Sardinia

Italy with a twist

If you’ve never been to Sardinia before, you might expect the island to be a condensed carbon copy of the Italian mainland. But you’d be wrong. The differences start with the language. Sardinian or Sardo is as commonly spoken as Italian here.

Melting-pot architecture

Sardinia’s architectural offerings are different to the rest of Italy, too. This is because the island was once the natural pit stop for empires journeying through the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians, Vandals and Byzantines all left their mark on the place. But the influence that’s most obvious is the Spanish one. Alghero was colonised by the Spanish Catalans for hundreds of years. The town’s street signs are still written in Catalan and the design of the cathedral shouts about its Catalan roots.

Sandy coves

Another thing that really sets Sardinia apart from the boot is its beaches. The island’s north coast alone is scalloped with 80 coves. The fishing village of Isola Rossa lays claim to one of the most seductive stretches of sand. The water here is gin-clear, too, which makes it a great place to snorkel.

Gastronomy

What Sardinia does have in common with its Italian neighbours is its passion for food and wine. The island’s cookbook-worthy dishes include roast suckling pig and myrtle-stuffed wild boar.

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Alghero

Alghero, in north-western Sardinia, is one of the island’s most seductive towns. It was ruled by the Spanish between 1400 and 1700 and this influence is writ large in the old quarter, called Barcelonetta, or Little Barcelona. The cobbled streets here still have a distinctive Catalan character and, to this day, the locals speak a Catalan dialect. The new town spreads out on the other side of the 16th-century walls, and offers easy access to a royal flush of white, sandy beaches.

Isola Rossa

Taking its name from the granite rock resting just off its shoreline, Isola Rossa – or Red Island – isn’t an island at all. It’s in fact a tranquil fishing village on the north-west coast of Sardinia, looking out to the Bay of Asinara. The fishermen still cast off from the harbour every morning, but there’s a growing number of hotels, a vibrant watersports scene, and one of Sardinia’s biggest waterparks on its doorstep.

Badesi Mare

Think of picture-postcard Sardinia and chances are you’ll be thinking of somewhere like Badesi Mare – a sleepy village teamed with a perfect beach and rolling countryside. This place occupies a spot on Sardinia’s north coast where, on clear days, you can spy nearby Corsica on the horizon.

Alghero

Alghero, in north-western Sardinia, is one of the island’s most seductive towns. It was ruled by the Spanish between 1400 and 1700 and this influence is writ large in the old quarter, called Barcelonetta, or Little Barcelona. The cobbled streets here still have a distinctive Catalan character and, to this day, the locals speak a Catalan dialect. The new town spreads out on the other side of the 16th-century walls, and offers easy access to a royal flush of white, sandy beaches.

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Top 3 resorts in Sardinia

Top 5 hotels in Sardinia

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