Top 10 Cagliari Italy things to do – Cagliari is the principal city in the South of Sardinia in Italy. The Cagliari area is worth visiting for its history, fauna, beaches, and fantastic sea! But what are the best or top things to do in Cagliari? Let’s see them together in this post.
Top 10 Cagliari Italy things to do
What to do in Cagliari? Below we bring you the main things to see in Cagliari.
- The Pink Flamingos at the Molentargius Park
- The Poetto beach
- The castle of Cagliari or the San Michele castle, which rises at the top of the hill
- Seafront promenade on Siccu-Molo Ichnusa
- The port area of Cagliari
- Bastion San Remy
- Porta Cristina and Aquilino Cannas square
- Tower of San Pancrazio
- The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Cagliari
- Sanctuary of Bonaria in Cagliari
- The Elephant Towers
- Mari Pintau beach
- Porto Giunco beach and Stagno di Notteri
- Chia beaches
The Pink Flamingos at the Molentargius Park
Molentargius Park is one of the wealthiest places for the species of birds in Sardinia. In fact, here you can admire the famous pink flamingos and many other species of birds.
The visit to the park is suitable for those who love walking and nature. It includes several nature trails on foot or by bicycle, thanks to the rental service available within the park.
You must rent bicycles at the Sali Scelti building during opening hours. You can see where it is below.
Do I need to visit Molentargius Park to see the Pink Flamingos?
Do I need to visit Molentargius Park to see the Pink Flamingos? No, you can also see them when you pass by car on the road that is between Poetto Beach and the lagoon: Viale Lungomare del Golfo.
You can stop your car along the avenue as soon as you find a safe place to park and you can admire the pink flamingos present at that moment.
Pink flamingos are free-ranging animals; therefore, you may see many as few. In fact, they move between the various ponds in the area. Also, behind the Porto Giunco beach, there is a large lake, a large pond where you often find pink flamingos. However, the Cagliari Pond is a place where pink flamingos use to go, and therefore, there is a high chance for you to see them.
As for passing along Viale Lungomare del Golfo by car, you should take the direction from the outskirts of Cagliari towards the center. This way, you will be on the flamingos’ side proper roadway.
Pink flamingos are truly fascinating animals. They are beautiful to look at while still in the water but even more beautiful to observe when they walk with their long legs in their sinuous movements. It is a fantastic game of coordination between their very long legs and neck. Even more beautiful is when they spread their wings and show you their colors better.
The Poetto beach
Poetto Beach is the city beach of Cagliari. Its most noteworthy feature is its long strip of beach that divides the sea from the lagoon, also called Stagno di Cagliari, where you can admire the beautiful pink flamingos.
You can see Poetto Beach from above in the following video to better understand the length of the beach and where it is located.
Poetto is an equipped beach: there are several restaurants and bathing establishments. The Poetto sea water is clear, and we can say this above all if we consider that it is the beach of a large city like Cagliari where there is also the port. Clearly, the seawater of this beach cannot be as clear as at other beaches in the area which are further away from densely populated centers.
If you are in Cagliari, the Poetto is certainly a good solution if you want to spend a nice day at the beach, but if you want to see some of the best beaches in Sardinia, it is better if you rent a car to move around freely.
Castle of San Michele Cagliari
The San Michele Castle is inside San Michele Park. This park has undergone a notable historical evolution.
San Michele Park is located in the northern part of the city on a hill at 120 meters above sea level. You enter the park via a stone path marked by wooden fences through the hairpin bends surrounded by pine trees. Here the white of the limestone rocks alternates with the green of the agaves and Mediterranean essences.
On top of the San Michele Park hill stands the medieval Castle of San Michele, even if the first plant was of Byzantine origins. The elevated position of the Castle offers a vast and breathtaking view. It goes from the Campidano plain to the Sella del Diavolo.
The Pisans built the Castle of San Michele. Subsequently, it passed to the Catalan, Aragonese, conquerors of the kingdom of Sardinia. It was besieged in the fourteenth century resisting the troops of the Arborea, rulers of the last surviving Sardinian judged.
After becoming the fortified residence of the Carroz family, the Castle offered refuge to dangerous fugitives for a certain period, so much so that the councilors of the Municipality of Cagliari asked the sovereign in vain to requisition it and have it demolished.
In 1652, during a plague epidemic, it was used as a hospital, then went through a phase of decline during the Austrian and Piedmontese periods.
