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Sardinia: Alghero, Costa Smeralda and Corsica

8days from
£1,429*per person


8 Days - Classic Escorted Tours

Speak of Sardinia and the glamorous scalloped bays of Costa Smeralda spring to mind, but the Mediterranean’s second-largest island has so much more to offer. A closer look reveals delightful surprises at every turn: an exhilarating thousand-mile coastline of translucent sea, white sands and hidden coves; a long history as diverse and fantastic as its rugged landscapes; and a unique identity that is familiar yet distinct from mainland Italy. Further inland away from the bustling coast is a very different yet perhaps more intriguing and authentic side to Sardinia: immaculate beaches give way to undulating countryside, cloaked in forests of cork oak in the uplands, and swathed in myrtle and olive on the lower slopes. Tucked away are sleepy towns and villages, where you’ll catch enticing glimpses of local life and centuries-old traditions. Even the cuisine of Sardinia differs with distinct takes on Italian staples. Semolina-based ‘fregula’ challenges our preconceptions of pasta as its spherical shape bears a closer resemblance to couscous than spaghetti. ‘Zuppa gallurese’ is Sardinian comfort food at its best and, despite its name, has nothing to do with soup – slices of bread are soaked in lamb stock and sprinkled with cheese and herbs, then baked in the oven to golden perfection. Some might say the culmination of Sardinian cuisine is the ‘porceddu’, suckling pig wrapped in myrtle and bay leaves, spit-roasted for hours over an open fire. Off the beaten track are verdant vineyards producing superb wines, such as the Cannonau reds and Vermentino whites. Sardinia shares much of its history with Corsica, which once formed a head to its torso before the Straits of Bonifacio divided them over time. The islands’ strategic position between Europe and Africa has long attracted invaders since prehistoric times. Scattered across Sardinia are some 7,000 ‘nuraghi’ – these Bronze Age settlements were left by a mysterious civilisation and are an unceasing allurement to the curious traveller. Then came the Phoenicians who founded trading posts followed by the Romans who ruled Sardinia and Corsica as a province. Both islands were liberated by Genoa and Pisa from Moorish invasion, and in the 14th century the kingdom of Sardinia and Corsica was offered by Pope Bonifacio VII to the Catalan-speaking Aragonese. The entire island is an open-air museum best explored at leisure, and our wonderful tour follows this fascinating journey through time across Sardinia and the southernmost tip of Corsica. We visit one of the island’s largest nuraghi, the astonishing Santu Antine. Observe the legacies of the Genoese in the elegant Corsican town of Bonifacio, and of the Spaniards in the medieval port city of Alghero. Of course, we experience Sardinia’s wide-ranging landscapes, from fine-sand beaches and towering cliffs to granite mountains and rolling hills. Along the way you’ll encounter the perfectly hospitable Sardinians, who are extremely proud of their heritage and more than happy to share a slice of traditional, idyllic island life with anyone willing to embrace it.


