Yes, lots of the bigger hotels have their own private beaches, but there are also plenty of free beaches to explore in this part of Sardinia. Head to the region’s largest beach, Spiaggia Liscia Ruja – it’s at the end of a 2km dirt road, south of Hotel Cala di Volpe. Further round the coast is the Spiaggia del Principe, a popular celebrity hangout, and the Spiaggia Pevero, another celebrity haunt. The only thing you’ll need to pay for is car parking, which will set you back a couple of euros.
At first glance, you might think reasonably-priced restaurants in Porto Cervo are hard to find. But wander a little further from the main tourist areas and you’ll find backstreet trattorias and low cost lunch stops that won’t have you reaching for the credit card. At Il Pomodoro, next to the Piazzetta, the humble margherita is the cheapest pizza on the menu at £7.50, while a three-course meal with antipasti and a glass of wine will cost in the region of £38.
If you’re self-catering or planning a picnic, you can pick up cheeses, cured meats and culurgiones – aka traditional Sardinian ravioli – at the Frades-La Sardegna restaurant in Bottega at Promenade du Port. Meanwhile La Spigola Ristorante & Bar in Golfo Aranci, which is a 40-minute drive south of Porto Cervo, serves up fresh sea bass and lobster for around €25 a piece. Plus it’s right on the beach.
When it comes to evening entertainment, Billionaire Club is undoubtedly the most famous establishment in the area. It’s owned by former racing driver Flavio Briatore and you’ll need to have your name on the guest list – or be very friendly with the doormen – to get in. But there are plenty more accessible hangouts where a bottle of Champagne will cost considerably less than £30k. The Lord Nelson is an English-style pub on the marina, and most drinks here range from around £4 to £12. You can also pick up a traditional cooked breakfast the morning after for around £8. Meanwhile, a daiquiri at Aqua Lounge in Porto Cervo will set you back €12 or about £9.50. Then there’s Phi Beach, in Baia Sardinia, where you can mingle with the beautiful people while sipping affordable cocktails as the sun goes down.
While the Costa Smeralda has style in spades, you’ll have a hard time actually finding a bucket and spade here. Porto Cervo’s shops are all about brands – think Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. But if you’re looking for trinkets, street markets are the place to head to. They run in the summer months in nearby towns and villages. On Thursday mornings head to the village of San Pantaleo, a 20-minute drive from Porto Cervo and Baia Sardinia. You’ll find fabrics, local food and handicrafts that make great souvenirs, all set against a backdrop of San Pantaleo’s beautiful church and fountain. Other markets include Cannigione on Mondays, Baia Sardinia on Tuesdays, Arzachena and La Maddalena on Wednesdays, Santa Teresa di Gallura on Thursdays, Palau on Fridays and Tempio on Saturdays. Phew.
If you’re planning to get out and about and want to save on taxi costs, hiring a car is the best option to see the Costa Smeralda. With your own wheels, you’ll be able to escape the crowds and find those hard-to-get-to beaches with miles of sand to call your own. Parking is fairly easy to find and most car parks will only cost a few euros. Plus, you can find free parking zones if you’re happy to walk a little way.
Overlooking the panoramic Porto Cervo bay, the Colonna Resort has four swimming pools and access to a private, sandy beach.
Stay in a classic Italian-style room at Le Palme Hotel, just a 10-minute drive from Porto Cervo and Baia Sardinia.
If you want more flexibility during your stay, try the I Cormorani Alti traditionally-styled self-catering apartments which are a 20-minute walk to the long sandy beach and the town of Baia Sardinia, north of Porto Cervo.
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