From 1820 to ’48, it became a barracks for the disabled.
In 1895 its new owner, Roberto di San Tommaso, had it restored by the architect Dionigi Scano and surrounded it with the still present pine forest.
From 1929 to 1972, it was a radiotelegraph station of the Navy.
The Castle is currently a modern center of art and culture and hosts exhibitions. The visit inside the Castle is, of course, enjoyable.
Still, if you don’t have enough time for a complete visit coming here to the top of the hill to see the Castle from the outside and admire the vast surrounding panorama is also a good idea.
You need a ticket to visit the castle, but the Castle square with the view is free.
Photo Gallery Castle of San Michele Cagliari
Sardinia Cagliari Italy things to do: visit Cagliari Castle
Seafront seaside walk on Siccu-Molo Ichnusa
The Su Siccu promenade is the promenade on the Cagliaritan seafront, which is located near the port of Cagliari.
The position of this walk allows you to go there even if you don’t have much time available, for example, before going to the historic center for dinner, an aperitif, or even before taking the ship to return home.
Avenue with palm trees
What is appreciated about this seafront is that despite being located next to a main road it is separated from it by a pine forest, partly preserving the quiet of the place. The Su Siccu promenade is a pedestrian area embellished with palm trees.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria
Walking along the seafront in the direction that goes from the port of Cagliari to the Poetto beach, at a certain point you can also admire a large staircase on your left that leads to a large church: it is the sanctuary of Our Lady of Bonaria, one of the most important Marian buildings in Sardinia built in 1704.
At the end of the promenade of the pedestrian area with palm trees, we find a floating restaurant that offers gourmet pizza. However, the walk does not end here but continues on a pedestrian area that runs alongside the tourist port: the Marina di Bonaria.
In this stretch of the walk there is also an area dedicated to bicycles with two cycle lanes.
Continuing our walk, we see the Canottieri di Cagliari on our right, just after the tourist port. What is very beautiful and particular is that during our walk we see the rowers playing basketball in the sea. Really very interesting and fun to see.
When and with whom to come to the Su Siccu seafront walk?
This whole area is new, and it can be seen that it has recently been redone, but at certain times of the day when people are more likely at the beach or in other areas of the city, it doesn’t seem very busy. It is, therefore, better to come with someone and not alone, even if in itself this doesn’t seem to be a hazardous area as there are some dads with the child who take a walk, someone who runs, but not many people.
However, if you come with friends, it is undoubtedly a nice walk to do to spend half an hour in Cagliari looking at the sea.
As for the time to come, I can tell you that we arrived around 05:30 pm in the afternoon, and nobody was there; Around 6 pm, we began to see more people walking around.
Ancient Amphitheater of Cagliari
The ancient Amphitheater of Cagliari is definitely one of the things to see in Cagliari. Although this archaeological site could be maintained a little better, and the visit lasts only a few minutes, it allows you to immerse yourself in the past of the ancient Romans.
The amphitheater of Cagliari is the most important of the historic and public buildings of Roman Sardinia. It is set in a natural valley on the southern slopes of Viale del Buon Cammino. The builders, perhaps on several occasions between the first and second century AD. they have done an incredible job carving the rock to form these bleachers. In fact, if you look carefully, you can see that this amphitheater was not only built, but it was also carved.
Now this fantastic historical monument is in ruins as large parts of it are missing, but with a lot of imagination, we can take our mind back to the time when the amphitheater was in operation. Our mind takes us back in time to a very different Sardinia and Cagliari.
As mentioned at the beginning, the visit to the amphitheater lasts only a few minutes as you simply go down, thanks to a walkway, to get to the point where you can better admire the remaining part of the amphitheater.
However, visiting this place is an excellent opportunity to remind us of the history of Cagliari and Sardinia and its ancient origins. For this reason, I advise you not to simply and fleetingly look at the amphitheater of Cagliari but to allow yourself a few more moments while you are in front of the monument and try to spur your imagination to take you back through the centuries.
To help your imagination and take your mind back in time, I can tell you that the amphitheater of Cagliari had a monumental facade well over 20 meters high and could hold up to 10,000 people to watch the fights between men and wild beasts, the execution of capital sentences and fights to the death between gladiators.
From the bottom of the arena, there is a corridor still passable 95 meters long, which reaches a large underground cistern. To make everything even more real, there is one early Christian graffiti, probably engraved by an inmate waiting to be killed in the arena games.
