Sardinia

With its reputation for extreme sophistication Sardinia is a truly premium destination, set in the sparkling Mediterranean off the west coast of Italy. Geographically diverse with mountains. marshes, sand dunes and miles of glorious golden shores the island is best known for the glamorous Costa Smerelda with its glitzy marina, high end hotels and luxury boutiques that draw in the jet set crowd during the heady months of summer.

There is far more to this beautiful island than glitz though, the unexpectedly rugged landscape of the interior, the many tiny villages filled with historic architecture and the people that welcome one and all into their world; Sardinia is filled with contradictions, as tradition meets the world of the rich and influential, but embraces it all to create a colourful and unique destination with a difference.

The Costa Smerelda is of course the place to be seen, once nothing more than a strip of coastline it has been transformed into a luxury holiday destination, strict planning regulations have ensured that there is nothing tawdry about this resort – the buildings all blend seamlessly into the background and are generally the only understated thing in this hedonists paradise.

Amongst all this luxury it is difficult to find a stand out hotel but the Hotel Cala di Volpe in the Bay of Foxes is a good place to start; it may have been designed to look like a simple fishing village but there is nothing simple at all about this elegant complex.

Those with a more realistic budget should head to the capital Cagliari where there are many hotels to be found that are both comfortable and well located, they may not have the glamour of the Costa Smerelda but they are a great base for your holiday.

Local produce is the cornerstone of Sardinian cuisine, favoured ingredients include mint, oregano local cheeses, wild boar, goat and seafood and the good restaurants will always change their menu to reflect the seasonality of produce. Gallura in Olbia has a huge menu but ask the staff for their recommendations and you are guaranteed an excellent meal; the dishes that arrive will vary but they will always reflect the best of the seasons produce.

There is no disputing that although the quality is excellent that Gallura is not the cheapest option, if you want something a little less expensive then it is hard to beat Antica Trattoria where the menu of excellently made pizza and pasta is enhanced by the lovely garden in which to dine.

The Nuraghic monuments of Arzachena give a feel for the depth of the history of the island, these prehistoric burial sites have roots in such a distant past that it is hard to imagine them as buildings that were once places of remembrance. The Nuraghi (towers) themselves are to be found across almost all of the island and add a real sense of mystery to this beautiful land.

The capital of Cagliari is definitely worth a day trip no matter where you holiday is based, the city is diverse in architecture with more than enough to keep any visitor occupied – the hilltop Castello and the Churches of Stamplace are well worth talking the time to explore and the designer boutiques of the Via Manno district  provide a diversion in the way of retail therapy that will appeal to even the most discerning fashionista.

August although blessed with beautiful weather is the month to avoid – this island is Italy’s playground and the tourist influx makes it almost unbearably busy, prices rocket and bookings are hard to come by. Apart from this one month Sardinia is perfect to visit at almost any time of year and with the plethora of festivals will always have something to appeal.

During early May the islands main festival Festa di Sant’Efisio takes place in the capital Cagliari, the islanders gather to celebrate their favoured Saint and parades with ox drawn carts take place around the city, traditional dance and music that takes place during the evenings gives a truly party atmosphere to the city.

$54 p/n (from)
$38 p/n (from)
$31 p/n (from)
$29 p/n (from)