Why it's worth it to visit Sardinia in winter
Sardinia is a region in Italy that is famous for being an amazing place to spend summer holidays thanks to all its different beaches and the incredible landscapes. No one really talks about going there during the winter, but I did. I went there after Christmas, rent a car and spent six days in the area around Cagliari with a couple of friends, celebrating New Year’s Eve with a good clambake. This trip made me realize that Sardinia in winter is so underrated and that there are actually a lot of things to see and do in winter in that area.
First of all, the fact that there are not many tourists is actually an advantage, you can take beautiful pictures of the sea without too many people that ruin the view and you can go to all the places you want to see without worrying about traffic and parking. Second, during winter you can actually visit all the places where you wouldn’t go when it’s too hot, so you can have a totally different experience to summer while still enjoying the nice weather and the blue sky. Finally, that area is full of interesting places and things to do, but at the same time it is so peaceful and quiet, so you really feel like you are having a break from your stressful life.
Here are some amazing and cheap things you can do in the area around Cagliari.
Go for a hike on the Devil’s Saddle
It is part of St. Elia’s headland that separates the Poetto and Calamosca beach.
The origin of its name actually comes from a legend that says that the devil was so fascinated by the bay of Cagliari that tried to conquer it, so God sent Michael the archangel to fight him. During the battle, Lucifer was thrown from his horse and lost his saddle, which landed where it is now the headland.
You can easily visit St.Elia’s headland and “Sella del Diavolo”. It is not a hard walk and it won’t take too long to arrive at the top unless you stop every two minutes to take pictures of the view like I did. In the last stretch of road there is also a little cabin with tables outside, so if you want you can bring food and drinks and have a picnic there. At the very top, you will see an amazing view of the surrounding area and you can also see a fortification from the Second World War, the Tower of St. Elia and the ruins of St. Elia’s Monastery.
Have a walk at the Poetto beach
This particular beach extends from The Devil’s Saddle for 9 km, so if you are in the mood for a walk in a peaceful place it is the perfect beach. And if you are into physical exercise, there are also many people that go there to run. And don’t forget that near the Poetto Beach there are the rice fields, where you can see a lot of flamingos!
Cagliari is a very interesting and complex city, it combines its important historical and cultural heritage and the current metropolitan area that has been created in the last twenty years. I generally take a walk around the city, it is quite steep, but it’s worth it because you get to see so many viewpoints. If I had to suggest just a few essential places to see, I have a couple in mind:
The Bastion of Saint Remy with the large Umberto I terrace
This is a great place to have a break from the city tour, sit on a bench and enjoy the view, you will be captivated by the whiteness of the monuments and the vastness of the terrace.
Torre dell’Elefante or Torre di San Pancrazio
Right now they are closed for renovation work, but if they are open again during your visit I really suggest you go on one o these medieval towers.
Literally any place with a good view
When you arrive in Cagliari, you will probably park your car near the port. From there it is uphill, so prepare yourself, but it will be worth it because there are so many viewpoints that you will be satisfied.
Visit the ancient city of Nora
If you want a good cultural and historical experience and still enjoy the scenery, I really recommend you go to this archaeological site situated in the city of Pula. Nora has been one of the main centers of Sardinia during Phoenician, Punic and Roman ages, but was later abandoned. It was then brought back to light between 1952 and 1960.
See the sunset on the tower of Chia
If you have finished your visit at the ancient city of Nora and the sun is going down you might as well go to Chia, which is quite close, and see the sunset. The tower is closed right, but it is situated on a small headland near the beach, so you don’t necessarily need to go at the top of the tower to enjoy the spectacular sunset, you just have to do a five/ten-minutes walk. It is worth it, I promise.
Go to the “Is Zuddas” Cave
There are many caves in Sardinia, but this one is the closest to the Cagliari area (about 1 hour and fifteen minutes by car from Cagliari), so if you fancy doing something different this is a great option. Inside that, you can admire columns made from stalactites and stalagmites and other curious shapes taken by the aragonites, a unique formation that develops in all directions and is not controlled by gravity.
Go to the Castle of Acquafredda
It is a small medieval castle that was built on a hill of volcanic origin. There are not many particular things in there, but it is in the same road that you have to take to go to the cave, so it could be a nice stop, and also it is in the inland, so from up there you can see an interesting and different landscape.