For as beautiful Sardinia is, as pristine its beaches are and crystal clear its waters look, when it comes to public transport, the best definition for the island is wild. And unorganised. This is why we recommend you rent a car in Sardinia. Read on to find out the benefits of renting a car in this Italian region, what to check before signing the contract and what are the best car rentals in Sardinia.
The benefits of hiring a car in Sardinia
You can travel at any time. In the morning, you don’t need to wait for your bus or train time to leave your hotel room or homestay. Since you are travelling more independently, you can leave and come back whenever you like without following public transport timetables, which are often not so user-friendly.
You can set your own route. By renting a car in Sardinia you can decide your own route without sticking to the few areas reached by the public transport. You can visit more places, explore little villages and areas where buses don’t stop, have lunch or dinner at a countryside restaurant or agriturismo that are often out of the cities, or just stop the car to take a picture in the wild.
You can go shopping. While you might not add too much luggage if you are travelling by plane, you might need to do some grocery shopping during your stay, especially if you are renting a house and you are staying for a couple of weeks. If you rent a car in Sardinia it’s easier as you can buy most of your shopping in one go instead of going multiple times and you can buy heavy stuff such as water bottles. Plus, if you prefer going to a large shopping centre to find everything in one place, these are often outside of the city and either the buses don’t reach or you need to wait for a long time before catching one.
You can stay out as much as you want. When you are visiting a new town or a landmark, especially if out of the city or in the countryside like many Nuragic sites, you can stay as long as you like, even after dark to enjoy a sunset in the wild or have a dinner at a little restaurant on the road. Since you are not bound to the seldom public transport timetable, you can enjoy your trip on your terms.
Where to rent a car in Sardinia
Sardinia is connected to many European capitals and top cities by several daily flights, so you can easily rent a car at any airport in Sardinia right after landing. Plus, often renting a car from the airport will have cheaper rates.
Cagliari airport. Cagliari is the island’s capital and its Cagliari Elmas airport is by far one of the most popular in Sardinia. Apart from visiting the beautiful city, explore its historic sites and enjoy its delicious restaurants, tourists love the beaches in Cagliari province, such as Costa Rei, Villasimius, Teulada, Pula, Chia and the same Poetto. If this is your type of holiday, renting a car at Cagliari airport is really recommended. From Cagliari driving to Oristano is not too far. Also to get around Oristano province you need a car so you can visit places like the Nuraghe Losa Nuragic complex, Santa Cristina sacred well, San Leonardo and Parco della Giara in the nearby province of the Medio Campidano.
Olbia airport. The airport of Olbia is also a pretty busy hub, more so in the summer months, when the island is packed with tourists from all over Europe and the world. The city is famous for being close to Porto Cervo and the Emerald Coast (Coast Smeralda) as well as other beaches along the eastern coast such as San Teodoro, Orosei, Cala Liberotto and Cala Gonone. Beaches are not the only thing to do in Olbia province: some great places to visit in Olbia’s surroundings are Cabu Abbas Nuragic complex, Sa Testa sacred well, Golfo Aranci seafaring village, and to do this you really need to rent a car at Olbia airport.
Alghero Fertilia airport. This is the third airport in Sardinia and in summer very popular. It’s another great place to rent a car in Sardinia because from here you can travel north towards the islands of La Maddalena and Caprera and towards the eastern coast of the touristy VIP Costa Smeralda as well as southward along Sardinia’s beautiful western coast. If you rent a car from Alghero Fertilia airport you can also visit the nearby city of Sassari and its surroundings to see places like the Saccargia Basilica and Monte d’Accoddi archaeological site.
How to rent a car in Sardinia
Tips when choosing a car rental in Sardinia
Pick the perfect car for your needs. After checking the best car rentals in Sardinia, pick the car according to your travel needs. Are you a big family? Do you need some extra space for luggage and daily grocery shopping? Do they have your favourite companies?
Check the conditions of your car. Before leaving the car rental, make sure you have checked every little inch of your car. Does it have a dent? Tell the company so they mark it down. Is something broken or worn-out inside or on the body of the car? Are the headlights perfectly functioning? Are the tires with the right pressure?
Make sure the insurance is included. Sardinia is pretty safe, but you never know. Before renting a car at a Sardinia airport, check if the insurance is included and what are the terms. Does it cover theft or minor dents?
Inquire about the terms and conditions. When checking the prices of your favourite car rental in Sardinia, make sure you double-check also their terms and conditions. By what time do you need to drop your car off? Can you drop it in a different place from where you rented it? Do you need to give it back with a full tank? If you can’t find a petrol station to fill your car’s tank, what is the fine?
Inquire about parking space. Sometimes hotels have their own parking lot, especially 4 and 5-star accommodations. When they don’t, however, you can check if in the city there are private parking spaces or where you can park just on the street. Sardinia is underpopulated, but somehow cars are many so ask your hotel for tips on where to park. Usually, the main streets are busy, but you can find a space for your car in the side alleys.
Inquire about local rules. Very likely your car will have a satellite navigator but do double-check if there are new detours, especially in case of local festivals. Also, always check out the speed limit in the local streets and highways, Sardinia has a lot of country roads!
Why rent a car in Sardinia
Lack of public transport. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, Sardinia is a truly beautiful island, but the public transport is next to non-existent. Whether you want to travel inside the cities or in the surroundings, you will very likely need a car in order to see more places. While in Cagliari, the public buses serve the city quite well and especially in the city centre you are better off without a car, in the rest of the island a car rental is necessary.
Discover hidden gems. If you rent a car in Sardinia you have more chances to discover its hidden gems out of the cities. Places like Barbagia in Nuoro province can really make your trip unforgettable, but to explore this area you will need your car. The same for places in Oristano province like the lovely Seneghe and its mountains, Ghilarza and its old dam, Sedilo and its July festival or the lovely S’Archittu beach.
Stop wherever you want. In Sardinia villages and towns are quite far from each other and it’s not unusual to find archaeological sites, restaurants and agriturismi along the way. If you are driving your own rental car in Sardinia you can stop in the middle of nowhere and enjoy a traditional lunch or the best light for your photo. By renting a car in Sardinia you can drive along the spectacular coastal roads and stop wherever you want for great views, unforgettable sunsets and to snap perfect postcard pictures.
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