Italy, Travel blog

South Sardinia itinerary – Road Trip from Cagliari to Costa Rei

South Sardinia itinerary

For our first family holidays with baby we decided to go to South Sardinia in Italy. While we wanted a calm holiday, we still decided to rent a car and go a bit around. This is our South Sardinia itinerary. Our Road trip started from Cagliari to Costa Rei. Discover the must-visit attractions in Cagliari, and the hidden gems of Costa Rei. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of this enchanting region.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fly into Cagliari Airport for convenience as this is South Sardinia airport.
  • Explore Cagliari’s Old Town, hike to Castello for stunning views, and relax at Poetto Beach.
  • Take a road trip from Cagliari to Costa Rei, stopping at Villasimius and enjoying the coastal drive before arriving at the beachside destination.

Getting to South Sardinia

Traveling to South Sardinia offers a gateway to a mesmerizing destination, accessible through various means of transport.

One of the most common ways to reach South Sardinia is by flying into Cagliari Airport, the main airport serving the region.

Renting a car in South Sardinia

For our car rental, we choose Sunny Cars. Sunny Cars is my partner in crime since years as I love going on Road Trips and I have never been disapointed. Sunny Cars equals peace of mind! Renting a car cam be a real hussle but renting a car with Sunny Cars is just easy. You rent a car and there is no need to worry about anything. It can be a bit more expensive than other car rental companies at first but it is worth every penny. You don’t have acredit card? No problem. This option is available with Sunny Cars. You don’t want to pay a deposit? This option is available via Sunny Cars. You don’t know what insurance to take? Sunny Cars provide all necessary insurances. You don’t know how many kilometers to book? You stay flexible with Sunny Cars as it is unlimited kilometers. You changed your plans for whichever reason? You can cancel and get your money back still very close to your pick up date. Something happened to the car? You get refunded.

To me this is the ultimate service when renting a car. I heard so many bad stories about car rental and I experienced myself in the past some issues that I really can recommend Sunny Cars for the next time that you are renting a car. It is the absolute best anywhere you go. I had no issues on my road trips in California, Canada, Florida, Oman, Mallorca with this company!

But now, let’s start our road trip in South Sardinia.  Beside a day in Cagliari, South of Sardinia is famous for it’s many beautiful beaches and we made sure to explore as much as we could in order to find the most beautiful ones!

South Sardinia Road Trip _ Poetto beach

Road Trip itinerary in South Sardinia

Embarking on a road trip from Cagliari to Costa Rei unveils a scenic journey through South Sardinia’s diverse landscapes, offering a tapestry of charming villages, coastal vistas, and cultural experiences along the route.

On you South Sardinia itinerary, you will find Villasimius and Muravera, you’ll encounter a blend of ancient traditions and modern influences, reflected in the local architecture, cuisine, and warm hospitality.

Upon reaching Costa Rei, the pristine white sandy beaches stretch out,  inviting you to relax and soak in the tranquility of this idyllic paradise.

Exploring Cagliari

The island of Sardinia has two main cities, Oblia in the North and Cagliari in the very south. It is a small town but also the economic capital of Sardinia thanks to it’s geographical situation and proximity to North Africa. Fun fact, from cagliari you are closer to North Africa than from mainland Italy. However, it is in Cagliari that you will find real Italian flair.

You cannot  not put Cagliari on your South Sardinia itineraru. The vibrant capital of South Sardinia, beckons visitors with its blend of historical charm, modern allure, and unique attractions that include sightings of flamingos at the iconic Sant’Elmo.

Strolling through the narrow cobbled streets of the old town, one can feel the ancient history seeping through the limestone buildings and picturesque squares. Cagliari boasts architectural gems like the Bastion of Saint Remy and the Cathedral of Santa Maria. The city’s cultural richness shines through its museums, showcasing artifacts from the Nuragic civilization and Roman era.

From trendy cafes to traditional trattorias, the city offers a culinary journey that tantalizes the taste buds of every visitor.

Visiting the Old Town

The city initself is all hilly but easy to discover by feet. We parked our car close to the harbour. Strolled a bit through the many shops at the marina and watch the big cruise ships before walking up toward Bastion San Remy aka THE MOST FAMOUS site in Cagliari. It has no real purposes anymore but being beautiful and a great view point but it used to a city fortification.

For a great view point over the city, I rather recommend to go to Via Santa Croce where you have the best view over the city! It is quite high so I recommend that you walk down from Bastion San Remy to Piazza Yenne through Via Giuseppe manno, aka the shopping street 🙂 where you will find a lift taking you all the way up to Via Croce.

Hiking to the Top of Castello

Embarking on a hike to the summit of Castello offers panoramic views of Cagliari’s skyline, the azure coastline, and the allure of South Sardinia villas nestled amidst the picturesque surroundings.

Once atop the summit, hikers are rewarded with a mesmerizing sight of the glittering Mediterranean Sea stretching endlessly before them. The crisp sea breeze gently caresses your skin as you take in the sheer vastness of the panoramic views, making every step of the trek worthwhile.

Relaxing at Poetto Beach

Stretching for over eight kilometers along the Mediterranean coast, Poetto Beach aka Spiagga del Poetto offers a scenic backdrop of rolling hills and crystal-clear waters that entice sun-seekers and water enthusiasts alike. Poetto Beach boasts is a locals beach. It might not be the most beautiful beach of South Sardinia but the vibrant atmosphere is enhanced by beachfront cafes and restaurants serving up delicious seafood dishes, allowing visitors to indulge in both adventure and culinary delights against the stunning backdrop of the Sardinian coastline.