  • Arrive at the airport for your flight to Olbia or Alghero. On arrival, we transfer by coach to the coastal town of Cannigione, where we stay for three nights with dinner. Nestled in the Gulf of Arzachena on the Costa Smeralda, the hotel is a short walk from the beach and close to a number of cafés and shops. 
  • This morning we explore the dazzling Costa Smeralda, perhaps the best-known corner of Sardinia and yet completely unlike anywhere else on the island. In the 1960s, the Aga Khan hand-picked this very spot to carve out a corner of paradise. Today its main town, Porto Cervo, is an exclusive playground for the fabulously well-heeled and famous, and its pristine appearance and pale colour palette are a result of strict building regulations. There’s a fascinating juxtaposition between the rugged and refined – the naturally rocky coastline is populated by gleaming yachts and designer boutiques. To introduce the Costa Smeralda’s more serene side, we pass through a selection of its most charming villages, where we’ll see locals going about their day in attractive squares and green spaces. Later this afternoon, you will have time to further explore Cannigione or relax at the hotel. Signature Experience: After a day exploring the sophisticated Costa Smerelda, we call at the stunning Vigneti Surrau, encased by regiments of carefully tended vines, and a breathtaking landscape of gently rolling hills draped in rich forest. Feel like a VIP as you relax and unwind in this elegant place; admire its chic, contemporary architecture and enjoy a deliciously chilled glass of wine accompanied by some typical Sardinian specialities whilst admiring the views – simply out of this world!
  • This morning we drive to Santa Teresa di Gallura on the north coast to take the ferry to Corsica. A highlight of the 50-minute ferry ride are the marvellous views of the grand approach to Bonifacio, located at the southernmost point of Corsica. Much-photographed Bonifacio boasts an expansive citadel, which is perched atop a limestone promontory poised over the glittering harbour and chic marina. Although Corsica has been a part of France for centuries, there’s a unique local identity with strong Italian influences and Bonifacio certainly has a distinctly Italianate feel, with narrow streets flanked by Genoese tenements. Listen closely to the local dialect, which is based on Ligurian and a legacy of the days when Corsica was under Genoese control. The island’s most famous son, military general Napoleon Bonaparte, was born to a family of Italian origins. To gain a better understanding of Corsican history and culture, we have a guided tour through Bonifacio’s old town. Afterwards there is free time to soak up the atmosphere and admire the picture-postcard views before we return to Sardinia by ferry. Please note: ferries between Santa Teresa di Gallura and Bonifacio do not run in adverse weather conditions. In such an event, an alternative itinerary will be offered.
  • Today we head inland to experience a vastly different side of Sardinia. The landscape is a sun-baked stretch of ‘macchia’ grassland and jagged granite mountains reminiscent of the Dolomites. The air grows ever cooler as we ascend hills covered in dense forests of cork trees – during harvest season, you may notice many have been stripped of their bark for cork production. As much of Italy’s cork is produced in Sardinia, we visit a cork museum to learn about the fascinating production techniques and the many uses of this versatile material. We will call at a typical Sardinian town where you will have free time for lunch before continuing to Alghero in the Coral Riviera, where we stay for four nights at the four-star Catalunya Hotel. The hotel is well-located just a short walk from the historic centre, filled with lively restaurants serving local specialities and fresh seafood for which Alghero is renowned. This evening, we are treated to a feast for the senses during dinner at a family-run agriturismo, a converted farmhouse that serves hearty traditional meals made with produce fresh from the farm. The rustic surroundings, eye-catching displays of ancient farming equipment and crackling open fires create a wonderfully authentic atmosphere, perfect for enjoying course after course of Sardinian dishes made with local ingredients – the smells alone will ignite your taste buds!
  • One of the island’s most beautiful cities, Alghero is a medieval jewel with an independent spirit and intriguing history. It was founded in the 12th century by the Genoese and seized in 1353 by the Aragonese, who left an indelible mark. Much of the old town’s handsome architecture bears a Spanish appearance and a dialect of Catalan is still spoken here. Our guided tour takes us the through labyrinthine alleys of remarkably preserved old Alghero, defended by robust walls and four bastions dedicated to famous explorers. We’ll see the 16th-century cathedral, which is primarily Catalan-Gothic apart from its Aragonese portal. You have free time after to wander, enjoy lunch and browse the many shops in the vibrant centre. This afternoon we drive along the coastline of Alghero, with beautiful views over the sparkling sea, before heading inland towards one of the finest wine-growing areas in Sardinia, producing the prestigious Cannonau and Vermentino wines. Winemaking is an important part of the local economy, so we visit a family-owned wine estate for a tour of the vineyards. Naturally, we enjoy a tasting afterwards. 