So what we see today in ruins was once an integral part of the city’s life, both good and bad.
The walkway that serves for the descent to the amphitheater is well maintained, but other details of this important archaeological site could be improved.
For example, the sign indicating the history of the amphitheater is very damaged, and it is hard even to read what is written. This is unfortunate because the history and information are what make you distinguish between a pile of boulders and ruins from a significant archaeological site. I hope that all this will soon be improved to give the proper importance and prestige that the Cagliari Amphitheater deserves.
The port area of Cagliari
The historic buildings in front of the port characterize the port area of Cagliari. These are buildings with an ancient flavor, and at their base, some arcades house a lively area of the city: here, you can find tobacconists, bars, and restaurants.
The port area is vivacious and busy, especially during the day when the ships arrive, and the passengers disembark and go under the arcades for breakfast, lunch, or a walk before continuing to their final destinations. I myself have followed this “rite” many times when I arrived by ship in Cagliari.
Furthermore, the port area is frequented not only by travelers arriving or departing by ship but also by those who want to spend some pleasant and relaxing moments, perhaps in the evening for an aperitif or to get an ice cream.
The area of the arcades in front of the Port of Cagliari is also located at a maximum of 10 minutes and a quarter of an hour’s walk from Garibaldi Street and the Bastion of Saint Remy. This is another very lively and busy area of Cagliari both during the day and in the evening, especially during the weekend.
Cagliari station is a few steps from the port
A few steps from the port, you will also find the Cagliari railway station. In this way, if you arrive by ship, you can go to the station on foot and reach other places in Sardinia, such as Iglesias, for example.
I mention Iglesias because this is a beautiful area of Sardinia to see. From Iglesias, you can take the shuttle that takes you to the magnificent Porto Flavia. But there are also other destinations reachable from Cagliari by train, such as Olbia.
Cagliari historical centre
Cagliari is the largest city in southern Sardinia and is also the one that has the largest and most fascinating historical center in the area. What can you see in the historic center of Cagliari?
- Christina Gate
- Piazza Aquilino Cannas: Panoramic Viewpoint
- Tower of San Pancrazio
- Palace Square
- Royal Palace
- Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Cecilia
- Bastion San Remy
In the first decades of the 19th century, the fortifications of the Castello district lost their closure towards the city and the need was felt to change some architectural elements of the city, adapting them to the most recent needs.
Work therefore began on the recovery of the ramparts, the embellishment of the entrances and the expansion of a small relief gate with a larger one, which would have allowed the passage from Piazza Arsenale to the hill of Buon Cammino.
The gate was designed in 1825 by Count D. Carlo Boyl of Putifigari and represents the western entrance to the district, while the opposite gate or the “Porta San Pancrazio” constitutes the eastern entrance.
In honor of HM Queen Maria Cristina of Bourbon, wife of King Carlo Felice, it was proposed to call the new gate “Porta della Regina” or “gate of S. Cristina”. The king chose, between the two names, that of “Porta Cristina”.
Tower of San Pancrazio
Seeing it live, it is not surprising to know that the terrace of this tower is the highest point in the whole city. In fact, the tower is already located at the top of the city of Calgliari and the height of the tower is also 37 meters. In total the terrace is 130 meters above sea level.
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Cecilia
The cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Cecilia is located in Piazza Palazzo and is an elegant cathedral from the 1200s.
Bastion San Remy
The San Remy bastion at the end of the 19th century was monumentally transformed into a stairway.
The upper part of the bastion is an excellent point to relax on a bench, listen to music or admire the spectacle that can be seen from here: during the day you can see the sea while in the evening you can see Cagliari all lit up.
What to see in Cagliari at night?
Sardinia is known for its beaches and breathtaking views but what to do in Sardinia at night? The southern part of Sardinia does not have many inhabited centers where you can spend a nice evening. Many sea lovers choose Sardinia precisely for the beauty of its sea but they probably also appreciate a nice evening stroll.
Cagliari is the largest city in southern Sardinia and is also the one with the largest and most interesting historic center in the area. Which route can I take to visit the historic center of Cagliari? Surely there isn’t just one possible route but in this post I’ll give you an example of a route that allows you to spend a nice evening in Cagliari.
Viale Buon Cammino
We are on a Friday evening at the end of June 2023 and we park the car in Viale Buon Cammino a few steps from Porta Cristina. There are several car parks along the avenue, although most of the spaces are already occupied and you may have to drive around a bit before finding a free space.
