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horse riding holiday Sardinia, Italy
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This itinerary is aimed at riders who would like to experience the different landscapes of Sardinia, the countryside around the country retreat and also the wonderful beach nearby.  This holiday is based at the Sardinian Country Retreat, each day a guide will take you on a trail ride in a different direction, allowing you to explore this wonderful island.

Most of the horses are Anglo-Arabs, Warmbloods and Sardinian horses (some crosses) and all are fit and well behaved, their stamina is particularly impressive - they never run out of steam! It is also to book extra riding lessons on site to improve your skills on high level competition horses.

Another highlight of this trip is the cuisine, mostly locally produced and organic and always delicious - served either in the dining room with open kitchen or al fresco on the terrace overlooking the impeccably kept grounds. During the summer months the horses wander freely in the hotel garden, creating a tranquil atmosphere to rest in.

This ride is booked on half-board basis

Below is a short video of the Sardinian Country and Sea ride. For more videos visit our You Tube Channel

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from JW of Bedford on 17/10/2017

Ride Summary

What was your overall impression of the holiday
Fantastic, would love to go again.
Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify)     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments The horses looked happy in their environment and were easy to handle.
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced? 5
Please explain why you scored it as you did Terrain was fine and the horses made the ride really easy and relaxing, we had a few canters including on the open beach.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response I would highly recommend going abroad for a riding holiday and booking through Unicorn was very easy.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments
Unicorn comments Thanks for the superb comments! Such a lovely place :)

3 days riding in the country side, 3 days riding at the sea, 7 nights in hotel on half board. Riding out in a different direction each day for about 3 - 4 hours.

This package is meant for riders who want to see the different landscapes of Sardinia, the countryside close to the hotel and also the seaside environment.
Fantastic landscape to discover during all the 6 riding days! It will depend on the internal organization whether the group will start riding in the countryside on the first 3 days, and will do the starfish-ride at the sea on the last 3 days, or vice versa. Less experienced riders will be divided into different groups, so that everybody can have the best possible experience. The beach stables are around a 35 minute drive from the hotel accommodation. Every night you will sleep in your room or suite at the hotel.
Arrival day: Any day

Car hire is compulsory for this programme, though transfers can be arranged from the airport (€120-130 each way) and between the accommodation and the stables at the beach (about €25). Please ask your Travel Consultant.


Day 1: Arrival and check-in.

Day 2: Meet your horse. A horse will be selected for you according to your riding ability, build and preferences. After 10 - 15 minutes in the riding arena you will start your first ride out from the hotel grounds. You will pass over ancient shepherd paths which didn't change for the last 200 years. You will head along stone walls, which are typical for Sardinia, and behind them you will see animals such as sheep, donkeys and cows grazing peacefully. The landscapes are calm and peaceful.

Day 3: Today you ride again from the main stables but in another direction. You will see an ancient graveyard called 'tomb dei giganti' which people like to think is 4000 years old with giants buried there! It still has a magical atmosphere. After this you will head into an oak tree forest where you can enjoy a long canter before turning back. It is a pleasure to see the little farmhouses with the farmers doing their daily work in the fruit and vegetable gardens.

Day 4: The horses are fresh and in good spirits when you fetch them from the big paddock. The riding today is on long, curved paths which allow for plenty of trots and canters. Sardinia is a volcanic island and so you will pass by regions of cold lava and stones. The horses are sure-footed, like mountain goats, and you will enjoy another 3 hours of riding in this peaceful area.

Day 5: Today is the first day of riding from the seaside stables which are about a 35 minute drive from the country hotel (transfer included if requested, otherwise you head there by hire car). Your guide at the beach will give you a short briefing before introducing you to your horse. The landscape will be totally different here as you are on the half island of Sinis. You will discover the stony cliffs of Capo Mannu. The views from your horse are breathtaking today - you can see cliffs over 200m high and the frothy waves of the sea water. The ride also passes a big salt lake and if you are lucky you might see the pink flamingos. 

Day 6: This ride takes you into the large pinewood of Is Arenas where you can enjoy riding up and down over the sandy ground, the pine trees reflecting the sun light and creating a wonderful scent. Eventually you will reach the 10km beach which is covered with soft sand. The horses enjoy playing in the water and find it refreshing to walk in the shallows. This is also an opportunity for a great canter/gallop!

Day 7: Today is your last riding day and you will head into the protected area of Sinis. Here you will pass pinewoods, canter over the field paths surrounded by meadows of flowers and will climb the high cliffs to see the fantastic views of the emerald water. Finally you will reach the famous 'rice corn beach' of Maimoni which is covered with glittering white quartz sand. Together with the intense blue sea water it provides a blaze of colour and a beautiful setting for your last ride of the holiday. 

Day 8: Breakfast and departure. 

Car hire is compulsory for this programme, though transfers can be arranged from the airport (€120-130 each way) and between the accommodation and the stables at the beach (about €25). Please ask your Travel Consultant.

