Photo: Torruzzlo/Shutterstock

Hiker Under Age 35? You Can Sleep on This Italian Island for Free.

Sardinia News Hiking
by Matador Creators Jun 18, 2024

Long-distance hiking trails are something you can find in most countries, from Japan’s new Fukushima Coastal Trail to the tried-and-true Pacific Crest Trail in the US. But hiking them can get expensive, especially if you have to fly to the trailheads, rent gear, and arrange constant arrivals of food and supplies to pick up from cache stations along the way. But one long-distance trail is making the experience of hiking it a little bit cheaper — provided you’re under age 35.

“If you are under 35 and looking for an incredible trip without spending money, this is for you,” writes the organizers of the Cammino Minerario di Santa Barbara, also called the Saint Barbara Mining Trail. It’s a multi-day hike in Sardinia, Italy, going though the island’s history and culture; specifically its mining heritage. Visitors can trek through the Iglesiente area, encountering abandoned mines, museums, and scenic landscapes. And anyone who hikes any part of the trail — and is under age 35 — can get three free hotels nights along the route.

Cammino Minerario di Santa Barbara mining trail - ocean

Near the start of the Santa Barbara Mining Trail. Photo: Rodolfo Baldussi/Shutterstock

All hikers need to do is make a five euro donation, and you’ll get three free nights at any accommodation option along the trail. Unlike long-distance hikes in the US, during which most people camp in tents, the Cammino Minerario di Santa Barbara has lodging available for most nights. It’s not expensive, usually under $50 a night — but it’s even cheaper when it’s free. You’ll make a standard reservation, present the voucher code when you arrive, and voila: a free place to stay for at least four days of hiking on the island of Sardinia.

The official trail is broken down into 30 separate segments, ranging from hotels and B&Bs to homestays and casual refugios, akin to mountain huts with very basic furnishings. There are about 25 lodging options to choose from The total distance of the Santa Barbara Mining Trail is 310 miles, but many hikers only do smaller segments.

You’ll want to plan your hiking trip to take place between September 15 and the end of December — not just because those are the dates of the promotion window, but because that’s usually the best weather for hiking. Summer can be extremely hot, but autumn is usually the sweet spot between warm days and breezy, relaxing nights.

About the Cammino Minerario di Santa Barbara


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The trail is named after Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. It starts and ends in Iglesias, Sardinia, a city with a charming historic center with narrow cobbled streets and a beautiful main square. Hikers traverse rolling hills, rugged mountains, and dramatic coastlines, encountering hidden coves, secluded beaches, and panoramic vistas. Small villages dot the landscape, each offering a chance to experience local culture and savor traditional Sardinian cuisine. Natural wonders like the Piscina Irgas waterfall and the soaring Pan di Zucchero rock formation near Masua add a touch of grandeur to the journey, and with meals included or available at most hotels, you don’t even need to carry much extra weight.

You can do the hike on your own, or go with organized guiding outfitters.

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