NZ$215 per night
Expected price for:10 Mar - 11 Mar
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The beautiful island of Sardinia is the second largest in the Mediterranean. Sardinia was under Spanish control for a period of about 400 years until the beginning of the 18th century, so as well as some Spanish customs having been integrated into the traditions of Sardinia, the Iberian language of Catalan can still be heard in Alghero in the north west. Now part of Italy, Sardinia has so much to offer any visitor. On top of beautiful beaches and warm weather, there is a busy capital, traditional towns, mountains and nature reserves, so you can do as much or little as you like.
Sometimes compared to those in the Caribbean, with super white sand turquoise warm waters, the beaches of Sardinia are truly beautiful and there will be one to suit everyone. In Chia, the beaches have shallow water, perfect for swimming, as does that at Santa Teresa di Gallura. There a trip to the beach will also reward you with views across to Corsica. For more to do, there are a range of water sports at Putzu Idu. The Costa Verde, or Green Coast, is rugged and beaches here are surrounded by sand dunes. Although it is more of an effort to get to these beaches, they offer peace and quiet even in the peak of summer. The beaches along the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, are very popular. In the height of summer, this area is a playground for the rich and famous, with hotels in this part of Sardinia being fairly pricey as a result, but the well-kept beaches are still open to the public.
Rising above Cagliari is Il Castello, a fortification where the aristocracy of the city would have lived in their palazzi. Here, in the maze of little streets of the old city, you will find museums and a cathedral. You could pay a visit to Torre dell’Elefante. Built in 1307 for defence, and later used to house political prisoners, this 42-metre high tower gets its name from the carved elephant by the portcullis. If you have the energy to climb to the top, there are views of the city to the sea. Evidence of the Roman occupation in Sardinia can be found at Villa di Tigellio, which is the remains of three Roman villas, and at the amphitheatre. Built in the first and second centuries, the theatre was carved into the rock to seat up to 10,000 people for gladiator shows and fighting with wild animals. If you would like to stay in Cagliari, to have the city at hand, you will find a good choice of hotels.
Cagliari has five municipal mercato, or markets, where you will find a large choice of delicious fresh produce and where you can get a glimpse of day-to-day life in Sardinia. The market traders are happy for you to browse in your own time, and to share their knowledge of their products, without any hard sell. Inside, each of the markets also has a bar or café where you can grab a bite to eat with the locals. The markets are spread out in and around Cagliari, so hopefully your hotel is not too far from one and you can pop in for some provisions for a tasty picnic. Outside of Cagliari, you will find equally good markets in the towns all around Sardinia. As well as the indoor markets, look out for the day of the week that the town holds its outdoor market. This is usually a busy day, when locals come out not just to shop but meet their friends and socialise too.
With stunning coast, wetland areas and mountainous inland, Sardina has a diverse natural environment and offers the chance to see a great range of local wildlife. The west of Sardinia is popular with birdwatchers, who come to see many of the rare species that live here or choose to spend the winter here, including golden eagles. Even if you are not a keen birdwatcher, you may still enjoy the chance to see the Flamingos who choose to spend their winters in the wetlands in the south thanks to the mild climate and the large amount of their favourite food, saltwater shrimp. Sulcis Park has trails through valleys and mountains, where you may see mountain goats, or you can pay a visit to the national park on the island of Isola dell’Asinara, named after the albino donkeys who live there. If you are a nature lover, perhaps look for a hotel in one of the inland towns close to one of the national parks.