Things to Do in Cagliari
Italy’s idyllic island of Sardinia is known for its beaches and turquoise waters, which encircle beautiful inland parks and natural areas. One of the most important is Molentargius - Saline Regional Park (Parco Naturale Regionale Molentargius - Saline), a wetland of shallow pools once used to harvest salt that now hosts a wealth of bird life.
There is a distinctive rock formation on a promontory near Cagliari that, because of its shape, is known as Devil’s Saddle, or Sella di Diavolo in Italian. The promontory overlooks the city’s popular Poetto Beach.
The easiest way to see Devil’s Saddle is simply by visiting the beach, but there are also hiking trails along the promontory for a more close-up look. Hikers can walk along what began as an ancient Roman road and can climb up to one of the points on Devil’s Saddle.
Among the sights to see near Devil’s Saddle are the remains of a Roman cistern, an 11th-century monastery, and fortifications from World War II. There are even Punic ruins to see that date from the 6th century BC, before the ancient Roman era. A Punic temple was built on the promontory, dedicated to the Goddess Astarte. For many visitors, though, the main draw is the panoramic view from the top of the hill.
Travelers who walk through the doors of Cagliari's National Museum of Archaeology (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) will be immediately transported back in time. In addition to an impressive collection of Graeco-Roman artifacts, visitors will find Egyptian relics, iconic European sculptures, original carvings, stunning frescos and even ornate mosaics from the city of Pompeii.
Visitors can easily wander the halls and galleries on their own, but travelers who want to learn more about the museum’s most iconic pieces may prefer to purchase an audio guide that offers up rich details of the museum’s top attractions, like Hercules and the infamous raging bull.
The capital of Sardinia, Cagliari, sits on the island’s southern coast in the middle of the large bay created by the Gulf of Cagliari (Golfo di Cagliari) - also known as the Golfo degli Angeli, or Gulf of Angels.
The gulf is often busy with ships and ferries - Cagliari is an important port city - but it’s also a recreation hub. Many of the beaches surrounding the gulf are beautiful sandy beaches next to clear water. Sardinia is a haven for outdoor sports, including horseback riding, hiking, and a multitude of water sports.
One of the most recognizable features of the Gulf of Cagliari is the St. Elia Promontory in the middle of the bay near the city of Cagliari itself. It’s known as the Devil’s Saddle for its distinctive carved-out shape, and it’s a popular hiking location. There are some ancient ruins on the promontory, too, including the remains of a huge Punic water tank and Roman cistern.
Other historic sites ring the gulf, including the ancient Roman and pre-Roman ruins at Nora on the western end of the gulf. The ancient theater at the archaeological site is still in use for performances during the summer.