Famous for its gorgeous beaches and incredibly clear waters, Sardinia is a favorite destination for summer holidays.This beautiful island at the heart of the Mediterranean knows no rivals when it comes to beaches and sea. Trust me, I have traveled the world and have seen enough of it to make this claim!
But there’s more to Sardinia than just fabulous beaches. The island is packed with lovely villages, unique archaeological sites, challenging climbing spots and hiking trails for all tastes and levels of difficulty. Some hikes follow the coast and have beautiful sea views. Others go deep into mountains and gorges. And several finish in archaeological sites.
I never miss an opportunity to hike in Sardinia, and I have explored many trails. But I have my favorite spots, ones that I never tire of exploring. It was a difficult task, but I managed to narrow it down to my top five.
1. Cala Cipolla to Tuerredda
This moderate hiking trail starts in Cala Cipolla, a beautiful cove about 1 hour (drive) from Cagliari, Sardinia’s main city. It follows the coast to reach Tuerredda, another gorgeous beach. Views along the trail include Capo Spartivento and its lighthouse-turned-luxury-hotel, Pedra Longa beach, and several other small coves. It’s a moderate hike of around 18 km (~ 11 miles). The most demanding, yet rewarding bit is the hike up to the observatory: the view is simply stunning.
2. Gorropu Canyon
Some sources cite Gorropu as the deepest canyon in Europe. I can’t say for sure, but I do know it is a beautiful place. There are multiple trails that lead to the Canyon, starting from various villages around the region. The level of difficulty varies, but the scenery is outstanding from every approach.
My favorite is the the trail that starts right outside the village of Urzulei. It goes through Sa Giuntura and reaches two natural pools, Piscina Urtaddala and Piscina Gorropu. It’s a steep downhill walk with a steep uphill return.
3. Masua Pan di Zucchero to Cala Domestica
Although only 12 km (~7.5 miles) long, this is one of the most challenging hiking trails on the southwest coast of Sardinia. Starting in Masua Pan di Zucchero, one of the most spectacular beaches in Sardinia, the hike goes up and down a very narrow trail (at times no more than 50 cm wide), through thick bushes of Mediterranean vegetation and along a very technical path that offers stunning coastal views.
The ending point is Cala Domestica, a beautiful cove that looks like a fjord, surrounded by hills and sand dunes. There is a Spanish watch tower on the hill, dating back to the times when the Spaniards controlled the island.
4. Asinara National Park
Asinara is a small island off the north coast of Sardinia. It can be reached by ferry from either Porto Torres or Stintino. The island is currently uninhabited: there’s only a few park rangers. Once a leprosy and cholera colony where people would be quarantined, Asinara later became a high security prison where mafia bosses like Totò Riina and Raffaele Cutolo were held in custody.
The prison was closed in 1997 and the island became a protected national park where wold boars, white donkeys, sheep, fox, mouflons and even marine turtles live. Asinara is packed with hiking and biking trails, all of them with stunning views over incredible beaches.
Visitors are only allowed on Asinara between May and October. There’s only one accommodation option: a basic but clean hostel in the small white village of Cala D’Oliva.
5. Selvaggio Blu
One of the toughest hikes in Italy, Selvaggio Blu is a 7-day, 45 km (~28 mile) hike along the east coast of Sardinia. The trail goes through thick woods, ravines, cliffs, often following the nearly invisible goat trails. Some parts require rock climbing.
The trail starts in Pedra Longa and from there it reaches Porto Cuau (literally “hidden harbor”); continues to the magnificent Cala Goloritzé, Bacu Maduloru, Cuile Piddi, Cala Sisine; and finally Cala Luna and Cala Fuili.
This hike must be done with a guide who knows the area well, as the trails are often hard to find, and it is necessary to arrange a boat that carries food and water to the small coves where camp is set each night.
Tip for Hiking in Sardinia
While I generally don’t recommend hiking during the hot summer months, some of the best hiking trails in Sardinia finish at gorgeous beaches, and the clear cold waters are a good reward.
Being properly dressed for hiking is crucial. A good pair of hiking boots (and thick hiking socks) provides proper ankle support and extra comfort. Wearing layers is key: I recommend hiking pants (preferably convertible with zippers to turn them into shorts), a technical t-shirt, an extra light sweater and a windproof jacket or light fleece to cover up when taking breaks.
Always carry plenty of water, food and snacks. On most hikes in Sardinia, no shops or restaurants are found along the way.
On some occasions, hiking starts in one point and ends in a completely different one, and it’s better to arrange a car and a pick up to drive back. Various companies arrange guided hikes that also include driving to and from the area. However, not all companies are good, with some taking too large groups without enough guides to manage the group properly. Check online reviews before committing.
Claudia is a former human rights lawyer who changed careers to follow her true calling. She’s now traveling around the world in search of adventures and unique hiking experiences. Follow her adventures on Instagram.