Unmissable Things To Do In Sardinia When Visiting In Winter/Off Season
Is it really worth it? The answer is obviously YES, ABSOLUTELY!
Being Sardinian I clearly lived on the Island during the “off-season” and although I get the appeal of visiting during summer to enjoy Sardinia Beautiful beaches, there are so many things to do in Sardinia in Autumn/winter!
In this article I will list the coolest things you can do and see in Sardinia during Winter, autumn and early spring, from hiking (with incredible views over the sea) to road tripping the typical villages, participating in great festivals and much more! Sardinia is for EVERY TOURIST IN EVERY SEASON! Are you not convinced? You are missing out big time 😉
Click on the relevant activity and skip the rest if you want!
FURTHER READING: “Unmissable Things To Do In Sardinia in Summer”
Located around 110 kilometres from Cagliari, Orgosolo is famous for its murals, and you should definitely not miss this astonishing open air art museum, especially in winter while the weather is not the best to enjoy your time at the beach.
There are other cities and villages in Sardinia with beautiful murals, but Orgosolo is where everything started, so go for the real and original thing! Of all the 250 murals you can find scattered all over Sardinia, 150 are in Orgosolo, so this is obviously the “Real deal”.
The Story Of the Murals In Orgosolo
The first mural in Orgosolo was painted by Dioniso, an Anarchist group from Milan in the late 60’s. However, later it was Francesco del Casino, a local teacher, who help in creating more of them making the murals a local’s activity, due to his Art background and helped by its students.
What Do Most Of The Murals Represent?
The first mural was drawn in 1969, and they mainly represent political themes like the opposition to the Nazi movement and symbols of rebellion against the government, but, although many of them are political in nature, there are multiple examples of other stories in and outside the village, such as a local lady selling flowers, a defensive Palestine flag or a drawing of former presidents Bush and Obama.
Whether you are interested in its history and meaning or not, they are worth seeing none the less, the atmosphere while walking in Orgosolo is magic, and every turn you make can surprise you with yet another piece of “street art”.
Best Cultural Tours In Barbagia and San Sperate
Guided Tours Or Not? Pros and Cons
You can certainly visit Sardinia and the historic regions like Barbagia by yourself going at your own pace. The pro is that you’re completely independent, you can take as much time as you want to visit a location or a sight and you’re free to do what you want.
However, in my travel experience, the ideal would be to do some independent wandering AND then taking a guided tour. Joining a tour, even if you are an independent traveler like me, will make you understand the stories behind what you are seeing a lot better. And the Sardinian murals have tons of history behind them!
Below are the absolute best tours in the Barbagia area I recommend as a local:
MORE SARDINIAN VILLAGES WITH MURALES YOU CAN VISIT
San Sperate Village
With over 400 murals scattered around the city and from painted from artists from all around the world, San Sperate is a place you shouldn’t miss if you’re traveling to Sardinia. Most importantly, the paintings are very interesting for being a social but also a cultural viewpoint and this is exactly what makes them so interesting to everyone.
Tourists usually remember Bosa for its pastel-colors houses, the small valleys in the city center and the River Temo. It is very nice to wander around the small alleys in the historical center. The murals are mainly related to the local traditions and the fishing culture, and the Bosa Marina is 1km long!
Cited as one of the Grand Canyons of Europe by The Telegraph, Su Gorropu is an incredible place to go while in Sardinia in winter. You can get to Gorropu driving down the eastern coast of Sardinia. With time, it got a shape by the rivulet Rio Flumineddu that flows across it. It is important to note that it is the wildest place in Sardinia, and the hike from the parking to the gorge will take you around 1.5 hour. Also, the hike can be tough, but you’ll definitely like the scenery from the top! Last but not least, the entrance fee is 5e (you didn’t expect such an amazing view was going to be free, did you?!) and it is not possible to buy the tickets in advance.
Best Tours To Visit Su Gorropu & Surrounding Areas
Needless to say that it is possible to go and trek on your own. However, you should always ask yourself whether you are ready to do without any help needed. It is a trek afterall, and it’s sometimes better to go accompanied in case you need help, advises, or simply want to listen to stories that you shouldn’t be able to know otherwise.
