If you arrive in Olbia by air, only a 10 minute drive from the airport will bring you to the central Piazza Regina Margherita. Running off it, the cobbled lanes in the old part of town around the Corso Umberto are full of good restaurants and pretty piazzas to linger in over a drink. In the early evening this is the place for the passeggiata when everyone struts and preens to see and be seen. From here, past the level crossing and the railway station, you come to the town’s top tourist sight, the Basilica di San Simplicio.
Olbia’s top sight is this medieval Pisan-Romanesque church, hewn out of Galluran granite. In the apse there are two 13th-century frescos, the left-hand one depicts San Simplicio, the patron saint of Olbia. The Festa di San Simplicio, Olbia’s biggest festival, is celebrated for three days in mid-May.
Isola Tavolara is a little island located southeast of Olbia and is dominated by its imposing rock towering over 564 metres high. This is the perfect spot for nature lovers, divers and for soaking-up the rays on the beach of Spiaggia Spalmatore.
Olbia is the hub for excursions to the northeast and its fabled coast. Buses leave just off the Corso Umberto in all directions, all within easy reach for just a few euros. The town beach is the Lido del Sole, but far better is the white beach of Pittulong that is located 5 kilometres away with dreamy views across to Tavolara Island.
The Costa Smeralda extends 10 kilometres between the Golfo di Cugnana and Golfo di Arzachena, and has an extraordinarily beautiful 56 kilometres coastline. This is the "millionaire’s" playground.
Porto Cervo is the only real town and the Smeralda’s ’capital’, disguised as a Mediterranean fishing village with a curious mix of troglodyte-Moroccan style buildings. This is a pleasant place to stroll, people-watch and to window shop. The best time to visit is at sunset to take your part on the glittering stage of the beautiful people.
There are so many beaches to choose from including Spiaggia del Principe, Liscia Ruja Beach and Capriccioli, all famous and fabulous on this dreamy coastline. Just in case you have left your luxury yacht at home, you can beg or borrow use of a boat. The price will not be a steal, but will be well worth it.
Dreamy islands with Caribbean-blue seas make up the archipelago on the northeast coast, near the Costa Smeralda. Rocks hewn over thousands of years characterise the landscape. The only inhabited island is La Maddalena itself from where there is a causeway to Garibaldi’s island, Caprera. There are boat trips to see five of the other main islands, including Spargi and Budelli with its glorious pale pink beach, Spiaggia Rosa.
Stroll around this town full of character, cobbled streets and piazzas, and enjoy the decorous passeggiata along the main street, Via Garibaldi. There are also some good restaurants around the squares and pleasant bars in which to linger over a long, cool drink. The Museo Diocesano is located in the heart of town and has some fascinating exhibits, including two silver candlesticks and a crucifix gifted by Lord Horatio Nelson.