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Holidays in Sardinia Travel Guide. Things to do and Travel Tips

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The second-largest island in the Mediterranean; holidays in Sardinia promise pristine beaches, a rich history reflected through the island’s archaeological sites, unique local culture and delicious cuisine typical to the island. 

Holidays in Sardinia Italy

There is so much to do in Sardinia beyond exploring the islands gorgeous beaches and mountainous landscape; you may feel you can never have enough time in Sardinia. 

Colourful houses along the waterfront of Bosa in Sardinia

We want to help you make the most of your time visiting Sardinia, so you leave happy knowing you experienced the best one of Italy’s most beautiful and mysterious islands. 

During your visit, take time to enjoy the beautiful beaches and waters that Sardinia has to offer. A daytime sailing trip could give you a new perspective on the gorgeous Italian island while scuba diving can show you what lies beneath the waves.  

 Sardinia is rich in ancient history evident in the many well preserved archaeological sites for visitors to experience. 

The best beaches in Sardinia are still possible to enjoy all to yourself. Take a boat cruise and relax in secluded quiet bays like this.

Getting to Sardinia 

Whether you’re travelling from another location in Italy or from outside Italy, there are several straightforward ways in which you can travel to Sardinia.

With three airports in different regions of the island, car ferries, and public transportation, going to and around Sardinia is relatively easy for visitors. 

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Flights to Sardinia

As the second biggest island in the Mediterranean next to Sicily, Sardinia is well serviced by air with airports located in the northern, middle, and southern portion of the island. 

If you’re staying in the north of the island – Alghero Airport or Olbia Airport which serves the Costa Smeralda is probably your best bet. If you are staying in the south, Cagliari Airport only a few miles from the island’s capital of Cagliari would be best. 

If flying from Rome, Alitalia has daily direct flights to Sardinia with a 40 minute flight time. Many of the low-cost airlines also offer direct flights to Sardinia from within Europe. 

Flight Tip for Sardinia

If you are visiting Sardinia from outside of Europe, don’t book a direct flight from areas such as the United States direct to the island. You will find much better deals and flight times flying to a major Italian hub such as Rome or Naples and then purchasing an internal connecting flight from there.  It’ll save you money and allow you time to explore other popular Italian destinations such as Rome

Stone arch alley way in the historic town of Cagliari in Sardinia.

Ferries to Sardinia

While flying may get you to Sardinia the fastest, travelling by ferry allows you to take in the sights of Italy’s gorgeous Tyrrhenian Sea.

Sardinia Ferry Facts

  • There are ferry routes to Sardinia from Italy, Spain and France.
  • Travel times vary from five to 14 hours, depending on your embarkation port. 
  • It is possible to book an overnight, sleeping cabin on the longer routes. 
  • Services are more frequent during summer – June – September when advance bookings are advised.
  • Fares range from €37- €74 for passengers and €87-€186 for a vehicle depending on the service. 

Below are some of the more convenient services from Rome. You can find more ferry services to Sardinia here

Sunset over the sea from the Sardinia ferry.

Ferry from Rome to Sardinia

There are four ferry routes between Rome and Sardinia with as many as 41 services per week. These services will vary seasonally and travel times will be weather dependant. It is always best to check ferry times and services closer to your travel dates for up to date information. 

Grimaldi Lines operates two routes:

  • Civitavecchia to Olbia – Seven services per week
  • Civitavecchia to Porto Torres – five services per week.

Tirrenia operates three routes:

  • Civitavecchia to Olbia – 14 services per week
  • Civitavecchia to Arbatax – Two services per week
  • Civitavecchia to Cagliari – Seven services per week.

Search Ferry Schedules and Prices Here


Getting Around Sardinia  

Sardinia is a big island, and there are so many beaches to explore, historical sites and things to see, a car is always going to be the best way to get around Sardinia.

Public transport is good and all the towns and cities relatively well connected, but it will be a slow, if not unreliable affair. 

