Costa Smeralda is an enchanted paradise in the nature of the suggestive Mediterranean scrub, in the north-eastern coast of Sardinia: coves with white sand, rocks sculpted by the wind, a crystalline sea with a thousand shades of color and the characteristic scents of the vegetation.
Fascinated by this magnificent landscape, Prince Karim Aga Khan, in a spring in the late ’50, began the construction of his dream: to create one of the most exclusive destinations for elite tourism, Costa Smeralda.
TOP TOURIST LOCATIONS
Cala di Volpe
Cala di Volpe is famous for the luxury hotel developed by the French architect Jacques Couelle and stands out especially for the beauty of the natural elements and the heady Mediterranean essences.
Romazzino is known all over the world for its elegance and prestige and stands out both for its extraordinary natural elements and for the presence of some of the most renowned and prestigious accommodation facilities on the Costa Smeralda. In this area there is also the famous Principe beach, one of the favorites of the prince Aga Khan.
Piccolo Romazzino is an exclusive residential area that is located in one of the most beautiful coves on the coast, so much so that Princess Alessandra of Kent chose this place to buy her house. There are only twenty villas surrounded by beautiful gardens which extend to the sea. In addition, there is a single access to the area, a factor that maintains an atmosphere of serenity that has always characterized this area
Porto Cervo is the most popular destination for luxury holidays: an architectural marvel immersed in a natural paradise and undisputed capital of the Costa Smeralda. Summer becomes a fabulous and fervent parade of yachts, yachts and celebrities: in the main square, Piazza delle Chiacchiere, it is easy to find yourself shopping with famous cinema and television people. Every day is a continuous alternation of parties, social life and sporting events, golf in particular.
To visit is its Marina, which consists of two distinct areas: the old port and the new and equipped tourist port, where prestigious boats and luxury yachts moor. Another symbol of Porto Cervo is the church of Stella Maris, located on a hill overlooking the entire coast, from which you can enjoy an extraordinary panoramic view, the work of the architect Michele Busiri Vici.
Then there are the beaches, real attractions. The most famous is the Pevero Beach: an expanse of white and soft sand, often crowded and frequented by many celebrities. While the Romazzino Beach, which is more difficult to reach, offers a suggestive panorama and is suitable for families with children and those seeking tranquility. The bay of Cala di Volpe is a vast white sand beach bathed by emerald waters. Here you will find many luxury hotels and prestigious restaurants. Cala Liscia Ruia is a long strip of very fine white sand, with golden and reddish shades. Cala Petra Ruja is instead an arch-shaped beach made of pebbles and immersed in a lush Mediterranean flora. Special for the shallow waters and the incredible natural architecture is Prince Beach, just south of Romazzino Beach, where luxury boats and yachts usually stop. For snorkelers and other underwater activities there is the Cala Granu beach. Capriccioli Beach, divided in two by a group of granite rocks, is made of very fine and clear sand, with grayish shades, which plunges into an intense blue sea; the eastern beach is sheltered from the mistral. Finally, Celvia Beach, an expanse of granite and reddish sand.
For those who love golf, there is the Pevero Golf Club. It is considered one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world: in 1978 it hosted the Italian Open. The 18 holes are located on a natural carpet along the coast, between spectacular panoramas in the essence of the Mediterranean scrub. Another important sports center is the Cervo Tennis Club. Elegant, reserved and equipped with every comfort, the club has four synthetic grass tennis courts, a squash court, a paddle court, a gym and three swimming pools. Lovers of the sea and water sports can stop at the prestigious Costa Smeralda Yacht Club. Founded in 1967, it is one of the most important and renowned sailing clubs in the world and is united by reciprocal agreements with the Yacht Club of Monaco and with the Yacht Club of New York. For the little ones there is Gregoland, the luxury playground of the Costa Smeralda. A paradise of the fun that has a total extension of about 11 thousand square meters, surrounded by nature and with a breathtaking view. Composed of large spaces, it is modern and equipped with the games most loved by children.
Porto Cervo is also chosen for shopping. His Borgo, for example, is one of the most coveted places both for big brands and for the most demanding customers, who find in this area their exclusive meeting point. Near the old port, however, stands the Promenade du Port, another shopping and culture district that, combining the art with artisan boutiques and concept stores, aims to offer its customers a very unique experience. Prince’s Square and the Marina of Porto Cervo are other two important commercial centers, where sparkling constellations of boutiques and high-class shops are located.
