If you love traveling, there’s a great chance you’ve heard about my amazing island and are wondering how to get to Sardinia. Don’t worry, I got you covered. As a local I know exactly how to guide you, so read on!
You have two main options for getting to Sardinia:
- FLIGHTS: There are flights to Sardinia, and getting on a plane is fast and relatively cheap.
- FERRY: Taking a ferry from mainland Italy is a great way to get to Sardinia if you wish to travel with your car and enjoy the slow ride.
Getting to Sardinia is one thing, but moving around once you’re on the island is another, so let’s also talk about that. I will tell you everything I know to guide you, including how to get from the airport to the city center, and more.
Read more on the topic:
- How to Move around Sardinia by Public transport
- How To reach The main destinations by car
- The Ultimate Guide to Rent a car in Sardinia
Below is a recap of what I will cover in this article. Click on the topic you want to read to get directly to that chapter
1) Flights to Sardinia
- Major Airports
- Flights To Sardinia from the US
- Direct Flights To Sardinia from the UK
- Getting to Sardinia from Outside Europe
- Cheap Flights to Sardinia
2) Ferry to Sardinia
- How long is a ferry ride to Sardinia?
- Major Sardinia Ports
- Ferry from Italy to Sardinia
- Ferry from Rome to Sardinia
- Ferry from Sicily to Sardinia
3) Getting Around Sardinia FAQs
- Is it worth renting a car in Sardinia?
- Sardinia Public Transport: How to get around the island without a car (by bus and train).
- Is Sardinia easy to get around?
- Can you get around Sardinia without a car?
- How do people get around in Sardinia?
- How long does it take to get around Sardinia?
- What are the roads like in Sardinia?
- Driving in Sardinia: All you need To know
Flights to Sardinia-Italy
With more and more tourists choosing Sardinia as their next summer destination, recent years have been marked by an increasing frequency of flights to Sardinia.
With three major airports, Sardinia is now well connected. Not only are there Rome, Milan, and Naples to Sardinia flights, Sardinia is now easily accessible with flights from many Italian cities and cities from other parts of Europe.
How to Book A flight To Sardinia
SKYSCANNER: Since this is my N.1 choice for 90% of my flights around the world, I highly recommend it. I never had any issues and it saved me hours of research online. It’s easy to use and compares every possible airline for the route you need. It is also convenient if you can’t book a direct flight to Sardinia.
My honest review: I compared the prices when booking with Skyscanner or directly through the airline website, and sometimes you pay a bit more when booking with Skyscanner. This doesn’t apply to all the flights and routes, so if you have time, do some research (especially for direct flights), for non-direct flights It’s better to just go with it, as the research can be exhausting!
Direct Flights To Sardinia From Europe
Yes, Sardinia also has direct flights from Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Stockholm, Munich, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Dublin, Brussels, Geneva, Budapest, and many more which I’ll talk about below. Let me guide you on a detailed tour of each of Sardinia’s airports and other helpful tips when choosing to fly to Sardinia.
Direct Flights to Sardinia From The UK
Ryanair: Routes covered from Stansted, Luton, and Dublin to Alghero, and from Gatwick to Cagliari.
Local’s tip: check out for additional taxes and fees and restrictions on luggage when booking! Ryan air might be cheap but is not convenient if you stay on the east coast, as the roads from Alghero to Olbia are not easy to figure out. Maybe it’s better to spend a bit more with other companies and travel stress-free!
EasyJet: Gatwick, Luton and Bristol to Olbia and from Stansted to Cagliari.
Tips: I used Easy Jet when I lived in London and they have very convenient prices. In winter they just fly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, whilst from May on they have daily flights. Be careful as the prices are shown don’t include the check-in baggage (around 20 euros for 20kg). They will also ask you to choose your seat, insurance, car, hotels, etc. I usually decline.
British Airways: Heathrow to Olbia and Cagliari.
Tips: The flights to Cagliari are only on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. To Olbia, they only operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The prices are inclusive of taxes, no hidden fees, and are pretty similar to the low costs companies.
Thomson Flights: London Gatwick to Alghero.
