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Sardinia - Costa Smeralda

How to experience the beautiful island of Sardinia. Where to stay, eat and drink. And the adventure you can find there.

Where to stay?

We stayed on the north east coast and moved around staying in a few hotels on the Costa Smeralda.

I'd suggest looking near the area of Santa Teresa and staying here for a few nights. The Valle Dell' Erica hotel isn't far and looks pretty 'fancy', so have a look at that.

Santa Teresa is a beautiful little village on the north point of Sardinia.

If you stay a few nights in this area, then you can easily travel to some of the finest beaches on the north coast, ferry across to Corsica, and experience some of the best sunset spots on the island.

It seems you can overpay for the quality of hotels in Sardinia and even though we had 4* and 5* accommodation, I didn't particularly love the hotels we stayed in (more on that below).

When booking, I would advise to either, go cheap and experience the beauty of the island, or look into holiday rentals and villas.

We did walk past a few places that are worth investigating. One was the Grand Relais De Nuraghi hotel, which we spotted on our way to party hotspot Phi Beach.

If I went back for a party weekend, I'd stay here, as it looked cool and was the same cost as our hotels (which were about £200-250 per night for a room that slept 3). Or I'd look into a villa rental or air bnb.

There was also another hotel near by called the Hotel Rocca which looked beautiful, so maybe have a peek at that.

The Club Hotel was another place we that looked good, and this is in the cute village of Baja which is part of the same group as the Grand Relais De Nuraghi.

If choosing the north, I'd explore different areas and I'd stay north to north west on Mon-Weds and then your weekend nights on the north east parts near Baja.

South of Olbia is also meant to be stunning, as is the whole of the southern coast of Sardinia. It is definitely somewhere I'll be returning to. So watch this space.

Cost of flights?

Flights to Olbia are very reasonable, and you can expect to pay somewhere between £80-150 for a return flight in economy class.

Our flights were much cheaper as we used a British Airways companion voucher and paid with Avios. Which meant we only paid £50 to fly business class, but initially, we were looking at £80 return flights with Easy Jet.

When to go?

*Best time: end of May - June*

As the summer season officially began on the 25th May and we arrived 6 days before, we did feel like we had the island to ourselves. However, sometimes it felt a little too quiet, and not everywhere was open.

We had quite cold evenings (although we were told the island was experiencing unusually cold weather for that time of year), plus the sea was sadly icy, so not ideal for swims.

For these reasons, I'd suggest heading there at the very end of May or for the first few weeks of June. Fewer crowds than July and August and hopefully good weather.

We were told that September is also a great month to enjoy Sardinia, when the seas are warmer, and it usually remains quite balmy all the way through October. However, it is worth noting that you get longer days if you go in May-June.

Hire a car

The one thing everyone will ask you when you say you've booked is: 'Are you hiring a car?' and that's because it is simply a must.

Not just to beach hop, Sardinia has a beautiful landscape that is exceptionally changeable and worthy of lots of exploration.

Plus you need it for multiple supermarket runs for prosecco and traditional rosemary and salt crisp breads, which are addictive to say the least.

Note: Make sure you take out full insurance. Someone bumped our car when it was parked, and we paid a hefty price for it. Doh!


Take a trip to La Pelosa beach, which has beautiful blue seas that you can walk and wade through.

La Pelosa is hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia, (there are many don't worry!), so as you can imagine it is very popular and I would suggest heading there early or go much later when families start to head home.

Make sure you take a mat! Due to climate change and excessive human pressure there is a great risk of erosion on La Pelosa beach. Despite the beach not being very large, it gets invaded by thousands and thousands of bathers, which unintentionally remove a lot of sand. Because of this, the use of beach towels are only allowed if a straw mat (a wooden or plastic mat that doesn’t favor the removal of sand) is interposed between your towel and the sand. It is forbidden to lay a beach towel directly on the sand and you will be warned or fined if you do so. You can read more about the rules of the beach here.

Sounds like a hassle? Don't worry, there are sellers along the sidewalk if you forget. It really is worth going to La Pelosa, so don't let the rules put you off.

We didn't make it to Alghero, but this was also recommended to us by a local. It is a charming historical village, which has a beautiful port.

The hotels we stayed in:

The first hotel we stayed at was the Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu, which is based in the beautiful small port of Poltu Quatu, which has lots of lovely (expensive) restaurants nearby.

The hotel is beautiful, however, in our opinion, it was not worthy of its five stars, it's more like a 4 (at a push 4.5). Lots of the features, like the spa, aren't quite up to the standards of other 5* hotels we've stayed in.

The Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu has a beautiful pool, and the interior in both the hotel and rooms are lovely. Rooms are spacious, and the breakfast buffet is pretty good, but it's not spectacular.

