Cagliari, Sardinia

Bursting with evidence of the city's rich history, Cagliari's cobbled alleys are replete with Roman ruins, ancient churches and towering Pisan palazzi. Rent a vespa to zip through the city streets in true Italian style, stopping only for a quick espresso at any of the charismatic cafés that line the narrow roads.

Start by visiting the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari, which tells of the city's history by way of Nuragic bronze statues, Carthaginian goldsmithery and Byzantine jewels, while the storied walls of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Castello, a 13th-century cathedral, to admire the church's architectural evolution from Pisan-romanesque to baroque and neo-romanesque style.

In the evening, head to Castello, the walled citadel perched on a hilltop overlooking the city, for Cagliari at its finest. What appears to be a sleepy neighbourhood comes alive when the sun goes down. Locals at bars, cafés and restaurants spill out onto the street, enthusiastically directing any tourists towards their favourite boltholes.

At the heart of Sardinia's Bay of Angels, beautiful beaches fringe the Marina district. While Spiaggia del Poetto is the most popular, its white sands stretching over eight kilometres, we suggest Mari Pintau, a secluded bay just a short drive beyond the main city.

Don't miss…

The flamingos. Cagliari is a resting point for the pink birds in their migration route between Europe and Africa. Go to the Stagno del Molentargius National Park to see them elegantly stalking through the ponds.

Who to take with you

Someone who enjoys sailing. Cagliari has one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean, so pack a picnic and a few bottles of southern Sardinian wine - those who enjoy a dry white, opt for Nuragus, or choose Moscato for a more fruity tipple - and set sail across the Med.

When to go

The flamingos nest here in May and June; come then to see hundreds of the beautiful birds (and their chicks).

Where to stay

Miramare Art Hotel is in the centre of the Marina district, a short walk from the old centre. Walls are overpowered with artworks - many of which are for sale. Have an aperitivo in the library and admire the original stucco ceiling, or wander round the internal garden, home to over 100 species of flower and plants endemic to Sardinia.

Most likely to bump into…

University students. Founded in 1606, the ancient establishment now houses over 35,000 students - adding to the city's lively evening scene.

Essentials to bring with you

These Tory Burch wide-leg pants are perfect for sunset walks along the beach or daytime vespa rides. They're linen too, so you can keep cool in the Italian sun. Pair with a cropped top for casual elegance.

How to get there

Fly direct from London to Cagliari Elmas Airport, where shuttle buses can take you to the city centre.

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