Cagliari is the island’s main and most populous city, with a metropolitan area housing 430,000 inhabitants, with over 150,000 living in the capital alone.
With glimpses of historic districts embellished by sea views, shopping streets and panoramic terraces, including the inimitable bastion of Santa Croce, it is the perfect place to savour romantic evenings following the fiery sunsets.
The history of the four historical districts extends across many centuries, ranging from prehistory to the Savoy government. The Castello district arises on the highest hill, being characterised by ancient bastions whose terraces host the local nightlife, and by picturesque streets overlooking noble residences: the Palazzo Regio and Palazzo di Città, as well as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria. Of great charm are the medieval towers forming the Castle’s entryway, the Torre dell’Elefante and the Torre di San Pancrazio. Villanova is connected to the Castello district by the stairway of the Saint Remy bastion. Each year at Eastertime, the neighbourhood is overcome with passionate devotion during Holy Week. Throughout the year, rather, focus is on the elegant boutiques and the local treasures: the cloister of San Domenico, Church of San Saturnino and the Basilica of Nostra Signora di Bonaria, Sardinia’s Christian temple.
At the foot of Castello, you descend to the Marina, with its splendid buildings and porticoes of Via Roma, along with the Palazzo Civico being truly impressive. Created to host fishermen and merchants, it is a symbol of a multi-ethnic city. In this neighbourhood, you will find the Church of Sant’Eulalia, which safeguards precious Roman remains. The other historic district of Stampace is adorned in colour each 1st May for the Festa di Sant’Efisio, a much-anticipated event for the entire island. Amongst its narrow streets is the baroque Church of Sant’Anna. A short distance from the historic centre, the Amphitheatre is a must-see, being one of the most significant Roman ruins in Sardinia, along with the Botanical Gardens, a green oasis in the city centre. Exiting the city centre, the Castle of San Michele and Tuvixeddu is to be admired, being the largest Phoenician-Punic necropolis in the Mediterranean (dating back to the 6th-3rd century BC). At the end of the cultural exploration, you can savour in the myriad of natural attractions: the Laguna di Cagliari, the Molentargius-Saline Regional Nature Park, by going for a mountain bike ride, watching the flamingos take flight, and enjoying the splendid sea. Take a dip in the Poetto, a local beach with soft sand extending eight kilometres, flanked by a footbath and cycle path. This area is also splendid at night, when its glamourous side is revealed. From the Poetto, you can hike to Calamosca and the Sella del Diavolo. Finally, there is to savour the delicacies: Spaghetti with Botarga and Artichokes, Burrida made with catshark and walnuts, and the Fregula Con Cocciula, a local pasta served with clams.