When you're in Cagliari, you absolutely have to take the 50-minutes drive to Villasimius. Hike if you must in case you don't have a car, but make sure you get there one way or another. The former fishing village Villasimius is a masterpiece on the Sardinian coastline. First of all, its beach Spiagggia di Porto Giunco is one of the finest of Sardinia. Its crystal clear water and incredible white sand make it a rare find, even for an island that is so replete with natural beauty.
The entire surrounding area is a protected nature reserve, the ‘Area Marina Protetta’. For that reason it is forbidden to camp wild on the peninsula. So, exemplar as we are, we didn't set up tent there. Instead we stumbled upon a nice inviting garden of a hotel that hadn't opened yet. (The benefits of low season).
The next morning, we set out for a hike towards Capo Carbonara in the very southeast of the peninsula. While clambering over the rocks, we were amazed by the abundance of bright colors around us: sweet blue water, vividly green Mediterranean vegetation and dazzling yellow flowers.
According to our guidebook, “at Capo Carbonara, the horizon is so broad, you can see the curving of the earth”. A beautiful description which we failed to notice for ourselves, though. But it can't be denied we did have a very wide view.
Meandering along a sandy path with blossoming bushes, we hiked up towards the old Spanish watchtower Porto Giunco. The quick glimpses through the bushes looked promising, but at the top we were really hit with the most beautiful viewpoint of this entire roadtrip. A last climax before we'd had back to the airport and to Belgium. Standing next to the granite tower, 50 meters above sea level, we had a panoramic overview of what looked like three connected seas, each painted with different shades of blues, on a backdrop of densely forested mountains. A real postcard picture. What you can see here is the sea around the beach at Guinco (right), the Notteri protected reserve (middle) and the sea around the beach of Spiaggo del Riso (left).
On the road from Villasimius to Cagliari, we drove along a big pond with hundreds of flamingos. Very tempting to get closer for a photo, but as we were running short on time, we didn’t stop. We still wanted to visit the city of Cagliari in the afternoon.
Cagliari is the capital of the island and that became clear immediately. Having gotten used to tranquility and empty roads, we felt overwhelmed by the heavy traffic of he city. Finding a parking spot was a real challenge.
Once we walked into Castello, the old district, Cagliari didn't feel that different anymore from the other Sardinian villages we had visited before: a cobweb of small alleys, connected with laundry lines and colorful clothes... Scattered all over the historical center, remnants of a medieval past still stand upright. Look for landmarks such as the watchtowers Torre di San Pancrazio and Torre dell' Elefante, the Saint-Remy bastion, the cathedral of Santa Maria, Orto Botanico dell' Unversita di Cagliari... Did you know that Cagliari was built on seven hills, just like Rome? Be prepared for some steep uphill climbs when exploring the adorable little streets of Cagliari.
After enjoying a last Sardinian meal in a charming restaurant (Sorry, I forgot the name), we headed back to the airport. Our rental car had become so dusty from all our offroad wandering, we were afraid we'd get an extra fee for the cleaning, so with the remaining baby wipes, we cleaned the entire car.
It turned out we were still carrying 6 liters of water in our trunk. Throwing them away would be a waste, so we drank everything. We always read we should drink more water, right? I didn't know this was possible, but at some point we started feeling high from all the water and we were giggling about the silliest things. It was less funny when we sat on the plane and ran into some heavy turbulence. We had stay seated with our seatbelts on, but with our stomachs full of water though, we really had to pee...
Anyways, in its own way, it was a remarkable ending of an equally remarkable trip. Whether its wild coast, its lively small towns or even its beautiful nature, everyone will find a reason to love Sardinia. We stayed seven days, but if you want to see everything and do at a more relaxed peace, 10 to 14 days would be recommended.
If you don't have that much time and want to know which places not to miss out on, then check this article on the most beautiful places on Sardinia.