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Olbia, Sardinia

The Church of San Paolo Photo credit: iStock / Alessandro Flore | The Church of San Paolo

Located on Sardinia's northeastern coast, Olbia has been a major port since ancient times — ruled by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Pisans, and Aragonese. These days, it's known as the gateway to the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast), which is ruled by jet-setters. Though you'll likely want to get out of town to explore Sardinia's beautiful scenery, Olbia does offer some sights and shopping.

What We Love

Local Shops: Sample Sardinian pastries at Anticas Licanzias, buy quality crafts at Artigianato Pasella, and get made-to-measure sandals at Amalia (all around Corso Umberto).

Pittulongu Beach: The closest beach to town is 20 minutes away by express bus.

Stunning Scenery: The coast is gorgeous, so take a tour that gets you out of town. Find a good vantage point for sail-away, too.

Best Known For

National Archaeological Museum: Vandals sacked the Roman fleet here around 450 AD, and portions of those ships hold pride of place in this small waterside museum. Be sure to bring along a photo ID to check out a free audio guide.

San Simplicio Basilica: This 11th-century granite church stands in stark simplicity on a hill in the old town.

San Paolo Church: Built in the 18th century (but appearing more ancient), this church is topped by a dome set with zigzags of multicolored tiles — a nice photo op.

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Who It's Best For

Archeology Buffs: In addition to the museum, there are sites within a short drive or bus ride from town.

Beach Bums: You'll find beaches in every direction from Olbia. If you want to go farther afield, head south to Porto Istana or north to Bados. Both have shallow water that is great for swimming.

Wine Aficionados: Wineries cluster outside of town. You'll likely have a shore excursion option that includes wine tasting.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Olbia Could Blow You Away: This part of the island is typically breezy, so be prepared for gusts.

Gayle Keck

Gayle Keck is a San Francisco-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.

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Itineraries Including Olbia, Sardinia
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