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Spiaggia Capriccioli, Sardinia, Italy © Hibiscus81/Shutterstock
Spiaggia Capriccioli, Sardinia, Italy © Hibiscus81/Shutterstock
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The 12 Most Surreal and Beautiful Places in Sardinia

Picture of Gillian McGuire
Updated: 30 August 2017
The Mediterranean island of Sardinia is filled with natural wonder. Miles and miles of beaches and turquoise water are the main draw for visitors, but there are mysterious ancient structures, hiking trails, colorful mountain towns and annual celebrations that are all worth discovering. Here are our picks for the 12 most beautiful and surreal places in Sardinia.

Neptune’s Grotto

Take the long seaside staircase escala del cabirol, or “goat steps,” down to this incredible natural wonder near Alghero, and you will find Neptune’s Grotto. The grotto takes its name from Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. Inside, there is a large saltwater lake and both stalactites and stalagmites that create an otherworldly experience. If you don’t fancy climbing down (and up) the 656 steps, if the water is calm you can take a boat from the harbor in Port of Alghero.

Steps down to Neptune's Grotto©Tristan Ferne:Flickr
Steps down to Neptune’s Grotto | ©Tristan Ferne:Flickr

Argentiera

This ghost town is a stone’s throw from the university town of Sassari on the western coast of the island. Once a thriving silver mine dating back to Roman times, the mine and the surrounding town slowly disappeared post-World War II. Now the site is part of a UNESCO-protected collection of eight separate areas known as the Parco Geominerario. You can roam the abandoned mine buildings and explore the nearby beaches for an unusual day out.

La Pelosa Beach

While it is virtually impossible to name just one beach as the most beautiful beach in Sardinia, La Pelosa Beach in Stintino is without a doubt one of them. Calm turquoise waters and soft sugar-white sand are banked on one side, with lush Mediterranean vegetation and a view of the island of Asinara on the other. There is also a charming 17th century tower thrown in the mix for good measure.

Spiaggia La Pelosa di Stintino©JoseluBilbo:Flickr
Spiaggia La Pelosa di Stintino | ©JoseluBilbo:Flickr

Murals of Orgosolo

In the isolated and rugged mountain region known as the Barbagia, in the interior of the island, there is a town that has always had a strong and independent voice. The buildings in the town of Orgosolo serve as a canvas to broadcast the thoughts and will of the inhabitants. The practice began in the 1960s and grew. Today, you will find political statements and depictions of daily village life expressed in large-scale murals.

Su Nuraxi

The mysterious and ancient structures that are known as Nuraghe are scattered all over Sardinia. The Su Nuraxi is part of the Barumini archaeological site and is considered by experts to be one of the finest examples of Bronze Age civilization villages. This site has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is also a museum and cultural center adjacent to the site which lends context.

Inside Su Nuraxi di Barumini©Chris:Flickr
Inside Su Nuraxi di Barumini | ©Chris:Flickr

Gola di Gorropu

Located in a vast chasm on the Supramonte mountain, the Gola di Gorropu is often called Italy’s Grand Canyon. Almost 1,500 feet down and a mile wide, there are trails to hike and rivers to raft and swim in. If you believe in myths, keeps your eyes out for Sa mama de Gorropu, Sardinia’s very own Bigfoot.

Capo Testa

Capo Testa is the most northern point of Sardinia. The wind has sculpted the granite boulders into soft shapes, and the water is deep and crystal clear. At the nearby Cala dei Corsari, the water is indeed so clear you can spot submerged Roman-era columns. The end of the day, as the sun slowly sinks into the horizon, is particularly scenic here.

Ocaso en Capo Testa©Lorena Torres Angelini:Flickr
Ocaso en Capo Testa | ©Lorena Torres Angelini:Flickr

Mamoiada

This town is in the interior of the island nestled in the Barbagia hills. The town is best known for its carnival costumes and masks which are worn by the mamuthones, who wear black leather and large heavy bells, and issohadores, who wear a hat called a berritta and a distinctive red and black outfit. Also of note is the carved granite stone sculpture, the Menhir of Perda Pinta which dates back to 3200 B.C.

Santa Teresa Gallura

Located on a narrow strip of land, on the Strait of Bonifacio Santa Teresa Gallura, is an oasis of greens and blues, replete with vegetation, granite boulders, and clear cool seas. Find a beach with a view of the nearby French island of Corsica or visit the Giants Tomb, a megalithic archaeological site dating back to the Bronze Age. In the summer season, the town’s main piazza is abuzz with shops and restaurants.

Sardengna - Santa Teresa Gallura©Rolf Dietrich Brecher:Flickr
Sardengna – Santa Teresa Gallura | ©Rolf Dietrich Brecher:Flickr

Castelsardo

This town on the northwest coast of the island shows up on a lot of “prettiest towns in Italy lists” for good reason. With a castle, beautiful beaches and spa hotels, there is a lot to like about Castelsardo. Other highlights here include the rock formation known as the Roccia dell’Elefante and the interesting Museo dell’Intreccio Mediterraneo, which is dedicated to the island art of basket weaving.

Tempio Pausania

For three days in midwinter, the sleepy town of Tempio in northern Sardinia transforms with lively and colorful festivities. Carnival in Tempio Pausani is celebrated with parades, elaborately decorated floats and masked performers on foot and horseback. You will likely spot Lu Linzolu Cupaltatu, a mysterious female figure who walks along the streets completely wrapped in a sheet, and Ghjolghju Puntogliu, the enormous masked figure who marks the end of the celebrations and the beginning of Lent.

Tempio Pausania, Sardinia, Italy©Mauro Pili:Flickr
Tempio Pausania, Sardinia, Italy | ©Mauro Pili:Flickr

Cala Brandinchi

This beach is so beautiful that locals call it little Tahiti. Bounded on one side by a cool pine forest and shallow deep turquoise water on the other, the soft white sand completes the paradise effect. There are private beach clubs that rent sun loungers and umbrellas, and you can kiosks selling snacks and drinks.