The second-largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia, is the first destination in Italy when it comes to yachting. The island is known for its legendary Costa Smeralda or the “Emerald Coast” but is also full of other places to discover that truly make Sardinia a sailing paradise.
Sardinia is an outstanding playground for quiet sailing with numerous worldclass moorings sheltered from all winds. And to add to the convenience, the ports to moor your yacht to in between explorations are never far apart either.
Whether you are looking for vibrant nightlife or authentic archaeological sites with picturesque villages, Sardinia has something to offer to all yacht enthusiasts sailing its coasts and venturing its lands. Let yourself be carried away by the genuine charm of this delightful Mediterranean island.
Here are the best places of the island you should not miss if you plan on renting a yacht to sail around its rugged coasts.
1. Cagliari: the infamous medieval capital city of Sardinia
Cagliari is the capital of the “golden island” in the heart of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Visit the ancient fortified medieval quarter of Castello, which overlooks the city.
Stop at the Bastion de Saint Remy, one of the city’s symbols, to enjoy a staggering 360-degree view of the region. From its belvedere, you will contemplate the port’s fishing boats and the sea. You can admire the roofs of the historic district of Villanova, the mountains of the Parc dei Sette Fratelli.
Cagliari’s south coast offers tourists a glimpse of Sardinia’s rich cultural and historical heritage. It contains the ruins of the ancient city of Nora, where the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans had their trading posts.
Head east to enjoy sandy beaches that make Sardinia one of Europe’s favorite summer playgrounds. A stop at Poetto is compulsory. It’s the city’s beach that stretches for about 8 kilometers, from the panoramic cliff of La Sella del Diavolo.
Close to Cagliari and the airport, the Forte Village Resort is a group of prestigious hotels. The location offers water sports, swimming pools, playgrounds, and other leisure facilities. You can also rest in your chartered catamaran in the many quiet coves with crystal clear waters.
See also: Our Top selection of boat rental in Cagliari.
2. Costa Smeralda: the superyacht paradise of Sardinia
The area stretch between the port city of Olbia and the tip of Capo de Testa. It features some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. These superb areas nestle in steep coves with clear azure water. This coastline is known worldwide as “The Emerald Coast” or Costa Smeralda.
Since the 1960s, a series of luxury resort villages attract the jet-set and their luxury yachts. Frequented by many VIPs, Porto Cervo is a well-known resort and marina for private yachts. It is probably one of the most “trendy” places in Sardinia and Italy. MdM is a modern, elegant art museum and a café with a beautiful terrace overlooking the harbor.
Near Porto Cervo, the EA Bianca Luxury Resort embodies the jet-set lifestyle that made the Costa Smeralda famous. The exquisite rooms of this five-star hotel face the sea from their private balconies.
Porto Rotondo (“Port Rond”) is an upscale seaside resort very popular with the jet set. It is ideal for superyacht charter. In summer, many personalities from the world of entertainment, sport, and fashion indulge there.
See also : Selection of boat rental in Porto Cervo
3. Alghero: a must visit city during your sailing trip in Sardinia
On Sardinia’s west coast, the beautiful medieval city of Alghero is perfect for a walking tour. Reach its fortifications to enjoy the multiple viewpoints on the beach. The cobbled alleys of the old town will lead you to several Cathedral and churches. After your stroll, enjoy Piazza Civica, the main square with its café terraces.
Don’t be surprised if the Italian accent you can hear around you in this bustling seaside town sounds a little different. It looks a lot like Spanish. Indeed, the language is a variety of Catalan.
In the 14th-century, the pope offered Sardinia to the King of Aragon. He gave fiefs to around 400 families from Aragon and Catalonia. These families settled in Alghero, and Catalan became the primary language. It is still in use for the mass in the Church of San Francesco.
At dusk, climb the rampart built by the Spanish to protect themselves from maritime attacks. You can admire the sunset over the Mediterranean. Then, join the locals for a night walk along the vast bastions.
