The best hotels in Sardinia

Mention Sardinia to people, and most will conjure up visions of the Costa Smeralda, the rugged stretch of limpid, azure waters and powder-soft white sand on the north-east coast of the island. The area was ‘discovered’ by Prince Karium Aga Khan IV in the early 1960s; these days billionaire jet-setters, royals and stars such as the Clooneys are drawn to the coast by its five-star hotels, designer shopping, dining scene and, of course, its ravishing natural beauty.

But there is a lot more to Sardinia than this immaculate (some would say too immaculate) strip of the coast; for starters, the rest of the contorted, 1,850km coastline has more gorgeous beaches than any other part of Italy. Towns and cities worth exploring include the pretty port of Cagliari (the capital) in the south, bustling, medieval Alghero on the northwest coast which has a distinctly Spanish vibe (it was once under the rule of the Catalans) and the colourful village of Bosa to its south.

Sardinia is Europe’s oldest landmass and there is a wealth of archaeological remains dotted throughout the wild, silent hinterland including over 7,000 nuraghi (remnants of the ancient, mysterious Nuragic civilization) and the tombs known as “tombe dei giganti”. Then there is the fabulous food and wine (look out for porceddu – whole spit-roasted suckling piglet-, a maggot-infested sheep’s cheese called cazu marzu, white Vermentino and red Cannonau), the bizarre folk festivals, the albino donkeys indigenous to the Isola dell’Asinara… DH Lawrence wrote in 1921 that “Sardinia is out of time and history; this land resembles no other place.” He was right.

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