Remember, If you hire a car in Italy, you can always transport it to Sardinia on the car ferry. 

Car hire in Sardinia is the best way to get around and see all the quaint villages with washing hanging out windows and little Ape motorbikes.

Car Rental in Sardinia

Car rental in Sardinia can actually be quite affordable depending on the time of year you are travelling.

In the shoulder seasons of March-May expect to pay as little as €35 – €75 respectively for a seven-day rental of a small – mid-size four-door vehicle.

Whereas in July and August, prices will jump to as much €200 for seven days.

If you are travelling in the peak months and planning on spending time on the Italian mainland, while car rental in Rome can be as much as €100 cheaper for a week in August, you would still need to factor the car ferry costs into your budget.

Don’t leave car hire until the last minute in Sardinia, especially in the peak summer months. 

 

Public Transport in Sardinia

While public transportation options in Sardinia do exist, they’re often not as reliable and efficient as travelling by car. If you’re looking to save some cash and don’t mind the extra travel time, using public transport to get around Sardinia is definitely an option.   

Train and bus schedules can be found on the website of ARST and Trenitalia.

Train

The Trenitalia train network in Sardinia connects the island’s main towns and cities. While there are frequent services, it is not unusual for services to run a little late here and there. Allow yourself plenty of time if connecting via train for a flight or ferry. 

Train tickets can be purchased via:

  • Phone
  • Online
  • Train station 
  • Onboard for an added fee

Cagliari, capital of Sardinia, roofs and houses of biggest city in Sardinia

Bus 

Sardinia features an extensive line of bus routes servicing all the smaller towns and villages throughout Sardinia. You can check routes and schedules on the ARST website.

Be aware; bus schedules are reduced on Sundays and holidays. Some towns and villages may only have one-two services per day, and some routes will stop entirely during school holidays. 

Bus Tickets can be purchased via:

  • Bus stations
  • Bars
  • Tobacco shops (tabacchi) 
  • Onboard with an additional fee 

Find the Best Accommodation Deals in Sardinia

 



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Things to do in Sardinia for Every Budget

Outlined below are the top suggestions for Sardinia activities to suit a variety of tastes and budgets:

Best Beaches in Sardinia

While travelling can be an expensive enterprise, heading to the beach is free.  Our first suggestion on things to do in Sardinia on a budget is experiencing the island’s beautiful beaches. 

These are some of the best beaches in Sardinia from north to south:

  • La Pelosa Beach—North 
  • Cala Corsara—North
  • Is Arutas—Central
  • Putzu Idu—Central 
  • Cala Domestica—South
  • Porto Pino—South 

All of these beaches feature the quintessential Mediterranean white sand and crystal clear water with gorgeous views. For an added tourist bonus, you’ll even find ancient ruins in each of the areas which are a great addition to a day at the beach. 

Best beach in Sardinia with white sand, clear water in a bay surrounded by rocky cliffs.

Sardinia Sailing. Best Sardinia Boat Tours

Want to enjoy Sardinia’s incredible natural beauty from a different perspective? Consider a guided sailing tour.

Sardinia’s beautiful coastline, relaxed and protected bays and several harbours make getting out on the water one of the most popular things to do in Sardinia for visitors and locals. 

The south coast of Sardinia provides fantastic sailing and boating opportunities around postcard-perfect bays such as: 

  • Cala Regina
  • Mari Pintau 
  • Torre Delle Stelle 

The Northeast coast and Northwest coast of Sardinia boast these top-notch boating spots: 

  • Villasimius
  • Cala Pira 
  • Maddalena Archipelago 
  • Asinara Island

A Sardinia sailing and boating tour floats outside a cave on crystal clear waters.

Sardinia Sailing and Boating Tour Recommendations

You can find a full range of full-day and multi-day Sardinia Sailing trips here. We recommend pre-booking for travel during the peak summer months. 

These are some of the best and most popular half and full-day boating and sailing trips in Sardinia. 

