Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, Italy, is a city brimming with captivating attractions and stunning beaches. When visiting Cagliari, there are several must-see attractions that should be on every traveller’s list. One of the top attractions in Cagliari is the Castello quarter, which is the historic heart of the city and home to a number of fascinating landmarks.
In this post, we are going to talk about the Best Things to do in Cagliari on your trip to Sardinia Italy.
What are the must-see attractions in Cagliari, Sardinia?
Visit the “Castello” neighbourhood
The historic Castello neighbourhood, dating back to the 14th century, offers a glimpse into the city’s past with its medieval architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. Walking through the Castello neighbourhood, one of the best things to do in Cagliari, feels like stepping back in time, with its ancient buildings and historic landmarks.
It’s possible to visit and explore the Castello district on foot, admiring the well-preserved 14th-century architecture and getting lost in the labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets. The neighbourhood is also home to the impressive Castello di San Michele, a medieval fortress that offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
In addition to its 14th-century architectural wonders, the Castello neighbourhood is also a hub for local artisans, with charming shops along Via Roma selling traditional crafts and handmade goods. The area, particularly along Via Roma, is also known for its lively cafes and restaurants, where it’s possible to visit and sample authentic Sardinian cuisine and soak up the vibrant atmosphere.
Exploring the Conti Vecchi Saltworks
The Conti Vecchi Saltworks in Sardinia is a hidden cultural gem that offers a unique and enchanting experience. You can hop aboard a mini train and explore the stunning landscape filled with salt mountains and pools of multi-colored water. During the guided tour, you will learn about the fascinating history of this heritage site and the village life it sustained.
Before the tour, you can watch a short documentary film that provides the saltworks’ backstory, featuring original footage from the 1930s. This adds charm and authenticity to your visit. Afterward, you are free to explore beautifully restored vintage chemistry labs, workshops, and offices, where you can see the old machinery used in salt production.
Bastione di Saint Remy
To appreciate panoramic views of Cagliari, head to Bastione di Saint Remy, a terrace located on top of a hill in the city centre. This fortress, one of the best places to visit, was built at the end of the 19th century on the remains of the 14th-century city walls and is one of the most significant monuments in Cagliari.
The name of the monument comes from the first viceroy of Sardinia, the Baron of Saint Remy. The bastion consists of two parts: the upper and the lower terrace. The lower terrace, known as the Passeggiata Coperta, used to be a military area. Today, it’s open every day and hosts exhibitions and cultural events.
The upper terrace, called Terrazza Umberto I and opens every day, offers stunning views of the city center, the harbor and the sea beyond. Here, you’ll find a large space, open every day and equipped with benches, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a moment of relaxation, making it one of the best things to do in Cagliari.
The spot is also famous for its historic elevator, which connects the city center with the Castello district. The lift itself is housed in a fascinating, tunnel-like structure, and stepping into it feels like traveling back in time.
Facing the bastion, you’ll also find a beautiful garden area, the Buon Cammino Park, where you can continue your walk, appreciating the greenery and the view of the city framed by trees.
So, whether you’re interested in history, panoramic views, or taking a peaceful walk, a visit to Bastione di Saint Remy is a must when in Cagliari.
Duck into Santa Maria Cathedral of Cagliari
Don’t miss the opportunity to marvel at the grandeur of the 14th-century Santa Maria Cathedral, an iconic symbol of the city. Its Gothic architecture and intricate details make it a sight to behold.
Inside, you can explore the stunning chapels, admire the beautiful stained glass windows, and appreciate the historical artifacts on display. The cathedral also offers guided tours that provide fascinating insights into its history and significance. Don’t miss the chance to visit this iconic landmark and experience its grandeur firsthand.
Visit Palazzo Viceregio
Located in the heart of Cagliari, Palazzo Viceregio showcases the city’s rich history and architectural heritage. Palazzo Viceregio is a remarkable building that reflects the historical and cultural significance of Cagliari. This palace, also known as the Viceroy’s Palace, was constructed in the 17th century and served as the residence of the Spanish viceroys who governed Sardinia at the time.