Tips: Honestly? I don’t recommend them. They only fly on Saturdays and the prices are VERY expensive. I give you this choice just in case everything else is fully booked and you don’t have a fixed budget. Ps: If you happen to book with them, and you don’t find “Alghero” on the choices is because they put it under “Sardinia- Alghero”.
How to Get to Sardinia From the US
All flights from the United States to Sardinia require a stopover in London or another European city. You can take the Rome to Sardinia flights or another option like Milan before continuing to one of the three airports without a layover.
The airport for Sardinia with the most flight and airline options is Cagliari, which serves the island’s southernmost region.
Which Airlines Fly To Sardinia From the US and Canada
From the US
American Airlines, ITA Airways (Ex Alitalia), and Delta have direct flights to these possible layover airports, not only from New York but also from Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
If you are coming from Canada, you can fly from Toronto or Montreal with Alitalia and AirCanada with one stopover in Europe before a direct flight to Sardinia.
Visa Requirements for Sardinia
As long as you don’t intend to stay for longer than 90 days, US citizens or Canadians can visit Sardinia and mainland Italy as tourists without a visa. However, you must have a passport with at least six months of remaining validity after the date of arrival into the country and enough blank pages for entry stamps.
How to Get To Sardinia from Outside Europe
The same with coming from the United States, there are no direct flights from other countries outside of Europe like North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia to Sardinia, so you will have to fly to other major airports in Italy. Getting to Sardinia from Rome or Milan is your best option.
How to Find Cheap Flights to Sardinia
Are you looking for a cheap flight to Sardinia? (Who isn’t, right?) 🙂
You can find plane tickets from New York for $587 one-way and $1,052 round-trip. You need to reserve at least three weeks before your planned departure to receive a discounted rate, especially if you plan to fly during the summer.
1) Find The Best Time To Travel To Sardinia
The months of September, October, and November are still high/mid-season (price-wise), but from mid-October on, it’s mainly middle to low season, and the prices finally decrease. May is the cheapest month to travel to Sardinia (and one of the most incredible months to do so, not only for the cheap flights!).
2) Fly with Low Cost/Cheap airlines to Sardinia
If you want cheap flights to Sardinia, take advantage of low-cost airlines. To find the cheapest flights to Sardinia, keep an eye out for special offers from budget airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet. During their recurring flight sales, prices frequently drop dramatically. Also, consider traveling to Sardinia during the low season. The benefits will surprise you.
- One word of advice regarding these low-cost companies: The ticket might be cheap, but they try to rip you off by adding surcharges for the luggage and other little things. Careful when you book your flight. If you notice that the final price is much higher than the starting price, you probably left the insurance box or other extras selected. If you genuinely want to stay cheap with them: travel light and never tick any unnecessary boxes 🙂
3) Fly to Sardinia in Off season /winter
Even though there are fewer flights during the off-peak winter months, there are still at least once weekly flights to all of Sardinia’s major airports. Before booking your trip, check out the flights first. Some direct flights are canceled during the off-season.
Airports in Sardinia:
Which Sardinia airport is better? It all depends on where you decide to stay in Sardinia or, at least, where you will start your holiday.
There are three main airports in Sardinia you could fly into:
- Cagliari Elmas Airport, just a few kilometers away from the city of Cagliari – South of Sardinia,
- Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport at the north-eastern part of Sardinia
- Alghero Fertilia Airport in the north-western part.
All three airports are a quick ride from their city center, so no worries, I’ll tell you how to get to the city center from each one below.
Cagliari Elmas Airport
IATA Airport Code: CAG
Cagliari Airport is 7 km northwest of Sardinia Island, nearby Elmas town, thus the name Cagliari Elmas Airport (little curiosity: I live 15 min from the airport, my town is the next one after Elmas, very convenient :).
Cagliari airport is the busiest airport in Sardinia, with 5 million passengers. If you’re spending time in South Sardinia, this is your airport of choice.
