Just off the South coast of Italy lies Sardinia, a beautiful island rich with history, culture and natural beauty. With its own language and customs, Sardinia is known for being fiercely independent from mainland Italy. White sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters contouring the coastline are enough to attract numerous visitors every year on […]
Just off the South coast of Italy lies Sardinia, a beautiful island rich with history, culture and natural beauty. With its own language and customs, Sardinia is known for being fiercely independent from mainland Italy. White sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters contouring the coastline are enough to attract numerous visitors every year on year to experience this serene Sardinian paradise first hand.
As the oldest landmass in Europe, Sardinia is a goldmine of historical archaeology, impressive rock formations and stone fortresses dating back to 730 BC are dotted in and amongst the craggy landscape. Steeped in mystery, little is known about the giant tombs and statues that are scattered across the island, yet they are a constant reminder of the prehistoric occupations that allude to the notion that Sardinia was once the ‘Land of Giants’.
Sardinia has everything you need to experience the very essence of the Mediterranean lifestyle, from exquisite wines and cuisine to stunning beaches and vibrant yet uncommercialised towns. A warm welcome awaits you in Sardinia, the locals here invite you to slow down, relax and soak in the mesmerizing natural beauty that the island has to offer.
In each corner, there is a treasure trove of undiscovered beauty waiting for travellers to explore and wherever you are on the island you will be spoiled for choice with things to see and do. Away from the crowds, Sardinia in December is one of the best times to experience the true authenticity of the island.
The Mediterranean climate in Sardinia means hot, sunny summers and mild winters. The average in-land temperature in December is 12°C, so with a jacket in tow, it is pleasant enough to comfortably explore the island and its diverse landscape. In coastal and open areas, a light sea breeze can take the temperature to lows of 7°C which may seem far from the scorching mid-summer heat, however the moderate climate means that visiting Sardinia in December is a great time for a winter getaway.
Bear in mind that the island is rather large, meaning the weather can change quite drastically from inland to the coastline, so be prepared with extra layers if moving around the island is a sensible idea.
December is also one of the wettest months in Sardinia, with an average of 37mm of rain spread over 15 days in the month. Showers are usually short-lived and the occasional cloud coverage adds to the dynamic and dramatic views of the landscape, but you will definitely need to pack a raincoat.
The sun still beams brightly in December, albeit only for an average of 4 hours per day, so ensure you are suitably prepared for when the sun descends, as so will the temperatures.
There are 3 airports in Sardinia: Olbia Costa Smeralda airport in the north, Alghero-Fertilia Airport in the north-west and Cagliari-Elmas airport in the south. Calgari is the largest of the three and is the main gateway for international travellers visiting the island, whilst Alghero and Olbia airports are smaller but well located for domestic flights and linking the north of the island with the rest of Europe.
193 kilometres north of Sardinia is mainland Italy. Car ferries depart from Savona, Genoa, Livorno and Civitavecchia (Rome) and arrive in the port of Cagliari, which is the main and most popular port. However, it is possible to reach Arbatax (on the east coast), Olbia (north-west) and Porto Torres (north-east) by ferry. The shortest crossing from mainland Italy is from Civitavecchia to Olbia, which takes around 5 hours in total.
Ferries depart less frequently from surrounding European countries such as France and Spain. It is important to book these ferries in advance as the journey time can vary in length from 12 to 20-hour trips, with schedules often subject to change, especially during the off-peak season in December.
Once on the island, the best way to get around is by renting a car, meaning you can explore at your own pace, saving precious time you may spend waiting for public transport. Off-peak rates in Sardinia in December are budget-friendly, meaning hiring a car is a reasonable option for jumping between where you're staying and the must-see towns, beaches and ancient sites the island offers.
Christmas is widely celebrated in Sardinia. It's the time that families flock back to the idyllic island from other parts of the world and celebrate around a table of mouthwatering, traditional dishes.
Walk along the picturesque paths of the quaint cities and relish in the sounds and smells of festive carols and cuisine. Christmas markets, stalls, artists and light exhibitions will decorate the streets where you can pick up exclusive ceramics, arts and crafts perfect for gift giving at Christmas.
In the capital city Cagliari, breathe the magical Christmas atmosphere whilst weaving in between twinkling light insallations which lead up to a magnificent Christmas Tree standing proud at the top of the Piazza Garibaldi.
It is well known amongst the younger generation on the island that Santa Claus lives in Senorbi in Sardinia. Here, a house covered in over 40 thousand twinkling lights illuminates the sky and inside you'll find the holiday figure of Santa.
As one of the most anticipated festive events in the south of Sardinia, children are invited to eagerly enter the mesmerizing grotto to spill their Christmas wishes as well as marvel at the other brightly decorated houses that line the streets of Senorbi.
