoor sitting option which is simply mesmerising at night. They also have amazing food with black pasta, seafood and meat sauce being their most popular options.
Another romantic spot to go for a couple’s night out is Mirage. This classy restaurant is mainly a seafood spot but it is their amazing pizza and house wines that keep guests coming back time and again.
San Teodoro – best area to stay in Sardinia for young couples
San Teodoro is the place for you and your partner if you are looking for something more vibrant but not too wild. Located in the North-Eastern part of Sardinia, this town has also some of the most awesome views of the water.
Here are 5 great reasons you should book your Sardinia holiday in San Teodoro
- Beautiful Beaches: San Teodoro is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia, such as La Cinta and Cala Brandinchi (north of town). These beaches offer crystal clear waters and white sand, perfect for relaxing and sunbathing.
- Vibrant Nightlife: The town is known for its vibrant nightlife. It’s not uncommon for San Teodoro to host music festivals. Moreover, you will easily find bars and a few clubs to spend the night, however, without the loud side of it.
- Outdoor Activities: San Teodoro offers a range of options which are popular with active young couples. These include hiking, horse riding, and water sports. I particularly love there windsurfing and kitesurfing.
- Natural Beauty: The area is rich in natural beauty, with the Tavolara Marine Reserve and the San Teodoro Lagoon, where you can spot pink flamingos and other wildlife.
- Romantic Atmosphere: The charming town, with its narrow streets, small squares, and traditional architecture, offers a romantic atmosphere perfect for couples.
There are also so many beautiful restaurants that you will be spoiled by the great choice.
Marino di Puntaldia which is right next to the scenic Spiaggia de La Marina di Puntaldìa is a must-book restaurant, famous for its amazing seafood, fresh salads and spaghetti-inspired dishes.
La Runcina is another great option for a romantic night out. This Italian restaurant lives up to all the positive regional stereotypes with its awesome Italian food, a wide selection of wine and vintage mood-setting décor.
La Maddalena – Best place to visit in Sardinia
La Maddalena is another great destination for couples, however, my suggestion here is to avoid booking your accommodation here in July and August. That is when it’s best to visit it just on a day trip.
La Maddalena is a destination famous for its nightlife, but, if you visit it off-season (till mid-June and from mid-September) this place becomes a more romantic (and less expensive) destination to experience.
You will have also a wide choice of restaurants including Zi Anto. This bar and restaurant has the perfect food and drinks menu to ensure your night out is truly one to remember.
Osteria Il Rifugio dei Peccatori is another fantastic option. This is one of the few places you will actually get to try rare and authentic Sardinian dishes like octopus salad and a variety of local meats.
La Maddalena is also great for some late drinks and a bit of nightlife even off-season.
When you are not sunbathing and eating your hearts out, this tiny island has a lot of attractions to check out including the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene as well as Studio Fluido art gallery.
Where to stay in Sardinia for beaches
Sardinian beaches are truly remarkable whether it is the rugged northern options with rocky bays or the smooth long and wild southern ones.
I like here to highlight 3 beaches that are truly out of this world, some of the best not only in Sardinia but also in Italy.
Stintino – Best area for a sheltered beach
This beautiful Northwestern village is home to some of the most beautiful beaches famed for having clear waters, clean beaches and spectacular rocky backdrops.
What is probably one of their most popular beaches is La Pelosa. It has won numerous awards over the years for its beauty and tranquillity.
Beaches on this quaint little paradise village also benefit from the general location away from prevailing winds.
This means that the water is always nice and calm and therefore perfect for swimming and other water sports like snorkelling, kayaking and even water skiing.
There is one thing to be said. This beach is as amazing as popular. You will hardly find a spot to lie down (literally) after 10:30-11am in August. July is not as bad but not the best either.
The Maddalena Archipelago – The best area for a Caribbean experience
Maddalena is one of the most famous seaside destinations in Europe and for good reasons. It’s just as amazing as unique.
As a result, it tends to be very busy especially around the peak season between mid-June and September.
While you might have to put up with crowded beaches during this season, it is safe to say that the experience is more than worth it. The beaches are like something out of a travel magazine catalogue.
Back in town, you will find many amazing restaurants and cafes around, however book well in advance for dinner.
One of the besteateries is Mama Pizza. This pizzeria is a hidden gem popular mainly among the locals. If you do go there make sure to try their Neapolitan pizza. It is a real island treasure.
You could also try La Roca. This cosy little spot offers calming views of the town around and is ideal for nights out. In terms of the food, they have some of the best flavours and presentations around whether you go for a steak dish, pasta or even pizza.
The Ogliastra – The best area to stay for a secluded experience
If you are wondering where to stay in Sardinia for a more isolated and calm beach experience, then Ogliastra is the place to be.
In addition to the beaches that you will essentially have all to yourself, the location offers amazing views of coastal nature from the spectacular cliffs.
The only downside is that these picturesque scenes are not very easy to get to. Sometimes these amazing coves are accessible only from the sea.
However, the sheer beauty of them, as well as the great value for money of this area, makes it all worth it.
One of the best places to book your stay is Santa Maria Navarrese. It is one of the best Sardinia resorts area if you are after amazing beaches and coastal attractions, besides being very gentle on the budget.
Tortolì is slowly but very surely coming up as a great alternative. This is mainly because of the active urban scene littered with numerous shopping opportunities as well as amazing restaurants.
These include the likes of Sa Buttega. Don’t let the low price tags on this one fool you; they have some of the best Italian food around served in their beautiful indoor and outdoor settings.
