Sardinia: Real & Rustic

While quintessentially Italian, no-one who visits Sardinia can deny that it has a special magic of its own. From its craggy peaks and BronzeAge nuraghi towers to its simple, frugal cuisine borne from its ancient shepherd diet, this often-overlooked island brims with rustic charm, sun-beaten landscapes and beguiling discoveries.

Departure date available: 14 October 2024

Handpicked Highlights

  • Get under the skin of wild, untouched Sardinia, experiencing its natural beauty, savouring its local food and staying at small and charming hotels
  • Unwind in the lovely Catalan town of Alghero, famous for its sunsets and sea grottos 
  • Channel the local lifestyle at the Su Gologone hotel in Sardinia’s ‘Blue Zone, one of five global areas known for the longevity of its locals 
  • See the BronzeAgenuraghi’ of Su Nuraxi in Barumini and learn their ancient mysteries
  • Visit an organic winery in the south’s rolling hills and taste wines still made in ceramic amphoras 
  • Devour rustic Sardinian fare like cold cuts and ‘pane carasau’ at a shepherd’s hut in the Gennargentu mountains 
  • Watch bakers make traditional flatbread, sip red Cannonau wine, and dine on slow-roasted suckling pig, an island delicacy 

Tour Itinerary

Eschewing the conventional tourist trail around Sardinia’s coast and glitzy Costa Smeralda, our 7-night tour concentrates on less-travelled Sardinia: unveiling capital Cagliari, sleepy towns like Bosa, and the Supramonte Mountains before visiting seaside Alghero. Encounters with local life abound, from winetastings and a mountain lunch to stays in hand-picked hotels, including the acclaimed Su Gologone, an idyllic retreat in the hills.

Day 1 Arrive in Sardinia

We fly to Cagliari and after a transfer to our hotel, the 4-star Regina Margherita in the city, we enjoy a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. Both provide the perfect opportunity to meet and chat with your fellow travellers and tour manager.

Meals included: Dinner

Day 2 Cagliari

Today is dedicated to Cagliari, Sardinia’s evocative and often underrated capital. Steeped in character, the city is outwardly Italian but with its own undeniable personalityinterestingly, DH Lawrence called it ‘strange and rather wonderful.’ On a walking tour, we explore the historic old city, which sits on a plateau under an ancient citadel. After visiting the National Archaeological Museum to view artifacts spanning Neolithic and Roman times, we see the 13th century Cathedral and Bastion of Saint Remy, which commands stunning bay views, and ride the mini-train that winds through the medieval quarter

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3 Su Nuraxi & Olianas Winery

Leaving Cagliari, we travel to Barumini, home to UNESCO-listed Su Nuraxi, a cluster of nuraghi’ defensive towers dating back 3,700 years. With a local guide, we go inside the central tower and learn the legends behind these age-old structures. Next, we visit the Olianas Winery for a vineyard tour, winetasting and light lunch of fresh, home-grown produce before crossing into Sardinia’s Gennargentu Massif to our base for the next three nightsthe extraordinary Su Gologone Experience Hotel, tucked into the foothills of the Supramonte Mountains. This evening, we gather for an aperitif on an alfresco terrace before relishing the Sardinian speciality of suckling pig, accompanied by unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Supramonte Mountains

A true adventure awaits in Sardinia’s rugged Supramonte peaks this morning. Travelling into the mountains by 4WD, we visit a nuraghi site before driving to a rustic shepherd’s hut for a picnic of flavoursome local foods including carasau’ flatbreads, antipasti, roast lamb, cheeses, honey and desserts, all washed down with full-bodied Cannonau red wine. After our feast, we return to the Su Gologone, leaving the remainder of the afternoon and evening free for you to enjoy its inspirational amenities and setting. Maybe swim in the pool if the weather allows, relax on a scenic terrace, enjoy a siesta, or sip an aperitif at sunset the choice is yours.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Supramonte Mountains, Sardinia, Italy, real, rustic

Day 5 Sorgente Su Gologone Springs & Orgosolo

We embark on a leisurely walk to the Sorgente Su Gologone springs, which flow from a rock face. After taking in this mystical beauty spot, we have lunch in nearby Orgosolo, dubbed the ‘City of Murderers’, for harbouring notorious bandits until a few decades ago. Our local guide shows us the highlights of this intriguing town, which is now peaceful and painted with murals depicting everything from revolutionary scenes to saints’ portraits. Tonight brings a special tasting of local produce and wines. Gathered around a bread oven inside the hotel restaurant or one of its terraces (weather dependent), we watch an artisan baker create and cook local breads. The sweet aromas will surely whet your appetite for dinner and drinks, which follow.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6 Nuoro, Bosa & Alghero

