One discovery after the other, you will find yourself wondering “is this really Sardinia”?
Sardinia is the blue of its pristine waters, white of its sandy beaches, the green of its lush vegetation, auburn of its dusty inland roads. Sardinia is a triumph of taste and scents. Still, ask any locals and they will tell you that the best way to enjoy the superb coastline and staggering inland is to get out and hike o ride a bike. We may all find ourselves in uncharted waters, Covid-19 disrupting our lives, bringing uncertainty and anguish, but by all means, do not stop dreaming, planning and exploring– albeit from your couch, for the time being! We will soon start travelling again and it will be a godsend.
Many already know Sardinia as they may have walked on its charming beaches or swam in its incredibly clear waters, kayaked with joy or tasted its delightful, genuine gourmet delicacies; if you have not explored this magical land on foot or on a bike, however, you may miss on some of its hidden, startling treasures. One discovery after the other, you will find yourself wondering “is this really Sardinia”? Surprises keep on coming and we want to reveal some secrets of this magic realm of wonders.
Selvaggio Blu – Wild Blue – is perhaps the world’s most famous trek. A scenic trail that includes some rock climbing and some exposed sections, you will find yourself sleeping under the stars, sometimes in shepherds’ huts, swimming in the sea after a long days’ walk, negotiating with paths that change features year on year, learning how to rappel, but most of all getting to know the real, raw and magnificent essence of Sardinia. The path exists in several versions and goes via some of the most spellbinding beaches and areas on the island – Cala Goloritzé, Cala Mariolu, Cala Sisine – granting memories that will stay with you forever. Do not think that this is a walk the park, however: you are strongly advised to contact a local guide as there are no water sources along the way and route navigation may prove challenging at times.
8 km from Baunei, the Golgo Plateau is a pleasant surprise for anyone approaching it on foot. A basalt plateau of dark lava that stands out on the white granite, this natural wonder is separated from the sea by a ridge of steep mountains. Several paths and bridleways go through it, making it an ideal hiking or biking site: Su Sterru is among the deepest gorges in Europe; As Piscinas are basaltic pools that collect rainwater, shaped by the Nuragic tribes so that they could be employed in the metalworking process. The Stone Mask, also called the Lithic Face, is a basalt wall that reveals the bizarre features of a face: sculpted by the elements over the centuries, it unmasks the force of nature and you will enjoy walking in its presence. And then it’s a triumph of various hikes that will take you along historic sites and natural, wide-open landscapes.
As spellbinding as it sounds, Supramonte typifies the Sardinian marvel. A mountain range featuring plateaus and sinkholes, but also rocky peaks reaching for the sky and deep canyons, its distinctive features make it a must-go for any Sardinia lover. On the northeast area of the island, close to Nuoro, it extends over 35,000 hectares and encompasses several villages, among which picturesque Orgosolo with its pretty murals, Oliena and Baunei.
A glance to its wide-open landscapes is enough to inspire and cast a spell; wait until you have walked along one of its beautiful treks – Cala Gonone to Cala Cartoe anyone - or enjoyed a sunset from Mount Corrasi or Mount Giradili and you will find yourself wondering if Heaven can be that far. You will enjoy one revelation after the other, with adventurous hikes along Ghenna ‘e Silana to Gorropu - the sensational canyon or archaeological discoveries in Tiscali, the renowned Nuragic village. And the list goes on…
Discovering a territory means getting to know its natural landscape and the people that live there: in this south-westerly tip of Sardinia lies a staggering past. A strong mining history that shaped the scene of yet another sublime corner on this overpowering island. Several magnificent trails, such as the Blue Miners trails, are dotted around the area: walk among the fragrant Mediterranean scrub, enjoy the scent of salt and juniper overlooking the white limestone Pan di Zucchero in the trail that takes you to Cala Domestica.
The area is part of a Geo-mining park and offers wild beaches that will steal your heart away, but also sand dunes in Piscinas, caves in Zuddas, a Nuragic site in Saurecci and the islands of Sant’Antioco and San Pietro, as well as the ghost town of Tratalias.
On the northwest corner of the island, the Asinara National Park offers several exciting hikes. The Sentiero del Leccio – Holmoak path - will take you along oak and chestnut trees to the summit of Punta Scomunica, the highest peak on the island that grants mesmerizing views of the island. Six other trails are on offer in this superb gem: Granito, Castellaccio, dell’acqua, della memoria, dell’asino bianco and del faro. In short, one path to suit all sorts and certainly to whet your appetite for Sardinian hikes.
As there are no laws restricting the use of mountain bikes on trails and bridleways, this means you are free to roam and enjoy the stunning scenery at your disposal. If you are a hardy type, you may even venture into a spellbinding trip: the Transardinia. From Olbia to Cagliari on your mountain bike! Expect adventure and a strenuous effort in what promises to be the trip of a lifetime. From Gallura to Supramonte, Gennargentu to Ogliastra, it goes along 500 km and an elevation gain of more than 13,000 km. An idyllic swim in the sea is de rigueur along this trail, but you will have to earn it! This is certainly an original way to discover little gems and get to know the secrets of a fascinating land.
If you are a road bike aficionado, an umbrella of opportunities knocks on your door in Sardinia. The Tour of North Sardinia goes along pink granite cliffs and fantastic scenery. You may start in Alghero and reach Olbia via Mores, Pattada and Posada, along forests, limestone massifs, the wild inland and superb views of the Asinara island, the beaches of Budoni, La Caletta and Berchida, plus quaint hamlets and a rich history. Epic Sardinia, from Cagliari to Arbatax, goes along the splendid Gennargentu massif and promises to test your stamina: long runs, steep ascents and the unmistakable Sardinian wind to keep you company – and make you work harder. The Max Leopold Wagner Tour in the southern part of the island - from Cagliari to Pula – retraces the step of a clever Bavarian who came to island in the early 1900s to study the language and culture of Sardinia. You will ride along the coast and via the sensational inner landscape that seems too good to be true. Muravera, Villanovaforru, Portixeddu and Sant’Antioco for a legendary ride in a unique setting.
This is only a selection of the marvellous joys you may find in Sardinia, but many more are waiting… the Bidderosa Oasis, the Porto Conte Regional Park, Su Sercone and Lanaitto in the Supramonte region and many, many more. You will feel a lifetime may not be enough to explore all that’s on offer. Sardinia is not an island, it’s a continent in its own right that never fails to impress and is never short of new, enticing surprises.