From the Basilica of San Simplicio to the Tomb of the Giants on Monte e' S'Abe: the best seven things to do and see in Olbia, Sardinia.
Nestled in the north-eastern area ofSardinia, Olbia represents the gateway to Gallura, as well as one of the most active and flourishing ports in the entire region.
Ancient capital of the Giudicato of Gallura, the city of Olbia still preserves intact numerous testimonies of a flourishing and ancient past, dating back more than 4000 years ago. From the nuraghe to the sacred well, from the necropolis to the castles, Olbia preserves an unparalleled heritage, scattered throughout the historic center and surrounding areas.
I had the pleasure of visiting the city during the project “Glimpses of Gallura”, an itinerary through the most characteristic places of north-eastern Sardinia, and in this post I want to leave you the list of what, in my opinion, are “7 the best things to do and see in Olbia”.
7 THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN OLBIA
The tendency to believe that Sardinia is only beaches and sea is as wrong as it is misleading. The historical and cultural heritage that lies behind the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, which take on truly surreal colors on the island, is enormous. Olbia holds a large slice of it so much so that, in any itinerary of the best things to see in Sardinia, the city deserves a place of honour.
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Historic Center of Olbia
The historic center of Olbia is concentrated around Corso Umberto I and the small squares that open up in the surrounding area, including Piazza Terranova Pausania, Piazza delle Terme and Piazza Matteotti. The streets, with attention to the smallest details, are full of bars, restaurants and shops that are usually crowded during the evening hours. A visit to the is recommendedParish of San Paolo Apostolofamous for its baroque style and colorful majolica dome. A fun way to explore the historic center of Olbia is topanoramic tuk tuk ride.
If you want to enjoy an excellent aperitif in a typical and picturesque location, I recommend itSpirits Boutiqueby Emilio Rocchino. It is a cocktail bar located in the historic center that offers excellent quality drinks, such as those brandedMediterranean Vermouth Macchiaand strongly inspired by Sardinia, its nature and its aromas (tasting the white Vermouth with Vermentino is highly recommended!).
Basilica and Necropolis of San Simplicio
The Basilica of San Simplicio, with the Necropolis next to it, is located behind the Olbia station, a short distance from Corso Umberto I. It is the most important religious monument in north-eastern Sardinia, built in Pisan Romanesque style with an almost completely in granite. Under the altar of the Basilica are the relics of the Saint found in 1614 during excavations in the crypt.
The necropolis of San Simplicio is located in the area adjacent to the Basilica and is made up of approximately 450 tombs dating back to the Roman age, from 200 BC to 300 AD. The archaeological site is now the museum of Olbia. The standard cost of the ticket is 5 euros.
Archaeological Museum of Olbia
Built on the small Peddone Island, a stone's throw from the historic centre, the Archaeological Museum of Olbia illustrates the history of the city from prehistory to the 19th century. The structure dominates the port and, from its terraces, it is possible to enjoy panoramic views of the entire gulf.
Inside the Museum there are finds of ancient ships, rudders from the Roman era, artefacts dating back to the Nuragic era, granite steles, ceramics and other evidence of the city. Entrance to the Museum is free (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).
Tomb of the Giants on Monte e' S'Abe
The Giants' Tomb on Monte e' S'Abe is located south of the historic center of Olbia, within a green area full of mystery.
It is a funerary monument dating back more than 4 thousand years ago which represents one of the many testimonies of the Nuragic civilization in Sardinia.
The Giants' Tomb on Monte e' S'Abe is 28 meters long, 6 meters wide and, when viewed from above, has the shape of a bull's head. Unlike similar prehistoric burials, here the deceased were buried collectively.
Entrance to the Tomb is free and open.
Pedres Castle stands right in front of the Giants' Tomb on Monte e' S'Abe, on top of a hill reachable via a path of steps (about 7 minutes on foot). It is an ancient fort dating back to the Middle Ages which was built during the Visconti period of the Giudicato of Gallura in local stone. In ancient times it was used for defense against the Aragonese.
Entrance to Pedres Castle is free and open.
Sacred Well of Sa Testa
Among the best things to do and see in the surroundings of Olbia, a visit to the Sacred Well of Sa Testa stands out. Located in the hamlet of the same name, 15 minutes by car from the historic center of the city, the Sacred Well is another evocative place linked to the uses and traditions of the Nuragic civilization.
It is an ancient sanctuary built between the 13th and 15th centuries BC which was used as a place to honor the water deities. It was in these sacred wells, in fact, that the Nuragic people performed the rituals linked to their religious cults. Entrance to the Sacred Well of Sa Testa is free.
Nuraghe Riu Mulino
The Nuraghe Riu Mulino is located on the top of a hill and, from its 250 meters above sea level, seems to dominate the whole of Cabu Abbas. It is one of the most famous Nuragic fortifications in Gallura, whose roots date back to 1200-1300 BC
The Nuraghe is composed of a central tower, which once reached 5 meters in height, surrounded by a wall. It is supposed that its function was to control the arrival of enemy boats. In fact, when conditions are optimal, from Cabu Abbas it is also possible to see the distant island of Tavolara. Entrance to the Nuraghe Riu Mulino is free.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN OLBIA
Due to its proximity to the coast and the presence of an airport that connects it directly with the main Italian and foreign cities, Olbia has become a very active and appreciated tourist place. Inside the historic center, and in the immediate vicinity, you can find different accommodation solutions, depending on your needs.
My advice, however, is to move a few kilometers and opt for an option that allows you to enjoy not only the beauty of the city but also its surroundings and, above all, the beaches and the sea. In the hamlet ofPittulongu, a 15-minute drive from Olbia center, is theThe Pelican Beach Resort – Adults Only, a structure in which I had the pleasure of staying during my itinerary in Gallura... finding myself more than happy.
Silence, relaxation and comfort are the watchwords that reign among sea view suites, private swimming pool and beach, restaurant, garden, outdoor jacuzzi and wellness center with sauna, Turkish bath and everything you can expect from a great holiday .
Note Well!The Pelican Beach Resort is located a 7-minute drive from Pozzo Sacro di Sa Testa, 10 minutes from Nraghe Riu Mulino, 20 minutes from the Tomb of the Giants on Monte e' S'Abe and Pedres Castle, 15 minutes from the airport of Olbia and 10 minutes from the historic center.