Direct Flights To Sardinia -Cagliari Airport
There are direct flights to Cagliari to over 30 cities, and airlines like British Airways, EasyJet, Luxair, Air Berlin, and Ryanair fly to and from Sardinia. Rome to Sardinia flights for Cagliari Airport directly are at 247 flights monthly, followed by direct flights to these cities:
National Flights From Italy To Cagliari
International Flights From Italy To Cagliari
- London Gatwick
- Basel Mulhouse
Cagliari Airport Amenities
This airport in Sardinia is equipped with all essential facilities for your comfort and includes ATMs, business centers, shops, cafes, restaurants, and executive lounges. You can also take advantage of the parking space for long-term and short-term use (click here for the rates). There are rental car service desks at the arrivals area of the airport from companies like Europcar, Hertz, Firefly, and Goldcar.
Main Airlines flying into Cagliari Airport:
Presently, 20 airlines offer flights to Cagliari (Sardinia). Ryanair, which connects 39 airports to Cagliari (Sardinia), runs most of the flights, with Volotea as the second airline with the most flights. Other airlines flying to Cagliari include EasyJet, Alitalia ( recently rebranded as ITA Airways), Neos, Eurowings, and Wizzair.
How to get from Cagliari Airport to the city center
There are a few ways you can get to the city as soon as you arrive in Sardinia. The choice depends on whether you want to stay comfortable or make one last effort and drag your luggage up and down the bus or train.
It only takes about a 10 to 15- minute and 25 euro (taxi) ride to get to the city center. Consider paying an additional charge for the nighttime service, from 10 pm to 6 am.
Buses depart for the City Center every half-hour; this method is the least expensive mode of transportation. There are two bus terminals at the airport.
The buses that depart from the area directly outside the arrivals area operate between 8.40 am and 11.30 pm, while the buses from the departures area run between 5.20 am and 10.30 pm. You must buy the tickets before boarding at the newsstand in the arrival area and at the McDonald’s in the departure area.
- From Cagliari To The Airport
Suppose you are traveling to the airport from Cagliari. In that case, you must board the buses on platform eight at the ARST bus terminal (located near the train station in Piazza Matteotti) and pay 0.67 euros for a single journey. For inquiries, ARST bus company has toll-free numbers: 800 865042 or 070 4098327 (I doubt they will speak good English, but you can try or ask a local if needed, we are always ready to help if we can!) 🙂
You can also use the train service from the airport from 5:00 am to 11:45 pm, with a 20-minute waiting time before each departure. You will reach the center of Cagliari in 7 minutes at most. Purchase train tickets from the train station or a machine located at the airport’s arrivals area for € 1.30 per way.
You can easily walk to the train station outside the airport’s arrivals. As soon as you get out, head on your left towards the multi-level parking space; you’ll find it there. It takes around 5 to 8 minutes to get there (considering your luggage too).
IATA airport code: AHO
Alghero Airport, also called Alghero Fertilia, 8 km northwest of the city center, is the leading international gateway o Northwest Sardinia.
Direct Flights To Sardinia -Alghero Fertilia
Direct flights are coming from the following cities (helpful in planning your trip if you arrive from the US, another country, or even from Italian towns without direct flights):
National Flights from Italy To Alghero
- Venice Marco Polo
International Flights From Italy To Alghero
- Brussels Charleroi
- London Stansted
- Other Cities with less than ten flights a month
Main Airlines flying into Alghero Airport:
- Wizz Air
- Alitalia ( now Ita Airways)
How to get from Alghero Airport to The city Center
Being Alghero Airport quite close to the city, it’s easy to find the perfect option for your needs; let’s see how:
This airport in Sardinia also uses ARST (Regional Bus Service). Route 9373’s last stop is at Via Catalogna- Alghero. The same bus travels back to the airport and is available every hour from 05:20 am to 11:00 pm. They have a seasonal route to Stintino and Santa Teresa Di Gallura from June to September. Very useful if you decide to stay in one of these lovely locations and don’t want to rent a car in Sardinia.