For nightlife there are exclusive clubs and discos, which offer the highest quality services in elegant and suggestive locations for a unique experience. The Sottovento Club, which has a restaurant and a disco bar, is one of the historical and most popular clubs on the Costa Smeralda. Here it is easy to find celebrities and show business people. The Sopravento Club is another disco with restaurant which is located in front of the Sopravento Club. It is more spacious, youth and accessible, but the environment is more informal. The Blues Cafè is a disco bar for unbridled fun, where the environment is very youthful and transgressive. The Pepero is a very elegant place, surrounded by a magnificent natural scenery. It consists of a disco bar near the renowned beach, a meeting point for many celebrities, entrepreneurs and politicians. It also offers a fine restaurant. El Peyote is a disco club, which also hosts one of the most frequented restaurants on the coast. Here a dinner of Mexican cuisine is organized, followed by events to the rhythm of Latin American dances. Finally, The Billionarie is the most suggestive and renowned place in the whole Costa Smeralda. Spread over three floors, each with its own personalized style, it is frequented by celebrities from all over the world. It consists of an excellent restaurant and a disco bar and overlooks the beautiful Gulf of Pevero.
The best restaurants that you can find in Porto Cervo are: Lu Pisantinu, which has an elegant terrace with an enchanting view of the sea and characterized by refined cuisine aimed at enhancing the flavors of the territory, Finger’s Porto Cervo, which in the splendid setting of the Port Vecchio offers Japanese cuisine, and La Mola, which offers modern and refined cuisine in an elegant contemporary style room with large windows.
Golfo Aranci, located on the north-eastern coast of Sardinia, is another among the most exclusive tourist destinations on the island.
The town extends over a strip of land in the middle of the sea, overlooking the Gulf of Olbia, which ends at the base of Capo Figari, ideal for diving and trekking within a naturalistic oasis that includes the overlooking islet of Figarolo.
The inhabited center is a village of colorful and characteristic houses, where there is the lively promenade of the center and the parish church of San Giuseppe stands out. You should also not miss the walk along the attractive waterfront, recently built, where there is a playground and elegant benches with quotes from important thinkers of the past. The show is completed by the siren song: a bronze work that comes out of the sea to the sound of music, twice a day.
As for the beaches, one of the most beautiful, north of Golfo Aranci, is Cala Sabina, located next to the wonderful bay of Golfo di Marinella. In the southern area, however, there are Cala Sassari, Cala Moresca and Sos Aranzos. In the area there is also Greca Cove, a small bay that cannot be missed. Moving north west there are Punta Marana and Punta Volpe. Then there is Bianca Beach, which offers an expanse of fine white sand and offers a breathtaking view. The city beach par excellence, however, is Third Beach which, thanks to the endless expanse of sand and the shallow water, is the ideal place for families with children.
To conclude, the restaurants to try in this location are: Terza Spiaggia, where you can enjoy an interesting cuisine based on fish in a wonderful terrace overlooking the sea, La Spigola, where you can enjoy the delights of fish, meat and excellent pizza directly on the sea, in a comfortable and exclusive environment, and Gente di mare, in front of the tourist pier, where you can see a unique view while enjoying the dishes obtained from the fresh catch of the day.
Baja Sardinia is another famous tourist and seaside resort on the coast, located in a bay with crystal-clear water and countless shades of color, in which luxury villas and prestigious hotels are mirrored.
For go-kart enthusiasts there is Kartodromo – Pista dei Campioni, just a few minutes by car. It is the best motor club in northern Sardinia and until 2002 has been the scene of several national competitions. For children and also for adults, the Aquadream water playground is one of the major attractions of the area. For fans of underwater activities, the dives organized in the Park of the Archipelago of La Maddalena, which is considered one of the most evocative landscapes in the world, must be absolutely experienced.
With regard to the beaches, one of the natural symbols of Baja Sardinia is the well-equipped Cala Battistoni, with fine white sand and crystal-clear sea; almost always crowded in the summer months. Another very popular beach is Cala Bitta, an enchanting natural cove which also has a small marina. Tre Monti beach, on the other hand, is characterized by its clear sand and shallow waters. Finally, the Li Mucchi Bianchi beach, bathed by fabulous turquoise waters and surrounded by thick vegetation.
Baja Sardinia is famous above all because it hosts some of the most well-known and coveted night clubs on the Costa Smeralda. Phi Beach is an open-air club of rare beauty located near the military fortress of Forte Cappellini. It is a local glamor overlooking the sea, with an excellent hospitality, whose incomparable natural position gives every day the emotion of one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Here are organized pleasant afternoons with music and unforgettable evenings, with DJ sets arranged by the best artists on the international scene. The Ritual, on the other hand, is one of the most renowned discos on the Costa Smeralda. Officially inaugurated on August 6, 1970, it is an imposing granite castle that stands on a hill just outside Baja Sardinia.
