Sardinia is an ideal place for renting a car. Driving around Sardinia is hassle-free, and I highly recommend renting a car. There is so much to explore on the island, having your own car opens up many new possibilities. Frankly, the public transport network in Sardinia is poor and will limit your travel options. The most beautiful places are only accessible by car, including hidden beaches and stunning rural areas.
Most travelers have good experiences hiring cars in Sardinia. In this article, I want to give you all of the information, so you can have a pleasant experience too.
Before driving away into the Sardinian hills, read this article it will aid you with everything you need to know about hiring a car in Sardinia.
How to rent a car in Sardinia
Don’t leave it to the last moment.
Imagine, you’ve just landed in Sardinia, you’ve had a long day, and all you want to do is drive away, get something to eat or get to bed. I can tell you now that you’re not going to get a good deal. Also, you will likely skim over the terms and conditions to sign without understanding fully what they involve. But that’s not the case with you, because you are reading this now. You are informing yourself so you can hire a car in Sardinia, smoothly, knowing what you want, without getting scammed. Also booking ahead will save you money. You can usually book a car together with your flight, though it’s not always the cheapest option to do this.
Choose a car for your needs.
Are you a big family? Or a couple? Do you have massive amounts of luggage? Do you plan to explore parts of inland Sardinia, where extra horsepower may come in handy? Is there a brand of car that is most comfortable for you? Automatic or Manual? Fuel efficiency?
Ensure that insurance is included
Before hiring a car, you should find out if the insurance is included. The roads in Sardinia are reasonably quiet, and there are few accidents, but you never know. Read the terms and conditions of the insurance policy and check what is included. It is possible that you may dent or scratch the car, you should find out if you are covered.
Read the terms and conditions before renting
As well as checking the prices of the different rental cars, you should also check the terms and conditions. These are the rules that you will have to follow if you decide on renting a car. Find out if you can drop the car off in a different location then where you rented it, for example, if you plan to hire a car upon arrival in Alghero and plan to depart from Cagliari, it would be ideal for you to be able to drop the vehicle off in Cagliari. What time do you need to drop off the car? What are the charges if you are late? Will you need to return the vehicle with a full tank of gas? If you fail this, what are the costs?
Some rentals may charge less per day, but there may be a restriction of the number of kilometers you can drive. For example, every kilometer once you’ve passed 100km may have a charge. Do your own research and read the terms and conditions.
Collecting the car
Check all aspects of the car before signing. Ask the rental staff plenty of questions. Insist that they make a note of everything that causes you concern, on a condition sheet. For example, if there is a dent on the door, you will need, they will need to make a note. So when returning the car, they can clearly see that you were not responsible and the damage was pre-existing. Take plenty of photographs and video of the inside and outside of the vehicle, especially any small damage or marks that you notice.
Some of the less reputable hiring companies have gained a negative reputation for exploiting small marks and dents found around the car. You should google the company you plan to hire from, and read their reviews before hiring. Although, this isn’t something to be concerned about with most companies in Sardinia.
Returning the car
Avoid rushing when returning the car. If you have are departing in the morning, aim to return the car the evening before. You should speak with a representative when returning the vehicle. Then you can be reassured that the car has been returned, will full confidence in its condition. If you just drop off the keys, then you lose an element of control. You don’t want to receive a letter months later with an additional charge. If you can’t drop the car to them in person, then as you did when collecting the car, document everything again, photographs inside and out. If there are any problems, you can compare the pictures that were taken when you received the car to those made when it was returned.
Where can you pick up a rental car in Sardinia?
Sardinia has three main airports. Cagliari Elmas Airport, Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, and Alghero Airport. You can easily rent a car from the airports upon arrival – ideally, you would pre-book in advance. Most international and local rental companies have offices at the airports, at the major port towns (Porto Torres, Cagliari, Arbatax, and Olbia), at the main provincial cities of Sardinia, such as Sassari, Nuoro, and Oristano. You now may be able to find rental office also at significant holiday resorts.
