Holidays on the Costa Smeralda: where to stay and what to see

The Costa Smeralda in Sardinia is probably the flagship of an island that is already magnificent in itself, which offers an inestimable heritage of nature, culture and nightlife.

This coastal area in the north-east of Sardinia, between Palau and Olbia, it hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, bathed by sparkling emerald waters, embraced by the Mediterranean scrub.

But in addition to its magnificent beaches of soft white sand, Costa Smeralda also offers breathtaking landscapes, prestigious boutiques, art workshops, exclusive hangouts and international events that attract famous jet-sets and travelers looking for high quality services, relaxation and unbridled fun.

All these aspects make the Costa Smeralda one of the emblems of luxury tourism all over the world and the meeting place of the international jet set during the summer season.

Formally, its borders they are limited to the stretch of coast within the Municipality of Arzachena but, in practice, the term Costa Smeralda also includes Porto Rotondo, Poltu Quatu, Baia Sardinia and Cannigione.

When to visit the Costa Smeralda

The Costa Smeralda is extremely popular with celebrities during the months of July and August. If you want to meet someone, this is the best time to visit. However the prices during this time of the year are quite high.

Who doesn't want to spend a lot can opt for the months of May and June or September and early October. There are also several tourist attractions during this period and the weather is good enough to go to the beach as well.

Summer is particularly good for visiting some other parts of the archipelago, including the famous La Maddalena and 27 other islands. If you go there at another time of the year, boat trips may not be available every day.

Visit Costa Smeralda: what to see

Porto Cervo

Famous tourist destination, Porto Cervo is the beating heart of the Costa Smeralda one of the most popular areas of Sardinia. It was born in 1962 by the will of Prince Karim Aga Khan who bought these lands, finding them extremely fascinating, with the intention of making the most of them.

Today Porto Cervo is the meeting point of wealthy businessmen, politicians and famous personalities of the jet set, a worldly center where the most select clubs gather and where the lively Sardinian night lives its maximum splendor.

His marina it is an exclusive place, perfectly equipped to accommodate up to 700 boats, including large yachts and large sailing boats.

The narrow streets of the town center are a succession of boutiques of the most prestigious brands, refined hotels and exclusive villas. In the evening if you want to have a drink or admire some celebrities you can go to the small square located in the center of the city, the Piazzetta. Also worth seeing Stella Maris church, an example of modern architecture, built with local materials.

In Porto Cervo the opportunities to have fun are never lacking: luxury restaurants, exclusive discos, fabulous beaches, sensational events to participate in and prestigious gala dinners.

But the real protagonist of Porto Cervo is its coast which offers absolutely unmissable views and hosts some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole Mediterranean.

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Poltu Quatu

Poltu Quatu is a small seaside resort located 4 km from Porto Cervo. It's a corner of paradise overlooking the wonderful archipelago of La Maddalena.

Synonymous with unspoiled nature, this village of white houses is at the end of what we could define an Italian fjord surrounded by pink granite cliffs, with crystalline water that melts on the horizon with the colors of the sky.

Poltu Quatu is one of the most elegant and exclusive places on the coast, a very popular with VIPs of the Italian and international jet-set.

Be sure to visit her marina, equipped to accommodate up to 311 boats, then enjoy a good lunch on the terrace of a restaurant and finish the day shopping in luxury boutiques.

Snorkeling and scuba diving are the 2 main activities in this location. There are organized day trips that depart from Poltu Quatu to the Protected Marine Area of 鈥嬧婽avolara or around the Maddalena islands and which allow you to discover the wonders of the seabed.

Another option is to opt for a 'excursion boat which offers the opportunity to discover a rich marine fauna that is unparalleled such as whales, sperm whales, sea turtles and common dolphins.

In addition, there are sailing courses for the whole family, soccer and tennis fields and wellness centers where you can regenerate.

Find a place to stay in Poltu Quatu

Baja Sardinia

Baja Sardinia is a famous tourist destination Costa Smeralda which, especially in the summer months, welcomes many VIPs from the jet set. Small village among the most beautiful and lively in the north of Sardinia, is located between Porto Cervo and Palau.

It has a fan-shaped bay with the Maddalena archipelago and its islets of the National Park in the background.

Most of the beaches near Baja Sardinia they are among the best equipped of the whole island, and are able to satisfy every request of tourists from all over the world. The main one is large, with a turquoise sea and shallow waters, perfect for holidays with children.

