As we walked along the coastline of Sardinia, the smell of fresh bougainvillea permeated the air as though we had entered a secret serene garden. The sun shined down onto the crystal clear cerulean Sea, illuminating the waters and creating a sparkle effect, dancing in unison on the surface. This was not the Italy we knew before. It was an entirely new world to explore. This was Sardinia.
Sardinia’s coast had been beckoning us to visit for years, as though it knew we would fall in love with this Mediterranean island lifetimes before stepping onto it. The northeastern coastline of Sardinia, known as the Costa Smeralda, is notorious as the playground for the rich & famous. Yachts flood the glamorous town of Porto Cervo in the summer months and create an alternate utopian universe for Europe’s bourgeois to rub shoulders. While the Costa Smeralda may be known as the summer playground for the elite, there is so much more that it offers. Check out some of our favorite places and activities in our couple’s guide to Sardinia!
Porto Cervo was not always the glamorous destination that it is today. In fact, Porto Cervo, and all of Sardinia, was known as an island of farmers. In the 1960’s, Prince Karim Aga Khan visited the island. He decided to buy the land around Porto Cervo and create a idealistic summer playground for his friends. He built homes, hotels, and a port for mega yachts. Since then, Porto Cervo has grown to be one of the ultimate hot spots in the Mediterranean.
Know Before You Go
- How to Get Around: It’s best to rent a car on the Costa Smeralda because everything is very spread out. If you want a night out on the town, you can hire a taxi.
- Best Time to Go: June & September. July & August are the crowded months where prices soar high and the area is very crowded.
- How to Get There: Fly into Olbia, Costa Smeralda Airport (OLB) – Direct flights from Frankfurt, London, Rome, Naples. You can also take a ferry from Corsica (1 hour) or Rome (13 hours). However, the most direct way is to fly.
A rental car is necessary
Where to Stay
- Petra Segreta: This Relais & Chateaux property is located inland of Porto Cervo in a mountainous region that overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is a quiet, intimate, romantic respite from the hustle and bustle of Porto Cervo. If you want to completely unplug and relax, this is the perfect place to do so.
- Colonna Pevero: Located in the Porto Cervo area, Colonna Pevero is just minutes from the popular Promenade and downtown marina. A larger property that Petra Segreta, stay here if you want to be close to the action and the sea.
- Cervo Hotel: This hotel is set in a high-end shopping center and it’s a favorite of Sardinia’s elite crowd.
- Cala di Volpe: One of the original hotels from the Aga Khan crowd, Cala di Volpe is a staple of Sardinian luxury on the Costa Smeralda.
Where to Eat
- Spinnaker: A staple of the yachting elite, Spinnaker produces delicious pasta and seafood without any pretentiousness and with very reasonable prices.
- Petra Segreta: As a Relais & Chateaux property, Petra Segreta pays keen attention to their food. Dine at their in-house restaurant at sunset for an unrivaled view of Sardinia.
- Tenuta Pilastru: This farm and hotel is located about 25 minutes inland from Porto Cervo, but it’s worth the trip. Specializing in traditional Sardinian food (think beef, wild boar, and suckling pig) all produced from its farm and the local area.
Petra Segreta is a luxury hotel with fine dining
What to Do
- Beach Hop: Sardinia has some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean. In the Costa Smeralda region, there are many choices for beaches. Our personal favorite was Spiaggia Del Principe (the beach of the prince). Jagged rocks hug the coastline and white sand beaches form a perfect necklace around the cerulean sea. Other great beaches are La Celvia, Romazzino, Capriccioli, and Liscia Ruja.
- Rent a boat to La Maddalena Archipelago: The Maddalena archipelago is a group of 7 islands between the northeast coast of Sardinia and south of Bonifacio, Corsica. Island hop to beaches such as Tahiti, The Lagoon, Spiaggia Rosa, and Spiaggia Testa di Polpo and spend the day swimming in the translucent waters. Stop at the largest island, La Maddalena, to walk around the darling port town. Finally, head north to La Scogliera for a waterfront lunch.
- Shop at the Promenade: The plaza by The Cervo Hotel is known for its designer shops. The promenade has a diverse collection of luxury shops and local designers.
- Grab an Aperitif: Sardinians don’t eat until around 9 pm, so apertifs are key in Porto Cervo. Our favorite spots for drinks were In Vino Veritas, located in the port (great people watching) and Zamira at the promenade.
- Go Dancing at Billionaire: No trip to the Costa Smeralda would be complete without a night of debauchery at world-renowned superclub Billionaire. A fair warning, be prepared to spend an arm and a leg for your evening.
Looks like a beautiful island!