The best Sardinia beaches and where to stay

Pastel villages inlaid among fortified hills bordered on all sides by the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is certainly one of Italy’s most charming island offerings. The abundance of beaches alone is a good enough reason to visit but look for more and you’ll easily find it, by way of Phoenician and Bronze age ruins, cliffside coves and mountain hiking with views beyond belief. Follow us as we uncover the best beaches in Sardinia and the top hotels lining the way.

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Sardinia | Photo: Ivan Ragozin

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As well as deserted shores only accessible by boat, the islands’ crystal blue lagoons are also prime for bathing

1. Maddalena Islands

Drift off the coast of Costa Smeralda and with any luck you’ll wash ashore on the sculpted rocks of La Maddalena, a series of 7 islands and 55 tiny islets home to some of Italy’s best beaches and most bizarre rock formations. As well as deserted shores only accessible by boat, the islands’ crystal blue lagoons are also prime for bathing. Try the white-sand beach of Cala Granara on Isola di Spargi, a site lined by palms and plant life, though Cala Coticcio on Caprera Island achieves similar perfection alongside the Garibaldi residence and museum and several other beaches within walking distance.

Where to stay: The first of our 5-star Sardinia hotels, Hotel Capo d’Orso Thalasso & Spa oozes elegance in an exclusive bay setting within Cala Capra park towards the north coast, just a short boat ride from La Maddalena. Those hoping to get closer can rest up at Grand Hotel Resort Ma&Ma, located next door to La Maddalena’s Punta Tegge Beach.

Maddalena Islands | Photo: Leon Rohrwild

2. Costa Smeralda

Purchased by Prince Karim Aga Khan back in 1962, this pristine strip of coastline in northeast Sardinia remains an exclusive hideout of oligarchs, royals and billionaires the world over. Though not short on stunning beaches, Costa Smeralda’s best has got to be Principe Beach, a favourite of the prince boasting magical blue waters and fine sand bordered by low granite cliffs. While in the area, visit the private marina around Porto Cervo, a spot overlooked by luxury resorts each claiming their own section of coastline, though some sand remains public property like the small Cala Granu beach and Grande Pevero to the south.

Where to stay: Feel like a prince in your own right at the luxury hotels Sardinia has to offer, such as Hotel Cala di Volpe which boasts gardens and a saltwater pool alongside sports and wellness facilities all overlooking the private Cala di Volpe Bay beach. Otherwise try Hotel Pitrizza, another boutique gem with its own private beach, a rock-carved pool, in-house eatery and wellness centre, with views over Porto Cervo.

Capriccioli beach | Photo: Nicolo Canu

Photo: Eddie Carolina Stigson

3. Capo Testa

A sneaky contender hidden on a far northwest peninsular of Sardinia is Capo Testa, proud owner of endless public beaches and easy accessibility from the mainland. Santa Teresa Gallura lies just 4 kilometres east of Capo Testa, and on the isthmus between the two, you’ll find three Blue Flag beaches (Rena Bianca, Rena di Ponente and Rena Levante), each of which provide great swimming, windsurfing and snorkelling, amidst rocky headlands sculpted by millennia of heavy winds.

Where to stay: Handily located between Capo Testa and Santa Teresa, in view of the epic Bonifacio Strait and Corsica, Colonna Grand Hotel Capo Testa is 5 stars all the way with wellness and beauty facilities, waterfall-inlaid pools and a hot tub area, alongside a Mediterranean-style terrace bar and two regional restaurants that overlook it all.

Capo Testa | Photo: Massimo Virgilio

4. Spiaggia della Pelosa

Fresh hues of blue coat the shallow waters around Spiaggia della Pelosa, making it a common feature on guides to the best Sardinia Italy Beaches. Less than 3 kilometres from Stintino, way, way northwest on a protruding piece of land that stretches towards Asinara National Park, Spiaggia della Pelosa is also a popular Sardinia honeymoon choice. As with any such paradise, crowds can form in the high season between July and August, though the spot remains popular with wind- and kite-surfers all year-round thanks to choppy winds. Culture enthusiasts will be won over by the Aragonese watchtower on the Isola Piana, while naturalists can pass north over to the national park for biking or hiking amongst the resident population of albino donkeys.

5. Cala Brandinchi and San Teodoro

Follow the rugged coastal route south of Costa Smeralda you’ll eventually reach Capo Coda Cavalla, another jutting landmass home to a number of world-class beaches, such as Cala Brandinchi, sometimes labelled as Sardinia’s Tahiti. Enjoy days spent snorkelling in the shallow pools and reclining in the shade of pine woods behind the bay, moving onwards to other sandy stretches such as Spiaggia La Cinta and Stagno di San Teodoro known for its birdwatching and kitesurfing. Though beach residences are dotted all over, San Teodoro is the most lively place to stay, just south of Spiaggia La Cinta.

Where to stay: Baglioni Resort Sardinia is easily ranked among the best hotels in Sardinia for its private beach, elegant rooms and trifecta of swimming pools in amongst the beautiful natural landscape north of San Teodoro.

