If you judge an island’s beauty by its shoreline, a dramatic meeting of land and sea, then Sardinia is not only Italy’s most beautiful isle, but perhaps the Mediterranean’s. The most famous stretch of that shoreline is the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast), where sheer granite cliffs fall into a gem-like sea of clear blue water. It’s not surprising that this coastline is one of the most popular summer getaways in Italy, and in July and August square footage for beach towels comes at a premium.
But in spring, when the island’s wild landscape is softened by wildflowers, and in fall, when the crowds have left, Sardinia is one of the true treasures of the Mediterranean. Most European visitors seldom venture far from the beach near their hotel/apartment/yacht. So much the better for those who prefer secluded beaches (including miles of white-sand dunes at Chia, near the southern tip of the island).
Even better for adventurous souls wanting to explore the rustic inland mountain villages, where a distinctive cuisine and colorful folk festivals, are key threads in the cultural tapestry. You’ll need a car to explore the island, but hiking through the sheep-dotted mountains (inevitably described as “rugged”) is an absolutely memorable way to experience this remote (by European standards) Italian isle, where the local dialect is unintelligible even to visiting Italians.