This ride is on a half-board basis. Extra riding can be arranged on site. One unit costs 19 Euros in 2018 and can be used as follows:

Riding lesson:  Beginner - 25 minutes individual lesson = 1 unit
Riding Lesson: Goup - 45 minutes 4-5 riders = 1 units
Riding Lesson: Private - 45 minutes individual lesson = 2 units

Hack (minimum 2 persons, 2 hours guided tour) = 3 units

Excursion at the sea (minimum 2 riders, about 2 hours) = 3 units

Please note that the length of the hacks/ excursions can somewhat depend on the pace of the ride as dictated by your guide. 

Non-riders can stay on a B&B basis. Other meals can be purchased on site.

Minimum age for lessons is 6 years; trails is 12 years (for more experienced riders.)

Reading List
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.

A Room with a View - E.M Forster
A Traveller in Italy - HV Morton
and anything by Italo Calvino.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

There are 12 horses available at the stables. This family run establishment has been breeding horses for more than 100 years. The Anglo - Arab/ Sardinian breed are without exception in excellent condition, schooled in the English style and ridden in English tack. The family breed and train horses to sell on, at any one time there will be a few school masters, many on their way up the schooling ranks and a few of exceptional ability (even Olympic showjumpers in the past). It is compulsory for all riders to wear a riding helmet. If you do not bring your own one can be rented for a charge locally and a wide range of riding hats suitable for children and adults are available on site.

Rider requirements

All levels of rider are welcome.
It is not necessary for you to be involved in grooming and tacking up but for those wanting to improve their horse management it is welcome.
Minimum age for lessons is 6 years; trails is 12 years (for more experienced riders.)

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 19 st/264 lb/120 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The accommodation and stables are situated between the brown summit of the Montiferru mountain and the beaches of Oristano's coastline. Formerly a farmhouse it has been tastefully converted into a boutique style hotel that can accommodate up to 31 guests only. It is surrounded by woods in a quiet countryside characterised by a magical and intriguing landscape. There are eight garden suites and four standard bedrooms with bathroom, telephone, ISDN line, satellite TV, air conditioning, hair dryer, safe deposit box and mini bar. Each suite is decorated to a high class standard utilising local stone and materials to provide a truly luxurious stay. There is a supplement to upgrade to the Junior Suite, however this is waived for groups of three or four. There is a fabulous swimming pool and jacuzzi. The swimming pool is open all year around due to the fact it uses solar energy to heat the water. It is equipped with every comfort, a bar, deckchairs, sunbeds. There is also a beauty salon nearby where you can have a massage, pedicure or facial. This ride is on a half-board basis. Non-riders stay on a B&B package. Other meals may be purchased on-site. The cuisine here is top class but reflects local specialities so may not suit the more traditional palate. Fresh homegrown organic vegetables, fruit and locally reared meat are served. You will be able to see the kitchen and observe the chef at work. Breakfast is light and continental; various cheeses and hams, fresh fruit, yoghurt and fresh juices. Dinner includes: starter, first course, second course and dessert. Served in the hotel dining room or on the terrace. Lunch can be prepared on request; a light brunch. The food here is definitely one of the highlights - a typical meal would be antipasti of wild boar, salamis and olives, pasta with ricotta, barbecued suckling pig and watermelon drizzled with myrto (myrtle liquer).

Pool towels can be hired for €3.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Climate Summary

Sardinia boasts a Mediterranean climate with long hot summers and coastal temperatures averaging 28.5 degrees (83F) in July and August.

The island is renowned for its six month summer which means that the sea can be warm enough for swimming from May until October. Swimming in the crystal clear waters is like bathing in a warm bath, a wonderful experience popular with visitors and locals alike.

Climate Chart

Health (ride specific)

There are no specific health considerations in Sardinia. Please contact your GP for advice.

Film and Camera Equipment

Camera film and batteries can be purchased in nearby towns but we suggest that you take along plenty to see you through your holiday. Digital camers can be charged in your accommodation.

Packing List

Riding trousers or jodhpurs
Riding boots paddock boots or riding trainers (with heel) that are comfortable to walk in.
Sun block
Riding hat with brim
Lip-balm with sunscreen
Hard hat (it is recommended to bring your own if you have one as this is always the best fit, a selection is available on site)
Personal toiletries
Insect repellent spray/cream
Riding gloves
Binoculars (recommended)
Half chaps (optional)
Camera and film
T-shirts and shorts
Lightweight long sleeved shirts
Heavy sweater or sweatshirt*
Informal/casual wear for evenings
Lightweight rainwear
Copy of passport
All terrain sandals

Wearing a waist pouch is a handy method for keeping items such as camera and lip-balm readily accessible.

Riding hats are compulsory and a selection is available onsite.

Pool towels can be hired for €3.


This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available for any start date during the open season. Additional nights can be added for longer stays (no set programme).

