Sardinia’s capital has managed to strike just the right balance between old and new. On the one hand the city is dotted with history – the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans all left their mark on this place. On the other, it’s got its fair share of boutiques and gourmet restaurants, where you can do as the locals do, and spend no less than a couple of hours at lunch.
• Climb up the winding streets to explore the pretty old quarter. This area is dominated by the Pisan fortifications of the Castello, and the nooks and crannies here are full of antique shops, art galleries and museums, like the National Museum of Archaeology.
• Be whisked back in time at the ancient town of Nora, one of Sardinia’s oldest settlements. While you’re here you can wander around a Carthaginian warehouse, Roman baths, and an old church where Sardinia’s patron saint was martyred.
• Get your history fix at Barumini, the most important archaeological area in Sardinia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the ruins of Bronze Age dwellings and places of worship. But the highlight here is an ancient castle, known as a Nuraghe, which dates back to the 15th century BC.
SHORE EXCURSIONS► View all EXCURSIONS
A cultural melting pot, Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia. It’s a real class act, buzzing with cosmopolitan charm yet retaining a great old-fashioned feel. Your tour will start with a drive to the ancient part of Cagliari and its jaw-dropping coastline. Make a short stop at the tranquil sanctuary of Bonaria. Built in the early 14th-century by the Aragons, it’s got a great little museum crammed with votive offerings. From here, make your way to the historical centre. Sights to cross off your list here include the 17th-century cathedral, known for its ornate Baroque interior, as well as two grand-looking Pisa Towers and the magnificent bastions. This part of the town is known as ‘Castello’, a once impregnable fortress, which offers up great views over Cagliari. You’ll then get some free time to browse the shops or simply enjoy a relaxing stroll. Then, on the way back to the ship, you’ll drive through the more modern part of Cagliari - the Marina district, packed full of Liberty-style villas.
Relaxing Scenic Drive►
Come and judge for yourself the beauty of Sardinia on this relaxing coach trip. After meeting your guide, you’ll drive along the main streets of the town to the peaceful Basilica of Bonaria, dedicated to the guardian of the sailors. From here, it’s off to soak up some great views of the gulf of Cagliari, before making a beeline for the beach of Poetto, one of the best sandy swathes in the Mediterranean. It stretches between the sea and the famous salt pools which attract a large number of birds during winter, especially flamingos. From Poetto, head along the coastal road to Villasimius. One of the main new tourist resorts on Sardinia’s southeast coast, its piece de resistance is a swanky new yachting port. This is a really relaxing way to see the beauty of Sardinia.
Pula & the Excavations of Nora►
Accompanied by a guide, take a drive along the beautiful south-western coast as far as Nora. You’ll actually be following the same route that thousands of pilgrims walk every year as they follow the cart of the Christian Martyr Saint Efisio. After passing St. Gilla's lagoon, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll see bright pink flamingos, you’ll stop in Nora. Founded by the Phoenicians, this port town was later occupied by Carthaginians and Romans before being abandoned in the Middle Ages. Today you can still see the remains of a Carthaginian warehouse, plus a collection of Roman buildings that are almost completely intact. See the Roman baths with splendid mosaics and a theatre dating from the height of the Empire. Surprisingly some buildings can also be seen under the water. Last but not least, see part of the little church built on the place where Sardinia’s patron saint was martyred. Here, every year, during early May, one of the island’s most colourful religious celebration takes place. Once you’ve got your fill of history and culture, a visit to the pretty little village of Pula is next on the list. This laid back town has cobbled streets lined with bars, small boutiques and souvenir shops. The perfect place to relax before returning back to the port.