Another option would be Ristorante Pizzeria La Baia. They have it all from vegan options to gluten-free pizza and even lactose-free ice cream.
Best places to stay in Sardinia for families
What makes Sardinia ideal for family trips are the numerous beautiful beaches. These are ideal for everything from building sandcastles with the clean white sand to snorkelling in the crystal clear waters.
It must be said that there are beaches in Sardinia where it can get really windy, which may be great for windsurfing or kitesurfing, less so to enjoy your time with kids.
Here below I have selected two destinations where to base yourself in Sardinia to enjoy an almost windless experience.
Villasimius – Best area to stay with toddlers or small kids
This southern village has a lot to offer families with small kids including a variety of attractions like the Punta Molentis Cove and the nearby Castle of San Michele. And that’s besides the fabulous beaches, like Simius Playa and Porto Giunco which are perfect for small children to play and swim safely.
This location also offers easy access to Cagliari with its numerous attractions. The transfer time to the International Airport is also minimal, which is great when travelling with kids, I know something about it.
Another wonderful thing about Villasimius is its abundance of child-friendly restaurants. If you have picky eaters for kids, Santa Maria would be your best choice.
They serve great pasta and pizza in a nice casual little setting that is perfect for families. They also have a wide variety of seafood dishes for the grownups if you are feeling a little adventurous.
Another option is Mama Grill. They are widely regarded as being among the best establishments in terms of professional service and being child-friendly. They serve mainly Italian dishes and it is their steaks and desserts that they are best known for.
Santa Teresa Gallura – Best area to stay with grown-up kids
Santa Teresa Gallura is just one hour drive from Olbia airport so if you choose North Sardinia for your family trip then this is the best place to go.
It is one of the northernmost parts of the island and is home to numerous attractions that older kids would definitely find interesting.
These include Torre di Longonsardo o Torre Spagnola, Capo Testa Lighthouse and Tomba Dei Giganti.
In addition to all the attractions, the kids will also have a lot of fun restaurant hopping in town. Head to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele I for a casual walk, a meal and an ice cream.
If you are in the mood for some pizza you should also check out Spabi Express. They serve craft pizzas unlike anything you will find elsewhere in town. This is ideal if your kids are up for a food adventure.
Where to stay in Sardinia for nightlife
Ask anyone where to stay in Sardinia to enjoy the most beautiful nightlife on the island and they will come up with a bunch of destinations of which the Costa Smeralda and Alghero as always on the list.
This is where you can enjoy chilled-out beach aperitivo, bustling parties and never-ending clubbing time.
Costa Smeralda – The best area to stay in Sardinia for a glamour nightlife
Costa Smeralda is one of the most popular destinations for nightlife in Sardinia, particularly the town of Porto Cervo. This is not certainly a place for travellers on a budget, in fact, this is where you can probably experience the most glamorous nightlife in Italy.
This is where you will find docked the most luxurious yachts, you can eat at the most elegant restaurants and of course, you can have an amazing time at the most legendary nightclubs.
Billionaire Club is a great example in the area. Founded by Flavio Briatore, it’s known for attracting an international jet-set crowd and A-list celebrities.
For a swanky drink, head to Phi Beach, an open-air club offering stunning sunset views over the ocean, great music, and a selection of fine wines and cocktails.
Among the sophisticated dining options, the renowned Quattro Passi al Pescatore stands out. It’s a refined seafood restaurant offering a great view and exquisite dishes.
Alghero – The best town to stay in Sardinia for nightlife for the young crowd
Alghero is one of the best towns to stay in Sardinia for party-seekers but with a less pricey target. It’s a youthful and lively city, packed with bars and clubs that stay open till the early hours.
One of the most popular clubs is Agua Disco, located right in front of the sea. It’s a popular hotspot for any age and type of music. For a more laid-back vibe, head to Maracaibo, a beachfront bar offering a relaxed environment to enjoy cocktails and local beers.
When it comes to dining, Al Tuguri is a local favourite, offering traditional Sardinian cuisine in a rustic setting, while Nautilus offers fantastic seafood dishes right by the sea.
Alghero is also considered one of the best areas to stay in Sardinia for young couples that are looking for a bit of action, besides the beautiful beaches and romantic historical centres.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best part of Sardinia to stay?
The best part of Sardinia to stay depends on your preferences. For beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, consider San Teodoro. For a family-friendly environment, Villasimius is ideal. For a luxurious stay, Costa Smeralda is perfect.
Where to stay in Sardinia North or South?
It’s always a hard choice and if you ask any local, be sure, that you will end up with a 50-50 choice. The biggest difference between the north and south of Sardinia is in the popularity level, very high in the north (therefore very touristy), and less in the south (therefore with more locals around).
What part of Sardinia has the best beaches?
Sardinia is renowned for its stunning beaches. The Costa Smeralda in the north and Villasimius in the south are particularly famous for their beautiful sandy beaches and clear waters.
How many days is good in Sardinia?
A week is a good amount of time to explore Sardinia’s main attractions, enjoy its beaches, and experience its culture and cuisine. However, if you want to explore the island more thoroughly, consider an itinerary of two weeks in Sardinia.
Where to stay in Sardinia for upscale holiday ?
For an upscale holiday in Sardinia, consider staying in Costa Smeralda. Known for its luxury resorts, beautiful beaches, and high-end restaurants, it’s a favorite among celebrities.
Which area is good for families to stay in Sardinia?
Villasimius is a good area for families to stay in Sardinia. It offers child-friendly beaches, family-friendly resorts, and a variety of outdoor activities.