Sardinia is an other-worldly island in the center of Mediterranean Sea. For centuries it has remained one of the most isolated areas in all of Europe, retaining many of its ancient and even pre-Roman customs. A clear testament to this is that the Sardinian language is universally recognized as the closest living relative to Ancient Latin. But despite its isolation, Sardinia is by no means small; it’s actually the second largest island in the Mediterranean. All the most famous travelers who have explored Sardinia have described it as a land that seems more like a continent in its own right, given the diverse variety of landscapes in each region and the many smaller satellite islands that surround it.
Today Sardinia is famous for its wonderful beaches and turquoise sea, yet there is much more to discover. The island has a coast of about 1,180 miles, but most of the island is actually hilly and wild, even along the coast, and has a central mountain range with many road passes at about 1,000 meters asl (3,280 ft). It’s a terrain of unhinged riding and the last edition (in 2011) of Sardinia’s Pro-cycling race, Giro di Sardegna, was won by Sagan!
The island has a primeval and unique history, with the particular emergence of a megalithic culture known as the Nuragic Civilization that endured every period from the Bronze Age up to the Roman invasion. Nowadays it is possible to see about 7000 Bronze Age towers, Nuraghe that dot the landscape of the island as well as temples devoted to water rituals and megalithic tombs. Some of them are still massive and really worth a visit.
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Private room (single supplement) USD 495
9 days (8 nights)
Great experience and all aspects were well planned. Small issues were dealt with in a professional manner.
Bryan F. Emilia Romagna Bike Tour[fa icon="quote-right"]
Alghero - 25 miles - Rolling
Our guides welcome you at the airport and will accompany you to Alghero, a coastal, tourist town with Catalan influence. Host of the 2017 Giro d'Italia Grand Start, it demonstrated its strong passion for cycling by welcoming the famous pink race with great enthusiasm.
After your arrival, if time permits we will check the bikes together and go for a test ride. Our first ride takes us to the splendid bay of Porto Conte. We can also visit the historic and characteristically Catalan center of Alghero, passing through the narrow streets or along the bastion right in front of the sea. Italian aperitif, dinner and overnight at Hotel Cala Bona, a four-star hotel facing the seaside.
Alghero - Tresnuraghes - 40 miles - Hilly
Take your time and enjoy the morning’s view as the beauty of this mountainous island kisses the sea - you're actually cycling right between the sea and mountains! The coastal road is a slightly harder, more winding option, but it nevertheless offers the best cycling routes in the area. This route crosses through a nature reserve famous for its eagles and massive “griffone” vultures which can have wingspans up to 2.8 meters (1.19 ft). We'll follow a minor road along a serene and hilly countryside toward Bosa, a beautiful village built along the Temo River and close to the beach. This is our lunch stop after 30 mls. We’ll take time to explore this fascinating town before enjoying the local food, lounging in a small square nestled in the old town or in front of the beach. After lunch, we will ride a little bit more along the coast and then inland to reach the small village of Tresnuraghes, on the hills through quiet roads and Malvasia vineyards. After relaxing at the hotel we can visit a Malvasia wine cellar and have a tasting with a local producer who can explain the characteristics of this particular wine.
Tresnuraghes - Cabras - 56 miles - Hilly
From Tresnuraghes the landscape becomes hilly with passes through small villages and oak forests scattered with dark basalt ridges. We are riding on the slopes of the venerable and extinct Montiferru Volcano.
After about 7 mls we take our first stop in Cuglieri village to regroup and enjoy a coffee; from here we head deeper inland, climbing Montiferru on a nicely paved road into a dense oak forest. We reach the top with a gradual climb of 6 mls.
From the eastern slope of Montiferru Volcano we can appreciate the view of the basalt plateau with Sardinia’s main mountain range in the distance, while riding down towards Santu Lussurgiu village. After a regroup and refreshing stop we’ll continue cycling, mainly downhill, on the south slope of Montiferru towards the coast. Jaunting through scenic country roads we’ll reach the coast after 40 mls for a lunch break by the sea. Then we’ll cycle south on a flat (ish) minor road between lagoons, outstretched meadows and lovely beaches, before reaching the village of Cabras.
Cabras is a fishing village next to a large lagoon, famous for its delicious seafood and bottarga (the Gold of Cabras, the caviar of Sardinia, mullet roe). Since Roman times, Sardinians have never lived on the sea because of pirate raids. However, there are many beautiful beaches just a 5-minute drive from the hotel, which we will be happy to show you.
