Travel // A few days in Sardinia, the Costa Smeralda

May 29, 2018

Last week we took off on a short-break to Sardinia for a couple of days. I was reviewing for Mr & Mrs Smith in secret {for their anonymous review section which is always fun pretending to be Mrs Smith for a couple of nights. I'm sure I've mentioned time & time again just how much we adore their handpicked selection of luxury, boutique hotels across the globe} and whilst I'd always thought how beautiful Sardinia looked, it was never top of our radar for visiting until they asked if I'd like to visit. With flights being super cheap with easyJet, and the planning of the hotels taken care of {we just added an extra night on at the end with one of their other properties}, it seemed like a no brainer. And it turned out to be such a hidden gem and a really gorgeous break. I hadn't realised quite just how beautiful Sardinia was. It helped that visiting at the end of May turned out to be the perfect time of year and it felt like we had the whole island to ourselves at times {avoid the peak summer months of July & August unless you want to be surrounded by Italians!}. Lots of you requested a blog post on the places that we visited, and of course I couldn't resist sharing my photos to look back upon too... 

We booked our flights with Easyjet and flew into Olbia early on Sunday morning, the gateway to the Costa Smeralda. I'd heard really mixed things about this North-Western part of the island, partly that the beaches are insanely gorgeous {yes please!}, but also that it's uber glitzy and a bit too high-heeled, designer Berlusconi yachting types around Porto Cervo {not our kind of relaxing, unspoilt holiday scene}. But actually, visiting in May made such a difference and it felt really rustic in parts, inexpensive and not like we were expecting. I think August would be a different story though when the Italians arrive.

I'll spare you the long, boring story about our car hire nightmare on arrival, but in the end it worked out for the best as we rebooked whilst there with another company and it meant we had a sweet little cream fiat 500 to drive around the island with! You'll definitely need a car around Sardinia, it's a big island and the beaches/accommodation/towns are all quite spread out. It reminded us a lot of Corfu in that sense, especially with the dramatic mountains all around.

The scenery when driving was ridiculously beautiful. Even just on the fifteen minute drive away from the airport. 

We decided to go straight to the beach, stopping to pick up some lunch to take for a picnic en-route. We stopped at the first viewpoint on our way to Porto Grande beach {that I'd discovered via Instagram} and found a road-side food truck with an adorable old Sardinian couple that reminded me of my Grandparents in Italian form. They couldn't speak any English but worked out we wanted to take our lunch away to the beach, we ordered a caprese salad and a ham panini to share and were given cheese whilst we waited for them to make it fresh - even hand tearing the basil there and then. One of those experiences we'll always remember.

Crazy cool catcus growing everywhere across the island.

We were keen to make the most of the sunshine as rain was forecast over the next couple of days and we didn't have all that long on the island {just 3 nights}. There are over 50 beaches on this tiny stretch of coast alone, all hidden bays where you drive down bumpy tracks and then walk to. Our first stop didn't disappoint. I'll make a list at the end of this post if you don't want to jot down throughout - this was Grande Pevero Beach.

At this time of year, all the parking was free but I think in the peak months they have pay meters which would be a bit annoying. Especially as we tended to just dip in and out of the different bays.

That sea!! I'd heard about these beaches and how they rival the Caribbean colours but it was so true. Granted, there was a little unwanted seaweed at this time of year after the Winter storms but still, so beautiful.

Including one of the biggest super-yachts moored up that I'd seen in a while.

We ate our picnic on the sand, marvelling at just how amazing it is to fly to Europe in just a couple of hours and be sitting on a beach in Sardinia for lunchtime.

I couldn't resist taking a million photos of that sparkly, crystal cler water.

We stopped off at a couple more beaches before realising that we were pretty close to Porto Cervo so we might as well have a look around the infamously glitzy town. Being a Sunday afternoon, it was very quiet, but we found it to be a bit like Bicester Village? Full of designer shops and a bit of a weird faux atmosphere.

There were some pretty bits, but we quickly discovered the real Sardinia which didn't lay in Porto Cervo.

It did house our first gelato of the trip though! A particularly delicious Pistachio and Cookies flavour.

It was time to check in so we drove to Albero Capovolto, the slightly rural boutique B&B where we were spending our first two nights. It's a Mr & Mrs Smith property set in the hills and was just the kind of relaxing escape we'd been craving. Stone buildings set around olive groves, bougainvillaea lined pergolas and a pool overlooking the rolling Sardinian countryside.