  • The entire day is at leisure to continue your discovery of magnificent Alghero. Stroll along the lovely beachfront promenade or browse the many shops in town for souvenirs. Alghero is known for its coral, which is harvested off the coast and transformed into striking jewellery. Perhaps watch the world go by in a café-lined piazza over a delicious ‘seadas’, a cheese-filled pastry drizzled with honey, and a ‘mirto’, a unique Sardinian liqueur made with myrtle berries. Signature Experience: We cruise to the magnificent Neptune Caves, one of the largest marine caves in Italy, absorbing the wonderful seascapes and bracing sea breeze along the way. On arrival at this historic natural phenomenon, join a fascinating guided tour of the impressive grotto, formed incredibly two million years ago, to marvel at its spectacular rock formations in a series of magical ‘rooms’, encrusted by huge stalagmites and stalactites, plus a vast lake fringed by white sandy beach. As the day comes to an end, experience the magical ambience of Alghero from a spectacular perspective as you absorb the panoramic views of its enchanting old town and the sparkling bay from the heady heights of a superb skybar. Sip on a refreshing aperitivo as the sun sets over the glistening water with the sheer white cliffs of the stunning headland of Capo Caccia on the horizon.  
  • This morning we drive through the Valley of the Nuraghi – dotting the verdant countryside are striking conical stone structures called ‘nuraghi’, left by the mysterious Nuragic civilisation. Much is left to the imagination as little is known about them – perhaps these Bronze Age structures were palaces or forts, or simply domestic dwellings. We stop to examine the impressive Nuraghe Santu Antine with its 17-metre high tower protected by three bastions. Our last stop is Bosa, a picturesque hillside town Bosa, a picturesque hillside town at the mouth of the Temo, Sardinia’s only navigable river. You have free time to discover this quintessential Sardinian town, which exudes great charm with its colourful houses, cobbled alleys and scenic setting. After a wonderful day of sightseeing, we wind our way along Sardinia’s coast high above the dazzling sea, across a rocky landscape carpeted by Mediterranean plants, and are rewarded with a superb view of the beautiful coastline, before returning to the hotel for our final night on this incredible island.
  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Discover hidden cultural treasures in the charming traditional villages of inland Sardinia
  • Explore medieval Alghero’s fascinating Catalan heritage on a guided tour
  • Tour Italian-influenced Bonifacio in French Corsica with an expert guide
  • Admire the fabled Costa Smeralda’s picturesque coastal villages
  • Marvel at the Santu Antine nuraghe, one of the thousands of Bronze Age settlements scattered across the island
  • Visit a family-owned wine estate and enjoy a tasting of Sardinia’s excellent wines
  • Enjoy scenic drives with superb views along the breathtaking coast
  • Feast on traditional Sardinian fare at a family-run agriturismo, a rural restaurant serving dishes made with fresh, local produce
  • Seven nights accommodation in four-star hotels inclusive of all local taxes, with breakfast and four dinners
  • The Signature Tour option includes all of the above as well as:
  • Sip a chilled aperitivo and absorb the magnificent views over Alghero’s old town and dazzling bay from the fabulous viewpoint of the town’s only skybar
  • Enjoy an exhilarating cruise to the magnificent Neptune Caves with their spectacular ‘rooms’ and myriad of fascinating and beautiful rock formations
  • Relax over drinks and typical Sardinian specialities in the elegant ambience of the Vigneti Surrau, amidst a stunning landscape of vineyards and rolling hills

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes
  • Return flights
  • Seven nights accommodation
  • Daily breakfast and four dinners (including one in a local restaurant)
  • All local taxes and transfers
  • All tours as mentioned
  • The services of a Riviera Travel tour manager
  • Included excursions: entrances to Calangianus Cork Museum and Nuraghe Santu Antine, ferry crossing from Santa Teresa Gallura to Bonifacio
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Dates and Prices

September 2024
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Price from:£1,429
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4* Blu Hotel Morisco Village -


The hotel features a pleasant outdoor pool and garden area and is located just a few steps from local amenities like cafes and small shops, as well as local beaches. All rooms are sea facing and decorated in local Sardinian style.

4* Catalunya Hotel - Alghero -


The hotel is well-located just a short walk from the historic centre, filled with lively restaurants serving local specialities and fresh seafood for which Alghero is renowned. The skybar on the top floor of the hotel is the perfect spot for a refreshing drink, as its panoramic terrace offers some of the best views in the entire Coral Riviera of the bay and the old town. Wi-Fi is also available throughout the hotel. Please note the use of air-conditioning in hotels in Italy is at the hotel’s discretion and is normally restricted to the summer months (mid-May to mid-September), depending on the temperature.

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Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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