Another tip to give you is to wear appropriate clothes as some parts may be difficult to hike with your normal everyday shoes.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SARDINIA NEAR SU GORROPU
Tiscali Village is accessible only by hiking and is nestled in a valley. Located on the Mount Tiscali, it will probably be one of the most interesting places you would have ever seen in your entire life. It is an hour climb from the bottom of the mount, and it’s going to be the most worth effort you’ve done in a long time (yes, it’s true!).
Known an one of Sardinia’s most-visited attractions, Su Gologone is the perfect place for a chilling day. It is only a 16km ride from Nuoro, and it’s good to know that you can take a canoe and make a little journey by the lake being in full immersion with the nature. That canoe will cost you 15E for the whole afternoon which is not bad!
The Mamuthones in Mamoiada is a festival that will get your attention for sure. During the Carnival in Mamoiada, the streets are filled by a picturesque procession, including two typical masks: the Mamuthones and the Issohadores.
The Mamuthone mask is entirely black, with black sheepskins to cover the person’s body and a long string of cowbells at the back. Oppositely, the mask of Issohadore is white.
During the Carnival in Mamoiada, the two masks parade through the city: the Mamuthones are divided into two parallel rows of six people, while the eight Issohadores “guide” the Mamuthones the whole time. It is a show worth coming to the region for, as it is one of the most memorable and most authentical festivals.
Best Cultural Tours In Mamoiada
There are a few tours available in the area and honestly, they are not cheap. But, they are really interesting and nice to do. The most interesting ones are the Barbagia and Orgosolo Day Tour from Cagliari, the Mamutones masks and wine tasting tour, and the Mamoiada Wine Tour.
I always like to give my readers the option to either travel on their own or with a local, and both have advantages. In fact, discovering places on your own will make you enjoy spots at your own pace and really enjoy it. At the same time, purchasing a tour will teach you new things, opening your eyes in certain cases and hear funny anecdotes about the place.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SARDINIA NEAR MAMOIADA
Ortobene is an exceptional mountain in the region of Nuoro. Make sure to reach the highest and most beautiful point, the Christ the Reedemer statue where you can enjoy the landscape from. The summit can be reached by car or by foot walking through a forest and that will take you around 2 hours. It is a great activity to do in Winter as the bar and the tavern are closed and you’ll then get a nice peaceful time.
Domus De Janas Istevene
The Domus De Janas Istevene means, in English, House of the Fairies. The complex includes several chambers quarried out by the locals in San Ciriaco. It has been mostly built between 3400 and 2700 Before Christ which makes an incredible asset to the Sardinian history. There are other similar complexes in Sardinia, but what makes the Domus De Janas Istevene historically special is its decorations on the walls.
A visit to Sardinia wouldn’t be 100% complete if you haven’t seen at least one small Nuraghe. What are the mysteryous “Nuraghes”? They are very ancient stone constructions built during the bronze era, usually for defensive purposes. The one in Barumini has been declared UNESCO SITE (here in the list of their official website)
Best Day Trips To The Nuraghe Di Barumini
You can certainly visit the Barumini Nuraghe Complex on your own if you rent a car but since I went there the last time things have changed a bit. Around 30 years ago, you didn’t have to pay to enter, then after a few years, you had to pay a small fee to be able to roam around free.
Now it is not possible anymore, due to security reasons and to preserve the structures, you can only go accompanied by a guide. The complex is open every day and the ticket for the entrance for 2018 is 12 euros for adults and 9 for kids aged below 18. Visiting hours are as stated below:
THINGS TO DO AND SEE NEAR BARUMINI
Giara Di Gesturi
The Giada di Gesturi is a plateau in the central region of Sardinia. This plateau can be accessed by Gesturi and once you’re up high in the mountain, there will be enough parking places for your car or motorbike. The beautiful part of this attraction is the tiny cute wild horses running around, the wonderful nature up there, and also the breathtaking views.