You can buy the bus tickets for local connections from an automatic vending machine, which is open 24 hours a day at the airport. For more information, you may call (+39) 079 2639200 or email email@example.com (again, I can’t guarantee their English is up to your expectations, but you can try)
You can also find taxis immediately outside the airport’s arrivals area. The fare to the city center is around 25 €. (But always ask beforehand to avoid scams)
RENTING A CAR
If you wish to rent a car in Sardinia, you can find companies that offer car rentals, assistance, and information like road conditions and routes. You’ll find their offices inside the terminal right outside the arrivals lounge.
- Local’s Tip: Don’t wait to rent the car upon arrival in Sardinia; likely, you won’t find much availability. I recommend you book in advance using a reputable comparing tool. Then you can go straight to your stand at the airport and show them your booking. No-fuss or extra stress!
IATA airport code: OLB
Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, 5 km from downtown Olbia, is the central hub on the northeast coast of Sardinia.
Olbia is a city in the famous Sardinian region of Gallura. The city, located nearby the Costa Smeralda touristy area, is known for its beaches, historic sites, and year-round mild temperatures (all over Sardinia except for the mountain areas in the hinterland).
The airport has numerous connections to mainland Italy and locations in continental Europe and the UK. For example, there is Rome to Sardinia flights direct to Olbia.
Below is the list of cities with direct flights from Olbia
National Flights from Italy To Olbia
International Flights from Italy To Olbia
- London Gatwick
- London Heathrow
- Basel Mulhouse Freiburg
Main Airlines flying into Olbia Airport:
- Wizz Air
- Alitalia (now ITA Airways)
How to get from Olbia Airport to Olbia city Center
This airport is also well located, and it’s easy (and cheap) to get to the city by public transport
To get to Olbia city center, ride buses n. two and n. ten which will take you into town in around 10 minutes. They depart every 10-20 minutes. You can purchase the tickets for €1.50 at the information desk inside the airport terminal. You will find the bus stop 50 meters away outside the airport near the arrivals area.
Should you decide to take a taxi, you can find them near the arrivals area, just outside the terminal building. The minimum fare is € 3.50; after that, the cost is € 2.60 for the first 5 km and €1.90 per kilometer for the last 35 km. The average fare to the city from Olbia Airport is € 15.00. But, as usual, ask for an approximate price in advance.
RENTING A CAR
You will find car rental agencies, like Dollar, Auto Europa, Europcar, Avis, Budget, and Hertz (to name a few) upon getting to the terminal. Most of them are close to the arrivals area at the Terminal Autonoleggi, while others have nearby depots and will arrange pick-up services for you.
If you want to rent a car for your trip to Sardinia, make your reservations well in advance since there may not be as much of a selection available during major holidays and the summer.
If you can’t find a direct flight to your preferred airport in Sardinia, you can still travel the entire length of the island in three max four hours (depending on the route, traffic, and speed). The scenery along the way is sometimes breathtaking, and it wouldn’t be entirely a disadvantage.
Ferry to Sardinia
What if you wish to take your car with you? After all, having it will give you more freedom to roam around and explore the island without the need to rent a car in Sardinia.
The good news is that Sardinia ferries will take you and your car to the island. However, it is essential to note that the ferry to Sardinia can be more expensive, so you will have to book way in advance if you wish to lower the price.
How long is the ferry ride to Sardinia?
In short, it depends on the port of departure, the route, and the type of ferry: Travel duration is five to 6 hours and a half for day trips. If you travel at night, it can take from 10-12 hrs. Travel time also varies because daytime ferries include fast ferries (more expensive).
If you want to save money, you’d better go for the conventional slower ferry. It may take longer, but you won’t mind too much if you’re in a comfortable cabin or while you’re enjoying the sight of the clear blue waters from the ferry dock.
Sardinia ports cater all year round to ferries going to and from Naples, Civitavecchia, Palermo, Livorno, Piombino, Salerno, and Savona. There are also ferries going to Sardinia from other European locations like Barcelona, France, and Corsica with connecting ports of Toulon, Nice, Ajaccio, Bastia, and Bonifacio. The ferry operation increases in frequency during summer.
