How To Plan a Trip to Sardinia in 14 Steps – An Easy Guide

Angela Corrias in Tharros Sardinia

Angela Corrias

Are you wondering how to plan a trip to Sardinia and not sure where to start? I hear you! Trip planning can be overwhelming even for seasoned travelers, and Sardinia is a wonderful destination but often not an easy one.

From crafting an itinerary to deciding where to land and when is the best time to go, my guide will help you remember every step to plan a perfect Sardinia holiday.

Image: La Pelosa famous beach in Sardinia.

Sardinia trip planner – My step-by-step guide

Decide when to go

Sardinia is a big summer destination in Italy because of its beautiful beaches. I get it, I also like to discover the coastline, but the island has its own appeal all year round. While in summer you will be spending most of your time on the beach because it’s too hot, in the other seasons, you will be more able to explore the inland, the beautiful Sardinian towns and their traditions and landmarks.

Apart from the weather, you can also research important dates and events, local festivals, holidays, and fairs to decide when to travel to Sardinia.

Check out my full guide to the best time to visit Sardinia

Create your own itinerary

Sardinia is Italy’s second biggest island so it’s hard to visit everything in one trip. I suggest creating an itinerary that includes a bit of everything, from traditional specialties to archaeological sites to enjoying its famous coastline.

Something else that is always very interesting to do in Sardinia is to attend a local festival or food fair (sagra). For example, are you going to Sardinia in February? Then you shouldn’t miss Carnival celebrations such as Oristano’s Sartiglia and Mamoiada’s Mamuthones.

Traveling around Sardinia is quite easy, but so is also getting lost. Directions are not always perfectly marked and sometimes reaching points of interest is not very straightforward. This is why, in my customized Sardinia itineraries I include all the necessary tips for a smooth holiday such as the best roads to take, how to reach all the mentioned places, extra activities in each area, and also what and where to eat.

Image: How to plan a trip to Sardinia and see the local festivals.

Decide how long to stay

Whether it’s your first holiday in Sardinia or you have already visited the island, I always suggest staying for at least one week. You are probably not going to find much traffic on the roads, but if you want to explore different places, you are going to spend some time traveling.

Two weeks is probably the best amount of time so that you can have a diverse trip and enjoy different experiences.

Do you want this guide to always be available offline? Check out our step-by-step planner with a few bonuses!

Budget your holiday

When wondering how to plan a trip to Sardinia, setting a budget is one of the first decisions you need to make. Some areas in Sardinia can be quite expensive, especially in the Costa Smeralda from May through October with peaks in July and August. While Costa Smeralda is an extreme example because it’s the most expensive area in Sardinia, in summer, prices rise all over the island’s coastline.

Apart from accommodation, your budgeting for a trip to Sardinia will also include items like food, whether it’s eating out or grocery shopping, transport, admission to landmarks, parking if you have a car, and renting a lounge and shade on the beach.

Check out my cost breakdown of a holiday in Sardinia

Image: Going to the beach in Sardinia.

Decide where to stay

When booking your accommodation in Sardinia, several factors can impact your choice. Do you prefer a villa on the beachfront or budget accommodation inside the city? Are you going in summer and need to go near the coast or off-season to visit the inland?

Sardinia offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxury villas on the Emerald Coast to the eco-resorts to private apartments in the cities’ historic centers. Depending on your budget and travel needs, in Sardinia, there is a solution for every traveler.

If you want an all-inclusive holiday, a 5-star resort or a luxury villa by the beach is your best bet. On the other hand, if you are traveling on a shoestring, renting an apartment or booking a hotel in a smaller village would save you quite a lot. For example, on the western coast in the Oristano province, small towns like Narbolia and Riola offer very affordable accommodation because not right on the beach but with a 5-minute car ride, you are on the coast.

