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Sardinia: What to know before you go

Oct. 25, 2020
5 min read
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Before I began planning our trip to Sardinia, I'll admit that I knew virtually nothing about it. Now that we've been, I can report that the Italian island is most certainly great for families, but it is more than a beach getaway -- it's a rustic escape to a place where time moves slowly and you can truly exhale.

Here's what I've learned.

Isola Rossa. (Photo by Dia Adams/The Points Guy)

When to visit Sardinia

Sardinia is a seasonal destination. Many airline routes and many hotels are only open between May and October, with July and August being the peak tourist season. We visited in July and didn't find it crowded, even though it was the busiest time of year. The weather was glorious: mid to high-70s, sunny with warm Mediterranean waters. In the inland mountains, the temperatures dipped into the low 70s.

Despite what most tourists prefer, I think a winter visit could be lovely -- it rarely gets below freezing. You'll just have to plan everything in advance and know that many restaurants and sites will be closed.

Where you settle is where you'll stay

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean and boasts 1,149 miles of coastline. A car is essential for exploring most of the island. Outside of the roads connecting major towns, transportation is slower than you might imagine.

I don't think I drove over 40 miles per hour my entire week in Sardinia and journeys seemed to take a long time for relatively short distances. The roads were well maintained and I never felt unsafe, but getting around was a challenge. On the other hand, around every corner was an incredible vista.

Castelsardo, Sardinia. Photo by Dia Adams
Castelsardo, Sardinia. (Photo by Dia Adams/The Points Guy)

Limited points hotels

On paper, the four Marriott properties in Sardinia should fit the bill if you're looking for sun and fun. All of them are Category 8, three are Luxury Collection properties and the fourth is a Sheraton. All four are on the Costa Smeralda, close to Olbia.

(Photo courtesy of Marriott)

However, you won't typically find rooms for more than two people on points at any of them. However, if you are just after a couple's getaway, then those properties might be options.

The only other points property is a Doubletree, at about 17,000 Hilton Honors per night in November in downtown Olbia. I couldn't imagine staying there unless you had an early flight to catch the next day.

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What Sardinia lacks in points options it more than makes up for in unique properties. We chose L'Agnata di De André, just outside Tempio Pausania, for a nature-inspired getaway. Rooms at L'Agnata di de André go for around $210 per night during its season from June to October.

The boutique hotel featured an idyllic location that was equally suited for exploration and for swinging in a hammock with a glass of wine in hand. Best of all, my daughter loved it as much as I did. She spent hours floating in the natural rock pool while I read an entire novel. How often do you get to finish a book on vacation?

Views from L'agnata di De Andre. (Photo by Dia Adams/The Points Guy)

What makes Sardinia special

Sardinia has incredible beaches, but you can find gorgeous beaches all over southern Europe. After five weeks bouncing around the Mediterranean, I'm not convinced Sardinia's beaches are any more beautiful than those in the Algarve in Portugal or the Calanques of the French Riviera.

I've been to rural Italy three times and all of the trips have been great, but what makes Sardinia extra-special is the rustic charm. While time feels as if it slows down when you are in rural Italy, in Sardinia it seems to move backward. Travel times were just one example. Type A personalities beware: meals took at least two hours and it took more than an hour just to pick up our rental car.

On an island, you might expect a lot of seafood, but we found more pork, lamb and goat than fish on most menus. We also found dishes that were uniquely Sardinian such as pane frattau -- a lasagna-type dish made with thin crackers instead of pasta and topped with an egg. It's better than it sounds. Our other favorite dish was an aubergine carpaccio.

(Photo by Dia Adams/The Points Guy)

I should also mention that restaurant meals were without question the cheapest we had in Europe. My daughter and I could easily order a starter, two mains, dessert, a bottle of water and a small carafe of wine for less than $35. We also found a roadside stand just outside Isola Rossa that sold wine from a steel tank for $3.50 a bottle -- and it was delicious.

Bottom line

Sardinia is so much more than sun and fun: there are foods you won't find anywhere else, a landscape that is both challenging and rewarding and people who are excited to share their island's treasures with you. Best of all, you don't have to break the bank to enjoy your visit.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023