Sardinia Major Ports:
There are 5 main ports catering ferries to Sardinia, namely:
- Port of Arbatax – Tortolì
- Port of Cagliari
- Port of Golfo Aranci
- Port of Olbia
- Port of Porto Torres
Sardinia also has other smaller ports, namely:
- Port of Santa Teresa di Gallura
- Port of Stintino
- Port of Alghero
- Port of La Caletta
- Port of La Maddalena
- Port of Palau
- Port of Calasetta
- Port of Carloforte
- Port of Porto Vesme
- Port of Santa Maria Navarrese
Usually, the smaller ports mentioned above serve as private and tourist ports from where the touristic boat tours depart in summer.
- Local’s Tip: The most famous ones are Palau for the trip to Arcipelago della Maddalena boat trip, Santa Maria Navarrese for the Golfo Di Orosei tours (also served by Arbatax Port), Stintino and Porto Torres main Port to reach the Asinara Island, and Porto Vesme, Carloforte and Calasetta to reach the Isola di San Pietro and Carloforte town.
Port of Arbatax – Tortolì
The Port of Arbatax in the municipality of Tortolì is the best choice if you are traveling with a car, camping van, caravan, and trailer and visiting the east coast of Sardinia.
- Civitavecchia – Arbatax
- Genova – Arbatax
Tirrenia company and Grimaldi provide service to the port, with operation from 2:00 pm to 0:00 am, but the frequency of the ferries may vary according to the high and low seasons. Grimaldi Lines runs ferries weekly, Tuesdays and Saturdays, between Civitavecchia and Arbatax. The departures are often in the evening, and the crossing takes about nine hours.
Tourist Attractions Nearby:
- The most beautiful beaches of Golfo di Orosei and Ogliastra
- Porto Frailis
- Red Rocks celebrated with music festivals
- Bari Sardo
Port of Cagliari
The Port of Cagliari is southern Sardinia’s direct access by sea. You’ll see the city from the ferry, first at a distance, and up-close when your ferry docks. The bus and train station are just 200 meters away from the harbor; you can’t miss them!
If you get slightly confused exiting the pier, head towards Piazza Matteotti, on the left; everything you need is there, from the main bus and train station to an ample parking space.
The Cagliari harbor is one of the most prominent Italian seaports for those traveling with a car, camper, caravan, and trailer. Besides the convenient ferry from Naples to Sardinia, the port also caters to other useful routes.
- Civitavecchia – Cagliari
- Naples – Cagliari
- Palermo – Cagliari
The Grimaldi Lines is currently the only company serving Cagliari port with daily and weekly ferry trips from South Sardinia to Civitavecchia (Rome) and Southern Italy (Naples and Palermo- Sicily). No ferries are traveling to Cagliari from outside Italy.
Tirrenia and Moby Lines are not serving Cagliari port anymore. If you’ve traveled to Sardinia in the past, you know they used to for many years. But you don’t have to worry about these details.
In May 2022, I planned a fantastic trip to Rome and Tuscany by car and quickly booked online my return tickets from and to Sardinia using a useful comparative searching tool. You insert the route/port you need, and it finds you all the ferry companies serving that route so that you can immediately book the best deal!
If you have already decided to take the ferry, my advice is to book your ticket sooner rather than later.
Tourist locations nearby:
- Southern Sardinia Coast:Villasimius, Costa Rei, Pula, Chia, Tuerredda beach
- Sulcis Iglesiente: Porto Flavia, Cala Domestica, Nebida
- Oristano: San Giovanni Di Sinis, Santa Caterina, Tharros, Is Arutas beach and more
Port of Golfo Aranci -Sardinia
Port Golfo Aranci, located merely 20km from Olbia, serves as another gateway to Costa Smeralda and surrounding areas. If you wish to avoid the crowd in the bigger city, this port is a good choice for you.
Tourist locations nearby:
Golfo Aranci Port is a great access point to many breathtaking beaches and tourist attractions, such as:
- Sardinia Northeast: Costa Smeralda, Arzachena, La Maddalena,Sand Santa Teresa Di Gallura
- Sardinia Southeast: San Teodoro / Budoni.
