There is no better way to experience a destination then under your own steam and the tiny Italian island of Sardinia is the ideal place to do this. Instead of the usual fare, you can choose to spend your time flitting between the irridescent blue waters and fine, sandy beaches to ancient remains, through beautiful, wild countryside and back to modernity with a host of fine eateries to satiate your appetite and nightlife to excite the senses.
Whether you are landing at Cagliari Airport, Olbia Airport or Alghero Airport, organising car hire is simple. If you are choosing to centralise your adventure around the south of the island, then you will be landing at Cagliari Airport. There are several Cagliari Airport Car Hire firms and these are AM Service, Autoeuropa, Budget, Dollar/Thrifty, Easycar, Eurorent, Matta, Midarent, Pinna, Ruvioli and Sardinya.
Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and is the largest city on the island. It is a thriving, modern city nestled in the foundations of an ancient past and all just a short distance from some of the most mesmerising beaches in Europe. Evidence of its early occupation are predominantly in the old town. The Piazza Costituzione is partially enclosed by the remants of the Bastione of San Remy, which can be climbed along with the two medieval towers, the Torre San Pancrazio and the Torre dell’Elefante, to get great panaromic views over the city and coastline. In May, the Festa di Sant´Efisio is held to great colourful fanfare as inhabitants deck out in local costume to honour the saint.
Sights worth visiting are the Catherdral of Santa Maria, which offers tours and includes fabulous examples of 15th and 16th century paintings and sculptures, and the Cittadella dei Musei which houses the National Archeological Museum. Displays consist of relics from Nuragic civilization and artifacts dating back to the Phoenician and Roman period, obtained from various parts of mainland Italy and Sardinia. For a slice of horticultural beauty though visit the Orto Botanico, or Botanical Garden, which was founded in 1865 and hosts a variety of tropical plants from around the world.
Just outside the city is one of the top tourist attractions in the region, the magnificent 2nd century amphitheatre, which was originally carved straight into the rock. It is now used to host music and theatre shows. Calamosca and Poetto beach, two of the most popular beaches in Cagliari, are just a few kilometres away on the southern coast and are lined with fabulous restaurants and shops. Yachting and boating activities are available, while the temperate waters and good conditions are also favoured by windsurfers, surfers and those wanting to take their PADI diving courses in an marine environment full of exciting and interesting aquatic life.
To really be at one with nature, there is the Parco dei sette Fratelli, a breath-taking area of protected countryside and home to 115 vertebrate species, including Sardinian deer, wild boars and royal eagles. It is an hour´s drive east along the SS125 towards Castiadas and Muravera and is marked by its sweeping canyon and the Cannas river that runs along bottom of it, as well as its dense forest.
Further north from Cagliari near Barumini, around a 65 km or an hour and quarter drive, is the nuragic complex of Su Nuraxi. Dating from the Middle Bronze age, c.1450 BC, it was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The impressive fortress at its heart comprises seven turrets with a central tower that stretches over 14m. The ruins of the village which spread out around it include a large meeting hut and various habitations.
Going 40 minutes west along the coast and near the town of Pula, are the fascinating Ruins of Nora. While the Phoenician influence is shows among the foundations of the temple and foundary ruins, the Roman inclusions dominate in the form of a theatre, thermal baths, forum, temple and the Sanctuary of Aesculapius.
Another 30/40 minutes on and your reach the gulf of Teulada a stretch of coastline characterised by its bays and coves. A great spot for fishing or sunbathing away from the masses is the craggy, rocked Punta Niedda or search for urchins in the nearby smooth pebbled beach of Campionna. Marinas to visit are the Porto Zafferano, Portu Tramatzu and the much smaller but charming Porto Budello. Close by is the forest of Gutturu Mannu which makes for idyllic walking with its lush vegetation and olive, pine and cork trees. A little inland is the village of Teulada which offers traditional culinary delights from seafood to suckling pig and goat, which is roast on a spit with local herbs.
Michelle Elkins is contributor to the Sardinia-Airport-Guide.com, which provides information on everything from Sardinia Cagliari Airport car hire to Sardinia Cagliari Airport transfers and Sardinia Calgiari Airport Buses.