A local’s guide to Sardinia
Former Canvas Holidays employee and Sardinian native Marisa Casu shares insider tips on what to do and see on a camping holiday in Sardinia.
Sea breeze, pine scent and the sound of the Launeddas (a Sardinian musical instrument) are immediately brought to mind when I think of Sardinia. Characterised by an unspoilt wild nature, this island I call home possesses a unique culture developed through a fascinating history and mysterious legends. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking for a holiday that connects with nature and tradition in peaceful surroundings.
When and where to go
The best time to visit Sardinia is during May and the end of September. During these months, the temperature is perfect for taking trips around the island. Renting a car is highly recommended. The main provinces are Sassari, Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano, and recently four new ones have been added: Carbonia-Iglesias, Medio Campidano, Ogliastra and Olbia-Tempio. It’s also worth visiting small towns, such as the medieval villages of Bosa and Castelsardo.
Things to do and see
You’ll find many architectural delights in Sardinia. Many derive from the Bronze Age, including imposing monumental tombs, temples, menhirs (standing stones) or remains of prehistoric villages. While you’ll also see the influence of Spanish colonisation in many of the picturesque old town centres, such as Alghero (where Catalan language is still spoken) in Northern Sardinia, or Cagliari in the southern area.
For hiking and climbing lovers, there are some trails not to be missed, starting from Gola Su Gorropu (Europe’s Grand Canyon) to Cala Goloritzè, or the nuragic village of Tiscali, home to the nuraghe, a fascinating example of prehistoric architecture that has become a symbol of Sardinian culture.
Families can enjoy the island’s national parks, such as Gennargentu in the east coast. In the north west of Sardinia you’ll find the small island of L’Asinara, which has preserved its natural habitat and houses some rare animal species like the peregrine falcon, griffon vultures and white donkey (a kids’ favourite!) – all native to the island.
You’ll find a vast choice of beaches from the north to the south coastline. My personal favourite beaches are La Pelosa in Stintino, Cala Brandinchi in San Teodoro (also called little Tahiti) or the beautiful beaches in the area of Villasimius.
You can spend your days visiting calette (bays), swimming in the crystalline waters of the Mediterranean Sea, soaking up the sun and breathing in the fragrances of Mediterranean scrub until sunset, when it becomes time for a refreshing aperitif with Sardinian wine and a selection of cold cuts of meat (just to get ready for dinner!). You can also take a boat trip and try snorkelling or explore the caves or small islands not too far from the coast.
Food and drink
The local cuisine is the product of a long tradition, passed through generations. It offers a wide choice of fresh, in-season food, from vegetables to cheeses, seafood to meats and much more, such as Catalan lobster, or roasted porcetto (little pork), traditionally cooked over an opened pit; not to mention fresh bread (pane carasau is a must!), traditional sweets, wine or other products that are available in local markets. Food is definitely an important part of the Sardinian culture!
I would recommend eating in an agriturismo, a small farm where you can get traditional, homemade, reasonably priced food in rural surroundings. You may even get the chance to visit the farms, which would be a real treat if you’re travelling with children. Or if you really want to immerse yourself in the traditional Sardinian way of life, you may be able to join in with bread-making or listen to tales of local myths and legends.
Different sagras (festivals) are spread all over the year, and the famous “Strade del Vino” is a great opportunity to discover the different types of wine available throughout the island. It’s a great experience where wine, food and tradition meet to offer a taste of Sardinian culture.
Many festivals are organised annually to commemorate religious or pagan rites and these events are a real draw for tourists. Among the best is Sa Sartiglia, a grand display of equestrian knightly tournaments and military practice, which takes place every year in Oristano. Also worth attending is La Cavalcata Sarda in Sassari, a horse race followed by a parade, where you can see traditional Sardinian costume; or the rituals during Holy Week.
And of course, last but not least, you’ll enjoy the Sardinian people who are welcoming, friendly and happy to share a glass of wine and Sardinia’s best secrets with a curious tourist!
A visit would be worth it. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Want to see for yourself? Check out camping holidays in Sardinia.