Routes to and from Golfo Aranci:
- Civitavecchia – Golfo Aranci
- Livorno – Golfo Aranci
- Piombino – Golfo Aranci
- Savona – Golfo Aranci
- Ajaccio – Golfo Aranci
- Bastia – Golfo Aranci
- Porto Vecchio (Corsica, France) – Golfo Aranci
- Nizza and Tolone (France) – Golfo Aranci
Port Golfo Aranci is served by Corsica Ferries, which operates a fleet of cozy and up-to-date ships.
Port of Olbia
One of Sardinia’s most prominent ports is Olbia’s port. Olbia-Costa Smeralda Airport is a short 4.7 km, 8-minute ride by car from the Port of Olbia.
The port on the island’s northeast coast is the closest one from which you can reach Sardinia by ferry from Italy. The ferries can take you there in less than 5 1/2 hours. There are nine wharves in the Isola Bianca sector of the port of Olbia where fast ferries and passenger ships can dock.
You can quickly get to the central and southern part of Sardinia from the port of Olbia by taking the SS 131 bus to Abbasanta (or renting a car and driving). From there, you can opt to head east or west.
EAST: The SS 125, also known as Orientale Sarda is ideal for traveling to popular coastal tourist destinations, including Olbia, San Teodoro, the Golfo di Orosei, up to Costa Rei, Villasimius and Cagliari.
It takes a little longer but will gift you with breathtaking panoramic views. Probably, for this reason, some tourists renamed it “Sardinian Route 66” 🙂
WEST: Going west means you will be driving along SS131/E25, which has a speed limit of 110 km/h from km 35.000 to km 108.300, the fastest speed limit on the island, so it is also the quickest way to reach your destinations in Sardinia. SS131 (also known as “Carlo Felice”) is considered the island’s main artery and, starting from Olbia, connects the city with Oristano and Cagliari.
The road is ample in some traits and a bit less in others. Currently (update 2022), there are many deviations in the trait close to Nuoro and Oristano due to undergoing structural works, and it can get slow at times. Apply caution when driving, especially at night, and always follow the signs to Cagliari.
- Civitavecchia – Olbia
Tourist locations nearby: (very similar to the ones nearby Golfo Aranci port, they are 20 min away by car)
Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), Tirrenia, Moby Lines, and Grimaldi Lines are the four ferry companies that run the routes to Olbia. Each week, they provide up to 79 ferry and hydrofoil crossings (fast ferries). The duration of the rides might range from 5 to 12 hours, depending on the port of departure.
Port of Porto Torres
Another major port for ferries in Sardinia is the Port of Porto Torres. Located on the Northwest Sardinia coast and easily accessible by plane, car, or train. Many ferries come and go from the mainland towards this port, including international ones, with the following routes:
Porto Torres- Sardinia Routes
- Civitavecchia – Porto Torres
- Livorno – Porto Torres
- Génova – Porto Torres
- Toulon – Porto Torres
- Ajaccio – Porto Torres
- Porto Vecchio – Porto Torres
- Marseille – Porto Torres
- Nizza – Porto Torres
- Barcelona – Porto Torres
Tourist locations nearby:
Some of the best Sardinia places to visit when arriving by Ferry at Porto Torres are:
- Stintino with its famous “La Pelosa Beach,”
- Asinara Island
- Costa Paradiso
- Castel Sardo (to name a few)
Grandi Navi Veloci and Tirrenia are the companies that guarantee the frequency of the routes, with an increased frequency during the peak season and a reduction during the low season. Nevertheless, there is at least one daily connection.
Suppose you intend to remain in northern Sardinia. In that case, Porto Torres is an excellent harbor to dock at because it will be convenient for you to reach the Asinara Archipelago and Alghero/ Stintino and many other lovely Sardinia places.
Ferry from Italy to Sardinia
Up to 133 ferries go to Italy each week, 41 of which depart from Rome (Civitavecchia port) for various ports in Sardinia, making them some of the busiest and most frequently traveling ferries.
