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 plan an Easter getaway to Sardinia? Discover the best things to see and do on the island during Holy Week and get inspired by our travel tips.

The brotherhood of the Holy Cross, wearing long white hooded tunics

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 at the end of March, an ideal time to consider a quick getaway to Sardinia

Here, Holy Week has been celebrated since the 1600s and is 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 in 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 in 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 18th 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. This is a very ancient rite during which the Babbalottis (children dressed in traditional clothes) parade at night accompanied by the sound of the typical Sardinian instruments, the matraccas.

View of the Stampace district of Cagliari in Sardinia, Italy

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 one of the main gateways 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 beaches. Among the most important traditions of Easter in Olbia is S'Iscravamentu (Christ’s Descent from the Cross). The procession starts from the church of St. Paul the Apostle and takes place through the streets of the city.

This is one of the most distinctive traditions precisely because of its theatricality, since the entire community is involved in the scene of grief. Moreover, its name is considered to originate from Catalan. In fact, there is a very similar tradition in some regions of Spain.

Reach Olbia from Civitavecchia by ferry or take the ferry from Piombino to Olbia for a one-of-a-kind Easter experience!

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, takes place the long Procession of the Mysteries (also called Lunissanti) which has medieval origins. The 10 Mysteries are carried from the Church of Santa Maria to the Church of Nostra Signora di Tergu (Our Lady of Tergu) on Holy Monday.

The representation of the Passion of Christ is very emotional, and finds the members of the confraternity wearing traditional dresses 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 of the historic center go out and a procession of locals holding torches and candles walks through the streets of the village.

The village of Castelsardo and its castle lit up at night, in Sardinia, Italy

Magnificent view of Castelsardo by night

4) Discover Ogliastra and try traditional sweets

Ogliastra, rich in limestone-dolomite mountains and limpid waters, remains the least-known part of Sardinia. 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 of Tortolì in Bloom (Tortolì in Fiore), a real spectacle of colors. Did you also know that pardulas (the most beloved Easter ricotta cakes) come 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 beautiful 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 2024" group chat but no one has proposed anything yet? Take the initiative and organize a trip to Sardinia including a day trip to La Maddalena! Located off the Costa Smeralda, this island of only 20 km2 is a UNESCO nature reserve that offers 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 bridge.

Keep in mind that the La Maddalena archipelago is even more beautiful in spring when you can 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 (connected to Corsica). The Livorno - Golfo Aranci ferry, for example, could be a great way to reach Sardinia from Italy all year round.

 Ferry about to reach the port of La Maddalena from Palau in Sardinia, Italy

The marina of Cala Gavetta in La Maddalena

We are already packing our bags for Sardinia. Whayt about you? 🙂 Plan your Easter trip in advance with Ferryhopper and book your ferry tickets at the best prices! Check out all the available crossings on our Map of ferries and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

Moreover, you can find out more about ferry routes and offers to Sardinia for 2024 on our dedicated page.