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Art & Culture

Sardinia

Cagliari’s finest view: 12 viewpoints that offer an unmissable spectacle

Cagliari, the Sardinian capital that dominates the Golfo degli Angeli (Gulf of Angels) with its white bastions, mediaeval towers and the façades of the aristocratic palaces overlooking the port, will win you over at first sight.

22 July 2022

The first glance, in fact, that will be in amazement, from the window of the plane descending in altitude to approach Giacomo Mameli airport, as you fly lower, over the Santa Gilla lagoon, part of one of Europe's most important wetlands, with waters no more than a couple of metres deep inhabited by herons, black-winged stilts and magnificent pink flamingos, which choose to nest here as well as in the Molentargius city park.

A snapshot from above that captures nature, culture and the history of ancient Caralis: but get ready, it will only be the first of many wonderful surprises.

1. On 7 hills, like Rome

colli come roma

Like Rome, Cagliari stands on seven hills: Castello, Tuvixeddu, Monte Claro, Sella del Diavolo, Colle di Bonaria, Colle di San Michele and Monte Urpinu. These promontories now correspond to the same number of neighbourhoods, and make the urban space a gentle succession of ascents and descents, hillocks and slopes, climbs and dips.

It goes without saying that it is best to leave the bike to those who are fit and have strong legs, and, at the same time, that this vertical, dazzling city that reverberates light amidst immaculate limestone buildings and blue sea offers an endless series of vantage points from which to admire it. Be prepared to feast your eyes and keep your phones handy to bring home some of this beauty.

2. The Castello district, the rooftop of the city

quartiere castello

Start with the old quarter of Castello, because of its central location offering a 360° view of the city, but also because of the artistic and cultural richness hidden in its narrow streets that climb to the top.

The highest point of Casteddu, as the people of Cagliari call their city, is here: it is the Tower of San Pancrazio, which reaches a height of 37 metres on a terrace 130 metres above sea level.

Built by the people of Pisa at the beginning of the 14th century, it was used by the Piedmontese general Alberto Della Marmora as a reference point to draw the map of Sardinia in the 19th century. It therefore offers a magnificent view, but make sure it is not closed for restoration. A spectacular view is also afforded by the bell tower of the Santa Maria Cathedral: while visits to the cathedral and crypt are free, those to the tower are subject to a fee. 

3. Taking the lift up to breathtaking views

If climbing stairs and steep alleys doesn't sound like your idea of fun, perhaps on a day not blessed by the mistral wind that usually gives respite to Cagliari's hot summer, not to worry: in this neighbourhood there are no less than three scenic lifts that will take you to the city's highest panoramic terraces. The Santa Chiara lift, which goes all the way up to the Elephant Tower, twin of the San Pancrazio one and under restoration; the one leading to the Bastion of Saint Remy, symbol of the city with a view of the gulf; and the lift in Piazza Indipendenza, which offers another unforgettable view.

4. An aperitif with a view

aperitivo con vista

To make the spectacle of Cagliari from above last longer, stop for a snack or an aperitif up here: at the Caffè degli Spiriti, in Piazza Umberto, near the Bastione di Saint Remy, or at the Libarium, which you can reach after walking up to the Bastione Santa Croce, which will give you another view all the way to the old Stampace district. The panoramic terrace of the Jewish Ghetto is also just a few minutes away: here you will find an interesting cultural and museum centre occupying a historic building overlooking the city walls.

5. Churches, castles and archaeological areas

aree archeologiche cagliari

The hill of Buoncammino, perfect during sultry summer days, is a cool, leafy viewpoint from which you can admire the Roman amphitheatre below, as well as the more distant Santa Gilla pond. Meanwhile, while from the hill of San Michele, home to an ancient castle, you can catch a glimpse of the hinterland and fabulous views of the Golfo degli Angeli.

On Colle di Bonaria, as well as enjoying an astonishing view, you can visit the city's white basilica, just as at Tuvixeddu you can contemplate the panorama while visiting an archaeological area of great importance: here lie the ruins of the largest Punic necropolis still in existence.

6. Such striking views, amidst parks and hiking

The last three viewpoints are immersed in nature. There is the Sella del Diavolo (Devil's Saddle), a sheer promontory separating the small beach of Cala Mosca from Poetto, the long beach of the people of Cagliari dotted with palm trees and small kiosks where you can have a snack, an aperitif or a full meal, which can be reached by a one-hour trek suitable for everyone.

Then there is Monte Claro with its park and the Emilio Lussu library, and finally the Colle di Monte Urpinu, the city's historical park inhabited by peacocks, ducks and water turtles. From here you can see the old city with the port and the Castle of San Michele on one side, the Poetto with the Sella del Diavolo, the Molentargius Natural Park, and further on the mountainous area of the Sette Fratelli (Seven Brothers).