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With its seductive mixture of medieval architecture and bustling metropolitan feel, Cagliari is a beautiful location filled with some fantastic cultural sights waiting to be discovered. From the moment your cruise ship glides into port, you’ll have the chance to view the impressive architecture and building facades creeping up the hillside, and marvel at the inspiring dome topped structures that fill the skyline. Budget airlines have helped to open the city up to tourists meaning there are now far more facilities and a better understanding of what visitors need, but these improvements haven’t impacted on the city’s rustic charm and laid back vibe.
Being an ancient city dating back to Roman and Byzantium times, the city and her streets are steeped in history. It originally contained a castle which still forms part of the old town on the top of a hill. Most of its original walls are still intact, and with its white limestone buildings it has been likened to a ‘white Jerusalem’. There are numerous sites and ruins dotted around the city waiting to be explored as well as some fine sandy beaches and warm waters.
Bastione di Saint Remy
Every visitor to the city should make the effort to venture up the Bastione di Saint Remy. It’s an old white limestone fortification with breath-taking architecture situated at the top of a very long climb. You can choose to walk up the numerous steps that form the double staircase to the top, or cheat and enjoy a leisurely lift ride – which is open 24/7. The panoramic views from the summit are inspiring and definitely not to be missed.
Poetto Beach is another attraction that should be on your list of must-sees. This vast expanse of fine golden sand stretches for around 8Km and offers visitors a real taste of the Mediterranean. There are plenty of water sports available here for energetic travellers, as well as sun loungers and parasols for hire if you’d rather relax. Once the sun goes down, the pace really picks up and you can dance the night away in a variety of bars and clubs.
Monte Urpinu Park
An unexpected treasure within the city walls is the Monte Urpinu Park. This vast expanse of lush greenery and lakes is home to some of the region’s wildlife and waterfowl. It is a popular destination for residents and tourists alike due to its tranquil setting and children’s play areas. Several jogging tracks wind their way through the grounds and there’s a nice climb to the centre with panoramic views of the city from the top of the hill as your reward.
National Archaeological Museum
If you want to find out more about the history of the city then the National Archaeological Museum is home to a superb collection of artefacts that tells the story of Sardinia set within the Royal Arsenal.
There are plenty of little tourist shops dotted around the port area and lining the route to the centre of the city, but if you you’re on the hunt for a more authentic experience, head to one of the markets to soak up the atmosphere. Nearly every Sunday sees an antiques and collectors market set up shop in one of the Piazzas. They are frequented by locals and tourists alike and you never know what hidden gem you might uncover. For traditional souvenirs head towards Isola where you will find a wide variety of well-made Sardinian trinkets that aren’t overpriced.
Being an Italian town, fashion is at the forefront of the shopping experience. Take a wander down Via Sulis to uncover designer boutiques and exquisite jewellery. If your budget isn’t infinite, you can still find high end fashion pieces in the lesser known but smaller boutiques that line Via Manno and Via Garibaldi.
A short walk from the cruise terminal there are some high-class Italian restaurants serving some of Cagliari’s finest dishes. The restaurants here are popular, and depending upon the night you’re travelling, booking might be essential. For a much more laid back vibe, Antico Caffé is the perfect spot for people-watching, sipping cappuccinos or cocktails on the terrace. No trip to Italian shores would be complete without tucking into a pizza and no trip to Cagliari would be complete without experiencing a pizza at Il Fantasma. Renowned for the best pizzas in the region, diners will love the vibrant friendly atmosphere. This is a definite ‘must-book’ venue.
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