An ideal base for hiking and trekking enthusiasts, Olbia is also a perfect city for lovers of the sea and beach life, as well as for archaeology enthusiasts. In short, there are many things to do and see in Olbia, so let’s set out to discover all the sights in and around the city.
What to see in Olbia
Olbia’s attractions are not very well known: perhaps because this city, rather than being considered a destination, is often seen as a starting point for exploring the famous Costa Smeralda. Indeed, many tourists who arrive in the city simply use it as a junction for reaching more famous and popular destinations. However, Olbia has a lot to offer and it would be a real shame not to consider the city’s historic and poetic attractions. From beaches to hiking, historic buildings and famous monuments, here is what to see in Olbia.
Olbia’s historic centre: a small Roman and medieval jewelOlbia’s historic centre is its pride and joy. It has a clearly visible Roman and medieval layout and features very different architectural styles. Tourists will be delighted by the spectacle of the old town: from the Town Hall, located near the port, walk up Corso Umberto until you reach Piazza Regina Margherita, a spacious square surrounded by beautiful 19th-century buildings. The views that will unfold before your eyes, traversed by lanes and alleys, are impressive and perfect for photographing and sharing on social media.
Continue on until you reach Chiesa di San Paolo: here, a simple brick building is embellished with a splendid dome covered with majolica: a captivating decoration that is, unsurprisingly, one of the city’s most admired symbols.
Olbia’s historic centre is small, but pretty: explore it thoroughly to discover its sights and attractions.
The Basilica di San Simplicio
With regard to the city’s religious buildings, we cannot fail to mention the Basilica di San Simplicio, the oldest and most important church in Olbia. The outer facade does not conceal its Romanesque structure, whose classical simplicity is also reflected inside: it contains three naves, which are internally divided by simple columns. Only the presbytery contains decorations and frescoes.
Olbia’s archaeological sites
Olbia is a very ancient city and is therefore surrounded by numerous archaeological sites. The earliest evidence of man in this area dates from between 4000 and 3500 BC. Numerous early finds and historical sites have been traced back to the Bronze Age and the Nuragic civilization: from the sacred “Sa Tesa” well to the Giants’ grave of Su Mont’e s’Abe. We also recommend a visit to the ”Nuraghe di Riu Mulinu”, stone towers used in the past as an observation point overlooking the gulf to avert enemy attacks. A visit to the “Nuraghe” is an excellent opportunity to admire the beautiful Gulf of Olbia and its sky blue sea from above.
We can continue our journey through time by making a big leap forward, arriving in the Roman era, which is evidenced by a wonderful aqueduct, whose well-preserved arches are still visible.
For anyone who wants to learn about the history of the city and its surroundings, we recommend, in addition to visiting numerous archaeological sites, a trip to the Archaeological Museum of Olbia, located on the small island of Peddone, situated right next to the port: presenting a journey through time that starts with prehistory and ends in 1800, this place will certainly delight history buffs.
Olbia’s beaches: marine paradises just a stone’s throw from the city
Olbia blends seamlessly with its sea and picture-postcard colours, ranging from from turquoise to emerald. Indeed, the coast around the city features many kilometres of beaches, alternating with stunningly beautiful cliffs and views. Let’s go to check out the beach closest to the city centre, Pittulongu, which is very popular among locals: its picturesque crescent shape welcomes you to a corner of paradise. Here you will find both a free public beach and a private beach with sunbeds, umbrellas and a bar service. If you continue north along the coast, you come to the gorgeous Bados beach. The water here is beautiful and despite the beach’s proximity to the city, the atmosphere is peaceful and relaxed. Here too you can choose between a public beach and a private beach with amenities. Anyone who is looking for less crowded coves that are no less beautiful should also explore the area south of Olbia and, in particular, the coast of Capo Ceraso, a promontory not far from Olbia. Here, exploring the coast, you will find exquisite beaches characterized by fine white sand or, for cliff lovers, coves with a typical rocky setting.
Obviously, when we talk of Olbia’s beaches we cannot fail to mention the area’s most famous and popular destinations, most notably the renowned town of Porto Rotondo.
What to eat in Olbia
Visiting Sardinia, including Olbia, means not only enjoying the sea and natural beauty, but also experiencing the pleasure of good food.
The typical breakfast here is ”seadas al miele”, tortelli pasta stuffed with cheese, fried and covered with honey. Olbia and Gallura, however, have much more to offer. Local cuisine is dominated by products of the land, in particular meat, salami and cheese: from the famous “porceddu” suckling piglet to “pecora in cappotto” mutton stew. Be sure to also try pork with Savoy cabbage, one of the local delicacies.
If you prefer seafood dishes, mussels are particularly popular here. You can enjoy them with pasta, in a simple soup or even together with sea urchins, leaving you completely satisfied.
One of the most notable dishes is chiusoni, tasty Gallurese gnocchi that are much larger than the famous Sardinian “gnocchetti” and can be enjoyed with a tomato and sausage sauce. Since we are in Gallura, we cannot fail to mention “zuppa gallurese”, which, although it is a festive dish, is now offered to tourists and visitors as a meal that encapsulates the area’s spirit: at first glance, it looks like lasagna, but it turns out to be a dish made of bread, cheese and meat stock. It is a triumph of flavour and simplicity.
Naturally, all dishes should be accompanied with classic local wines: Vermentino or Cannonau!
To visit Olbia and Italy, you must have a passport or ID card that is valid for travel abroad. The country is part of the European Union.
Olbia is a seaside city and is therefore ideal for visiting in the summer months, especially for those who want to dedicate themselves to beach life. Despite the high temperature, the sea reduces the heat and a swim in its crystal clear water is a perfect way to find inner peace. However, people who are interested in trips to natural and archaeological sites should visit Olbia in spring or autumn: this will allow them to enjoy the sun and, above all, mild temperatures suited to outdoor activities.