The food and drink are severely overpriced and after overpaying for an average salad and pasta for our lunch on day one. We made the decision to save money and do a shop at the local supermarket. We had a mini kitchen in our studio room, so we were able to prepare light lunches there, and then we ate out for dinner. I would stay here again, I just wouldn't run back.

I can't remember exactly, but I think a bottle of prosecco was about 45-48 euros in our hotel and only 8 euros from the supermarket, so seeing as it was so quiet we opted to drink the supermarket option on our private terrace, rather than heading to the hotel bar.

Below is the view of The Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu from our room. It is a stunning hotel, so you wouldn't be sad to stay there, just be wary of the prices.

The second hotel we stayed in was the Grand Hotel Smeraldo Beach. We were so excited about staying here because the pictures promised so much, but sadly, this hotel is extremely dated and in need of a severe refurb.

The coastline saves this hotel, as it is quite spectacular, and we were fortunate to have a room on the end that overlooked the ocean.

The breakfast buffet however, was so terrible we decided not to eat there in the mornings and went to the local village to buy our own. At the very least we thought there would be fresh fruit and good coffee... but we were wrong.

It is such a shame as the Grand Smeraldo is in the perfect spot but the decor is so dated and the evening entertainment seemed to be suited to the over 95's.

There are lots of other hotels just down the road from this spot, so I'd check into one of those instead.

Where to eat?

Bizarrely the best food we had wasn't pizza, pasta, or fish. It was Brazilian, and we ate this at Aruana restaurant in Poltu Quatu.

The cost is 45 euros, for an all-you-can-eat dining experience, excluding drinks and service.

The wine is pretty reasonable here and from memory prosecco was about 30 euros.

Plentiful grilled meats are served and sliced at your table and will keep coming until you start saying no thank you.

Veggies can still enjoy the experience as the all-you-can-eat buffet is extensive and would satisfy anyone who prefers a plant-based diet.

Things to do:

Learn how to cook Sardinian food

Book in for a traditional cookery class with Anna from Sardegna Bella e Buona, which costs 85 euros and includes all your food and drink.

Anna taught us how to make pasta, delicious meatballs, and a lemon mozzarella and honey pastry dessert, that I'm still dreaming about.

We did the cookery lesson at Anna's house, (she only ever takes small groups there, which we agreed made it much nicer, as it was just us) and she picked us up from our hotel around 4pm (for a small extra charge) and then dropped us back with some leftover wine at about 9/9.30pm.

Anna also offers wine tours and gave us some great advice about what to do and where to explore on the island. For this reason, I'd always recommend doing an experience like this early on in your trip, so you have time to follow local insider advice.

Visit La Maddalena

Sardinia is blessed with lots of national parks, and one of the best is La Maddalena archipelago. La Maddalena houses 7 islands and 55 tiny isolotti and some of the most stunning beaches in Italy.

The best way to see Maddalena is to book a boat trip, ideally one that includes lunch on board. We booked with Dea del Mare Shardana Sail and it cost about £65 for the day.

You're not expected to tip but we did as we lucked out and managed to get our own boat, but usually, they set sail with around 10-14 people.

We had a simple but delicious lunch on board, (cheese, meats, bread, followed by pasta) paired with some local Sardinian wine, and coffee to finish.

It was a beautiful way to spend the day, and we felt truly spoilt. Our skippers (Marco and Gianluca) were great fun and really easy to get on with, they also gave us some great tips and insight into the island.

There's so much to do in Sardinia and a lot of adventure to be had. There are great opportunities for scuba diving, horse riding, quad biking, climbing and it is extremely popular with cyclists.

Nights out

Phi Beach has got to be one of the coolest spots I've ever been to. Set amongst the rocks, you can expect to party in front of beautiful sunsets and people.

If you're in a large group, try and secure a VIP table near the DJ booth, (not sure on cost) as the main dance floor is in here. However, it doesn't really matter where you are, as the party is spread out all over the club.

You can also have dinner at Phi Beach, and like most expensive venues, the restaurant has mixed reviews on Trip Advisor. While I can't vouch for the food (as we didn't eat there) I can praise the interior and view, as it's nothing short of breathtaking.

We were unsure on what to wear to Phi. Most people were very dressed up and wearing heels but there were also others in flats and jeans. It's a complete mix of people at Phi, so wear whatever you feel comfortable in.

If you're up for more partying, then it's worth heading to Ritual around midnight. Ritual is a seriously cool club that looks like a medieval castle, it is a 15-20 min walk from Phi, but most people get a taxi or drive.

Ritual uses Sardinia's unique landscape to create a magical experience for clubbers, as you climb up through rocks and into hidden caves and walk past waterfalls and down to dancefloors. Google says it's open until 3am but I thought we left at 4/5am, so who knows who's correct.

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