Road Tripping the Best Beaches in Sardinia

Best Beaches in Sardinia

Three blissful weeks in Sardinia. That’s how long it took me to painstakingly research this post, visiting all of the most popular beaches in Sardinia, many of the less well know and secluded ones, and even some which are only accessible by boat. I would like to say I have a tough job but who I am kidding, it was glorious.

From the very beginning it became clear the east and southern coasts have the best beaches with only one in the far north-west making the cut. These are sandy beaches, some with exquisite powdery white sand and all with that cliche crystal clear turquoise water everyone expects from Sardinia and the Mediterranean.

If you’re looking for a one or two week lazy beach holiday or a coastal road trip in Sardinia, this guide covers everything you need to know. The focus is on where to find the absolute best beaches in Sardinia and, importantly, where to find the most intensely flavoured, mouthwatering, delicious hand made gelato on the island!

Before I get into the beaches, for those of you who don’t know much about Sardinia, here’s a quick rundown.

  • Sardinia is a large Italian island in the middle of the Mediterranean, off the west coast of mainland Italy and just south of the French island of Corsica.
  • The coast is a mix of jagged cliffs, rocky outcrops, and sandy beaches while the inland areas are mountainous and popular with hikers.
  • Sardinia is one of the top locations in Europe to watch the sunrise.
  • Most of Sardinia’s beaches are not in built up areas, so there are no ugly high-rises spoiling the scenery.
  • The long summer tourist season starts in May and continues though to the end of September.
  • July and August are the busiest months for tourism and you’ll need to book well ahead if you wish to visit at that time of the year.
  • Sardinia is a relatively expensive destination although there are many bed and breakfasts and camping options for the budget traveller.
  • Tourists in Sardinia are predominately Italian but the destination is also popular with Germans, French, Scandinavians, and the British.
  • Classic Sardinian cuisine usually includes fish or seafood. Not surprisingly.
  • Locally produced, artisanal Sardinian biscuits and sweets fill the supermarket shelves or you can buy them directly from the factory shop.
  • People from Sardinia are extremely proud of their island and culture and will tell you they are not Italian, they are Sardinian. You’ll spot signs around the island saying, Sardegna non è Italia. Sardinia is not Italy.

Let’s get started, here are the top 8 beaches in Sardinia, (not) Italy.

La Cinta – San Teodoro

If it’s powdery white sand you want, La Cinta is the beach to experience that distinctive squelchy feeling beneath your feet as you walk over the whitest white sand you’ll see in all of Sardinia. This beach literally took my breath away and is easily my favourite beach in Sardinia and maybe even in all of Europe.

La Cinta is a long white sandy beach with shallow, clear water in shades of baby blue, and the steep cliffs of Tavolara Island in the background. To say it’s awesome is an understatement.

The beach is massive. It’s one of the longest beaches in Sardinia, so even when it’s busy you can find a spot close to the water. But as one of the most popular beaches I do suggest arriving as early as possible to grab a lounge chair or a spot on the sand. You’ll also need to arrive super early to get a free parking space but there is a paid car park too.

Activities: Horse riding, sunrise watching, standup paddle boarding, pedal boating, kite surfing.

Nearby beaches: Lu Impostu, Cala Brandinchi

Gelato: #1 in Sardinia – Il Gelo Viola – Piazza Emilio Lussu, San Teodoro

Accommodation in San Teodoro

Hotel: Paradise Resort Sardegna
B&B: Li Muntigeddi
Villa: Villa Franca (limited wifi)

La Cinta - The most beautiful beach in Sardinia?

Beach Horse Riding at La Cinta

La Cinta Beach Umbrella Sunrise

Chia’s Beaches

Chia is a region in the south-east of Sardinia and is the best place to be based if you want to visit multiple beaches, spot pink flamingos, and witness extraordinary sunrises. So it’s kind of the best place to be based.

To find the perfect beach you’ll want to head down Viale Chia and turn off at each beach until you discover the one you love. All of these beaches are away from the main road and built up areas. They’re peaceful and unspoilt.

The main beaches to choose from are Colonia, Giudeo, Campana, Monti Cogoni, and my personal favourite, the secluded Spiaggia di Cala Cipolla.

Activities: Beach hopping, flamingo spotting, sunrise watching.

Accommodation Near Chia

It’s difficult to find decent accommodation right in Chia but it depends on what standard of accommodation you’re looking for. There are more options in Pula and the capital Cagliari.

Cagliari: Relais Santa Croce
Pula: B&B La Villetta

Chia - My favourite sunrise of all time.