You have a wide range of options when choosing your ferry route because there are many other ports in Italy that you can depart from, such as Genoa or Napoli. If you are on an Italy Road Trip) and want to include Sardinia -which you should 🙂 -you’ll have plenty of choices!
Ferry Sicily to Sardinia
Can you get a ferry from Sicily to Sardinia? Yes, you can! (Ferry Sicily to Sardinia has one route, the “Palermo-Cagliari,” with three weekly connections. Palermo to Cagliari is one of the routes Grimaldi Lines runs once daily, while the Tirrenia route to Palermo- Sicily runs twice daily.
- Local’s Tip: You should conduct a live search for crossings from Sicily to Sardinia to acquire the most recent information because the frequency and length of crossings on some routes vary.
Getting Around Sardinia
You have two main options to get around Sardinia:
- By renting a car beforehand and collecting it upon arrival in Sardinia
- By using Sardinia public transport
Each option has pros and cons, which I will cover in a breeze, so stay tuned because being a local, I can give you some helpful tricks and valuable information to decide what’s best for your needs!
Is it worth hiring a car in Sardinia?
The easiest and best way to travel around Sardinia and explore the island is exploring by car, so to be very straightforward, my answer, as a local, is YES, is it worth all the money you spend to hire a car in Sardinia, trust me on that.
Having a car offers a world of possibilities to explore even the most remote places and beaches in Sardinia. Although Sardinia’s public transportation is reasonably priced, it is not, let’s put it this way, “ideal” 🙂
This means it can be difficult or impossible to visit Sardinia’s most picturesque places by going off the major roads. Sardinia’s public transportation system needs a massive “redo” and provides better connections, so your options for travel will understandably be limited.
Sardinia Car Rental:
Car rental service is available as soon as you land at any of the three major airports. But it’s also best to book in advance to save money and, even more importantly, find a car available!
When my friends want to visit Sardinia and are planning to rent a car at the airport, I shiver in horror, knowing that they probably won’t find any availability on short notice.
As with any other place, off-season auto rental in Sardinia costs less than in peak season, and the availability shouldn’t be an issue in this case, but it better be safe than sorry.
What type of car should you rent:
Are you planning an adventurous trip? Best to rent a small SUV or a 4-wheel drive vehicle because going off the beaten track to explore more rural areas equates to more challenging roads.
Sardinia Family Holyday: Make sure the car is equipped with a seat for the kids, or bring your own if you can. The cost might be relatively higher for this extra feature.
Car Rental in Sardinia and Insurance:
Like car renting in other places, check the vehicle before hitting the road and don’t hold back spending extra euros for insurance. It’s best to be prepared for any eventuality, especially on vacation. I always choose the one that includes everything and with the possibility of changing the driver.
More about everything you need to know to hire a car in Sardinia in an upcoming article. If you want to know when it’s up, please subscribe to my newsletter (no spam), and you’ll get an email when it’s ready!
Public Transport Sardinia: How To Get Around Without A Car.
Without a car, you can travel around Sardinia by public transport ((by train, bus, or a combination of the two). And if you are more adventurous, you can explore Sardinia by bike.
- SARDINIA BY TRAIN
Trenitalia officially operates trains in Sardinia (we have jokes about this company in terms of being on time, but I digress) 🙂
If you are quite the romantic, you’ll probably imagine an idyllic setting of you relaxing on a train as it creeps along the hinterland, observing the splendid Sardinian view from the window, going from one enchanting village to the other.
The reality is just a bit different 🙂 if you plan to reach multiple destinations, this will not be an easy undertaking.
Sardinia railway network is not as extensive and organized as you would want it to be (alas!). The connections between the east and the west are non-existent, and the railway is missing in most coastline villages and cities.
Sounds adventurous? Perhaps! Practical? Not really, unless you are traveling Sardinia with a backpack and nothing else.
Nevertheless, If you are an adventurous backpacker or want to stay put in one place, then using the train in Sardinia might be an option.
Train routes in Sardinia
The rail network connects all the main towns, with some trains running on more minor local routes. The main line goes through Cagliari-Oristano-Porto Torres and (with a change of trains in Chilivani) To Olbia as well. That’s it.
