Why visit Cagliari in Sardinia? Well, you see … the thing is that all the good things you know and love about Italy, you will find here. But they are even better!
Imagine people kinder and less pretentious, artisanal ice cream and gluten-free pizza, beach six-kilometre long with plenty of cafes and restaurants… and the most beautiful traditional costumes you have ever seen…
Sardinian people say they are not 100% Italians. And how they can be?! Four centuries ruled by Spanish, less long by Vandals and for a long period being part of the Byzantine Empire, made of Sardinians proud people but also kind and simple in the good meaning of this word.
The distance from the continents (Europe in North and Africa in South) kept Sardinia safe from the downfall and disintegration of the modern society that loses its traditions with each passing year.
Many people come to Sardinia to enjoy the island’s beautiful beaches. But I will say it’s the traditions that make the most interesting experience you can have here. You can find heavenly beaches all over the world. But you will never find the same ethnic diversity as the one on the Island of Sardinia.
As this blog is for women travelling the world, sometimes alone, I will start with the most important reason why visit Cagliari.
Is Cagliari Safe to Travel Alone?
I spent seven days in the city, and after the first shock from the presence of the numerous African emigrants on the streets, I felt safe and very comfortable to walk the streets. Despite the attention I drew (blond, tall, obviously not local), people were kind and respectful. Man too.
The many emigrants are circulating in the central part of the city where the old town and the port are located. They sell stuff on the streets but never approach you aggressively.
Of course, don’t forget your common sense like everywhere in the world. Never walk alone in the dark maze streets late at night except you absolutely have to. I never heard of safety problems here but it is better to be cautious.
Is Cagliari Expensive?
It’s cheaper than many other European destinations and especially other famous Italian destinations that are also more touristic than Cagliari.
However, in summer Sardinia is a very popular vacation destination because of its stunning beaches and prices rise. It is best to go to Sardinia and Cagliari in transition seasons, May and September being the best because you can still enjoy some sea bathing and sun-soaking days.
Is Cagliari Easy to Explore?
Cagliari is a relatively small European city and it is walkable despite that it is the Sardinia’s capital. Approximately 200 000 people live here and distances are not distant. You will reach the city’s centre from the airport for about 15 minutes by train. The closest beach (one of the best beaches in Sardinia) is also between 10 and 20 minutes depending on what transport means you use.
Four City Districts to Explore
Cagliari has four districts that are easy to explore on foot and offer different types of entertainment and discoveries.
In Castello District, you will find Bastion of Santa Croce, Cathedral of Santa Maria, and the Former Town Hall that is a museum, Bastion of Saint Remy and the Royal Palace. If you want to learn more about it join the Old Cagliari tour.
Stampace District is the most important (logistically) and centrally located. Here is the Central Station, the Town Hall and the Tourist Information Centre as well. On the streets of this district is organized the beautiful traditional Sant’Efisio Festival.
The Marina District has many outdoor bars and restaurants and this is where you can observe the multicultural contemporary life of Cagliari.
Villanova District is a relatively new district with many shops – from fashion boutiques to antique shops.
The Most Kind Italians are in Sardinia
In Sardinia, you will meet some of the kindest Italians that not only are willing to speak English but also will be happy to help you if you ask them for guidance or advice. The Sardinians make their island feel like a home to the visitor, not just another beautiful place you visit.
Sant’Efisio – The Most Spectacular Religious Procession in the World
If the other reasons for why visit Cagliari are not enough, maybe this one will convince you.
This year, people of Sardinia celebrated for the 361st time the Sant’Efisio day. The story says that in 1652 after half of the population of the city died, the Saint helped the people by saving them from the plague. For more than 360 years, Sardinians continue with devotion and passion for thanking their most loved (and very handsome) Saint by walking the procession on 1st May. Whole families take part – from the adolescents to their grandparents.
It is impossible to explain the marvellous event, you have to see it.
Big Variety of Activities
Do you love history? Yes? Good! Because in and around Cagliari there are a lot of historical sites to see.
Do you like spending time on the beach? Yes? Great! You have some very nice (and huge!) beaches around Cagliari and plenty of them all over the island of Sardinia.
You are a foodie that loves trying new, traditional cuisine? I bet you will find some of the finest food in the shops and restaurants in Cagliari.
Do you love trekking and hiking? No problem! Not only you will have an amazing opportunity for this here but also all your hikes will be accompanied by amazing sea views.
Is nightlife your thing? Ok, look, I don’t know if you will have enough time to enjoy all the great places that Cagliari offers for apperitivo, dining out and clubbing.
Good, Locally Produced Food
All food cooked in Sardinia (homemade or in restaurants) uses locally produced products. It is amazing how Sardinians succeed to preserve their food traditions and (economy!). Fruits and vegetables come from the land. No need to speak about sustainability here, it comes naturally to the people of Sardinia. Want to join food tour or a cooking class?
Artisanal Ice Cream, Gluten-free Pizza, and More
As I told you, Cagliari is not a very large city but definitely offers some great variety of food. Are you gluten-intolerant? I am! And I had one of the best (gluten-free) pizza of my life in Cagliari!
What about the famous Italian gelato? Cagliari has its own ice cream legend and its name is Peter Pan Gelateria.
There are also typical ravioli, local pastry varieties, and pizza Nuoreze that add some great diversity to the local cuisine.
Cagliari is Less Touristic
One of the best reasons why to visit Cagliari is that it is less touristy, even if it’s one of the best cruise ports in the Mediterranean. My overall impression of Cagliari (in May) was that this culturally-rich, enticingly attractive and beautiful city is not one of the most visited in Italy; which is a good thing. You can still feel the authenticity of the everyday life of the people, whose kindness didn’t get robbed from the pressure of the tourist masses. And the slow-pace life is somewhat the gift that this beautiful island gives to each of its visitors who come here in an attempt to find the place within itself where the joy of life and peace of mind live.
Cagliari and Sardinia were for a long time known as a summer vacation destination that is more expensive than some of the other options in Southern Italy. This is only because you will spend a bit more for an airplane ticket as Cagliari is not accessible by low-cost flights from many airports in Europe. However, Ryanair and Vueling are flying to Cagliari and even if you need to spend a larger amount on a ticket with Alitalia, the money you will spend will be totally worth it!
Why visit Cagliari? Cagliari is one of those European cities that can’t be compared with anyone else. It is lead back and still busy, it is modern but has so much to say about the past. It offers Italian food, but with its own flavour … And the sun all year round makes possible to enjoy the gorgeous Sardinian beaches any time.
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