Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and is located on the south coast of the island. Uniquely combining the ancient with the modern, the sunny city is famous for its rich history and impressive monuments. On Ferryhopper, you can book ferry tickets online to Cagliari at no extra cost!
Keep reading our travel guide to find all the information you need about your trip to Cagliari, including must-see sights, gastronomic delights, best beaches, useful tips and ferry routes.
A glimpse of the center of Cagliari
Holidays in Cagliari
Like many Italian cities, Cagliari has a rich past. Traces of its long and eventful history are everywhere, from the elegant buildings and century-old churches to the beautiful works of art and the language. Full of chic restaurants, clubs and old cafés, the historic center bustles with life.
The climate in the Sardinian capital is mild almost all year round, making it a great holiday destination even in winter. The warm and sunny weather is perfect for enjoying the sea, especially since Cagliari boasts some of the best beaches on the island!
How to get to Cagliari
You can reach Cagliari by ferry from mainland Italy and Sicily. Throughout the year, there are regular ferry connections to the Sardinian capital from the ports of Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo.
For more information about ferry routes to Cagliari, you can check our guide’s dedicated section.
You can also get to Cagliari by plane from several Italian cities as well as European countries, such as Spain, Germany, France, Austria and the UK. The airport is located only 7km from the city.
For those traveling from other cities in Sardinia, there are daily bus and train connections to Cagliari. Services are provided by ARST, the main public transport company on the island.
A terrace overlooking the city of Cagliari
What to do in Cagliari
From the medieval castle and the stunning palazzi to the artisan shops, trattorias and markets, Cagliari is full of impressive attractions and places to visit. The area around the city is known for its natural wonders: calm lagoons, green parks and gorgeous beaches that come alive in the summer, offering relaxation and fun.
Must-see places are the Molentargius - Saline Natural Park, home to dozens of pink flamingos, as well as the famous Poetto beach. The fine white sand and crystal blue waters will remind you of the Caribbean!
Tip: if you happen to be in Cagliari at the end of April, don’t miss the chance to visit the trade fair (Sardegna Expo Mediterraneo - Fiera Campionaria). The event takes place every year to showcase the island's products, ranging from food and wine to arts and crafts.
Βeaches in Cagliari
Apart from being a destination full of charm and culture, Cagliari is ideally located for exploring the beautiful southern coast of Sardinia. From the capital, you can easily reach some of the most popular beaches on the island.
During the summer, shuttle buses can transfer you from Cagliari to the most famous beaches. If you want to explore the area at your leisure or visit several places in one day, we recommend getting around by car.
Some of the best beaches in Cagliari are:
- Poetto: located just a few kilometers from the center of Cagliari, this fabulous 7km-long sandy beach is one of the most famous in Sardinia. It offers a wide range of amenities, including hotels, restaurants, bars and water sports facilities.
- Mari Pintau: the beauty of its waters gave this lovely beach the name “painted sea.” Surrounded by a pine forest, the stunning bay is perfect for relaxing. The beach has public toilets, showers and umbrellas that you can rent.
- Capo Malfatano: this sandy beach with the calm and shallow turquoise waters is ideal for children. It has umbrellas, sun-loungers, a bar and a restaurant. Pedal boats and RIB boats are also available for hire if you want to explore the coast.
- Porto Giunco: located in the Villasimius area, this gorgeous beach is known for its crystal waters and fine white sand with pink hues. It has umbrellas, sunbeds, water sports facilities and boat rentals. Along the coast, you will also find bars and nightclubs as well as kiosks selling snacks and beverages.
- Punta Molentis: located in the Capo Carbonara marine protected area, this beach with the crystal-clean waters and white sand is one of the most impressive on the island. Nearby, you can see the ruins of a nuraghe, a type of ancient megalithic edifice found in Sardinia. The beach has umbrellas and a restaurant.
