Is Cagliari Worth Visiting?
Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, has long been a popular destination for scuba diving and architecture enthusiasts. It’s growing in popularity as a vacation spot, but is there enough to do if you’re not a scuba diver or fan of architecture? It begs the question: if you have the budget for just one trip this year, is Cagliari worth visiting?
Cagliari has a lot to offer any visitor with its rich history, perfect weather, miles and miles of beaches, and beautiful coastline. Cagliari is a stunning city on the Mediterranean Sea, home to fantastic food, fascinating history, and delicious wines only available in Sardinia and mainland Italy. It is a popular destination for jet-setters and millionaires who spend their holidays enjoying Sardinia’s stunning beach life.
Cagliari is on the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia, which is 9,300 square miles of white sand beaches with the bluest of blue water and hikeable medieval ruins. Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean and is located 116 miles west of mainland Italy. The island is home to some of the best food and wines in Europe.
Stick around as we take a look at things to do, the best time to go, and some must-try food and drink. After reading, you can decide for yourself if Cagliari is worth visiting for your next dream vacation!
What to do During Your Trip to Cagliari
The city of Cagliari rests on the southern tip of Sardinia. It is famous for its hilltop Castello: a medieval walled city-within-the-city, perched high above the rest of the Cagliari.
1. Cagliari Architecture
The best Cagliari architectural sites to visit include:
- The stunning 13th-century Cagliari Cathedral
- Cathedral of Santa Maria
- Bastione di Saint Remy
- Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari, famous for its bronze relics, Roman ceramics, and artifacts from the Nuragic age to the Byzantine era
2. Visit this Local Market
The San Benedetto Market is a trendy place to visit.
San Benedetto Market boasts the freshest locally caught fish and seafood. If fish isn’t your thing, the market offers locally raised meat, cheese, and fresh fruit vendors.
Locals will tell you that early arrival is critical since vendors sell out quickly. Visiting this market is also a cost-effective way to try local Cagliari delicacies.
3. Outdoor Activities in Cagliari
For those who want to take advantage of what Cagliari offers outside, Poetto Beach is a famous beach for its long stretches of white sand beaches, clear blue water, and running and biking trails.
Monte Urpinu is a beautiful park high up on a hilltop that offers visitors amazing views of the city and the sea.
Molentargius Nature Reserve is an excellent destination for birdwatching. This protected nature area is a nesting place for pink flamingos and many other birds. Visitors enjoy taking long walks through the park, running along the trails, or just birdwatching.
Nuraghi are mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives along the rocky hills. People travel from all over the world for no other reason than to hike these ruins.
Sardinia is also home to Giara di Gesturi, tiny horses that exist only on this island. They live on the Giara plateau and were allegedly brought to Sardinia by the Phoenicians in 1000 BC.
4. Cagliari Nightlife
After a day in the Sardinian sun, it’s time for a night on the town.
Cagliari’s nightlife is nothing to scoff at, as the city’s many bars, cafes, pubs, and clubs offer plenty of opportunities for an evening spent socializing, partying, or just unwinding.
There are plenty of evening bars in Cagliari, and the old town Castello district has no shortage of cafes, bars, and nightclubs that cater to a younger crowd.
Cagliari has bars to suit every taste and every age, from sophisticated cocktail bars to Irish pubs, and from clubs for teens and college students to clubs catering to the senior citizen set.
5. Bonus: Come for this Immersive Sardinian Cultural Experience
Every year on May 1st, Cagliari celebrates Sant’Efisio, with a parade that people from all over the island attend. This parade celebrates the saint who helped Sardinia get rid of the plague that killed thousands of people in the 1600s.
The plague ended in 1657, and ever since, the statue of Saint Efisio has been paraded through the streets of Cagliari by people dressed in traditional costumes representing villages from around the island.
The statue is carried over 31 miles to the village of Nora, where the saint is said to be buried. This festival is a must if you want to have an immersive Sardinian cultural experience.
When is the Best Time to Visit Cagliari?
The island of Sardinia is known for its “six-month summer”, starting in May and running through October. Cagliari temperatures average between 72 degrees and 87 degrees during this extended summer.
