Interested in traveling in Sardinia? This is the first post of a series discussing getting to and around the island. Join me as I discuss the best places and times to visit.
Sardinia is one of the lesser-known jewels of the Mediterranean travel scene. The northeastern part of the island is known as the “Costa Smeralda” or Emerald Coast and is home to jetsetter tourism and posh resorts. We’re not going to talk about that area so much since there are plenty of other resources for that. We’re going to focus on tourism in the rest of Sardinia, where tourists rarely go and where authentic Sardinian culture can still be seen.
Sardinia is dominated by a rugged coastline, emerald waters, and imposing granite mountains. Add the warm Sardinian culture and rustic Sardinian cuisine and you have one of best off-the-beaten-track destinations left in Europe. I hope you’ll follow along as we explore the many facets of this unknown island and tips for your future Mediterranean travels.
Getting to Sardinia
Sardinia has no bridges connecting it to mainland Italy so getting there requires flying into the airports of Alghero or Cagliari or taking an overnight ferry. Flights can be taken from many European cities including: Rome, Milan, London, Paris etc. On arrival, trains, buses, or preferably cars can be had to get you wherever else you want to go.
Overnight ferries are my preferred way to get to Sardinia. From Rome, one can take a ferry from the Roman port town of Civitavecchia that will take you to Arbatax and Cagliari. One can also take ferries from Corsica, Sicily, Livorno and Tunisia.
If you’re on the cheap, just book a chair or deck seat and bring an inflatable beach mattress to stretch out on the floor. You’ll see many Sardinian budget tourists doing the same. Cabins can be had and cars can be driven onboard. It is highly recommended to come early if you plan to bring your car to avoid lines. Bring sandwiches and snacks for the trip, as the food aboard Sardinian ferries is barely edible.
Getting Around Sardinia
On arrival, your best bet will be to rent a car at either the Alghero or Cagliari airports or any of the ferry terminals for the remainder of your tour. Rental cars can be returned at many points all over the island for additional cost. I definitely recommend renting a car in advance, payable in advance, to minimize any last minute hassles. All the major car rental agencies have offices in Alghero and Cagliari as well as at other points around the island. Check for deals through AAA, or any other affiliations you may have. Always pay by credit card so that you can do a charge-back if any agent shenanigans ensue. Italians love to haggle and Sardinian tourist agencies are no different so come armed with printed reservations and a confident demeanor.
Sardinia has been the recent beneficiary of an autostrada di super-velocita, also known as a major highway. Running vaguely northwest to southeast, it takes a lot of the car-sickness and vagaries out of travel. It also removes a lot of the charm, so unless you’re in a major hurry, I recommend taking local roads whenever possible. Especially to be recommended is the coast road along the eastern coast of Sardinia.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our first list of Sardinia travel tips, stay tuned for Post #2 in our Traveling in Sardinia: A Guide For Tourist series.