- Su Giudeu: this stunning 600m-long beach has golden sand and shallow waters that are perfect for kids. Umbrellas, sun-loungers and pedal boats are available for rent, while you will also find several bars, restaurants, hotels and campsites in the area.
- Tuerredda: with its crystal blue waters and fine sand, this heavenly beach is one of the most famous in Sardinia. It offers amazing views of Isola Tuerredda, a green islet located only 150m from the coast. The beach offers a wide range of amenities, including umbrellas, sunbeds, restaurants, bars and boat rentals.
- Cala Cipolla: located east of the promontory of Cape Spartivento, this picturesque cove is surrounded by centuries-old pines and junipers. The beach is very popular with surfers and diving enthusiasts and is ideal for snorkeling.
- Cala Regina: this lovely green bay is framed by rocks covered with eucalyptus and pine trees. It is one of the wildest beaches in southern Sardinia, with no amenities in the area.
The beautiful green bay of Cala Regina
Sightseeing in Cagliari
The historic center of Cagliari consists of 4 districts: Castello, Villanova, Marina and Stampace. You can explore them on foot to discover the most important monuments and attractions of the city.
Here are some of the top things to see during your stay in Cagliari:
- the Cattedrale di Santa Maria, Cagliari’s cathedral and symbol of the city
- the Bastione di Saint Remy, a neoclassical monument with a terrace that commands incredible views of the city
- the Santuario di Nostra Signora di Bonaria, a 14th-century Gothic church and popular pilgrimage site
- the San Benedetto market, a must-visit for fish and seafood lovers
- the Cittadella dei Musei, the main museum complex in Cagliari
- the Basilica di San Saturnino, one of the oldest churches in Sardinia
- the Castello di San Michele, a Spanish fortress that offers spectacular vistas of Cagliari and the sea
- the public gardens of Cagliari, the oldest urban park in the city, built in the early 19th century
- the Chiostro di San Domenico, one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Cagliari
- the Torre dell'Elefante and the Torre di San Pancrazio, two imposing towers built in the beginning of the 14th century
- the Roman amphitheater of Cagliari, the city’s most important Roman monument
The Bastione di Saint Remy offers panoramic views of Cagliari
Nightlife in Cagliari
Cagliari is a lively city with a vibrant nightlife. As you walk from the historic center to the port and towards the beach, you will find many restaurants, pubs, lounge bars, cafés and discos.
The main nightlife district is Marina, with its famous beer and wine bars that are always full of young people. The bars in the Poetto area and its seaside promenade are also very popular during the summer.
Tip: if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, we suggest visiting Babeuf. Babeuf is a small bistro and café serving local products, ranging from natural wines, craft beers and homemade desserts to cheese and cured meats from all over Italy. Grab one of the many books available and take your time to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and good music.
Food in Cagliari
Both meat and seafood feature prominently in Sardinian cuisine. Dishes are accompanied by the famous local Cannonau wine, while the meal usually ends with mirto (myrtle liqueur) as a digestive.
You should not leave Cagliari without trying:
- tasty olives
- burrida (delicious fish stew)
- bottarga (salted, cured fish roe)
- malloreddus (pasta typical of Sardinian cuisine)
- clam and mussel soup
- traditional Sardinian sausage
- local cured meats and cheeses
- pardulas (tartlets filled with ricotta and flavored with saffron)
- seadas (fried pastries with pecorino cheese and chestnut honey)
Some typical products from Cagliari
Short trips from Cagliari
If you feel like spending a few hours away from the city, the area around Cagliari is full of impressive attractions and stunning natural sights that are worth discovering.
During your holidays in Cagliari, don’t miss the chance to visit:
- the ancient city of Nora, one of the island’s most important archaeological sites
- the Nuraghe Arrubiu, one of the largest nuraghes in Sardinia
- the Molentargius - Saline Natural Park
- the caves of Is Zuddas
- the park of Sette Fratelli (“seven brothers”)
- the promontory of Sella del Diavolo (“devil’s saddle”)
Useful information about Cagliari
Whether you’re looking for a short getaway on the Italian islands or you want to visit Sardinia and take your time to explore its wonders, Cagliari is the destination for you.