The architecture of Palazzo Viceregio is a blend of different styles, including Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. Its grand façade, adorned with ornate decorations and sculptures, is a sight to behold. Inside, you can explore the opulent rooms, admire the intricate frescoes, and learn about the palace’s history through the various exhibitions and displays.
Enter Nostra Signora di Bonaria Basilica
Discover the beauty of the 14th-century Bonaria Basilica, a significant religious site in Sardinia.
Wander the Monumental Cemetery of Bonaria
The Bonaria Basilica is indeed a remarkable religious site in Sardinia. Built in the 14th century, it showcases the beauty of Gothic architecture and holds great historical and cultural significance. The basilica is known for its stunning interior adorned with intricate details, including frescoes, sculptures, and stained glass windows.
It is a place of worship and pilgrimage, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to admire its beauty and experience its spiritual ambiance. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply seeking a serene and reflective atmosphere, the Bonaria Basilica is definitely worth exploring.
Visit Palazzo Civico
Palazzo Civico, located in Piazza Palazzo, is a magnificent representation of Sardinian architecture and serves as the hub for the city’s government offices. This grand building showcases the rich cultural heritage and architectural prowess of the region.
The Palazzo Civico stands tall and proud, commanding attention with its impressive facade and intricate details. Its design reflects the unique Sardinian style, characterized by a harmonious blend of different architectural influences.
Mercato di San Benedetto
Experience the vibrant atmosphere of Mercato di San Benedetto, one of the best places to discover local flavors and traditions. Located in the heart of the city of Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia, Mercato di San Benedetto is a bustling market that offers a unique and vibrant atmosphere for visitors to experience. The market is a feast for the senses, with colorful displays of fresh produce, local seafood, meats, cheeses, and artisanal products.
As you wander through the market, you can’t help but be captivated by the lively chatter of the vendors, the tantalizing aromas of fresh herbs and spices, and the vibrant colors of the fruits and vegetables on display. The market is a hub of activity, with locals shopping for their daily groceries, chefs sourcing the best ingredients for their restaurants, and tourists eager to sample the local flavors and traditions.
One of the highlights of a visit to Mercato di San Benedetto is the opportunity to interact with the vendors, who are passionate about their products and eager to share their knowledge and expertise with visitors. You can learn about the different varieties of Sardinian cheeses, taste freshly caught seafood, and sample traditional Sardinian pastries and sweets.
Relax on Poetto beach
Unwind and soak up the sun on the picturesque Poetto beach, the perfect spot for a day at the beach. With its soft white sand and clear turquoise waters, Poetto beach is a great place to relax and enjoy the sun. You can take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, go for a swim, or simply find a spot to lounge and soak up the Mediterranean sun.
The beach is also lined with a variety of beach bars and restaurants, where you can grab a refreshing drink or a tasty snack to enjoy while you take in the beautiful views. And if you’re feeling more adventurous, there are also water sports activities available, such as paddleboarding and kayaking.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful day of relaxation or some fun in the sun, Poetto beach has something for everyone. So grab your sunscreen and beach towel and head to this stunning beach for a day of pure bliss.
See the pink flamingos of Parco Molentargius – Le Saline
Explore the natural beauty of Sardinia at Parco Molentargius – Le Saline, where you can observe stunning pink flamingos in their natural habitat. Parco Molentargius – Le Saline is a regional park located in the south of Sardinia, Italy. It is a wetland area that is particularly known for its population of pink flamingos, which make the park their natural habitat.
The park covers an area of about 1600 hectares and is composed of a series of shallow saltwater basins, connected by a network of channels and canals. The unique ecosystem of the park provides an ideal environment for various species of birds and other wildlife.
Visitors to Parco Molentargius – Le Saline have the opportunity to observe the stunning pink flamingos up close as they feed and nest in the shallow waters. The sight of these graceful birds, with their distinctive pink feathers and long legs, is truly a breathtaking experience.