Sardinia Miniature Park
Located in Tuili, the Sardinia Miniature Park is a theme Park full of nature and animals like turtles, iguanas and so on. Moreover, there is also a playground for kids, a picnic area, a dinosaur park and many other activities for you to spend the entire day! The entrance fee is 18 Euros, which many will find a bit high, but taking into consideration that you can literally spend the whole day there, it’s reasonable.
Check out this video to get an idea of what you can experience during the Autunno in Barbagia Event. This one is from 2016 in Orgosolo but the other villages involved in this event are equally fascinating to visit!
The Autumn in Barbagia festival is the highlight of the region. It is the favorite festival of locals but also tourists, and it allows people to discover the more authentic side of Sardinia.
The festivities take place in twenty-six villages around Sardinia, so you don’t even need to make specific plans to enjoy it. Also, it is not uncommon to find local productors of Olive oil, cheese, sweets, pizza, pasta, or even honey offering you to taste their delicatessen, and trust me, you almost won’t need to buy food with the amount of gluten that you ate!
Just for your reference, the festival used to be called “Cortes Apertas”, which means “open yards”, and comes due to the fact that the historical houses were wide open to show expositions, ancient furniture and much more.
Autunno In Barbagia Useful Info & Program
There are important things to know about “Fall in Barbagia” which we will list here below:
- This 2019 celebration will be the 24th edition
- Historical houses will open in 32 municipalities
- The festival dates in 2019 are from the 7th of September till the 15th of December
- There are several activities in different cities throughout the months, so get prepared according to your dates.
THINGS TO DO AT THE AUTUNNO IN BARBAGIA
The Autumn in Barbagia will take place on the 23rd and 24th of November in Ollolai Village. There will be dozens of exhibitions, from the homemade preparation of bread and local gastronomy to guided visits throughout the city center, the churches and the beautiful fountains. Ollolai is a lovely village to visit, and spending some time during the festival will have you make unforgettable memories.
Fonni-Bruncu Spina will be hosting the festival on the 7th and 8th of December. Just like the other villages, the festivities will be big and full of activities. The full program has not been released yet, however the usual animations are traditional parades, the “Cortes Apertas” (opening and visiting of historic houses), evening concert and of course tasting of the local delicacies.
Although Ulassai and Jerzu are only a few miles from each other, the mountainous landscape you will see will leave you speechless. That area is also full of vineyards and will definitely be a good candidate for your Instagram feed!
It is not the easiest task to drive on that road, but you can admire the mountains and the villages from the many stops. There are many villages on the way, and not normal villages, they are authentic Sardinian villages.
You can lose yourself walking around and immerge yourself with the elderlies sitting on the benches that will greet you as the “foreigner that passes” by. There are certainly bars along your way, and stopping in some ones will give you a taste of the real Sardinian culture.
Another important thing to know is that Ulassai is surrounded by one of the most popular Sardinian mountains for hikers and trekkers, so if you’re either of them, this is the right place for you. Jerzu though, is known for its Cannonau wine and I’m pretty sure you’ll buy a bottle to enjoy back home!
Best Tours near Ulassai & Jerzu
Add the Lequarci Waterfalls and Gairo Vecchia
Moreover, the good side about visiting the nature is that, most of the time, there is no entrance fee, or it’s very little. Therefore, you can have a fantastic time enjoying the lovely winter sun in Sardinia!
You can, of course, book a tour and go with a local to get to know the area better. I always try to recommend booking a tour as you’ll get a deep insight of what locals think and do.
MORE THINGS TO DO IN SARDINIA -ULASSAI & JERZU
Gairo Ghost Town
This got to be one of the most intense and interesting experiences around! The town was abandoned in the 60’s after a terrible episode of floods. You won’t see many tourists here, and I guess that’s better, as you’ll get a proper “Ghost Town Experience’’. For your reference, and before you end up in an awkward situation, it is not permitted to enter the old buildings.
