Form of payment
Its name means ‘happy’, and that’s how you’ll feel when the lively town of Olbia is the first to welcome you to the treasures of Sardinia: the second you step off the plane or boat, the rapturous fragrance of Mediterranean scrub will revive your senses and make you feel brand new. And that’s just the start of what you’re going to experience on this extraordinary island: the harsh and magical landscape with its wind-sculpted red rocks, the charm of ancient herdsmen traditions, the luxurious lifestyle of the Costa Smeralda jet-set, not to mention emerald green crystalline waters like you won’t find anywhere else in Europe.
Main City Rome
Surface 376.10 km²
Thanks to its mild year-round climate, Sardinia is a perfect place to spend the holidays, particularly off-season; not only is it possible to bath in the sea from April to November, but in spring and autumn the majestic landscapes of Sardinia explode with colours and scents. So trekking is a very popular way to fully immerse yourself in nature, with hikes delving into forests, and along lakes, dunes (the Piscinas complex), and mountains (Gennargentu). Canyoning is also a widely-practiced sport in Sardinia, especially near the Barbagia region, where the 400-metre deep Su Gorropu limestone gorges are among the deepest canyons in Europe.
On weekends, Olbia locals drive 8 km south until they reach Murta Maria on the coastal road, turn left and 1 km further they pull into Porto Istana, a heavenly beach whose shore varies from rocky to grainy to ultra-fine white sands, the translucent waters undulating from emerald to turquoise to deep blue. No you’re not in paradise. The only thing that clues you in to this fact is that there aren’t any palm trees. Bathing here when it’s not too crowded is almost a mystical experience. Just don’t expect your friends to believe you didn’t Photoshop the pictures.
A tall dark shadow looms up, creating a unique skyline over the horizon; the small island of Tavolara, 10 km south of Olbia, looks like a giant Giandujotto (you know, those exquisite long skinny chocolates that look like upside-down boats) ending with an immaculate double-sided strip of powdery white sand, Spalmatore beach. Get here first thing in the morning by sailboat, raft, or bateau from nearby Porto San Paolo. Bathing in the perfectly still, looking-glass-transparent waters of Tavolara will be a moment of bliss you’ll never forget.