Photo: Katie Kalmykova

Photo: Kekai Ahsam

6. Golfo di Orosei

Another top choice for your Sardinia vacation is the Golfo di Orosei, a fine spot where the Gennargentu massif meets the sea. Boasting beaches for days, Golfo do Orosei has much to see, staying in Cala Gonone for boat cruising and walking excursions or Cala Goloritzè for cliff views and climbing trips up the 148-metre Aguglia and Altopiano del Golgo plateau. Other worthy beaches in the area can be accessed by boat such as Cala Biriola, Cala dei Gabbiani, Cala Luna and Cala Mariolu.

Where to stay: Hotel Villa Gustui Maris comes armed with panoramic veranda views over the Gulf of Orosei, just 600 metres from the centre of Cala Gonone, making it the most convenient of stays. Elune B&B meanwhile comes 5 kilometres from Cala Goloritze while Lanthia Resort has its own private beach, infinity pools and traditional restaurant in a suburb of Santa Maria Navarrese, a short boat ride away from the Ogliastra Islands.

Photo: Kire

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Now to the southeast’s Costa Rei for more breathtaking Sardinia beaches, starting at Cala Sinzias and ending in the headlands of Capo Ferrato

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7. Costa Rei

Now to the southeast’s Costa Rei for more breath-taking Sardinia beaches, starting at Cala Sinzias and ending in the headlands of Capo Ferrato. Along the way, you’ll find dazzling white beaches and turquoise waters bordering a number of Costa Rei resorts comprised of villas, shops, bars and restaurants. Jump off the southeast coast from Capo Carbonara to the tiny island of Cavoli to find tens of deserted bays, while further north the region gets busier, particularly in the town of Villasimius where Porto Giunco beach comes backed with Notteri flamingos. Other beaches worth a visit include Punta Molentis and Santa Giusta Beach, the latter boasting shallow waters and the famed “Rock of Peppino”.

Where to stay: When wondering where to stay in Sardinia let La Villa Del Re – Adults Only win you over with its celebrity treatment and mature suites centred around a private beach and restaurant just 10 minutes from the main Costa Rei town. Alternatively, Cala Sinzias Resort lies in Castiadas, less than 2 kilometres from Spiaggia di Call Monte Turno, in the stylings of an ancient Etruscan village. As well as grandiose granite features, Cala Sinzias Resort also comes with its own private beach, an oasis pool and a cocktail bar backed by pine forest.

Photo: StockSnap

8. Is Aruttas and the Sinis Peninsula

Secreted away on the Sinis Peninsula on the west shores of Sardinia lie some of the island’s best-hidden gems. Despite their beauty, these western beaches remain relatively unknown to tourists though the same can’t be said of the locals who flock here any chance they get. As part of a Marine Protected Area, the Sinis Peninsula shoreline offers much birdlife as well as pristinely kept beaches, such as the unusual Is Aruttas where the sand is made up of smooth quartz pieces in all colours. The resort area of Putzu Idu makes for a good base, in proximity to the horseshoe-shaped Spiaggia Su Portu as well as many smaller bays such as the surfer’s paradise of Capo Mannu and the diver’s dreamworld, Dei Tedeschi. If wind- or kite-surfing doesn’t appeal, brave a boat trip out to the barren land of Isola di Mal di Ventre, translated as Stomach Ache Island in reference to the uneven journey across.

9. Costa Verde

For a bit of rough on your Sardinia vacation, it’s the undeveloped shores around the Costa Verde you really must try. Here, on the stretch of land north of Capo Pecora and south of Torre dei Corsari, you’ll find unkempt coastline and windswept vistas for miles, while inland woods and Mediterranean scrub cover the mountains. Of its beaches, Spiaggia di Scivu and Spiaggia di Piscinas earn a great reputation, for their wide berth and towering dunes, the latter found via a 9-kilometre dirt track from SS126 (Ingurtosa exit). Further south, Cala Domestica is another popular cove for divers, though the sea winds here can be wilder. Away from the beaches, the former mining town of Montevecchio and the mountain town of Arbus can both provide a place to stay, while hiking treks up Monte Arcuentu (785 metres) can put you in touch with the last preserves of Sardinian deer.

Costa Verde, South Sardinia | Photo: Francesco Ungaro

Photo: Djordje Petrovic

10. Costa Sud

Last but not least are the coastal headlands of Costa Sud, found 58 kilometres southwest of Cagliari capital city. As well as being convenient, the 25-kilometre stretch of road (SP71) that runs the length of the Costa del Sud is primed for a road trip, allowing for stop-offs at any number of crescent-shaped bays along the way. Of your options, you’ve got the lengthy Porto Campana which offers water sports facilities and family-friendly shallow waters, while the peaceful Spiaggia Sa Colonia and Spiaggia Su Portu each flank an impressive Spanish watchtower close to flamingo-filled lagoons. Meanwhile, Tuerredda Beach near the busy town of Chia is one for swimmers, (allowing for a 100-metre dash to a small island) while Su Giudeu proffers dunes and rock-dwelling goats!

Where to stay: Set inside a former lighthouse on a promontory looking out to sea, the Faro Capo Spartivento is one of Chia’s more unique 5-star offerings, keeping guests amused across two pools, a restaurant and an underground cinema. Hotel Aquadulci provides another alternative close by Su Giudeu, showcasing a palm-strewn medicinal garden and on-site restaurant, with sailboat rentals available by day.

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Sardinia | Photo: Lachezara Parvanova

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