This morning, we call at historic Nuoro, set on the slopes of Monte Ortobene before passing farmlands and nuraghi en route to the west coast. We stop for lunch in the medieval town of Bosa, whose stacks of pastel-painted houses climb to a ruined castle. From here, it’s a scenic drive around headlands and cliffs to Alghero. This one-time Catalan outpost exudes both a Spanish and Sardinian feel, and boasts cobbled lanes and piazzas girded by fortified walls. After checking in at our hotel, we meet for prosecco and nibbles at the rooftop bar overlooking the harbour before enjoying the remainder of the evening at leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7 Neptune’s Caves

After riding a boat across the emerald waters of Alghero bay, we reach the rocky Capo Caccia headland, home to the famous Neptune’s Caves, a network of natural sea grottos. Here, a cave guide leads us through the caverns to see their illuminated lakes, stalactites and stalagmites. Alternatively, you can choose to descend the ‘Escala del Cabirol’ (goat’s steps), a 656-step stairway down the cliffs to the caves’ entrance, revealing sublime seascapes at each turn. Returning to Alghero, we’ll have time to freshen up before enjoying a fabulous farewell dinner at a local trattoria. 

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8 Departure

We transfer to Olbia airport for our flight to the UK.

Meals included: Breakfast

Regina Margherita

We have hand-picked the 4-star Regina Margherita for its great location in Cagliari’s historic centre and its reputation for exceptional service. Standing on a tree-lined street running from the medieval quarter and close to the cathedral and harbour, the hotel has a polished look that can bely the traditionally warm welcome it offers. From the moment they arrive, guests are treated to professional and helpful service from the well-trained team that ensure they feel at home right away. 

The marble lobby, lounge and bar are sophisticated and comfortable, while the buffet breakfasts centre on tasty, traditionally crafted products from local suppliers, such as cured meats, yogurts, cheeses and fresh fruits. Guests reserve special praise for the coffee–it’s made and served to your personal tastes. Completing everything are the calming modern rooms, each with a private bathroom with shower, free Wi-Fi, safe and minibar. 

Nights 1-2

Su Gologone Experience Hotel

Crouched in Sardinia’s Supramonte foothills, the 4-star Su Gologone is a living, breathing celebration of the island’s rich traditions, gastronomy and connection with nature. Run by the Palimodde family, and much more than a hotel – guests enjoy experiences like craft workshops and 4WD excursions – it is decorated throughout with hand-embroidered furnishings and local art that embed it into its natural surroundings. 

Inspired by its location in Sardinia’s Blue Zone – where the local healthy diet prolong locals’ lives – the hotel serves simple, country cuisine like suckling pig and home-made pastas in its restaurants, together with aperitifs and grappas on its evocatively named outdoor decks, including its stunning ‘Terrace of Dreams’. Breakfasts are zero-food-mile affairs of local honey, cheeses, cakes and cured meats. Three bars, a spring-fed outdoor pool and tennis courts add final flourishes. Each en-suite rooms is uniquely furnished in typical Sardinian style, with air-conditioning, TV, safe, hairdryer, kettle and coffee-maker. 

Nights 3-5

Hotel Catalunya

A short stroll from Alghero old town, the 4-star modern Catalunya enjoys a great position a street back from the harbour and 15 minutes’ walk from the beautiful Lido beach. Inside, everything is designed to create a relaxing and authentically Sardinian home-from-home, from the immaculate lobby and obliging staff to thoughtful touches that support the local community, such as eco-friendly policies and the use of local ingredients at the restaurant. 

One of the highpoints here – quite literally – is the Skybar, a covered top-floor terrace where guests can unwind after a busy day of exploring while taking in fantastic sunset and harbour views. Rich buffet breakfasts with coffees made just how you like them, a small gym and an open-air garden terrace complete the hotel facilities. The restful rooms, meanwhile, offer old town or port views and come with an en-suite with bath or shower, flatscreen TV, Wi-Fi, safe, hairdryer and minibar. 

Nights 6-7

What's included

  • Flights

    Return flights London Gatwick to Cagliari & transfers in Sardinia
    LGW-CAG Dep 06:40 Arr 10:25
    CAG-LGW Dep 11:15 Arr 13:00

  • Accommodation

    7 nights in three handpicked hotels

  • Meals

    7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners

  • Handpicked Highlights

    Itinerary and handpicked highlights as stated above

  • Tour Manager

    Services of a local, experienced English speaking Tour Manager

  • Coach Transport

    All coach transportation as stated in itinerary above 

Extras

  • Travel insurance 
  • Local tourist and city taxes  
  • Gratuities for tour manager and coach driver 

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