The park offers several hiking and cycling trails, as well as observation points and birdwatching hides, making it easy for visitors to explore and appreciate the natural beauty of the area. There are also guided tours available for those who want to learn more about the park’s wildlife and conservation efforts.
Overall, Parco Molentargius – Le Saline offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and witness the beauty of Sardinia’s natural landscapes, all while admiring the stunning pink flamingos that call the park home.
Hike Sella del Diavolo (Saddle of the Devil)
Embark on a scenic hike at Sella del Diavolo, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and the sea. Sella del Diavolo, also known as Devil’s Saddle, is a stunning natural landmark located near the city of Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy. The Sella del Diavolo hike offers a picturesque trail that winds along the rugged coastline, providing hikers with breathtaking views of the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
The trail begins at the base of the Sella del Diavolo and gradually ascends to the top of the promontory, where hikers are rewarded with panoramic vistas of the surrounding coastline and the sparkling sea below. Along the way, hikers will pass through rugged terrain, lush Mediterranean vegetation, and ancient ruins, adding to the sense of adventure and discovery.
The Sella del Diavolo hike is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, with options for both shorter and longer routes. Whether you are an experienced hiker looking for a challenge or a casual stroller wanting to soak in the natural beauty, the Sella del Diavolo hike has something for everyone.
Visit Monte Urpinu
Discover the lush greenery and captivating landscapes of Monte Urpinu, a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts. Monte Urpinu is a picturesque mountain in the city of Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, offering stunning panoramic views and an abundance of natural beauty. The area is a haven for nature enthusiasts, with lush greenery, captivating landscapes, and a diverse range of flora and fauna to explore.
Visitors can enjoy leisurely walks and hikes through the mountain’s winding trails, taking in the fresh air and serene surroundings. The area is also home to a variety of plant species, including Mediterranean scrubland, cork oak forests, and aromatic herbs, providing a rich tapestry of colors and scents.
The Monte Urpinu park is an ideal spot for picnics, birdwatching, and photography, with its serene atmosphere and unspoiled scenery. The park also features several lookout points and viewing platforms, where visitors can admire the breathtaking vistas of Cagliari, the surrounding countryside, and the sparkling Mediterranean Sea.
For those seeking a peaceful retreat in nature, Monte Urpinu offers a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether taking a leisurely stroll, capturing the beauty of the landscapes, or simply relaxing amidst the greenery, this hidden gem is sure to enchant and inspire all who visit.
Best day trip around Cagliari?
For a delightful day trip from Cagliari, consider exploring the ancient ruins of Nora, located a short drive from the city. The archaeological site of Nora provides a fascinating glimpse into Sardinia’s rich history.
Discover the Phoenician and Roman past of Sardinia. Nora was founded in the 8th century BC by the Phoenicians and later became a flourishing Roman city. The archaeological site contains a wealth of ruins, including temples, baths, and houses.
- Admire the well-preserved mosaics. Nora is home to some of the best-preserved mosaics in Sardinia. These mosaics depict a variety of scenes, from mythology to everyday life.
- Enjoy the beautiful setting. The archaeological site of Nora is located on a peninsula with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. On a clear day, you can even see the African coast.
- Visit the nearby museum. The Patroni Museum houses a collection of artifacts from Nora, including pottery, sculptures, and inscriptions.
Here is a suggested itinerary for a day trip to Nora:
- Morning: Drive from Cagliari to Nora (about 30 minutes).
- Midday: Explore the archaeological site (about 2 hours).
- Afternoon: Visit the Patroni Museum (about 1 hour).
- Evening: Enjoy a relaxing dinner at one of the many restaurants in Pula.
Tips for planning your day trip to Nora:
- Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking involved.
- Bring sunscreen and a hat as there is very little shade at the archaeological site.
- Pack a picnic lunch or buy snacks from the cafe at the museum.
- Allow plenty of time to explore the site and museum.
Where to stay in Cagliari, Sardinia?
Top 3 Hotels in Cagliari
- Hotel Regina Margherita: This stylish and elegant hotel is located in the heart of Cagliari and offers guests a luxurious experience. The hotel has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city, as well as a spa and wellness centre.
