Sardinia and Corsica with Saga

By Stan Bach

I wanted to tour the Italian islands of Sardinia and Corsica, and the only appealing itinerary I found that included both was offered by Saga (Enbrook Park, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 3SE, U.K.; phone +44 [0] 1303 771190. Note: US residents cannot book online; they must book via phone or email)

The price for my 13-day tour, June 6-18, 2012, was £1,499 (near $2,278), which included round-trip air from London Stansted Airport to Cagliari, Sardinia. The single supplement was £229 ($348), and I received a credit for £26, as the offered travel insurance was available only to UK citizens.

Full buffet breakfasts were included, as were some lunches and dinners. (Some lunches were sandwiches we’d order at cafés.)

Four optional tours were offered. I took them all for a total cost of £72.60, which I felt was good value for the money. 

I thought the tour offered a good balance between group time and free time. 

The pace of the tour was leisurely. We spent two nights in Cagliari, three nights at each of the next three hotels (in Alghero, Sardinia; Calvi, Corsica, and Golfo Aranci, Sardinia) and another night in Cagliari before flying to London. Our days frequently did not begin until 9 or 9:30. We did have two long days of driving, including ferry crossings. 

We traveled in a new coach with ample room, and our guide and driver were exceptional. Every three days, our tour leader, Maggi, distributed details of the next few days’ arrival, meal and departure times and our plans. She provided city maps or directed us to the tourist office to get them. 

There were 38 of us, 34 of whom were British. Saga has a minimum age of 50 for its tour members. Almost everyone in our group was retired, but no one had physical problems. 

Everyone in our group was prompt and good-natured. Most were experienced travelers, and many had taken Saga tours before. Our hotel arrivals and departures were handled so smoothly that the group size was never a hindrance.

The hotels were fine and, for a group the size of ours, were probably the best available in the historic parts of the cities in which we stayed, so we sometimes were beyond a short walk from the center, but I never felt stranded at my hotel. Most shopkeepers and restaurant people spoke enough English for us to get by without problems. 

I’ll leave the description of sights to the guidebooks. I enjoyed wandering the narrow streets of the Old Towns and observing the scenery, ranging from arid maquis (coastal shrubland) in southern Sardinia to greener and more rugged landscape in northern Corsica. 

June was an ideal time to visit. The weather was comfortable, the skies usually were blue and the number of other tourists was manageable. July or August would be much hotter and more crowded.

I couldn’t say that this was a trip that provoked many gasps of wonder. I’d describe the tour as a pleasant experience, neither mind-boggling nor mind-numbing. Sardinia and Corsica are destinations best suited to Americans who already have visited much of continental Europe.


Washington, DC