The capital of the island offers a wide range of amenities and accommodation options for travelers, including luxury hotels, B&Bs, hostels and affordable apartments for rent. Most of them are located in the historic center and the Poetto waterfront area.
Regarding medical services, there are several hospitals both in the city and the region around Cagliari. In the summer, the main beach resorts also provide medical services for foreign citizens (guardia medica turistica).
Important phone numbers for your stay in Cagliari
Here are some useful contacts to keep handy during your trip to Cagliari:
- G. Brotzu Hospital: +3970539210
- Cagliari Carabinieri Station: +3970657235
- Cagliari tourist information office: +39706778173
- Cagliari Port Authority: +3970605171
- taxi services: +39707055
- emergency medical services (guardia medica turistica): +3970520552
- emergency number: 112
Transportation in Cagliari
Getting around Cagliari is very easy. The city center is quite compact and can be explored on foot or by bike. Alternatively, there are public bus services run by CTM as well as taxis.
If you want to travel outside the city, you can take the MetroCagliari, a light rail system that serves the town and part of its metropolitan area. Public bus routes also cover the region around Cagliari.
Tip: in order to protect Cagliari’s historic center, the city has 6 Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL), where access to non-registered vehicles is prohibited during certain hours (Poetto, Castello, Marina, Stampace Basso, Stampace Alto and Villanova). To avoid getting fined, make sure that you check the timetable for each zone.
View of the sea from Cagliari's waterfront
The port of Cagliari
The port of Cagliari is one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean. It is divided into 2 areas: the old port next to Via Roma and the canal port in the Giorgino district. Ferries arrive at the old port.
In the port area, you will find a passenger station as well as many bars, restaurants, pizzerias and ice cream shops. There are also several clubs on the nearby Via Sardegna.
The port is located very close to the city center and just a short walk from the railway station. Regular train services connect the port to Cagliari Elmas Airport. Trains depart every 20 minutes and the ticket is only €1.30.
Cagliari ferry: schedules and tickets
There are daily ferry crossings from central and southern Italy to Cagliari in Sardinia. Services are available throughout the year from the cities of Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo. The ferry company operating on these routes is Grimaldi Lines.
More specifically, the ferry routes from mainland Italy to Cagliari are the following:
- Civitavecchia - Cagliari: there are about 5 weekly ferry crossings from Civitavecchia to Cagliari all year round. The trip takes 13-15 hours, with ferries usually departing at around 20:00 and traveling at night.
- Naples - Cagliari: the ferry route from Naples to Cagliari is usually served 3 times per week throughout the year. Crossings normally take place at night, with ferries departing at about 19:00. The ferry ride from Naples to Cagliari takes approximately 13-15 hours.
Ferry connections between Cagliari and northern Italy are not available at the moment, but there are some crossings to the north of Sardinia. If you want to get to Cagliari from the north of the country, we recommend that you take your car on the ferry or rent a vehicle when you arrive on the island.
Ferry from Sicily to Sardinia
The two largest Italian islands are connected with regular ferry crossings between the port of Palermo and Cagliari. The route is served at least once per week by Grimaldi Lines and the trip takes 12 hours. Ferries usually depart at around 09:00.
Even though the ferry ride from Palermo to Cagliari is not short, you can book a cabin to make the most of this mini cruise in the Mediterranean! You will also have the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of onboard facilities.
Thinking of traveling to Cagliari? Ferry timetables change depending on the season, but you can check real-time schedules for all Cagliari routes on Ferryhopper.
Sailing boats at the port of Cagliari
Where to book ferry tickets online to Cagliari
Book cheap ferry tickets to Cagliari online on Ferryhopper with no hidden fees. Discover the historic city with our travel guide, check all available ferry routes to Cagliari on our map and organize your trip to Sardinia with just a few clicks!