Sadly, the Costa Smeralda is often described with the words tourist destination when it is much more appealing than your average holiday locale. Located in northern Sardinia, it stretches around 20km and is home to some of the finest golf courses, sugary white beaches, and premium villas. In fact, it is the most opulent and luxurious area in Europe, easily making it far more than a tourist hotspot.
While famous for its beaches, these are also not your run of the mill locations, and most require a bit of navigation to reach them. That’s okay, because one of the finest experiences that any visitor to Costa Smeralda can enjoy is a drive along the winding coastal roads. In fact, one of the best is the road that leads up to the peak of Monte Mora, bringing neighboring islands like Caprera and Tavolara into sight.
However, sightseeing is not a major activity apart from visits to some of the popular towns, such as Porto Cervo and Cala Gonone. In fact, the latter should be considered a must as it offers you a wonderful range of activities ideal for a day trip or overnight. You can visit may of the finest Nuraghic sites and even catch a boat from the harbor and head to the famous Grotta del Bue Marinom. If you book a fully guided tour, you can even enjoy the easy walk to the caves, where underground lakes and an array of stalactites and stalagmites wait to leave you in awe.
Obviously, you are going to want to spend some time experiencing that key draw to the area, the beaches, and fortunately all the beaches here are open for visitors to enjoy. Among the most famous are Liscia Ruja, Piccolo Pevera, and Spiaggia del Principe. However, you will want to make a point of finding Cala Pietra Bianca and Poltu Li Cogghi because they are some of the best “secret” beaches in the area.
At the top of your list should also be La Cinta beach, as it is the most famous with its lagoon and stretch of sand bordering the sea. Home to many birds, it is also the greatest spot for people watching. Head towards the northern end of the beach to avoid crowds and be sure that you book a seat on one of the lagoon boat tours, if they are running, as this supports the local wildlife sanctuary.
It is impossible to touch on all the wonderful experiences available in Porto Cervo in just a few lines. However, it is important to make a point of spending a day or two wandering this appealing port town. It is truly picturesque with its row upon row of pastel-hued houses and buildings peering out over the water. The village proper is at the southeastern end of the port and here is where you find some nice bars, restaurants and local shops. It is at the new marina where the more exclusive options of the area are to be found. The nightlife, gourmet dining and exclusive hotels are here, though not all are tucked into Porto Cervo.
Olbia is another spot to travel if you would like to experience some of the sights popular in the Costa Smeralda region, and these include the Church of San Paolo, the Palazzetto Umbertino, Sacred Well of Sa Testa, and the Cabu Assas Nuragic site. Visitors will also want to take in the scenery from Porto Rotondo, and enjoy its many high-end shops and boutiques. From here, you can also find amazing views of the Gulf of Cugnana. Lastly, if you are looking to experience the authentic Sardinia, be sure you book a table at one of the area’s agriturismo restaurants, especially one where locals seem to dine right along with travelers.