Last updated on January 14, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sardinia

A Sardinia road trip – Itinerary in 14 days for the best gems of the island

Buckle up and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime on this unforgettable Sardinia road trip.

Starting from the vibrant streets of Cagliari and culminating in the serene environs of Santa Teresa Gallura and Costa Smeralda, this journey presents a medley of experiences that are nothing short of spectacular.

As you navigate through this Sardinia itinerary in 14 days, you’ll uncover the best places to stay in Sardinia, sample delectable local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Sardinian culture.

Let’s dive into it

A Sardinia road trip – Itinerary in 14 days on a table

This Sardinia Road Trip starts from the city of Cagliari, however, it can easily be adapted to any of the airports you arrive.

If you fly into Cagliari, I suggest visiting the city for the first 2 days and hiring a car to visit Sardinia for the remaining 12 days. Not much point to have a car to visit Cagliari.

You find below a summary table about all the stops, places to visit and suggested restaurants to eat at. However, let me spend just a couple of words on hiring a vehicle on the island first.

I have written extensively about renting a car in Sardinia. I usually book my car on the aggregator website DiscoverCars. They compare the price and service of the major rental companies as well as the local ones, providing the best price on the market. I never got disappointed.

My biggest recommendation is to hire a car in Sardinia with full insurance (no excess). Streets and parking are quite narrow on the island and it’s so easy to scratch or dent the car. One of the best features of DiscoverCars is that they offer it for less than 8 Euros/day, a bargain.

Sardinia - The beautiful sandy feach of Fontanamare - 70km west of Cagliari
Sardinia – The beautiful sandy beach of Fontanamare – 70km west of Cagliari

On a mobile, swipe left or right to see the entire table.

DayAccommodationApprox Km drivenMain sitesMorning activityLunchAfternoon activity
1Cagliari0kmCagliari city, Poetto BeachExplore Castello area, CathedralRistorante Martinelli’sPoetto Beach, Parco di Molentargius
2Cagliari0kmRoman Amphitheatre, San Benedetto Market, Sella del Diavolo PromontoryVisit Amphitheatre, explore the marketTrattoria LillicuHike to Sella del Diavolo Promontory
3Oristano100kmGiara of Gesturi, Sinis PeninsulaVisit Giara of GesturiDa LeonardoExplore Sinis Peninsula, visit Tharros ruins
4Oristano50kmCabras, Is Arutas BeachVisit Cabras, Museo CivicoAgriturismo PinucciaVisit Is Arutas Beach
5Alghero90kmBosa, Alghero Old TownVisit BosaLocanda Di CorteExplore Alghero Old Town
6Alghero20kmNeptune’s Grotto, Capo CacciaVisit Neptune’s GrottoOk Pizza EvolutionAlghero market streets, Le Bombarde Beach
7Alghero150kmPorto Torres and La Pelosa Beach, StintinoVisit Porto TorresRistorante Pizzeria San GavinoVisit La Pelosa Beach, Stintino
8Santa Teresa Gallura150kmArzachena, Nuragic complex, and Costa Smeralda beachesVisit Nuragic complexRistorante La TerrazzaVisit Santa Teresa Gallura and Rena Bianca beach
9Santa Teresa Gallura55kmLa MaddalenaBoat tour of La Maddalena ArchipelagoBoat tour lunchContinue boat tour of La Maddalena Archipelago
10Santa Teresa Gallura20kmCapo Testa, Rena di Ponente BeachTrekking in Capo TestaMartini Beach Restaurant & BarRelax at Rena di Ponente Beach
11Porto Rotondo60kmSan Pantaleo, Capriccioli BeachVisit San PantaleoTrattoria da TitoVisit Capriccioli Beach
12Porto Rotondo50kmPorto Cervo and Capriccioli BeachVisit Porto CervoIl PomodoroVisit Capriccioli Beach
13Porto Rotondo40kmPromontorio di Capo Figari, Prima Spiaggia, Golfo AranciTrekking in Capo FigariPacked lunchRelax at Prima Spiaggia
14Cagliari350kmOrosei and Arbatax
A Sardinia road trip – Itinerary in 14 days

For each day below, I have highlighted:

  • where to stay in Sardinia: the city/town to spend the night with a suggested hotel
  • the approx km you are going to drive on that day
  • the main sites that you can visit either at you destination or along the route
  • how much trekking is involved on the day, if any
  • the full program for the morning and the afternoon included a suggested restaurant
Sardinia - High angle view of Cagliari
Sardinia – High angle view of Cagliari

Day 1: Kicking Off the Sardinia road trip in Cagliari

  • Accommodation in: Cagliari
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 0km
  • Main sites visited: Cagliari city vibes, Poetto Beach
  • Trekking: some walking

Morning

Alright, let’s start this adventure right in the heart of Sardinia – Cagliari. This city is a blend of Insta-worthy historic architecture and a buzzing modern lifestyle.

