The vibrant little city of Olbia overlooks a gorgeous natural harbour on the north east coast of Sardinia. It has an airport and a ferry port, but is often overlooked in the rush to the glamorous resorts of the nearby Costa Smeralda. But Olbia has plenty to offer visitors, including a pretty little historic quarter, a host of great value restaurants and cafés, and plenty of traditional Sardinian charm. There are lots of fabulous beaches within easy reach, and you can take boat trips from the harbour to explore the fishing villages and islands, including the marine reserve of Tavolara Island, that dot this stunning stretch of coastline.
Olbia is the largest town in northeast Sardinia, spilling down wooded hills to a beautiful natural harbour filled with boats. Thanks to its airport and ferry port, it’s the main gateway to this beautiful region of Sardinia. Popular with families and couples, Olbia boasts a pretty historic quarter, a great range of lively restaurants and bars, and there are lots of wonderful beaches and turquoise coves within easy reach. It’s a fantastic base if you want to explore the glamorous resorts of the Costa Smeralda without breaking the bank, and offers a host of activities, from boat trips along the beautiful coast to exploring the island’s famous nuraghe and megalithic sites.
Olbia has a great choice of places to eat and drink, many of which are traditional, family-owned businesses that specialise in the delicious Sardinian cuisine. You’ll find prices in this authentic town are more reasonable than in most of the resorts, particularly those along the Costa Smeralda. You can tuck into some freshly caught seafood (don’t miss the Olbian clams), or go for one of the succulent local lamb dishes. Then there’s a huge range of local cheeses, from the famous pecorino to some wonderful fresh ricotta. Try some of the island’s hams and charcuterie, including the typical salsiccia sarda (Sardinian sausage), made with pork, fennel and anise, and curved into a horse-shoe shape. Sardinia also boasts an excellent range of wines, which make the perfect accompaniment to the island cuisine.
Olbia’s authentic charm and gorgeous beaches make it a great base for an enjoyable holiday with all the family. The locals love kids and will make yours welcome wherever you go. The narrow lanes of the old town are packed with child-friendly restaurants and cafés, and you can sit out on one of the squares and enjoy a gelato. There are lots of gorgeous beaches within easy reach, including the Lido di Pittulongu, which has fine golden sand, shallow waters, rock pools plus handy facilities such as sun beds and beach bars. There are lots of great day trips to be had, whether you want to take the kids to ramble around the fascinating ‘Tombs of the Giants’ (prehistoric monuments) near Arzachena or take a boat trip to some of the islands off this glorious stretch of coast.
Olbia overlooks a craggy stretch of beautiful coastline, dotted with beaches and bays. It’s a fantastic destination for a host of water sports, whether you want to go kite-surfing, kayaking or sailing. You can also rent out jet skis or go hover-boarding in the Cala Saccaia, located just outside the city centre. The snorkelling and scuba diving here is particularly good, and there are several local suppliers that can arrange equipment rental and organise excursions to the best diving locations. Inland, there are scores of fabulous hiking and mountain-biking trails, along with opportunities for rock-climbing and canyoning.
The nearest beach in Olbia is the Lido del Sole, which is conveniently connected by a regular bus service from the city centre. It has plenty of facilities, including sun beds and parasols for rent, and you might even spot flamingos here. Le Vecchie Salina beach, just south of the Lido del Sole, is a great spot for kite-surfing and surfing. Heading north towards the Costa Smeralda, the beautiful Lido di Pittulongu, about 5 miles away, is made up of four sandy beaches (La Playa, Squalo, Pellicano and Mare e Rocco). All enjoy views of Tavolara Island, a protected nature reserve which is a great snorkelling and scuba diving destination and has a gorgeous beach. Bados Beach is small, but very pretty, a curve of golden sand enclosed by rocky headlands.
Olbia is a vibrant little city, with plenty of atmospheric bars and cafés where you can sit out with a drink or two and watch the locals enjoying their evening passeggiata. It has a smattering of clubs, if you want to dance the night away, and there is plenty of atmosphere on warm summer nights. The biggest nightlife hub in the area is San Teodoro, where there are lots more clubs and summer beach parties on offer. The most glamorous resort on the Costa Smeralda, which stretches north of Olbia, is Port Cervo, where you can join the millionaires and yachties at one of the town’s numerous exclusive cocktail bars.
Olbia has a beautiful setting overlooking one of the most gorgeous stretches of Sardinian coastline – the perfect backdrop for romance! It’s a lively little town, with plenty of restaurants, bars, shops and cafés, but never feels too hectic. You can explore the charming streets of the old town, stopping to enjoy a drink on a picturesque square, or head to one of the surrounding beaches to top up your tans, maybe have a go at some water sports, or see if you can spot the flamingos! Join in with the locals on the evening passeggiata, followed by a romantic dinner at one of the excellent local restaurants. Then you could sit out on a waterfront terrace and soak up the lovely views over a cocktail.
Olbia’s most prominent historic landmark is the Basilica de San Simplicio, which dates from the late 11th century. It’s the focal point of the town’s biggest festival, held in mid-May, where the festivities include a traditional joust. Next to the basilica is an early Christian necropolis, with 450 tombs, which now has a interesting museum. The town’s best museum is the modern Archaeological Museum, which is set on the little islet of Peddone, just a short walk from the harbour. Among its many treasures are a trove of 900 gold coins and the remnants of two ships that were destroyed and sunk by Vandals in around 450 AD. There is a wealth of fascinating Nuragic monuments and settlements to explore in the area, including the famous ‘Tombs of the Giants’ near Arzachena.