Looking for a cheap paradise destination that is easily accessible from Europe? Look no further, Sardinia is the island. Located to the west of Italy, this Italian paradise island is famous for its untouched picture-perfect beaches with crystal clear turquoise waters, breathtaking mountains and charming towns. Here is my itinerary for a 7 day road trip that will allow you to explore Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches and show you the best towns to stay in Sardinia so you are close to the best beaches in the north, east and south of the island. First, here is a short video with the best moments from our road trip:
Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches: 7 day itinerary
Sardinia is an island, but it’s not quite as small as Zakynthos (Greece) for example, so you can’t drive to every location on the island easily in a day. This means you will have to change hotels/apartments if you would like to visit Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches in the southern, eastern and northern parts of the island. It sounds like a lot of hassle changing accommodations, but honestly it really wasn’t for us and we got to see Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches. Here is a summary of the 7 day trip across Sardinia, technically we stayed for 8 nights, but 7 full days:
Before we started our 7 day beach schedule, we arrived at Cagliari Airport in the afternoon, picked up our rental car and then drove to our first destination – Cala Gonone, where we stayed for 2 nights and from there we were close to all the wild, hidden beaches of Golfo di Orisei (Gulf of Orisei).
Part 1: Golfo di Orosei beaches (east)
We rented our own boat (100€) for a full day from Cala Gonone’s port and explored the beautiful beaches of the Golfo di Orosei including the famous Cala Goloritze, Cala Marioulu, Cala Sisine and other breathtaking smaller, beautiful beaches. What’s amazing about these beaches is that you can’t access them with a car. To get to most of them you have to hike for a few hours or you can get a boat from Cala Gonone and reach them by water, like we did on our first day.
On the next day we explored the gulf by foot, we did a 7 km coastal hike to Cala Luna beach from Cala Fuili, going through some scenic, rocky mountains. It was a truly adventurous experience, rewarded with a stunning beach at the end. In the evening we drove to the next town: San Teodoro, where we stayed for 3 nights.
These beaches are definitely some of Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches in the eastern part of the island. Many people say that Cala Goloritze is the most beautiful beach on the island and they might be right. The dramatic cliffs and the wilderness of the Golfo di Orosei make this a truly extraordinary destination.
Part 2: Olbia Province (north): San Teodoro beaches and the Maddalena archipelago
From San Teodoro, you are just a short drive away to two famous, stunning beaches: Cala Brandinchi and Lu Impostu. Both are right next to each other, sharing a parking area. Cala Brandinchi is also known as the “Little Tahiti” because of its very shallow turquoise waters. Unlike the hidden beaches of the Golfo di Orosei, these are more easily accessible, much bigger beaches that are more popular amongst families with kids due to the shallow waters. Best times to see these beaches is in the afternoon around 3-4 pm when the sun is really high, bringing out the truly stunning colours of the water.
From San Teodoro we drove to the town of Palau (1 hour drive). From Palau’s port we rented a boat again (120€) for the full day, to go around the famous Maddalena archipelago. The archipelago is a group of small islands with the biggest one being La Maddalena. Only La Maddalena, Caprera and S. Stefano are inhabited, the rest are completely wild. This group of islands is famous for having some jaw-dropping hidden beaches and we were able to confirm this. We spend the day mainly around Spargi island and there we stayed at a few small, paradise beaches with very few people. There were a few times when we were completely alone!
Part 3: Cagliari beaches (south):
After our third night in San Teodoro, we drove to Cagliari (the capital) in the early morning (2 1/2 h drive) where we stayed for 3 more nights. When we arrived at lunch time, we decided to spend the day exploring the city. Cagliari is a fascinatingly beautiful town, worth exploring. It reminded me very much of Venice, but without the canals. Tiny streets, shabby, colourful buildings, lots of cafes and many spots with amazing views of the city.
From Cagliari we drove in the morning to Tuerredda beach (1h drive) in the Chia area. Tuerredda is another amazing beach with its own beauty. There is a small island (Tuerredda) right across the beach, where you can go snorkelling and exploring. The waters are of course crystal clear and I highly recommend going right at the end of the beach, where there are less people. There are some trees that you can also use to hide from the sun in the really hot hours.
