It turns out that Northern Sardinia has stunning beaches of all kind. With thin sand, with pebbles, with blue water, with turquoise water, with plenty of tourists (mostly Italian), with no people, with a lot of space, windy, calm, surrounded by lakes, and more. This is our selection of the best beaches.
1. Spiaggia La Pelosa
La Pelosa was our favourite beach, with only one downside: it was overcrowded. Nonetheless, we managed to find a parking space (not free, but for a reasonable price) and a spot for our umbrella. With turquoise calm waters and large sandy shore (more than 300 metres), it is arguably one of the best beaches in Europe. It is also “decorated” by the ancient watchtower, the Torre della Pelosa, which can easily be reached by a short swim.
It is located on the north-west side of the island, only 2 km away from the village of Stintino. It takes about an hour by car from Alghero, which hosts one of the two main airports in northern Sardinia (the other one is Olbia). We actually stayed in this town, which turned out to be one of our favourite of the trip. Severina from Poseidon B&B was a great host and her B&B a great choice.
The beach shops are quite expensive, so better to take some goods with you. There is also a mini-market nearby, although the path is a bit hilly, called Centro Commerciale 96. We bought a delicious sandwich there, to be accompanied by a Ichnusa Non-filtrata (our favourite beer on the island with no doubt).
2. Cala Brandinchi
Cala Brandinchi is one of the most beautiful and popular beaches on the island. It is known as “Little Tahiti”, and has amazingly clear and shallow waters. Its white sand extends along 700 metres, where you can appreciate dazzling colours and a breathtaking landscape.
It is located on the east side of the island, not far from Olbia and 7 km north of San Teodoro town.
It offers very good facilities, such as sunbeds, umbrellas, shops and restaurants. You can get 2 sunbeds and an umbrella for €40 per day. There are plenty of parking spaces along a dusty lot. It gets super busy as well, but you can park the car relatively close to the beach most of the times. The parking costs €2.50 per hour and it is paid at the gate when you leave. The parking lot is shared with Spiaggia di Lu Impostu, which is very close, so you normally go to both beaches on the same day.
The beach area is very long and narrow, making it perfectly suitable for families with small children.
3. Cala Coticcio
Cala Coticcio is located on the northeastern part of the island of Caprera, the second-largest island of The Maddalena Archipelago, and in front of the Scoglio Murru. It is a stunning but tiny sandy beach in a deep cove, surrounded by rugged rose-coloured cliffs.
The beach is a beautiful and calm natural pool, also knows as “Tahiti”. The water is sparkling clean and turquoise. There are two sandy areas, both tiny. It is ideal for swimmers, you can go from one to the other bordering rounded rocks, from which you can also jump. There are fish and starfish all around, so ideal for snorkelling. I strongly recommend swimming in the area on the left (facing the sea). It is relaxing and peaceful.
As most of the Archipelago, it is environmentally protected. It can be reached by sea, hiring one of the organised boat tours, or by land following a partially unpaved trekking trail through the rocks.
To know more about the hiking, check out this post. As a summary, I can say it not easy at all, but totally worth it. I wouldn’t say it is of high difficulty, but it can be tiring and there are some steep parts where you will need your hands as well. It takes around 1 hour and you will need good shoes and water. I’ve heard that you can be denied access to the beach with sandals.
You also need to park the car on the road, as there are no parking facilities. Make sure the wheels are not on the white lines, so outside the road, as you may get fined.
We stayed in The Maddalena for one night and two days, but it deserves more time. I can recommend a bed and breakfast called Antica Fonte 3. It is not very close to the port and the town centre but offers great views and more importantly, their hosts are great cooks. So you should book a dinner, which cost €35 and comprises a full Italian dinner -and experience-.
4. Cala Mariolu
Cala Mariolu was our favourite beach on the Gulf of Orosei. The gulf is part of Gennargentu National Park, and its shore is home of a number of beautiful and unspoiled beaches, only reachable by sea, with no facilities and almost no human intervention.
All the best beaches in this area are protected and can only be reached by boat. There are many tours for hire, most of them departing from Cala Gonone, which take a whole day visit 5 or 6 beaches. Cala Gonone is a cosy town, a very nice place to spend a couple of nights. You will notice the port full of boats during the evening but clear during the day, as they are all busy visiting all the beaches.
The beach is a real jewel. It is a small cove comprising around 60 metres of pinks and white pebbles mixed with sand, with light blue waters and surrounded by cliffs. “It gets its name from the Mediterranean monk seal that is said to have ‘stolen’ the fish from the nets of the fishermen from Ponza and was therefore called the mariolo (thief).” It is also very suitable for scuba diving and snorkelling.
