maddalena archipel

5 days in Palau, home of the best Sardinia beaches

In EUROPE, ITALY by Isabella BiavaLeave a Comment

In this post, you will find tips and useful information on how to organize your trip to Palau in Sardinia, Italy, and all the reasons why this is a spot that you should not miss if you spend your holiday in Sardinia.

I have an awesome sister, who happens to be totally in love with Sardinia. So much so that she and her husband decided to spend their 2-week honeymoon there and so they went back the following year for their annual leave.

The first time, they explored the Golfo di Orosei and the surrounding area on the west coast of Sardinia.

When they returned for the second time they opted for the northeast part of the island, they stayed in Palau as a base and drove around discovering every corner that this area has to offer.

My sister was kind enough to share all the details of their trip with me and you will find them right here. All the exciting things to do in Palau, what to eat, and what not to miss.

So, if you are planning a trip to Palau, the charming small beach resort in Sardinia, Italy (not the country in Oceania) look no further, because here you will find everything you need to know.

Spargi island

Photo by Shutterstock images

Facts about Palau, Sardinia

Palau is a small picturesque town of 4000 inhabitants located in the territorial region of the Gallura on the north-east coast of Sardinia, close to Porto Cervo and the Costa Smeralda, an exclusive beach resort and a top favorite destination of the Jet Set.

Palau harbor is the main channel of access to the spectacular La Maddalena Archipelago including the homonymous Magdalena island with the biggest town, the beautiful Spargi among the others.

As a matter of fact, la Maddalena has been declared National Park for the uniqueness of its natural landscape.

Although Palau is most popular for the spectacular beaches and for being the getaway to La Maddalena, it is worth mentioning the wealth of interesting archeological sites that you can find in the area, and part of the Sardinian history and culture. If you wish to spare some time for exploring, there are lots of interesting sites to visit during your stay, including the Giants’ Grave in Coddu Vecchiu, and the iconic nuraghe, probably the symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture, remains of prehistoric villages.

La maddalena archipelago

Photo by Shutterstock images

How to make the most of your visit to Palau, Sardinia

Take a boat tour to one of the spectacular islands of the Maddalena Archipelago

The tours leave from Palau picturesque harbor. The itinerary of the trips and the prices are more or less always the same: the departure is between 9.30 and 10.30. You will make a few swim-stops both in the open sea and close to the most suggestive beaches and bays of the islands of Spargi, Budelli, Razzoli, and Santa Maria.

Onboard you will be served aperitif, lunch, and snacks with typical Sardinian products or the traditional Mediterranean cuisine.

Spectacular views are guaranteed all day long. Prices are around 80/90 Euro per person, drinks included.  The beauty and uniqueness of this experience are worth every penny.

In particular, you will be amazed by the magic of Cala Soraya (Spargi island) and the crystal clear water in the stretch of sea between the islands of Razzoli, Budelli, and Santa Maria, known precisely as Le Piscine (the pools).

We chose a catamaran tour and we loved it but, there are different kinds of boats that offer tours. You can also rent a sailing boat all for yourself for a more private and exclusive experience.

Razzoli, Santa Maria and Budelli islands

Rent a car, get a map and start exploring

Before doing anything, we paid a visit to the tourism office in Palau, open every day 7 days a week, where they gave us awesome detailed information on the area, especially on the best beaches, and how to reach them. That’s when we realized that a week was not enough to explore all the amazing places that surround Palau but we made the most of it.

That’s why renting a car was the best choice because we could easily move around at our own pace.

Honestly, it’s impossible to tell you which beach ranks first, they are all spectacular and we’ll leave it up to you to decide which one is your favorite. But be assured that wherever you go you won’t be disappointed.

Cala Granara - Spargi from the boat

Image by Shutterstock

Overview of the best beaches around Palau, Sardinia

Here is an overview of the beaches that we saw.

Sciumara beach

The main beach in Palau is Sciumara, the closer to the town. Some of it is equipped with beach chairs and shades, for those who prefer comfort, but there is an area for those who would rather roughing it and just lay on your own towels. A long stretch of beach and dotted with tiny pebbles, it deserves at least one stop, even just half a day or a couple of hours. If you have sensitive feet, get yourself a pair of flip flops.

Porto Rafael

Continuing along the western coast you will find Porto Rafael, which is more popular for its exclusive visitors than for the beauty of the beaches. If you wish to see splendid high-end villas and immaculate and manicured gardens, we advise you should take a stroll around.

Houses in porto rafael

Porto Rafael

Costa Serena

If you wish to spend one full day on the beach, allow us to suggest you Costa Serena, where small sandy bays interrupt the jagged rocky coast. The best stretch of beach here is the last one, which requires a little walk and water crossing, but worry not, because you won’t have to swim as the water will reach your knees to the maximum.

Porto Pollo (local name: Porto Puddu)

Porto Pollo and its mirroring beach, the Sciumara del Liscia are two strips of land, almost perfectly symmetrical, separated exclusively from the road leading to the Isola dei Gabbiani (local name: Isuledda), which is everything except an island, since it is attached to Sardinia.   Whether you love windsurfing or kitesurfing or simply wish to bask in the sun, here is where you would want to be and enjoy the transparent water and the silky sand.

This is a day that you will want to end right on the beach until sunset. You won’t be bored! If you want to continue with a nice aperitif to the sound of music, you can end your beach day at the very popular bar-restaurant adjacent to the windsurfing and kite school.

Spargi island

Spargi island

Set for a little hiking adventure

It’s not really a hike, but it requires wearing comfortable walking shoes if you wish to check out Bear Rock, an impressive granite stone structure that resembles a bear. Hence the name.

Head to Punta dell’Orso and find the entrance. You’ll need to climb some stairs to get to the top and pay €2 per person for the entrance, but the views from the top are incredible.

