Global Market Insight: Costa Smeralda

June 28, 2022

Proudly serving communities in over 30 countries, Engel & Völkers advisors come equipped with both local and global expertise—allowing them to create unmatched, bespoke real estate experiences. Whether in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, or somewhere in between, there is an Engel & Völkers connection to be made. This month we’re featuring the coastal hotspot of Costa Smeralda in Sardinia. 

Situated in the northeast of Sardinia, Italy, Costa Smeralda directly translates as “Emerald Coast”—an homage to the emerald green waters found there. The rugged coastline’s unique rock formations and dreamy beaches resemble that of the Caribbean, unexpectedly impressing its visitors. The Costa Smeralda is an eldorado for those in search of idyllic natural surroundings and a truly special standard of Sardinian luxury. Additionally, a cosmopolitan lifestyle awaits in Costa Smeralda, vibrant communities like Porto Cervo offer unparalleled benefits—especially for those embracing the yachting lifestyle. The town’s chic marina of international yachts, and their respective owners, is but one of the defining features of Costa Smeralda.

Sought After Communities 

Porto Cervo

Porto Cervo is the most high-end hotspot on Costa Smeralda. In summer, it is transformed into a unique magnet for luxury yachts and a catwalk for the rich and famous. It is not all that unusual to bump into German football stars or Leonardo DiCaprio while out shopping.

Karim Aga Khan IV founded the town in the mid-1960s as an exclusive destination for discerning holiday homeowners. During the planning phase, the prince and his staff were keen to ensure that the new architecture would blend in as harmoniously as possible with the style of the other local buildings, as well as the Mediterranean setting. The town took shape around the typical piazzetta at its heart, with painstaking care paid to the architectural and landscape design. The wonderful, sprawling estates were no exception and paid the same care and consideration. 

Romazzino & Cala di Volpe

Just south of Porto Cervo, extremely exclusive estates enjoy of variety of lifestyles on the communities’ beautiful beaches, whose waters shimmer turquoise, green, and deep blue. Those living in Romazzino bay cherish their direct access to the sandy shores and ocean, while those living at Cala di Volpe, situated on higher ground, have unique views of the coastal landscape and offshore islands. Further inland, beautifully manicured golf courses make the area highly popular among golfers.

Porto Rotondo

Situated on an outcrop of land between Golfo Aranci and Cugnana, Porto Rotondo is named for its circular harbor (which can comfortably accommodate up to 800 yachts). The town’s bays, such as Cala Ira and Cala Sabina, boast stunning beaches and crystal clear waters. The villas here exude a luxurious charm—both for their own impressiveness and the famous names who reside there. This chic ambiance of this community is bolstered by upscale boutiques and restaurants.

Porto Rafael

Porto Rafael, much appreciated by those who know Sardinia most intimately, rests in the middle of one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the north of the island. At the heart of the village, founded in the 1960s by the Spanish Count Rafael Neville de Berlanga del Duero, is the piazzetta, located directly on the Cala Inglese. Elegant villas blend in harmoniously with their natural surroundings. From the more elevated land plots, a breathtaking panorama overlooking the entire coast, stretching from Corsica, across the islands of La Maddalena and Caprera, to Porto Cervo awaits. Several celebrities have built houses in Porto Rafael, opting for this location over Porto Cervo for its quiet, secluded nature—far away from any possibly prying paparazzi.

Buyer Profile

The market is mainly driven by second-home buyers, many of whom are looking internationally. A large proportion of buyers are from Central Europe. Specifically:

44% from Germany, 35% from Italy, 15% from Switzerland, and 6% from the UK, Austria, France, and the United States, combined. 

The majority of buyers are aged between 40 and 70 and in search of sprawling properties that can accommodate their families and children. Their primary focus gravitates towards properties that can be enjoyed year-round—particularly detached, secluded, and private villas with considerable outdoor space and sea views.

Market Trends

Country estates offering a higher quality of living

The demand for country estates with sea views has increased. Pandemic restrictions have highlighted what Sardinia has always offered and what people suddenly crave—rugged, unspoiled nature and exclusive, quiet spaces that provide a sense of safety and freedom. Besides meeting these needs, properties surrounded by countryside have a rustic style that is very different from that of seaside properties. They offer a larger amount of outdoor and indoor space, as well as an excellent price ratio.

Clients are flocking further South

More and more prospective buyers are looking for seafront villas in areas that were previously considered lower-demand, second-tier markets. Golfo Aranci, south-east of Golfo Rotondo, is becoming increasingly popular, as is Puntaldia and Punta Molara, south of Olbia.

High demand from investors

Demand for investment properties remains stable. Investors are looking for opportunities in prime locations such as the hills of Cala di Volpe, Golfo Pervero, and Porto Rafael. They plan to redevelop older villas and country houses, reselling after renovations for a profit or using them as rented-out income properties.


Prices for an exclusive villa range from $5.3 to $6.4 million USD, and about $640,000 to $2.1 million USD for a premier apartment.

Beyond that, there is a market segment with much higher values. These properties are not officially published and their brokerage requires very special attention to the confidentiality of its negotiations. In some cases, sales prices are reaching more than $84.6 million USD.

According to research by Consorzio Costa Smeralda, the prices for properties have risen 32.3% since 2007, to approximately $1,425 USD per square foot; an outlier in the Italian market, whose property prices fell 25% between 2010 and 2018, ensures those looking to purchase an investment property that homes on the Costa Smeralda are a safe and reliable choice.

Costa Smeralda’s Most Expensive Properties

In the Hills Above Cala di Volpe

The highest-priced property listed with Engel & Völkers Porto Cervo in the last 12 months is perched over the stunning Bay of Cala di Volpe, with its famous and iconic Hotel Cala di Volpe. This exceptional villa offers breathtaking views of Porto Rotondo, the promontory of Capo Figari, and Tavolara Island. It was recently renovated and sold for approximately $14 million USD.

Prestigious Waterfront Estate with Views to Caprera

This outstanding villa is the highest-priced property currently for sale, with an asking price of approximately $28.4 million USD. Set in the pink granite of the Bay of Liscia di Vacca, just steps from the shoreline, the villa’s architecture pays homage to the surrounding landscape with its colors and organic shapes. Inside, an elegant combination of glass, wood, and stone creates an atmosphere teeming with personality. It is a union between contemporary design and traditional Sardinian elements. When entering the villa, guests are immediately met with stunning views of the sea, courtesy of large floor-to-ceiling windows. The property guarantees absolute privacy and boasts a well-kept Mediterranean garden and swimming pool.

People who choose the Costa Smeralda are rarely here just for ‘business reasons,’ even if they come for a property investment and not for the purchase of their own holiday home. To live on this idyllic stretch of coastline means to engage in the slow island lifestyle – one’s own happy place. Moreover, tourism here seems to know no crisis. Despite the serious impact of the pandemic situation, the value of villas on the Costa Smeralda has increased and will be the highest in the whole of Italy in 2022.

Daniela Ciboddo, License Partner, Engel & Völkers Porto Cervo

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