5. Spiaggia Rena di Ponente
Rena di Ponente, also known as La Colba, is without a doubt part of our top 5 beaches in Northern Sardinia. Is it located on one side of the thin road (isthmus/strip of land) that connects the Sardinia’s mainland with the promontory of Capo Testa. On the other side you can find Rena di Saliente, from where you can see the sunrise, hence its name –Saliente– (opposed to Ponente, meaning sunset).
The beach is 15 minutes from Santa Teresa di Gallura, the main town, hence it gets very busy. Nonetheless, the beach is beautiful and worth visiting. It is around 400 metres long, although narrow, with a picturesque stretch of sand framed by shrubs and low hills. The waters are extremely clear and shallow and are most of the time calm.
Despite the crowds, sunsets are relaxing and peaceful. During our stay, there was no wind at all, as opposed to Rena di Saliente. If it is windy, you can still visit Santa Reparata beach, popular for being protected from the wind.
There are facilities such as sunbeds, umbrellas and restaurants. A 5-stars hotel is next to the beach, called Colonna Grand Hotel Capo Testa. However; we stayed at a cosy B&B called La Chicca di Francesca, close the town centre. Gigi was a great host, a true source of knowledge and wisdom. And very importantly, he speaks very good English.
6. Spiaggia di Lu Impostu
Lu Impostu beach (Spiaggia di Lu Impostu) is located just a few hundred metres south of Cala Brandinchi. It is bigger, of around 1000 metres, and normally is less crowded, so plenty of people recommend to go to this beach instead.
The parking is actually the same, although you may want to park closer to the south if you choose to go to Lu Impostu. The sand and water are similar, so the facilities (parking, beach chairs, umbrellas, restaurant, kayaks for renting). You can also do both on the same day.
This beach is the third largest beach of the San Teodoro area, as it has a total length of 1 km. It is very long and narrow and has a pond behind it (Stagno di San Teodoro).
7. Spiaggia del Principe
Spiaggia del Principe is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area of Costa Smeralda. This area is the most popular, expensive and posh part of Sardinia. It offers beach resorts, rental villas, boutique hotels, chic marinas, shopping areas and more. It is located between the villages of Baja Sardinia and Porto Rotondo, and the main (upscale) town is Porto Cervo.
Del Principe beach used to be a hidden gem some time ago, but nowadays gets overcrowded during high season like many parts of the island. Nonetheless, white sand and calm turquoise waters make it a great choice.
It is quite small, and it takes around 15 minutes to walk from the parking lot, where you can leave the car for €2.5 per hour. If you walk to the end of the beach you can find a more exclusive area among rocks and also a small bar, which is built on some sort of container. There are sunbeds and umbrellas to rent.
8. Spiaggia del Relitto
Del Relitto is the second beach of The Maddalena Archipelago to make it to our ranking, together with Cala Coticcio. It is also located on Caprera Island, and the path to this part of La Maddalena is a good ride to look around.
It is a beautiful beach, small and calm. Shallow blue waters and thin white sand. Parking is free around, and it is a short walk from the main area. There is a beach bar with toilet.
Another characteristic of Relitto is a shipwreck on the edge of the beach.
9. Spiaggia Porto Liscia
If you like watersports, especially those that need wind and large open areas, Spiaggia Porto Liscia could be your best choice. We visited it in our way from Palau (where we took the ferry to La Maddalena) to Santa Teresa di Gallura.
It comprises a 6 km stretch of natural golden sandy beach with very good conditions for windsurfing and kayaking. There is a large and free car parking area, quite close to the shore and therefore very convenient. The sand is slightly corse, but comfortable enough to stay. There is also a good bar serving paninis, salads and drinks.
10. Cala Sarraina
Cala Sarraina was a recommendation of our great host Gigi, from La Chicca di Francesca B&B in Santa Teresa di Gallura. It was a perfect break in our way back to Alghero. It was less crowded than the average on the island, and we had a feeling of being in a more natural and “local” beach.
There are good facilities. Paid parking and free parking, beach chairs, umbrellas, pedal boating and kayaks. There are two restaurants, one uphill next to the parking space (called La Cala), and another next to the beach, with a great view of the sea. The latter is called Oasis Beach Bar, and we had decent food for a reasonable price.
The beach consists of very small pebbles, and it is surrounded by a number of particular rock formations. The water is warm and clean, with plenty of fish. We missed the sunset due to our schedule, but it was recommended to us a couple of times.
The following video shows some of the beaches on this list. Not all of them are there, and not all of the beaches in the video are on the list.
All the beaches on the list are in the following map.