Is Olbia Worth Visiting? [Don’t Miss It!] 2023

We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Read more about us.

If you’re travelling to Sardinia, you may ask “Is Olbia worth visiting?” 🌊⛱️ After 2 trips here I can definitely say, yes, heck yes! With a capital Y!

TL;DR: Olbia Sardinia Italy Travel Tips:
Pros: Charming old town, delicious food, unique shopping, beautiful beaches and hikes, cheap, and vibrant culture
Cons: Busy, gritty, port town, dreadful hot in summer, not fancy

Best for: Shoulder season travel for people like love to wander and mix beachy nature and culture. Cheap hub to explore Costa Smeralda.
Not great for: Hop on, hop off bus tour type travelers, non-walkers.

Olbia – Costa Smeralda Airport The IATA code for the airport is OLB.

From the historic old town to the stunning natural attractions, Olbia has something for everyone. You can explore the city’s rich history by visiting landmarks like the Romanesque Basilica of San Simplicio or take a stroll through the streets of the old town.

Here’s my mini travel guide complete with where to stay, things to do, what to eat etc based on my experience eating, hiking and swimming around Olbia in June.  It’s a great third city in Italy that doesn’t get press like Rome, Bari or Naples, but has a lot to offer the seasoned traveler.

Prefer Video? Morgan’s Sardinia Trip Video

Crave the Planet is reader-supported. When you click on links to buy products I may receive money to support the work of building Outdoor Travel & Gear Guides. – Thanks, Morgan

Is Olbia worth visiting?

Yes, it’s a lovely grungy take on Sardinia with great food, italian drinks, views, delicious aperitivo, beaches visit for hiking, snorkeling and super cool boat trips and ancient vibes. 

However, if you ask me if Olbia is worth visiting in August, I would resoundingly say no. 

Do you want to be like a sardine in a sandy can? Everyone from Italy (and German-Italians) go here for august summer vacation.

Go north to the mountains like the Dolomites in August to a place like Lago di Braies to escape the heat.

It’s too hot and crowded.  It’s much better in April – July and September through November.

Olbia Sardinia Things To Do: Short on time?

Don’t have time to read the whole article? No problemo!

Popular activities in Olbia

For beach lovers you can soak up the sun at one of the many beautiful beaches in the area or take a day trip to the nearby islands of La Maddalena and Caprera.

Key Takeaways

  • Olbia is a small city in the Gallura region of Sardinia that is often overlooked by tourists.
  • The city has a rich history and plenty of natural attractions, making it a great destination for those looking for a mix of culture and natural beauty.
  • Whether you’re interested in exploring historical landmarks, relaxing on the beach, or indulging in delicious food and wine, Olbia has something for everyone.

No time to read? Here’s the Best Things to Do in Olbia for Active Travelers

Why Visit Olbia? You Wanted Authentic, Right?

In Olbia, you can also find some of the best beaches in Sardinia. The town is surrounded by crystal-clear waters and stunning landscapes, making it a perfect destination for beach lovers. Some of the most famous beaches in Olbia include Pittulongu, Bados, and Porto Istana.

If you are interested in history, Olbia has a lot to offer. You can visit the Archaeological Museum of Olbia, which houses a collection of artifacts from the ancient town of Olbia. You can also explore the ruins of the Roman aqueduct and the Punic-Roman necropolis of Su Monte e s’Abe.

Olbia is also a great destination for foodies. The town is known for its delicious seafood dishes, such as spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) and fregola con arselle (a type of pasta with clams). You can also taste the local wines and cheeses, which are produced in the nearby countryside.

Where to Stay in Olbia Old Town

The absolute best place to stay in Olbia is the stunning Mercure Olbia.

I loved that it is elegant, yet understated directly and less than 3 minutes walk to the Necroplis and the Basilica of San Nicola.  The swimming pool, fitness space and wellness services are top notch.

Click here for more recommendations on where to stay in Olbia

Getting to Olbia

If you’re planning a trip to Olbia, you’ll most likely be arriving by air at the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport. The airport is located just a few kilometers outside of the city center and serves both domestic and international flights.

To get to Olbia from the airport, you have several options. The most convenient option is to take a taxi, which will take you directly to your hotel or other destination in the city. Taxis are available outside of the airport terminal and should cost around €20-25 for a ride to the city center.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can take the public bus. The bus stop is located just outside of the airport terminal, and the journey to the city center takes around 20-30 minutes. The fare is €1.50 per person, and tickets can be purchased from the ticket machine at the bus stop.

