As you may well have guessed from previous posts I love a cheeky weekend away! People often ask me how I afford to go away so much and there are two things that I tell them:
1. I am constantly saving as much of my limited income as I can, because I know travel is what I want to spend money on!
2. If you go onto any cheap airline site, such as Easy Jet or Ryan Air, and you are indiscriminate about where you want to go and even when you want to go, you can find cheap flights. Usually for under £25 one-way. I simply browse for interesting place names, google where they are and what they have to offer and then check which month is cheapest for flights. Simple.
Return flights to a cool city in Europe make THE best presents and this is just what I did for my mum’s birthday this year. She had taken me to Paris for my 18th 4 years ago (!!) and we had so much fun exploring the city together and having some quality mother-daughter time. I’ve been wanting to return the favour ever since.
With my indiscriminate searching I ended up finding cheap flights to Sardinia over my cousins birthday so, along with my Aunty and my cousin’s best friend, we took a mini trip to Cagliari in the South last week.
We were only there for 3 days, with a morning flight on the Thursday and an evening flight on the Saturday, but it was the perfect mini break and we had some glorious weather. We did so much, we saw so much and it ended up being just enough for us to really get a feel for this lovely city…
Our 6am flight from Stanstead meant we got into Cagliari nice and early and soon enough we had caught a 15 minute taxi into town. We had decided early on to spend our first day exploring so, after we had dropped our bags off at the hostel, our first stop was the Marina where an Information point provided us with a map of the city.
From the Marina the city slopes upwards through winding streets lined with colourful homes, boutique shops and laundry hung from window ledges, making for a very picturesque urban hike- our calves hurt after just one day! The city seemed large from the air but once you began walking you soon stumble across something interesting to look at, with little need for a guide or directions. Our first stumble of the day was upon the Bastion San Remy.
This was once an important fortification of the Castello and now the transformed stunning staircase of marble ascends up to some incredible panoramic views. I loved using my Ollo Clip here…
Shooting panoramas can be tiring, so we decided to chill out and stock up at the Caffe Degli Spiriti which was conveniently right on top of the ramparts of the Bastion. This place was amazing- awesome views, great seating, tasty food and it was very affordable! A large italian margahrita pizza costs only 4 Euros and a gorgeously fresh Caeser salad was only 8 Euros. And oh, how I love complimentary bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic!
Wandering further up through the city, past more colourful buildings and old fortifications, we came across another perfectly situated establishment, Caffe Librarium Nostrum on via Santa Croce, where we watched the sun go down.
It is here that I first encountered Cafe Shakerato, a small iced coffee served strong and sweet and in a wine glass- so refreshing after a days sightseeing!
Seeing as we’d been up since 2.30am, we got an early night after having a decent and very cheap pasta dinner at one of the many restaurants on via Sardegna.
We slept well that night in our clean and cosy private room. Hostel Marina, located near the Piazza San Sepolcro, is a great place to stay if you want no frills and cheap, but with a little atmosphere. The free breakfast served in the lovely courtyard was simple but appreciated and seemed to fill us up until lunch!
The next day was my cousins birthday and the beach was calling! We caught a bus from one of the many bus stops on via Roma by the Marina. It is supposed to cost around 5 Euros but we didn’t end up paying! It was really busy at 11am and the driver didn’t seem to want to take our money…
The beach is only about 20 minutes by bus, factoring in stops, and the bus will drop you off only meters from this…
The sea is crystal clear and the beach is clean and not too busy- in April at least. After spending a long long winter in England it felt luxurious to lie in the sun and take a dip in the sea. It was pretty cold when you first stepped in but warmed up quickly, and it is nice a shallow too.
Again, another perfectly positioned restaurant gave us another great meal- Caprese salad with the most succulent tomatoes! And despite it being on the beach it still wasn’t too pricey. We were really impressed with how affordable this trip was turning out to be!
That night we got all dressed up and went back up to the Librarium Cafe to properly watch the sunset. It was a pretty spectacular one…
The cocktail list is extensive and, although they took ages to come, they were good and strong!
For dinner we went back to via Sardegna and had a great meal at Ristorante Olympic, which is nautically themed with murals of Cagliari painted on the walls! The mussels and clams make a great starter and bread dipped in the mariniere sauce is heavenly.
Later that night we walked up Largo Carlo Felice, past the roundabout, where there are a few bars, some of which are built back into the hill. It was all very atmospheric, sipping our cocktails and listening to great music in an echoey cave!
On our final day we bypassed the beach in favour of more walking and no sand. We attempted to find the Orto Botanical gardens but, sadly, they was closed. As was the Roman Amphitheater which was looking a little unimpressive covered in scaffolding and new wooden constructions. Apparently, it is now used for musical performances which explains why it has been added to, as the old structure underneath didn’t look particularly safe.
Our next stop took us to some pretty public gardens, and after a quick drink we walked all the way back down to the Marina along via Regina Elena (all the street names seem to rhyme!), which offered great views of the city and we were all grateful for the decline after walking uphill so much.
The rest of the day was spend lounging at Caffe Degli Spiriti again, ordering beers and shakeratos, catching the last of the Sardinian sun and simply relaxing.
This mini break had the best of all worlds- atmospheric city meandering, cheap but delicious Italian cuisine, a stunning coastline and an atmosphere that lead to nothing but relaxation. I definitely recommend it and want to go back myself someday!
Have you been to Cagliari? Do you have anything to add to my, maybe, not-so-complete guide? What do you look for in a weekend away?