It took the locals some centuries to finally settle on ‘Olbia’ as the name for their town.
This corner of fabulously cosmopolitan North-Eastern Sardinia can boast influences from France, Spain and the Middle East. So perhaps it’s no wonder that Italian-style cuisine and friendly Mediterranean charm await ever-increasing numbers of visitors from the UK.
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Corso Umberto is lined with upmarket clothes and accessory shops and after dark hosts a night market with stalls selling jewellery and knick-knacks. Viale Aldo More is also home to numerous fashion boutiques and shoe shops. To shop alongside the locals, there are open-air markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays that are worth a browse, particularly if you’re packing for a picnic, with abundant fruit, vegetables, cheese and sausages; several stalls also sell typical Sardinian handicrafts. For discount shopping on clothing and luxury goods, head out of town to OU Luxury Mall (Strada panoramica) on the Costa Smeralda.
Food & Drink
In Sardinia, you can expect delicious local cuisine, excellent roasted meats, locally grown produce, and amazing, fresh-from-the-water seafood. In Olbia, at characterful and renowned local eatery Gallura (Corso Umberto 145), attached to the same-named hotel, you can dine on regional specialities such as fresh pasta with red mullet sauce, and mussels cooked in yoghurt. Another great option in the town centre is La Lanterna (Via Olbia 13), with delectable fish and shellfish dishes as well as splendid pizza, while locals love slightly more out-of-the-way Da Antonio (Via Garibaldi 48) for more great pizza and traditional local dishes.
With parades, sporting events, festivities and ceremonies celebrating Olbia’s patron saint, this is the town’s biggest shindig and one of the most important religious festivals in Sardinia.
Time in Jazz
Taking place in nearby Berchidda, a pretty village that was the birthplace of musician Paolo Fresu (who founded the event), this lively jazz festival attracts a host of international bands and solo performers.
Aglientu Summer Festival
A three-day festival in the small town of Aglientu, a few kilometres from Olbia, dedicated to jazz and blues, with food stalls serving fine local cheeses and meats, and red, white and passiti wines.
Sacred Music Choir Festival
Organised by the Lorenzo Perosi Choral Association, this festival sees indoor and outdoor performances of classical pieces, sacred music, gospel, folk music and more. Many different international choirs come to Olbia, and events take place all over the city.
Festa Del Bel Canto
This event marks the end of the Sacred Music Choir Festival, with international choirs singing songs including Sardinian folk tunes.
Olbia, Sardinia’s busy northwestern transport hub, has a good selection of hotels. At the upper end, Hotel Panorama (Via Giuseppe Mazzini 7) has a roof terrace with great views over the central rooftops and attractive rooms with polished wood floors, while Hotel For You (Via Acquedotto Romano 9) is of a similar standard, with elegant rooms and a lovely sun-shaded terrace. Costing a few Euros less, but also central, is the three-star Hotel Cavour (Via Cavour), but for a different experience at similar prices, try lovely Locanda Murales (Località Piliezzu 1), less than 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre.