Long a magnet for Italy’s glitziest celebrities, the five-star development of the Costa Smeralda in the 1960s helped to transform the economy of the entire island. A coastline this beautiful inevitably comes at a price, however: budget accommodation is virtually nonexistent, while the high-end hotels are mostly devoid of much character. Arzachena and Cannigione are cheaper bases from which to explore the area.

The Costa Smeralda begins about 12km north of Olbia and is defined as the 10km strip between the gulfs of Cugnana and Arzachena. Although strict rules were imposed to prevent overzealous development – you won’t see any multistorey hotels, advertising hoardings or fast-food restaurants – the area has little in common with the rest of Sardinia, and the luxurious holiday villages have a bland, almost suburban feel. This hasn’t stopped the mega-rich from coming in droves – Silvio Berlusconi owns six properties here.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

6 enticing alternatives to Italy's big sights

6 enticing alternatives to Italy's big sights

You’ve hiked the Cinque Terre, gondola’d down Venice’s Grand Canal and got Renaissance art fatigue in Florence’s Uffizi. So what’s next? Italophile Na…

15 May 2017 • Natasha Foges insert_drive_file Article
The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

Is there anywhere in the world as easy on the eye as Italy? From art-filled cities to heart-stopping coastlines and gorgeous landscapes, you could criss-cross …

26 Apr 2017 • Natasha Foges camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month