Another option is to rent a car. There are several car rental companies located at the airport, and renting a car will give you the flexibility to explore the surrounding areas at your own pace. However, keep in mind that driving in Olbia can be challenging, especially during peak tourist season.

🚘 Looking for a car rental service?

If you need a car for your trip, then my personal recommendation is to choose Discover Cars, an Award winning car rental comparison website. You can find, compare and rent a car globally there.

Hire a car HERE

Historical Landmarks in Olbia

Olbia is a town rich in history and culture, with many historical landmarks worth visiting. Here are some of the most notable ones:

1. Nuraghe Riu Mulinu

One of the most important archaeological sites in Olbia is the Nuraghe Riu Mulinu. This nuraghe is a prehistoric stone structure that was built by the Nuragic civilization over 3,000 years ago.

The site is well-preserved and offers a glimpse into the ancient life of the Nuragic people. You can explore the interior of the nuraghe and learn about the fascinating history of this ancient civilization.

2. Necropolis

We went here on a Tuesday and it was closed unfortunately so check their website for opening times.

Another important archaeological site in Olbia is the Necropolis. This site is a collection of tombs and burial grounds that date back to the Roman era.

The Necropolis is a fascinating place to visit and offers a unique insight into the funerary practices of the ancient Romans.

Opening Hours Necroplis 2023-2024


3. Church of San Simplicio

is olbia worth visiting church in olbia

The Church of San Simplicio is a beautiful Romanesque church located in the heart of Olbia’s old town. The church was built in the 11th century and is dedicated to the town’s patron saint.

The interior of the church is adorned with beautiful frescoes and intricate stonework. It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in religious architecture and history.

This was my second favorite experience in Olbia, my girlfriends loved the shopping. My favorite was walking through the park and taking lunch with the kids in summer camp at the tennis hall.

Natural Attractions in Olbia

Olbia is a city that boasts an abundance of natural attractions. From pristine beaches to stunning islands, Olbia offers visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

Beaches Near Olbia

If you’re a beach lover, Olbia is the perfect destination for you. The city is home to a number of beautiful beaches with crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Some of the most popular beaches near Olbia include:

  • Pellicano Beach: This beach is located just a few kilometers north of Olbia and is known for its crystal-clear waters and fine white sand.
  • Mare Rocce: This beach is located on the outskirts of Olbia and is a great spot for snorkeling and swimming.
  • Pittulonghu Beach: This beach is located to the north of Olbia and boasts clear waters and a long stretch of white sand.

Tavolara and Molara Islands

If you’re looking for a more secluded and peaceful experience, then a visit to Tavolara and Molara Islands is a must. These two islands are located just off the coast of Olbia and are known for their stunning natural beauty.

Tavolara Island is the bigger of the two and is home to a number of hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Molara Island, on the other hand, is a smaller island that is perfect for a day trip. The island is known for its clear waters and is a great spot for snorkeling and swimming.

Exploring the Costa Smeralda

If you’re planning a trip to Olbia, you might be wondering if it’s worth taking a detour to explore the Costa Smeralda. Technically, the Costa Smeralda covers 34 miles of coastline between Portisco and Liscia di Vacca, but there are other places nearby that are worth visiting, too, including Palau and the Maddalena Archipelago. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about exploring the Costa Smeralda:

  • Porto Rotondo: This charming village is just a short drive from Olbia, and it’s definitely worth a visit. It was founded in the 1960s by a group of artists and intellectuals, and it’s still very much a cultural hub. You can stroll along the harbor, admire the sculptures and paintings on display, and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants.
  • Porto Cervo: This is the most famous town in the Costa Smeralda, and it’s known for its luxury yachts, high-end boutiques, and exclusive nightclubs. If you’re interested in seeing how the other half lives, this is the place to go. Keep in mind that prices here can be steep, so be prepared to splurge.
  • Beaches: The Costa Smeralda is known for its beautiful beaches, and there are plenty to choose from. Some of the most popular include Spiaggia del Principe, Liscia Ruja, and Capriccioli. Keep in mind that some of these beaches can get crowded in the summer, so try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon if you want to avoid the crowds.

Food and Wine in Olbia

Olbia is a great place to discover traditional Gallura cuisine and taste some of the best Vermentino wines. Here are some sub-sections to help you understand the food and wine scene in Olbia.

Traditional Gallura Cuisine

Gallura cuisine is a reflection of the region’s pastoral heritage, with dishes that feature meat, cheese, and bread. Some of the most popular dishes include:

  • Porceddu: a suckling pig roasted over an open fire and seasoned with myrtle leaves.
  • Zuppa Gallurese: a hearty bread soup made with pecorino cheese, beef broth, and saffron.
  • Culurgiones: a type of ravioli filled with potatoes, mint, and cheese.

