Easter holidays in Sardinia
Rituals, traditions and places to visit
Sardinia is one of the most beautiful regions in Italy, but it is mostly popular as a summer vacation destination. However, thanks to its beautifully warm Mediterranean climate, romantic villages and millennia old traditions, it is perfect 365 days a year, especially in spring.
So why not think about an Easter getaway to Sardinia? Discover the best of the island during Holy Week and get inspired by our travel tips.
A dramatic procession of the Stations of the Cross in Sardinia
Why travel to Sardinia during Easter
Out-of-town vacations are always exciting, but when combined with events and traditions they are even better. This year, Easter is celebrated in April, an ideal time to consider a quick getaway to Sardinia.
Here, Holy Week has been celebrated since the 1600s and is rooted in the Middle Ages and tinged with Spanish tradition. Sardinia's major cities, as well as smaller towns, get into the Easter spirit (also called Sa Pasca Manna) several days before Easter Sunday with a series of rites, evocative processions and fascinating chants.
Spending Easter in Sardinia will not only allow you to enjoy fascinating rituals, but also to visit new places and discover another side of the island.
Here are 5 things to include on your calendar for your Easter trip to Sardinia:
1) Attend the Procession of the Mysteries in Cagliari's historic neighborhoods
The capital of the autonomous region of Sardinia begins celebrating Holy Week on the Friday before Palm Sunday by involving the 4 historic districts of Castello, Stampace, Villanova, and Marina.
In Cagliari, the Procession of the Mysteries (Is Misterius) is organized by members of the local archconfraternity who, dressed in traditional white tunics and headgear, carry 7 wooden statues, relics from the XVIII century, to 7 churches in the historic center. Their attire, their walk through the streets and the polyphonic chants that echo through the historic city center, create an evocative representation of the Via Crucis.
Don't miss the opportunity to also step inside Cagliari's beautiful churches, such as that of Sant' Efisio, which is adorned with small vases called Su Nenniri, ancient symbols of rebirth and resurrection.
Tip: if you arrive in Cagliari by car, it's also worth visiting the small town of Iglesias, about 50 km away. Here, on Good Friday, the Procession of Descenso is celebrated, a very ancient rite in which Babbalottis (children dressed in traditional clothes) parade at night accompanied by the sound of the typical Sardinian instruments, matraccas.
Cagliari's Stampace district, the oldest and most famous in the city
2) Experience one of the most beautiful S’Iscravamentu rites in Olbia
Olbia, in northern Sardinia, is one of the most popular summer resorts, partly because it is considered the gateway to Costa Smeralda.
Visiting Olbia at Easter, however, will also give you the opportunity to experience its centuries-old traditions and perhaps take an off-season dip in its beautiful waters. Among the most important traditions of Easter in Olbia is S'Iscravamentu (Christ’s deposition from the cross). The procession starts from the church of St. Paul the Apostle and takes place throughout the streets of the city.
This is one of the most popular traditions precisely because of its theatricality, since the entire community is involved in the scene of grief. Its name, moreover, is said to originate from Catalan. In fact, there is a very similar tradition in some parts of Spain.
3) Visit the village of Castelsardo to watch the event of Lunissanti
The Gulf of Asinara is one of the most fascinating stretches of coast in the north-western part of Sardinia and is home to romantic villages, including that of Castelsardo. Arriving in Porto Torres by ferry, you can reach this thousand-year-old village in just 35 minutes by car and witness one of the island's most famous Easter events.
In Castelsardo, the Procession of the Mysteries (also called Lunissanti) has medieval origins and are carried from the Church of Santa Maria to the Church of Our Lady of Tergu on Holy Monday.
The representation of the Passion of Christ is very emotional and sees the members of the confraternity wearing traditional dress and singing Gregorian chants throughout the day. Once inside the church, the Mysteries are displayed in front of the altar according to their order of arrival and at the end of the mass, a picnic is organized to celebrate the beginning of spring.
But it is at nightfall that we witness the most evocative part of Lunissanti, when the lights in the historic center turn off and a procession is organized during which locals walk holding torches and candles.
Magnificent view of Castelsardo by night
4) Discover Ogliastra and try traditional sweets
Ogliastra is still the least known part of Sardinia, rich in limestone-dolomite mountains and limpid waters. If you love deserted beaches and wild landscapes, this region has plenty of surprises in store for you, and it might be a good idea to visit it during the Easter season.
Particularly striking is the Holy Week in Bari Sardo, but also the spring event Tortolì in Bloom, a real spectacle of colors. Did you also know that pardulas (the most beloved Easter treats), are from these very areas? Other must-tries include su coccoi cun s'ou (the typical Easter bread) and pistoccheddus de cappa (biscuits covered with icing).
In Ogliastra, you will not miss the opportunity to blend tradition and adventure: the Selvaggio Blu hike along the Gulf of Orosei is in fact one of the most famous and incredible trekking routes in Italy.
To visit the wonderful Ogliastra at its best, all you need to do is arrive in Arbatax!
5) Spend Easter Monday on the island of La Maddalena
Have you been added to the "Easter 2023" group chat but no one has proposed anything yet? Take initiative and organize a trip to Sardinia with a day trip to La Maddalena included! Located off the Costa Smeralda, this island of only 20 km2 offers so many things to do and see.
Take the ferry from the small port of Palau, reach La Maddalena in just 15 minutes and start exploring its quaint old town. Take a long walk and choose whether to opt for a picnic lunch overlooking the sea or a small seafood restaurant. If you have time left, you should also visit nearby Caprera, connected to La Maddalena by a 600-meter bridge.
Keep in mind that the La Maddalena archipelago is even more beautiful in spring and will allow you to fully enjoy its beauty without the usual hustle and bustle of summer.
Useful info: the closest ports to Palau are Golfo Aranci and Santa Teresa Gallura (the closest town to Corsica). The Livorno - Golfo Aranci ferry, for example, could be a great way to reach Sardinia from Italy all year round.
The marina of Cala Gavetta in La Maddalena
We are already packing our bags for Sardinia, how about you? 🙂
Plan your Easter trip in advance with Ferryhopper and book your ferry tickets at the best price. Check out all the available crossings on our Map of ferries and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!