The West Coast Route in Sardinia
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with perfect beaches, classical architecture, beautiful weather, and authentic Italian food. The island lends itself perfectly for making road trips along the surfing beaches or taking detours through all the vineyards for wine tastings. As most travelers choose to stick around the busy and glitzy northern coastal beaches of Costa Smeralda and those around Olbia, discovering the island starts when you leave those popular destinations behind. Start your route exploring the south, driving upwards along the west coast from the capital city Cagliari, passing smaller towns like Oristano, Bosa, and Alghero to find the authentic Sardinia in their local restaurants, deserted beaches, and water sports. In this road trip around the west coast of Sardinia, you’ll drive the coastal route along pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and historical towns.
- Name route: The West Coast Route of Sardinia
- Suggested duration: 5-7 days
- Total lenght: 451 KM
- Best time to go: from May to July
- Starting point: Cagliari
- Finish point: Alghero
- Best by: car
- Highlights: surf spots with crystal clear waters and pristine beaches, colorful historical towns, and traditional local cuisine.
A more extensive version of this route, inlcuding plenty of Surf, SUP and beach spots, can be found in the travel guide Surfing in Sardinia, written by Alexandra Gossink. Download the guide for €6,99 for all spots, interactive maps, offline usage, and images.
CAGLIARI – SANT’ ANTIOCO (127 KM)
The capital town Cagliari on the south is nestled in the deep-blue Gulf of Cagliari, which is a perfect starting point for your trip. The mix of history, beaches, pizzerias, and relaxing locals, make your feel welcome from the start. The highlight of this stylish city is the medieval citadel Castello and the lively food street Via Savoia with plenty of spots for classical, fusion, or vegetarian restaurants for lunch and dinner it will to remind you the reason you’ve come to Italy for. Start your route by driving to the first town, Sant’ Antioco, along the ‘Strada Statale 195 Sulcitana’ road embracing the southwestern peninsula Sulcis.
SANT’ ANTIOCO - CARLOFORTE – ORISTANO (181 KM)
Sant’ Antioco is a miniature version of Sardinia and the oldest settlement of the island. To get to the Sant’ Antioco you’ll pass a dike along a flamingo-filled lagoon. On the peninsula, there are numerous traditional Sardinian towers called ‘nuraghi’ - dating back from the Bronze Age. Have your lunch or dinner at the seaside and harbor town of Calasetta, with several good fish restaurants to choose from. Take the ferry to the next stop, which is the fishing village Carloforte on neighboring island San Piedro. The island is small, yet beautiful, comparable with the island of Sant’ Antioco. Take the ferry back to the mainland of Porto Vesme to continue your route to Oristano. Along the route, you’ll find some places worth stopping for: Montevecchio, a village of great cultural importance, and the beach area of Piscinas which has 50m high dunes and is also perfect for surfing!
ORISTANO – SINIS (19 KM)
When you’ve arrived in Oristano, you’ll discover that the city is not grand but has its own charm. Halfway down the west coast is this picturesque city, boasting its colorful buildings and showing off its renaissance squares full of local restaurants. It’s not a place where you’ll spend most of your time, however, the surrounding area makes all up for it, like the area of Sinis.
SINIS – Putzu Idu (21 KM)
Sinis is a scenic peninsula off the Oristano coast with a fair amount of historical and natural highlights, including secluded beaches (oh yes!). There’s a famous archaeological site at the southern tip of Capo San Marco with 3000-year ruins of Tharros and close by restaurant and beach bar called Tharros Ristobar, which serves delicious traditional Sardinian dishes. Drive to the small village San Salvatore for a lagoon filled with pink flamingos and one of Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches Spiaggia Is Arutas. The beach feels almost tropical, with large grains of sand similar to colorful jelly beans and its crystal blue water. Continue your route north on the peninsula to reach the relaxing town of Putzu Idu, passing villages that were built in the 1960’s and -70’s seem to be taken straight out of a spaghetti western.
PUTZU IDU – BOSA (58 KM)
Putzu Idu is the less touristic part of the island, offering you an authentic experience of Sardinia. The aromatic scent floating around of the ‘Scove the Maria’ comes from yellow flowers in the area and is used for therapeutic products as well. If you are feeling daring, try the local cheese from here, made by the natural source of maggots giving the product a signature flavor. For some seaside activity, drive up to Capo Mannu between the bay of Putzu Idu and the beautiful bay of Sa Mesa Longa, a well-known surfing and Championships spot. It’s advisable to find your accommodation in this area, as time seems to have slowed down and the natural is in its strongest force of showing you of how beautiful it can be. After some relaxing days in this area, sipping wine, eating the most delicious pizzas, tasting the local olive oil, and visiting the surfing the shorelines of Santa Catarina and S’Archittu, it’s time to continue the route towards Bosa. Worth making a small detour for is the neighboring village Riola Sardo with lovely traditional bakeries, surf shops, and colorful houses.
BOSA – ALGHERO (45 KM)
Bosa, with the yellowish, soft green and baby blue houses, the tiny streets, fishing boats, and traditional restaurants, make it a hidden gem of the west coast. Situated on the river, this city's economy is largely focused on farming and fishing. Climb the long steep stairs to be rewarded with an amazing view over the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding valley. From Bosa, it’s an hour drive to the final destination of the route - Alghero. Protected by the city wall, Alghero has influences from Italian, Catalan, and Spanish invaders but it is still the most ‘Italian’ city on the island. Find funky boutiques, bars, and restaurants. Tips from the locals: visit the Wednesday local morning market and the beach Spiaggia della Bombarde, one of the most beautiful beaches around.
Find more information about Sardinian surf swells, historical sites and a route along the west coast in the travel guide Surfing in Sardinia.
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