Modern and Comfortable:
- T Hotel: This modern and stylish hotel is located in a quiet area of Cagliari and offers guests a comfortable stay. The hotel has a rooftop pool with views of the city, as well as a restaurant and bar.
- Hotel Flora: This boutique hotel is located in the historic center of Cagliari and offers guests a charming and intimate experience. The hotel has a rooftop garden with views of the city, as well as a restaurant and bar.
Top 3 Hostels in Cagliari
Hostel Marina is located in the historic center of Cagliari and offers guests a charming and intimate experience. The hostel is housed in a 16th-century monastery and has a beautiful courtyard and garden. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodation options, including private rooms and dorm rooms. The hostel also has a shared kitchen and a common area.
- Located in the historic center of Cagliari
- Beautiful courtyard and garden
- Variety of accommodation options
- Shared kitchen and common area
- Some guests have reported that the hostel can be noisy at night
Hostel Sardinia is located in the central area of Cagliari and offers guests a comfortable and convenient stay. The hostel is housed in a modern building and has a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodation options, including private rooms and dorm rooms. The hostel also has a shared kitchen and a common area.
- Located in the central area of Cagliari
- Rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city
- Variety of accommodation options
- Shared kitchen and common area
- Some guests have reported that the hostel can be crowded during peak season
What are the top things to do in Cagliari, Italy?
Roman Amphitheater of Cagliari
Picture a giant oval-shaped building made of stone and concrete. Imagine thousands of people sitting in rows around a big open space, cheering and shouting. In the middle of the space, gladiators fought each other to the death, using swords, spears, and nets. It was a bloody and exciting show, and people loved to watch it.
Villa of Tigellio
Think of a big, fancy house with lots of rooms, gardens, and statues. Imagine rich people dressed in fine clothes, eating delicious food, and having parties. The house was decorated with beautiful mosaics and paintings, and it had its own private baths.
Imagine a field full of big stone boxes called tombs. Inside the tombs, people were buried with their belongings, like jewelry, pottery, and weapons. The tombs were built thousands of years ago, and they are still standing today.
Bastione Saint Remy
Picture a huge, strong fort with thick walls and cannons. Imagine soldiers guarding the fort, protecting the city from enemies. The fort was built hundreds of years ago, and it has been used in many battles.
Torre dell’ Elefante
Pay a visit to Torre dell’ Elefante, a historic tower that offers an insight into the medieval past of Cagliari.
Street Art on Via S. Saturnino
Experience the vibrant street art scene in Cagliari by taking a stroll along Via S. Saturnino, where colorful murals and graffiti adorn the walls.
Drink Sardinian Wine
No visit to Cagliari is complete without tasting the exquisite Sardinian wines. You can savor a variety of local wines at charming wine bars and restaurants throughout the city.
San Benedetto Market
Indulge in a sensory feast at San Benedetto Market, where you can sample fresh produce, local delicacies, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this bustling marketplace.
How to discover the best beaches in Sardinia near Cagliari?
Beaches in Sardinia
Discover the pristine beaches near Cagliari, such as Cala Mariolu, Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle, and Cala Goloritzé, known for their crystal-clear waters and stunning natural beauty.
Cala Mariolu: This secluded cove in the Gulf of Orosei is renowned for its turquoise waters and pristine white sand. Surrounded by lush vegetation and dramatic cliffs, it offers a tranquil escape for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.
Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle: Translated as “Beach of the Two Sisters,” this picturesque stretch of coastline in the Gulf of Orosei is named after two distinctive rock formations that resemble two sisters standing guard over the shore. The beach is known for its crystal-clear waters, soft white sand, and a relaxed atmosphere.
Cala Goloritzé: Nestled within the Gulf of Orosei, Cala Goloritzé is a secluded gem characterized by its dramatic cliffs, hidden caves, and breathtaking views. The beach is a haven for hiking enthusiasts, swimmers, and rock climbers seeking an adventurous escape.
