The island of Sant’Antioco is a fascinating place, still relatively unvisited and definitely worth a visit during your trip to Sardinia. The island within the island – as it’s often called – is located on the southwest coast of Sardinia and is the fourth largest in Italy. You can easily reach it by car, because it’s connected to the Sardinia island by a bridge built over an artificial isthmus.
The ideal way to visit Sant’Antioco is by car. You start from the homonymous municipality of Sant’Antioco, drive south, discover the many enchanting beaches and go to Calasetta, stopping at the unspoiled places along the way.
How to get to Sant’Antioco
Sant’Antioco is located about 90 km from Cagliari. The best way to reach the island is by car (from Cagliari it takes about 1 hour). If you don’t have a car and want to use public transport, you have to expect a much longer journey time.
From Cagliari there is a direct bus – line 802 – that will take you to Sant’Antioco in about 2h30 minutes. By train it takes a bit longer, you have to take the Cagliari-Carbonia Serbariu line and then continue by bus from Carbonia to Sant’Antioco. In this case the trip takes about 3 hours.
8 Reasons to add Sant’Antioco Island to your Sardinia trip
1. The main cities on the island of Sant’Antioco
The capital and largest centre is Sant’Antioco, a town that stands on the remains of Sulki, one of the oldest settlements in the western Mediterranean. Typical of this fishing village are the colourful little houses, the beautiful beaches with clear water and the many restaurants that offer typical fish dishes.
A visit to Calasetta is a must. The small town in the north of the island offers various tourist services and small beaches with incredible colours. Ferries depart from the small port to Carloforte, another beautiful island in the south of Sardinia. The main attractions in Calasetta include the Savoy Tower (Torre Sabauda) and the beautiful Sottotorre beach.
2. Historical sites, museums & cultural heritage
The are few interesting places not to miss in the municipality of Sant’Antioco. A delightful historical centre with many important sites such as the Necropolis, the Basilica and the fascinating Byssus Museum are a must-see.
6 Things not to miss in Sant’Antioco
- Ferruccio Barreca Archaeological Museum
- Basilica with the relics of Saint Antiochus, built on a Byzantine building. The catacombs under the basilica are also worth a visit
- the Savoy Fortress (Fortezza Sabauda)
- Byssus Museum of Chiara Vigo
- Caves of the Hypogean Village
- Museum of the Sea and the Shipwrights Ethnographic Museum
Something unique is the Byssus Museum. This kind of laboratory-museum, run by the master Chiara Vigo, tells the story of an unknown and very valuable art: that of byssus processing. What is byssus? Byssus is silk obtained from the large shell of the Pinna nobilis: 300 g of the raw fibre yields 30 g of pure fibre.
This raw fibre is processed by weaving with ancient techniques known only to a few people in the world and used to make knitwear such as shawls, capes, headdresses and tunics. Today it’s used for decoration and embroidery of fine fabrics. An ancient art, unfortunately threatened with extinction, which deserves to be known and admired.
“Byssus cannot be sold or bought. Silk works from the sea can only be donated or preserved. A byssus master lives on donations.”This is the philosophy of Mistress Chiara Vigo.
3. The best beaches on Sant’Antioco island
Cala Lunga beach
Many beaches with clear blue waters are scattered along the coast. Bays, cliffs and small coves offer unspoilt paradises where you can relax and enjoy the sea.
The 8 most beautiful beaches of Sant’antioco
- Beach of Maladroxia
- Coaquaddus beach
- Cala sapone, cala signora, cala grotta (they are all a short distance from each other)
- Cala Lunga beach
- Natural swimming pool of Punta Caragoli
- Spiaggia grande (Tonnara)
- La salina beach
- Sottotorre beach (Calasetta)
4. Natural places of Sant’ Antioco
An island full of unspoiled spots, perfect for excursions and walks for admiring breathtaking views and landscapes. The wind, which blows very frequently in these areas, has created fantastic natural cliffs and sculpted coves.
The distances aren’t great, so you can visit these places in a few hours, driving around the island.
10 Cliffs and natural places perfect for nature-walks in Sant’ Antioco
- Capo Sperone cliffs
- Old naval semaphore of Capo Sperone
- Cave of the sirens (Cava delle sirene)
- Sacred lake Grutt’i acqua
- Arch of kisses
- Tomb of the giants Su niu e su crobu
- Caves of punt caragoli
- Sparrows’ nest (Nido dei passeri)
- Mangiabarche lighthouse
- Tuna fishery of calasetta
5. Fun and cultural activities to do in Sant’Antioco
On a beautiful, unspoiled island like this you can enjoy many sporting activities in contact with nature: Diving, surfing, fishing, kayaking, trekking and everything related to the sea and excursions.
In addition, there are numerous cultural and identity events that take place almost all year round. Don’t miss the oldest festival in Sardinia, the Sant’Antioco Martire festival, which takes place between July and August, or the Antiochian Carnival in February.
Unadulterated seafood combined with the excellent wines of the region make the island very interesting for gastronomic and wine tourism.
6. Local food in Sant’Antioco: try the typical dishes
Fregula con Arselle
- Pasta dishes: fregula with arselle and fregola with cabbage
- Sardinian style fish soup
- Bread: su pani cun tamitiga
- Desserts: Cocolitus and Is gueffus
- Wine: Carignano del Sulcis
7. Best places where to stay in Sant’Antioco
We recommend that you spend at least 2/3 nights on the island to see all the sights and also enjoy relaxation and activities. Our hotel recommendations:
This hotel has beautiful views and is within walking distance of the famous Maladroxia beach. The restaurant offers local dishes. If you are looking for a quiet place surrounded by nature, this is the ideal place.Booking.com
The hotel is close to both the centre of Sant’Antioco and the seafront, which can be easily reached on foot. Good breakfast and an excellent base from which to explore the island
8. How to reach Carloforte from Sant’Antioco
From the port of Calasetta you can reach the island of Carloforte with the ferry company Delcomar. The trip takes about 30 minutes and the ticket costs 4,50€ for the outward trip and 8,40€ for the return trip. On board the ferry to Carloforte you can also take your car, in this case you’ll have to add about 18€ for the car (round trip). To the cost of the ferry you must add a disembarkation tax of about 2 € per person.
The ticket prices vary depending on the season. You can see the rates on Delcomar website.