Renting a car is the best way to get around the island of Sardinia, as many beaches and attractions are difficult or impossible to reach by public transport.
All of the main roads that connect the towns and cities of Sardinia are in fairly good condition, which often comes as a surprise for those visiting the island for the first time. Although if you are searching for nuraghes or remote agrotourism you may have to contend with bumpy dirt tracks.
There is so much to explore on the island, and having your own car opens up many new possibilities. With a car, you can explore the island on your own time, without the time constraints of organising and waiting for public transport.
Frankly, the public transport network in Sardinia is poor and will limit your travel options. Trains are for the most part reliable but are infrequent and only connect the main towns and cities. While the bus service connects most Sardinian villages it remains very localised. It could take the whole day to cross the island by bus. The most beautiful places are only accessible by car, including hidden beaches and stunning rural areas. I highly recommend renting a car for your holiday.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about renting a car in Sardinia, from the best companies to the best times to rent. We’ll also share some insider tips on choosing the best routes for exploring Sardinia. So stick around!
Where Can I Rent A Car In Sardinia?
When you arrive in Sardinia by air you can rent a car at any of the airports. Each airport has a car rental office where you can enquire about renting a car. If you book a car at the last moment you are likely to be paying more. By checking out your options beforehand you can find the best-priced service for you.
Here are the location of the car rental offices, at each of the airports:
Cagliari Elmas Airport: at the exit of the baggage claim area, turn left and go straight ahead. Pass all the shops and follow the signs for “Car Rental Services”. The offices are in the corridor leading to the station (on the left.)
Olbia Airport: the car rental office is located outside the airport, 50 metres from the arrivals terminal. Easily accessible on foot, by following the signs for car rental.
Alghero Fertila Airport: the office is located in the arrivals terminal, next to baggage reclaim.
First, we will explore in detail why renting a car is the best way to explore Sardinia and it’s beautiful terrains.
1. Travel At Your Own Pace:
This means you can travel according to your schedule and make stops. If you are someone who doesn’t like being on a tour where everything is decided for you, then renting a car is the best option as it gives you the freedom to do what you want. The best thing about renting a car is you can make spontaneous decisions about where to go and what to see. What could be better than exploring the island at your leisure without worrying about timetables or public transport schedules?
2. Choose Your Own Adventure:
Renting a car allows you to explore Sardinia at your own pace and go off the beaten path. You can visit small villages and see landmarks that are not accessible by public transport. Moreover, the island is quite large, and public transportation can be very limited, especially in rural areas. By having your own car, you can explore hidden beaches and mountain villages and experience Sardinia’s diverse landscapes.
3. Convenient Than Public Transport:
Renting a car is much more convenient than relying on public transportation. You can come and go as you please without waiting for buses or trains with a car rental. Most importantly, the local transport system in Sardinia is not much developed and may limit your options for exploring this beautiful piece of land!
4. It is Budget-Friendly:
Hiring a car usually works out cheaper than taking taxis everywhere or using public transport, especially if there are multiple people in your group. Car rental rates are very reasonable in Sardinia, especially if you book in advance.
5. Travel In Comfort:
Travelling by car is more comfortable than public transport as you don’t have to lug around all your luggage. You can also store more luggage in the car. Furthermore, you will be ensured that your luggage is safe and sound.
6. It Saves You From Unnecessary Stress:
Last but not least, renting a car will help you avoid stress while on vacation. With your own set of wheels, you won’t have to worry about getting lost or missing your bus stop. When you rent a car, you don’t have to worry about finding your way around unfamiliar places or worrying about getting lost. This can help reduce stress levels and make your holiday more enjoyable.
Have A Valid Driver’s License:
To rent a car in Sardinia, you will need to have a valid driver’s license from your home country. If you’re coming from the United States or Canada, you will need to obtain an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) before your trip. IDPs are available through your local AAA or CAA office.
Choose A Car Renting Company:
Renting a car in Sardinia is easy, and various companies can choose. The best way to find a company is to search online or ask for recommendations from friends. Once you’ve found a company, be sure to read the reviews and compare rates. There are a number of international and local companies that offer car rental services in Sardinia. Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt are the most popular international companies. For local companies, we recommend Autonoleggio Sadem and Sardinya Rent.
Be Sure To Compare Rates:
When renting a car in Sardinia, be sure to compare rates from multiple companies. Some rental companies may offer discounts for online bookings or longer rental periods. The best time to rent a car in Sardinia is during the off-season (November through February). Rates are significantly lower during these months, so you can save a lot of money by renting during this period. A pro tip is to read the fine print carefully to be aware of additional charges.
Be Prepared To Pay A Security Deposit:
When renting a car in Sardinia, you will likely be required to pay a security deposit. This deposit is typically refundable if there is no damage to the car during your rental period. Be sure to have a ready credit card with enough funds available to cover the deposit amount. Use a credit card that offers rental car insurance. This can save you money if you have to file a claim with your credit card company.
Most car rental companies require you to pay with a credit card. The first time I rented a car in Sardinia, was at Olbia Airport, I didn’t have a credit card, so I had to pay 35 Euros for car insurance each day, which would have been free with a credit card. The deposit however was reduced from 800 Euros to 250 Euros.