Tourists will certainly not be bored in Baja Sardinia, because they are numerous activities to be carried out including snorkeling, diving, boating, surfing and windsurfing. Hiking lovers cannot miss excursions in two magnificent places: the peaks of the Tre Monti and Forte Cappellini.

This tourist destination is known all over the world especially for its numerous night clubs, such as the popular Phi Beach nightclub, with terraces overlooking the sea, and the Ritual Club nightclub housed in a natural cave with stone furnishings.

Do not miss Aquadream, the water park of the Costa Smeralda, which is a valid alternative to the sea and beaches for families with children.

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The town of Arzachena is about 20 km from Olbia and is the heart of the Costa Smeralda. The delightful town, embraced by the hills and overlooking the sea, with a historic center that has remained intact and well cared for, offers the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in an ancient cultural heritage.

Arzachena is excellent as a base to stay because from here you can easily reach some of the best locations of the Costa Smeralda such as Porto Cervo, Baja Sardinia and Cannigione.

It offers many excellent accommodation facilities which make it an extremely suitable place for a pleasant holiday. Its numerous hotels, B & Bs and villas allow you to sleep without paying the prices of Porto Cervo and other tourist cities on the Costa Smeralda.

Also worth trying is a particular type of home, the "Gallic stables". These old houses of shepherds and farmers have been transformed into small rural hotels and are highly sought after for their uniqueness.

Among the most important monuments of Arzachena is the Church of the Madonna della Nave, built at the end of the eighteenth. Culture enthusiasts cannot miss excursions to the most incredible archaeological sites in the city: the tombs of the giants of Arzachena they are one of the most evocative shows that can be admired.

Here is what not to miss in the surroundings of Arzachena:

  • The nuraghe of Albucciu
  • The nuraghe of La Prisgonia
  • The tomb of the Giant of Coddu Ecchju
  • The necropolis of Li Muri
  • The Nuragic temple of Malchittu
  • The Giant's Tomb by Li Lolghi
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Cannigione is a small village in the municipality of Arzachena. It is perhaps the least known of the coastal towns in the area but certainly not the least interesting.

Its strong points are a less conspicuous and more affordable tourist offer and its favorable position. Indeed Cannigione is quite sheltered from the strong Mistral wind blowing on the Costa Smeralda. The mild climate makes this place an ideal destination for both summer holidays and spring holidays.

The turquoise sea that surrounds the town is always warm and hosts specimens of rare beauty that live among the reeds and countless species of marine animals that find shelter in its beds of seagrass.

The village of Cannigione offers several attractions to discover such as the beautiful church of San Giovanni Battista, the Lungomare Andrea Doria, the oasis of protection of the fauna of Padula Saloni and the Gallura stazzi.

Also not to be missed is the Arzachena Archaeological Park, consisting of eight monuments scattered throughout the territory as well as the imposing nuragic complexes and the renowned ones Tombs of Giants.

Between your favorite activities that can take place in Cannigione there is the birdwatching, with which you have the opportunity to admire the numerous species that nest in the Pond of Padula Saloni and excursions on the seabed for lovers of diving.

Those staying here will have a good choice of restaurants, bars, craft shops and boutiques. Beach lovers can choose to stay in one of the beautiful hotels along the coast within walking distance of the village. Also there nightlife it is very lively and there are numerous trendy bars and elegant and exclusive nightclubs.

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Porto Rotondo

One of the most popular destinations on the Costa Smeralda and Sardinia is Porto Rotondo. After Porto Cervo, it is the second largest marina on the island and it is also the place where Silvio Berlusconi goes on vacation.

Like Porto Cervo, the resort of Porto Rotondo was also built from scratch and is oriented to luxury tourism. In its manicured and flower-filled streets it houses hotels, exclusive villas and numerous boutiques of famous brands.

Do not miss a walk on the harbor to admire the splendid boats and one of the shows performed in the summer in the amphitheater of Porto Rotondo. In its vicinity you can visit the crescent of fine sand and emerald waters of Rena Bianca.

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The best beaches of the Costa Smeralda

When it comes to beaches along this coast you will find authentic portions of heaven on earth. Sardinian beaches are among the most spectacular in Europe, stretches of white sand lapped by clear emerald-turquoise waters that do not disappoint any visitor.

The best known is the Principe beach, a crescent of fine sand accessed via a 10-minute walk along a bumpy path. White sand and a clear blue sea with splendid seabeds rich in marine fauna make this beach a true corner of paradise!