Piazza Aquilino Cannas
Once you have parked the car, proceed towards Porta Cristina. Before crossing the gate, however, stop in Piazza Aquilino Cannas, where there is an excellent panoramic point. In the evening, you can see a magnificent view of Cagliari all lit up from here.
The route we are going to take includes many historical monuments, including in particular the San Remy Bastion. The San Remy bastion cannot be missed on your visit to Cagliari as it is architecturally very scenic and one of the focal points of the city of Cagliari.
Let’s go back to where we left off, that is in front of the Porta Cristina. The gate was redesigned in 1825 and represents the western entrance to the Castello district, whose fortifications lost their closure towards the city in the first decades of the 19th century and therefore, the need was felt to change some architectural elements.
Tower of San Pancrazio
As soon as we pass the Porta Cristina, we have a high tower in front of us: the Tower of San Pancrazio. Seeing it live, it is not surprising to know that the terrace of this tower is the highest point in the whole city. In fact, the tower is already located at the top of the city of Cagliari and the height of the tower is 37 meters. In total, the terrace is 130 meters above sea level.
Continuing our evening walk, we pass through Piazza dell’Indipendenza and Via Nicolò Canelles. Via Nicolò Canelles is a narrow street where there are only houses and buildings but it is very characteristic.
At a certain point the space in front of us magically opens up and we find ourselves in Piazza Palazzo, in front of the Palazzo Regio, a former royal residence, and immediately after the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Santa Cecilia, an elegant cathedral from the 1200s.
We leave the cathedral on our left and continue straight on, passing by Piazza Carlo Alberto, the square that opens up on our right. Let’s now take another of Cagliari’s narrow and long streets, which in reality, is always the continuation of Via Nicolò Canelles.
Via Nicolò Canelles
To give you a better idea of the width, or narrowness, of this street, I can tell you that in some points at most one Fiat 500 can pass. Via Nicolò Canelles is not the only street that leads to the San Remy bastion, in fact it is parallel to two other streets that all lead to the Cagliari bastion.
Walking along Via Nicolò Canelles, you pass by historic buildings but also by areas that are a bit abandoned. It’s a real mix of styles that show you how Cagliari is an ancient city with a long history behind it.
San Remy bastion and Umberto I terrace
At one point we find ourselves going down a stairway and find ourselves directly at the bastion. The upper part of the bastion where we are now looks like a large square that is all lit up in the evening. This square is the Umberto I terrace, the name terrace is very appropriate because it overlooks the city and the sea: from here, you can see all of Cagliari.
What strikes us here while we are at the Umberto I terrace, in addition to the magnificent view, is the imposing arch of the San Remy Bastion. Approaching the large arch and the stairways leading to the lower part of the bastion, we lean out and see another small square below us where people dance the milonga on our particular evening. A large monument, the view of Cagliari illuminated, 2 large stairways, the milonga dancers below us: a very beautiful and romantic scene, a memory of the city of Cagliari that I will carry with me over time.
Now we go down the stairs and approach the milonga music and dancers. Having to pass under the arch, where in the meantime, the dancers try their hand at their dances, we also try to move in time so as not to disturb them.
Once past the milonga dancers? We continue to go down the stairs to find ourselves in another square. In the meantime, however, let’s observe what is around us and admire this beautiful building or monument that appears to be made of white marble from a different perspective.
We are now in Constitution Square, a square where cars also pass with a roundabout in the center. Constitution Square is a junction of various streets from which you can reach different directions and is a popular point in the city of Cagliari both during the day and in the evening. In the square, we have some shops and at one corner there is also a bar which is also particularly popular at different times of the day.
Exploring the various streets that surround the square, we take one arriving in Piazza Martiri D’Italia, but our attention is concentrated more on 2 other streets: via Regina Margherita and Via Giuseppe Garibaldi.
Via Regina Margherita
Via Regina Margherita is an avenue that leads to the port area, where you can find some excellent places to have an evening aperitif or enjoy hearty aperitifs.
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, on the other hand, is a commercial pedestrian street with many shops. This is one of the main streets where you can take a walk in the center of Cagliari, especially during the day. I say especially during the day because on this Friday evening at the end of June we found everything closed and we immediately understand that life in Cagliari is not very lively in the evening in this area.
