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The coastal city of Olbia in Sardinia is the gateway to the dazzling beaches of Costa Smeralda. But it has a considerable amount to offer in its own right, including a charming historic centre peppered with café-lined piazzas and numerous boutiques. Pick up the keys to your Avis hire car and explore Olbia and beyond at your own pace.
Top of the attraction hit-list is the Basilica di San Simplicio, an 11th-century church located on the back streets of the city. The imposing granite structure houses a variety of treasures including three frescos and a valuable gold-edged wooden sculpture of San Simplicio.
The Archaeological Museum, designed by renowned Italian engineer and architect Giovanni Maciocco, is also well worth a look. Highlights include a fine selection of Roman glassware and a small bronze boat dating back to Nuraghic times.
There are also numerous historic sites just outside of town, easily accessed by car. Castello di Pedres, a ruined hilltop castle is a 15-minute drive from the centre of Olbia via Loiri/SP24 and Via Castello Pedrese.
History buffs who want to explore a little further afield can drive for 20 minutes, via Via S’Iscoglia, to visit the Nuraghe Riu Mulinu archaeological site. Aside from being able to inspect ruins from pre-nuragic and nuragic times at close quarters, the hilltop location offers spectacular views of the Sardinian countryside and Gulf of Olbia.
In the evenings Olbia’s streets and piazzas generate a laidback vibe and provide a variety of reasonably priced restaurants offering antipasto, pizzas and local specialities.
The Italian island of Sardinia is a fascinating destination blessed with sandy beaches, a rugged and mountainous interior and numerous historic ruins. With hiking trails aplenty, piazza dotted cities and the azure blue Mediterranean to enjoy there’s plenty on offer. Pick up your Avis hire car from Olbia to explore these nearby attractions.
Sa Testa Sacred Well
Many visitors to Olbia visit Sa Testa Sacred Well, just a 15-minute drive via Via Gabriele d’Annunzio. Set in rustic countryside this archeological site features ruins dating back to the Bronze Age. Discovered in the 1930s by shepherds in search of a water supply it was excavated in 1939 and restored in 1969.
Santa Teresa Gallura
Drive for around an hour and a half from Olbia, via Strada Statale 427 della Gallura Centrale, to reach the cheery seaside town of Santa Teresa di Gallura. Situated on the northern tip of Sardinia it offers a pleasant alternative to the more commercial resorts of Costa Smeralda and has a distinct local charm. The beach provides shallow bathing and a swathe of soft sand ideal for a relaxing family day out.
Alghero and Grotto di Nettuno
From Olbia it’s an hour and 40 minutes’ drive, via the E840, to the ancient walled city of Alghero. The historic centre is an enchanting maze of cobbled streets revealing medieval churches, independent shops and a bustling marina. From Alghero it’s a further 35-40-minute drive, via the SP42, to visit Grotta di Nettuno, where dramatic marine caves display artfully lit rock formations.