Check out our guide to the best areas to book your hotel in Sardinia

Pick the right airport

Once your itinerary is laid out and you have decided where to start your trip, whether it’s north or south Sardinia, you can choose the best airport for you to land in. The airports in Sardinia are three: Olbia-Costa Smeralda in the northeast, Alghero in the northwest, and Cagliari in the south.

Suppose you are visiting the eastern coast such as the Orosei Gulf and the Ogliastra region, or northern Sardinia such as Santa Teresa di Gallura, La Maddalena Archipelago, and the Strait of Bonifacio. In that case, Olbia airport is the one to choose.

To visit southern Sardinia and also the more central areas such as Oristano province, Sulcis, and Medio Campidano, I suggest landing at the Cagliari-Elmas airport. On the other hand, if you are aiming to explore the northwestern coast such as Bosa, Stintino, La Pelosa Beach, and L’Asinara, you should land in Alghero.

Image: Angela Corrias of Sardinia Revealed visiting an archaeological site in Sardinia.

Book your flights

Now it’s time to research and book your flights. You can either check directly the airlines’ websites or travel comparison sites like Skyscanner to compare prices and schedules.

Sardinia is connected to many European capitals and larger cities as well as many Italian regions, so it won’t be difficult to find a flight.

…or ferries

If you are reaching Sardinia from Rome, Genoa, Palermo, Ajaccio, or even Barcelona and Nice, you can opt for the ferry instead of flying.

This is the best way if you are traveling by car and with children so you can carry more luggage, and move around more comfortably. Obviously, this way you won’t need to rent a car once in Sardinia.

Check out my guide to the different ways to get to Sardinia

Make a wise packing list

We all have our favorite items we can’t travel without. However, apart from the essentials such as your smartphone, camera, bags and clothes, in Sardinia, you will find everything you need in your daily life like shampoo, soap, sunscreen, and medicines that can be sold over the counter.

I suggest packing what you know you will need the very first days upon landing and obviously your clothes, shoes, swimwear, and a backpack or sling bag.

Check out my guide to packing for Sardinia in the summer

Image: Angela Corrias of Sardinia Revealed driving in Sardinia.

Do you need a car?

Are you only staying in Cagliari or are you planning to travel around? Are you traveling independently or are you part of a group tour?

To reach smaller towns, many archaeological sites, countryside accommodations like an agriturismo, or even several beaches, driving is your best option. This is why I often recommend renting a car in Sardinia. If you are not confident driving in places you are not familiar with, you can hire a local driver.

Understand public transport

The modes of public transport in Sardinia mainly come down to three: trains, buses, and ferries. You would use the train to reach the larger cities but also small towns. Once you get off the train, however, you are on foot or you need to rely on the ARST company’s local buses that are not frequent and don’t reach all the points of interest.

To reach some of the smaller islands off Sardinia’s coast such as La Maddalena archipelago, L’Asinara, or Carloforte, you will have to take the ferry whether you are by car or using public transportation.

Research local customs

Sardinia is very rich in culture and traditions, and apart from its beaches, delving into the local traditions is what makes a trip there unforgettable. Each town has its own dishes, festivals, costumes and mores, and joining the locals in the celebrations will give you a precious insight into Sardinian life and spirit.

Image: Angela Corrias of Sardinia Revealed eating seadas traditional cakes in Sardinia.

Carry a small glossary/dictionary

In Sardinia, English is seldom spoken, so if you are exploring the island on your own, you will need to be able to speak some Italian. This is especially true if you are in smaller towns, while popular tourist landmarks might have English-speaking staff.

I suggest carrying a small dictionary or using a language app

Check out our handy guides to learn some basic Italian useful when traveling.

Stay connected

Staying connected online is helpful on many occasions such as finding your way when driving, booking hotels last minute, or finding a restaurant’s phone number.

Most hotels provide a WiFi connection and when you are outside, if your provider has expensive roaming fees, you can think of purchasing an Italian SIM card or an e-SIM data and calling plan such as Airhub.


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