Begin your day by wandering around the Castello quarter. It’s got some seriously awesome views of the city and the sea.

You’ll run into some old-school medieval towers and the Cagliari Cathedral, which is pretty epic. Grab your camera, you’ll want to capture these sights.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: Hungry? Yeah, me too. Let’s hit up “Ristorante Martinelli’s”. It’s right in the city centre and they serve some wicked local dishes. Ever tried ‘malloreddus’ or ‘porceddu’? Well, you’re about to.

Afternoon

Lunch was amazing, right? Now, let’s burn off those calories. Pack your beach gear, we’re heading to Poetto Beach.

It’s an 8km long beach, only a short drive away. Crystal-clear water, golden sand, and maybe a bit of beach volleyball? Sounds like a plan.

If you’re still up for more after all that sun, sea, and sand, check out Parco di Molentargius. It’s a cool nature park where you can spot flamingos.

Day one is a wrap! You’ve just had a taste of Sardinian city life, local cuisine, and beach vibes.

Day 2: Discovering the Secrets of Cagliari

  • Accommodation in: Cagliari
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 0km
  • Main sites visited: The Roman Amphitheatre of Cagliari, San Benedetto Market, Sella del Diavolo Promontory
  • Trekking (if any): A little hike up to Sella del Diavolo Promontory – it’s worth it!

Morning

Rise and shine, folks! Here is another cracking day in Cagliari. Let’s start the morning with a historical site. The first stop is the Roman Amphitheatre of Cagliari – it’s like the Colosseum’s little cousin. You can almost hear the gladiators preparing for the games.

After that, have a dive into the local life at the San Benedetto Market.

This is a real local market with Sardinian people buying their ingredients and fresh fish, meat, fruit, and veg.

The smells, colours, and banter between the vendors – it’s all part of the Sardinian charm.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: After all the food gazing at the market, you’ll be starving. Let’s get some lunch at ‘Trattoria Lillicu’. These guys serve the freshest seafood in town.

Afternoon

Once you’re done devouring our seafood feast, head off to Sella del Diavolo Promontory.

It’s a bit of a hike, but trust me, the view from the top is mental! You can see the whole of Poetto Beach and the surrounding coastline.

And there you have it – Day 2 of the Sardinian road trip. You’ve seen Roman ruins, soaked up the local culture, and taken in some epic views. 

Sardinia - S'Archittu - A small coastal town near Oristano on the west coast
Sardinia – S’Archittu – A small coastal town near Oristano on the west coast

Day 3: Let’s continue the Sardinia road trip by car, direction Oristano

  • Accommodation in: Oristano
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 100km
  • Main sites visited: Giara of Gesturi and Sinis Peninsula
  • Trekking (if any): A gentle stroll around the Giara of Gesturi

Morning

Goodbye Cagliari, hello open road! Today we’re renting a car in Sardinia and heading north to Oristano.

But, don’t rush! We’ve got a pit stop along the way – the Giara of Gesturi. This place is famous for its wild horses, ancient cork oaks, and ponds that bloom with lilies in the spring.

Wander around, soak up the wild beauty of the place, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a herd of wild horses.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: After a morning of exploring, we’ll head to ‘Da Leonardo’ in Santa Giusta. This family-run trattoria is famous for its home-style cooking – think hearty stews, homemade pasta, and traditional Sardinian sweets. Amazing value for money too.

Afternoon

After lunch, we keep going on the Sardinia road trip by exploring the Sinis Peninsula. This place is a nature lover’s dream.

It’s got beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and some of the most diverse bird life in Sardinia.

Plus, there are some cracking historical sites too – like the ruins of Tharros. Dating back to the 8th century BC, these ruins tell tales of ancient civilizations.

In the evening, make our way to our accommodation in Oristano. A vibrant town with a historical centre full of charm and tradition.

Day 4: Exploring Oristano

  • Accommodation in: Oristano
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 50km
  • Main sites visited: Cabras and Is Arutas Beach
  • Trekking (if any): A leisurely walk along the shore at Is Arutas Beach

Morning

Good morning Oristano! Today, we’re staying close to home base. First stop, Cabras.

This small town is famous for its fishing. It is the perfect place to experience the local culture.

