Charming, elegant, and rising from the sea like a wave of colorful facades, Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia best known for being 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 as ka·glee·aa·ree in British English) is generally considered to be walkable, especially in its historic center. The old town, Castello, is located on a hill and features narrow streets and alleys that are best explored on foot. A series of winding streets make their way through the Old Quarter, akin to an old town rather than the Capital of a famous province, with quaint cafes 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 initially inspired on the famous Pisa Cathedral. Ancient fortifications accompany any walk through this romantic town. Unrivaled 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 the most unique places in Cagliari to drink in the scenery.
Once the Capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the ancient history and culture of Cagliari are evident 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 modern elegance is now overflowing, making it one of the most enjoyable places for an extended stay. So, is Cagliari worth visiting? Cagliari is a delightful city with endless appeal, for it is here where you can find fine foods dominating the restaurant scene and quaint cafes 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 that will 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 nighttime entertainment. Few European places 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. The Mari Pintau is an example of the numerous bays offering fine, secluded beaches along the coast and endless opportunities to adventure!
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Where to Stay in Cagliari - Our 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 exploring Cagliari, the hotel tearoom is an excellent place for guests to unwind outside. There is also a spacious garden with a comfortable seating area with impressive views. Featuring eighteen guest rooms, Hotel Villa Fanny is relatively small, 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 with a walk-in shower, hair dryer, towel heater, and complimentary toiletries. For a more pleasurable stay, guests can book one of the luxurious suites in the form of split-level apartments.
The Sardegna Hotel is a four-star hotel with 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 to explore the surrounding area. Sardegna Hotel is also popular for business clientele as various conference halls can host parties, meetings, and other events. You can choose from three different accommodations at Sardegna Hotel. The Classic rooms have luxurious carpets, flat-screen TV, Wi-Fi, a private bathroom, air conditioning, and a minibar. 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 that open up to a pleasant view. And then there are the suites designed with luxurious amenities and furnishings in mind, such as Artemide lighting and Frau Armchairs. Meanwhile, the modern lounge bar with the finest antique furniture serves refreshing drinks. La Scala is an in-house restaurant, and this Michelin-star restaurant is often praised for serving some of the finest Sardinian cuisines and several classic International dishes. Aside from the gourmet menu, there are a la carte, light lunches, and a wine menu with a long list of sublime wines. Lastly, Sardegna Hotel will occasionally organize evening events, and these are some of the most exclusive dining opportunities that 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 an excellent 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. The restaurant offers such an enticing a la carte menu that even the locals favor Hotel Flora for their evening meals. As for the rooms, Hotel Flora is furnished to perfection. Each room has a private bathroom, complimentary toiletries, slippers, and a hairdryer. Furthermore, you will find a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and free Wi-Fi. However, these rooms' bright and appealing design makes the Classic, Double, Deluxe, Junior Suite, and Suite so popular. For those without a strict budget, some suites include a terrace with scintillating views. Regarding fine food, central location, style, and general value, few hotels in Cagliari manage the same balance as Hotel Flora.
T Hotel is a modern hotel in Cagliari, located in the city's center and within a short drive of the famous 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 has modern amenities but has a gym and a wellness center with steam baths, a hydrotherapy pool, and showers. Conference rooms are available to book for meetings and other events, which makes it popular for business clientele. Still, this is a reliable choice for just about any occasion or budget. The hotel has a bar and several restaurants, including the T Bar, T Bistrot, and T Restaurant. Serving the most delicious Sardinian cuisines, each restaurant's menu 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. The spacious Deluxe Family room has two twin beds and two extra single beds for families or anyone traveling with kids. 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
See the Pink Flamingos of Cagliari
When it comes to unique things to do in Cagliari, did you know you can see flamingos in this beautiful city? You can see them in the Molentargius-Saline Regional Park, one of many places you can see flamingos in Sardinia! The park is located near the city center and covers an area of wetlands and salt flats. It is a protected area that serves as a habitat for various bird species, including flamingos! This Segway flamingo tour starts from the Port of Cagliari and takes you on a picturesque bike ride along the Palafitta channel before arriving at the park. The park boasts the intriguing remains of the Old City of Salt, a crucial part of the local economy for centuries. As you adventure through the park, you'll have the opportunity to observe the striking pink flamingos in the freshwater and saltwater basins. The area is also home to a unique collection of flora and fauna. During the tour, you'll have the chance to take a relaxing break and enjoy a coffee in the park!
