Charming, elegant, and rising from the sea like a wave of colorful facades, Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and a stunning city infused with ancient history, from the Neo Romanesque Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Castello and viewpoints overlooking a stunning seascape, to the peaceful Piazza Palazzo and the old fortifications of the Castello quarter. Cagliari (pronounced Kah-Glee-YAA-Ree) is an awe inspiring city and the perfect place to explore on foot. A series of winding streets make their way through the Old Quarter which is akin to an old town rather than the Capital of a famous province, with quaint cafe’s serving rich coffee and beautiful churches providing the scenery. The Piazza Palazzo is symbolic of the warm atmosphere awaiting visitors, while the spectacular Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Castello is a majestic sight; a Cathedral which has changed in appearance through the centuries and was originally inspired on the famous Pisa Cathedral. Ancient fortifications accompany any walk through this romantic town and unrivalled views await at the top of the Bastione di San Remy, where the magnitude of this enormous port comes into perspective, and an endless blue ocean stretches before the horizon. Although there are many vantage points around the city, this particular terrace is one of of the most special places in Cagliari to drink in the scenery. Once the Capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the ancient history and culture of Cagliari is obvious at every turn, from the Roman Amphitheatre to the haunting ruins of Necropoli of Tuvixeddu, the striking Royal Palace, to the delightful architecture which intercepts each attraction; exploring the interior of Cagliari evokes images of horse drawn carts, primitive people and the charming atmosphere which lies beneath the exterior facades. Pisan, Aragonese, Catalan and Byzantine heritage can still be found amongst these enchanting streets and a modern elegance is now overflowing, making it one of the most enjoyable places for an extended stay. Cagliari is a delightful city with endless appeal, for it is here where you can find fine foods dominating the restaurant scene and quaint cafe’s on every corner. Local culture is colorful, yet unassuming, and the town is overflowing with fine architecture and many ancient remnants to explore. Stunning scenery awaits at numerous viewpoints and nearby beaches offer the perfect place to unwind in idyllic surroundings. Cagliari is a stunning destination and a memory which will long outlive your visit to this gem on the Island of Sardinia. And then there are the beaches. Poetto is an eight kilometer stretch of white sands where locals relax during the day, and enjoy the entertainment by night. Few places in Europe can offer such a luxurious stretch of beach, where pristine blue waters form a backdrop for the many fine restaurants and bars along the waterfront. However, there are many more beaches within easy reach of the city and the Mari Pintau is an example of the numerous bays which offer fine, secluded beaches along the coast and endless opportunities to adventure.
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Where to Stay in Cagliari - Top Picks
Boutique Hotel Villa Fanny
Hotel Villa Fanny is a four-star boutique hotel in Cagliari, just a short distance from the beautiful Poetto beach and the city center. You will also find the National Archaeological Museum and Bastione di Saint Remy nearby while Cagliari University ensures the population in this particular part of the city is notably young. Hotel Villa Fanny offers many amenities and facilities for guests to enjoy and the villa hosts several events throughout the year, including concerts, live music, readings and other small events. After spending a day of exploring Cagliari, the hotel tearoom is an excellent place for guests to unwind and outside, there is also a spacious garden with comfortable seating area which has impressive views. Featuring a total of eighteen guest rooms, Hotel Villa Fanny is quite small in size, but there is excellent attention to detail regarding the interior. For example, each room is spacious, elegant and airy but some rooms have a decorative fireplace for a warm and comfortable stay during the winter. Aside from a flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi, the rooms are also equipped with a spacious private bathroom consisting of a walk-in shower, hair dryer, towel heater and complimentary toiletries. For a more pleasurable stay, guests can book one of the luxurious suites that are in the form of split-level apartments.
The Sardegna Hotel is a four-star hotel in Cagliari which features a contemporary design and a particularly luxurious interior. Located just a few minutes’ drive from the Old Town of Cagliari, the Sardegna Hotel is also a perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. Sardegna Hotel is also popular for business clientele as there are various conference halls which can host parties, meetings, and other events. You can choose from three different accommodations at Sardegna Hotel. In this sense, the Classic rooms are fitted with luxurious carpets, flat screen TV, Wi-Fi, private bathroom, air conditioning and a mini bar. On the other hand, the Superior and Suite rooms are more spacious and luxurious. These are also available in double and single modes, but in every instance, the rooms have large windows which open up to a pleasant view. And then there are the suites which are designed with luxurious amenities and furnishings in mind such as Artemide lighting and Frau Armchairs. Meanwhile, the modern lounge bar that’s furnished with the finest antique furniture serves refreshing drinks. La Scala is the in-house restaurant, and this Michelin star restaurant is often praised for serving some of the finest Sardinian cuisines along with several classic International dishes. Aside from the gourmet menu, there are also a la carte, light lunches, and a wine menu with a long list of sublime wine. Lastly, Sardegna Hotel will organize evening events on occasion, and these are some of the most exclusive dining opportunities which never fail to delight guests.
