Are you planning a trip to Sardinia but are not sure how to get there? Here you will find all the information you need and our best tips on how to get to Sardinia by ferry as opposed to flying into the island.
There are mainly two ways to reach Sardinia, by ferry and by plane. While the plane is faster and easily connects the island to several European cities, arriving in Sardinia by ferry has its own benefits.
Going to Sardinia by ferry is the choice of many for various reasons. Whether it’s to spend the night at sea traveling so the day after they are ready to start exploring the island or the need to bring their own car, many choose the ship as a means of transportation to reach Sardinia.
Booking your arrival in Sardinia by ferry isn’t difficult, but there are so many companies, so many routes and different seat options to choose from that it can sometimes be confusing.
After years of experience taking the ferry to Sardinia and after having traveled the different routes and tried different companies, I think a practical and simple guide to taking the ferry to Sardinia is much needed.
From which ferry company to choose to which port to depart from to where to land, we are going to guide you to plan and book your trip easily and safely. If you are adding the island to your Italy vacation for the first time, our guide on how to get to Sardinia by ferry will help you book your tickets independently without the need to use an agency.
- 1 How to get to Sardinia by ferry – Ports of departure and arrival
- 2 Ferry routes to Sardinia
- 3 How to book your ferry to Sardinia
- 4 How to board for Sardinia with your car
- 5 Which accommodation to choose on the ship
- 6 Why and when to go to Sardinia by ship
How to get to Sardinia by ferry – Ports of departure and arrival
Sardinia is connected by sea both to various Italian ports and to other European countries. These are the main ports from which ferries leave for Sardinia.
Ports of departure to Sardinia
- Porto Vecchio
Ports of arrival in Sardinia
- Cagliari. Cagliari is the island’s capital and the main port in southern Sardinia. Perfect for visiting the southern part of the island and the center such as the province of Oristano.
- Olbia. Important commercial and tourist port on the northeastern coast, perfect if you want to go to the Costa Smeralda, certainly one of the places to visit in Sardinia.
- Porto Torres. This is an important city in northern Sardinia and the best port to land in if you want to visit the Sassari province. It’s also the closest port to go to the Asinara National Park.
- Arbatax. This port on the central-eastern coast of Sardinia is famous for its beaches and rocky landscapes.
- Golfo Aranci. Important marina on the northeastern coast of Sardinia near Olbia and between the Costa Smeralda and Tavolara.
- Santa Teresa di Gallura. The northernmost port of Sardinia in the Gallura area and the closest to Corsica and the Bocche di Bonifacio.
Ferry routes to Sardinia
These are the ferry routes to Sardinia both from Italian and international ports. There are several companies running the trips and they frequently change and swap routes every year and sometimes on different seasons. These are the schedules at the time of writing, but it’s likely that next year the same companies will swap routes and even change the schedules.
- Civitavecchia-Olbia. Duration of navigation 8 hours at night, about 5 hours during the day. The daytime route is run mainly in summer because the type of ferry used, usually a hydrofoil, cannot sail in bad weather and very rough seas. The companies that make this route are Tirrenia and Grimaldi. Tirrenia usually travels all year round while Grimaldi travels mainly in the summer.
- Civitavecchia-Cagliari. Duration of navigation 13 hours. The company that travels this route is Grimaldi and on Tuesdays and Saturdays, it calls at the port of Arbatax so the navigation lasts 15 hours.
- Civitavecchia-Porto Torres. Duration of navigation from 7 to 8 hours. The route is served by Grimaldi every day except Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday in season while in the less crowded months, it is only two days a week, usually Tuesday and Friday.
- Genoa-Porto Torres. Duration of navigation 10 hours. Along with those from Civitavecchia to Olbia and Cagliari, this is one of the most popular. It is served by Tirrenia and GNV every day.
- Genoa-Olbia. Duration of navigation from 10 to 12 hours. This route is served by GNV and Moby every day. In the high season, there are days with as many as four slots available, while in the non-summer months, it’s usually run every day except Sundays.
- Livorno-Olbia. The duration of navigation is about 9 hours. An important commercial and tourist route towards the north of Sardinia, the route is operated by Grimaldi and Moby all year round.
- Livorno-Golfo Aranci. Duration of navigation 7 or 9 hours during the day and 10 and a half hours during the night. The route is served by Sardinia Ferries, Moby, and Grimaldi several times a day in the high season. In autumn and winter, there is only the night ride with one journey per day and it can last up to 12 hours.
- Naples-Cagliari. Duration of navigation 15 hours. The route is managed by Grimaldi and travels once a day at night on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
- Palermo-Cagliari. Duration of navigation from 12 to 13 hours. Tirrenia is the company to book for this trip and sails on Wednesdays and Sundays in high season, while in high season only on Saturdays.
- Piombino-Golfo Aranci. The route lasts between 6 and 7 hours and is managed by Sardinia Ferries. It runs three times a day on Sundays and once a day on the other days of the week only in August and some days in September.
- Piombino-Olbia. The navigation lasts 5 and a half hours and is managed by Moby on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in June and July, while in August it’s every day. Usually, in autumn and winter, this route is suppressed.
International routes by ship to Sardinia
- Ajaccio-Porto Torres. The duration of navigation is 6 hours, it is managed by Corsica Ferries and it runs once a week in the morning.
- Barcelona-Porto Torres. Duration of navigation 12 and a half hours. The company is Grimaldi and travels at night every Monday and Thursday. From October, it runs only on Sundays.
