Our one-week family itinerary in southern Sardinia
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sud sardaigne en famille

Our one-week family itinerary in southern Sardinia

This summer we spent a week in southern Sardinia with the children. We really wanted to return to this island after our two weeks in northern Sardinia a few years ago. Sardinian beaches and gastronomy were what we were looking for before starting the children’s school year! This time, we chose to make a loop from Cagliari, discovering the entire southern half of the island. We turned counterclockwise but it didn’t matter. It was the coincidence of our accommodations. If you too are planning to discover the south of Sardinia during a family road trip, then here is all the information we can give you!

Age of the children during this trip: 13 years old for Ticoeur and 11 years old for Titpuce.

Period of the trip: we left the very last week of August in order to have fewer people because Sardinia is very busy during the first three weeks of August. Early July would also be a good time (see our previous trip to northern Sardinia).

Weather: We arrived just after strong storms in the Mediterranean. Result? Temperatures were barely above 20 degrees and the sea had cooled down quite a bit. We also had a lot of wind. In the end, while we mainly thought we would enjoy the beaches, we changed our plans and we walked more and took advantage of the hiking trails. We adapted and had a great week! Anyway, the weather is always unpredictable and at least we avoided the heatwave!

south sardinia with family

Our one-week itinerary in southern Sardinia:

Exactly, we spent 8 days in the south of Sardinia. To carry out our roadtrip, we rented a car at Cagliari airport.

Day 1: very late arrival in Cagliari

We collect the rental car and head to our guesthouse located a few kilometers west of Cagliari, in Capitana: Casa Is Meris. We had two very simple rooms, located upstairs in the guest house. An unpretentious economical address but we appreciated the great kindness of the owners who welcomed us. We had a nice homemade breakfast in the morning in the garden. I was able to chat in Italian with our hosts. How I love this language!

Day 2: Cagliari and Nora

It’s too windy to go to the beach. We decide to go to Cagliari. There, we take a short hike along the seaside towards the Selle del Diavolo viewpoint (steep climb). From there, you can see the entire famous Poetto beach.

Cagliari with family

After this climb, we reach the old center of Cagliari, which is quite pleasant. We tour the shopping area, pass the bastion of Saint Remy then sit down for a Spritz & aperitivo (only €5) on the terrace of the Tiffany café. A very good address frequented by locals!

We then stop on a street corner for an ice cream and head towards the archaeological site of Nora, an hour east of Cagliari. We join the tour in English because there is no French-speaking guide that day and we don’t want to take an audio guide. The tour lasted an hour and the guide’s comments were interesting. You can see beautiful mosaics. There is a pleasant little beach near the parking lot but it was too windy and the water was very cool, normally it seems to me a good swimming spot.

On the way back to Cagliari, we pass the pink flamingo reserves again. We didn’t find a place to stop for a few photos but we saw a lot of these pretty pink birds in flight or in the water during our visit. For dinner, in Cagliari, we order our first bottarga pasta of the stay at L’Osteria Gioia & Gusto. We love it! (The setting is a little cold but the food is excellent). Return to our guest room in Capitana.

Day 3: Villasimius, its beaches, its seabed

It was in Villasimius that we saw the most beautiful beaches of our Sardinian week. Cape Carbonara is renowned for the clarity of the water and the seabed. Besides, if I had found accommodation in this area, we would have stayed there for 2 or 3 nights to really enjoy the sea and the setting. But it is the most popular part of the south and you have to believe that booking three months in advance is not enough to find the right address! Anticipate more than us if you want to base yourself in the Villasimius region. So for us it was just a big day. I had booked a snorkeling and diving trip (snorkeling for Papa Voyage and me and first dive for Ticoeur and Titpuce). What to say? It’s a good place for this type of activity and the diving prices are attractive. On the other hand, I made the mistake that I will never make again: I booked in advance (a week before). Finally, the weather was not at all favorable on the big day and the service provider did not cancel even though there was really too strong a wind! So, it wasn’t pleasant at all between the big waves, the seasickness and the cold water! Fortunately we swim well and are not cold. We courageously braved the elements but it was not fun and I blame the service provider who should have canceled given the weather conditions! Moral of the story: yes it’s a good idea to go on a snorkeling trip or try diving in Villasimius but I advise only booking a day or two in advance when you are almost certain of the weather!