Also, some deposits can take up to 30 days to return to your account after bringing the car back.
Plan Your Route In Advance:
Sardinia is a large island with plenty of winding roads and scenic routes. Planning your route in advance will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Be sure to map out your route and note any attractions or sights you would like to see along the way. Although driving across the length of the island takes 3 hours, driving across from the west to the east or east to west, can take a lot longer, as there are few main roads, and the roads are notoriously winding.
Choose The Right Car For Your Needs:
There is a wide selection of rental cars available in Sardinia. Choose a car that is the right size for your group and has ample space for luggage. If you are driving on winding roads, be sure to choose a car that is comfortable to drive and has good visibility. Sardinia has a lot of hills and winding roads, so it’s important to rent a car that is comfortable to drive. Moreover, the island is quite mountainous, so be sure to choose a car that’s capable of handling the terrain. The cheapest cars avaliable are often a Fiat 500 or Fiat Panda.
Get A Quote In Advance:
Be sure to read the fine print before booking. This way, you’ll know exactly what’s included in your rental and can avoid any hidden fees. Rental car rates can vary greatly depending on the company, time of year, and type of car you select. Get a quote from several companies before booking to ensure you get the best deal possible. Book your car in advance. Generally, the earlier you book, the cheaper the rate will be.
Be Aware of local traffic laws:
When driving in Sardinia, be sure to familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws. This includes speed limits, turning at intersections, and parking regulations. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, so it’s always best to play it safe and know the rules before hitting the road. Many of the roads are narrow and winding, so it’s important to be a confident driver. Also, keep in mind that parking can be difficult to find in major cities.
Check Your Car Before Leaving The Lot:
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 in 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 videos 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.
When Returning The Car
Avoid rushing when returning the car, and make sure that you leave plenty of time for the handover and checks. 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
Fill Up The Tank Before Returning The Car:
Most rental companies charge a premium for refuelling the car before returning it. To avoid this fee, fill up the tank before returning the car. You don’t want to fill way beyond the amount of fuel that was in the car when you first rented it, but they will charge you if it is less than it was when you picked it up. Make sure you have photographs of the fuel gauge when you left.
Important Things That You Should Know When Driving In Sardinia
Drivers using phones / not concentrating on the road
While driving in Italy and Sardinia I noticed that many drivers are on their phones and don’t give as much care and consideration to other drivers. Give plenty of room the car in front of you.
Many drivers don’t indicate
You shouldn’t anticipate drivers on the island to use their indicators.
Slip Roads Are Short
When driving on the main road, you will notice that the slip roads are very short. This means you need to reduce your speed to be able to make it around the slip road. Also, car that is entering the road can appear in front of you very quickly.
Driving Rules In Sardinia:
The driving rules in Sardinia are similar to those in other parts of Italy. Remember to keep to the right-hand side of the road and yield to oncoming traffic when turning. Also, beware of driving in areas where there are wild animals, as they may dart out onto the road.
The Speed Limit On Roads In Sardinia:
The speed limit on highways in Sardinia is 130 km/h, while the limit on secondary roads is 110 km/h. The limit is 50 km/h unless otherwise posted in built-up areas.
Documents Required To Rent A Car:
To rent a car in Sardinia, you will need a valid driver’s license, a credit card (or debit car but you have to pay for insurance on top), and a passport.
Type Of Cars Available To Rent:
The types of cars available to rent in Sardinia vary depending on the rental company. You can usually find small to medium-sized cars as well as SUVs. Find your car for your Sardinian holiday.
There are many reasons why Sardinia is the perfect destination for a road trip.
- First, the island is large enough to explore for a week or more.
- Second, there are a variety of landscapes to explore, from the beaches to the mountains.
- Third, Sardinia is relatively undeveloped, so it’s easy to find places to camp or stay in small villages.
- Fourth, the island has a relaxed pace of life, so it’s easy to spend a leisurely week on the beach or hiking in the mountains.
SS131 or The Strada Statale Carlo Felice 131, is the major road in Sardinia, Italy. It is a 229 km freeway that connects the Cagliari in the south with, the Sassari & Porto Torres in the North. It is considered the spine of Sardinia.
SS131 (d.n.c) or The Strada Statale Diramazione Centrale Nuorese 131 branches of the aforementioned road, links up to Olbia, connecting Nuoro and many other locations in the Barbagia region. These roads make it easy and quick to drive across the length of the island
There are many routes to take around Sardinia, depending on your interests. The best route for those interested in beaches is to take the coastal road from Cagliari to Olbia SS125, Sardinian’s call this the Route 66 of the island. This route takes you past some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, including Costa Rei and Cala Gonone.
The best route for those interested in hiking is to take the mountain road from Cagliari to Arzachena. This route takes you past some of the most popular hiking trails on the island, including Monte Ferru and Monte Limbara.
The best route for those interested in history is to take the ancient road from Cagliari to Oristano. This route takes you past some of the most important archaeological sites on the island, including Tharros and Nora.
In conclusion, here are a few things to remember when renting a car in Sardinia. Make sure you have a valid driver’s license and international insurance. Be aware of the traffic rules and regulations, and take time to enjoy the beautiful scenery. With a little planning, you can have a stress-free and enjoyable visit!