5. Western Sardinia
The east coast of Italy’s second largest island has long been known for its GPS-defying cliff rides and spectacular coves that call siren-like from the bottom of the chasms for those who dare. The north, of course, has the posh beaches of the Costa Smeralda, but Sardinia’s underrated west coast has it all: cliff-etched streets, beautiful coastal villages, and beaches that are mostly accessible to all. Due to its industrial history – this was a mining region – it has missed out on the tourism boom. Today, however, that is a blessing.
The wild west of Sardinia is an amazingly diverse place. Start in Carbonia in the south – a mining town of blocky, rationalist buildings with the fascinating Museo del Carbone in the former Serbariu mine, where visitors are guided through underground tunnels. From there, head west up the coast road, not for the faint of heart, which winds around the cliffs to Portixeddu.
History buffs will love the peninsula of San Giovanni di Sinis, halfway up the coast, where the Roman city of Tharros still overlooks an expansive sandy beach, and the museum at Cabras houses mysterious sculptures of ancient warriors known as the ‘giants of Mont’e Prama’ ‘. Further north, towards Bosa, the road meanders through Amalfi-style villages stretching down the cliff face. At the top of the road you’ll find the chocolate-box seaside town of Alghero and the coastal wilderness of Porto Conte Regional Natural Park.
Where to sleep: Villa Asfodeli is a beautiful one Albergo diffuse (“Scattered Hotel”), centered around an Art Nouveau mansion in tiny Tresnuraghes. From £71 B&B.