Set aside a few hours to take in the charm of Olbia’s historic centre, wandering along its palm-lined waterfront, the main street of Corso Umberto and the narrow cobbled streets that lead away from the city’s laid-back heart, Piazza Margherita. Attractions here include the Museo Archeologico, a free museum showcasing the history of the city; and the Basilica of San Simplicio, an 11th-century Romanesque church with beautiful frescoes. Stop at one of the unpretentious pizzerias or trattorias or sip a coffee or glass of wine as you watch the world go by.
The real jewel in the region’s crown is undoubtedly the Costa Smeralda. This millionaire’s playground stretches for 35 miles along Sardinia’s northern coast and is famous for its dazzling turquoise seas, white-sand beaches, stunning natural landscapes and chic resorts. It was relatively untouched until the early 1960s, when investors such as Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV started developing the region. Today it’s home to some of Europe’s most expensive real estate and glitzy towns such as Porto Cervo, where high-end boutiques line the streets and the marina is full of multi-million-dollar super-yachts.
There’s little else to do here other than sail along the shoreline or following the coastal road, hopping from beach to beautiful beach. There are wide and sweeping bays such as Liscia Ruja, lively stretches of sand such as Romazzino Beach and pretty secluded coves like Spiaggia Mannena. Most beaches get busy during the Italian summer holidays (July and August), when the bays are dotted with shiny white yachts; however, during the shoulder seasons of early May and late September, you should be able to find yourself a beautiful spot without the crowds.
The waters to the northeast of Sardinia are dotted with beautiful islands, many of which are easily accessible from Olbia and other nearby towns. One of the closest is Tavolara, a striking limestone outpost that’s three miles long and just over half a mile wide, where steep cliffs give way to coves and beaches that are popular with yachties. Tavolara is also a favourite spot for divers thanks to its incredibly biodiverse waters, which are part of a marine protected area. You can reach the island by yacht or take the public boat from Porto San Paolo, a town a few miles south of Olbia.
The beautiful archipelago of La Maddalena, with its almost unreal turquoise lagoons and largely untouched beaches, lies between the north coast of Sardinia and the south coast of Corsica. There are seven large islands and over 50 islets, the majority of which are uninhabited. The region is a sailing paradise, as many of the islands – and their picture-postcard shores – are only accessible by sea. You can easily find your own piece of paradise here. If you don’t have access to a private boat, head to the town of Palau and take the scheduled ferry over to the main island of La Maddalena, where you can cross the road bridge over to the second largest island, Caprera, or hire a boat from the marina and explore the islands at your own pace. The archipelago is largely a summer destination, with many services only operating between June and late September.
It’s not all about the beaches in Sardinia. The island is famously dotted with nuraghi – mysterious dwellings and fortresses dating back to the Bronze Age. Arzachena, a town located 15 miles north of Olbia, is surrounded by eight fascinating archaeological sites including the beautifully-preserved Nuraghe Albucci, the Nuraghe La Prisgiona and the Tomb of the Giants of Coddu Vecchiu. Additional attractions for history buffs also include relics of the Roman Empire and Castello di Pedres, the hilltop ruins of a medieval castle.
Many of the hotels and resorts along this stretch of coast are purpose-built in a typically Sardinian style – think white-washed, low-rise buildings with terracotta roofs. And, of course, there are those beautiful sea views, particularly from hilltop properties overlooking the coast.
Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport is one of the three main airports in Sardinia, located just outside the city and within easy reach of the resort towns to the north and south. Simply contact our team and we’ll arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to Olbia.