Sardinia’s pretty capital city was the first stop on my five week trip to the Italian island. With a beautiful old town, plenty of historic sites and colourful gardens to explore, I spent 12 hours in Cagliari before heading north to Baunei.
As cheap and cheerful accommodation goes, my B&B turned out to be a great base for exploring Cagliari and a really friendly start to my solo trip. I’d chosen B&B Art Rooms (you can read the full review in The Tried & Tested post) because of its central location, which meant I could fit in as many sights as possible before I had to leave.
I’d slept better than I had in a long time, waking up early and eager to get outside to explore. I only had three hours to wander around Cagliari so I didn’t get the chance to do everything I would have liked to, but I had just enough time to explore the pretty cobbled streets and make it to the Cathedral, the Royal Palace and see the Botanical Gardens (from the outside at least!)
I had a quick coffee and some breakfast at the B&B, grabbed my camera and headed out. Even though it was only around 8.30am, it was already starting to heat up. I’d stupidly stuck on my jacket thinking it would be cooler in the morning so by the time I’d reached the Botanical Gardens, I was already boiling. I was ready for a nice cool walk under the shade of the tropical trees but when I got to the main entrance, the gardens were closed. I figured maybe they didn’t open until 9 or 10 am but when I checked the website, it said they were closed on both Saturdays and Sundays…throughout the entire year. It seems like an odd choice to only have it open during the week but there we go, lesson learned – always double check opening hours before you go!
Disappointed, I decided to have a walk and nosey around the outside of the gardens anyway and stumbled upon the Roman Amphitheater. I hadn’t read about it when I was researching things to do in Cagliari but it turned out to be a really worthwhile visit. Half carved into the rock with a view that stretches all the way to the port, the amphitheatre is, as I discovered after some reading, one of the most important structures left in Sardinia from the time of the Roman domination of the island.
History lesson one over, I walked down the winding old streets towards where I thought the Cathedral was and somehow ended up on Via Roma – the main road in front of the harbour. Diving up one the many pretty side streets, I had to cave and Google it (I didn’t have enough time for getting lost!) and after about ten minutes, found myself standing outside the Cathedral. I had been expecting the grandeur of the cathedral in Barcelona, but from the direction I arrived, it was a bit underwhelming – pretty yes, but…not breathtaking. I was starting to wonder what all the fuss had been about when I realised that both the interior and the view of the Cathedral from the east were stunningly beautiful.
Nearby the Cathedral, you’ll find the Palazzo Regio or Royal Palace. Now the home of the provincial government, the Palace was the former residence of Sardinia’s governor. The Palace is free to look around but doesn’t open until 10 am, so again make sure you think about opening times before you visit!
I walked north from the Palace and was just thinking it would be nice to grab a coffee and sit in the sun for a little while when I stumbled upon the most beautiful viewpoint, just next to Piazza dell’Indipendenza. From here, you get a great view of the other side of the Royal Palace and a panoramic view of the city below.
Heading back in the general direction of the B&B, I made one last stop at the beautiful Chiesa di Sant’Anna. The Baroque church and its twin bell towers are the most famous and easily spotted of the Stampace district’s skyline.
I rushed back to Art Rooms, grabbed my backpack and said thank you to Andreas, who had reappeared at the B&B with his little dog! I’d like to have spent more time exploring Cagliari and trying out some of the amazing restaurants and bars but I’m glad I got to wander for a little while – the rest will have to wait for next time!
Cagliari, Sardinia: Need to Know
GETTING THERE & AWAY
I flew from Glasgow to Cagliari via London with easyJet, one-way, for £40.00. You can also fly from most major airports in Italy, or take the ferry from Naples.
WHERE TO STAY
I stayed at B&B Art Rooms for one night at €40, booked through booking.com. You can read my full review of the B&B in The Tried & Tested: B&B Art Rooms, Cagliari, Sardinia.
CAGLIARI BUCKET LIST
Botanical Gardens: The gardens were just five minutes away from the B&B I stayed at and looked beautiful! They are open Monday – Friday (definitely not at the weekend!) and entry costs €4.
Cagliari Cathedral: A 15-minute walk (if you don’t get lost!). Entrance is free, although donations are welcomed.
The Royal Palace: Located right next to the Cathedral and entrance is free.
Have you visited Cagliari? Do you have any recommendations for things to see? Leave a comment below!
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