- Bastia-Golfo Aranci. Duration of navigation 7 and a half hours. This route travels with Corsica Ferries only in the low season.
- Bonifacio-Santa Teresa. This boat trip is very short, just an hour, so you can’t book cabins or armchairs but simply deck passage. The companies that operate this route are Moby and Ichnusa Line several times a day in the summer, while in the other seasons, only Moby remains.
- Nice-Porto Torres. Duration of navigation from 10 to 12 hours, depending on the season, the weather, and the vessels used. The route, managed by Sardinia Ferries, runs only on Sundays in June and July. Towards the end of July and for all of August, it runs three times a week, while in September only a few times. From fall, this route is canceled.
- Porto Vecchio-Porto Torres. Duration of navigation 5 and a half hours. The route is operated by Corsica Ferries. It doesn’t run during the high season and only once a month in the fall.
- Toulon-Golfo Aranci. The navigation takes 20 hours. The route is managed by Sardinia Ferries only in September.
- Toulon-Porto Torres. The duration of navigation is between 10 and 15 hours. The company is still Sardinia Ferries and runs the route several times a week in the summer and a couple of times a month all year round.
How to book your ferry to Sardinia
You can book the ferry to Sardinia by calling the company directly or conveniently online.
We always book online through the FerryScanner website. Here you will find all the companies and all the routes.
At the time of booking, you will be presented with various drop-down menus to choose the route, the number of passengers, the number of children and their age, if you are traveling with a pet, if you have a car, and what type of passage you want, whether it’s deck, armchair, or cabin.
When adding the car, the website gives the option to choose the model, the dimensions, the type of car, and to declare if you have a trailer. For those traveling with a pet, some companies, such as Tirrenia, offer the possibility of keeping it together with its owner in a special cabin, or of placing it in cages on the deck.
Once the reservation has been set up, the travelers’ personal data is entered and the payment is made, which can be done by credit card. Once the payment has been made, you will receive an email with the booking code, a summary of the estimate, and travel details with the date and time of departure and arrival, company, chosen seat, and insurance, if any.
Also by email, you will receive your ticket and instructions for obtaining the boarding pass. You can print the tickets or show them at the terminal on your tablet or smartphone and they will be converted into a boarding pass just like at the airport.
Use the search box below to compare ferry options and check their schedules, prices, and routes.
By contacting the company
You also have the option to book directly with the company by either calling them or via their website. You can reserve your seat and collect your ticket at the port before departure. Probably, in the low season, you can also buy the ticket directly in the port even without having reserved it first, but we’ve never done it, so I don’t know if it’s worth it or if they allow it. In any case, each passenger must present a valid ID.
How to board for Sardinia with your car
For those traveling by car, it is required to arrive two hours before departure to proceed with boarding. This is the rule, but in reality even an hour earlier is enough, given that in any case, the ship won’t close the garage long before departure.
It’s widely believed that if you embark before everyone else, you will usually disembark last, making the landing extra long, especially in the high season when the ship is full. This, however, is not always the case. We have often boarded first and got off the ship also among the first. It all depends on the tour they make you do in the garage and where they tell you to leave your car.
Upon departure, while you are in line for boarding, they will ask you for the tickets. When you are about to embark, they will ask for an ID from each traveler, including children and infants.
Normally, upon arrival, they disembark passengers without a car first and then open the garages. Once in the car, the engine should only start when you are ready to go. The first to disembark are the trucks and the cars will follow. There are always garage workers to lead the operations.
Which accommodation to choose on the ship
At the time of booking, the type of accommodation you prefer during navigation is requested. There are usually three:
In the cabin
This is an accommodation with beds and a private bathroom. Particularly convenient when traveling at night, we also took it during the day because our son was very small and we knew he would need to sleep during the many hours of travel from home to arrival at the destination.
The cabins are not all the same and the prices also change. The type of cabins varies according to the company, but generally, they include internal cabins, external cabins with sea view portholes, and internal and external quadruple cabins. Most ferries also have pet-friendly cabins.
Some Tirrenia ships also include 4 or 2-bed suites, generally external. The external suites have a double bed if sleeping for two or a double bed and two separate beds if sleeping for four. They are generally larger cabins with TV, private toilets and sea-view portholes.
If you book the seat you will have assigned an armchair, so it will be for private use for the entire journey like on an airplane. And like on the airplane, it can be reclined. This choice may be for shorter journeys because spending the whole night in an armchair doesn’t really allow you to rest well and you’ll arrive pretty exhausted.
By simply booking a deck passage, you do not have any cabin or armchair. You will have access to the common areas, the bar, restaurants, the cinema, and the games room when open. You can sit on sofas, chairs, and armchairs always in the common areas such as the TV hall.
Why and when to go to Sardinia by ship
It depends on which itinerary you have decided to follow, driving your own vehicle in Sardinia is a rather obligatory choice. Certainly, in Sardinia, you can rent a car at any airport but, in general, arriving with your own car is the main reason for getting to Sardinia by ferry.
When planning your trip, you have several factors to consider. We decided to go to Sardinia by ferry from Rome just to travel with our car since we had an 8-month-old baby.
Ultimately, going to Sardinia by ferry does not necessarily mean wasting time. If you travel at night you can book a cabin and rest comfortably so you can be operational the next day. In this way, you save money on the hotel as the overnight stay corresponds to the transfer time. Especially if yours is a short trip and are not staying far from the port, saving time as well as money is probably worth considering.