Walking Tour of the Old City
On this walking tour, you'll experience the charm of Cagliari as you stroll through the quaint streets of Castello. Marvel at breathtaking city panoramas and delve into the rich history of Cagliari alongside your knowledgeable local guide. This walking tour takes you on an unforgettable journey through the Old City, a place steeped in ancient origins dating back to the Phoenician era. The city's vibrant history is on display, from Roman influences to the remnants of various foreign dominations. Explore medieval towers, bastions, the Royal Palace, and the Cathedral, all while uncovering the secrets of this remarkable fortress overlooking the sea. Don't miss the panoramic viewpoints in Castello, providing awe-inspiring vistas of the city, the sea, Molentargius Park, and the striking Devil's Saddle. You can choose between morning and afternoon options for this tour. It is led by a knowledgeable multilingual guide who can cater to different language preferences. Please note that a minimum of 2 people per booking is required. Additionally, wearing appropriate attire to access the cathedral's interior is essential. Note that a similar walking tour is available for families (per group up to 4)!
Visit Museo Archeologico Nazionale
Although small in size, the National Archeologic Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) is an impressive exhibition that features an incredible wealth of artifacts and educational material. 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 the Stone and Bronze Age relics, the display is nothing short of breathtaking. Furthermore, visitors are always amazed by remnants of the 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 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 euros 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 over five hectares of stunning greenery. These gardens were first opened in 1886, and more than two thousand species of plants have since made their way into them. While some of this flora is endemic to Sardinia, these species originate in all corners of the Mediterranean and faraway 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. If you're wondering what to do in Cagliari from the cruise ship, the central location and beautiful greenery of Orto Botanico di Cagliari provides the perfect place to unwind for a few hours!
Boat Tour to Devil's Saddle
The “Devil's Saddle" is a distinctive rock formation located on the coast of Cagliari. It is known as "Sella del Diavolo" in Italian. The Devil's Saddle is a peninsula that juts out into the sea, forming one of the most famous landmarks of Cagliari. Its name is derived from a local legend that tells the story of a battle between an angel and the devil, resulting in the formation of this unique geological feature! It's one of those sights best explored by boat or from the water, and you can explore this natural phenomenon by boat by booking a boat trip. The boat trip starts from the Port of Cagliari, just a short stroll from the city center. You'll sail to the stunning bays of the Devil's Saddle under the expert guidance of a professional skipper. You’ll discover stunning locations where you can relax, chat with fellow travelers, and take a refreshing dip or go snorkeling (snorkeling equipment is provided!) Don't forget to bring a towel to dry off after the water activities! Note that a kayak tour is also available if you'd rather paddle your way around the site with a kayaking guide! This tour starts from the small marina Porticciolo Turistico Marina Piccola, south of Poetto Beach.
Visit Faro di Capo Sant'Elia
Perched atop the rugged cliffs of Capo Sant'Elia in Cagliari, the Faro di Capo Sant'Elia (Lighthouse of Capo Sant'Elia) stands proudly, overlooking the vast Mediterranean Sea. With its striking white and red tower, this iconic lighthouse is a navigational beacon and a symbol of maritime history. Built in the late 19th century, the Faro di Capo Sant'Elia offers a captivating blend of architectural beauty and coastal charm. From its elevated position, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the coastline. Just a ten-minute drive from downtown Cagliari, you'll find an unspoiled corner of southern Sardinia, where the coast and lush greenery create a unique scene. You can walk through this natural oasis, encountering fascinating wildlife and enjoying beautiful sea panoramas. The lighthouse is easily accessible and a favorite spot for photographers. You may even encounter friendly wandering cats, adding to the place's charm! Don't miss the splendid sunset from this breathtaking location—it's an experience you won't forget!
