Cagliari Travel Guide

Visitor Information for Cagliari, Sardinia

cagliari photo
© 2009 by Martha Bakerjian

Cagliari is the largest city on the island of Sardinia. It has both a large port and an airport, making it easily accessible from mainland Italy and a good place to start a tour of Sardinia. The city also has many interesting sights and attractions, from archeological treasures to medieval monuments.

Cagliari Location:

Cagliari is on the southern coast of Sardinia - see Sardinia City Map. Sardinia, or Sardegna, is a large island in the Mediterranean, west of mainland Italy and just south of Corsica. Sardinia is shown on our Italy Airports Map.

Transportation to and from Cagliari:

Elmas airport, just outside the city, has flights from other parts of Italy and from some places in Europe. A bus connects the airport to Cagliari. The port serves ferries from Sicily and mainland Italy including the ports of Palermo, Trapani, Civitavecchia, and Naples. Ferries also go to Arbatax and Olbia on Sardinia.

The train and bus stations are right in town. The rail line runs from Cagliari to Sassari or Olbia in the north. Local buses go to the coast and villages in Cagliari province while long distance buses connect the city to other parts of the island.

Where to Stay in Cagliari:

  • I stayed at Hotel Miramare (read reviews, check prices, and book direct) and highly recommend it. Right on Via Roma in front of the sea, it's centrally located and is decorated with art by a local artist. My room was comfortable and nicely decorated as was the common room.
  • T Hotel (read reviews and book direct) is a new, 4-star design hotel a little way outside the city center.
  • Regina Margherita (read reviews and book direct) is another 4-star hotel in the city center.
  • Hotel Italia (read reviews and book direct) is an older 3-star hotel in the Marina district of the city center, within walking distance of the train and bus stations.
  • La Peonia (read reviews and book direct) is a bed and breakfast in a residential neighborhood connected by bus to the city center and Il Poeta beach.

Where to Eat in Cagliari

Cagliari is a good place to eat both traditional Sardinian cuisine and really fresh seafood. Here are my recommendations for Cagliari Restaurants.

Cagliari Weather

The climate is typical Mediterranean. You can see historic rainfall averages and temperature ranges by month on these Cagliari Climate Charts.

Sagra di Sant' Efisio

The historic Sagra di Sant' Efisio starts May 1. A colorful 4-day procession leads from Cagliari to the Romanesque church of Saint Efisio on the beach at Nora. Decorated oxcarts, people in traditional costume, and horsemen from all over the island accompany the saint's statue in a parade followed by food and dancing. This is one of the island's most important events.

What to See in Cagliari:

  • The castello or castle district is the oldest and highest part of the city and a good place to wander around. The roof of Bastione di San Remy is now an open terrace where you can enjoy great views of the city and sea beyond or have a drink at one of the bars. Inside is an exhibit area and concerts are sometimes held here, too. In the Castello district are the Romanesque Cathedral of Santa Maria and museum, the Archbishop's Palace, and the Elephant and San Pancrazio Towers.
  • The excellent Archeological Museum has exhibits tracing Sardinia's history from the Neolithic age, through the Phoenicians and Romans, and on to early Christian and the Middle Ages. It's in the Citadella dei Musei, a museum complex in the former arsenal where you'll also find the National Art Museum and a museum of Oriental Art.
  • The Marina district, near the port, has an arcaded street with cafes and shops, the town hall, and several churches. Don't miss the excavations beneath under the church of Sant'Eulalia, Vico del Collegio n.2, where you can see a Roman paved road, remains of buildings, a portcoed building with the remains of pillars, and a thesaurus (a sort of sacred "temple" where a collection of coins was found). The excavations show the continuity of life from the III century BC to the VI century AD (closed Mondays).
  • Cagliari's Roman heritage can be seen at the Roman amphitheater, built in the second century. Outdoor concerts are held in the amphitheater during summer.
  • One of Italy's top botanic gardens can be found in Cagliari. It includes caves where ferns are grown, a collection of Mediterranean and tropical plants, and Carthaginian and Roman remains.

Cagliari and Sardinia Tour Guide

A good way to explore the city of Cagliari and the island of Sardinia is to go with a personal tour guide. I recommend Paola Loi, a licensed guide who is a native of Cagliari and speaks excellent English.

Where to Go Near Cagliari

  • Il Poetto Beach, about two kilometers from the center, is a long sandy beach and one of Sardinia's best beaches.
  • Molentargius Marsh, east of the city, has many species of migratory and water birds including a huge colony of flamingos.
  • Nora Archeological site, in a beautiful setting on the sea, has Phoenician, Punic, and Roman remains. There's a small Roman theater that's used for outdoor performances in summer.
  • Su Nuraxi in Barumini, 60 kilometers north of Cagliari, is a Unesco world heritage site and a good place to learn more about the nuraghi of Sardinia. The village around the nuraghe has been excavated and you can visit both the nuraghe and the village. Read more about the nuraghe and village at Barumini in Barumini Visitor Information.