Coasting through a Dream: The Beaches of Southern Sardinia

Golden sand, clear sea, the scent of porceddu roasting and magical nights spent in a lighthouse. Here is the ideal itinerary to discover the wonders of southern Sardinia.

Duration: 5 days of pure magic

Itinerary: a roundtrip from Cagliari, passing through Pula Nora, Marina di Teulada e Porto Pino. About 290 kilometres in total

Equipment: a raincoat or windbreaker, plenty of sun cream, everything you need for the beach

Relax your mind and turn on your Vespa; sometimes that’s all you need when the road ahead hugs the shoreline of southern Sardinia. The Sulcitana highway from Cagliari takes you along heavenly beaches, turning into an incredible, scenic drive in the southernmost part of the island, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Turquoise seas, golden or white sand beaches, delicious cuisine and the inevitable Vespa... For five days of total relaxation and adventure.

If that's what you want, just get your scooter ready. The 180 km of beaches and sunshine are waiting, but not only, because there is so much culture in this land once inhabited by the Romans and Phoenicians. A suntan lotion to be kept under the saddle will be useful – if not essential – along with a backpack, helmet and a certain predisposition towards typical Sardinian dishes, delicate as the bottarga (cured fish roe) but also tasty as the porceddu (roasted suckling piglet) and the sea casserole. Then ready, get set, go!

Cagliari is a marvellous town that will really surprise you. The Bastione di Saint Remy offers a breathtaking view, while the Poetto beaches are only a little taste of what lies ahead during the entire trip. Then there’s the area extending from the Sella del Diavolo to Quarto Sant’Elena, a beautiful bay where the water has unique shades and the area is lively at night too. Before enjoying a fruit cocktail and a meal by the sea, go to the Molentargius Park, famous for its flamingos that have been bred here for 25 years. In the afternoon, take a stroll in the old city, discover the endless alleys, paying attention to the limited traffic zone (ZTL). When it comes time for dinner, the intimate environment at Kasteddu is a fine option, with the menu offering great tuna tartare and risotto with chicory and roe. Otherwise, try the Osteria Gioia&Gusto, where the spaghetti with crab sauce is delicious and the dishes are plentiful. In either case, a reservation is recommended. For the night, choose the Girasole B&B, only a ten-minute walk from the seafront, with simple but comfortable rooms and the promise of breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Marina district of Cagliari.

The next day, take your Vespa to the Lungomare New York 11 Settembre, which then becomes Viale Plaia. Get on the bridge to meet the State Highway 195: the Sulcitana. Twenty kilometres from the city is the town Capoterra, followed by La Maddalena, the ideal place for those who love kite surfing. If you want to stop here for lunch, the restaurant Da Sa Cardiga e Su Schironi is sublime and offers a classic atmosphere and plenty of seafood, with an extensive exhibition of fresh seafood at the entrance. Continue then for ten kilometres, and before hitting the beach, visit the archaeological site of Nora, a seventh-century BC “mini Pompeii”, and go up to Torre Spagnola to enjoy a spectacular view.

Without a doubt, the beach will catch your attention, bringing peace of mind thanks to the spotless, calm sea of magical colours. Those who are passionate about sea turtles, can also pay a visit to the Aquarium Laguna, a small but very interesting site which also offers canoe trips. The beach at the entrance of the archaeological site is pure poetry. The Santa Margherita di Pula is another noteworthy beach nearby with a clear blue sea and little exposure to the wind – a detail that should not be underestimated. Spend the night at Casa Ala hosted by Roberto and Alessandra; It’s the perfect location due to its proximity to the beaches, green surroundings, and tasty aperitif and barbeque offerings.

On the third day, get ready to walk a bit to reach the dreamiest beaches. Go south toward Chia, where there are perhaps the most beautiful stretches of sand in the whole of Sardinia, golden with transparent and crystal blue water. For your first dip of the day, choose Sa Colonia which is larger and easier to reach. Park the Vespa and after walking a little more than a kilometre, mostly by the shore, you’ll reach Cala del Morto. No need to be overwhelmed by the name because what you’ll find is a lovely beach of fine golden sand surrounded by astonishing pink granite rocks. Another 20-minute walk to reach Su Giudeu, which takes its name from the island laying opposite it. The place is so spectacular that it has often been featured as the backdrop for films and adverts.

If you still have some energy left, walk another couple of kilometres to get to Cala Cipolla, a true piece of paradise to enjoy the sunset while the beach becomes deserted and rocks are a beautiful rose colour. Alternatively, enjoy the moment riding your Vespa along the scenic route that starts from Chia and continues until Capo Malfatano, which will take you past the lighthouse of Capo Spartivento: a simply amazing spot. If you want to try something fun and out of the ordinary, sleep directly inside the lighthouse. You’ll be attracted by its great location, private parking for your Vespa, the swimming pool and restaurant. Spoil yourselves to the max (and just remember to book in advance).

On the fourth day, you will have covered only half of the wonderful panoramic road that goes up to capo Malfatano; Road 71 has numerous beaches to be discovered aboard your Vespa. Before leaving, make sure you the tank is full, because there are not too many petrol stations along the way. In the furthest southwestern tip of the island is a jewel that reminds visitors of the Caribbean, known as Tuerredda beach and stretches over half a kilometre. Here, snorkelling is pretty much a must. Swim to the islet opposite it, a small world of its own where you can spend some time lying on the sand or on hot and polished rocks.

Continuing the journey, you can take a small detour to see the stone quarry from Punic times close to the Tower of Pixinni, a place that remains unspoiled. On the adjacent beach, you can even find some cows. About 20 kilometres further west, stop at Porto Tramatzu, where the shallow water extends for about ten meters and the sea’s shades range from green to turquoise. Here, you’ll also face a small island called Isola Rossa. You can get there literally walking on water while kids play pirates, ready to board the ship. Go back a few kilometres to come across Marina di Teulada, the last stop of the day. The Costa del Sud agritourism is perfect for overnight accommodation; the Fenu family provides some rooms as well as a campsite. Just a few kilometres away at Terranieddas agritourism, you can enjoy a magical dinner under the stars complete with Sardinian porceddu.

On the last day of your journey, head for the dunes of Porto Pino, where the sand stretch is literally surrounded by water. It’s up to you on where to swim as it's all beautiful and accessible. But your goal will be to reach Sant'Antioco, an island connected to Sardinia by a small strip of land, formed in Phoenician times in 700 BC. Apart from the ancient Sanctuary, there are several museums and archaeological sites that tell so much of its history. Have lunch at La Perla in a refined atmosphere with fresh fish and delicious seadas, the typical fritter made with cheese and honey. In the afternoon, get ready to visit another piece of paradise: Carloforte, a wonderful island North of Sant'Antioco. End your journey at this ideal place, then retrieve your Vespa and head back towards Cagliari completely satisfied.