Wander around, visit the local fish market, and if you fancy, head to the Museo Civico for a glimpse of the giant stone statues from the ancient Nuragic civilisation.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: Feeling peckish? ‘Agriturismo Pinuccia’ in Cabras is your go-to. Known for its fresh ingredients, family run and amazingly good value. Important suggestion: book a table in advance.

Afternoon

 After lunch, we’re off to one of the most unique beaches in the world – Is Arutas Beach.

Known as the ‘Rice Grain Beach’, its sand isn’t sand at all, but tiny quartz pebbles that shimmer in shades of pink, green and white.

Spend the afternoon sunbathing, having a swim in the crystal-clear waters, or walking along the shore, pebbles crunching beneath your feet.

As the sun starts to set, make your way back to Oristano. Grab some dinner at one of the local trattorias, and maybe try the local dish, fregola (a type of pasta similar to couscous) with clams. Tomorrow, we’re hitting the road again, heading to Alghero.

Sardinia - Wonderful morning panorama of the colourful houses of the old town of Bosa
Sardinia – Wonderful morning panorama of the colourful houses of the old town of Bosa

Day 5: Oristano to Alghero

  • Accommodation in: Alghero
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 90km
  • Main sites visited: Bosa and Alghero Old Town
  • Trekking (if any): A leisure stroll through Alghero’s old town

Morning

 Rise and shine! It’s moving day, but first, we’re taking a detour through the picturesque town of Bosa.

Along the way, enjoy the winding coastal drive with its stunning views.

Once in Bosa, explore the colourful narrow streets, check out the medieval castle, and grab a coffee at one of the charming local cafes.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: Before you leave Bosa, have lunch at ‘Locanda Di Corte’. It’s a hidden gem where you can sample local specialities like the Malloreddus (Sardinian gnocchi).

Afternoon

Post-lunch, we’re back on the road, heading north to Alghero. On arrival, settle into your accommodation and then it’s time to explore.

Alghero’s Old Town is a maze of narrow cobbled lanes, packed with bustling piazzas, Gothic palaces, and cosy trattorias.

Spend the afternoon getting lost in its charm, and don’t forget to stop by the stunning 16th-century Alghero Cathedral.

In the evening, find a spot at any seafront restaurant. Try the local favourite, ‘Nautilus’. Order the Aragosta alla Catalana (lobster salad) and let the sound of the waves pair with your meal. This is one of the best, and most expensive, restaurants in this Sardinia road trip

Day 6: Alghero

  • Accommodation in: Alghero
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 20km
  • Main sites visited: Neptune’s Grotto and Capo Caccia
  • Trekking (if any): 654 steps down (and up again!) to the Grotto

Morning

Rise and shine, adventurers! Today, we’re heading to the enchanting Neptune’s Grotto.

A short drive from Alghero will take you to Capo Caccia, where you’ll find this incredible sea cave. The stalactite and stalagmite formations are a true spectacle of nature.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: After exploring the cave, head back to Alghero and grab a bite at ‘Ok Pizza Evolution’. This local favourite serves some of the best pizzas in town. I recommend their signature seafood pizza.

Afternoon

Post-lunch, take it easy. Wander through Alghero’s vibrant market streets and pick up some souvenirs. Sardinian crafts, ceramics, and local wines make excellent gifts.

Or, if you’re up for some beach time, head to Le Bombarde Beach. It’s a short drive away and offers crystal clear waters perfect for a refreshing dip.

In the evening, dine at ‘Al Vecchio Mulino’. This charming restaurant serves delicious traditional Sardinian dishes. Try their Fregola con Arselle, a local pasta dish with clams, and pair it with a glass of local Vermentino wine.

After dinner, enjoy a relaxing stroll along the city walls, taking in the magical sunset over the Mediterranean. Tomorrow, we’re off to the glamorous Costa Smeralda.

Sardinia - Stairways to the Neptune Cave
Sardinia – Stairways to the Neptune Grotto

Day 7: Discovering Porto Torres and Stintino

  • Accommodation in: Alghero
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 150km
  • Main sites visited: Porto Torres and La Pelosa Beach, Stintino
  • Trekking (if any): Not today, we’re saving our energy for the beach!

Morning

After a hearty breakfast at your Alghero base, set off for a morning trip to Porto Torres.

Just under an hour’s drive, this historic town is a treasure trove of Roman ruins and museums.

Get your culture fix by visiting the ancient site of the Palazzo di Re Barbaro and the Antiquarium Turritano museum, which houses fascinating archaeological findings.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: Make your way to ‘Ristorante Pizzeria San Gavino’ in Porto Torres for the great seafood menu.