Cascate di Lequarci
Visiting The Lequarci waterfall is one of the best things to do in Sardinia during winter, it’s simply magnificent! In fact, the waterfall is dry during the summer because of the lack of rain, and it turns into a waterfall again in winter. Other than the main attraction, the road itself is lovely and nice to ride onto. It is only 10 kilometers away from Ulassai, and the rocky scenery that you will see will amaze you.
I’ll tell you a secret: It took me forever to chose the picture for this and… I wrote the whole chapter sobbing because for physical limitations (long story) I’ll never be able to do the Selvaggio Blu. One of the things I wanted to do the most in my life…
Selvaggio Blu, one of the most challenging treks in the entire world, said by many that did it. It is an incredible trek that covers more than 35 kilometers (around 25 miles!). It starts in Pedra Longa and ends in Cala Sisine, and, of course, it combines hiking and climbing. It is clearly not an easy trek, however, the view from above is astonishing and you won’t regret going up there one second. It is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that is worth get prepared for.
The Selvaggio Blu Hike Options
Whilst you should be prepared for this trek, and while you should ask yourself if you’re ready for it, Selvaggio Blu is an unforgettable experience and full of adrenaline.
You will see so many things and natural beauties that you shouldn’t leave Sardinia without. This actually takes me to the following point here below.[x_gap size=”20px”
THINGS YOU’LL SEE DURING THE SELVAGGIO BLU
Cala Goloritzè Beach
Cala Goloritzè is definitely one of the most beautiful and photogenic beaches in this part of the island. Its blue water will make you forget the hard trek and you’ll be losing yourself in its beauty. Of course, don’t forget to bring your camera to take mesmerizing photos of this unique Sardinian beach.
The Fico Cove, or “Grotta del Fico” in Italian, is one cove that you will be visiting during your time in Selvaggio Blu. The cove is one of the most beautiful ones in Sardinia and is very well prepared for tourists. It offers a wide variety of colors that literally no one can find it unattractive (yes, not even you!)
You can’t leave Sardinia without seeing the Monte Arcosu WWF Oasis. The Oasis actually lies in the forest of Monte Arcosu, and it is the largest Mediterranean maquis in the Mediterranean basis (it is 35.000 hectares large!). Also, its peaks are over 1000 meters high, which makes it impressively beautiful. Its Flora and Fauna are one of the most unique on the island and is another asset to this spot.
Monte Arcosu WWF Oasi Useful Info
Monte Arcosu is only an hour drive from Cagliari which makes it fairly easy to reach after spending the night in the capital city of Sardinia. One of the unique features of this Oasis is that you will see animals in danger of extinction, such as the Sardinian-Corsican deer.You can enjoy the Oasis by foot by also by mountain bikes so that’s a great opportunity for everyone.
I love this mount, as I live nearby and I can even see it from my balcony! I would recommend anyone to come and spend some time here to exercize, see the local nature, and even encounter new people and come accross new cultures.
“I wouldn’t do it myself, I think I’d die on the first 10 minutes haha!”
THINGS TO DO IN SOUTH SARDINIA NEAR MONTE ARCOSU
The castle in Siliqua, better known as “Castello di Acquafredda” is one of the many (82, to be precise) castles in Sardinia. You will need to climb an easy kilometer to get to the castle’s best spot. The best moment to see the castle is before sunset to see the amazing overview on Siliqua and Campidano which is definitely worth the quick climb! Don’t forget to stop at the bar at the bottom to enjoy a fresh drink after the climb up (AND, don’t drink too much!).
Murals in Uta
Uta is a typical village of the Campidano area where you can spend some time in. I especially recommend visiting it if you’re on the way to visit other villages. There are interesting murals that deserve to be seen at least once.
As you can expect from any region in Italy, Sardinia has a lot of archaeologic sites. I decided to write about this one in particular since it was a Phoenician, Punic and also Roman town, which makes it incredibly interesting to any kind of visitor. The entrance fee is 5E but you can get a tour guide for an extra euro which is a great deal.