4. The Prehistoric Sites of Arzachena: a must see during a sailing trip in Sardenia
Near the Costa Smeralda’s resorts, visit the Arzachena Archaeological Park. It is one of the largest concentrations of prehistoric sites from the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. Eight archaeological sites are open to visitors. You can tour several nuraghi or giants’ tombs (Tomba dei Giganti in Italian) and a necropolis.
One of the most important giants’ tomb is undoubtedly Coddu Vecchiu. The monument is composed of a gallery 10 meters long built around 2500 BC. It was completed several centuries later by a stele, which is the highest in Sardinia.
Discovered in the 1950s, La Prisgiona consists of a Nuraghe and an ancient prehistoric village. It features more than 90 buildings covering an area of approximately 5 hectares.
The Li Muri necropolis is composed of circular tombs built with local granite dolmen. This region is also known for its rocky outcrops, eroded by the wind sculpting curious shapes. In the east of Arzachena one of them looks like a giant mushroom.
5. Olbia: the perfect starting point of a sailing trip in Sardinia
Located in the northeast of the island, Olbia features a port and airport. Although nowadays it is mainly considered as a transit city for travelers arriving or leaving Sardinia, Olbia has enough charm to merit your attention. Its historic heart is a pleasant to stroll. Capital of the province of Gallura, it retains traces of the rich history of Sardinia.
Corso Umberto is the heart of the city. It is a busy street lined with shops leading to the beach. At the top of a hill, it leads to Piazza Margherita, the city’s hub.
In its historic center, admire the Basilica of San Simplicio and the Church of San Paolo. Via Torino and Via Nanni bear witness to the Punic influence on the area. The remains of the Aqueduct built around the 2nd and 3rd century AD demonstrate the genius of Roman architects. Near the city, you can visit the nuraghes of Mulinu Riu.
Sheltered in a large bay, the historic port of Olbia has been used since pre-Roman times. Today, the main ferry port is on an island in the bay, linked by a road to the city. Renting a boat in Olbia is a good choice to explore the Sardinia coastline.
The museum of Olbia
The remarkable Archaeological Museum of Olbia (Museo Archeologico) traces the maritime past of the island and Mediterranean civilizations. At the beginning of the 21st century, the remains of 24 Roman and medieval ships were discovered. They probably sank during the looting of Olbia by the Vandals.
6. Bosa: a historical city of Sardinia West Coast to include on your sailing trip itinerary
Sardinia’s west coast nestles the picturesque little port of Bosa. is at the center of an exceptional wine region which produces Malvasia. This little-known gem lies at the foot of the proud Serravalle Castle.
Pass over the Ponte Vecchio, considered one of the 30 most beautiful bridges in Italy. Admire the Temo River and the reflections of the beautiful colors of aristocratic mansions in pastel colors.
Many abandoned tanneries bear witness to one of the region’s ancient economic activities. But the Museo Delle Conce allows retracing this artisanal past. Women still perpetuate the tradition of lacework. In small shops or on the market you can also buy coral made coral items, specialties of the city.
Stroll through the narrow alleys of the medieval district of Sa Costa. On top of a hill, admire the magnificent frescoes of the Cattedrale Della Immacolatare.
Enjoy Bosa Marina, a fashionable seaside resorts with many bars, cafes, and restaurants. Try Cane Malu, a natural rock pool in a lunar landscape. Further along the coast, many pristine and hidden beaches allow you the changing lights of the setting sun over the sea.
Nature lovers will enjoy the richness of the Capo Marrargiu bio-marine park and its Badde Aggiosu, Marrargiu, and Monte Mannu nature reserve. Sports enthusiasts can surf at Bosa Marina or go kayaking at Spiaggia S’Abba Druche.
7. Maddalena Islands: the sailing paradise of Sardinia
Located off the north coast on the Palau side, the Maddalena Islands in Sardinia constitute a wild and protected archipelago. This national park is an exceptional paradise for nature lovers.