Train Costs in Sardinia
Several daily departures go from the southern part of Sardinia to the northern region and vice versa. The tickets are cheap, and you can buy them online. The longest route from Olbia to Cagliari can be completed in 4 hours and costs around 18/19 Euros.
Where to buy a Train Ticket
You can buy your Train tickets (to the main cities) directly online at the OMIO website or the official Trenitalia website. I mentioned Omio first because I find it much easier to navigate, it’s more precise on the changes of trains and the times of layovers, plus it gives you the visual route.
- Local’s Tip: Do Not forget to validate the ticket at the train station (insert it into the machine at the beginning of each platform). If you don’t validate the ticket, it is not valid, and you will get a fine. This rule applies to every train in Italy.
- SARDINIA BY BUS
ARST operates the public buses in Sardinia, runs along with the major cities, and stops at the villages and towns on the way. Gladly, given the lack of trains 🙂
- Local’s Tip: There are fewer buses on weekends and during the holidays. So plan if you wish to travel to remote villages during these times, and find another traveling method if you don’t want to get stranded.
Purchase the tickets in advance from tobacco kiosks or at newsagents near the bus stop. You can buy your ticket from the bus driver on some routes but expect a small surcharge.
The official ARST website is complicated to navigate, even for a local, and it doesn’t have an English version. That’s why I’m here. In my following guide on how to get around Sardinia by public transport, I will help you with all the details you might need. Don’t worry 🙂
- SARDINIA BY BIKE
Finally, if you have the strength, stamina, and spirit of adventure, you can bike around the breathtaking places in Sardinia. You can only expect the roads to be busy in the high seasons.
Bike Rentals Sardinia
Bike rentals are available at resorts and in major cities of Olbia, Alghero, Cagliari, Palau, Santa Teresa Gallura, and La Maddalena at € 10 per day. But note that cycling on the main road of the island SS131 is not allowed.
Taking the bike with you in Sardinia: Costs
If you wish to take the bike with you on regional trains, you can purchase a separate ticket good for 24 hours at € 3.5. The ferry charge bikes an additional fee of € 3 to € 10.
Read more (coming soon): Public Transport in Sardinia: How to move around without a car
The Takeaway of Flying To & Getting Around Sardinia
If you have read this far, congratulations! It was quite a long read, I know. I wanted to be as detailed as possible. And if you feel this guide is lacking in some areas, no worries, more detailed, in-depth articles on how to get around Sardinia are coming. I got you covered!
In need of vital information not covered here? Comment below, and I’ll do my best to help you!
Sardinia is not only rich in crystal-clear waters, soft white sand, and delicious food. The island will also seduce you with its people’s innate sense of hospitality (bragging much?? :D).
So you can expect help from the friendly locals when you need it. We, Sardinians, cannot wait to welcome you (the foreigner or “strangiu” in the Sardinian language) to our fabulous island!
PS: Do you know that Sardinian is not an Italian dialect but a different language? My friends from mainland Italy never understand a word when my parents talk with each other 😉
“A Si Biri!” ( See You soon)!
Read My Articles about Sardinia:
- Where To stay in Sardinia for Everyone (Couples included)
- One week in Sardinia: the Best Itinerary For you!
- Best Sardinia Beaches You can’t miss on Your Trip
- Fabulous reason to Visit Sardinia in Low Season
- Amazing Things To Do In Sardinia in Summer
- Unique Things To Discover in Sardinia During Winter
- Best Costa Smeralda Beaches With Map
- Sardinia By Car: The Ultimate Guide on How To Get Around the Island!
- Sardinia Photos: My 15 favorite Instagram Pictures!
- Sardinia Travel Guide: Unmissable Places To See and Things To Do!
- Sardinia Holidays for Families: Where To Stay with your kids!
- Sardinia Solo Travel: A Backpackers guide by a Local!
- Sardinia Camping: Your Guide (By a Local)
- Sardinia Travel Guides
- Sardinia in 2 weeks: Best Itinerary
- Sardinia in 3 weeks: Best Itinerary