Hotel Flora is located in the city center of the historic district of Castello, but impressively, it is also just a few minutes walk from the harbor and the train station. You can reach most of the major attractions in just a few minutes, and such a strategic location ensures this is one of the most popular hotels in Cagliari. Featuring elegance and charm, Hotel Flora is ideal for both leisure and business travelers. However, while the hotel is known as a great venue for meetings and conventions, it is just as popular for food. In this regard, the hotel restaurant serves a wide variety of delectable dishes, not to mention an extravagant buffet breakfast every morning. That being said, the restaurant offers such an enticing a la carte menu that even the locals are known to favor Hotel Flora for their evening meals. As for the rooms, Hotel Flora is furnished to perfection. Each room is equipped with a private bathroom, free toiletries, slippers and a hairdryer. Furthermore, you will find a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. However, the bright and appealing design of these rooms is what really makes the Classic, Double, Deluxe, Junior Suite and Suite so popular. For those without a strict budget, some of these suites also include a terrace with scintillating views. When it comes to fine food, central location, style and general value; there are few hotels in Cagliari which manage the same balance as Hotel Flora.
T Hotel is a very modern hotel in Cagliari, located in the center of the city and within a short drive of the popular Poetto beach. The Lyric Theatre is next to the property while Cagliari Cathedral is within walking distance. As you might expect from hotels in Cagliari, the hotel is equipped with modern amenities, but there is also a gym and a wellness center with steam baths, hydrotherapy pool, and showers. Conference rooms are available to book for meetings and other events which make it popular for business clientele, but overall, this is a reliable choice for just about any occasion or budget. Impressively, the hotel also has a bar and several restaurants which include the T Bar, T Bistrot, and T Restaurant. Serving the most delicious Sardinian cuisines, the menu at each of these restaurants consists of a wide range of dishes, including gluten-free and vegetarian menus. However, the meals are prepared by some of the most prominent chefs in Sardinia and consist of only the finest local produce. As for the sleeping quarters, the rooms are spacious and bright. Decorated with stylish and modern furnishings, each room has a spacious bathroom, desk, and several amenities. You can also choose from a wide range of rooms including the Classic, Deluxe, Junior Suite and Executive Suite. For families or anyone traveling with kids, the spacious Deluxe Family room comes with two twin beds and two extra single beds. Furthermore, T Hotel is one of those hotels in Cagliari that takes part in the “Allergy-Free Hotels,” a project aimed at providing hotel guests with an opportunity to book a dust-free room.
Domu Antiga is a charming boutique hotel located in the historic center of Gergei, a small town located at the feet of “Monte Trempu” in the center of Sardinia, about 60 kilometers north of Cagliari. This hotel is a historic home that was built around 1700 as a farmhouse and was recently restored to accommodate more guests. The rustic design is accompanied by a beautiful garden and a very apt library. There are four double rooms at Domu Antiga, and all rooms have a balcony that opens to the garden. Each room features modern amenities and have stonewalls which are illuminated during the day by the light that breaks through the windows on the balcony. Furnishings are practical and authentic and fully restored for a more comfortable stay. In that sense, you should find they are decorated in a true Sardinian style with rugs and sheets made by local artisans to exude a warm and cozy atmosphere. In the morning, a bountiful breakfast awaits guests in the kitchen; Domu Antiga is known for their sumptuous breakfast spread. They have a wood-burning stove that cooks delicious bread for breakfast, and other meals include homemade cakes and cheese croissants. Of course, a traditional cup of Italian coffee is also served every morning, and in winter, guests can dine beside a charming fireplace. In spring and summer season, breakfast is served on the beautiful lawn which is surrounded with flowers and lush vegetation. Indeed, Domu Antiga is a genuinely comfortable boutique hotel under the starry sky of the enchanted "Sarcidano" hinterland.
Things to Do in Cagliari
Visit Museo Archeologico Nazionale
Although small in size, Museo Archeologico Nazionale is an impressive exhibition which features an incredible wealth of artifacts and educational material. In fact, one could easily spend the best part of a day exploring this museum and the endless variety on show. With primitive tools from Phoenician and Punic cultures to relics of the Stone and Bronze age, the display is nothing short of breath-taking. Furthermore, visitors are always amazed by remnants of Nurraghic civilization, one of the oldest known to man while the layout of the museum makes it easy to explore without the assistance of a guide. Spread across four floors, the display is covered in both Italian and English while the outline pertains to Sardinian history including the infamous Roman times. Many of these exhibits are interactive, and the life-size carvings of ancient warriors are most often the subject of children's’ attention. It must also be said that while this is the best way to uncover the past of Sardinia, this is one of the most affordable things to do in Cagliari, for very few attractions (if any) are priced at less than eight euro per person.