Departure Dates

2017: 1 June - 26 October, any day arrival.
2018: 20 April - 4 November, any day arrival.
2018 Daily High Season: 22 Jul to 25 Aug.
2018 Daily Mid Season: 24 Jun to 21 Jul and 26 Aug to 22 Sept.
2018 Daily Low Season: 20 Apr to 23 Jun and 23 Sept to 4 Nov.

Single supplement must be paid if booking alone.

No of   
Riding days Product item description £
20178d/7n6double pp - standard room949
20178d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)179
20178d/7n6single supplement standard room145
20178d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite179
20188d/7n6double pp - standard room965
20188d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)185
20188d/7n6single supplement standard room145
20188d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite185
No of   
Riding days Product item description
20178d/7n6double pp - standard room1,059
20178d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)199
20178d/7n6single supplement standard room159
20178d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite199
20188d/7n6double pp - standard room1,059
20188d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)199
20188d/7n6single supplement standard room159
20188d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite199
No of   
Riding days Product item description $
20178d/7n6double pp - standard room1,269
20178d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)239
20178d/7n6single supplement standard room195
20178d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite239
20188d/7n6double pp - standard room1,269
20188d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)239
20188d/7n6single supplement standard room195
20188d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite239
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
20178d/7n6double pp - standard room10,305
20178d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)1,945
20178d/7n6single supplement standard room1,555
20178d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite1,945
20188d/7n6double pp - standard room10,305
20188d/7n6Upgrade to Junior Suite per person (1-2 people)1,945
20188d/7n6single supplement standard room1,555
20188d/7n6single supplement Junior Suite1,945

Sardinia's environment is particular, and its landscape offers different and varied views. Its distance from the European continent and its geological features have created a perfect environment for endemic animal species and plants, such as the Monk seal, which is rarely sighted, and peregrine hawks, a dying species.

A characteristic phenomenon is nanism: in Sardinia there are some species that are smaller than those living outside the Island, such as the small horses on the Giara plateau, or Sardinian deer, smaller than their European cousins.

There are many different birds, along the coasts and on the small islands surrounding them, as well as in the inland regions; the sea is very rich in fish, shell-fish, and sea plants, in addition to turtles and dolphins.

The most common vegetation is Mediterranean maquis, evergreen bushes and shrubs (myrtle, lentisk, laurel...), which are usually 2-3 m high.
There are several holm-oaks, oaks and cork-oaks, as well as olive groves and prickly pears.

Other Activities

If you have arranged a car rental for your stay there are a large number of sights in the area and your hosts are always ready with information, suggestions, guide books and routes.

There are visits to wineries, local golf courses, opportunities to paint, to learn traditional cooking. Mountain bikes can be rented and there are many beautiful walks in this tranquil countryside. You may also take advantage of the 4 wheel drive excursions.

Sardinia's only four star Thermal Spa Resort at the Sardegna Grand Hotel is 20kms away. Their website can be found at

Other Country Information

Italy forms a peninsula in Southern Europe extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, Elba and about 70 other smaller islands. It is mostly mountainous, though between the Apennines (which form the spine of Italy) and the eastern coastline there are the fertile plains of Emilia-Romagna in the north and of Puglia in the south. The Alps in the north divide Italy from France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.

The Roman Empire was once the most powerful in the world, covering Europe and extending into modern day Asia. Their horsemanship skills second only to the Mongols further east. The incredibly cultured and refined Roman culture still leaves its mark across Europe and has been the foundation for countless artistic movements, including the Renaissance, through cities such as Florence and the medieval university city of Bologna.

Italians are understandably proud of their heritage and are renowned as people of great taste and as having an eye for the aesthetic. Their architecture and fashion leave most of the world in their shadow, appearance is very important to them and the majority of Italians will never leave the house without ensuring they are impeccably and elegantly attired.

Italian food, from pizza to pasta, has been commandeered by the rest of the world but you will never taste a better pizza anywhere else. As with the rest of mainland Europe meals are eaten late with plenty of wine and preferably al fresco.

Italy is one hour ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. (There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram).

The international dialling code is +39.

Important information regarding rail travel:
Visitors are often caught unawares by train and transport systems requiring validation. Tickets bought in Italy for Regionale and Regionale Veloce trains are not marked for any particular time or train and become valid only when time-stamped at a validation machine. Without this validation, train operators assume the rider is trying to fare dodge, since the ticket could be reused. So validation is absolutely essential before boarding, and there are small boxes in the station or near the platform. After being time-stamped, the ticket is valid for the amount of time shown on the ticket.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Country retreat. It is also possible to be met at Alghero, Olbia or Cagliari Airport.
Car hire is strongly recommended for this ride. Transfers can be arranged: From Alghero or Cagliari to the hotel 120 Euro per car each way. From Olbia to the hotel 130 Euro per car each way. Payable direct to driver. Transfers to/from the stable each day will also be charged.
Flight Guide:
RyanAir fly to Alghero from Stansted and Liverpool, EasyJet fly to Olbia from Gatwick. Flights start from around £100 return. Check Thomson too.
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