In the town you will find many restaurants, both in his center and his seafront, which offers high-quality cuisine. Some restaurants can also be found inside discos, such as the excellent Phi Beach restaurant, whose chef is Giancarlo Morelli. Also, worth trying are the Il Guscio restaurant and the Casablanca restaurant, of the prestigious Club Hotel Baja Sardinia.
Cannigione e Arzachena
Cannigione is a fraction of the municipality of Arzachena: from a fishing village it has become one of the most popular tourist resorts on the Costa Smeralda. Here you can visit the church of San Giovanni Battista, the patron, and the country church of Santa Maria della Neve; while in nearby Arzachena, you can admire the Roccia del Fungo, the symbol of the city: a large block of granite shaped by the wind and rain that is located in La Sarra area.
The area of the center develops on the Andrea Doria seafront and consists of a set of pastel-colored houses, excellent hotel facilities, restaurants, boutiques, local craft shops, bars, pubs, trendy discos and clubs for every taste and need. Also, in the center is the modern and well-equipped tourist port, recently renovated, which, in the evening, thanks to the market and the outdoor places, turns into a cheerful and lively walk of people. From this port you can also leave for excursions to the Maddalena archipelago and to the other extraordinary islands in the area, such as Caprera, Santo Stefano, Budelli, Santa Maria, Razzoli and Spargi.
Furthermore, Cannigione is one of the most important centers of excellence in Sardinia for diving and snorkeling professionals, thanks to the particularity of its seabed. Here you will find several good diving centers, which also organize boat excursions: Smeralda Boats, La Dolce Vita il Catamarano, Altamarea, Areamare Diving Center, Blue Dream Sardinia Charter & Service and Motobarca Antares. This area is also particularly appreciated by those who practice sailing or surfing.
The most famous beaches are: Le Piscine and La Mannena, ideal for those who love relaxation and long swims; Tanca manna, suitable for families because of the soft sand and shallow water; and the large beach of Cannigione, with its clear, large-grained sand that plunges into a sea of infinite shades of blue and with its ancient stone pier.
Finally, about ten kilometers by car from the town center, there is Il Fuoco Sacro, the gourmet restaurant of the romantic hotel Petra Segreta, where the chef will delight you with dishes of tasty and modern Italian school, prepared with a careful selection of high-quality products.
Between the magnificent gulfs of Cugnana and Marinella, there is another spearhead of elite tourism: Porto Rotondo. Conceived and built initially by the Venetians Luigi and Nicolò Donà delle Rose, its architecture is similar to that of Venice.
City life is concentrated in the characteristic Piazza Quadra and Piazza San Marco, the latter designed in a circular shape by the sculptor Andrea Cascella, from which you can reach the church of San Lorenzo with a staircase. Along the streets of the town, which recall the winding and narrow streets of the ancient villages, there are prestigious jewelers, artisan shops and famous brands boutiques. Its marina has a round shape and it is a true example of Italian opulence and design; it has 800 berths and there are yachts and luxurious boats moored. Here is the Porto Rotondo Yacht Club, active since 1985, which is one of the most important in Italy and boasts exclusive sporting events such as the Big Game, one of the most relevant and spectacular deep-sea fishing events in the Mediterranean. A pleasant walk on the docks of the port, flanking the numerous restaurants and clubs that enliven Porto Rotondo day and night.
Among the attractions, certainly worth mentioning is the “Catena alimentare” of the artist Emmanuel Chapalain. It is a walk that goes from the church to the port, in via del Molo, with depictions of the marine food chain and its fishes, made with local stones. Along the way there are represented sharks, tuna and swordfish swimming in the waves. The eyes of some fishes light up in the evening to the surprise of the little ones who walk on it. A place to visit is also the church of San Lorenzo, which has a very modern and original style and contains the work of several artists.
Another major attraction in the area are the beaches. Among the most evocative are Punta Nuraghe, with grainy sand and shallow waters, Spiaggia Ira, which is a magnificent expanse of white and fine sand, and, a little further on, at Punta Asfodeli, a series of minute beaches that hide among the rocks. On the opposite side, heading towards Punta Volpe and before meeting the beach of the same name, you can find two interesting coves, Sassi beach and Algae beach. On the beach of Punta Volpe there are bathing establishments equipped with all comforts, from the rental of umbrellas and sunbeds to the equipment for water sports, such as windsurfing and jet skis. Another very popular beach is located in the Gulf of Marinella, which is one of the largest stretches of sand in the area by extension.
Among the best places in the area is Blue Beach, a beautiful structure on Marinella beach, with an elegant, modern and refined design, where relaxation and fun meet. The Paguro Bar Lunch & Drink is another excellent place that offers a breathtaking view and is known above all for the aperitif organized directly on the sea. While Tartarughino is a place much loved by celebrities and show business personalities, it offers its customers a selection of bubbles and fine wines and offers excellent cocktails. As for discos, the most famous is the Country Club, which is also one of the most prestigious on the whole coast. The environment is known for being highly chic and refined and his restaurant is superlative.