Chia Beach Huts

Chia Beach Umbrella Sunrise

Rocky Coast in Chia

Santa Maria Beach – Orosei

As it’s right next to a massive all-inclusive resort, I can imagine Santa Maria Beach is painfully touristy in July and August. But in September it was just me and a couple of dolphins feeding and jumping in the deep, warm water. The dolphins were feeding and jumping, not me. I only watched them.

Sardinia’s swimming beaches are often shallow. You can sometimes walk 100 metres off shore and the water is still only knee deep. Santa Maria Beach is different. Within a few steps you are in deep, jade green water, so deep that large boats would pull up into shore to drop off passengers before backing away and continuing on their journey.

Describing this beach as sandy is probably pushing it but the pebbles are so tiny it still feels like sand, even for my pebble and stone beach averse feet.

Maybe it was the semi-overcast, windless weather or the weirdly still water but this is one of the most serene places I’ve ever visited. I could not believe my luck to have this beach to myself.

All I wish for you is to experience this place as I did, to find yourself at this beach when it’s deserted, to go skinny dipping in the warm water while dolphins play in the distance. A magical experience. Oh and there were wild boars roaming off shore in the distance!

Activities: Skinny dipping, dolphin watching, sailing, whatever goes on in beach resorts.

Accommodation in Orosei

Hotel: Albergo Diffuso Mannois
Apartment: Residenze Gli Ulivi

Orosei - Dolphins Not Shown

Cala Gonone

Don’t feel disappointed as you pull up to Cala Gonone. The town beach is nice enough but you’re not there for that. You need to jump on a boat tour or hire your own to reach the hidden, remote beaches down the coast. Cala Luna, Cala Mariolu, Cala Goloritze, and the Blue Grotto are generally only accessible by boat but it’s totally worth the effort.

Activities: Unspoilt beach going, snorkelling, mountain climbing, sailing.

Restaurant: Ristorante Da Graziano Il Pescatore

Accommodation in Cala Gonone

Hotel Cala Luna or Hotel Nettuno

Cala Gonone Central Beach

Tuerredda – Chia

This feels like a beach for locals. Wealthy locals. Luxury yachts are docked off shore, parking is pricey, the beach bars are high class but renting a beach chair and umbrella for the day isn’t outrageously expensive. This luxury beach is accessible for all.

Turerredda is a secluded beach situated in a quiet bay. Cliffs plunge into the sea on either side of the sandy beach perfect for sipping cocktails and reading a trashy summer novel.

Activities: Swimming, sailing, reading, drinking.

Accommodation Near Tuerredda

Budget B&B: S’Attobiu B&B
Farmstay: Agriturismo Sa Tiria

I almost slipped and fell getting this shot!

This is a much safer view of the water.

Spiaggia di Notteri – Villasimius

Like Orosei, Notteri beach is dominated by a beach resort. It’s kind of annoying if you want to go there as an independent traveller, without having to stay at the resort, but even if affordable accommodation is scarce you are free to visit and swim at the gorgeous beach.

Aside from the typical clear blue waters and sandy beach, the defining feature at Notteri beach is the rocky outcrops and large boulders which punctuate the main beach. It’s an unusual landscape and a great spot for roaming and sunbathing.

The coastal road around Villasimius and up the Costa Rei provides outstanding views of the cliffs and sea below. You’ll definitely need a car to see the best of this part of Sardinia.

Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, cocktail drinking, hiking, coastal driving.

Accommodation in Villasimius

5 Star Resort Hotel: Pullman Timi Ama Sardegna
Hotel: Domu Noa Hotel

Notteri Beach in Villasimius

Villasimius Coastal Drive

Sardinia's Summer Traffic

Spiaggia delle Dune – Porto Pino

This was unexpected. Approaching Porto Pino the highway crosses a vast lagoon dotted with adorable pink flamingos. If that wasn’t enough to put a smile on my face I then spotted the enormous white sand dunes in the distance.

Pulling into Porto Pino it took me a while to realise the dunes are not at the town beach. You have to drive along the lagoon road to a remote car park and then walk the rest of the way to the beach. It’s a bit of a trek but you should have a few flamingos to keep you company and the knowledge that the incredible dunes await.

I hate to repeat myself but wow, what a stunning location. I can’t believe I had never heard of this place before. Towering white sandy dunes, almost still turquoise water, few tourists, and complete bliss.

Activities: Admiring the awesome dunes, relaxing in paradise, trying not to die from happiness

Accommodation Near Porto Pino

B&B: Le Dune Bed & Breakfast

Sardinia White Sand Dunes

Porto Pino Beach Italy

Porto Pino Sand Dunes and Blue Skies

La Pelosa – Stintino

On Sardinia’s north west tip, just past the town of Stintino is La Pelosa, the only beach I recommend away from the fantastic south/east coast.

