Sardinia: Local Travel Info
The Little Continent
Internal flights and major international airports
Sardinia has three international airports and two regional linking regular flights from all over Europe. Alghero Airport in Olbia, Costa Smeralda Airport, and Cagliari-Elmas Airport are the main airports, and Oristano Fenosu Airport, and Tortoli Airport are Sardinia’s regional airports. Sardinia’s main airline, Meridiana, is based in Olbia, and Sardinian citizens benefit from discounted internal flights on the island.
Getting to and from Airports in Sardinia
How you get to Sardinia’s airports depends on where you are staying in Sardinia and which airport you are flying from/to. The best way to get around the island is by car which will solve your problem of getting to/from the airport as the main car rental companies are situated in all of Sardinia’s airports. However, there are regular buses and shuttle buses operating from all of the airports taking you to main towns or cities. You might have to get connecting buses or trains to your destination but information can be found at main bus and train stations. The main train networks are Trenitalia and FdS and the main bus companies are ARST, FdS and FMS. Getting a taxi from/ to the airport can often be the quickest option but also the most expensive.
Renting Cars in Sardinia
Renting a car in Sardinia is the best way to explore the island thoroughly. Car rental companies are located at Sardinia’s main airports Olbia, Alghero, Cagliari, Arbatax, and the main towns of Sassari, Tortoli’, Valledoria. Car rental is also available from Porto Torres Harbour during the seasonal months. Sardinia’s car rental prices range from €35 - €70 per day. It is advisable to try and book your car rental in advance before you arrive in Sardinia especially during busy seasonal periods. Drivers must be over 21 years old, 23 in some places, and you must have a credit card. Scooters and motorcycles are also available to hire in the popular tourist spots and range from €25 - € 75 per day.
Drivers licenses requirements in Sardinia?
In order to drive in Sardinia you must hold a valid EU member driving licence or if you are from a non EU country you must attain an IDP (International Driving Permit). The IDP is valid for 12 months.
Rules in Sardinia
Cars drive on the right hand side of the road throughout the island of Sardinia. It is against the law to drive without wearing your seatbelt and on the spot fines are issued if you are caught not wearing one. Police often carry out random breath tests and the blood-alcohol limit is 0.05%. The penalties can be severe if you are found driving under the influence of alcohol. Headlights must be switched on when driving on dual carriageways, regardless of whether it is night or day. Speed limits on main highways are 110km/h, 90km/h on single carriageways, and 50km/h in built up areas. The speed limits are strict and fines are issued out relative to how many miles over the limit you were driving. Warning triangles must be carried in the vehicle in case of an accident. You do not need a licence to drive some types of scooters in Sardinia but you must be over 14 years old.
Sardinia by Bus
Exploring Sardinia by bus is a great way to see the island and often faster than the rail network. Sardinia has a number of private bus companies but the services are reliable. The main bus companies operating in Sardinia are ARST, FMS, and FdS. Tickets for long distance bus journeys must be purchased in advance for bus trips with ARST and FdS. These can be purchased from main bus stations, nearby newspaper stands, and selected tabacchi (tobacco shops) or bars. Other small bus companies let you buy tickets from the driver. Finding a bus timetable can be difficult in some towns so try to plan in advance and obtain one from the main cities. Bus services are regular during weekdays but are limited on Sundays and public holidays. Buses to remote destinations operate less frequently so try and research your route before leaving. Bus prices are relatively cheap and fares can cost from €15 for a four hour journey and from €2 for a 50 minute journey. A seven day tourist pass is available for €50 (Treno e Sardegna) and allows you access on all trains and buses operated by Trenitalia and FdS.
Sardinia by Car
There is so much land to cover in Sardinia, and getting to places by car is often the best option if you want to see as much as possible during your stay on the island. Roads in Sardinia are not as modern as other countries, and there are no motorways on the island. However, there are well maintained dual-carriage ways connecting main cities, towns, and tourist areas. Due to the nature of the island, roads can be windy and narrow in places; especially the more inland you go. During the busy summer months, you will often find yourself caught up in a traffic jam as visitors flock to the island. Beware of off-road tracks which still count as roads in more remote areas as they can be bumpy and dusty, which can put strain on your vehicle. Driving in the main cities can be busy and hectic, especially if you are not used to driving on the right hand side of the road.
Sardinia by Train
Sardinia’s train network is limited due to the geography of the island but nonetheless can be a great way to get from A to B with some spectacular scenery. The main train network on the island is Trenitalia and timetables can be found posted on boards at train stations. FdS is the second main train company but they offer more limited services. During the summer months FdS provide an additional scenic service called the Trenino Verde taking tourists and locals across the island. Every six months a full train timetable called Treno Sardegna is published and available from newsagents and stations. Travelling by rail can be cheap and ticket prices vary from €1.90 for a half hour trip, to €15 for a four hour trip. A seven day tourist pass is available for €50 (Treno e Sardegna) and allows you access on all trains and buses operated by Trenitalia and FdS.
Sardinia by Taxi
Taxis are not the common way to get around on the island of Sardinia and they mostly operate in main cities such as Cagliari and Sassari. If you are staying out of town where there are poor bus and train links, a taxi might only be the way to get into main cities. Taxi can often be the quickest way to get to/ from the airport from your destination but also the most expensive way to travel. Look for official taxis at ranks or advance bookings and make you sure a price is agreed before the journey starts.
Sardinia by Bike
Cycling in Sardinia can be a fantastic and economical way to discover the island but be warded – the island is full of mountainous and hilly landscape, which could prove to be a challenge for long distances. Roads are narrow and winding and can be dangerous, especially at night. Bikes are permitted on most trains and are kept in a separate cart but an additional €5 must be paid, regardless of how far you are going. Bikes can be carried free of charge on ferries. It is against the law to cycle on highways in Sardinia. Bike hire is available in most tourist hot spots and main towns are cities. Prices range from €8 - €25 per day.
Sardinia by Boat
Exploring Sardinia by boat can be a memorable experience and gives visitors the opportunity to see the inaccessible points around the coast. Most of the tours are carried out on motorboats, small tour ferries, or even sailing vessels. The main local ferries are operated by Saremar and Enermar. Regular ferries connect Palau with the Isola di La Maddalena and there are 15 crossings a day from Portovesme to Carloforte on Isola di San Pietro. Trips cost from €2.30 per person or from €5 per car. The trips are more frequent during the summer months but remember to get there well in advance as queues can start early.
Hitch hiking in Sardinia
Hitching is not widely recognised in Sardinia so don’t be offended if the Sardinians are cautious and do not stop for you. If you do decide to hitchhike make sure you find a safe area where vehicles can stop easily, carry a sign with your destination clearly printed on it in Italian, and keep luggage items small. Remember that there is always a risk involved in hitchhiking and it is not the recommended way of travelling.