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Olbia is the main gateway to Sardinia and the Costa Smeralda. Thanks to its fertile hinterland and strategic location Olbia was an important station on the trade routes of the Mediterranean in the past. The city's ancient history and rich past can be seen in the Punic cemetery, the town walls and Roman baths.
Although the town is not as attractive as the surrounding coast, there are some sights. The medieval, Romanesque church San Simplicio, on the Piazza Regina Margherita, exists entirely of granite and has an interesting collection of Roman epitaphs. The church of San Paolo, from the seventeenth century, is worth a visit too.
The Corso Umberto is the main street of the oldest part of Olbia. Here you can find many old churches and houses and some house small museums. The churches often have beautiful stained glass windows and antique organs. Located at the harbor is the Archaeological Museum with objects that have been found during excavations all over Sardinia. Concerts are regularly given in this museum. Furthermore, there are a remarkable number of galleries in the city with both modern and ancient art.
The area around San Simplicio comes to life in the evening. The square in front of the church is surrounded by cafes, cocktail bars and restaurants and during your dinner and drinks you will be entertained by street performers.
Olbia is a great base for exploring the area. Of course the beautiful Costa Smeralda, but the Porto Rotondo too or the island of La Maddalena. Close to the city you can visit archaeological excavations from the Nuragic, Punic and Roman times. For example the nuraghi of Cabu Abbas, north of the city. Nuraghi are circular stone towers, probably used to defend the settlement, but were also a refuge in times of danger. Cabu Abbas sits high on a rock, 246 meters above sea level.
The so-called giant tombs are remnants of the Nuraghe culture (the Bronze Age) too. One of those graves - Su Mont'e s'Abe is located near Olbia. The holy well Sa Testa is situated about five kilometer from the city, along the scenic road to Golfo Aranci.
The islet Tavolara is a destination for divers. The coral reef is lovely and large schools of fish swim here. Beautiful hiking trails have been plotted on the island. It's nice and quiet, except during the yearly rally of vintage cars.
Porto Cervo is regarded as the capital of Costa Smeralda. The tourist resort was designed by the renowned Italian architect Luigi Vietti. It has a busy marina and in September the Sardinia Cup regatta takes place here.
The Costa Smeralda is - especially during the summer months - very busy but there are plenty of quiet areas to be found not far from Olbia, like the unspoiled and rugged coast near Ogliastra. Most beaches are only accessible by car. An ideal area for people who love peace and nature.
If you take the main road towards the south from Olbia, you will start off driving more or less along the coast. Further down the road bends towards the interior. You will then arrive at Nuoro, an old town situated brilliantly on the slopes of the mountain Ortobene. You can climb the mountain too: on top stands a bronze statue of Christ. Located at the foot of the mountain is an archaeological excavation area.
Olbia has a wide range of hotels, ranging from simple pensions to luxury hotels and - on the beaches in the area - holiday resorts. In the summer months it gets busy in and around Oblia. It is therefore important to book your hotel in advance.
You can easily drive around in a rental car in Olbia and so there are several parking lots and garages. From the city you can reach other destinations on Sardinia by following the SS131 highway, which runs across the island, to Cagliari in the south. More fun is to follow the small roads. Keep in mind that Sardinia is mountainous and so the roads can be steep and winding.
Olbia Airport is located just south of the city. The airport is easily accessible with a rental car. From the city center follow the Via Principe Umberto (SS125), that leads straight to the airport. The route is clearly signposted.