It had a real rustic charm and was perfectly located to explore the various beaches and pretty harbour towns nearby. Alessandro, the helpful owner shared some of his favourite places with us to discover.

The breakfasts every morning were heaven. Fruit, bright yellow yolked eggs, local ham & cheeses followed by homemade Italian cakes and pastries. It's definitely acceptable to eat cake for breakfast when in Italy right?!

We woke up to clouds and the threat of rain the next day, but it was still so warm so we wanted to go and explore nonetheless. We picked a beach to visit {Spiaggia Bianca} where we could walk along the coast to get a little exercise in.

The paths were lined and overflowing with wild flowers. Such a pretty time of year.

It was beautiful but if the sun had been out, the water would have looked even more incredible.

Afterwards we drove to Porto Rotondo to fantasy yacht shop.

We definitely felt like we were starting to see more of the real Sardinia now.

When the rain did come down one afternoon, we holed up at the B&B and watched a new series called Innocent. It was so good to just have time to do nothing for once.

One of our very favourite places that we discovered whilst out there was San Pataleo, a quaint old town up in the hills above the coast. It was actually where our next hotel was located but we visited in the days before staying there too. Just a small town but full of buzzy restaurants, pretty streets, old doors and stylish shops. It felt so full of life up here compared to the coast! 

The drive up there really reminded us of visiting Bangalow above Byron Bay in Australia {anyone who's been there will know what I mean} and it was just such a cool, unexpected place. We wished we'd been have still been here on a Thursday morning when they host one of the island's best markets in the town. I adore this view with the mountains in the background.

No guesses as to whether I could resist a photo where a dream door meets a pink wall.

It felt a little Positano like up in San Pataleo, all crumbly, covered in scented jasmine.

Alas, there were no vintage Fiat 500s to scout out but we did find this covetable VW bug.

Cactus and bougainvillea lined crumbly walls.

We wandered around town until it was time for dinner. It's worth nothing just how late the restaurants open for dinner out here. I guess it's the Italian way but we normally like to eat early as we're pretty much always hungry! We found a pizzeria which opened at 7 but nearly everywhere was 8pm {super late for us}. Places tend to have long lunches, shut all afternoon and then reopen late. Even the supermarkets shut everyday between 1 and 4pm!

My dress is from Rose & Rose via KJ's Laundry. Basket online here. Sandals online here.

We woke up to sunshine and blue skies and couldn't wait to go and visit more beaches.

Every drive was so pretty with these wild blooms.

I'd heard about the famous Spiaggia del Principe, allegedly a Prince's favourite beach who named this whole region. We parked at the top and started to walk down to the glistening cove below.

The walk got more and more cavernous, like we were climbing down a canyon in parts! I didn't capture it as was having to watch where my ankles were going. It was well worth the uneven trip down there though. 

Although there must be another way in as we found another entrance when down there. You'll need google maps to get around out here.

Obsessed with this water. And the tiny fish darting around.

We set up camp, and stayed until the dark clouds rolled in a couple of hours later.

And then it was onto our second & final hotel, Petra Segreta set even higher up above San Pataleo.

It's owned by Relais & Chateau, the same company who also have one of our favourite ever hotels in Italy - Borgo Santo Pietro where we stayed a couple of years back {also a Smith property!} so we knew it would be a real treat. The vibe completely luxurious but actually reasonable for one night  and included with that we had a 30 minute free massage each. 

Feeling lazy after a couple of heavenly days of no alarms and big breakfasts, we felt like we needed a walk so walked from the hotel into San Pataleo, about a half an hour walk along a pretty rural path. We were on an aubergine parmiagana pilgrimage from the little cafe in town and it was worth the walk!

Followed by gelato of course {when in Rome!}

Ben's favourites are always lemon and liquorice. Two of my absolute least favourite flavours. But give me pistachio and coconut any day.

We ate really well out there actually, Italian food is probably my most indulgent and favourite. There's a lot of seafood on the menus and we're always drawn to crab linguine.

We ate this in Golfo Aranci, a sweet little town on the coast. A storm had just passed so the sky was black but the sea like a mirror!

We soaked up alll the sunshine at Petra Segreta on our last day.

I quickly fell head over heels with this hotel.

