Olbia, on Sardinia's captivating Emerald Coast, is a town bursting with Roman ruins. And it's got some rather lovely beaches too.
"We're the historical gateway to Sardinia for the rich, famous, young and beautiful!"
While the rich and famous may land here they don't stick around long preferring the beautiful coastline a short drive from town. But something the town does have is ruins...by the bucket load.
Having survived centuries of conquests Olbia boasts a quiet beatific charm. Plus there are more Roman ruins than you can shake a laurel leaf at.
Having seen more invasions than a game of Risk the citizens of Olbia are used to strangers on their patch. They're a reserved bunch but the lack of chat doesn't mean you're not welcome.
Olbia boasts all the sun-kissed glories you would expect from the Med. It's bright and sunny through summer with a gentle sea breeze once the sun has gone to bed.
Despite its island geography traditional Sardinian scran is more about meat than fish. Roasted suckling pig is a mouthwatering speciality and the local Pecorino cheese is not to be missed.
Other than in the airport you're unlikely to spot too many celebs in town, but drive 40 minutes down the coast and you'll see more footballers' wives than at Posh and Becks' wedding.
It was the Greeks who saw the potential in the location and gave the town an appropriately optimistic name: Olbia translates as 'happy and prosperous'.
"Whether you choose to land in Sardinia by private jet or commercial airliner, your unforgettable journey to Costa Smeralda begins the moment you touch down in this magical island destination off Italy's coast." - Reuters on Olbia's coast
Car hire desks are located near the arrivals hall in the Terminal Autoloneggi.
Sardinia is known for the colourful textiles it produces, in particular the handmade rugs made on looms by local weavers. You can’t fly home on one, but most airlines will ship outsize or large goods directly on your flight so you can pick one up without worry.
Cash machines, or 'ATR’s’ as they’re known here are available throughout the airport.
Feeling peckish before your flight? Then grab your last Sardinian snack in the Smoking Garden Cafe. Located in the departures lounge, this terrace is the perfect spot to soak up as much of that glorious sunshine as possible.
It may be super sunny but law dictates that you drive with your headlights on at all times. If you didn’t bring sunglasses, it might be wise to pick some up at the Duty Free store before you leave the airport.
We compare prices from leading suppliers
Just 30 miles north of the airport, the Maddalena Archipelago is a cluster of over sixty islands rising up from the brilliant blue ocean. You can take your hire car to the larger islands on one of the car ferries, or get to the smaller ones by boat.
Tucked away on the northern coast, this small but lively village sits on the Gulf of Asinara. With crystal clear waters and thriving marine life, this is a great spot for diving and relaxing on the beach. If however, you prefer your wildlife with four legs instead of fins, book a trip to Asinara Island, an ex-prison which is now home to Sardinia’s white donkeys.
This small mediaeval town sits upon a rocky outcrop. Originally it was intended to defend the coastline from invaders, but now it’s a peaceful retreat for holidaymakers. Be sure to visit the market where the local women weave baskets from rushes, as they have done here for centuries.
This park is considered the garden of town, boasting 16 hectares of Mediterranean flora. It's a favourite picnic spot for families who enjoy lazy lunches amid the wild olive trees.
There is some free parking near the main entrance on Via Galvani. Otherwise, parking along Via Gabriele D'Annunzio costs €0.80 an hour.
The streets of old Olbia are a must for shopaholics and a great place to pick up traditional Sardinian crafts. Hand-painted ceramics are stocked in abundance, as is the alleged youth-restoring Cannonau red wine.
Roadside parking near the Corso Umberto Promenade is available on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi and Via De Filippi (both €1 an hour) or Via Genova (€0.60).
This ornate chapel is the most visited attraction in Olbia drawing in crowds since the 11th century. The pillars and columns inside the church are worth a visit as are the Roman gravestones outside.
Free roadside parking (marked with white lines) can usually be found along Via Gennargentu and Via Fera.
Less famous than San Simplicio but still worth a look is the 17th century chapel dedicated to Saint Paul. Nestled on Piazza Civita the church is a classic example of the Gallurese style.
In case the free parking lot at Via Nanni is full, you may still find some pay-and-display roadside parking at €0.80 hour.
Olbia boasts so many ruins it's hard to know where to start. A trip around the thermal baths is a must for history nuts as is a potter round the ancient city walls.
The Ruins of the Roman Aqueduct are within the parking area on Via Nanni. For the Archaeological Museum, leave your car for free at Molo Brin off the tourist harbour. More Roman remains can be found out of town at Cabu Abbas along the road to Lido Pittulongu.
The Holy Well of Sa Testa is a haven for those in search of peace. Built around the 9th century BC the ancient well has been providing solace for travellers ever since.
Take the panoramic road that leads to Golfo Aranci; you'll find the Holy Well of Sa Testa only three miles from the city.
There are more castles around Olbia than your average town but the Castello di Pedres stands out from the crowd. The building is partly in ruins but the views are hard to beat.
The ruins of the medieval castle of Pedres lie to the west of the town on the road to Loiri.
This looming limestone island boasts a beautiful beach with waters to match. Whether you're content taking in the stunning vista or looking for an underwater view, this diving haven has all you need.
Roughly 10 miles off the coast from Olbia. Head east along the SS127 until joining the Via Isola di Mezzo. Follow the E840, where you will take the Salerno ferry. It should take just under an hour to drive.
Testament to its celebrity status Sardinia does beach resorts well. See how the other half live on Il Pellicano beach then remember to pick up a lottery ticket when you get back home.
Head east along the SS127 in the direction of the Via Gabriele D'Annunzio where you join the SP82. The journey should only take about 10 minutes.
" Olbia is a pretty small town so finding your way around by car is easy - the central street of the city is known as Corsa Umberto and if you can always find your way back there you should be fine. The best thing about having a hire car is that you can explore all the nearby beaches and countryside. I'd recommend the beaches of Pittulongu, Bados and Mare Rocce, with their white sands and beautiful clear waters. "