But it’s not only summer. Sardinia has a beautiful climate year-round. Since Sardinia is approximately 120 miles north of Africa, Cagliari enjoys a warm, Mediterranean climate. (See Also: Where To Stay in Cagliari?)
July and August will hit the upper 80s in Cagliari. The island’s seas surrounding Cagliari are warm enough to swim in between May and October.
The Sardinians consider May to September the tourist season, and they are ready and waiting for you.
July and August are the busiest months on this island, and crowds are larger during this time. August is usually when mainland Italians flood the island to spend their holidays. The cost of hotels, rental cars, airfares, and general travel is very high during these two months.
Because of this, we suggest visiting Cagliari in May, June, September, or October to avoid the high costs and large crowds.
October to the end of April is considered low season, and you can stay in Sardinia for reasonably cheap. The island is tranquil during the off-season, with many coastal towns closing restaurants early and fewer options for tours.
This chart summarizes the best times to visit Cagliari:
|Time of Year||Notes|
|May – September||Considered tourist season|
|July – August||Busiest and most expensive months in Cagliari|
|August||Mainland Italians visit to spend their holiday|
|May, June, September, or October||Visit to avoid high costs and large crowds|
|October – April||Low season, with cheaper prices and smaller crowds|
Experiencing the Food & Wine of Cagliari
Sardinia is known for its delectable food and wine. Most of the traditional food dishes in Sardinia are based around animal products like pork and lamb.
The National dish is Pecora in Cappotto, a lamb stew made with wild herbs and potatoes.
The island is also known for its pecorino cheese and Casu Marzu, a maggot-infested cheese eaten for special occasions.
Yes, you read that right: a maggot-infested cheese.
This cheese was named the “most dangerous cheese in the world” in 2009 by the Guinness Book of World Records.
I believe the phrase “when in Rome” applies here?
Ichnusa is the most popular Sardinian beer and is brewed near Cagliari. There are also many craft breweries in Sardinia.
Mirto is the most popular liquor in Sardinia, and it is made from myrtle berries which grow abundantly there. Mirto tastes like juniper, allspice, and pine and has a spicy flavor similar to Amaro.
Sardinian Wines to Try in Cagliari
Most Sardinian vineyards produce small batches of wine, and most aren’t exported outside of Italy. Sardinia is famous for growing four types of grapes:
These four varieties of grapes make four exceptional wines unique to Sardinia:
Vermentino is the most popular white wine of Sardinia. It has a very similar flavor profile to a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio.
Nuragus is a lesser-known grape grown primarily in the Cagliari province. This grape variety isn’t planted anywhere else on earth, so this truly is a must-try when visiting Cagliari. Nuragus wine is a dry, light-bodied, and bright white wine with notes of citrus, green apples, and a mild zesty taste.
Sardinia’s red wines consist of Carignano and Cannonau grapes.
Carignano grapes are grown in the Southwestern part of Sardinia, near Cagliari, this wine is a dry, medium-bodied wine often blended with Syrah grapes. Cannonau is the local name for a French Grenache or Spanish Garnacha.
Cannonau is Sardinia’s signature red wine, and one in every five bottles of wine on the island is this variety. Cannonau is the most planted variety of grapes on Sardinia, totaling around 30% of all the grapes grown there.
How to Get to Cagliari
Now that you’ve decided that Cagliari is worth visiting…how do you get there?
Cagliari has one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean Sea, and it also has an international airport.
Ferries to Sardinia are available year-round but run most frequently during the high tourism season between June and September.
You can fly to Cagliari from Naples and Palermo.
Ferries depart from the city of Civitavecchia, near Rome, to get to Cagliari. Taking a ferry allows visitors to drive their own cars around the island.
Cagliari is a beautiful, historic city that is worth a visit for families, romantic getaways, and everything in between. Perched on the Southern coast of Sardinia, it is a central hub of activity and a beloved Italian town.
Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, this city has so much history, architecture, and beauty to offer any visitor. The island of Sardinia is celebrated for its beautiful beaches on the brightest blue water while having a rugged landscape dotted with thousands of nuraghi inland.