Cagliari is no longer a sleepy town in the Mediterranean sea: empty during summer and boring during winter.
A little bit, the local policies of the last years and a bit (actually, a lot) the arrival of Ryanair changed the politicians and residents minds and now Cagliari is definitely a tourist destination, one of the most interesting in Sardinia and in Italy.
The old town has been completely reorganized, monuments renewed, the old museums expanded and new museums opened, even many streets are now pedestrian and finally there are more tables outside where you can have an aperitif or taste the local food cheered by the sea breeze.
The result is that you can finally hear not only italian and sardinian speaking but also spanish, german, english and french!
Many things must be done: making Poetto a full equipped beach like it should be or restoring the “Castello” district.
But it has done a lot and it’s not so bad: the Marina district is now a maze of streets, squares and restaurants, the Bastione San Remy is an elegant terrace of the city, via Roma a pleasant promenade between sailboats and more.
If, like many others, you’ll be in Sardinia for the magnificent sea I recommend one, maybe two days stopping in the city before moving to Villasimius or Chia.
The climate is mild throughout the year but Cagliari offers his best from mid April to late June.
If you come for the sea you can visit Cagliari in summer. Differently from the past, the town is now alive in mid August, during day and night.
What to do
There is so much in a relatively concentrated place. In some cases, you can help you with lifts going up to the “Castello” district or walking around breathing the sea air and enjoying the quiet life of this city.
If you like, have a jog at sunset near the sea (at Poetto beach).
Do not miss:
- A drink (by day) and a cocktail (by night) on the terrace of the Caffé degli Spiriti on the Bastione San Remy. A light breeze on your face (if the wind is not too strong!), the Cathedral above you, palms around, and the panorama of the city along the Gulf under your eyes. Before or after take a trip to the “Passeggiata Coperta” under the Bastion and explore the ancient underground walls
- A walk in the Castello district where, among the monuments (the Cathedral with its adjacent museum, the Royal Palace and countless churches) you can visit craft shops and art studios
- A stop at Libarium, historical bar overlooking a beautiful sea view and “Stampace” district, where you can drink delicious cocktails below the Tower of the Elephant
- A visit to the renewed (very well) Jewish Ghetto (not far from Libarium) hosting seasonal exhibitions
- Visit the Citadel Museum and the ancient walls with Porta Cristina (gateway to the “Castello” District) and the Tower of San Pancrazio (similar to the Elephant one)
- A walk along Via Roma from Piazza Darsena alongside sailboats, green lawns, wooden benches and admiring the beautiful houses and the typical City Hall down the street.
- Lose yourself through the streets of the Marina district (behind Via Roma) among all types of restaurants, small squares (like “Piazzetta Savoia”), museums (Sant’Eulalia) and old churches (San Sepolcro)
- Shopping in Via Garibaldi and Via Manno ending the “tour de force” with a rich salad (as lunch), ice cream (as snack), or a pizza (as dinner) on Piazza Yenne
- Go to the beach and make a walk starting from the port of Marina Piccola until you’re tired. In the mwanwhile, watch the promontory Sella del Diavolo on the turquoise sea and stop for a drink in any of the beach bars.
– Admire Molentargius Park and its pink flamingos (and also the whole Golfo degli Angeli) from the spectacular view in Monte Urpinu
– Relax yourself inside one of the city parks (the Public gardens (with a municipal gallery), Monte Claro or San Michele (with a castle of the fourteenth century with a breathtaking view)
– Visit the San Benedetto Market (especially downstairs where you can buy delicious fresh fish)
There is a plenty of choice like any other Italian city.
The Sardinian traditional cuisine is relatively easy to enhance the flavor of ingredients.
There are good restaurants where eating the typical “Su porchettu” (spit-roasted suckling pig), Cagliari traditional food is based mainly on sea food: spaghetti with clams and mullet roe, “scabecciu”, “burrida” or just delicious grilled fresh fish.
All fish dishes served with fresh Vermentino di Gallura or a local Nuragus (white wines), ending with the inevitable glass of Mirto, preferably homemade.