Find out the rental companies for each airport.
- Cagliari Elmas Airport: http://www.cagliari-airport.com/car-hire.html
- Alghero Airport: https://www.aeroportodialghero.it/servizi.html
- Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport: https://olbiaairport.com/olbia-airport-car-hire/
The rental options at the ports in Sardinia are much more limited than the airport or cities. You do have the opportunity to take public transport to a larger town to find a better deal or to rent from a provider you trust.
Why you should rent a car in Sardinia?
Poor local transport
It is possible to travel around Sardinia using public transport, but you will be limited in your options. The train network links the major cities together, and the infrequent bus services link up the smaller towns and most villages. The real gems of Sardinia, unfortunately, cannot be reached by public transport, including archaeological sites and beaches.
If you are planning a city break, especially in Cagliari, then the urban bus network will suffice and make traveling around the city easy. But if you want to get out of the town or head out on a road trip following the coast, then you will need a car.
The option of staying out in the countryside
If you want to experience life in the Sardinian countryside, staying in a rustic B&B or Agriturismo, you will need a car to reach your accommodation. Also, the mountainous region of Barbagia or the province of Nuoro is some of the most beautiful areas of Sardinia, almost unreachable by public transport. A car just opens up so many possibilities.
Stopping whenever you want: ancient sites, beautiful churches, restaurants or panoramic platforms
Sardinia is specialled with mesmerizing sites, every corner can bring a new surprise. Maybe it is a towering Nuraghi, a Templar church on a hillside or a waterfall in the mountain valley. You won’t be able to appreciate these sites from the window of a bus/ Renting a car allows you to park up and explore.
Going out in the evening
Having access to a car in Sardinia gives you the freedom to make your own plans, without being confined by the ‘last bus.’ The evenings in Sardinia are beautiful, find a place to watch the sunset. Maybe you want to have a romantic evening meal in a nearby village, this is only possible with a car.
Traveling down the coastline
One of the most popular ways to explore Sardinia is to drive along the coast, exploring seaside towns and untread beaches.
Things to be aware of when driving in Sardinia
Be aware of Restricted Traffic Zones (ZTL – Zona a Traffico Limitato)
In the cities of Alghero, Cagliari, Nuoro, Pula, and Sassari, there exists a restricted traffic zone. These zones are in place all across Italy, to create traffic-free areas in historical centers across the country, you will be aware of this if you have visited other cities on the mainland with a car. If you accidentally find your way into the zone, you will automatically be sent a ticket. The zones are monitored with cameras and tickets are issued on the spot, if the car is rented, then you will be billed by the rental company If you are unaware of this you could find yourself following vehicles into the zone that are locals with passes or emergency vehicles, leading to a fine. This is usually between 50-80 Euros, depending on the city.
Road signs are not always accurate.
The road signs across Sardinia are not still the most reliable. Neither are they often directing you along the most efficient or direct routes. It’s essential to take a road map with you or a Sat Nav if you ever become lost. Although becoming lost in Sardinia often leaves you with some magical surprises if you are willing to venture down the little roads that are often leading to small villages and historical sites or a dead end.
Don’t get too close to the car in front.
Keeping a reasonable distance between yourself and the vehicle in front is a practice you must do in any country that you drive in. But especially in Sardinia and Italy. Italian drivers like to concentrate on what’s in front rather than checking the mirrors, but this can lead to a dangerous situation when accompanied by not using indicators. You need time to react if the vehicle in front decides to turn without giving warning, keeping a distance will reduce any risk. Also, cars may slow down or in some cases even stop, give yourself space and time to maneuver safely if this ever happens.
Allow vehicles to overtake you if they are speeding.
Sardinians may disregard speed limits on roads they are familiar with, they are impatient and its best just to let them pass. When being overtaken keep as far right as possible and not accelerate.