After posting my sarcastic post 11 Reasons to Dislike Sardinia, I felt that I owe the island a proper “Thank You” and “Miss You” post.
My two-week stay in the North-East part of Sardinia had been relaxing. The first week we stayed in Golfo Aranci, and the second one we moved down a bit to Arbatax. Our days basically were filled with beach, eating, sleeping, more beach/ pool, then eat and sleep. So rather than a travel diary, my “love letter” to Sardinia will be a list of my favorite things that I’ve done there.
🏖️ Explore the wild beaches
It may be a rule for people visiting anywhere in Sardinia that you must spend some time in the wild beaches there. Unlike in Tuscany/ Emilia-Romagna, where you need to pay to the “bagno” to access to the beaches, In Sardinia most of the beaches are freely open to public. Of course you may need to bring your own umbrella and chairs, but the idea of keeping the “public resources public” makes me falling in love more with Sardinia.
During our two-week stay in Northeast Sardinia, we moved from Golfo Aranci to Arbatax. Most of the time, we hit the beaches, sometimes on the beach close to the hotel, or to those a little bit far taking 30-40 minute drive from our accommodation.
🛒 Thursday market in San Pantaleo
If you would like to take a break from the water, then Thursday is good day doing it, as it is the day for the weekly local artisan market in San Pantaleo.
San Pantaleo is a village in the mountain. Wandering among the booths of the market, there are not only various local products displayed, from food to clothing, you also can admire the mountainous scene surrounding.
🐑 Slowfood restaurants in the mountains
Mentioned in my earlier post on renting holiday apartment, I mentioned my favorite app Osterie d’Italia 2017 when searching for local authentic km0 restaurants. So we used it as well in Sardinia! The app brought us to many adventures on reaching to the destinations: after 30-40 minute drive passing over mountain ridges, we found us in a tiny village 1,000 meters above the sea level, where the friendly hosts welcoming us with their local treats. That was just another highlight, after the seaside, of the day!
Stazzu li Paladini was one of our favorite discovers. It is a family-run agriturismo,where the restaurant is outstanding. It offers fixed menu, containing 3 appetizers, 2 primi, 2 main courses, desserts, plus wine. Besides the huge amount of food included in the menu, the agriturismo itself was a romantic fairytale spot to visit. Kids can play around while parents enjoying the dinner, such a win-win situation.
A very interesting fact I found was that in Sardinia, most of the recommended restaurants are in the mountain, rather at the seaside; plus seafood was not so popular in Sardinian cuisine. I believed it was because I hadn’t found the right place, but then later during our visit to the Golfo di Orosei I found the reason to it from the tour guide.
Of course you can find good seafood plates in restaurants, but the way of cooking them was nothing outstanding.
The reason for seafood not gaining its popularity in Sardinia was historically the island was constantly under wars with foreign forces from the neighbor countries. In order to better hide and defend themselves, as well as to occupy more lands, the Sardinian people moved from the seaside and to live in the mountains. This move not only explained why fishing didn’t become an industry here, so as cooking seafood, it also gave more sense to the popularity of the shepherds, and the famous cheese Pecorino Sardo.
🛥️ Boat trip to Golfo di Orosei
If you ask me what is the ONE thing in Sardinia you should do. I would say this is it! A one-day boat trip sailing to the golf area, which can only be reached by boat. It was absolutely the purpose for me to visit Sardinia, to swim in that pool-alike water.
There are many companies providing boat trips visiting the Golfo di Orosei, and you can easily find some on TripAdviser. (The one I took was a convenient option booked through the hotel we stayed. It was just OK, and I am sure many others are much better.) Just remember to bring enough SPF!
Cala Mariolu was my favorite beach among all stops during the boat tour. The water was flat in a bright azure color, clean and clear! You can rent an umbrella for a reasonable price of 3euro at the bar of the beach.
🏔️ Visit the grotta
During the boat tour, you may have option to get off and visit a grotta. I would say: Don’t miss it. It is a great opportunity to see such unique geologic land form and learn some history of Sardinia. Also you take a break from the heat and stay in a natural fridge of 19C.
Grotta del Fico (www.grottadelfico.it), one of the few places in Sardinia that with a Roman name.
If you are planning to visit north-east Sardinia during the hot month of August, hope my list will be helpful. And if you’ve been there as well, don’t hesitate to share your favs if they are not listed above.