Golden sand dunes, forgotten nuraghi and Juniper flowers. Welcome to Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Will and I went on an adventure on the west coast, the most authentic and wildest part of the island. Far from the party scene, the coastline rears up into giant rocky walls, the impetuous sea breaks on the stack and fiery sunsets light up the ancient mines. Nature reigns uncontested in these vast areas, escaping man’s domination.
From Sinis to the Costa Verde
Duration: 5 days // 155 km // 3h30
We started our road trip from the Gulf of Oristano and we headed South, into the heart of the wonderful Costa Verde along the 50 km of coastline from Capo Frasca to Cape Sheep. Then we crossed the Sulcis Iglesiante with its stacks and coves and ended our trip in the Sardinian capital, Cagliari (we will tell you more about the second part of our trip in the #PART2).
Our itinerary lasted 10 days, but we recommend at least 15 .. it’s worth it!
In the #PART1 we will tell about our first 5 days discovering the west coast… Here are all the places we fell in love with!
The Gulf of Oristano: in the heart of the Sardinian west coast
A sea protected by winds and strong currents and two towers, Marceddì in the South and Torre Grande in the North, watching over the gulf. The flat Gulf of Oristano, with its beaches and lagoons, is the perfect place for bike trips. In the lagoons are rare birds nests, including the pink flamingo which are visible in the ponds of Cabras and in the protected oasis of s’Ena Arrubia where you can camp surrounded by nature.
From Oristano and its historic centre enriched by buildings, fortifications and ancient towers, we set out to discover the fascinating Cape San Marco and the Sinis marine area. The most beautiful beaches? San Giovanni di Sinis, with its breathtaking panorama and Maimoni, Is Arutas, Mari Ermi, with their fine white and pink quartz grain sand created through 600 million years of rock erosion!
This time, however, it wasn’t the beach that conquered our hearts, it was the history of this incredible land. In this area, there are the most important testimonies of the Nuragic culture: sacred wells, imposing nuraghi and the fascinating Giants of Mont’e Prama, the oldest colossus statues in the Mediterranean. Fascinated by these ancient civilizations, we decided to visit the Nuraghe Losa. Surrounded by a lush landscape, the Losa is one of the most representative and best preserved examples of the Sardinian Bronze Age. This building dates back to the 15th-14th century BC. and kept an important role in the land exploitation through to the modern times. The best way to visit it is by booking a free guided tour, highly recommended (Entrance: 5 €, tel 0785 52302)!
The Phoenicians, instead, made the Gulf of Oristano their commercial centre, building the wonderful town of Tharros. From a Phoenician colony, Tharros became a Carthaginian port, a city in Roman times, an administrative centre during the Byzantine age and finally, it became the capital during the Arborea district. There is also a free guided tour here, we did it and it was very interesting (Entrance: 5 €, tel. 0783 370019). From Tharros begins the discovery of Cape San Marco with its impressive Spanish tower, built between 1580 and 1610 by Philip II as a defence against pirate invasion. Lastly, half an hour’s drive South of Oristano, you can find the Roman Baths of Fordongianus. Built during the first century AD, they are still popular for the healing properties of its hot spring, flowing at a constant temperature of 56°C.
Where to eat and what to taste in Oristano
In Sardinia you can’t get it wrong, the quality of the food is above any expectation (just avoid the most touristic centres). During our on the road we discovered some really cool places where to taste the best and most traditional Sardinian food… Do not miss them!
Osteria da Mimmo
Via Benedetto Croce, 21 – Oristano
Tel. 320 0777407
Specialties: Black squid fregola (a kind of pasta) with clams, a typical Sardinian meal.
Batela food & shop
Via Pietro Riccio, 11/13 – Oristano
Tel. 346 1810006
Specialties: The mix fish cooked au gratin, delicious and, for dessert, ricotta cream and home made Mirto (Sardinian liqueur made from myrtle berries)!
Costa Verde: the wildest and most authentic side of Sardinia
Located just South of Oristano, the Costa Verde – Green Coast – is named after its vegetation, a colourful Mediterranean shrub made of evergreen bush like broom and juniper. Its turquoise waters are often moved by the wind of Maestrale, the undisputed protagonist of this part of the island. Don’t miss the beaches of Marina di Arbus, Portu Maga and our favourite Piscinas, one of the most beautiful sceneries of Sardinia. Surrounded by an untouched nature, the finest and golden sand of Piscinas stretches inland for more than a kilometre, creating hundred metre tall dunes.
But the real magic begins just before sunset, during the golden hour, when the light becomes soft and warm. The shadows of juniper plants stretch until disappearing and the water sparkles reflecting the sun’s rays. To get there you have to walk a few kilometres on a dirt (but well-kept) road and cross a tiny ford.
In # PART 2 we will tell you everything about our second week on the road in beautiful Sardinia. We will start from the Costa Verde and we will continue South driving past Portixeddu, Nebida, Carloforte and Porto Pino. Last stop, Cagliari!