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The second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia is “Almost a Continent” as their ads suggest. The variety of landscapes and lifestyles makes that more than a clever slogan. The sharp contrasts between the glitzy high-roller beach resorts of the Costa Smeralda and the wild mountain landscapes and sheep farms of the rugged interior are only part of the island’s infinite variety. Porto Cervo, built to simulate a fishing village, is the center for high-end travelers and those who like to be where the “beautiful” people go, its shops filled with designer wear and its harbor with sleek yachts. Smaller Baia Sardinia is less flashy, with ...

The second largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia is “Almost a Continent” as their ads suggest. The variety of landscapes and lifestyles makes that more than a clever slogan. The sharp contrasts between the glitzy high-roller beach resorts of the Costa Smeralda and the wild mountain landscapes and sheep farms of the rugged interior are only part of the island’s infinite variety. Porto Cervo, built to simulate a fishing village, is the center for high-end travelers and those who like to be where the “beautiful” people go, its shops filled with designer wear and its harbor with sleek yachts. Smaller Baia Sardinia is less flashy, with small shops and cafes on the waterfront, good beaches and a coastal walk to small beaches secluded among huge weather-worn boulders. It is worth renting a car to explore the island’s interior, where shepherds guard flocks in scrub-covered fields below high jagged mountain peaks. Hikers and climbers can hire local guides or choose one of the resorts that offer guided excursions. Follow the steep road to Orgosolo to admire its more than 300 original wall murals.

In the south, Cagliari, the capital, is an attractive city with a new opera house and notable churches including the Sanctuary and Basilica of Bonaria and the 6th-century ruins of San Saturnio, as well as a Roman Amphitheater still used for summer opera. In nearby Pula, excavated ruins reveal the story of Nora, a Phoenician city captured by Carthage and finally by the Romans.

Stillman Rogers
About the Expert

Stillman Rogers has written more than two dozen guidebooks, including Adventure Guide to Canada's Atlantic Provinces, Guide to Eastern Canada, and Adventure Guide to the Chesapeake.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Second largest island in the Mediterranean located west of the Italian mainland.
  • Language: Italian, Sardinian
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Winters are mild and summers hot; spring and fall are beautiful, and in May, a spectacular procession honors the local saint, Sant Efisio, with pageantry and traditionally costumed horsemen.