268km (166 miles) S of Olbia

The capital of Sardinia, Cagliari, lies on the southern tier of the island, surrounded by sea and hills. Known to the Phoenicians and Romans, today it appears modern except for a dilapidated medieval quarter that occupies a long, narrow hill running north to south.

For the best overall view, head for a large terrace on the south side of the hill, Passeggiata Umberto I. From here you can see the harbor, the lagoon, and the lower city.

In spite of ugly contemporary buildings on the outskirts, the old town, or Castello, is much as D. H. Lawrence saw it in 1921, filled with palazzo from the 1300s and 1400s and some decaying churches of various styles. Lawrence described it as piling up "lofty and almost miniature. It makes me think of Jerusalem: without trees, without cover, rising rather bare and proud, remote as if back in history, like a town in a monkish, illuminated missal."

After exploring the old town, you can stroll along the broad avenues of the waterfront for a different prospective. The waterfront is enveloped by salt flats where hundreds of pink flamingos feed.

You can head east for the beach of Il Poetto, which stretches for some 9.6km (6 miles) from Margine Rosso (Red Bluff) to Sella del Diavolo (the Devil's Saddle). A bus marked Il Poetto leaves from Piazza Matteotti in Cagliari, taking you to the beaches in just 20 minutes for 1€ ($1.45) one-way.