Sardinian nightlife is pretty laid-back, unless you’re hitting the chi-chi bars of the Costa Smeralda, but most visitors are happy with a sundowner, followed by a good dinner. That said, the Sardinians have a strong musical culture that has been influenced by the many invaders over the centuries, and there is nowhere better to experience this than at one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year.
Most festivals last well into the evenings over several days and, whatever the theme, there’s certain to be music, food and wine involved. ‘Ferragosto’, in the middle of August, is celebrated everywhere, and usually culminates in a firework display.
Caffè Libarium Nostrum
After trekking up to the historic centre to admire the Torre dell’Elefante, check out this sweet café. The spacious terrace offers sensational views over the city, port and sea beyond, and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner – but most gather here for sunset, and an Aperol spritz sundowner. Rather fabulously, the appetisers come free.
Contact: 00 39 346 522 0212; facebook.com/LibariumNostrum
Opening times: Daily, 7am-2am
Sardinia’s first brew pub, Birrificio is a light and airy space where you can sample a range of craft beers brewed on site. As well as an IPA, stout, German Weizen and a light, citrussy Blanche, there are more experimental brews to sample, like a smoky beer flavoured with myrtle berries, and a cream ale flavoured with helichrysum, a licorice plant found widely across Sardinia. Beer is king here, finding its way into most dishes on the menu, even the desserts (Tiramisu with Casteddu beer), and cocktails (Spritz Hell is a reinterpretation of the classic spritz, made with Biddanoa beer). There are a couple of veggie options, including a spicy chilli, made with Tuvixeddu beer, obviously.
In Alghero’s old town this ordinary-looking little place might be considered a bit crazy, or 'poco loco': part pizzeria/part bar/part ten-pin bowling alley. Pizza is served by the metre, beer is on tap, and Friday nights might be comedy or jazz until 1am. Quite the combo perhaps, but a lot of fun.
For one of the best views over Alghero, fly up to the Skybar on the ninth floor of Hotel Catalunya. Book a table on the panoramic terrace and drink in the vistas over Alghero old town, the harbour and the sea beyond. Cometh the sunset hour, cometh the cocktails, and there’s a pretty long list to choose from. Check the website for regular DJ sets. If you can’t get a table, head to the Ramparts for a sundowner, followed by a trawl along the beachfront of Spiaggia di San Giovanni, where the bars close at around 1am.
Rupi’s Beach Bar
Porto Pollo is one of Sardinia’s most famous surf destinations (there are several windsurfing schools here), and when the sun goes down, the surf-shorted crowd head for Rupi’s. The hut on the beach serves drinks (including cocktails), and beach food on tortillas and burger buns (including veggie options), and most nights there are DJs and bands. Thursday night is party night, so crowds are even bigger, but there are plenty of quieter beach coves to repair to, if you fancy a cocktail à deux while watching the sun go down.
Santa Margarita di Pula
The stadium/amphitheatre at the high-end Forte Village has a 5,000-person capacity and has hosted such luminaries as Tom Jones and Sting. The bigger the star, the more eye watering the price (the Sting package, including a front-row seat, a gourmet pre-show dinner with drinks, and access to the VIP Lounge, cost a show-stopping €1,000). That said, there are musicals, ballets, and lesser-known mortals coming in much cheaper, and if you’re a guest of the resort it’s almost a bargain as you get discounted tickets.
Riservato Beach Bar
Pace yourself at this dinky beach bar by the sea; Riservato is open from 8am. Before you know it - after a day’s sunbathing, and pausing for a light lunch - it’s aperitivo time when you can watch the sun drop behind Capo Caccia, the rocky promontory that dominates the bay. By 10pm the place turns into a nightclub, with DJ sets until 2am. Open every night over the summer. No booking required.
Overlooking the bay of Capo Coda Cavallo with a view to the island of Tavolara, this pretty hilltop bar is a wonderful place for sunset cocktails. Franco Mangione's family-run business is open all day, and a perfect pitstop if you're visiting nearby beaches that include Lu Impostu. If you’re looking for something more substantial, the menu includes an excellent spaghetti with clams and bottarga. Prices are reasonable, considering the exquisite location, with a two-course dinner, without drinks, coming in at around €30 (£25).
Phi Beach is an open-air lounge bar/nightclub where you go to see and be seen. Gorgeous guests who’ve spent their day lounging on canopied beach beds overlooking the sea, might sip a cocktail while watching the sun set, and possibly follow up with dinner cooked by a Michelin-starred chef. Others arrive by helicopter or speedboat before rocking out to DJ sets at the Rock Club, which is surrounded by enormous granite boulders. That location and level of glamour doesn’t come cheap though, with admission costing around €30 (£25) to €40 (£35) from Thursday through Sunday. Admission is free from Monday to Wednesday.
Sagra del Redentore
In August, the Festival of the Redeemer is celebrated all over Sardinia. It dates back to the 1900s, when Pope Leo XIII erected 19 statues of Jesus Christ on mountaintops across Italy, but the one to be at takes place in Nuoro, when Sardinians come from around the island to take part. The festival goes on all week but the highlights are the horseback parades of townsfolk in traditional costumes and masks, and the procession from the town square to the top of Monte Ortobene to honour the statue of Christ the Redeemer. There are music, folk dancing and poetry events taking place in the run-up to the main event, most taking place in Piazza Sebastiano Satta.
The Sunandbass dance music festival takes place in some of the coolest beach and club venues in San Teodoro. It runs over eight nights and seven days, usually from 3pm to 5am, in September, and line-ups have included Brazilian DJ Marky and Belfast-born Calibre (signed up by DJ Fabio). The line-up is published in August, but festival tickets go on sale in May, and single night entrance is subject to availability. If you can’t get a ticket, there are free concerts in the Piazza and at the beach, and club venues, including Bal Harbour, Ambra Day, and the La Cinta beach bar, host beach parties and DJ sets all summer long.