Cagliari is the biggest city and the capital of the island. It is usually an expensive destination. It tends to gather more of a “cashed-up” crowd, which is understandable with its 20 km long Emerald Coast. But today I will give you tips on how to lower the costs there and easily afford this destination.
Cagliari is a vibrant city. It is full of life, many bars, restaurants, tourists, underneath the palms in the Marine.
1. Flights to Cagliari
My advice is to take a flight to Alghero, because it is much cheaper than flying directly to Cagliari. Then you can reach Cagliari with a car (around 5 hrs driving) or with a train, which takes a bit shorter time (13 Eur a ticket). The tickets you can buy directly at the station, since buying online is not that developed. You can also rent a car, and go around the island, which is very pleasant and most of the people prefer this.
2. Rent a car in Cagliari
I advise you to use your flight company for renting the car because it will always offer a discount. I used Ryanair, and it offered me cheaper options than all car rental companies. Bear in mind, that in the peak season can be pretty busy to park there.
3. Where to book your accommodation in Cagliari, Sardinia?
There are two options since the beaches are outside the city center.
a) inside the city center (which I choose).
You will stay in the center and have access to all the bars, restaurants, gelaterias, shops, and everything in the city, which I believe is more budget friendly. In this case, you will need to move with your car/bus to go to the beach. For me, that is better, because I love to go out in the evening and I did not want to miss the vibrant nightlife in Cagliari. Then I recommend you to stay in a place which is as close as possible to the Marina. You have the bus stop next to you and you are in the heart of the city. Do not search for a sea view, it is very hard to have it in the city and the prices are crazy. Furthermore, you can skip the search of accommodation with breakfast included, because at most of the places breakfast means just a snack you can grab, unless it is not specified what kind of breakfast you will have.
b) on the beach, outside of the city .
In this case, you will have sea view, but you will be tight on buses and driving when you go out in the evening. The beach area was pretty amazing to stay in but you have to book it a lot in advance – 2-3 months just to make sure you have good prices and variety.The restaurants there should be either choose very carefully, or simply avoided and go around with your car. They are pricey and not on a great quality.
Free things to do in Cagliari, Sardinia:
4. Free walking tour “Catch the pink“ (tips based of course). You will learn a lot for the city and go through the most important places in the old part of the city. At the end of the tour, you will receive a lot of information about the traditional food, what kind of souvenirs you should buy and what other places to visit.
5. Going up the hill Castello di San Michele
All you need to pay is few Eur for a ticket for bus number 5 and then on foot up the hill. All the visit can take a half day or even more. You will have beautiful views from the lagoon and the city and on top, there is a medieval castle.
6. Going to the park Monte Urpinu
One amazing experience for which you need few hours. The park is free, very well organized and has many spots for taking awesome pictures. It is totally worth visiting and you will see most of the city while getting there.
The Cathedral, is one of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. It has stunning details and it is very peaceful.
8. See the Pink Flamingos
You can take the bus, and go straight to The Regional Park of Molentargius. You will not be able to walk around the flamingos since it is protected area, however, you can see them pretty close.
Interesting info: If you are thinking, how on Earth were these flamingos born pink? They were actually not… they were born grey but after eating a lot of shrimps, they turn their color.
9. Visit Poetto beach
Actually, all the beaches are free but this one is my favorite one. I visited it in bad weather and even then the watercolor was emerald blue.
The prices for food are not low. A dish with pasta would be between 11 and 16 EUR. However I can confirm that the food is absolutely amazing, and I had not even one bad dish during my 8 days holiday. We used mostly tripadvisor for finding places, and recommendations from the hotels where we staid.
Bottarga (cured fish eggs, granted on the pasta or with bred)
Malloreddus (short pasta like miochi)
Culurgiones (staffed raviolli, with tomato souse and may be sausages)
Burrida (dog fish with nuts and vinegar)
Fregola (like kus kus but thicker and sea food)
Roasted pig (the sardinian speciality)
Desserts: seada (seems to me like one big ravioli, fried and then they out sugar on it with honey)
Liquors: limonchello (the limonchello is typical for south Italy, so definitely try it in Cagliary)
mirto (made of small berries)
Wines: red – cannonau, white – vementino (it is a very fresh wine).
Bastion de Saint Remy – the icon of Cagliari. This is the front of the Citadel area which housed the Cathedral and Arsenal. You will see it as well during the free tour guide.
Visit Via Stretta the narrowest street in Cagliari. It is in very cute, and scenery.
Museo Archeologico. I received many recommendations for it, in case you have a bad weather day, definitely visit. The ticket is 7 EUR and you can find more information here.
Torre dell`Elefante. It is one of the stops of the free tour guide. There is a bit of a climb, and you will see the tower with little elephants, which was one of the main entrance to the city once a upon a time, and you will have the chance to overlook towards the whole city and sea from one side.
Thanks for visiting,