Orgosolo is famous for its impressive wall murals dotted around the city. There are 150 murals decorating street corners and the side of buildings, and trying to spot at least several of them makes for a great sightseeing activity.
Each mural, especially the first few that were drawn in 1969, tell a story and hold incredible cultural and historical significance to the Island. Visiting Orgosolo and exploring this large, open-air art exhibition is a great activity for one of December's cooler days.
Su Gorropu, also referred to as the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’, is located in a wild, rural region down the Eastern coast of Sardinia. Winter is one of the best times to pay a visit to this natural formation as it takes around 1.5 hours to hike up there from the car park, meaning the cooler December temperatures make for a more comfortable excursion.
Breathtaking views can be enjoyed from the top, looking down at the cascading rock formations that dive vertically down into the crystal clear waters below. There is a small entrance fee required to enter the Su Groppu, as well as multiple guided hiking tours on offer, should you want to explore and learn more about the incredible archaeology of Sardinia.
A trip to Sardinia would not be complete without visiting one of the famous Nuraghe. These four ancient corner stone towers were constructed in the Nuragic Age between 1900 and 730 BC and are now a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Su Nuraxi complex, once an entire settlement, hosts multiple Nuraghe and attracts many visitors each year to admire the remarkable ancient architecture. By visiting in December the crowds will be almost absent, offering a pocket of calm and an opportunity to explore the site in peace.
Guiseppe Garibaldi spent the latter 26 years of his life on the stunning island of Caprera off of the northeastern coast of Sardinia, until his death in 1882. His rustic dwelling surrounded by tranquil greenery is now a museum where visitors can discover a previously unknown side to this famous figure.
Ferries from Palau on the north coast to Caprera leave regularly, or alternatively you can reach the house by boat from La Maddalena. Whilst you’re in La Maddalena make sure to explore the spectacular coves of Caprera and the rest of the natural hidden gems that reside in the Maddalena National Park.
In drastic contrast to scorching summer days spent lounging on the beaches between June and August, skiing down the mountainous slopes of Bruncu Spina is an exciting activity for thrill-seekers during December in Sardinia. If you are feeling adventurous, you can rent skis or snowboards from the small resorts at the base of Bruncu Spina and Monte Spada before catching the chairlift to the top of the slopes and enjoying a day or so speeding through the snow.
Although only a few miles separate these two towns, the road trip between Ulassai to Jerzu will leave you speechless. Rent a car and take your time winding along the mountainous road that connects the two, stopping along the way at traditional Sardinian villages, cascading cliff faces and stunning vineyards that produce the Cannonau wine that Jerzu is known for.
Ulassai is one of the most popular places in Sardinia for adventurous travellers who enjoy hiking, as the mountains surrounding the area host multiple treks and trails that are quiet in the winter. It will be quite cold and the weather might get extreme, so be sure to check the forecast before deciding to go on a hike.
10km out from Ulassai is the Cascate di Lequarci; a magnificent natural waterfall that is dry in the summer, making December one of the best time to see the cascading falls in action.
Only one hour drive away from the capital Cagliari is Monte Arcosu, home to the incredible WWF Oasis. This nature reserve is a natural haven for rare and unique flora and fauna, some of which are in danger of extinction like the Sardinian-Corsicon Deer. You can spend a night in Cagliari before exploring this serene paradise either by foot or bike, as the trails in and around the Monte Arcosu forest are not too challenging, making it an accessible and enjoyable activity for the whole family.
The locals in Sardinia speak a unique type of Italian and rarely speak English. During the winter in particular, the likelihood of finding a confident English speaker will be slim outside of the big cities and holiday resorts, so bringing a phrase book or downloading a translation app is advised.
Whatever you decide to do when visiting Sardinia in December, it is definitely a good idea to pack plenty of layers and a jacket, especially for the evenings when the temperature is likely to drop off when the sun goes down.
In summer you can get away with gallivanting across the island in a pair of flip-flops or sandals, but with December's high chances of rain and cooler temperatures, sturdy footwear is necessary when exploring national parks and natural sites where the terrain underfoot can be slippery and unsteady.
As mentioned, hiring a car is the best way to get around Sardinia in December, allowing you to explore the spots nestled in the heart of the island. Although there are public transport options including buses and ferries, in December and off-peak these services run less regularly so a car will allow you to explore at times that suit your itineray.
From hiking around National Parks, picnicking on empty beaches, road tripping between traditional villages and visiting the Christmas markets, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Sardinia in December. Enjoy the picturesque views and explore the island's treasure trove of historical gems away from the crowds and at budget-friendly rates, and experience a Christmas holiday like nothing you've ever seen before.
To find out more about the island of Sardinia and what it has to offer those visiting on holiday, read more of the articles on the Italian Breaks website and discover expert advice on where to stay, what to see and what to do.