Although I am a big believer in talking to locals when you’re visiting another country, guidebooks are a great way to plan your travels in Sardinia. Locals will give you the inside perspective and show you the hidden gems of Sardinia. Guidebooks about Sardinia will give you the big picture and help you plan times, places, and budgets.
Here I’ll list some of the better Sardinia guidebooks. I can’t say that I’ve used them since I really use locals, but personal experiences and reviews are welcome in the comments. All are written in English and are available online and at most bookshops.
Eyewitness Travel Guides: Sardinia
DK Publishing $20.00
Never used any of the books by this publisher, but I like how light the book is. It covers the major areas and would be good for the through-traveler who lands in a city and needs something to do.
Pros: Clear & concise with a good overview of Sardinian festivals, major cities, archeological sites. Sturdy & light.
Cons: This guide is more of a brief overview of what there is to see and do – no real discussion of Sardinian history and culture, so I’d recommend it for the quick visitor. According to the Amazon reviewers, the maps can be hard to use – here’s where talking to locals really helps. And a good map if you’re going to be driving around.
Lonely Planet Regional Guides: Sardinia
Paula Hardy $19.99
I like Lonely Planet guides; you can tell the writers have spent time in the places they’re writing about and the website is a good addition to the book. Spend some time reading traveler reviews of the various places in Sardinia and mark the pages for when you’re there.
Pros: More in-depth discussion of areas and sites. Includes plenty of activities like diving, hiking, cycling, and horse riding in Sardinia. Good supporting internet community.
Cons: Reviews in the book are out of date – some of the places aren’t open anymore. Spends more time on odd local Sardinian details that might not matter to the average traveler.
Touring Club of Italy $18.95
This is a guide written by a local Italian tourist club – so they get points for being Italian, but lose them for being more concerned with shopping and driving in Sardinia than anything else. Feel free to disagree if you’ve used this guide successfully.
Pros: Cool color-coded index lets you pick your mood – shopping, beaches, more shopping, pretty roads, and adventure. Plenty of information about festivals, sites, and shopping.
Cons: Seriously, no one goes to Sardinia to shop. If you want to shop in Italy, go to Milan. Or Rome. Or pretty much anywhere besides Sardinia. Even the Sardinians go elsewhere to shop.
Sea and Sardinia
DH Lawrence $15.00
Ok, this one isn’t strictly a guidebook, but I’m a fan of travelogues written about places you’re visiting by “classical” authors. It’s a travelogue written during the British travel writing craze of the 1920s. Lawrence focuses more on encounters with locals and describing the differences between this still-primitive island for British travelers. It was written after his popular fictional works.
Pros: Very interesting perspective on Sardinia post-WWI written by a truly brilliant writer. Bring it with you and see the differences just 80 years made.
Cons: Slim on the landmarks and touristy stuff. It sounds like all the guy did was sit in Sardinian cafes and talk to people. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Ok. So basically, all the guidebooks out there have your basic list of festivals, beaches, cities, restaurant & hotel reviews, and things to do. The difference is in the details – Lonely Planet guides are written for the so-called independent travelers in Sardinia who like doing more active things; Eyewitness guides are for the faster traveler who likes getting to things quickly. Either way – grab a guide, do some research, and for God’s sake talk to some locals.