8 unusual things to do and see on Costa Smeralda

8 unusual things to do and see on Costa Smeralda

Looking for your dream holiday in Sardinia? Then head straight for the Costa Smeralda; forget about the sea and enjoy the nature, culture and traditions.

If you’ve never been there or would like to know it better, this article is for you. We can tell you about the 8 special and unusual things to do and see on Costa Smeralda, about its most hidden corners, the towns and villages to visit, as well as breath-taking hiking trails. Be inspired!


Where it is and how to get there

The Costa Smeralda is a stretch of coast in the Gallura region, running from Porto Cervo to the Portisco area. The most practical way of getting there is definitely by air, landing at Olbia Costa Smeralda airport. We’d advise you to explore it by car, so that you can move around freely. 

panorama olbia

Arzachena and its steps​

One thing that you definitely won’t be expecting to see in Arzachena is the steps running up to the Church of Santa Lucia. Every year they are “painted” and the theme is changed. In 2021 the artist Giorgio Casu decorated the steps by creating an amazing Tree of Life. Incredible, don’t you think? And so that you don’t miss anything, visit Italy’s smallest museum: the Scatola del Tempo (time box), which tells the story of life in the village.

scalinata arzachena

La Contea di Rena: the rock adventure park

A trip is not really out of this world unless you also experience something unusual, with that extra little thrill. If you’re wondering what to do on Costa Smeralda, then don’t miss out on the Contea di Rena, the rock adventure park.

The well-equipped hiking trails are breath-taking, with highlights such as Tibetan bridges, wooden walkways, obstacles, a fixed-aid mountain route and two cable cars. What surprised us most was the Conca di Li Colbi (the crows’ cave). We’re sure you’ll have a fantastic time there.

parco avventura roccia rena

Lu Branu: educational farm and stazzo museum

Lu Branu farm is a family-run business, dating back to the 1950s. There’s a unique atmosphere here, as if you’ve been catapulted onto an American farm, where the animals are the real stars of the show. And be sure to visit the Stazzo Museum, which can be booked from April to October. Did you know that the “stazzo gallurese” (Gallura farmhouse) was the farmhouse of the past?

agriturismo lu brano sardegna

The town of San Pantaleo, an open-air museum

There are plenty of towns and villages to see on Costa Smeralda and these include San Pantaleo, a real open-air museum, with its characteristic narrow streets and low stone houses, typical of Gallura. It seems to belong to another era: the doors and windows of the traditional farmhouses are colourful, and the window ledges and facades are covered with brightly coloured plants.

Visit the little church of San Pantaleo, built in 1903. Go up to the first floor for a lovely view of the town and the surrounding landscape, where granite peaks rise up all around. It will be love at first sight!

san pantaleo sardegna

Cannigione, a village with some of the most beautiful sunsets

In Cannigione you can admire some truly fabulous sunsets. We’ve seen some amazingly moving twilights here. But sunrise is also a stunning sight and certainly on the list of things to see in Cannigione. A walk along the front is a must, with its murals, boutiques and artisan shops. A route so romantic that it immediately warmed our hearts!

cannigione spiaggia

Colourful Tempio Pausania​

Tempio Pausania is one of the most beautiful towns in Sardinia: bursting with colour and extremely welcoming. It’s worth spending at least one full day here. The old town is lovely and peaceful and you can immerse yourself completely here in the island’s typical customs and way of life.

The town is also famous for the most important carnival in Sardinia, known as the “Carrasciali Tempiesu”. One of the most iconic spots is undoubtedly Piazza Faber, named after Italian singer-songwriter Fabrizio de Andrè in 2016. Lose yourself among the town’s alleyways; the historical houses and villas display their grey granite facades.

tempio pausania sardegna

An interesting little fact: did you know that there’s a Smurfs’ House in Sardinia? The cute little house can be found nestling in a fairytale setting. It’s a “Conca Fraicata” (a natural rock formation, formed over time by the erosion of chemicals and enclosed by granite walls, which are very common in Gallura). This house stands on private land on Monte Pulchiana, so first make sure that the owner will be there to show you inside. Here is the exact location.

casa dei puffi sardegna

Aggius and the Museum of Banditry

The village of Aggius is famous for its Museum of Banditry and its textile heritage. For those interested in Sardinian history, the museum is a must. It houses a collection of accounts, documents, weapons and other items relating to bandits, skilful criminals who tried every which way to gain control over various parts of the island.

The museum is open from 1 April until 15 October (by appointment only in winter), from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 – 13:00 and 15:00 – 19:00. The entry fee is €4.

museo banditismo sardegna

We loved the old part of the village, with its stone houses. Don’t miss the Valle della Luna (moon valley) and the Santa Degna park.

Hiking on Mount Limbara to Tempio Pausania

For anyone wishing to explore the charms of an alternative and authentic Sardinia, we would recommend you take one of the hiking trails on Mount Limbara to Tempio Pausania. Walk through the woods of Vallicciola, where you’ll find sequoia trees 35 metres tall, and immerse yourself in the nature around you. Did you know that tree hugging makes you happier?

monte limbara sardegna

Our trip to discover what to do on Costa Smeralda ends here. As you see, there’s a whole host of things to experience all year round, so book your flight to Sardinia and get ready for the most amazing holiday. We almost forgot: if you’re thinking of going there, remember to share this article with your favourite travel companion!

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