Many of the greatest things in southern Italy are better experienced with a car. It’s true whether it is because you can see hard-to-reach ruins or castles, because you can experience the driving culture on our beautiful, albeit sometimes perilous southern Italian roadways or whether it is because a car offers travelers a certain freedom not guaranteed by public transport. Regardless of the reason, Fiona Hilliard opted to drive during her recent trip to Sardinia and she’s here today to share her stories.
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean and is located to the south of Genoa and Corsica and to the west of Naples. Although technically part of Italy, the island of Sardinia has a fascinating history, as well as its own unique cultural quirks.
Cagliari is the island’s capital. It takes its name from the Sardinian word Casteddu, meaning castle. The city’s location provides stunning views over the Gulf of Cagliari. Save some camera memory though – other great sights worth seeing in Cagliari include the Basilica di San Saturnino, the Sardinian Archaeological Museum, as well as Poetto Beach which is just a short drive away with a Sardinia car rental and offers 13 kilometers of beautiful sandy beaches.
Meanwhile, should you decide to head north (recommended) you will pass close to the town of Barumini. Situated next to the town, you will find Nuraghe. This is one of the most important and famous archaeological and megalithic monuments in Sardinia.
This won’t be the only ancient historical site that you’ll encounter. Sardinia’s history runs deep. Heading northeast for around 90 kilometers, you will arrive at Nuoro. Here you’ll see evidence of ancient settlements that can be traced back to 2000 BC. This area is considered to be the cultural essence of the island and is one of the most important stops you’ll see if you are touring Sardinia. If you are visiting here during August, it may also be possible to attend the colourful Sagra del Redentore festival which is famous for its traditional music.
Driving north for another 100 kilometers you’ll arrive at Olbia. While in town, it’s also possible to check out the 11th century Cathedral of San Simplicio. Located nearby, you’ll see Tavolara Island which is popular with scuba divers. Meanwhile, to the north of Olbia, you’ll find a village called Palau which is favoured by kite flyers and windsurfers because of the strong winds that blow between Sardinia and Corsica.
Driving back to Olbia and traveling west for around 100 kilometers, you will arrive at Sassari. Sassari is the second largest town in Sardinia and is also one of the oldest settlements on the island. To this day, you can still spot some 13th century towers from the city, along with the pretty church of Santa Maria di Bétlam and Cathedral of St. Nicholas of Bari.
Time to spare? Just a short drive to the northwest of Sassari, you’ll come to Porto Torres. It is thought that this colony was founded during Roman times by Julius Caesar. If you’re wondering what the Romans ever did for us, you’ll find many fine Roman ruins in the area, including aqueducts, sewers, thermal baths, a forum and some temples.
Heading south, you’ll reach Alghero located to the west coast of the island. This is the perfect place to relax, as this area is known for its wonderful beaches. The town has the unusual distinction of being a Catalan town on an Italian island. Some even call it little Barcelona. The narrow winding streets and decidedly bohemian atmosphere of the old town make it easy to see how it earned this title.
Before heading to the beaches, take some time out to explore the Palazzo D’Albis, Neptune’s Grotto and the areas around Anghelu Ruju and Nuraghe Palmavera.
The coast road from Alghero to Bosa is an obvious option for a scenic drive due to the stunning surroundings and fantastic beaches. There should also be a special mention to Bosa Marina Beach as it was chosen as Italy’s cleanest beach a number of times. Bosa itself has a number of interesting sights to be seen including Castello Malaspina, a castle that overlooks the town, as well as Corso Vittorio Emmanuele which is the main street in the old town. Just like it’s Milanese counterpart, you’ll find many interesting shops and buildings located along here.
Good to know:
When driving in Sardinia, the speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour on the open road and between 90 kilometers per hour and 130 kilometers per hour on the motorway.
Fiona Hilliard is a travel writer and blogger for award-winning car rental site ArgusCarHire.com. When not writing about car rental Sardinia she can be found writing travel tips on the site’s Glove Box Blog.
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