Mediaeval Sardinia: Discovering Castelsardo

The village of Castelsardo on the Gulf of Asinara is one of the most interesting historical centres on Sardinia and a very popular seaside tourist destination.

Castelsardo is an idyllic town in northwest Sardinia that sits on the coast, looking out on the Gulf of Asinara. It is most famous for its archaeological ruins, featuring sites that date back to Megalithic and Nuragic times, as well as Domus de Janas tombs and the “Roccia dell’Elefante” (Elephant Rock), which is one of the most famous monuments of Sardinia.

The mediaeval village of Castelsardo is a pearl of rare beauty on the Gulf of Asinara and is a place where you can discover the authentic face of Sardinia, with a mix of both tradition and modernity. This small town is a wonderful day trip to enjoy if you are visiting Sardinia’s northwest coast as part of an Italy luxury cruise.


About Castelsardo

Castelsardo is located 30 km from Sassari and is easily reachable from the port of Olbia, although the nearest port is actually Porto Torres. The stretch of coast that Castelsardo sits on is within the province of Sassari and this region is well-regarded as not only one of the most beautiful in Sardinia, but also the most fascinating.

Archaeological excavations have shown that humans have inhabited Castelsardo since pre-Nuragic times, making it one of Sardinia’s most sought-after destinations for those interested in archaeology. It also boasts some intriguing Roman ruins that nod to the ancient domination of Sardinia by the Roman Empire.

Castelsardo’s Attractions

Castelsardo Castle

Castelsardo’s panorama is dominated by the ancient castle, which is thought to date back to the 12th or 13th century and is the site from where the main village spans. Today, there is a fascinating historic museum within the castle, which is dedicated to the craftsmanship of the women of Castelsardo and has an astonishing collection of intricately weaved baskets. This museum and castle are the ideal sites to get an insight into the historic culture of northwest Sardinia.

Historic Centre

From Pianedda, the lower part of the town, you can reach the ancient centre, where you’ll find intriguing steep and narrow streets, long stairways, beautiful churches and monuments of considerable historical interest, such as the Episcopal Palace. In the centre there is also the Cathedral of Sant’Antonio Abate, which is a splendid sight set against the background of the sea.

Elephant Rock

One of the most famous attractions in Castelsardo is Elephant Rock, which is a natural rocky monument that resembles a grand elephant. Here, there are also the Domus de Janas rock tombs and caves, which date back to the Neolithic age. According to an ancient local belief, the Domus de Janas were once inhabited by fairies, witches or orcs, and they have a strange, mystical feel that is both enchanting and eerie.

Castelsardo Archaeological Park

No trip to Castelsardo would be complete without a visit to the fascinating archaeological park, which is surrounded by a botanic garden. The most important site is the Nuraghe Paddaggiu, which is located along the road to Valledoria.

Castelsardo Beaches

The mediaeval village of Castelsardo is surrounded by beautiful beaches and coves that follow one another along the rocky coast. The closest beach to the village is De Lu Bagnu, which is a stretch of mixed coast, featuring soft sand and rock coves. It is particularly loved by surfers and others enjoying Sardinia watersports.

Another very beautiful beach is that of San Pietro a Valledoria, which enjoys a central position between Castelsardo and Isola Rossa. This is an idyllic sandy beach (perfect for sun-bathing) and is surrounded by a rocky coastline, giving the feeling of being within an intimate bay.

From Castelsardo you can also easily reach Stintino, where you’ll find La Pelosa beach. This is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, with turquoise waters lapping at the fine sand shore. Alternatively, head to Alghero’s Lazzaretto beach, which has white sand that opens to the Mediterranean (although note that the seawater here is quite cold, even in summer).


Visit Castelsardo

If you are enjoying one of our Sardinia cruises and are interested in adding a day trip to Castelsardo to your itinerary, or if you have yet to book your Mediterranean sea cruise and would like to find out more about our luxury cruises, please call us on (UK) 01223 637331 or (US) 347-594-5500. We have a wide selection of Italy luxury cruises available, which can be complemented with our range of shore excursions.