News 10 reasons why Sardinia is the perfect place for a winter holiday in 2019

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10 reasons why Sardinia is the perfect place for a winter holiday in 2019

If you're looking for the best place to take your winter holidays in 2019, Sardinia has to be near the top of your list. Air Malta offers cheap flights to Sardinia from London twice a week all through the autumn/winter season - and it's the perfect time to explore the island's natural beauty, traditional food and spectacular Carnival celebrations.

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1. Cagliari is is perfect for a weekend city break

Sardinia’s capital is a delightful hotch-potch of colourful buildings crowding around Il Castello, the city’s famous hilltop citadel. The narrow, ancient alleyways of Il Castello are perfect for an afternoon stroll, and the medieval streets play host to numerous tucked away bars and boutiques that offer a pleasant punctuation to your perambulation.

The boardwalk down by the marina is also a great place to stretch your legs, and there are some fantastic restaurants to be found near the seafront – Da Marino al St. Remy (Via San Salvatore da Horta 7) is a highlight, serving up an array of fantastic fine dining, from freshly caught seafood to ricotta ice cream. And if you wander a little further along the coast, you’ll find the eight-kilometre-long Poetto Beach, which is a hotspot for kitesurfing – if you want to give it a go yourself, check out the Kite Generation surfing school.

Another reason why Cagliari makes an ideal weekend getaway is that it’s just a short hop from Cagliari Elmas Airport to the city centre, which is only a 15-minute taxi ride away. So after hopping off your Air Malta flight, you’ll be checked into your hotel and strolling in the sun in no time.

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2. Air Malta flights to Sardinia start from £40 one way

You can leap aboard an Air Malta flight from London Southend to Cagliari for as little as £40 – and using Air Malta’s Find the Best Fare tool, you can see the cheapest month to travel at a glance.

Air Malta flies to Sardinia twice a week all through the autumn/winter season from both London Southend and London Gatwick – and a one-way flight from Gatwick starts from just £57. Time to say goodbye to dreary London and ciao to sunny Sardinia!

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3. Sardinia is teeming with amazing prehistoric sites

This Mediterranean island is home to the remnants of the Nuragic civilisation, a culture unique to Sardinia that flourished between the eighteenth century BC and around 200 BC, when the Romans arrived. The island inhabitants left behind more than 7,000 esoteric towers called nuraghes, but otherwise very little is known about them – they had no written records.

Nuraghe Su Nuraxi is one of the most popular Nuragic ruins to visit: this World Heritage Site that features a tower dating back to 1500 BC.

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4. The beaches are simply stunning

The term ‘hidden gem’ is tiresomely overused, but it’s more than applicable in Sardina’s case. The island is awash with fantastic beaches, yet it’s often unfairly overlooked by tourists. Arutas Beach is probably the most stunning of the lot – it’s formed from tiny grains of quartz that reflect the sunlight, making the seawater a stunning aquamarine..

Dei Due Mari Beach is another gem – it’s located on a thin isthmus with ocean on either side, hence its name, the ‘beach of the two seas’. Two beaches for the price of one! And Gabbiani Beach is a wonderful place to really get away from it all – it’s only reachable by boat, and it’s surrounded by high rocky cliffs that block out the rest of the world.

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5. Sardinia is blissfully uncrowded in autumn and winter

They call it the ‘secret season’ – the Sardinian weather is still pleasantly mild in autumn and winter, but the island becomes wonderfully quiet, with scarcely a tourist to be seen. Cagliari receives more than 500,000 international tourists every year, but the vast majority of them arrive in the summer months, so you’ll be able to skip the crowds and explore at your leisure in January or February.

And if you head a little further west to the province of Carbonia-Iglesias, it’s even quieter still – the region gets just over 40,000 tourists a year, and again mostly in the summer. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a boat trip out to the sleepy resort of Carloforte on the island of San Pietro for a spot of quiet relaxation.

Best of all, hotels offer steep discounts in the off season – and of course, you can grab a bargain-basement Air Malta flight from just £40 one way.