Cabras - Aritzo - 47 miles - Mountains
Today’s ride brings us farther inland to discover the most authentic parts of Sardinia. We’ll start the day with a short transfer from Cabras to the archeological site of Santa Cristina, a distance of about 20 mls. Santa Cristina is one of the most important symbols of Nuragic Civilization. It contains a Sacred Well that was dedicated to the cult of water. In fact, the Nuragic Civilization not only produced distinctive megalithic towers, but also characteristic sacred water temples, tombs to the giants, Mont'e Prama’s enigmatic sandstone sculptures, and peculiar bronze statuettes.
The Sacred Well - the construction of which can be dated to around the 11th century BC - has a structure built using very precise techniques. Basalt blocks were worked and finished in order to create a distinctively elaborate and impressive architectural effect. The structure’s excellent state of conservation gives the well great archaeological and historical importance. Water still flows through the well today thanks to a perennial aquifer that allows it to fill the circular basin dug into the base rock, with it ultimately reaching the first step of the stairwell.
After the archeological visit, we’ll continue riding the basalt plateau, up to Lake Omodeo. We’ll cross the lake and carry on, climbing into the Mandrolisai Hills; we are on the west side of Gennargentu Mountain Range.
The first stop for a coffee could be in Ortueri village, after about 23 mls. Time for cappuccino and - optional - we can visit the dolmen site in the countryside between Ortueri and the next village, Sorgono. Along the way, we’ll feel quite removed from civilization for long stretches due to the absence of traffic and to being surrounded only by serene and verdant nature. However, we will still pass through a few villages and we can stop for an occasional coffee to refresh ourselves because the van will always be tagging along to provide any aid that may be needed. We are in Barbagia, which according to the Romans was a land inhabited by barbarians, hence its name. In fact, the Romans struggled mightily to conquer these lands, mainly due to the harshness of the territory, not having particularly high peaks, but steep green ridges interspersed with deep gorges. We reach the village of Sorgono, an important railway station on the old Sardinian rail line (lunch stop).
From Sorgono we have the last push of 2.5 mls, a steady climb which will bring us to the highest point of today’s ride, “Passo Isca sa mela," 3,100 ft asl.
Shortly after the pass, we can enjoy a well-deserved coffee break in the mountain village of Tonara. From Tonara, a long descent leads us through the chestnut woods to the town of Belvì and then uphill to our splendid hotel nestled among the trees. We are in the care of wild Sardinia but the hotel offers all the comforts. There will be a cooking class for you (optional) and the hotel offers a swimming pool, sports massage by reservation, the possibility of a wine tasting, and an excellent dinner which you will undoubtedly remember.
Artizo - Gennargentu - Oliena - 59 miles - Mountains
Today begins with a nice descent to Belvì and then up to Desulo and from here up to the Tascusì pass at 4,000 ft asl. The first part of the climb will be gradual, but after the town of Desulo it will become more demanding until the peak, totaling 8 mls and 2,300 ft of ascent. The effort, however, will be rewarded by a majestic view. The road continues with long descents and short uphill stretches until the end of the day.
After about 35 mls, we reach the town of Mamoiada, famous for its ancestral masks and full-bodied red wine, the acclaimed Cannonau. At this point, we suggest visiting the Museum of Mediterranean Masks where you can see enticing examples from the Barbaricinian carnival, a tradition - the memory of which is obscured in ancient history - that passionately revives itself each year in places such as these. At the end of the visit you can have lunch in a typical Locanda, a stone's throw from the museum. We’ll then continue towards the town of Orgosolo, the heart of the Barbaricinian culture and the notorious center of banditry, a phenomenon which raged through these mountains from the end of the 19th century until the 1970s.
After stopping briefly to admire the murals of Orgosolo, and having grasped their powerful social significance, we’ll make our way to Oliena, a town located at the foot of the most suggestive limestone massif on the whole island, Mount Corrasi. Breathtaking panorama! After passing Oliena, the last few miles that separate us from our hotel are mainly downhill. Su Gologone is classified as an “experience” hotel, and you will immediately understand why.