diving southern sardinia

Afterwards, you can simply take your snorkeling equipment and enjoy the beautiful depths from one of the superb local beaches such as: Simius beach, Porto Giunco ​​beach or cala Timi Ama beach or even the Punta Molentis beach.

south sardinia itinerary

We then follow the southeast coast. We stop near the magnificent Piscina Rei, a very beautiful beach where we meet Papa Voyage’s cousins ​​on vacation there:

At the end of the afternoon, we reach the Gulf of Oresei. We stop in the village of Baunei which benefits from superb views of the region’s mountains. I don’t recommend our apartment because we found it too expensive for its simplicity but I must say that the terrace on the roof of the building was incredible! If you book in advance, you should have no trouble finding nice accommodation with a view in Baunei.

Then we return to the seaside (only 15 minutes from Baunei) for a walk near the Pedra Longa rock.

south sardinia with family

Back in Baunei for dinner, we found an excellent restaurant with a magnificent panoramic view: Le Radici. Night in Baunei.

Day 4: the Gulf of Oresei in hiking mode

Early in the morning, we leave for the hike to Cala Goloritze. Before telling you about this hike, know that the majority of tourists opt instead for a day boat excursion to discover the Gulf of Oresei. Why didn’t we make this choice? These boats, in summer, are packed and too numerous so we find this type of excursion unpleasant even when the setting is heavenly. In addition, the prices charged in high season are frankly indecent! There is also the option of renting a small motor boat without a license just for you and your family, but before embarking on such a project, think carefully about the enormous gasoline budget that this represents and which no rental company will tell you about. In short, out of season, I think that the boat excursion can be a good choice to discover the different spots of the gulf (fewer people and more attractive prices) but in July – August, the inconveniences were too great for us. Plus, as you know: we love hiking and we were very lucky because the temperatures were not high during our stay in Sardinia so the land option was suitable in our case! Here are the details of this hike to Cala Goloritze: we walked 1h15 there and 1h25 back (because you have to go back up). The Cala Goloritze cove is beautiful. At first, we had few people, then a few groups from the excursion boats arrived, so we left after enjoying the swim. Please note: to have the right to take the path to the cala, you must book in advance on this site because there are quotas and you have to pay for access. Also, passage is prohibited without good shoes (closed sneakers or hiking shoes). There is a checkpoint at the entrance to the trail.

family hike sardinia

south sardinia itinerary

After a slice of pizza and an ice cream in the village of Baunei, we head towards the Gola di Gorropu canyon for our second big hike of the day. We walk 1h20 downhill, through a landscape of mountains, Mediterranean vegetation and a few stone passages. After this long descent, we arrive at the entrance to the canyon located at the bottom of the valley then we have to pay for access to the canyon which is unfortunately quickly seen. We return in 1 hour 40 minutes (it’s getting worse!). We are starting to feel our legs! It was a great hike but we found it disappointing to have to pay once at the bottom, for the canyon part (part too short and therefore price a little high). Guides try to sell you returns in 4×4 but frankly it’s a bit of a scam in terms of price and in reality it doesn’t avoid the whole return climb so you might as well do everything on foot!

family hike sardinia

Finally, we reach the superb Rifugio Gorropu which benefits from a magnificent view of the mountains. Very good dinner in a good atmosphere and very friendly staff. We sleep there: quadruple room, simple, but what a natural setting!

Day 5: Gulf of Oresei northern part

After an excellent breakfast at the refuge, we descend to the tiny Cala Fuili. Here, the tourist boats do not stop so the place is very quiet (at least at the end of the season and in the morning). The descent on foot from the road above is relatively quick and easy.