There are also excellent restaurants, the most esteemed of which is Da Giovannino. It has hosted international stars and prominent economists and politicians. The excellent cuisine is mainly based on fish. Another trendy restaurant is S’Incontru, where kindness, hospitality, passion and professionalism intertwine with the excellent culinary offer. Finally, the Petristellas restaurant, which, in addition to the cuisine of undisputed quality, impress for the refined and particular place: the tables, in fact, are surrounded by rocks and trees.
CULINARY SPECIALTIES AND WINES
Sardinian cuisine, which has developed through fishing and the agro-pastoral practice, is distinguished worldwide for the variety and richness of flavors which it offers.
The typical Sardinian bread, called “pane carasau”, the porcetto or “porceddu”, the roast lamb, the countless seafood specialties, the cold cuts, the typical sheep, goat and cow cheeses, of which the best known is called pecorino, and honey-based desserts, are the main products and typical dishes of Gallura and Sardinia.
A famous first course is the “zuppa cuata” or zuppa gallurese, a kind of lasagna made with homemade bread, beef or sheep broth and cheese, au gratin in the oven. While the “chiusoni” is a characteristic type of pasta, made in Gallura, generally served with sausage or wild boar meat sauce and a sprinkling of pecorino cheese. Another specialty is sweet ricotta ravioli, accompanied by a simple tomato sauce and flavored with lemon or whole orange. Another famous first course to try is “Lu Pan’a Fitti”, prepared with spianata boiled in meat broth and seasoned with local oil, pecorino cheese, parsley and a pinch of cinnamon. The “Màzza frissa”, on the other hand, is a tasty cream made with fresh cream, obtained by skimming of the whole milk, semolina or durum wheat flour and a pinch of salt. Among the specialties of Sardinia, rotten cheese or with worms is also famous, which is commonly consumed with carasau bread.
The typical dishes based on fish or shellfish are numerous. Among the best-known specialties, there are fish soup, mussels from Olbia and sea urchins. Delicious is the baked fish, which according to the authentic Gallura recipe is cooked with Vermentino di Gallura, the typical wine of the region.
The gastronomic tradition of this area offers also many desserts, such as the “Acciuleddi”, the “Cucciuleddi” and the “Uriglietti”, made with honey. Not to be forgotten are also the papassini, rustic and crunchy biscuits that contain sultanas, and the delicious formaggelle, small tartlets filled with ricotta or cheese.
To conclude, you can accompany your dishes with the typical wines of the Island: Vermentino di Gallura, a fine white wine that has a straw yellow color and a delicate and slightly bitter taste, and Cannonau di Sardegna, of a more or less intense ruby red color, full-bodied and with a dry and savory flavor.
HOW TO REACH COSTA SMERALDA
Arriving in Sardinia by plane or ship, Costa Smeralda can be reached by car or bus from one of the airports or ports on the Island. The most comfortable departure places to reach Costa Smeralda are the airport and the port of Olbia and the port of Golfo Aranci. However, Costa Smeralda can also be reached from Alghero airport, the port of Porto Torres (Sassari) and the airport and port of Cagliari.
By car: from the airport or from the port of Olbia you must first follow the SS 125, heading north. Subsequently, after about 5 km of journey, take the provincial road 73 to the town of Portisco. From Portisco it will be necessary to first take the provincial road 94 northwards and then, near the town of Abbiadori, take the provincial road 59, following the signs for Porto Cervo.
From the port of Golfo Aranci you must first take via Guglielmo Marconi, then take the provincial road 16. You must continue and to take the provincial road 99 and, a few kilometers after the village of Rudalza, take the provincial road 73 northwards, up to Portisco. From Portisco follow the indications above.
From the port of Porto Torres is necessary to take the SS 131 / E25 up to the city of Sassari; while from Alghero airport you must first take the SS 291 up to about ten kilometers before Sassari and, then, take the SS 131 / E25. 20 km after Sassari, take the SS 729 / SS 597, towards Olbia. Finally, near Olbia, take the SS 125, which arrives in Olbia. From Olbia follow the indications above.
From the airport or port of Cagliari, you must first take the SS 131 / E25 and then, shortly after the town of Paulilatino, after about 30 km from the city of Oristano, take the SS 131 d.c.n., towards Nuoro and Olbia. From Olbia follow the indications above.
Finally, buses depart every day from all the airports and ports of Sardinia, as well as from the centers of its main cities, to Olbia and Costa Smeralda.