Last week, I asked a question on My Sardinian Life’s Facebook Page about what you would like to see more of on my blog, and a few of you answered with topics I haven’t yet covered here. So, here goes a random post on tips, things to see and do and how to stay away from the crowds.
Question 1: Do you have any ideas on visiting rural villages with strong traditions?
Answer: I sure do! This is one of my favourite pastimes on the island. There is nothing I love more than a slow drive through the mountains discovering ancient ghost towns and even thriving towns full of strong traditions. I highly suggest visiting Sardinia in the fall when Cortes Apertas – Autunno in Barbagia is held, it runs from September to December each year and is held deep in the mountains of Barbagia (central Sardinia, her heart and her pulse).
What is Cortes Apertas – Autunno in Barbagia?
Cortes Apertas is an open house, held yearly in several towns and cities in the deep, vast tremendous centre of Sardinia – Barbagia. It is a colourful festival run by the locals of each town; they open their doors to the wonders of their beautiful, simple life, far away from wi-fi and reality tv. Cortes Apertas is where you can witness strong traditions from eons ago that are still practised today, it’s an event full of dance, laughter, parades of costumes that are over a 100 years old, and it’s a place to make new friends and discover a hidden raw element to the island.
I have been to several Cortes Apertas: Mamoiada, Oliena, Tonara, and Onani. They are all equally fabulous and worth a visit to see first hand the strong traditions from this magnificent part of Sardinia.
Question 2: Do you have any backpacker tips?
Answer: Excellent question, and as an ex-backpacker, I should have a plethora of tips for Sardinia, but I only have a few to offer.
- Sardinia is NOT an easy to get around with public transportation, BUT, if you have enough patience and plan well in advance then there are plenty of options to get you from A to B: public buses are ARST and SARDABUS. Tickets vary depending on voyage length, and you can buy them in most shops that sell tobacco. The train is cost-effective, fast and worth it if you don’t want the long drive from north to south. At the end of October, I took the train, a three-hour voyage one way, from Sassari to Cagliari with Trenitalia. A return ticket cost 33 Euro. Well worth it in my books. Keep in mind: some buses are early, some are late, some don’t even come, the bus stop could be a stone slab with nothing written on it or a large post with hourly stop times. Trains run more often and on-time than the bus. There is also the little green train that D.H Lawrence made famous in his book Sea & Sardinia. This train travels the centre of the island and a small part of the northwestern coast as well as parts of the central interior and southern parts out of Cagliari, it travels past rural villages, rolling mountains and lush green lands where sheep, cows and horses graze.
- August is the most expensive month on the island. Believe it or not, prices increase on everything from yoghurt to gas, accommodations, restaurants and even beach rentals. I suggest NOT visiting in high season – July & August, summer sticks around a long time here so there will be plenty of time for lounging on the beach. I’ve been on the beach in October!
- If you can, rent a car. You can experience and explore much more of the island on your own.
- You’ll find cheaper eats if you do it yourself, but be sure to spoil yourself a few times and try some of the local goodies.
- Costa Smeralda is a rich man’s dream. Drive through it if you can. Browse the shops to experience shock and awe at the sales ticket and take a stroll on one of many pristine beaches that surround this golden paradise. Then leave.
- There are plenty of campsites around the island that cater to all types of budgets and families. A quick Google search will show you where and how much. Unfortunately, I haven’t camped on the island … yet.
- Stay away from the crowds. Don’t book your trip in July and August. Remove yourself from the coast and visit the interior of the island where long treks, hikes or climbs await the adventurer in you.
I hope this helps. Thanks for sticking around with me these last 10 years, I can’t believe it’s already been 10 years. Here’s to another 10. Wishing you all well.
If you have any more questions on How to do Sardinia, then please leave me a comment below. I will try my best to answer each question. Happy Travels.
We will be there at the end of May for a conference (northern tip of the island). We will have 3 nights on our own and looking for a day trip itinerary with a car we reserved. Any ideas?
Thanks for this post. I’m still deciding if I include the island on my trip. I don’t drive, so a lot of bloggers discourage visiting the island in public transportation. but good to know there are option. For someone in my situation, do you recommend staying in the middle north (arriving in Olbia), or fly to Cagliari and visit the southern part?
You will find better transportation services in larger cities. Cagliari is a great city to get around either by foot or bus.
We are in Sardinia in September. Where would be the best place to see flamingos?
Down south at Cagliari.
We are staying near Nulvi, some 200k from Cagliari – should we make the trip or try somewhere a little closer around Oristano. Would we be disappointed – our guide books are very vague on the subject of when and whether the birds are actually there!
Many thanks for your help
Sent from my iPad
Loving reading all of your blog entries! We used to live in northern Italy (in veneto region) and loved it. Dreaming of moving to sardegna one day. We’ve visited, but only on the coast. What would you say your favorite 2 areas of the island are? Thank you!
Hello, it’s so hard to pick just two favourite areas of the island, but I do adore the Barbagia region in central Sardinia. It’s rugged, lost to time and makes you feel very small. I hope you come back one day. All the best, and thank you for stopping by.
I’m looking forward to visit Sardinia in the end of June. I’ll be living in Santa Maria Navaresse and I will be exploring the east/south of the island. I struggle with allergies to all nuts/peanut/almonds and to seafood (shrimp, oyster, calamari, etc)
I’m a bit nervous when I travel because Im really allergic and could die of eating something that had just touched what I’m allergic to. I never eat in local restaurant. Do you know what are the rules in restaurant toward people with allergies ? Is there a local place where you know for example that their ice cream or whatever is made without risks?
I am learning a bit of italian to explain the allergies but maybe I should just no even try to eat out of home and only eat fruits vegetable eggs
What do you think ? Thank you for your blog, I love reading it
Hello, thanks for the message. I have worked in many restaurants here in Sardinia and I’ve had many people with allergies. Luckily, they either spoke English or Italian, not all restaurants will have English speaking servers. I just did a quick google search and found this link … http://www.foodallergyitalia.org/ita/page.php?cat=varie&id=2 Here, they give you a note written in Italian of your food allergies, it’s also in English when you scroll down. Check it out, copy it down and carry it with you at ALL times. Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes. All the best and enjoy the island. 🙂
Grazie mille per the useful link ! 😉
No problem, hope it helps. 🙂
Hi Jennifer, do you have any tips on Ollolia?
Looking for as much info on the area in regards to relocation
Hope I can help.
Hello, I’ve only been in surrounding towns to Ollolai. It’s a beautiful and rugged area in the centre of Sardinia. Lot’s to discover.
from san panteleo near alzaghèna
and thank you from the Gallura.
we are on a cruise i will have six hours in alghero sardinia in july. what would you suggest?
Hello, Alghero is great. What about a walk around the historical centre? Or six hours on one of the beautiful beaches?
I know what you mean about July/August….but we have a school going child so, for now, its our only opportunity. Thanks again for your wonderful website
I am really looking forward to visiting next year. Sound like an amazing island.
Way to go Jennifer, thanks for advertising the beauty of my Island to the world.
And thanks for being a great fan!