The Costa Smeralda on the northeast coast of Sardinia is one of the most sought-after and most exclusive markets for holiday properties in the world. It also remains one of the most discreet markets though. This strip of coastline, which owes its name to the unique emerald green of its waters, stretches for some 20 kilometres – with fine sandy beaches, picturesque rocky bays and unique Mediterranean architecture. Ever since the 1960s, it has been one of Europe’s finest addresses for first-class restaurants, exclusive shopping and luxury second homes. “Demand for real estate has risen sharply in the wake of the pandemic and, alongside top premium villas with sea views, buyer interest is increasingly shifting to large country estates with sprawling plots of land that offer a peaceful and secluded retreat,” says Daniela Ciboddo, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Porto Cervo, who continues: “At the same time, buyers are also increasingly tapping into the regions south of Costa Smeralda.”
The special status of the Costa Smeralda as a luxury retreat for extremely affluent and sometimes prominent clients means that discretion and exclusivity are centrally important tenets of the property market here. “Many properties are not advertised in the public domain and usually brokered while observing strict confidence. In some cases, exceptional properties can command sales prices in excess of 200 million euros,” says Daniela Ciboddo.
One of the most sought-after locations on the Costa Smeralda is the upmarket port town of Porto Cervo, which is home to one of the highest priced marinas in the world. Since being founded by Prince Karim Aga Khan in 1962, it has evolved into a hotspot for both famous personalities and the international jet set. There is a typically Italian piazzetta at the centre of the town, with a number of luxury hotels, as well as designer shops, upmarket cafés and restaurants. Desirable apartments here are currently on the market for up to 2 million euros. In the hills around the town, there are also extensive plots of land with magnificent estates that command asking prices of up to 18 million euros.
Coastal locations south of Porto Cervo are also highly sought after, including the bays of Cala di Volpe and Romazzino, which boast idyllic beaches blessed with turquoise waters. In the Bay of Romazzino, exclusive villas can be purchased for figures greater than 200 million euros. In Cala di Volpe – renowned internationally for its immaculate golf courses – luxury villas and estates with panoramic views of the coastline and surrounding islands are also in high demand. Asking prices for properties of this kind can reach as much as 18 million euros.
Interest in properties in the port town of Porto Rotondo is also strong. The town has a curved harbourfront that can accommodate up to 800 yachts, as well as picturesque beaches with crystal-clear water and beautiful bays such as “Cala Ira” and “Cala Sabina”. Luxury boutiques and restaurants also give the town a glamorous charm. Some of the exclusive villas here have been owned by famous individuals and command prices of up to 40 million euros.
To the north of the Costa Smeralda, Porto Rafael is a particular favourite with island insiders and celebrities. Compared to Porto Cervo, the place is less touristy and offers numerous quiet retreats. Here you will find large plots in secluded locations with far-reaching views of the entire coastline all the way to Corsica. Luxury villas are offered here for prices of up to 15 million euros.
A high proportion of real estate transactions on the Costa Smeralda can be attributed to buyer groups from abroad. Around 38 percent of buyers come from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, around 10 percent from Great Britain, 5 percent each from the USA, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and 2 percent from other countries. 35 percent of real estate purchases are made by Italian buyers. The majority of these clients are between 40 and 70 years old and looking for a second home for their families with children.
“Restrictions that came about with the pandemic really brought to the fore what the Costa Smeralda has always offered and what people suddenly craved even more: rugged, unspoiled nature and exclusive, quaint towns and villages filled with a sense of security and freedom,” says Daniela Ciboddo. “In addition to properties for owner-occupation, older villas and estates in premium locations such as the hills of Cala di Volpe and Porto Rafael are particularly sought-after investment properties, which are often extensively renovated and either resold or rented out.”
“Demand – especially for properties in the premium segment – has remained consistently high on the Costa Smeralda since its inception in the 1960s. The real estate market here remains largely unaffected by political or economic crises and represents a particularly safe haven for real estate investments," sums up Daniela Ciboddo, adding: "We therefore expect demand to remain at a high level. We are also now beginning to see interest in properties in the previously less sought-after regions south of Costa Smeralda, such as Puntaldia, Capo Coda Cavallo, and Punta Molara.”