Afternoon

Post-lunch, embark on a short drive to Stintino, home to one of Sardinia’s most famous beaches – La Pelosa, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Beautiful turquoise water and white sand. Hire a beach umbrella and soak up the sun, swim in the calm waters, or simply enjoy the stunning surroundings.

Be aware that it is a popular beach and it tends to get crowded already at 10 am between mid-July and the end of August. If visiting at that time of the year I suggest swapping the morning with the afternoon plan and being there by 9 am.

Day 8: Alghero to Santa Teresa Gallura

  • Accommodation in: Santa Teresa Gallura
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 150km
  • Main sites visited: Arzachena, Nuragic complex, and Costa Smeralda beaches
  • Trekking (if any): A light 2km walk around the Nuragic complex

Morning

Today, we’re swapping the atmospheric streets of Alghero for the glitz and glamour of Costa Smeralda.

After checking out of your Alghero accommodation, hit the road towards Arzachena.

This town is known for its Nuragic archaeological sites. Visit the Nuragic complex, including the Albucciu Nuraghe, a fascinating stone structure dating back to the Bronze Age.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: For lunch, stop by ‘Ristorante La Terrazza’ in Arzachena. They serve a delectable variety of local dishes. Don’t miss out on their fresh seafood pasta.

Afternoon

After lunch, we’ll hit the road again, this time setting our sights on Santa Teresa Gallura.

Located in the northernmost point of Sardinia, this charming town offers stunning views of the Straits of Bonifacio.

Take an easygoing walk around the town and enjoy the charming old town, starting from the vibrant Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.

And of course, head to the stunning Rena Bianca beach, the perfect place to relax after a day on the road.

Torre di Longonsardo in Santa Teresa Gallura - The northernmost point of Sardinia
Torre di Longonsardo in Santa Teresa Gallura – The northernmost point of Sardinia

Day 9: Exploring La Maddalena from Santa Teresa Gallura

  • Accommodation in: Santa Teresa Gallura
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 55km
  • Main sites visited: La Maddalena
  • Trekking (if any): None

In the morning drive to Palau to join an organised tour of Isola Maddalena and its Archipelago.

This is a full-day boat tour, kicking off from Palau. Just imagine soaking up the sun while cruising around these spectacular islands, a local guide at your side and the sea breeze in your hair.

Lots of swimming, snorkelling, and sunbathing. Get your goggles on and dive into the turquoise waters at Santa Maria Island, or maybe just kick back on the beach at Budelli.

This place is a stunner. Don’t miss the unique pink sands of Spiaggia Rosa – a sight to behold!

Day 10: Trekking at Capo Testa and Relaxing at Rena di Ponente Beach

  • Accommodation in: Santa Teresa Gallura
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 20km
  • Main sites visited: Capo Testa, Rena di Ponente Beach
  • Trekking (if any): Capo Testa, approx 5 km

Morning

Let’s get those hiking boots on again, adventurers! We’re off to explore the rocky landscape of Capo Testa this morning.

This stunning peninsula is just a short drive from Santa Teresa Gallura and offers some of the best trekking routes in Sardinia.

With bizarre rock formations, panoramic sea views, and hidden coves, it’s a true playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

After a brisk walk, we’ll head to Martini Beach Restaurant & Bar for a lunch break. Nestled right by the sea, it’s the perfect spot to refuel with some local cuisine.

Their tuna tartare is a must-try. The panoramic sea views are fantastic. Plus, if you fancy a cheeky afternoon cocktail, their list is rather impressive!

Afternoon

The afternoon calls for a bit of downtime, and Rena di Ponente Beach is the place for it.

This golden sandy beach is known for its calm waters, making it a great spot for a leisurely swim.

You can also try your hand at snorkelling or simply laze on the sand and soak up the sunshine.

Sardinia - Coastline of Baja Sardinia near Palau on the northeast coast of the island
Sardinia – Coastline of Baja Sardinia near Palau on the northeast coast of the island

Day 11: Santa Teresa Gallura to Porto Rotondo

  • Accommodation in: Porto Rotondo
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 60km
  • Main sites visited: San Pantaleo, Capriccioli Beach
  • Trekking: None for today, just pure exploration and relaxation!

Morning

Let’s leave Santa Teresa Gallura today and set your GPS to the charming village of San Pantaleo, only about an hour’s drive away.

San Pantaleo is a hidden gem, with its traditional stone houses, artisanal boutiques, and vibrant artist community.

Spend the morning exploring its cobbled streets and mingling with locals at the market square.

Lunch: Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a table at Trattoria da Tito. Their homemade pasta is legendary and just what you need before an afternoon at the beach.