And another indulgent breakfast, heart eyes!

I mean...

Impressive views and an equally impressive vast cushion collection. The interiors were super gorgeous here.

The pool area, looking out across the mountains and carved into the stone was dreamy.

We just wished we'd have had longer! It was about a 20 minute drive to the nearest beaches, but so heavenly.

We walked back into town for lunch, probably the best food of the trip, and shared the grilled seafood {including the best calamari I've ever had} and probably one of my top 5 ever pastas with fresh tuna and pesto. In fact I've been craving that lunch ever since!

Reluctant to check-out of the hotel but equally wanting one last afternoon by the sea before flying home {we booked a late flight home to maximise our time}, we packed up and drove to Golfo Aranci for one last really good gelato {that Alessandro from Albero Capolovto had recommended to us} and a look around the town now the sun was shining.

Our first Fiat spot! 

We were so glad that we'd come back, walking around the harbour felt like such a perfect holiday spot.

Boats bobbing around and turquoise water.

Our final gelato was a good one.

And then we drove around the bay to Cala Sassari, a perfect little spot for a couple of hours on the beach.

Set up a self-timer resting against a rock and I actually really love this photo!

Dress is from Primark.

Our flight wasn't until 9pm so by early evening, we still had a couple of hours to kill. We decided to go into Olbia, where the airport was. People hadn't spoken that highly of Olbia so we didn't know what to expect but it was actually really gorgeous. Full of old buildings and one main long street leading to the sea, we adored the holiday vibe and all the shutters. I guess it was the most touristy place we visited out there so enjoyed seeing more restaurants/shops etc but it was anything but too touristy/tacky. We loved it.

And then it was time to depart. Just three nights but a perfect break. I'm dying to see more of Sardinia now. It's such a huge island, I'd google mapped a few places I wanted to visit whilst out there thinking they'd be close but they were over 2 hours away! I think Alghero and further West are meant to be lovely. But I'd definitely recommend the parts and hotels that we stayed in for a short break, or part of a larger Sardinian adventure. It felt like Corfu crossed with the Amalfi Coast? But with it's own unique Sardinian charm and majestic beaches.

A summary of where to visit/eat/do;

We stayed at both Albero Capovolto here, and Petra Segreta here and booked with Mr & Mrs Smith.
- Beaches that we loved were Spiaggia del Principe, Grande Perovo, Bianca and Cala Sassari. 
- Golfo Aranci was the biggest town with the best gelato {in the middle of the main street, you'll see the locals queuing outside although it's shut on Mondays}. 
- San Pataleo is a must visit with Giagoni in the Piazza restaurant being highly recommended {although we didn't get round to eating here as it was always too late for us!}, Pizzeria Ichnos {fairly good pizzas, not the best but it was open and convenient} and Trattoria Zara Cafe for the best seafood lunch. 

Have you been? Sicily is next on my list, I'd love to visit Taormina which looks like it would have a similar feel. And I adore the Amalfi Coast so much {remember this trip?}, we're going back later in the summer! Italy is just a total dream. 

R <3 xx 

{I received two nights as a guest as part of a review I was writing for Mr & Mrs Smith but as always all opinions are 100% my own}

You Might Also Like


  1. Lovely post, Sardinia looks absolutely beautiful and charming! On a non-travel related note, thanks for recommending TV series, I have found some excellent ones from your posts! Going to try Innocent next. Please continue to tell us when you've seen something good.

    1. Hi Sarah, thank you! So pleased you've loved the series. Have you watched The Split, Safe or The Tunnel? x

  2. Hello, this is my first time ever commenting on a blog post...I hope you don't mind...

    I just just booked flights for a short trip to Northern Italy. My go to destination is always Provence and having looked at various locations in Italy but never actually made it, we are taking the plunge and have settled on the area closest to France...ha!

    We are flying to Genoa and have just booked, via Mr and Mrs Smith, a countryside hotel in Piedmont, we are planning a few days exploring the wine region but want to end our short break down by the coast. Have you ever been to this area?

    I was originally thinking of staying in/around Portofino but it just seems so expensive, do you have any recommendations in the area? Unfortunately I just don't think we can justify the expense of either Belmond property and do prefer smaller boutique options above big commercial hotels.

    If any of your followers can recommend accommodation in this area I would love to hear them...

    Have a lovely summer


@rvk_loves on Instagram