In Olbia, you can find many restaurants that serve traditional Gallura cuisine, such as Ristorante Gallura and Trattoria da Angelo.

Vermentino Wines

Vermentino is a white grape variety that is grown in the north of Sardinia, including the Gallura region. Vermentino wines are crisp and refreshing, with notes of citrus and minerality. Some of the best Vermentino wines are produced in the area around Olbia.

There are many wineries in the Olbia area that offer tastings and tours, such as Cantina del Vermentino and Vigne Surrau. You can also find Vermentino wines in many restaurants and wine bars in Olbia.

Shopping in Olbia

If you are looking for a shopping experience in Olbia, you will not be disappointed. The city is home to many shops and boutiques that offer a range of products, from clothing and accessories to food and drink.

Olbia has a number of shopping centers and stores that cater to both locals and tourists. Some of the most popular shopping centers in the city include the Centro Commerciale Auchan Olbia, the Centro Commerciale Terranova, and the Centro Commerciale Olbia 2. These shopping centers offer a wide range of products, including clothing, electronics, and household items.

Apart from shopping centers, Olbia also has many small shops and boutiques that offer unique and handmade products. These shops are perfect for those who are looking for something special and want to support local businesses.

Some of the most popular boutiques in Olbia include the La Bottega del Gusto, which sells a variety of local food products, and the Sardinia Artigianato, which offers a range of handmade crafts and souvenirs.

If you are looking for a shopping experience that is a little different, you should visit the local markets in Olbia. The city has several markets that offer fresh produce, clothing, and souvenirs.

The most popular markets in Olbia include the Mercato Civico, which is held every morning in the city center, and the Mercatino dell’Antiquariato, which is a flea market that is held on the second Sunday of every month.

Nightlife in Olbia

If you’re looking for a night out in Olbia, you won’t be disappointed. The city has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a quiet drink or a night of dancing, Olbia has something for everyone.

One of the most popular areas for nightlife in Olbia is the historic center. Here you’ll find a variety of bars and pubs, many of which offer live music or DJ sets. You can enjoy a drink in a cozy pub or dance the night away in a lively club. Some of the best bars in the historic center include Baraonda, which has a great selection of cocktails, and La Tana del Luppolo, which specializes in craft beer.

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, head to the Marina di Olbia. Here you’ll find a number of stylish bars and clubs, many of which offer stunning views of the harbor. One of the most popular spots in the area is the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, which has a chic bar and restaurant overlooking the marina.

For those who prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, there are plenty of wine bars in Olbia where you can relax with a glass of local wine. One of the best is Enoteca del Corso, which has an extensive wine list and a cozy atmosphere.

Accommodations in Olbia

If you’re planning a trip to Olbia, you’ll need a place to stay. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious hotel or a budget-friendly option, you’ll find it in Olbia.

Luxury Hotels in Olbia

Olbia has a variety of hotels, ranging from high-end luxury to budget-friendly options. If you’re looking for a luxurious stay, consider the Nuova-Luxury Rooms or the Villa Smeralda Sul Mare. Both offer top-notch amenities and are located in the heart of Olbia.

Budget Accommodations in Olbia

If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of affordable hotels in Olbia. The Hotel Mare Blue is a great option, offering comfortable rooms and a convenient location. Another budget-friendly option is the Le Residenze del Centro, which offers simple rooms and a central location.

Wi-Fi in Olbia Accommodations

Most accommodations in Olbia offer Wi-Fi for their guests. If you need to stay connected during your stay, be sure to check that Wi-Fi is available before booking your accommodations. Many hotels and guesthouses offer free Wi-Fi, while others may charge a fee.

Day Trips from Olbia

If you’re looking for a day trip from Olbia, you have a few options to choose from. Here are two popular destinations:

1. Visit to Stintino

Stintino is a charming fishing village located about 2 hours away from Olbia. It’s known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and delicious seafood. One of the most popular beaches in Stintino is La Pelosa, which is often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia. It’s a great place to relax, swim, and soak up the sun.

If you’re interested in history, you can also visit the Torre della Pelosa, a Spanish watchtower that dates back to the 16th century. It offers panoramic views of the sea and the surrounding landscape.

2. Exploring Alghero

Alghero is a picturesque town located on the northwest coast of Sardinia, about 1.5 hours away from Olbia. It’s known for its medieval architecture, narrow streets, and beautiful beaches. One of the main attractions in Alghero is the historic center, which is surrounded by ancient walls and towers. You can wander through the narrow streets, visit the cathedral, and admire the colorful buildings.

