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Sardinia: Popular beaches to be protected with towel bans, pre-booked tickets and entry fees

Sardinia has capped the number of holidaymakers that can visit its famous beaches this summer.
Sardinia has capped the number of holidaymakers that can visit its famous beaches this summer.   -   Copyright  Fadi al Shami
By Rebecca Ann Hughes

The Italian island of Sardinia is protecting its spectacular beaches from overtourism with multiple new restrictions.

The island’s coastline is renowned for its pristine stretches of sand, including its famed pink beach.

But its seaside has also been suffering due to disrespectful visitor behaviour and overcrowding.

To safeguard the coastline, the island has capped visitor numbers and introduced fees at some of its most popular beaches.

How is Sardinia protecting its stunning beaches?

Lying off the west coast of Italy, Sardinia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The island is frequently voted as one of the top places in Italy for a seaside holiday.

But the popularity of the island’s coastline has begun to cause problems. The Spiaggia Rosa, located on the outlying Budelli island, draws thousands of tourists a day in summer to admire its magnificent pink sand. But visitors can only see the picturesque sands from a distance on a boat.

Because of the beach’s fame, it has been closed off to visitors since the mid-1990s after its coveted sand began to disappear. The local government took action after tourists were found to be smuggling kilos worth away as souvenirs.

Budelli: New rules for visiting Spiaggia del Cavaliere

This summer, several new regulations and limitations have been introduced on the island’s beaches to protect the natural environment.

On the same island of Budelli, the Spiaggia del Cavaliere joins the Spiaggia Rosa this year in being off-limits to beachgoers.

La Maddalena, Cala Coticcio and Cala Brigantina are capping visitor numbers

In the archipelago of La Maddalena two beaches now have restricted access. Only 60 people a day can visit Cala Coticcio and Cala Brigantina over the summer.

Travellers need to book their slot online and pay €3 per person to access the beaches with a guide.

Currently, visits must be booked by contacting a local guide directly. Authorities say an app will soon be released where visitors can book their tickets.

Tommy Krombacher
The Italian island of Sardinia is protecting its spectacular beaches from overtourism with multiple new restrictions.Tommy Krombacher

Several other beaches around the island now only allow access to a limited number of visitors. Cala Sisine permits 1,600 daily visitors and the beach of Santa Maria Navarrese is open to 1,300. At Cala Mariolu, 550 people are allowed per day with a €1 charge per person.

In Villasimius in the southeast, beachgoers heading to Punta Molentis, Riu Trottu and Portu Sa Ruxi are required to pay to access the car park. Each vehicle costs €10 with an additional €1 for each passenger. Cyclists and pedestrians pay €3.

Staff are stationed at car parks and beach access points to check tickets.

Beach towels banned on Pelosa beach

On the west coast, Stintino’s famed Pelosa beach is now only open to a limited number of visitors per day. A maximum of 1,500 people are allowed to access the beach daily until September 30th. Last year, visitor numbers reached as many as 4,000 on some days.

Those looking to sunbathe on Pelosa beach need to book a ticket costing €3.50. Regulations also state that beach towels must not be used. Visitors should bring mats instead, which trap less sand.

Ogliastra: Time limits for beachgoers

In Ogliastra on the east coast, 300 people a day are permitted on Cala Birìala and beachgoers can only stay for two hours.

Similarly, visitors to Cala dei Gabbiani are capped at 350 and must also leave after two hours.

How is Italy clamping down on overtourism?

Sardinia joins several other popular tourist destinations that have introduced restrictions as a result of overcrowding.

Venice looks set to bring in a booking system and fee to visit the city from 2023 while the Amalfi coast is limiting the number of cars that can drive along its scenic coastal road.