and its Surroundings
Visiting Olbia and the Costa Smeralda
Linguistic and literary evidence support those who theorize about the Greek foundation of Olbia, but beyond the discussions, the Greek root of its name (ólbios, “happy, fortunate, prosperous”) fits very well with its location, which is in the center of the wide bay from Capo Figari a Capo Ceraso.
The natural harbor protects the city from the wind. Perfect for sailing, fishing and salt extraction, Olbia has historically played a strategic role as a gateway to the territory and has been a dynamic production center. Even today, with the International Airport, the city port, and the port of Golfo Aranci close by, Olbia is still the North-Eastern gateway of Sardinia.
Olbia’s gulf has a splendid natural cove that includes Golfo Aranci and is home to white sandy beaches and small islets which reflect in a turquoise sea.A few minutes driving through splendid panoramic roads will take you to the beautiful beaches and renowned villages of the Costa Smeralda such as Porto Rotondo and Portisco, which are included in the same territory of Olbia.
Traveling south you can find splendid coastal locations such as the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo, a spectacular coast from which lies the imposing island of Tavolara and other smaller islands. Another obligatory stop are the long white beaches of San Teodoro and Budoni.
Tourism has transformed Olbia into a city with a high socio-economic and cultural growth, around which the entire production system of North-Eastern Sardinia revolves. Olbia is today a vibrant and dynamic city that welcomes its visitors with quality infrastructures and services and with an innate hospitality.
What to do and see in Olbia and the Costa Smeralda
The Costa Smeralda is a renowned symbol of quality, but the treasures that have given international fame to this coastline can be found throughout the Northeastern Sardinia. The spectacular natural landscape, the crystal-clear sea, the white sandy beaches, and quality services, venues and events are always nearby.
Gateway to the northern Sardinia, Olbia, is the ideal starting point for your holidays on the Costa Smeralda and its surroundings. Its strategic location will allow you to easily reach the main attractions and the most beautiful beaches in the north of Sardinia: Porto Rotondo, Porto Cervo, Golfo Aranci, La Maddalena, San Teodoro, Porto San Paolo, Budoni, Orosei, Baja Sardinia, Santa Teresa, Alghero…
The Mercure Olbia, located in the center of the city, will allow you to combine sea, relaxation, nightlife and entertainment.
All guests have access to the free shuttle service to Pittulongu Beach. A wonderful beach just ten minutes from the hotel, equipped with numerous facilities: bar, restaurant, hammocks and umbrellas, canoes and pedal boats, and nets for beach volleyball and beach tennis.
A few kilometers from the hotel you will find the coast that connects the city with the adjacent Golfo Aranci, home to several beaches famously known for their beauty: Pittulongu, Pellicano, Spiaggia Bianca, Nodu Pianu, Cala Banana, Cala Sassari, Lo Squalo, Sos Aranzos. If you continue towards Porto Rotondo you can find other gems such as Cala Sabina, Spiaggia Ira e Marinella.
Traveling south is the wonderful Capo Ceraso and Porto Istana and the spectacular coastal stretch that leads to the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara and Punta Coda Cavallo, and the beautiful beaches of San Teodoro. It is worth mentioning La Cinta, full of bars, clubs and activities for everyone. After relaxing all day at the beach the night awakens with a mandatory ritual that begins with an aperitif at sunset. The best options are: the Blu Beach or the Hollywood International Beach (ex FIAT Playa) of the Marinella. It may also be worth to travel a few kilometers more to reach the famous Phi Beach in Baja Sardinia, a place of worship for the lovers of the post-beach aperitif. The emerald nights are unforgettable events, the most famous nightclubs in the vicinity are: Tabata (formerly Sopravento), Sottovento, Billionaire and Peyote of Porto Cervo; Country Club, MClub and Heaven of Porto Rotondo; Vita Smeralda by Jerry Calà of Poltu Quatu, and the Ritual of Baja Sardinia. Olbia’s nightclubs are: Villa Pascià, open all year round, and Pascià, generally only open in winter. Another essential club is the Bal Harbor of San Teodoro, 25 km from Olbia, and its historic nightclubs: the Amra Night and the Luna Glam Club.
Costa Smeralda’s cultural route – Sardinia beyond the sea
Those who come to the Costa Smeralda come for their wonderful sea, but once here it is inevitable to fall in love with the whole territory.
The Gallura is in fact a granite filled chest containing treasures of great historical and archaeological interest; and it is in fact Olbia’s territory the one that encloses this ancient land and its fascinating secrets.
We recommend our guests a cultural itinerary of the Costa Smeralda where they can discover the Olbia’s surroundings area.
The Sacred Well of Sa Testa and the tomb of the giant of Su Monte ‘e S’Ape
The sacred well of Sa Testa and the tomb of the giant of Su Monte ‘e S’Ape, together with the nuraga of Riu Molinu or Cabu Abbas, are the most significant monuments of the nuragic age from Olbia’s territory.
The sacred well of Sa Testa is one of the best known in archaeological literature and one of the best-preserved sites. It is located on the outskirts of the city, in a small depression, a short distance from the sea. Accidentally discovered in last century’s thirties by some shepherds, it was completely restored in 1969.
The most important peculiarity of Sa Testa is the fact that the main body is preceded by a large circular courtyard, which most probably was destined for ceremonial use.
With its 28,30 meters long, the tomb of Su Monte ‘e S’Ape is one of the largest islands, and, thanks to the presence of a stele, it is considered as one of the oldest tombs of the giants.
Sa Paulazza Castle
The Byzantine Sa Paulazza Castle, also called Mont’a Telti, is located on a hill, as its name implies, on the road that once connected Olbia with Cagliari. A large structure with thick well preserved walls from which battlements are crowned and connected by rocky outcrops. The angular towers and guard posts clearly follow the military Byzantine rules of the time.
Basilica of San Simplicio
Olbia’s 12th century Basilica of San Simplicio was built in two separate periods. The church was almost entirely built out of granite, structured with three naves closing by an apse on its northwest side. The central nave is fortified with wooden trusses, while the side aisles are supported by granite canyon vaults. Analyzing the structure, you can appreciate the Tuscan workmanship.
The apse holds two Romanesque frescos from the second half of the 12th century where there is a representation of San Victor and San Simplicio, the patron of Olbia, to which the church is dedicated and a religious feast is celebrated each year in May.
Thousands of people fill the streets of the historic center of Olbia to celebrate and commemorate the martyrdom of San Simplicio, c.a. 304 A.D., presumably during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian.
The museum illustrates the history of the historical center of Olbia and its surroundings, from the prehistory to the 19th century, focusing on the Phoenician, Greek, Punic and Roman civilizations that transformed the city and its port.
One of the most interesting expositions is the Roman and Medieval remains that were found during the excavations of the old port, where today stands the maritime walk of the historical center.
The museum, wanting to honor Olbia’s history used Greek characters in capital letters as its name and logo.
Olbia is the only city in Sardinia that was inhabited by the Greeks, between 630 and 520 B.C. approximately. In fact, because of the great opportunities that the city offered the Greeks named the city Olbia, which can be translated to ‘happy city’. The museum, wanting to honor Olbia’s history used Greek characters in capital letters as its name and logo.
Admission to the museum is free, it is opened seasonally.