When you consider things to do in Cagliari, learning to kitesurf is arguably the most exciting prospect in the region. Based in the center of the city, Kitegeneration chooses a different location every morning which is mostly dependent on the wind conditions. At this point, experienced instructors will take their clients on an adventure to one of the many nearby beaches. Among these beaches, you can expect to visit either Poetto, Girogina, Petrol, Villasimius or Punta Trettu. As mentioned, the objective is to learn how to surf, and Kitegeneration caters for people of all ages and experience. Given their extensive knowledge, the instructors also ensure a safe encounter so that the guests are left to enjoy and practice the principles and techniques of kitesurfing. In truth, Sardinia is quite a windy island and needless to say, this is very beneficial for kitesurfing, for alternative destinations are usually without these favorable conditions. Either way, learning to kitesurf is a thoroughly enjoyable activity and one of the most fun-filled activities in Cagliari.
Visit Quartiere Villanova
Quartiere Villanova is very much a bohemian neighborhood where art and nature collide, and where a host of coffee shops, craft stores, and restaurants are scattered in between. Indeed, visiting Quartiere Villanova is one of the most popular things to do in Cagliari and a rather primitive neighborhood which never fails to disappoint visitors. Located in a very historic district in the city, Quartiere Villanova features a myriad of narrow streets which are lined with flowers and colorful buildings. Cars and traffic are not permitted on the streets, so this can feel like escaping the city and setting foot in another time, most specifically an ancient one. Simply put, while locals go about their day, tourists are usually pleased to find such an authentic experience, far from the tourist resorts and beaches. That being said, there is still more than enough infrastructure and facilities to cater for visitors including eateries and very quaint café’s. On occasion, there are organized events with musical performances in the neighborhood, and often, these take place unexpectedly on patios or balconies that line the streets. With that said, the buildings which host them are beautifully colored and vibrant in every way. In fact, this is one of the most charming aspects of Quartiere Villanova as taking a visit to the area is without any cost. Whether you opt for a relaxing stroll, some window shopping or even a quiet coffee; this neighborhood is always open and a great way to feel a part of the local's intriguing lifestyle.
Visit Parco di Monte Urpinu
Located at the heart of Cagliari, Parco di Monte Urpinu is a historical park with tree-lined avenues, ample space and an impressive lineup of bird species. In fact, this public park is also home to some of the most fun activities in Cagliari with tennis courts and gymnastic opportunities at every turn. At the same time, ample space and a children's playground never fail to delight the arriving families. You will find ducks, geese, peacocks and many more species of birdlife and this is most especially the case around the pond. The flora includes many colorful species such as juniper, rosemary, and myrtle, while a natural pine forest is filled with oaks, carob and olive trees. A series of picnic benches makes this an excellent spot for lunch or a mid-morning coffee. For many visitors, Parco di Monte Urpino is also a nice place to escape the busy city, and with so much greenery inside, it's easy to understand why locals are just as enamored with the park as visiting tourists.
Visit Orto Botanico di Cagliari
Orto Botanico di Cagliari is a beautifully lush botanical garden with more than five hectares of stunning greenery. These gardens were first opened back in 1886, and more than two thousand species of plants have since made their way into the gardens. While some of this flora is endemic to Sardinia, these species originate in all corners of the Mediterranean and even far away countries including Chile and Australia. The wonderful mix of euphorbia, opuntia and mammillaria plants is the highlight of a visit. Orto Botanico di Cagliari features some remnants from the Roman period with several iconic walls, cisterns, and wells throughout the park. These grounds are also of historical and archaeological importance which really adds to the atmosphere. The central location and beautiful greenery of Orto Botanico di Cagliari provides the perfect place to unwind for a few hours and enjoy one of the best things to do in Cagliari.
Cagliari Restaurants - Where to Eat
Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi (Seafood, Italian Food, Traditional Sardinian Food, Pizza)
Situated in the very center of town, Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi is a decadent restaurant which is part of a highly rated B&B with the same name. Featuring a wide range of traditional and Mediterranean dishes, the menu is varied while the chefs are renowned for upholding the Michelin star rating of the restaurant. As mentioned, these recipes are mostly traditional and consist of the most exquisite local produce available. From fresh herbs and succulent meats, Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi keeps a careful focus on every aspect of these meals to ensure they are authentic and unique in every instance. From fresh ravioli and antipasti to seafood and pizza, the variety of food is apparent, but the smart presentation and ample Sardinian flavors are what make them stand out. Although the interior of the restaurant is rather beautiful, the opportunity to dine under the stars is worth noting. After all, Locanda has a memorable outdoor area which is situated next to a beautiful garden with colorful murals decorating the walls and luscious leafs in between. All considered, this is quite a local and authentic experience with delicious meals which are indeed worthy of the Michelin star rating.
