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Less busy than the resort-pocked northern coast, southern Sardinia holds plenty of attraction for those not lured by the bright lights and super-yachts of Costa Smeralda. Instead, it offers long, uncrowded sandy beaches and plenty of cultural and historical sights in Cagliari, the capital. In this energetic city, you can ramble along a waterfront lined with brightly painted buildings and explore a medieval old town that overlooks the glittering waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

To the east of the city, you can enjoy the vibrant cafés and small shops of Pula and the crystal-clear waters off the beaches around Santa Margherita di Pula. Beaches are similarly appealing to the west of the capital, where the resort town of Villasimius boasts white sand and turquoise waters as well as a plethora of restaurants, shops, and nightlife options. Away from the coast you can explore the rugged interior, with its archaeological treasures and historic vineyards.

Things to see and do in Southern Sardinia

The capital city of Cagliari

Perched on the southern coast, Cagliari is a busy modern capital built around a pleasantly dilapidated medieval old town. Known locally as the Castello, the area’s crumbling buildings and golden-stone plazas are surrounded by Pisan fortifications that offer some exceptional views of the lagoons. Below the old town, the waterfront is lined with brightly painted buildings and the Parco Naturale Regionale Molentargius Saline is home to vast flocks of pink-and-black flamingos.

The city has been an important port since the Romans and Phoenicians set up shop here, and the waves of different cooks have left their legacy in the city’s food. A walking food tour will give you a chance to explore this distinctive cuisine.

Su Nuraxi di Barumini

Not much is known about the Bronze Age Nuragic culture, which seems to have existed exclusively on Sardinia from the 18th century BC until the ancient Greeks and Romans arrived. This is despite the fact that they left the island covered in more than 7,000 nuraghe — round stone towers whose use is still an enigma.

The best place to explore this prehistoric mystery is at Su Nuraxi di Barumini, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains the best-preserved examples of these buildings. We can arrange a privately guided tour of the site, followed by a wine tasting at a nearby vineyard.

Pula and Santa Margherita di Pula Santa

A short drive west of the capital, Pula is considered one of the most photogenic villages on the island. In addition to a wealth of cafés and boutiques, you’ll find Roman and Phoenician forums and temples around every turn of the cobblestone streets.

nearby, Santa Margherita di Pula is a region of pink-and-white-sand beaches lapped by calm, shallow waters revered for their clarity. These beaches are quieter than those on the better-known north shore, and ideal for families.

Best time to visit Southern Sardinia

This part of Sardinia is primarily a seasonal destination, open from May to October. If you visit in July and August, you’ll have to contend with soaring temperatures, less availability at hotels, and busier beaches. Instead, we suggest planning a trip in May, June, September, or October, when you’ll have the best balance of weather, hotels and sights will be open, and there’ll be fewer visitors around.

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Audley Travel specialist Cara

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Suggested itinerary featuring Southern Sardinia

This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Southern Sardinia, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Southern Sardinia

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Southern Sardinia

    Accommodation choices for Southern Sardinia

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Southern Sardinia. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Southern Sardinia

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Southern Sardinia, and which use the best local guides.

    • Su Nuraxi di Barumini & wine tasting experience
      Wine grapes, Sardinia

      Su Nuraxi di Barumini & wine tasting experience

      Su Nuraxi di Barumini & wine tasting experience

      Delve into Sardinia’s Bronze Age prehistory with a privately guided tour of Su Nuraxi di Barumini, the best-preserved archaeological remains of the Nuragic people. You’ll also explore the murals in the village of Villamar and visit a local winery for a tasting.

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