If you’re interested in beaches, you can head to the nearby Maria Pia beach, which is a long stretch of white sand and crystal-clear water. You can also visit the Neptune’s Grotto, a stunning sea cave that’s accessible by boat or by a long staircase.

3. Hiking in Cala Gonone

If you are a nature enthusiast and love trekking, then the Cala Luna hike is a must-do when in Sardinia. The hike offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes on the island.

The Cala Luna trail is a part of the Sentiero Selvaggio Blu, a famous long-distance hiking trail in Sardinia. The hike starts from Cala Fuili, the last cove you can reach by car from Cala Gonone, and takes you to Cala Luna, a stunning beach with crystal-clear waters.

Practical Information

Parking in Olbia

Finding parking in Olbia can be a challenge, especially during peak tourist season. However, there are a few options available. If you are staying in a hotel, it’s worth checking if they offer parking facilities. Some hotels have their own parking lots or garages, while others may have arrangements with nearby parking facilities.

If you are driving into the city, there are several public parking lots available. The Parcheggio Comunale in Viale Aldo Moro is a large parking lot with over 600 spaces. It is located near the city center and is a convenient option for those looking to explore the historic district. Another option is the Parcheggio Stazione, which is located near the train station and offers both covered and uncovered parking.

Street parking is also available, but it can be difficult to find a spot during busy times. Make sure to check for parking restrictions and pay attention to any signs indicating that parking is prohibited.

Wi-Fi Availability

Many cafes, restaurants, and hotels in Olbia offer free Wi-Fi to customers. If you need to stay connected, it’s worth checking with your accommodation to see if they offer Wi-Fi access. Some hotels may charge a fee for Wi-Fi, so make sure to clarify this before booking.

If you need to work or study while in Olbia, there are several coworking spaces available. The Coworking Olbia is a popular option, offering flexible workspaces, high-speed Wi-Fi, and meeting rooms. Another option is the Impact Hub Olbia, which offers a range of services including coworking, business incubation, and events.

If you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, there are several internet cafes available in the city. These cafes offer high-speed internet access for a fee, and are a convenient option for those who need to check their email or browse the web.

Planning your trip?

Final Verdict: Is Olbia Worth Visiting?

If you are planning a trip to Sardinia, you might be wondering if Olbia is worth visiting. The answer is definitely yes! Olbia is a charming town located on the northeast coast of Sardinia, Italy, and it has a lot to offer to its visitors.

Olbia is the main gateway to the beautiful Costa Smeralda, one of the most exclusive and luxurious destinations in Europe. The town itself has a rich history and culture that dates back to ancient times.

You can explore the old town, walk through its narrow streets, and admire its beautiful architecture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some things to do in Olbia?

Olbia has a lot to offer for tourists. You can explore the historic old town, visit the Basilica of San Simplicio, and enjoy the beautiful beaches nearby. You can also take a boat trip to the nearby islands, such as Tavolara and Molara. Additionally, Olbia is a great place to try out some of the delicious Sardinian cuisine, such as seafood, pasta, and local wines.

How is the nightlife in Olbia?

Olbia has a lively nightlife scene with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from. You can find a variety of places to suit your taste, whether you prefer a casual pub or a trendy nightclub. Many bars and clubs stay open late, so you can dance the night away.

Is Olbia an expensive city to visit?

Olbia can be relatively expensive compared to other cities in Sardinia, but it is still possible to find affordable accommodations and restaurants. The cost of living is generally higher in tourist areas, so it’s a good idea to do some research and plan your budget in advance.

What are some free things to do in Olbia?

If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of free things to do in Olbia. You can explore the historic old town, visit the Basilica of San Simplicio, and take a stroll along the beautiful beaches. You can also visit the Museo Archeologico, which has free admission on the first Sunday of every month.

Where is the best place to stay in Olbia?

The best place to stay in Olbia depends on your preferences and budget. If you want to be close to the beach, you can stay in one of the many hotels or resorts along the coast. If you prefer a more central location, you can stay in the historic old town. There are also plenty of options for budget travelers, such as hostels and guesthouses.

How does Olbia compare to Alghero in terms of attractions?

Both Olbia and Alghero have a lot to offer in terms of attractions. Olbia is known for its beautiful beaches, historic old town, and lively nightlife. Alghero, on the other hand, is known for its medieval architecture, scenic coastline, and delicious seafood. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your personal preferences and interests.

We hope this Olbia travel guide filled with interesting information and helped you decide if Olbia is worth visiting.

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.