Discover the charming island of San Pietro, one of the smaller islands of Sardinia in the southwest of the region. It’s inhabited by a community of fishermen originally from Carloforte, a small town with an interesting history. Founded in 1738, the city was named after Charles Emanuel III of Savoy. He founded on the island a colony of Genoese fishermen, which had a great influence on the culture, because the inhabitants still speak “tabarkino” and the ancient Ligurian language.
The town hosts the famous “Giro Tonno” the biggest Tuna Festival in Italy and offers many events related to the sea tradition. The island of San Pietro is also an ideal destination for tourism, with its crystal clear beaches and the beauty of the landscape.
Discover San Pietro and Carloforte for a vacation full of relaxation, sea and culture.
Reasons why you must visit San Pietro island
- The ancient island of volcanic origin is, together with Sant’Antioco, one of the two main islands in the south of Sardinia. Around 6,000 residents permanently reside in Carloforte, the only town on the island, known for its scenic beauty and unique culture.
- The beautiful beaches and unspoiled natural areas. You’re spoilt for choice if you want to swim in the crystal clear waters and enjoy some natural treasures, where you can go for walks and hikes.
- Carloforte is known for its unique cuisine, especially for its tonnara, a traditional fishing facility for catching bluefin tuna. During the summer season, visitors can tour the tonnara. The Tuna Festival in June offers delicious tuna dishes and the opportunity to learn more about Sardinian traditions.
Visiting Carloforte: 3 things to do
1 Visit the historic center of Carloforte where you can admire few of testimonies of Carloforte’s history. The city walls: a nice point of the city, ancient walls defending the island and the Church of San Carlo Borromeo, located right in the centre.
2. Take a walk along the harbor where you can taste the delicious fish dishes.
3. Take a trip to the old Salt marsh, the Saline. This is an ideal place to see some of the famous Sardinian flamingos, which have a lighter color than their relatives. If you’re lucky, you can see them from the road that leads from Carloforte to the beaches.
Giro Tonno: Sardinia biggest Tuna Festival
The Tuna Festival of Carloforte is an annual event that takes place in the first week of June to celebrate tuna fishing. The festival is a significant event for the town and attracts thousands of visitors.
Activities and events during the festival include:
- Art and craft exhibitions on the theme of the sea and tuna fishing are held in various places in the city.
- Tastings: you can try fresh tuna and other traditional fish dishes.
- Guided tours to show how tuna is caught in the Carloforte tuna factory.
- Shows and Concerts to entertain visitors during the festival with traditional Sardinia folk music.
- Live cooking: cooking-show includes tasting and the chance to see the tuna cooking techniques.
- Trekking routes: nature trails and sunset walks accompanied by professional guides.
A unique opportunity for the visitors to discover the most suggestive corners of the island and learn about the history, culture and tradition of Carloforte. More info about Girotonno festival here
This is how you reach Carloforte
- ✈️ By plane: the nearest airport to Carloforte is Cagliari-Elmas, which is about 130 km from the island. After landing you can rent a car or take a bus to reach the town of Portovesme, from where the ferries to Carloforte depart.
- ⛴️ By ferry (Delcomar): Carloforte can be reached from Portovesme, which is approximately 12km away, by ferry with a 40-minute crossing. An alternative route is to drive to the island of Sant’Antioco, arriving in Calasetta and then taking a ferry to Carloforte. The ferries between Calasetta and Carloforte are frequent during the day and also allow cars onboard with a 30-minute crossing.
- 🚙 By car: If travel by car, you can reach Portovesme via the highway SS 130 and then take the ferry to Carloforte. Check rental cars prices from Cagliari airport 🚘
- 🚝 By train: You can take the train to Cagliari to Carbonia. You need then take a bus or cab to Portovesme and take the ferry to Carloforte.
- 🚍 By bus: there no direct buses from Cagliari to Carloforte. You need to get to Carbonia first and then take a bus to Portovesme port from where the ferries to Carloforte depart. Cagliari → Carbonia → Portovesme. Check ARST timetable/dropticket app.
How to get around San Pietro island
The best way to visit San Pietro and Carloforte is by car. In the city you can also rent bicycles and scooters to explore the island.
Regional bus company ARST travels through the island. The Bus line 824 leaves from Piazza Vittorio Emanuele (near the port in Carloforte) and stops at the main beaches in the south of the island:
📍Giunco 📍Girin 📍La bobba📍Le colonne📍Spalmatore📍La caletta
Best beaches around Carloforte & San Pietro
The island of San Pietro offers a variety of amazing beaches, each with unique characteristics. Here are some of the most beautiful:
- Girin Beach: located in the south of the island, it’s one of the wildest and most unspoiled beaches of San Pietro. It has a long white sand beach and turquoise waters.
- La Bobba beach: is one of the most famous beaches of San Pietro. Protected from the winds. A beach with fine white sand and Caribbean colored sea. Shallow water, for walking on the beach that leads to the columns, the sea stacks.
- La Caletta beach: Located in the northeast of the island, it’s one of the quietest beaches of San Pietro. It has a long, fine sandy beach and crystal clear waters.
- Cala Fico: the amazing high cliffs protect this small bay in the north of the island. It’s perfect for those who seek peace and quiet.
- Cala Lunga: like a cliff sloping down to the sea.
Where to sleep in Carloforte
More than classic hotels there are many private facilities such as villas and apartments all in excellent locations. We recommend a stay of at least 2 nights on the island. Here’s our best suggestions 🔆
Excellent location, next to the port from which ferries depart. Just a few minutes walking from Carloforte centre. Very close to a big parking. Great view from the terrace on the 5th floor .
Amazing location of the cottage on a slope with olive trees, pines and cacti. Priceless view, a place that will stays in your heart!
Perfect location with access to a beautiful, almost deserted beach. Well equipped with everything you need. A wonderful terrace overlooking the sea where to relax and enjoy a glass of wine.
Nature and outdoor activities
There are some enchantingly beautiful places on the island, surrounded by nature, that will connect you to the wildest part of Sardinia:
📍 The columns of Carloforte: these are natural monuments (stacks) on the coast, not far from the beach La bobba. One of them collapsed because of a storm, but the place is really charming for its colours and landscape.
📍 Scogliera del bue marino: beautiful steep cliff, southeast of the bay of Mezzaluna.
📍Caposandalo: a viewpoint in the north of the island, from which you can enjoy a wonderful panorama.
📍Natural pools of Nazca: where the moon-like landscape combines with the extraordinary colors of the sea water.
📍Scogliera di punta delle oche: steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. If you like a stormy sea, this is the place to enjoy it.