In the afternoon we went to the larger Su Giudeu beach, which is just a 10 min drive from Tuerreda. This beach has a salt lake with pink flamingos right behind the actual beach. I was really excited about the flamingos! The beach is beautiful, but I personally preferred Tuerredda so I am glad we spent most of the day there. There is also a smaller beach between the two – Cala Cipolla, which is much smaller than the other two and is also great for snorkelling.
On our final day our plan was to go to Villasimus, which is about 1 h drive from Cagliari, but in the opposite direction of Chia. There are a few picturesque beaches in the area, like Porto Giunco and Punta Molentis. Unfortunately the sun had other plans that day and instead the rain came out and we decided it’s not worth driving to these beaches to sit in the rain all day. However if you have the time, definitely try to make the trip there and if you have been, tell me in the comments below how it was and how it compares to the other beaches above!
We decided to spend our last days in Cagliari so we are close to the airport and avoid making any long journeys on the day we are supposed to make our way to the airport. During that time we were not only able to explore Cagliari, but also Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches in the south.
Here is a map of our road trip in Sardinia. I have circled all the towns we stayed at and the little stars are all the beaches we visited.
So which ones from the above list were truly Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches?
All beaches are stunning and in no doubt these are some of the best paradise beaches in Europe, but I have to say that the beaches on the Golfo di Orosei, specifically Cala Goloritze and the beaches on the archipelago (Spargi island) are the beaches I loved the most. Why? Well it’s not because the others were not beautiful, but these beaches were not as easy to access as others. In general there were far less people there than on the other bigger beaches that are easily accessed by people with cars and big loud families. :) So if you don’t have time to visit all, make sure you visit these two destinations on the island, the pictures and my words are not enough to describe how truly wild and stunning these beaches are!
Other information to help you plan your trip across Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches
Getting to Sardinia
No wonder some of its beaches are compared to beaches in places like Tahiti. However unlike Tahiti, if you are based in Europe, you are most likely no more than 3 hours away and your plane ticket will not cost you an arm and a leg. Two tickets from London to Cagliari (the capital) with return were just £140 with easyJet (purchased in January, to travel beginning of June). Yes, the total price for both of us, it’s that accessible. You can probably find affordable tickets to Oblia as well, which is the other main town on the island, located on the northern side. If you do arrive in Olbia, then you might want to change the order of the beach schedule above.
Best times of the year to visit Sardinia
Sardinia has a sunny long summer from mid-May to September, even October. July and August are of course the hottest, but I highly recommend that you avoid these months. The beaches will be overcrowded and you will have to share the island with more tourists. Going to Sardinia at the beginning of the holiday season (end of May – beginning of June) or later in September is the best time to go as the island will be quieter and the tickets, accommodation and all the activities are likely to be cheaper. We visited Sardinia between the end of May and beginning of June and even though it was early in the season, some of the more accessible beaches were still relatively busy so I can only imagine how it is in the peak months.
Renting a car
You must rent a car if you want to explore Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches, there is just no other option unless you want to stay on your hotel’s pool for a week. We rented a car for just about 140£ including insurance and it gave us the freedom to go anywhere on the island. You will not be able to access some of the beaches by car so you will need a boat for some of those as I mentioned above, but you still need a car to take you as close as possible to the final beach.
Travelling to Sardinia on budget
Although we felt like millionaires on those boats, the overall cost of the trip was very sensible. We stayed at apartments (around 50-60€ per night), rather than hotels so we were able to prepare our own food and save money, instead of going to restaurants every night. The flights were very cheap – 140£ for both of us from London with return. All of this allowed us to treat ourselves to two full days on our own rented private boats, which costed 300€ overall, including the fuel. You don’t need a license in Sardinia to rent a boat and it’s the BEST experience ever. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to explore Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches. However you will be able to find sea taxis with bigger groups of people at all the tourist ports. They will cost you far less, but of course you will have a scheduled, limited time at all the beaches you are taken to.
So these are Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches, which you can easily plan and visit in a week. However Sardinia has many, many more beaches that I wish I had time to visit, but like most full-time office workers, a week is all the time I had. What about you, have you visited Sardinia? Which was your favourite beach? Tell me in the comments below!