More Places to Visit Near Cagliari
Cagliari Restaurants - Where to Eat
Locanda dei Buoni e Cattivi (Seafood, Italian Food, Traditional Sardinian Food, Pizza)🏠 96, Via Vittorio Veneto, Cagliari, Sardegna, 09123, Italy.
📱 Telephone: +39 070 734 5223 ► Watch Video
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)🏠 18, Viale Regina Margherita, Cagliari, Sardegna, 09124, Italy.
📱 Telephone: +39 070 672 058 ► Watch Video
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)🏠 2, Via Charles Darwin, Cagliari, Sardegna, 09126, Italy.
📱 Telephone: +39 070 304 768
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.
Muzak is a small cafe bar in the middle of the city where local street food and cocktails are the day's order. You will find wine and craft beer on the menu, and live music is a major draw for both locals and tourists alike. Overlooking the Piazzetta, Musak features a lovely terrace where guests can sit during the day. A woody interior helps create an exceptionally comfortable setting. Prices are reasonable despite its growing popularity. As for the food, you should find everything on the menu consisting of fresh ingredients. We'd recommend ordering a juicy Italian Salsiccia burger, made with authentic Italian sausage, ciabatta, pancetta, and mozzarella. Try pairing it with your favorite bottle of red Italian wine. And then there are the drinks! Muzak offers a delightfully colorful list of cocktails. Still, beer lovers and wine connoisseurs will be equally impressed by the wide variety on offer. Either way, Musak is a popular hotspot for nightlife in Cagliari, as evidenced by this quaint cafe bar's busy and bustling nature.
B Flat Jazz Club
The B Flat is a jazz club with a wide variety of drinks and a warm atmosphere. Known as one of Cagliari's best music venues and places for nightlife, B Flat features a live stage and more than enough space to enjoy the entertainment. There are at least four live performances each week, and some of the country's best musicians have graced the stage. In terms of drinks, you will find everything from cocktails and beers to spirits and wine. The service is friendly, and live music never looked or sounded this good in Cagliari. Some of Italy's best musicians often play live music on stage, including Mario Venuti, Antonio Farao, Chiara Civello, Vanessa Haynes, and Ray Gellato. Whether you come for the music or just the vibrant atmosphere, the B Flat Jazz Club is one of the real highlights of Cagliari nightlife. The shows are scheduled four times a week, running from Thursday to Sunday, starting at 21:30.
Sphera Locura is famous for having a long list of chupitos (a chupito is a small serving of spirits or a mixed drink, typically consumed quickly like a shot.) The pretty interior and warm atmosphere ensure this is one of the best places for nightlife in Cagliari, regardless of the drinks. Sphera Locura can be quite a loud bar on weekends, and the locals love this spot just as much as the visitors. To understand the appeal of Sphera Locura, we do need to remind you of the chupitos again. There are more than 200 kinds on the drink menu, and each shot is quite different from the next. Drinks are organized into different categories, meaning that some chupitos are more extreme than others. Whether you want something sweet or sour, the friendly staff are quick to make suggestions. The medium-low content of alcohol ensures things are kept responsible. As far as Cagliari nightlife is concerned, Sphera Locura is one of the most exciting hotspots.
How To Get To Cagliari
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The airport of Cagliari is named Cagliari Elmas Airport, also known as Mario Mameli Airport (IATA code: CAG). It is the primary international gateway to south Sardinia. Cagliari Airport is situated approximately 7 kilometers northwest of the city center. It is located in Elmas, hence the name Elmas Airport. The airport has a modern and well-equipped terminal building. It offers a range of facilities and services to accommodate passengers, including check-in counters, baggage handling services, customs and immigration facilities, currency exchange, ATMs, and car rental desks. Cagliari Airport is well-connected to the city and surrounding areas. Ground transportation options include taxis, car rentals, and a train station adjacent to the airport, providing convenient access to the city center.