La Maddalena Archipelago: Full-Day Boat Tour from Palau

Explore the Sardinian islands on this 7-hour tour of the La Maddalena Archipelago. Visit four islands swimming on the crystal waters of the natural park where you can relax on stunning pink beaches and wander the streets of quaint island villages. The tour includes all boat transfers, National Park fees, and lunch on board. Price starts at €60 pp. See here for full tour details

La Maddalena Archipelago Sailing Catamaran Tour
Prefer a more relaxed day on board a sailing catamaran exploring the La Maddalena Archipelago? Visit secluded beaches, snorkel in the crystal clear bays and enjoy typical antipasti, home-cooked lunch and wine onboard. This full-day sailing tour starts from €75 pp. See here for full cruise details.

Sardegna: Tavolara Boat Tour with Snorkeling

Enjoy an exclusive boat tour with snorkelling within the Tavolara Marine Protected Area. Visit four different beaches on this half-day tour, snorkel in the crystal clear waters of the Tavolara Island Bay to see over 50 species of fish and coral and visit the spectacular limestone Ulisse Ear Cave. Including all activities, gear, snacks and drinks, this tour starts from €110 pp. See full tour details here

Stunning blue waters of the La Maddalena Archipelago in Sardinia.

La Maddalena Archipelago

Scuba Diving in Sardinia

Based in the Mediterranean, Sardinia makes an excellent scuba dive location. A majority of dive shops and best dive sites are found on the Northside of the island, so you may want to base yourself in Olbia or Porto Torres if you keen on doing a bit of diving.

If you plan to do some diving in the south, Cagliari is likely your best bet. If you are planning on scuba diving in Sardinia, it would be wise to ensure you are covered with proper scuba diving insurance before you leave.

If you’re not a dedicated diver but would like travel insurance that will cover scuba diving, World Nomads is your best bet as they cover travellers for such adventure activities. 

Take a Half-day Discover Scuba Tour

If you’re new to scuba diving, you can try a half-day Discover Scuba Diving tour which includes all your gear and instruction. 

Man diving off a rock into crystal clear sea water in Sardinia

Historic Sardinia Attractions & Archaeological Sites 

The Nuragic civilization built defensive structures and villages dating back to the Bronze Age in the 18th century, so there are many fascinating historical sites to visit in Sardinia.

Around 45 minutes north of Cagliari, Barumini is one of the most important and well preserved archaeological sites in Sardinia. The archaeological site Su Nuraxi at Barumini, a World Heritage site can be visited between 09.00 and 20.00 in summer and 09.00 and 17.00 in winter. Entry is €12 for adults. 

If you prefer to visit Barumini with a guided tour, this four-hour Barumini Nuraghe Tour from Cagliari includes transport, guide and entry to Barumini nuraghe and Zapata house. 

Su Nuraxi Sardinia archaeological site in Sardinia

Su Nuraxi Sardinia archaeological site

Similar to Barumini, Nora is a 45-minute drive south from Cagliari on the peninsula near the pretty seaside town of Pula. Nora began its rule under the Phoenicians later conquered by the Romans. The remains of the ancient city of Nora are surprisingly well preserved.

After visiting the Archaeological site, you can take a dip in the clear waters at Nora beach.

Entry to the archaeological area can be visited between 09.00 and 20.00. Entry is €5.50 for adults. 

Take a four hour Nora Tour from Cagliari to learn the history of Sardinia and the tradition of Saint Efisio with a professional guide and stop to photograph flamingos along the Lagoon of Santa Gilla. Included are a guide, transport and entry fees. 

Ready to Visit Sardinia? 

Sardinia is definitely no slouch when it comes to the best travel destinations in Europe. Whether you’re visiting Sardinia for a few days or a few weeks, there’s plenty for visitors to do on one of Italy’s most prominent and historical islands. 

Want to See More of Italy?

Extend your holiday in Sardinia with some of the great Italian destinations.

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