Cala Cipolla: Situated in the Chia Bay, Cala Cipolla boasts soft white sand, shallow waters, and a tranquil ambiance. Its sheltered location makes it an ideal spot for families with children, while its gentle breeze attracts windsurfers seeking a challenge.
Cala Marina: Embraced by a lush pine forest and bathed in crystal-clear waters, Cala Marina in the Chia Bay offers a serene retreat for swimming, sunbathing, and exploring the surrounding natural beauty. Boat trips from the beach provide a unique perspective of the coastline and its hidden coves.
Poetto Beach: Stretching over eight kilometers, Poetto Beach is the longest beach in Cagliari and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Its white sand, clear waters, and lively atmosphere make it a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying a variety of water sports.
Sant’Elia Beach: Situated within easy reach of Cagliari’s city center, Sant’Elia Beach offers a convenient and family-friendly option for a seaside escape. Its shallow waters and calm waves make it ideal for children, while its proximity to the city provides easy access to restaurants, shops, and other amenities.
Cala Regina: Just a short distance from Cagliari’s city center, Cala Regina is a charming beach known for its distinctive red rocks and clear waters. The beach provides a tranquil setting for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing, offering a blend of natural beauty and urban convenience.
Conclusion: Is Cagliari Worth Visiting?
Cagliari, with its wealth of historical and natural attractions, vibrant culture, and breathtaking beaches, is undoubtedly worth a visit. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply soaking up the Mediterranean sun, Cagliari has something to offer every traveler. Plan your trip to this charming city and uncover the 15 best things to do in Cagliari, Sardinia for an unforgettable experience.
Read More: Best Places to visit in Sardinia
FAQ: Cagliary Travel FAQ
Q: What are the best things to do in Cagliari, Sardinia?
A: Some of the best things to do in Cagliari, Sardinia include visiting the Cagliari Cathedral, exploring the historical part of the city known as Castello, enjoying the panoramic view from Bastione di Saint Remy, and strolling through the Botanical Garden.
Q: How can I visit Cagliari in 3 days?
A: To make the most of your 3-day visit to Cagliari, you can plan to spend a day exploring the historical sites and landmarks, a day for enjoying the beaches and outdoor activities, and a day for experiencing the local cuisine and culture.
Q: What are the top attractions in Cagliari, Sardinia?
A: The top attractions in Cagliari, Sardinia include the National Archaeological Museum, Poetto Beach, San Benedetto Market, Torre dell’Elefante, and the Roman Amphitheatre of Cagliari.
Q: How do I get to Cagliari?
A: You can get to Cagliari by air through Cagliari-Elmas Airport, by sea through the Cagliari Port, or by land via train, bus, or car.
Q: Where should I eat in Cagliari?
A: Some recommended places to eat in Cagliari are the Marina District for its seafood restaurants, Stampace for traditional Sardinian cuisine, and Castello for fine dining with a view.
Q: What makes Cagliari the capital of Sardinia?
A: Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia due to its historical significance, economic importance, and role as the administrative and cultural center of the island.
Q: What are the must-see places in Cagliari?
A: Some must-see places in Cagliari include the Bastione di Saint Remy, the Cagliari Cathedral, the historical district of Castello, and the panoramic views from the top of the city.
Q: Are there any world heritage sites in Sardinia near Cagliari?
A: Yes, the Su Nuraxi archaeological site near Cagliari is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers a fascinating glimpse into the ancient Nuragic civilization of Sardinia.
Q: How can I plan a trip to Cagliari as a tourist?
A: As a tourist visiting Cagliari, you can plan your trip by arranging accommodations in the city center, exploring the historical sites and attractions, trying the local cuisine, and considering day trips to nearby natural or cultural landmarks.
Q: What are some of the best things to see and do in Sardinia, aside from Cagliari?
A: Aside from Cagliari, some of the best things to see and do in Sardinia include visiting the ancient archaeological sites, exploring the natural wonders such as Grotta di Nettuno, experiencing the local festivals and traditional events, and enjoying the pristine beaches along the coastline.