Here is a small selection of places where eating typical dishes, a delicious pizza or just grilled meat:
(€ 15 – 25 – € €: 25-35 € € €: 35 and above)
- Ampurias (Piazza Savoia 4, 39.070.666566). Once one of the most fashionable pub now turned into a restaurant. The menu is not amazing (but the steaks are very good) but having a dinner by candlelight in the square around the large palm tree is delicious! €
- Down Town (19 Piazza Yenne, 39.070.668931). The pizza is good and the place is great: in a (authentic) cave during winter and in a delightful gazebo on the square during summer. Attention: very slowly during weekend! €
- Lillicu (Via Sardegna 78, 39.070.652970). A must of the Cagliari traditional cuisine based on fish. Very rustic but excellent. € €
- Lo Zodiaco (Via Sassari 59, 39.070.670333). The restaurant is nice but not too much, the service fast but not always gentle but probably here you’ll eat the best pizza (very large) of the city (if you like the thin and crispy one). The cuisine in general is outstanding although the price is high. Book if you can. € €
- Pomata (Viale Regina Margherita 18, 39.070.672058). One of the most famous Sardinian chef in recent years has opened his own restaurant in Cagliari. If you are looking for some culinary invention and you love tuna don’t miss it. If you prefer the simple cuisine (and spend less) go elsewhere. € € €
- Sa Piola (vico S. Margherita 3, 39.070.666714). Set in an alley just above the Piazza Yenne is a typical restaurant with delicious home-made furniture to eat meals with the ancient traditions of quality raw materials (such as homemade pasta). A little expensive but it may be worthwhile. € € €
- Sa Domu Sarda (Via Sassari 51, 39.070.653400). Restaurant with typical menu of meat (culurgiones, cream cheese, pork by reservation …). Prices honest, warm and friendly atmosphere and excellent cuisine. € / € €
There are a lot of opportunities where have a good stay at any price.
Traditionally, the hotels are top level. The T Hotel is the best one, a little outside the center but outstanding (restaurant, suites and a Spa inside).
For a budget stay, you can have a look to the newly opened hostel located in the historic city center (Piazza San Sepolcro).
Halfway you can find a B&B. A lot of them were opened during last years and you can find some lovely ones in the center or near the sea. Take a look to:
– Aurora: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=14520&IDregione=14
– BBGaribaldi: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=9701&IDregione=14
– Centro storico Via Manno: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=5908&IDregione=14
– Il giardino segreto: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=9740&IDregione=14
– Le suite sul Corso: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=9587&IDregione=14
– MarePoetto: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=11594&IDregione=14
– Sa domu cheta: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=9727&IDregione=14
– Sardinia Domus: http://www.bed-and-breakfast.it/pagina.cfm?ID=421&IDregione=14
There are good opportunities especially in the summer but a little more should be done all over the year.
In discos the target is relatively young, with some exceptions, and between June and August is convenient going outside the town, to the west coast to Pula (Tsunami or Fuori Luna) or to the eastern coast toVillasimius (Sciabecco, Peyote).
If you won’t go too far there is always the Lido and its round dancefloor over the sea.
In the center, during the winter season, there are pubs (Irish, Merlo, Donegal) and bars, often with some dj (Libarium, Kubrick, Dulcis).
The Caffè degli Spiriti on the Bastione San Remy is a “must” during summer. You can also come across a milonga under the stars in the Caffé de Candia, on the same terrace, if it’s the right day (in general on wednesday).
In winter: have a delicious pizza at the Zodiaco in Via Sassari. After, take a walk in Corso Vittorio Emanuele and choose the pub for you: The Irish one also has a nice wine cellar carved into a genuine Templar crypt, the Kubrick has a young clientele a little more elegant, Soul (at the bottom of the Corso) is small and very busy.
If you move towards Viale Trieste you can find the Orus Cafe, an elegant club on two floors.
If it’s Thursday and you want to confuse between Cagliari people, go to Linea Notturna in Via Mameli, not so far from there.
Summer: the menu is large and the possibilities are essentially two:
A. Have a dinner by candlelight at Ampurias in Piazzetta Savoia. From there move to Piazza Yenne for an ice cream outside and then go up the Santa Chiara stairs and go to Libarium Cafè where having a cocktail and enjoying a spectacular view of the city.
End your tour passing by between local universities to Bastion, the Caffè De Candia and Caffè degli Spiriti, where you can listen to beautiful music under the stars lying in a large sofa.
If you have a car you can go to dance until sunrise on the coast. In Pula there is the modern Tsunami disco that often hosts international DJs. In Chia there is the Fuori Luna disco where confusing among many other tourists like you.
In Villasimius, on the other side of the coast, the Peyote is a typical Mexican restaurant where having dinner and dancing on the tables.
B. After a romantic dinner at the Lido (or a more casual pizza downstairs) move to a beach bar. The top bars are placed from the Marina Piccola to the “fourth stop” (Palmetto, Oasis, Emerson, Zen). All these bars offer a sitting area on the sand and DJ music (mostly electronic).
If you love South American rhythms go beyond (Twist, Calypso, Capolinea). If you have rock and reggae in the blood go to Corto Maltese, where every night there are metal / rock / reggae bands playing on the stage.
If you get bored you can always end your night as the plan A moving to a nightclub on the coast or going to Lido at Poetto to dance in the round dancefloor above the sea until the sunrise.
As a reference for local events go to Crastulo website.
Sea (in one day)
If you stay in Cagliari and you want to dive in a postcard sea you have a lot of possibilities!
In less than an hour by car you will find:
– Santa Margherita di Pula
– Chia (Su Giudeu)
– Chia (Cala Cipolla)
– Mari Pintau
– Cala Giunco
– Costa Rey
If you want you can also have a dinner in Pula or Villasimius. They offer excellent pizzerias and restaurants. After dinner you can walk along the pedestrian streets of downtowns with shops open until 1.00 AM.