Beach Area Geremeas

Our house was situated in Geremeas. It is a lovely part of Sardinia with beautiful small beaches. I liked this area a lot as it was less touristy than further West along the coast. The only down is that you don’t have any facilities in this area. A few restaurant. I can recommend Farra by Aquaruim for the best pizza in the area and Agriturismo Scionis Sa Mindula if you want to try the local dish Su Porcheddu aka roast suckling pig.

My favourite beaches in this area are : Spiaggia mari Pintau, aka one of the only pebble beach in South Sardinia. I guess that a lot of people don’t like pebbles but the water there is really clear and it is perfect for snorkelling.

Spiaggia di Baccu Mandara and Spiaggia di Marongiu are beautiful as well. They are very family friendly with some facilities but it is never too crowded even on the weekend!

Stopping at Villassimius

Before coming to Sardinia, an Italian friend of mine told me about Villassiumius and how beautiful the beaches are in the area. We couldn’t resist but go check if she was right. Unfortunately, the most beautiful beach in Villassimius called Spiaggia di Porto Guinco that has a natural lake with pink flamingo as well has a real seaweed problem. It is so much that you could barely go into the water. So it was nothing like what you can see on google. Seaweed come and go though so you might be more lucky.

Spiaggia di Porto Guinco
Spiaggia di Porto Guinco

From Porto Guinco there are several hiking path that are taking you to a viewpoint, and other more secluded beaches in “area naturale marina protetta capo carbonara” . I believe those are beautiful because there aren’t real beaches so you have direct sea access and therefore no seaweed problem. Beside this, the area know for snorkelling and even for diving in the close by island to Madonna del Naufrago. The only down side of that area is that you need to hike to your final destination. It can be a bit hard with children or infants especially in the summer heat.

Spiagga di Campulongu is a better alternative to family with children or those you don’t want to hike in the heat. There are few facilities but the beach is really large and the water transparent. Definitely our favourite beach in the area!

Spiagga di Campulongu


Villassimius has a main town called Simius. It is really touristic with several hotels but it has a really cute main street with  some restaurants, tour companies, etc. I find it nice as it is the ONLY town since Cagliari. Despite the fact that I avoid crowded and touristic areas, it was nice to walk around and see shops and restaurant. Indeed in order to find a shop or restaurant in this part of Sardinia, you need to take your car to reach it. My restaurant tip for Simius is La Casereccia to eat Italian food like at Nonna!

Costa Rei aka the most beautiful beaches of South Sardinia

Needeless to say that Costa Rei was MY favourite stop during out South Sardinia road trip. It is there that you will find the most beautiful beaches of South Sardinia. They are also easy reachable by car and therefore great for anyone on a family vacation with small kids. With easy parking and not too much walking in the heat to reach the beach. This was very important to us as we were traveling with a 4 month old baby.

The beaches in Costa Rei really look like what is promised from Sardinia aka being the Carribeans of Europe. The beaches are of fine sand and clear water. A dream. My two favourite beaches were Spiaggia di Cala Monte Turno for it’s clear water and nice beach club and Spiagga Sant’ Elmo for it’s incredible landscape!

Spiagga Sant’ Elmo

Sant’Elmo & Cala Sinzias

These are the main town in Costa Rei. Less touristic than Simius, it still has a few hotels and restaurants that are accessible by foot. It doens’t have too much of an Italian flair though.

Fazit about traveling to South Sardinia

South Sardinia is definitely for beach lovers. There are plenty of beaches to explore and doing a road trip will be your best option in South Sardinia. Indeed, I can’t say it enought but you need!! to rent a car in South Sardinia as you can’t rely on public transportation. My recommendation as always is Sunny Cars as explained why above. As we were traveling with a baby, South Sardinia was definitely a great destination as we wanted a relaxing family holiday and one day in Cagliari was just perfect for us to stroll around. Especially with the heat. However, I was expecting small Italian villages along the way from Cagliari toward South East but there are no villages or at least no villages were a tourist would want to stop for a little bit. I found this a little bit disapointing but it was still ok for us traveling with a baby as we really wanted a proper beach holiday. It seems there is a bit more to do in the  North of Sardinia if you are looking for something else than just beaches.

Frequently Asked Questions about South Sardinia

What is the best way to travel from Cagliari to Costa Rei?

The best way to travel from Cagliari to Costa Rei is by road trip. This will allow you to see all the beautiful sights and landscapes along the way, and give you the flexibility to stop at any points of interest. Also there is almost no public transport available and taxis are expensive.

How long does it take to drive from Cagliari to Costa Rei?

The drive from Cagliari to Costa Rei takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, covering a distance of about 65 kilometers. However, this may vary depending on traffic and how often you stop along the way.

What are some must-see stops on the South Sardinia itinerary from Cagliari to Costa Rei?

Some must-see stops on this itinerary include the picturesque town of Villasimius, the stunning beaches of Cala Sinzias and Porto Giunco, and the ancient ruins of Nora.

Can I rent a car in Cagliari to use for the road trip to Costa Rei?

Yes, there are various car rental companies in Cagliari that offer a wide range of vehicles to choose from. It is recommended to book in advance to ensure availability and the best rates. Indeed, Sardinia beeing an island, car availability is short and once a lot of car are rented, it can get super expensive.

Is it necessary to have a map or GPS for a road trip in South Sardinia?

While having a map or GPS can be helpful, the route from Cagliari to Costa Rei is relatively straightforward and well sign-posted. If you prefer, you can also download offline maps on your phone to use as a navigation tool.

Are there any tolls on the road trip from Cagliari to Costa Rei?

There are no tolls on this road trip route, making it a budget-friendly option for travelers. However, do note that there may be tolls on alternative routes or if you decide to explore other parts of Sardinia during your trip.