How to Spend 1 Day in Cagliari
Best known for its idyllic coastline and unspoiled countryside, the cities on the island of Sardinia captivate with their blend of cultural treasures and free-spirited Mediterranean vibe. Here’s how to get to know the capital and port city of Cagliari in one day, from its hilltop medieval citadel to its lively waterfront.
Morning: The Castle and Beyond
The historic district of Castello is so synonymous with Cagliari that islanders commonly use Casteddu—Castello in the Sardinian dialect—as shorthand to refer to the city as a whole. For some of the best views, join a tour that starts at this walled fortress and its 14th-century towers. You have a wide range of options, from combined walking and minivan tours to guided visits via Segway, tuk-tuk, and Fiat 500. Generally, tours work their way downhill to touch on architectural highlights, such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria and Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria, as well as archaeological sites, such as the Roman amphitheater and Phoenician necropolis of Tuvixeddu.
Afternoon: The Wetlands and Coast
After seeing cultural sights in Cagliari’s historic center, explore the city’s natural beauty. Admire the famous flamingo population at Molentargius Natural Park, a wetland reserve outside the city that hosts a wealth of bird life and can be toured via bike, tuk-tuk, or Segway. For a livelier outdoor excursion, head to Poetto beach, a four-mile-long stretch of sand where locals gather on summer days to sunbathe and socialize at the beach clubs. You also can explore Cagliari’s coastline by sea aboard a skippered sailboat.
Night: The Island Cuisine
You’ve seen Cagliari’s architectural and scenic gems, so it’s time to delve into its unique cuisine. Join a wine tour to one of the island wineries in the countryside and taste some of the local labels paired with artisan cheeses and other area specialties, or sit down to a traditional home-cooked meal with a local cook. Aspiring or experienced chefs can opt for a cooking class, followed by dinner with the instructor, to learn how to recreate at home some of the most traditional Sardinian dishes like ravioli (culurgionis) or dumplings with sausage (malloreddus alla salsiccia).