Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia. While the city itself has about 150,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan area of Cagliari has around 450,000 inhabitants. The number make it clear: Cagliari is a city where a lot is going on. Shopping, going out, enjoying the flair of the historically meaningful city, doing sports, enjoying culture, exciting beach life or exploring the surrounding area - Cagliari is just the place. For a holiday or short break or a city break or a short beach holidoay Cagliari is the ideal place to be.
While mass tourism has found its way into many coastal cities in Italy, one thing is apparent here: Sardinian originality and authenticity. Expensive souvenir shops or overpriced gastronomic offers - you do not have to worry about these things. Cagliari's central location is the harbor and the train station is just a few hundred meters from the city center. The airport is located in the suburb of Elmas - depending on the traffic situation, it takes about 20 minutes by car to get to the city center, where most of Cagliari's attractions can be found.
Cagliari: Places of Interest and Acitivies
Historic city center and Bastione San Remy
The historic city center of Cagliari as well als the bastion San Remy are located on a hill, that you simply cannot miss. On top of the hill and the narrow streets Cagliari is being crowned by the Bastion (Bastione San Remy). The walls high above the city offer awesome views on and over the city - into every direction. The view goes far beyond the sea to the surrounding mountains. Entering the historic city center and the bastion is easy, you simply follow the roads uphill. Large stairways or narrow streets will lead you there.
Small and larger shops can be found all around the city center, numerous Restaurants, Bars and similar locations are quite tempting. In the historic center of Cagliari you will only find a few brand stores. Small or local labels, bakeries, pastry-shops, handicrafts and alike dominate the picture. You will realize very quick, that Cagliari is very unique and Sardinians love their own style. Larger international brands are selling their products in brand stores and shopping centers in the suburbs of Cagliari; for example in Sestu and in Quartu St. Elena.
From here it is also worth exploring the winding streets that cover the hill. If you have enough time, you should come here for lunch, dinner, dinner, an event or a nice bar.
City beach Poetto, salines and Flamingos
The city's own beach called Poetto offers a lively beach life with restaurants, stalls and bars and is stronly frequented by the inhabitants of the city especially on weekends - for swimming, for fun but also for sports activities such as beach volleyball, running or go to the bike. The poetto is a wide and sandy beach and it stretches for about 8 to 9 kilometers / about 5.5 miles. The promontory of the Sella del Diavolo (Devil Saddle)stands out very significantly and dominates the smaller marina along the Poetto beach.
Only a few footsteps behind the beach you will find extensive salines. The area is covered with evaporation basins that are being flooded with salt water. The shallow walt water is where the flamingos live in large amounts. There are pathways through the salines, so that you can watch the pink and white birds - you can go by foot or bicycle.
If you like to be outside, you may like to go up to Parco Monte Urpinu. The park is located on a hill and it gives way to fantastic views onto the beach and the city.
Churches and other imporant Places of Interest
The Basilica Nostra Signora di Bonaria has been built in the 14th century. What used to be a pilgrimage church was later enhanced by the basilica, which was built in neo-baroque style. In this way, several centuries of art history can be seen in this church. The Cathedral Santa Maria di Castello is another example of the history of art. Originally it was built in the 13th century (gothic-pisan) and was rebuilt several times over the centuries. The interior of the dome or cathedral is baroque, the belfry and the portals of the aisles have been preserved in the original. A sawed pulpit is considered to be an important work of the pisan style and the crypt of the cathedral is also worth seeing.
The church Chiesa di Santa Restituta is especially worth seeing because of the crypt because its origins are going back to the time before christ. The natural cave was used until the 13th century and it used to be the gathering place of the first Christians in Cagliari. The towers Torre dell'Elefante (built in 1307) and Torre di San Pacrazio (built in 1305) are located in the historic center of Cagliari and are also among the attractions in Cagliari. Even today, they are a kind of the "main entrance" to the Castello - the most central part of the old town. They are examples of Pisan military architecture and were part of the former defenses around the old town. They are very well preserved and completely open towards the inside, as if the walls were missing. That was simply practical - the access was easy, you could communicate well and also the replenishment could be guaranteed faster. Worth seeing is also the original Gate along the tower Torre dell'Elefante and the three-meter-thick walls. Seeing it gives you a very good impression of how a city used to be defended in former centuries.
