There's really no more adventurous a way to experience the beautiful island of Sardinia than with your very own self-catering home away from home. From the pastel-painted mansions of handsome Alghero, through the snow-gathering peaks of the Gennargentu Range and all the way down to the shimmering scythe bays of the yacht-speckled Costa Smeralda, this guide goes in search of the very best Sardinia rental villas and locations.

Finding Sardinia villas on the beach

Sardinia's coastlines go from the rugged to the pristine, with high cliffs dangled with climbers meeting white-sand beaches worthy of any Caribbean island. Perhaps the 3 places below will stoke the wanderlust for you.

The irresistible Costa Smeralda

There are more luxury Sardinia villas along the fabled shores of the Costa Smeralda than you can shake a fresh octopus salad at. Extending for 12 miles north of the port at Olbia, this is where you'll find those much-photographed lagoons and sugar-white sands. Smart resorts, such as Porto Cervo, sometimes gild the headlands with their cool cocktail bars and yacht harbours, and it's around those that you're likely to get the most opulent holiday rentals on the whole island.

An alternative at San Teodoro

There's less of a whiff of money in the air down in San Teodoro, south of Olbia. But there's more of a whiff of hedonism. The sands still glow cloud-white and the shore waters are still sky blue, though the promenades pulse with a more down-to-earth energy, folk skid on jet skis around the bays and sunsets are celebrated by sipping aperitifs by the beachfront.

Alghero for rugged coasts

The city of Alghero is the anchor of the Riviera del Corallo. It's an altogether wilder place than the east, carved through by the great Capo Caccia and the deep caverns of Neptune's Grotto. When you aren't boating out to them, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Mediterranean from your clifftop Sardinian villa, or lay the towel on glorious Bombarde Beach, where the lapping waters are as clear as crystal.

Discover Sardinia villas in the countryside

While most travellers to Sardinia make a beeline straight for the coast, only planning the occasional diversion inland for ancient megaliths and mountain views, the interior of this isle has an allure all of its own. To traipse prehistoric trails, conquer peaks, taste farm-to-table food and stride steep gorges, you’d do well to pick this as the area for your Sardinia villa rental.

The northern reaches of Oschiri

Rustic Sardinia villages pop up on the high plateau on which the town of Oschiri makes its home. Enfolded by great granite ridges, this is where the dramatic landscapes of the island's north come to a head. To get the adventure flowing properly, a rental near the waters of Lake Coghinas can be a gift – kayaking, hiking, sports fishing and more are available there.

Green vistas around Seulo

Cradled in a fertile bowl just on the edge of the Gennargentu National Park, Seulo is surrounded by oak, chestnut and pine valleys that drop steeply to waterfalls and babbling rivers. The geological history of the region is striking, so you could easily leave behind your holiday home for a swim in the emerald plunge pools of Cascata Sa Stiddiosa.

Be close to prehistory

Sardinia's totemic UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Barumini Su Nuraxi, is among the oldest settlements in all of Italy, pre-dating even the Colosseum and Roman Forum by more than 1,500 years. It encompasses a soaring watchtower and a Bronze Age village. You can bag yourself a Sardinia villa in its vicinity by looking for somewhere to stay north of Cagliari and south of Sorgono.

What to expect from Sardinia villas

The holiday rentals on this beautiful island can be rustic and luxurious at the very same time, offering a taste of Italian culture and Mediterranean relaxation in one. Here are just some of the features you might expect.

Beachfront locations

You might need to increase the travel budget a little to be in the running for the Sardinia villas that spill out straight onto the dunes and sands, particularly in chic resort areas, such as the Costa Smeralda. However, the pay-off will be sea views and prime access to glittering lagoons and quartz-like beaches.

A Sardinia villa with a pool

Just like on mainland Italy, it's really common to find Sardinia villas with their own private pool. During the summer, between June and August, when temperatures can regularly push beyond 30 degrees during the day, you might find that it's an indispensable addition to the holiday.

Family villas on Sardinia

Sardinia isn't just for the jet setters, yachters and honeymooners. This isle of gushing waterfalls and glowing beaches can also entertain whole families. You can find luxury villas in Sardinia with room enough for 10 people or more, with a setup that's primed for the crew – think twin rooms, big al fresco dining spaces and gardens.