Protected by dense vegetation, which sometimes extends to its shore, Romazzino is a landscaped beach located in the bay of the same name. Like all nearby beaches, its emerald waters create a beautiful contrast to the pink hues of the sand.

Then, there is The Celvia, the chic celebrity haunt with trendy bars, great restaurants, loungers and umbrellas.

Over 500 m long, Smooth Ruja it is the largest beach on the Costa Smeralda. Thanks to its fine pink sand, the incredibly clear waters, the shallow and sandy bottoms and the Mediterranean scrub that adorns it, it is among the most popular beaches for visitors.

Marinella, located near Porto Rotondo, is a good choice for families. The main stretch of the beach offers all the necessary services, but if you prefer a little privacy and tranquility there are several hidden coves where you can take shelter.

Moving towards Portisco, in the municipality of Olbia, it is located Rena Bianca, a picturesque white sand beach with shallow turquoise waters surrounded by the typical pink granite rocks of Gallura and the green of the aromatic Mediterranean scrub.

Capriccioli it is a splendid crescent bay dotted with granite boulders. Its waters take on all shades of blue and are shallow enough for the little ones. It is an ideal place for snorkelers and scuba divers. The green of the Mediterranean scrub all around the beach is beautiful.

A few kilometers from Porto Cervo there are two of the most famous beaches of the entire Costa Smeralda, much loved and frequented by VIPs and paparazzi.

La Piccolo Pevero beach with its fine white sand and shallow seabed overlooking an emerald green sea, it is very suitable for families with children. In the vicinity there are several bars, hotels, restaurants and shops.

La Grande Pevero beach it is a wide crescent of soft sand bathed by beautiful turquoise waters and surrounded by the Mediterranean scrub.

To the south-east of Porto Cervo, on the other hand, are the Isole Li Nibani, consisting of small islets and rocks that are part of the Bocche di Bonifacio National Park: here the uncontaminated nature is the protagonist.

What to see around the Costa Smeralda

The Maddalena archipelago

National park since 1994, this archipelago of the Costa Smeralda, located in the Strait of Bonifacio, is composed of seven islands: La Maddalena, Caprera, Spargi, Santo Stefano, Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Mar铆a, as well as a series of islets.

Except for the first three, the others are uninhabited and preserve a splendid set of flora and fauna. Its excellent underwater seabed is an attraction for divers who come from any part of the planet to discover the magnificent colony of cetaceans and the spectacular underground granite formations.

Palau, Maddalena Island - Costa Smeralda, Sardinia - Photo from Istock

Many travelers choose to take day trips to discover its charms. For this reason, in the summer the incredible white sandy coves of Caprera and Spargi teem with tourists. Don't miss Budelli and his Pink Beach and beaches such as Cala Lunga, Cala Cappello, or Cala Noce in Razzoli.

The island of La Maddalena is connected by ferries with palau. Another option is to do one boat trip to reach the most beautiful and inaccessible corners of the archipelago. These start from 3 cities: Poltu Quatu, Baia Sardinia and Canniogione.

Where to sleep on the Costa Smeralda

Costa Smeralda is the locality most touristic of Sardinia but also the most expensive. Those who decide to visit it will find all types of accommodation, from campsites to luxury hotels, the latter predominating all along the coast.

Most of the best hotels on the Costa Smeralda are located right on the beach. Those who are looking for a slightly quieter or more secluded place can head inland to experience the authentic Sardinian experience.

Le cheaper places to sleep on the Costa Smeralda they are Arzachena, Cannigione, San Teodoro, San Pantaleo and Palau.

In the summer, room rates rise and the best hotels fill months in advance, so you should book yours as soon as possible.

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How to get to Costa Smeralda

Costa Smeralda can be reached by plane, landing in one of the 3 airports in Sardinia, which are located in Olbia, Alghero e Cagliari.

  • The flight to Olbia is the best option for a holiday on the Costa Smeralda. From Olbia you can reach Porto Cervo which is only 40 minutes away by car.
  • If you leave from Alghero, the Costa Smeralda is 2h15 by car.
  • Starting from Cagliari it takes about 3h30 by car to reach Porto Cervo.

Find a flight to get to Costa Smeralda

Alternatively, Costa Smeralda it can also be reached by ferry from the cities of Civitavecchia, Livorno, Piombino and Genoa, disembarking in the port of Olbia, one of the most important passenger ports in the Mediterranean.

Find and book a ferry to reach the city of Olbia


Costa Smeralda - Map


Porto Rotondo in Costa Smeralda, Sardinia - Photo from Istock

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