The sea oscillates between emerald green and turquoise blue. The beaches have nothing to envy those of the Pacific archipelagos. Cala Coticcio is a gorgeous cove nicknamed Little Tahiti. Secure anchorage, Passo Secca di Morto borders the pink beach of the island of Budelli.
This navigation area is ideal for yacht and catamaran rentals. For beginner skippers, it abounds in routes with rather modest distances to cover. The short and pleasant navigations allow you to enjoy the splendid landscapes and the numerous coves sheltered from the winds. Don’t hesitate to try bareboat charters in this area!
Considered to be the father of modern Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi partially acquired the island of Caprera in 1856. His house is a national monument that attracts local visitors and tourists from around the world. In the center of the island, the viewpoint of Mount Teialone gives you a remarkable view of Sardinia and the distant shores of Corsica.
La Maddalena and Caprera are easily accessible by ferry. Still, the other islands of the archipelago are only attainable by boat. So, you can quietly enjoy your sailboat rental by idling on secluded beaches or swimming in isolated coves.
8. Castelsardo: a unique village to explore during a yacht trip
Castelsardo is a medieval village nestled in the mountains. It has an undeniable charm with its picturesque winding alleys and its magnificent panorama of the bay. This attractive pedestrian city stands out with its small fishing port and pastel-colored houses.
A citadel built in the 12th century protects the city with its high walls and towers. This impregnable fortress is now a popular tourist spot. At the top, admire a sensational view of the Gulf of Asinara and even see the mountains of Corsica.
Do not miss the charming Museum of Mediterranean Weaving, which highlights the local artisanal specialty of basketry. Along the narrow and steep streets, you will discover many religious buildings and vestiges of the past. In Duomo Square, admire the Cathedral of Sant’Antonio Abate whose bell tower was originally a lighthouse.
From Castelsardo, go to Su Nuraxi in Barunimi. You will see the remains of nuraghe. It is a unique defense system that served as a refuge and fortress in the Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC). Su Nuraxi is one of the best-preserved megalithic monuments in Europe.
Sculpted by the winds and the sea, the coastal shore of Castelsardo is particularly appealing. It boasts full of curiosities such as the “elephant rock” or the “domus de janas”. These “fairies’ house” are artificial caves carved during the Neolithic period (6000-3000 BC). These volcanic coasts also offer hot springs (temperature above 40 ° celsius).
9. The Cave of Neptune (Grotta di Nettuno): a fascinating visit for your sailing trip in Sardinia
Do not leave Sardinia without having visited the caves of Neptune (Coves de Neptú)! A local fisherman discovered them in the 16th century near Capo Caccia. The imposing stalagmites and the concretions of unusual shapes frame Lago Lamarmora, one of the largest salt lakes in Europe.
Please note that entry to the caves varies depending on weather conditions. You can opt for Escala del Cabirol. These are 654 steps down the cliff above the sea. To avoid the sporty ascent, you can access by sea with a charter boat.
The history of the Neptune Caves dates back to prehistoric times. It is almost sure that primitive men knew and used them. The caves of Neptune extend over approximately 4 km. But for security reasons, visitors can only access part of it.
10. Going up to the Gulf of Orosei National Park: a thrilling experience to include in your sailing trip
The most mountainous province of Sardinia, Ogliastra is overlooked by Punta La Marmora (1834 meters). Numerous hiking trails crisscross the Gulf of Orosei and Gennargentu National Park.
The region is full of “hidden” beaches and coves, which are among the most spectacular landscapes in the Mediterranean. A charter boat is ideal to reach them. You may even see dolphins frolicking in the wake of your rental sailboat.
Visit the Grotta del Bue Marino. Its stalagmites and stalactites reflect in the water with incredible light effects. Sail to Cala Luna with your charter catamaran to enjoy an excellent anchorage. The place appears in the cult film of Italian cinema Travolti da un insolito destino nell ‘azzurro mare d’agosto (1974).
Yacht charter in Sardinia will allow you to discover the joys of sailing between exceptional beaches and anchorages sheltered from the winds.
See also : Top selection of boat rental in Sardinia