Afternoon

After lunch, it’s time to hit the idyllic beaches of Costa Smeralda.

You’ll be spoilt for choice, from the pristine sands of Spiaggia Capriccioli to the turquoise waters of Spiaggia del Principe. Costa Smeralda is your oyster!

Once you’ve soaked up enough sun for the day, head to your accommodation and freshen up for dinner.

If you’re looking for a trendy place to dine, head to ‘Lu Stazzu’, just out of Porto Rotondo. This stylish restaurant offers stunning views over the coastline and serves locally sourced Sardinian dishes. After dinner, enjoy a walk on the beach under the stars. Tomorrow, we continue our exploration of the Costa Smeralda.

Day 12: Exploring Costa Smeralda

  • Accommodation in: Porto Rotondo in Costa Smeralda
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 50km
  • Main sites visited: Porto Cervo and Capriccioli Beach
  • Trekking (if any): A short beachside stroll at Capriccioli

Morning

Start your day with a visit to the heart of Costa Smeralda: Porto Cervo. This town is known for its luxury vibe made of high-end boutiques and expensive restaurants.

Take a walk around the marina and check out the local shops. You will be surprised by the size of the impressive yachts.

Suggested restaurant for lunch: ‘Il Pomodoro’ in Porto Cervo is an excellent choice for lunch. This restaurant serves traditional Sardinian cuisine with a modern twist. Their pizzas are a local favourite!

Afternoon

After lunch, make your way to Capriccioli Beach. The beach is divided into smaller coves by large granite rocks, making it a unique spot to relax and swim.

Have a walk along the short trail that offers panoramic views of the sea and nearby islands.

For dinner, why not try ‘La Rosa dei Venti? This place is known for its hearty local dishes and friendly service.

Sardinia - Kitesurf school in the crystal clear sea near the beach of La Cinta
Sardinia – Kitesurf school in the crystal clear sea near the beach of La Cinta

Day 13: From Capo Figari Promontory to Prima Spiaggia

  • Accommodation in: Porto Rotondo
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 40km
  • Main sites visited: Promontorio di Capo Figari, Prima Spiaggia, Golfo Aranci
  • Trekking: Oh yeah, it’s trekking day at Capo Figari, around 6km in total

Morning

Buckle up for an adventure-filled day! After breakfast, drive to Golfo Aranci, a picturesque seaside town about 15 minutes from Porto Rotondo.

Your first stop is the trailhead at Parcheggio Via Cala Moresca. Remember, this is a car-free zone, so park up, grab your pre-packed sandwiches, and let the walking commence!

The trek up to the Promontorio di Capo Figari is nothing short of spectacular.

With breathtaking sea views, the scent of wild herbs in the air, and the peacefulness only nature can provide, it’s an invigorating start to the day.

Ensure your camera is ready for the panoramic views at the top!

Lunch: Find a shady spot during your trek and enjoy your sandwich amidst nature. There’s something incredibly satisfying about a simple lunch in the great outdoors!

Afternoon

After your trek, head back down to Golfo Aranci and make your way to Prima Spiaggia.

This is another amazing beach with crystal clear waters and golden sand. Spend the afternoon chilling out and recharging your batteries after the morning’s exertions.

Sardinia - Coastline at Arbatax near Tortoli on the east coast
Sardinia – Coastline at Arbatax near Tortoli on the east coast

Day 14: Return to Cagliari

  • Accommodation in: Cagliari
  • Approx Km driven in the day: 350 km
  • Main sites visited: Orosei and Arbatax
  • Trekking: None

Wave goodbye to Porto Rotondo and start the last leg of your Sardinian adventure, back to the city of Cagliari. As you leave the glitz of Porto Rotondo behind, the stunning landscapes that make up the east coast of Sardinia unfold before you.

In the morning, plan a stop in the quaint village of Orosei for a cappuccino. Its cobblestone streets and traditional architecture make it a charming spot for your last bit of sightseeing.

For lunch, head to the coastal town of Arbatax. Known for its striking red rocks and turquoise waters, it’s the ideal place for a relaxing lunch.

In the afternoon, continue your drive towards Cagliari.

The journey back gives you one last chance to take in the island’s stunning scenery.

Arriving in Cagliari, you have two choices: head straight to the airport, marking the end of your memorable Sardinian journey, or opt for one last night in a local accommodation to fully soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the island’s capital.


And this is the end of this fabulous Sardinia road trip with an itinerary of 14 days that has covered some of the best areas of the island.

I am pretty sure that after such a trip you will promise yourself to get back to Sardinia ASAP!

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

Leave a Comment