Luigi Pomata (Seafood, Sushi)
Luigi Pomata is one of the largest and most spacious restaurants in Cagliari with a stunning array of main courses and a particularly impressive reputation for presentation. Located in the center of town, on Viale Regina Margherita 18, it can be quite a busy venue, but generously sized rooms ensure this is by no means a downside. This Cagliari restaurant specializes in tuna dishes and this extends across all four courses including dessert. From seared red tuna from Carloforte and aubergines and tuna themed pasta, the selection is more than creative and infused with flavor in every instance. Fresh seafood and immaculate presentation are a focus for the restaurant and arguably a reason as for the mention in the Michelin Guide 2019, but at the same time, even the freshly baked bread leaves a lasting impression with diners. Interestingly, the resident chef has trained with the infamous Marco Pierre White who is a local expert when it comes to tuna in particular, so rest assured this is an experience unlike any other in the region. Featuring a long line of local wines, this unique nature is also evident at every turn. And then there is the waiting staff, the warm atmosphere, and the stylish yet minimalistic design; this stunning restaurant is worthy of the reputation and certainly a contender for being the best restaurant in Cagliari. As you might expect, this reputation comes with a price, but more importantly, such popularity usually requires booking beforehand. This is one experience you do not want to miss.
Da Cesare (Traditional Sardinian Food)
Da Cesare is certainly the only restaurant in Cagliari which overlooks a wildlife oasis, but as with some of the most impressive eateries in the area, the food experience transcends even such an incredible location. Featuring a complimentary glass of wine, the welcome to Da Cesare is typical of the rest of the experience, for every aspect is sure to leave guests wanting more. With local Italian meats and vegetables, this is also an encounter with extremely fresh food while the style is typically Sardinian which is naturally full of flavor. Whether you choose a fillet of beef or delicate lobster, each dish is beautifully presented, and this is something which extends to the interior decoration in the restaurant. While it may not be the brightest or most spacious restaurant in Cagliari, the intriguing design at De Cesare perfectly suits the atmosphere and provides a unique and memorable setting for some equally memorable meals. Indeed, the Stagno di Molentargius is a beautiful wildlife oasis, and Da Cesare is also part of an impressive hotel which adds to the popularity of this restaurant. However, the fine cuisine, warm ambiance and reasonably low prices at Da Cesare have ensured it's placed among the best restaurants in Cagliari.
Beaches Near Cagliari
There are several sardinian beaches to explore near Cagliari. Just click on a link below to find out more!
From Cagliari, drive south-west for about 13 kilometers, and you’ll find the small beach of Frutti d’Oro (Spiaggia di Frutti d’Oro). This is one of the smallest beaches you’ll find in the vicinity of Cagliari. Frutti d’Oro is mostly visited by windsurfing enthousiasts,
Learn more about Frutti d’Oro, how to get there, and where to stay.
15 kilometers south-west of Poetto beach, you’ll find La Maddalena beach (La Maddalena Spiaggia). The largest part of this beach lies in front of a village with the same name. It has a total length of nearly 1200 meters, and faces south-east, overlooking the Golfo degli Angeli – or the Bay of Angels. This beach is a favorite spot among kitesurfing enthousiasts, as wind conditions at this beach are exceptional from May to September.
Learn more about La Maddalena, how to get there, and where to stay.
Spiaggia del Poetto
Poetto Beach (Spiaggia del Poetto di Cagliari) is located in between Comune di Quartu Sant Elena and Comune di Cagliari, in south Sardinia. It is the main beach of Cagliari, the capital of the island of Sardinia. The beach has a length of 8 kilometers and faces south-east, offering views over the deep blue waters of the Golfo di Quartu. The beach is marked by beautiful views of the hills of the Sella del Diavolo to the south. Poetto beach is backed by two ponds: the Stagno di Molentargius and Stagno di Quartu where the well-known pink flamingos can be spotted. The beach has a full range of facilities: you’ll find kiosks, bars with beach beds, restaurants, discos, plenty of water sports facilities, a marina, and a fair. Poetto is one of the windiest spots on the island. For this reason it is a one of the best beaches of South Sardinia for kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing enthusiasts.
Learn more about Spiaggia del Poetto, how to get there, and where to stay.