If you are visiting Cagliari in Sardinia, head straight to Poetto Beach, the heart of this coastal resort city. The beach is one of the largest city beaches of Europe stretching for almost eight kilometres. Poetto Beach is hot and busy in summer and in the months of May and September warm and much less crowded. In winter it is quieter but some restaurants are still open.
Poetto Beach is being re-fashioned with the construction of seafront bars, restaurants and beach clubs. The beach is sandy and the water is mostly clean. Although this is far from a gay beach, good looking Italian men are on display everywhere. After all, this beach is the perfect place for posing and parading and Italian men seem very confident to walk the length of the beach in their brief swimwear with a swagger that seems to oscillate somewhere between manly and boyish, silly and sexy.
The road in front of Poetto Beach has been turned into a car free zone and is a quiet, safe and a fun place for bike riding, walking, or jogging and if you are lucky you may see the Italian army jogging around 7am in the morning. An army battalion is stationed on a reserve right near the beach. Perfect!
At the first bus stop on Poetto Beach is the newly renovated Hotel Nautilus (http://www.hotelnautiluspoetto.com/) just one hundred metres from the water. The hotel is fresh, light and modern. The rooms are decorated in crisp white and navy blue tones and have the latest fittings, including free wifi. Several of the upstairs rooms have excellent views of the sea. We found the staff at the hotel very welcoming and they made every effort to make our stay a breeze. Alessandro, the hotel’s manager, was delightful and offered advice on restaurants, sight seeing and helped us every day with our bookings. The hotel offers free beach chairs, umbrellas and bikes and the all inclusive buffet breakfast is delicious, with a wide variety of choices to satisfy every palette.
A short stroll down the beach from Hotel Nautilus is the Marina where we found a number of restaurants and bars with superb views of the coastline at night. We enjoyed eating at restaurant Jacaranda close to Hotel Nautilus where we had outstanding fresh muscles, swordfish with eggplant and home made fresh tagliatelle with clams all washed down with a crisp dry Sardinian white wine (Karmis) which was both reasonably priced and excellent drinking.
We cycled along the beachfront road and we were surprised to see a number of derelict buildings on the beach, including an abandoned hospital. This long stretch of beach is not the prettiest but the ride was made very enjoyable by the endless stream of fit, hot sweaty men with their shirts off who unfortunately ran past us.
One evening we took a taxi (12€) into the city of Cagliari. We enjoyed drinks at INU a Sardinian Wine Bar that had a huge range of excellent wines and a magnificent display of cold cuts just ready for an individual selection. Later, across the road from INU, we dined at a very traditional Sardinian meat restaurant called Sa Domu Sarda. The food was outstanding and the mouthwatering starters were the pork sausage cooked in fennel, thyme and white wine, absolutely delicious and the local pecorino cheese cooked with honey and walnuts. The breads were rustic and the meats we ordered were juicy and tender. So happy with our choice we returned a night later and had the eggplant pomodoro, ravioli filled with potato and pecorino cheese topped with a tomato and basil sauce and a rich tender goat casserole.
After dinner we wandered up to the main Piazza below the old town to find it packed with locals and tourists eating and drinking in the balmy evening. We suggest you don’t eat here as the food and prices are for unsuspecting tourists. Drink prices however are fairly standard. Further back in the old town, in the narrow cobbled streets, there are plenty of small restaurants and bars just waiting to be discovered.
Poetto Beach is relaxing but not the most dazzling nor impressive Sardinian beach. However, it is easy to access, the quality of men is amazing and for a short stay, we can highly recommend Hotel Nautilus for a wonderful start to your Sardinian adventure.