No cycling day - Tiscali - Hike
Today we don't have to pack. In fact, when we designed this tour, we really wanted to give our guests the opportunity to get to know this beautiful part of Sardinia more closely. Not only for its natural beauties (the wild radiance of the valleys and canyons) marvelously exemplified by the contrast of white limestone peaks and verdant Mediterranean flora, but also for its profound history, customs and traditions, a testimony to the agro-pastoral world. To offer you this experience we envisaged an activity to immerse ourselves in nature (trekking or kayaking), with a visit to a Bronze Age Nuragic site shrouded in nature. In fact, when the Romans invaded Sardinia, the local Nuragic peoples escaped to hide in the mountains. The most distinctive Nuragic village is certainly Tiscali, built inside a karst sinkhole on top of a mountain, nestled in the green and narrow valley of Lanaittu. A medium-level hike of great emotion, about 6 mls, 2,000 ft uphill, with some steep stretches on bare rock; a unique scene to behold. The walk to the doline (sinkhole) and the remains of the village of Tiscali only takes a couple of hours, but the environment is quite wild; this means that it’s not the easiest walk for those who are not used to walking in the Supramonte area, on trails of rock and limestone. Regardless, Tiscali is one of the most popular destinations for hikers in Sardinia. If you prefer we can guide you along an easier hiking route, because the entire Lanaittu Valley and the surrounding area are rich in important settlements from the era of the ancient Nuragic civilization, and even caves with evidence of the Paleolithic era.
Oliena - Santa Maria Navarrese - 47 mls - Mountains
Today we ride from the limestone mountains to the blue sea. In fact, the last ride will be along one of the most spectacular roads in Sardinia. From the hotel we start rolling towards Dorgali. This first part of the climb is the most steep, but after a good coffee at the local pub on the way up to Genna Silana it’s long and gentle with a stunning view of the Flumineddu Valley. This valley is famous for the production of Nepente wine, a variety of Cannonau that gets its unique flavor from the microclimate of the valley. Along the climb we will enjoy the view of the Gorropu Canyon, the highest canyon in Europe with its cliffs more than 1,315 ft high. A stop to take a memorable photo is definitely worth it.
After the climb we can revive our legs by having lunch at the summit’s coffee bar, right on the route of the Giro d’Italia’s KOM. There, we’ll get ready for the long descent towards Baunei. The ride approaching the town of Baunei is a fun rolling road through a pristine, unspoiled environment, full of wildlife and dramatic panoramas. After Baunei, we have one last adrenaline-filled downhill towards the sea and onto the beach where we can celebrate the ending of our unforgettable adventure in Sardinia.
Santa Maria Navarrese - Selvaggio Blu - Boat ride
Our grand finale involves a private, all-day cruise.
Sailing starts at about 9 am, back to the harbor at about 6 pm. Swimming and snorkeling in the pristine water and sunbathing will fill most of the day. Lunch on board. Highlights: the limestone cliffs and spectacular bays, Cala Goloritze, Cala Biriola, Cala Mariolu. We'll be back at the hotel in time for our final dinner celebrations.
In terms of cycling Sardinia offers a uniquely rewarding tour, the first two days you will ride along the north west coast, then we will explore the inland, with many climbs to discover the real genuine heart of Sardinia. We will mainly follow minor roads, through beautiful landscapes with good tarmac and no cars. One day of no cycling in the mountains can be the ultimate chance to relax or trek through the mountains to visit a Nuragic site nestled in a sinkhole in the limestone ridge, or an easy kayak along the river, to enjoy the unique experience of having lunch with local shepherds.
The tour has a grand finale, we will cycle along fantastic limestone mountains that dramatically throw themselves over the sea, between deep valleys and splendid bays. Moreover, the tour includes a day of rest at the end to enjoy a visit to the limestone coast with a day cruise boat trip to the famous bays of Cala Luna, Cala Goloritze, Cala Biriola, with lunch on board.
Sardinia is one of the very few places in the world that boasts "Blue Zone" designation. This refers to areas across the globe where people live longer and have healthier, more natural lifestyles. We’ll ride straight through the Blue Zone and appreciate the authentic food and the excellent wine, just a few reasons Sardinia holds a world record in longevity, together with an active life in the open air and a social life still linked to the community. Sardinians still hunt, fish and harvest the food they eat. They remain close with friends and family throughout their lives, retaining a rich social life that wouldn’t be complete without plenty of laughter and a glass or two of wine.