A jewel in the mediterranean sea, Sardinia has long captivated tourists for its paradisiacal qualities that have made it one of the most popular island holidays in Europe. Its dreamy coastline, stretching a whopping 1850km, is adorned with golden beaches, crystal clear waters and dramatic sea cliffs. It is often overshadowed by other popular Italian […]
A jewel in the mediterranean sea, Sardinia has long captivated tourists for its paradisiacal qualities that have made it one of the most popular island holidays in Europe. Its dreamy coastline, stretching a whopping 1850km, is adorned with golden beaches, crystal clear waters and dramatic sea cliffs. It is often overshadowed by other popular Italian island destinations such as Sicily, but Sardinia is an equally, if not more, breathtaking location that attracts visitors from all corners of the globe.
A large portion of the island remains untouched, with 25% being wildlife preserves and national parkland. Visitors can admire the stunning displays of flora and fauna during their visit, whether it be being fortunate enough to encounter one of the island’s residents, including flamingos and even dolphins, or marvelling at one of the 322 unique species of plants that are native only to Sardinia. The island is certainly a destination where one can fully appreciate and immerse themselves in the perfectly preserved natural landscape.
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean sea, and the third-largest region in Italy, which dates back as far as the neolithic periods. It has preserved much of its deep-rooted history and culture to this day, which visitors can delve deeper into during their visit.
Summer is undoubtedly the most popular period to visit Sardinia, but you may want to reconsider opting for the usual summer break and instead reschedule a holiday here earlier in the year. Booking a stay in Sardinia in May will allow you to dodge the crowds, cut back on high season costs and completely indulge in the island’s offerings at a quieter but equally beautiful time of the year.
You can expect the weather in Sardinia in May to be somewhat mild, making it a manageable heat for those who can’t cope on blistering hot days! The temperature during the month is 19°C on average, with an average daily high of 24°C and a low of 13°C, making it perfect to enjoy your holiday in comfort without worrying about any extreme weather conditions.
But on that note, those who are keen to stay dry may want to consider packing a rain jacket or umbrella with you on your visit. Expect rain between 8-15 days of the month, with an average of 19mm of rainfall overall.
However, these showers tend to be light and sporadic, so shouldn’t stop you from considering travelling to Sardinia in May. In fact, May is one of the best months of the year for weather in Sardinia, especially when compared to visiting in the Autumn and Winter months when rainfall is more abundant.
And do not fear, on average, you’ll experience nine hours of sunshine per day, marking the real onset of summer on the island, with little cloud coverage expected and a minimum of 14 hours of daylight when you visit Sardinia in May.
Sardinia is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, ranging from golden sandy bays to pebbly coves, you’ll without a doubt be tempted by the lure of any one of the pristine seaside locations. So, if swimming in the island’s crystal blue waters takes your fancy, the average sea temperature in Sardinia in May is 18°C, making a leisurely dip during your travels a pleasant temperature to gain some respite on hotter days of the month.
Sardinia is a very accessible island destination and can be reached either by plane or boat. It's ranking as the second-largest island in the Mediterranean as well as its popularity as an Italian island retreat means that transport routes have become well established over the years.
There are three airports on the island; Cagliari, Alghero and Olbia, located on the south, northwest and northeast of the island respectively. Getting around Sardinia during your stay is a very achievable task thanks to good public transport links, so you don’t have to worry about flying out to any one particular location and not being able to explore the rest of the island easily.
Most major cities in Europe fly to Sardinia, so chances are you’ll be able to catch a flight near you. Domestic flights from mainland Italy are also well established, with the country’s capital, Rome, as well as other major cities, including Milan, Pisa and Naples, regularly flying to the island.
For those looking to catch a flight from further afield, such as the USA or Australia, often you’ll most likely find that you can’t fly directly to the island, but you can still reach the island by booking adjoining flights instead. Between the high season in June to September there are more flights to Sardinia, but you certainly won’t struggle to find a suitable flight during the month of May.
Available from mainland Italy, Spain, France and Sicily, getting to Sardinia by ferry is a much more accessible option than you may have anticipated. There are six ferry ports in total on the island: Olbia, Golfo Aranci and Porto Torres in the north, Arbatax in the east, Cagliari in the south and Santa Teresa di Gallura, which connects Sardinia to Corsica an island destination on the Southeast coast of France, in the north.
Ferries from mainland Italy run all year round, and if you visit Sardinia in May, you’ll experience emptier schedules and cheaper prices compared to the high season. The ferries depart from Civitavecchia, located roughly 50 miles northwest of Rome, and connect to other locations in Italy such as Naples as well as the other ports on the island.
From Italy, the trip by ferry takes between 7.5-15 hours depending on the route and connections taken. Therefore, the journey is usually made overnight, so you can rest your eyes and wake up the next day in beautiful Sardinia!