The curved main beach is sandy but small so it gets crowded quickly, even in September. But the long expanse of clear, seaweed free water is superb for swimming while the uninhabited Isola Piana gives protection from the rough seas as well as providing a beautiful backdrop.

Activities: Diving, windsurfing, sailing.

Accommodation in Stintino

Hotel: Hotel Silvestrino
B&B: B&B Sul Porto
Farmstay: Agriturismo Depalmas

Turquoise Water at La Pelosa

La Pelosa Beach Umbrella Sunrise

Confession time. I didn’t visit any of the islands in Sardinia’s archipelago. I heard there are some beautiful beaches there but I can’t confirm it so all the beaches mentioned in this guide are on the main island.

Where to Stay in Sardinia

Sardinia is seriously lacking in luxury and boutique hotels. If you want high-end accommodation try a villa which rents by the week but be prepared to pay a considerable amount for it. For budget and mid-range options your best bet is to stay in a B&B or an Airbnb apartment if you prefer to have some privacy and cook your own meals.

I’ve suggested hotels for each destination based on either where I stayed or those which get good reviews. Some places were excellent but more often than not I was disappointed with the standard or it was poor value for money. But that’s Italy for you.

Getting to Sardinia and Getting Around

Flying into Sardinia and hiring a car is the most convenient way to experience the island. But if you want to take your own car or don’t want to fly then the ferry is the only answer.

I took the ferry from Livorno and I can tell you it’s not a particularly interesting city. The only reason to go is to catch the ferry to Sardinia or Corsica. On leaving I took a different ferry to Genoa or you could go to Marseilles in France or a couple of other cities depending on the time of the year.

Either way, it’s not a fun journey and the ferries are far from luxury. But it is what it is, take it or leave it. Most of the ferries are overnight so I suggest booking a room for four people, even if there are only two of you as the double rooms are absolutely tiny and one will have to sleep on the top of a bunk bead.

That’s it for this guide to Sardinia’s beaches. To sum up:

  • The best beaches are on the east and south coasts.
  • Get up for the sunrise each morning. You won’t regret it.
  • Take a boat tour off Cala Gonone.
  • Eat gelato daily.
  • Go horse riding on the beach.
  • Track down some flamingos.
  • Hire a car and road trip around the island.

Ask me anything in the comments, I reply to everyone!

About Andrea

Andrea Anastasakis is the founder and author of road trip blog Rear View Mirror. She is currently driving her Fiat 500 around Europe. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram.


Comments

  1. beaches like this exist in europe?!?! whoa- i need to get my butt down there immediately!!! (well, get in shape first and then get down there!) i love these photos 🙂

  2. Love these photos! I feel like I could walk right through my computer screen into the clear waters. 🙂

    For now Sardinia will have to wait, but I can’t wait to explore those beaches in Australia…even if I’m moving there during your winter season!

    • I used to live where you’re headed and not only will it be cold but the beaches aren’t the best! But there’s plenty of other fun stuff going on. 🙂

  3. Those are amazing sunrise photos! I haven’t been to Italy but Sardegna doesn’t look like a bad place to start.

  4. Horseback riding on the beach in Italy is now at the top of my bucket list!

  5. I’d love to make each one of these photos my laptop background — very inspiring and makes me want to visit! Great tips 🙂

  6. I just stumbled on your page. I saw a nice picture of a beach and closed it. Then thought: “wait, that has to be Sardinia” – So I opened it again. It IS Sardinia. And I love this post. I particularly like how you clarify that these are the best beaches in Sardinia (not Italy). We are very proud of hour land and you understood that! I hope you come visit again. It would be a pleasure to meet you.

    • Thanks Claudia! I know most regions of Italy have their own culture as it the case with Sardinia. You’re from such a wonderful part of the world, I’m glad I got to experience it. I would love to meet up if I ever return. 🙂

  7. Hi there Love your blog. We are travelling around italy for 3 months and are thinking of visiting Sardinia for 2 weeks in mid October. We have a car and so will be taking the ferry. We love beaches, investigating towns and eating. Rather than moving around every couple of days, where are 2 good places where you would you recommend we stay (for a week each ) and use as a base to see the island? We”ll probably use airbnb.

    Thanks, look forward to your response

    • My advice is to spend one week in San Teodoro where you have Chia, Lu Impostu, and Cala Brandinchi beaches at your doorstep. From there you can day trip to Orosei and Cala Gonone (where you can take a boat to the remote beaches).
      Then stay one week down near Cagliari. I stayed in an Airbnb there but can’t really recommend it. There weren’t many Airbnbs when I was looking but I’m sure you’ll find something.
      That’s exactly what I did and loved it.
      Happy travels. 🙂