Bear Rock

View from Bear Rock – Image by Shutterstock

Sardinia food: what to eat in Sardinia

Sardinian food deserves a dedicated post. Suffice to say here that it is one of the significant factors that will make your Sardinian holiday so special. It’s a delightful experience in many different ways.

Palau, although in terms of the number of restaurants and bars does not offer the same variety of choices as La Maddalena, it will not disappoint you.

Among the many touristic restaurants, where you can still eat well and at acceptable prices, you will find slightly more off the beaten path “taverne” and “trattorie” that will offer you the best of their gastronomic flair, both with “surf” and “turf” dishes, at sustainable prices. We always ask locals where they would go to eat, to find the best local restaurants.

You should start the Italian way with a glass of Sardinian wine (white or red does not matter, they are equally superb in Sardinia) accompanied by a platter of cold cuts and, especially, local cheeses.

For all you foodies and not, it will be an extrasensory experience but do not overeat and leave some space for dinner to enjoy the local dishes. You will be delighted by the flavors and aromas and open your stomach enough to welcome what awaits you at dinner.

Even lovers of first courses will have a wide choice.

Especially pasta, gnocchi, and rice are cooked according to the many traditional recipes that will open the door for you to a whole new different world of flavors that you won’t find anywhere else in this world.

Mind that the Sardinian food is generally not for vegans, however nowadays the majority of the restaurants offer vegan and vegetarian options.

Palau porto

Sardinia Shopping: the best souvenirs to take home

Although you were determined not to load your luggage, we warn you that you will not be able to resist the temptation to take some local souvenirs.

Sardinian ceramics are beautiful, renowned, and valuable, but also delicate to transport. You just need to find some bubble wrap or learn the wrapping techniques in beach towels. The same goes for wine bottles, but, compared to ceramics, much more enjoyable. Using the same packaging technique, we managed to bring six bottles of wine at home. They all arrived at the destination intact!

Even a nice piece of vacuum-packed pecorino cheese could be a very valuable gift for your family at home or for yourself.

If you would rather opt for smaller and easier to carry objects, instead, you will find exquisite handcrafts made of cork, which is also a very typical and prestigious craftsmanship in Sardinia. We brought home a calendar with the image of the Maddalena archipelago printed on a cork cover. And we got to see how they made it right in front of us.

Porto a Palau

Where to stay in Palau

Deciding where to stay in the area

If you were a party animal, keener on social and nightlife than daily exploration, we would be more likely to suggest you stay in La Maddalena, a much larger and more lively inhabited center, located on the homonymous island.

To get to La Maddalena, is very easy.  Public transport is frequent, efficient, and fast. The scheduled ferry leaves every 15 minutes from Palau and in another 15 minutes will get you to the historic center of Maddalena.

In this case, however, you would be further away from the main beaches around Palau, which are definitely worth exploring. That’s why we chose to stay in Palau and keep it as the base for our Sardinia holiday.

bay surrounded by mountain and vegetation

Image by Shutterstock

Book your hotel

In Palau, there is a good choice of hotels but also apartments and villas. If you rent a car it’s advisable to choose a place where you can enjoy the stunning view of the jagged coast and the blue sea.

Here below you can find the links to our favorite hotel booking sites where you can compare prices and check out pictures and information. Since we haven’t checked the other hotels we cannot really offer any reviews, but in the below sites, you can surely find valuable information and comments from the previous guests.

As usual, make sure you check what’s included in the rate before booking.

Check Palau hotel options, rates & availability:  Booking.com I Agoda I Hotel.com 
Read Palau hotels reviews on TripAdvisor

For Apartments and Villas, I normally use Airbnb to find the best ones. Here you can find lots of pictures and property details besides the reviews from the previous guests.

Use the box below to find the perfect place for your Sardinian Holidays.

Palau Faro

If you are using Airbnb for the first time, click here to register and get a discount (I will get one too 🙂 ).

When is the best time to visit Palau, Sardinia

We normally take our annual leave in September or October as we think it’s the best time to travel in Italy, including in Sardinia.

Why? For three simple reasons:

  • The temperatures are mild and the sun still warm enough to enjoy the beach and swimming.
  • The hotel and ferry fares are cheaper
  • The beaches are less crowded and so are the restaurants. It really feels more like a vacation when you see many people around and it’s so peaceful.

The only negative factor could be that it’s windier at that time of the year, but we really don’t mind. On the contrary, it feels good.

August would be the worst month for us. It’s extremely very hot and very crowded because this is when the majority of the people in Italy can take their leave from work, and as natural consequence prices go up.

So keep it in mind when you plan your vacation in Sardinia.

Cala Corsara

Cala Corsara / Photo Shutterstock Images

How to move around in Sardenia

Although there is a bus line that will take you pretty much to the main cities and touristy places, we believe the best way to move around is by car, without a doubt. There are so many spectacular bays and secluded spots that are what makes this island so special and the only way to reach them is by your own car.

Renting a car is pretty easy. You can check out the prices and pick up locations on this site and compare prices. Just make sure you check all the information and what’s included in the insurance.

Porto rafael

Porto Rafael Image by Shutterstock

How to get to Palau, Sardinia

To get to Palau, we took a flight from Bergamo to Olbia where our car rental, which we had previously booked, was waiting for us. It was perfect.

Sardinia is connected to the world through its three international airports, Alghero, Olbia and Cagliari that receive flights from many European hubs.

Click here to look for flights!

If you prefer the ferry for any reason, including taking your car with you, you have also this option from Barcelona, Marseille and Genova to Porto Torres and Olbia, from Civitavecchia and Napoli to Olbia.

MAP OF SARDENIA NORTH

Click here to look for your ferry options!

Or book your ferry in the search box below


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