Tours In Nora and Santa Margherita Di Pula
NORA AND PULA: OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SARDINIA
Nora Beach is one of the closest beaches to Pula, and that has a length of 500 meters and is 30 meters wide (cool, huh?). If you’re planning to visit the Nora Archaeologic site, you should then do it early in the day and spend the rest of the day on the beach. Children or not, this beach is for everyone and the blue Mediterranean waters will make you dream and relax after spending some time in the Nora ruins.
Horse Riding in Pula
Who would have said that you can learn riding horses in Sardinia? Well, it’s actually more common than most people think. It is a fantastic activity whether you are new to it or not, as you’d be riding through a fabulous path with your guide.Sardinia has a rich nature and there are many ranches where you can ride a horse, and the most organized is the “Il Piccolo Ranch” in Pula.
The ancient city of Tharros, initially founded by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, is an incredible spot to see during your city. The ruins are ideal to spend 90 minutes to 2 hours in, and, although not mandatory, I recommend walking around with a guide as you would only look at ancient stones otherwise.
Best Tours Near Oristano
Mountainbiking Through Beaches Tour
This is a tour for the nature and sport lovers out there! You’ll bike through the fields and the hills. Of course, difficulty can be adjusted so if you want to go slower to take as many photos as possible, it’s a fantastic option. Book your tour from 178USD per tour.
Nuraghe and Giant’s Grave Tour
As mentioned in this article, the Nuraghe are a must-see on the island. For this reason, you should visit the ones next to Oristano. This tour is a great value for your money. Learn about history and the ancient populations while enjoying the Vitamin D! Prices from 70 Euro.
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SARDINIA NEAR THARROS
S’Arena Scoada Beach
With its spectacular view on the white cliffs nearby, S’Arena Scoada Beach is one beach you don’t want to miss in Sardinia. In the province of Oristano, some visitors even compare it with the Caribbean beaches, that is to say how beautiful it is! (therefore, GO!)
Only a 20 minute ride away from Tharros appears S’archittu, or “Little arch” in English. It is a fabulous beach known for the arch shape coming from its rocky part. Most of the tourists will stop on the rocks next to the beach to take superb photos. I highly recommend going there at sunset as it will be the best moment of the day.
Of course, Carnival is very popular all over Sardinia and Italy, but Sa Sartiglia is a unique and joyful event in Oristano that has nothing comparable to its bigger brother. Sa Sartiglia is a 3-day feast, that usually takes place in February or March. It unites all the citizen and includes a medieval joust, the famous horse racing, and also an incredible acrobatic riding. There will be a constant drumbeat accompanying the costumed men, women and horses while they race down the street at an incredible speed. Many tourists book their vacation in accordance the dates of this must-see event, and it is therefore advisable to plan everything in advance, at least 2 to 3 months in advance.
Things To Know About “Sa Sartiglia”
Historically, in the 15th and 16th century, great shows were displayed to the population. However, nowadays, it is more considered as a public celebration to amuse the spectators and have fun with friends.
Here you can see thousands of people in traditional costume wandering around the streets with the historical masks (don’t get scared, instead, enjoy!). Also, the horse riders will be over 120 so that you can take amazing photos to post on your social medias!
Other Sardinia Festivals
OTHER THINGS TO DO IN SARDINIA NEAR ORISTANO
Terme di Fordongianus
After many celebrations and activities, why not talking about some relaxing ones? The Terme of Fordongianus has been open for many years and you will see the historical Roman baths where they used to come and enjoy their time. If you’re not into history, don’t worry! You can also spend some time bathing in their inside and outside pools.
S’Archittu at Sunset
This is a recommended spot if you’re traveling along the West Coast of Sardinia, as it is a fantastic spot to admire the sunset. Relax, chill and think about life when the sun will lit the rocks. The contrast of the sun and the sea will make you forget all the problems. AH! Don’t forget to take your camera, it’s an amazing place!
So guys! I hope you found this guide useful to plan your Holiday in the beauty of Sardinia in Winter! Let me know if I left any of your favorite places out or some missing info, by leaving a comment below! 🙂
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