We then leave for a village that I found very interesting: the village of Orgosolo, in the hinterland of the Gulf of Oresei. In the streets of this big town, you can see more than 300 “murals”! This is wall art. A tradition of the place. There are political drawings (not really my cup of tea) but also beautiful scenes of daily life painted in color on the walls of this rather rebellious village! We have lunch in the village square: you will see, there is a large stand that sells platters of local cheeses and charcuterie.

In the afternoon, we leave this region of Sardinia and cross the width of the island because the rest of our itinerary consists of going back down the west coast. We first settle down in our hotel to enjoy the swimming pool and some rest time (it happens to us!). The accommodation is a bit in the middle of nowhere but our room and the swimming pool are very pleasant! This is the best accommodation of our stay in Sardinia: Locanda Da Renzo.

We then set off to discover the seaside on this side. Our first stop is not a success: the famous Is Arutas beach does not please us: too long, without any particular charm and a lot of seaweed during our passage. On the other hand, we continue towards Cap San Giovianni du Sinis and we like everything there: the walk to the end of the cap (allow two good hours of walking there and back). There are some very nice little beaches along the way. The water there is very clear. Also, at the start of the cap, we pass in front of the archaeological site of Tharros: a few ruins, not much, but it’s nice to see (you can see most from the outside so we didn’t visit it).

south sardinia with family

For dinner, we stop in the small town of Oristano (which is nothing special) but there is a choice of restaurants. We have dinner in the Da Sid trattoria (it’s very good!).

Day 6: the Costa Verde, its dunes and its mining past

After an excellent breakfast on the terrace in our hotel, we go down the west coast and enter the Costa Verde with a first stop at the Torre dei Corsari.

Then off we go for the adventure! We head towards the spiaggia di piscinas where there are beautiful golden dunes. As we hadn’t read anything before going there, we were surprised to find ourselves on a track for the end of the journey. The path is not bad so we continue (we have a classic car, not a 4×4). Suddenly, we are blocked by a stream. We are about to turn around and abandon our excursion but some locals overtake us with a small car similar to ours and we can see that it passes easily even with the wheels in the water! The place is wild, exotic. The dunes are high. A little corner of Africa in the Mediterranean!

Next stop: Su Manau Cave. We see very beautiful formations there, with impressive volumes. We really liked it!

which cave to visit in sardinia

Then we go to the beach of Cala Domestica. The place is beautiful but the water was not very clear when we were there. We don’t stay there long.

south sardinia with family

Instead of a swimming stop, we choose to reach the village of Nebbida where we take advantage of the “passagiata” (a path where the locals meet in the evening for the digestive walk). This walk allows us to admire the Sugar Loaf rock on the sea. A very beautiful setting!

Finally, we return to the town of Iglesias, with its mining past. We booked a room in an old rococo style hotel: the Euro hotel. It has a little old-fashioned side but it has retained the charm of yesteryear. Good value for money, we recommend it. It bears witness to the architecture of the beautiful residences which belonged to the operators of the mines in the region. For dinner, we treat ourselves to the best pizzas of our stay at Sa Matracca. We enjoy delicious pizzas on one of the small tables set out in the street, including an incredible buffala-mortadella-pistachio pizza!

Day 7: the history of miners and the southwest

I am passionate about the history of mining in general. Both my grandfathers were minors so the subject touches me a lot. Do not forget the horrible working conditions in the mines and also know the socio-economic legacy of these exploitations. The mines are always the opportunity for an interesting course combining history, geography and chemistry! Therefore, I took advantage of the fact that we were in a region with a harsh mining past to book a guided tour of an old mining site (Su Surfuru) with a former miner. All in Italian! So if you are not completely fluent in Italian (Sardinian version too!), you will not be able to enjoy this visit. I served as a translator for Ticoeur, Titpuce and Papa Voyage. We spent two very informative and moving hours with Salvatore! It is a free visit but we have chosen to make a small donation at the end to help them develop their museum project and secure the galleries in order to be able to welcome tourists (for the moment, you can visit the installations around the mine but we cannot enter the mine). To complete our mining trip, we want to see Porto Flavia where the loading of ore to large boats took place. To see the place on the cliff of where the goods were leaving, we rent a pedal boat in spiaggia di Masua and we approach the place by sea:

The return is very complicated because the wind picks up and becomes very violent! Even while pedaling with all our strength we cannot move forward with the headwind! The pedal boat rental companies come to our rescue with a motor boat to take us back to the beach! What stress! In the evening, we reach the village of Portoscuso. There is an industrial zone which doesn’t look like much but despite everything, this seaside village has charm and it’s lively in the evening, with quite a few nice terraces. We sleep in the B&B dei Limoni. It’s clean and the beds are very comfortable. The breakfast is very generous (especially sweet). Despite everything, it was expensive for what it was and we felt a little cramped in the rooms and in the courtyard.

Day 8: Sant’Antico

The objective of the day is to visit, further south, the island of Sant’Antico which is reached via a bridge. This island was a disappointment of our stay. I had heard too many praises for it! In the end, we weren’t that impressed. There was a lot of seaweed on the beaches. We still found a rocky cove where the children snorkeled (near Cala Sapone). In the town of Sant’Antico, the main street has the advantage of being planted with trees and therefore shaded, but we didn’t fall in love with it.

south sardinia itinerary

In the middle of the afternoon, we leave this small island and drive to Su Giudeu. The sand is beautiful, the beaches follow one another and there are small white dunes. The sea is rough. We sit down and admire the kite surfers. A nice place !

Finally, we reach Cagliari for our last dinner. We choose a seaside terrace on Poetto beach at the Frontemare restaurant. It’s very good! A beautiful finale!

South Sardinia or North Sardinia: which did we prefer?

This is a question I have been asked several times. There are obviously magnificent places both in the north and in the south. Personally, we preferred our vacation in northern Sardinia for the following reasons (some are just context-related):

  • In the north of Sardinia, there are many more heavenly Maldives-type beaches with incredibly white sand! To enjoy these beaches it is important not to go to northern Sardinia in August because it is really very busy! We were there at the beginning of July and it was perfect!
  • Snorkeling: In the north we found it to be really ideal. In the south, we only found good spots in the Villasimius area, but don’t hesitate to share your tips in the comments!
  • Pretty towns: in the north of Sardinia we really liked Bosa. Still to the north, Alghero is worth a visit and Olbia is very lively. In the south, Cagliari was nice. The other small towns did not make an impression on us.
  • We spent two weeks in the north of Sardinia versus one week in the south so it allowed us to explore many more places, coves and beaches.
  • In both cases, there are varied and contrasting coastal landscapes: the jagged coast of the north, the much sought-after white beaches of the northeast, the blond sand beaches in the west (from north to south), the gulf and its mountains in the east, the southeast cap, etc.
  • There are more large wilderness areas in southern Sardinia, especially along the west coast. The north is more inhabited, more frequented, more built up.
  • We had much better luck with the weather during our stay in northern Sardinia but that was just chance! It could have happened differently!
  • Finally, the Gulf of Oresei, which we highly recommend, is in the middle of Sardinia. You can go there on a northern Sardinia itinerary as well as on a southern Sardinia itinerary! Besides, we should have stayed there one more night to discover other coves.
  • Will we return to northern Sardinia? We would like to return there in the low season, to discover the Magdalen Islands which we do not yet know.
  • Will we return to southern Sardinia? Yes, with fewer steps: we will try to book accommodation near Villasimius and perhaps another on the west coast where we liked the wild aspect and wide open spaces.
  • Obviously, if you have a lot of time, don’t hesitate to stay for a good three weeks to take a great tour of Sardinia!


And you ? Tempted by a family holiday in southern Sardinia?

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Europe, Italy, roadtrip in Sardinia, Sardinia

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