Capital of the island of Sardinia off the west coast of central Italy, Cagliari is both a modern, industrial port city and a fabulous tourist resort replete with places to visit and relax.

A popular port throughout the Roman period, the Empire’s fall saw periods of occupation by the Vandals, the Byzantines, the Pisans and the Habsburgs (sandwiched between a prolonged period of independence between the 7th and 11th centuries, when the Pisans successfully invaded). The Risorgimento ('resurgence', 19th to early 20th century) proved the turning point, bringing about significant expansion and cultural revival.

Despite incessant bombing during World War II, much of the city’s beauty is retained today. With a small population of just 16,000, most of whom speak the Sardinian dialect, and split into four distinctive districts (Marina, Castello, Stampace and Villanova), the 'White Jerusalem' described by DH Lawrence is an inviting proposition for visitors.


Most of the major attractions can be found in the Castello region on top of the hill (the 'Castle', from whence Cagliari takes its name). Indeed, the trip itself will provide an incredible view of the Gulf of Cagliari. Within the city’s white limestone walls can be found two impressive 13th century towers, The St. Pancras Tower and The Elephant tower.

Rather uniquely, Cagliri’s Basilica of San Saturnino provides an example of Palaeo-Christian architecture. Built in the 5th century in dedication to the martyr killed during Emperor Diocletian’s reign, although the adjoining armes were a later addition, the central part is genuine. Coupled with the Roman amphitheatre on the Viale Fra’Ignazio, which still stages open-air operas and concerts in the summer, the Roman world is there for visitors to see.

Art lovers can find the Cagliari Modern Art Gallery in the Villanova district along the Viale Regina Elena. In Castello, the Sardinian Archaeological Museum offers an exceptional collection of artefacts from the prehistoric Nuragic civilisation of Sardinia (ranging from 1800-1200 BC).

If you’re looking to relax, the Poetto Beach is the place to go. Some 13 km long, it also offers opportunities for sailing, hiking and kite-surfing.

The park of Monte Urpino by the Castello is a fine picnic spot if you find the beach a bit too crowded.

Football is represented in the city by Cagliari Calcio, who compete in Serie A and play their games at the Stadio Sant’Ella. Former players include the great Italian striker Gigi Riva and Gianfranco Zola.


The Castello district contains the majority of craftsmen workshops down the charming lanes.

For the major stores and shopping districts, try the Largo Carlo Felice to the west of the centre. The Via Roma, Via Manno and Via Garibaldi also have a mixture of high-street shops and local craftworks.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Sardinian cuisine is very much the focal point, specialising in cheeses, ham, seafood and pasta. Dishes like spit-roasted suckling pig are specialities and wine is both essential to the food and high quality in Sardinia.

The Marina district is the most populous location for restaurants, but fresh seafood can also be purchased from vendors at the Poetto Beach.

The beach is also the hotspot for nightlife, with a number of open-air discos. If you’d prefer somewhere close to the centre, then the Piazza Yenne is extremely popular.

Tourist Information

Cagliari Tourist OfficeVia Mameli, 97Tel: +39 (0)70 664


Cagliari is served by Cagliari-Elmas Airport, some 10 minutes from the centre. It provides domestic and international connecting flights. The city is accessible via taxis and buses.

Among the many airlines who use Cagliari are British Airways (London-Gatwick), Easyjet (London Luton) and bm (London Heathrow and Manchester).

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