It therefore comes naturally to me to make the comparison between Cagliari which is a large city and Villasimius, which is just a town. The difference I notice while walking in this area is that in Villasimius, you will find the shops open even in the evening and if you need a pharmacy, you can find it open, instead here in via Garibaldi in Cagliari the pharmacy and parapharmacy are closed. The only shops you will almost certainly find open are the stalls on street corners selling souvenirs.
The look of Via Garibaldi changes if you come during the weekend in the late afternoon/evening. Let’s take as an example the day following our evening stroll in Cagliari, Saturday at 7 in the evening: what is via Garibaldi like at this hour? Unlike the late evening, via Garibaldi is full of people during the day, above all because it is Saturday: open shops, open bars and very touristy.
Going back to our Friday evening, however, I must say that despite the closed shops this is a pleasant area as there are many nice cafes, small corners where you can sip a drink, get a take-away pizza or an ice cream. So you can easily come to Via Giuseppe Garibaldi to spend a nice evening, perhaps with friends.
Moreover, at the end of Via Giuseppe Garibaldi we find ourselves in Piazza Garibaldi, a nice square where there are really many clubs. Here you can go from dinner to ice cream in just a few steps because you find everything in the same square. There is also a small carousel or other games for children, as well as a few benches in a tree-lined square.
We also take advantage of one of the bars in Piazza Garibaldi to have a coffee before returning to the car.
Cagliari: a city on the rise!
One thing to take into consideration especially by those who have some difficulty in walking and moving around is that the route taken from Porta Cristina to Piazza Garibaldi is pleasant because it is all downhill but going back clearly the situation changes. From Piazza Garibaldi to Porta Cristina the road is uphill, the stairway uphill, the other roads uphill, in short, Cagliari becomes an all uphill city!.
How long does it take to get from Piazza Garibaldi to Porta Cristina on foot? It takes more or 20-25 minutes, but it clearly depends a lot on your pace.
Things to do near Cagliari Sardinia
Mari Pintau beach
Mari Pintau is a beautiful beach set between the blue colors of the sea and the Sardinian mountains. As we can see, even near the city of Cagliari we find magnificent beaches and Mari Pintau Beach is a great example!
Porto Giunco beach and Stagno di Notteri
Porto Giunco beach is located near Villasimius, on the southeastern tip of Sardinia.
Porto Giunco beach is a beautiful beach washed by a crystalline sea and it is possible to walk safely in the water as the seabed is shallow near the beach.
The main feature of Porto Giunco beach is that the beach acts as a dividing line between the sea and the Stagno di Notteri. This division has not always existed. In more ancient times, in fact, the sea reached inside the pond allowing this area to become a Phoenician port as has emerged from the studies conducted in the area.
The division created over time makes this place unique: on one side the transparent sea of Sardinia and on the other a pond that hosts flamingos.
Those who come to this beach, therefore, have 2 options: a nice refreshing bath or a nice walk along the pond for a more naturalistic observation.
You can see the beach in the following video:
Porto Giunco beach is a very long beach with several accesses. On the main access road to the beach, you will find several ways to turn to access the various car parks. This video was recorded in the final part of the beach but you can also park towards the beginning of the beach very well.
Text of the video:
We are in Porto Giunco!
Hi Everybody! From the parking lot, we walk a short distance and in front of us, we find the beautiful Porto Giunco beach, in the south Sardinia, near Villasimius.
Porto Giunco is not only one of the most famous beaches of Villasimius but also on the whole island. What are the characteristics that make it so famous?
A transparent sea washes the white beach. The shallow and sandy seabed makes it an ideal destination for families with children.
Being a known beach is very busy, maybe not the favorite for those who love peace and tranquility, but the beach is long and wide, so you shouldn’t struggle to find a place to lie down.
Porto Giunco beach is not only known for its beautiful sea. It’s particular because enclosed between a lagoon and the sea.
You can drive along the pond for a while, passing through Via Dei Ginepri.
However, you can get to the pond also directly from the beach. Let’s go to explore!
The Pond of Notteri has no connection with the sea and is shallow: thus it favors the presence of pink flamingos. Here you can admire both pink flamingos and other migratory birds.
After this walk, we relax and enjoy this beautiful sea. Bye and see you on the next adventure!
Other content you may like.
Here you can find other posts related to the subject “Top 10 Cagliari Italy things to do”:
- Best beaches in Sardinia Italy
- Castelsardo Italy – Castelsardo Sardinia
- Golfo Aranci Beaches
- Sardinia Italy: Best beaches in Sardinia