If you’re travelling from further afield, ferries from France and Spain take between 10-13 hours depending on the departing port. Departures from France include Toulon, Marseille, and in Corsica from Ajaccio and Bastia. From Spain on the other hand, you’ll only be able to reach Sardinia from Barcelona port, which takes just under 12 hours.
Every year on the 1st of May, the festival of Sant’Efisio commences in the island’s capital, Cagliari. The festival celebrates Saint Efisio, who saved the people of Cagliari during a plague in 1652. The festivities last from the 1st till the 4th of May, so visitors who want to experience the event have ample opportunity to get involved with the island’s traditions and learn about the origins of the festival over the four day period.
Expect a huge feast and amazing parade, with 5000 people involved in the procession, following behind a statue of Sant’Efisio who is hoisted high with pride and carried through the streets of Cagliari before reaching a church in Nora, located 50km away from the starting point!
Wagons follow the statue and each represent a village in Sardinia, with representatives of these villages walking alongside, enrobed in traditional outfits and garments from their home places. The atmosphere is always incredibly lively, with traditional music playing and locals celebrating, giving a genuine insight into Sardinian culture.
Often referred to as the ‘festival of beauty’, Cavalcata Sarda festival dates back as far as 1711 and was originally a tribute to King Philip V of Spain. The celebration usually takes place in the second-to-last week of May every year in Sassari, and is an opportunity for Sardinian people to express and celebrate the island’s natural beauty, culture and heritage, and helps to hone a strong sense of community amongst the island’s residents.
The festival’s high point is its procession, stretching 2km from the old town centre of Sassari, residents from all over Sardinia gather and walk alongside wagons known as ‘traccas’, as well as floats pulled by oxen, all beautifully decorated with flowers.
A parade of over 300 horsemen also follows, in preparation for the afternoon, in which horse races known as the pariglia occur on the town’s racetrack, in a mesmerising show of dexterity and skill as they perform acrobatics whilst on horseback!
Sardinia has a diverse range of things to see and do during your trip, and we have picked out some of the highlights for this time of year below.
At 1834m tall, Punta La Marmora is the highest peak in Sardinia. Located in the Gennargentu Ranges, the peak offers stunning panoramic views of the island from the east if you’re determined enough to make it to the top. Visitors can hike to the summit, with a number of hiking trails available to choose from, you’ll know you’ve reached the peak when you encounter the huge cross – X marks the spot!
One of the most popular places to start is at the base of Brunca Spina, and visitors can embark on their hike up a service road to the upper ski lift station, before following a marked hiking trail to reach the summit.
If pulling up your hiking boots is a tempting prospect on your next vacation, visiting Sardinia in May may be the perfect opportunity to do so, with fewer crowds and milder weather, the chance of an enjoyable hike without having to navigate through hordes of tourists or sweltering weather is all the more likely.
Located off the northwest coast of Sardinia, you can find the island of Asinara. Its literal translation is ‘donkey island’, with rough, rocky coastlines and mountainous peaks, the terrain is nothing that the island’s most abundant residents cannot handle.
Asinara is home to around 120 Albino donkeys and is a wildlife and marine preserve with beautifully protected landscapes and diverse wildlife.
Often in summer, its pristine beaches do become crowded due to the island’s popularity, but by visiting Sardinia in May, you’ll more than likely find this to be the optimum time to enjoy the island. You’ll be able to take peaceful nature walks and even mountain bike through miles of perfectly preserved natural land, and maybe even make a furry friend or two on your way!
Dating back to the Bronze Age roughly 3000 years ago, the Su Nuraxi di Barumini archaeological site is a nuraghe stone tower built by the Nuragic civilisation. Its elevated placement made it the perfect defensive structure, typically characterised by circular defensive towers called the Nuraghi.
The site is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination on the island. It can be found on the road between Barumini and Tuili in the centre of Sardinia.
When contemplating what to pack on your visit to Sardinia, considering the milder weather and cooler evenings, we would advise packing something to throw over your shoulders for when there’s a slight nip in the air – a jumper, hooded jacket or cardigan would do the trick! And since we’ve discussed that there could also be some showers during your visit, we would also recommend packing a light raincoat or umbrella, just in case.
Like in any country with hot weather, packing hats, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen on your trip is a must, and if you’re expecting to partake in any long-distance walking or hikes on the island, make sure you bring appropriate footwear, such as sneakers or walking sandals.
Often a question we pose when we visit any new, foreign country: is the tap water safe to drink? In Sardinia, tap water is completely safe to drink and you won’t have to worry about buying bottled water during your stay, but if you would prefer to, the island stocks plenty of bottled water in convenience stores, restaurants, cafes and hotels.
Sardinia is an ideal island destination for those looking to discover more of what Italy has to offer that isn’t just on the mainland. And for those with adventure in mind, Sardinia offers ample opportunities to discover and explore the rich history and culture of the island. A visit to Sardinia in May guarantees a quieter experience, and so arguably a more enjoyable one at this favourable time of year.
For other information on holidays in this beautiful part of the country, explore the rest of the Italian Breaks website and find out more.