Are you the type of person who just likes to wander along and discover things as you come across them? I do like doing that but only if I have a semi-plan or some suggestions to follow if I get stuck. So, for people like me, this is for you! 11 things to do in Cagliari if you need a little nudge.
We fully enjoy our week there. Some people will tell you that you only need to spend 2-3 days in Cagliari. If you have the ability to stay longer, you will have a much better experience. If you are just go-go-go for 2 days, you’ve see it, but have you felt it? Have you met people you’ll remember. Did you go to the same place more than once so they start to recognize you?
There’s no right or wrong way to travel, but to get the most of a visit anywhere, you need to stay longer. It’s as simple as that.
I created a post on spending one day in Cagliari for people who are flying in, staying for a day and then driving around the island. Honestly, we’ll probably do that next time. The island is bigger and more diverse than you probably think, and we want to experience so much more of it. If you’ve read the “one-day” post, some of this will be familiar, but I’ve added more experiences to the list and not just places to go.
But if you can stay in Cagliari for a few days (and I fully believe you should!), this post is for you.
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Take a bike tour in Cagliari
We can’t say no to a bike tour. In fact, sometimes we seek them out! Obviously, you can find plenty of walking tours of the city if that’s more your jam. We wrote about our experience on an e-bike tour and it was wonderful. From seeing dolphins (DOLPHINS!) to learning about the flamingos that have made some of the Sardinian salt flats their home to grabbing a drink by the water before cycling up and epic hill (why you need the electronic bike 😉 ) and seeing the most incredible views.
Try Sardinian wines at a wine tasting
Sometimes you do your Google and TripAdvisor research but don’t really know what to expect. Some people have great experiences and others write something and you’re left wondering if they even went to the same place as the others. L’Enoteca Biondi 1959 is a place that we went in hoping for the best and left feeling like it could be the wine shop we pop in every week and that Pippo, the guy running the place, could be family. An experience as simple as a wine tasting with some meat and cheese could actually be life-changing — certainly didn’t expect that. Aside from the fact that Pippo is a wonderfully nice person, he also knows his wines. After our tasting, we went back to bring some bottles home and he personally recommended bottles based on how we liked the wines at the tasting. Talk about incredible. Please go. Drink wine. Be merry.
Head to the beach
We didn’t see much of the beach since it was too chilly when we visited but we did pass by it a couple of times and had a drink in a cafe by the water and it looks so inviting. You can easily take a bus there and enjoy as much of the day as you want. Plenty of beachside cafes and bars line the area between the road and the beach. It has a lovely atmosphere and it shouldn’t be missed if you are there on a warm, or even just sunny, day!
Santa Maria de Bonaria
Learn about the historical story behind this church and take in the views from the front of the building. The views go right to the water — can you imagine those same views from 500 years ago? The church has been there since the 14th century, so there’s a ton of history.
Don’t just go for the views outside, the story associated with it, or the history. Go to see the grand interior. If you see the caretaker, be sure to ask as many questions as you can. He is more than happy to share everything he knows.
Basilica of San Saturnino
You just can’t miss this structure from the 4th century! It is stunning with a large square in front of it where the local go about their lives perfectly used to playing and living next to one of the most important historical buildings in the Mediterranean. Just don’t visit on a Monday. Almost everything seems to be closed on a Monday.
Don’t miss the story posted on the right side of the building before you enter the gates. It will help you understand the structure and why it is so important before you go in. I’ve started to realize how important it is to learn a bit more about the places when visiting. The experience gets that much deeper.
Bastione di San Remy
Do you want some crazy amazing views? Head to the top of the Bastione di San Remy! I mean, just look at this. Isn’t it gorgeous?!
There’s a huge square on the top with plenty of room to run around — an boy is it taken advantage of! Kids and dogs are able to let loose for a bit in a city of small streets. It’s so nice to see and experience.
Cathedral of Saint Mary
Religious sites are very important in this part of the world. Previously occupied by the Spanish before it became part of Italy, you can see the Spanish influence in this Cathedral. It’s also just up the road from the Bastione di San Remy and on the way to the National Archeological Museum, so it’s easy peasy to visit.
If you need a break from walking uphill, it’s good for that, too.
Learn a bunch at the National Archeological Museum
Being an island, I find Sardinia fascinating. How hard must it have been to keep up with the times? Were they behind (technologically) hundreds of years ago? How did people live? What was important to them. Who lived there?
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know we’re not big museum people, but this one kept getting recommended. It was worth the time to walk through and see so many artifacts and learn about their history. Traveling is wonderful. We get to see pretty things, eat great food, and hopefully learn about the people and culture. A city isn’t just about the sightseeing opportunities, it’s also about expanding your mind just a little bit at a time. Understanding the world a little bit better.
Relax in the Botanical Garden
Looking for some peace and quiet? The botanical garden is the place to be. It might seem a bit sparse when you first walk in, but you get rewarded if you keep exploring. There are benches sprinkled around if you need a break or if it’s super hot. There are pretty fountains that are relaxing to listen to while enjoying a bit of shade on a sunny day.
My favorite section was the cacti. Be careful, though! Some have grown just a bit into the sidewalk area, but it also makes it easier to get some cool photos 🙂
Take a day trip from Cagliari
This may not be in Cagliari, but I think it’s a must-do if you are only staying in the city. We took a trip called The Family Experience where we went a good way inland to see our guide’s grandmother’s home and learned to make the local bread and pasta with this mother. We wrote about it in this post. This included learning how to properly use a pizza oven! Before we got our hands all sticky with dough, we were taken to the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sardinia and got to explore all inside of it. That was crazy cool. All in all, this was one of the best things we’ve ever done when traveling.
Drink your way through a wine tour
Full disclosure, we didn’t get a chance to take a wine tour, but this tour is done by the same company that we join for a full day tour, so we’re pretty sure it would be awesome. If we get to go back, we’ll be taking this one, too!
Sardinia has some fantastic wine and if you want to go beyond the wine shop we mentioned before, this is something I would highly encourage you to do. Do you like wine? There is so much to learn about it on this island! We learned that because of the volcanic soil, the wine is quite different from the mainland wines, so it’s time to test that out!
There are some lists that have dozens of things to do, but if you are in Cagliari for a week like we were, this is a perfect amount of stuff to do at a leisurely pace. I feel like many of us are trying to cram in as much as possible and don’t take the time to experience anything. So, I hope this list helps you find a balance in the must-see spots with some memorable experiences.
Have a fabulous time and come back to leave us a comment if you go to Sardinia and do any of these things! Also, check our Italy videos on YouTubeif you want to get a closer look at our experiences.
Wishing you joy and travels!