Museums in Cagliari: Cittadella dei Musei Cagliari and Botanical Garden
The museum complex Cittadella dei Musei includes several museums. The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari (Archaeological Museum) is particularly worth a visit, as Sardinia is a place where many from various eras have been found.
The Museo del Tesoro di Sant'Eulalia is well worth a visit as it houses underground Roman excavations. In addition, there is also modern art here. The botanical garden Orto Botanico is run by the University of Cagliari and is also part of the museum complex Citadella dei Musei. It shows both native plants as well as plants from all over the world. The site also contains archaeological sites. A visit to the small oasis is worthwhile. During the the warm summer months, you will find nice and cool places beneath the trees around here. The museum complex can be found in Piazza Arsenale, and the botanical garden is also nearby. On Monday the Citadella dei Musei Cagliari is closed, on other days it is open from 09.00 a.m. to 8.00 in the evening.
Another place of interest is the Roman amphitheater in Cagliari. The Anfiteatro Romano has been built in the 2nd century BC. One-third of the city's population in Roman times fitted in. Nowadays it is primarily being used for concerts. The ampitheater is well preserved. The Necropoli di Tuvixeddu or necropolis of Tuvixeddu is an ancient tomb, dating from the 6th to the 7th century BC. This necropolis is Phoenician-Punic, with a few thousand tombs. This makes it one of the largest of its kind in the Mediterranean. Nearby is also the Grotta della Vipera, a Roman tomb whose portal is decorated with serpents carved in stone.
Mercato Comunale di San Benedetto
The city's market place Mercato Comunale di San Benedetto is one more very worthwile place to go. It is a large market hall and it offers loads of foods. Restaurants, retailers or private people come here in order to buy fresh foods from around Sardinia.
The building has several floors - containing vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, bread, pastries and much more. All the products are fresh and the place is very clean. The market opens form monday to saturday - starting at 07.00 a.m. until 02.00 p.m. There is no need to go there early in the morning, the variety and amount of products is awesome - very good until the very end of the market day.
Inside the market hall food is being sold. Around the market hall there are also stalls selling household goods, scarves and other everyday necessities.
Surroundings: Tours or excursions from Cagliari
If you spend a few days in Cagliari, you will benefit from the good connection by airplane or ferry. Even if Cagliari actually offers everything for a few wonderful holidays: A few excursions are worthwhile in any case.
Intense beach life can be found in Pula or Chia or Villasimius . The Sella del Diavolo (devil's saddle) is an upstream rock mass that characterizes the the Poetto (city beach). There are also paths to explore the devil's saddle.
Those who like mountain tours will find what they are looking for in the Sarrabus Mountains or the nature reserve Parco dei Sette Fratelli. Also the mountain range Monti del Sulcis with the WWF nature reserve Monte Arcosu is very inviting for a hike. For cyclists, motorcyclists and motorists, the Gola Rio Cannas gorge is a popular destination. Ancient nuraghi complexes in Sardinia are a must-see in Sardinia. You will find the Nuraghe Antigori or the Nuraghe Su Nuraxi nearby.
The city of Cagliari will surprise you - whereever you are: Numerous historic buildings can be found in the city as well as a lively nightlife and shopping opportunities. If you want, you can enjoy the city beach Poetto or make excursions from here to the sunny beaches in the south of Sardinia. If you like to go shopping, the outlet center "Corte del Sole" in Sestu is the right place for you. Herer you can buy clothes, latest fashion trends, shoes, household goods and many other brand products at very low prices.