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6. It’s still nice and warm in January

Get this – the average January temperature in Sardinia is a balmy 10°C, with highs of 14°C. Think of that when you’re pulling on your winter coat and hat. February is even warmer, with an average temp of 11°C and highs of 15°C – by comparison, London is a chilly 7°C.

It’s also fairly rain-free, with February being one of the drier months, when Sardinia sees average rainfall of around 14 millimetres. By comparison, London gets around 39 millimetres of rainfall in the same month. Yep, let that sink in for a second. Now is probably a good time to remind you that Air Malta flights to Sardinia start from £40 one way.

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7. Choose the fare that suits you – from no frills to in-flight luxury

Air Malta has half a dozen flight options to choose from, whether you’re looking for the most bargainous of bargain flights or a little bit of pampering to ease your journey. The Go Light fare option is perfect if you only want to take cabin baggage and have an eye on the cheapest possible fare, while a Go Smart fare gets you one piece of 23-kilogram luggage to check in. And Go Flex is great if you want to change your flights at short notice with no fee.

If you’re looking for something fancier, there are three Business Class options to choose from. Just Business gets you a free seat reservation in a separate cabin, along with a free meal and drinks and early check-in, while Smart Business is all of the above but with the option of two pieces of check-in luggage and reduced fees for changing flights. Business Freedom, meanwhile, does exactly what it says by providing the greatest flexibility in changing flights.

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8. Ramble to your heart’s content along the beautiful coastline

Sardinia is home to numerous national parks and some of Italy’s most spectacular coastlines, so it’s perfect for hiking. And whereas the summer months can make walking uncomfortable due to the scorching heat, the winter is perfect for long rambles through nature.

The tiny island of Asinara in north-west Sardinia is a national park and has a hiking trail that provides fantastic sea views from the top of the island’s tallest hill, Punta Scomunica. Keep an eye out for the island’s famous wild donkeys on your way – these albino animals are almost entirely white.

Gennargentu National Park in the east is a great place to view the island’s wildlife, including golden eagles and Mediterranean monk seals. The park is also home to Sardinia’s highest mountain, Punta La Marmora. From the 1,834-metre-high summit, you can see the entire island on a clear day.

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9. February and March is Carnival time!

Carnival celebrations take place across Italy 40 days before Easter, but the festivities on Sardinia are some of the country’s most unique and ancient, involving intricately carved and sometimes grotesque masks that have links to traditional rural life. In Mamoiada, for example, masked dancers wear black sheepskins and cowbells, while red-shirted Issohadores try to capture them with a lasso.

But the most spectacular Carnival celebrations take place in Oristano, during the festival of Sa Sartiglia. Costumed riders in white masks ride beautifully decorated horses in a jousting tournament, where the competitors attempt to skewer a silver star hanging above a sandy track in the town centre. The tournament is followed by a spectacular display of horseback acrobatics.

In 2019 Sa Sartiglia takes place on March 3-5th, and Carnival events take place across Sardinia in the two to three weeks of February leading up to Shrove Tuesday – and February also happens to be one of the cheapest months to fly with Air Malta.

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10. Sample amazing Sardinian food

You’ll find many Italian staples in Sardinia – like pasta and prosciutto – but the island has also evolved its own unique cuisine that reflects its position halfway between mainland Italy and Africa.

The most distinctive Sardinian dish is probably fregula, a form of pasta that looks more like large couscous, reflecting the island’s African influence. Zuppa gallurese, meanwhile, is a delicious lasagna-like concoction made from Sardinian bread soaked in lamb broth and coated in cheese before being baked in the oven.

Winter is also sea-urchin season on Sardinia – it’s forbidden to harvest these creatures at other times of year. So a winter holiday to Sardinia is the perfect time to sample the island’s signature dish of spaghetti with sea urchins. And considering that Sardinia is home to some three million sheep, it’s no surprise that one of the island’s specialities is lamb with artichokes – the perfect warming dish for a winter holiday.

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Published November 2018. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time ofpublication and are subject to change and/or availability.