How to Get to Sardinia

How To Get To Sardinia: Ultimate Guide For Travel In 2023 

Heading to Italy, and thinking of including Sardinia Island in your itinerary? Good choice. You can travel to Sardinia from mainland Italy easily, but you can also get to Sardinia from any international destinations. If you’re weighing options on how to get to Sardinia, then you’re in the right place.

I mainly headed to Sardinia because of the scuba diving. When I got there, I was so amazed by the beauty- it felt different from the rest of Italy. With medieval towns, a gorgeous coastline, and beautiful nature, Sardinia is more slow paced, quaint and with its stone buildings, has an otherworldly atmosphere.

Between beaches, hiking, scuba diving, shopping and exploring villages, I was so glad that we made time for Sardinia and I’m sure that you’ll be glad you did too. If you’re heading to Sardinia with kids, or for a relaxing adult adventure -we’ve got you covered.

So let’s talk about your options for getting to Sardinia. Let’s jump in!

How to Get to Sardinia

Sardinia Island

There are two ways to get to Sardinia: by air, or by ferry.

Flying to Sardinia is faster and cheaper, but taking a ferry allows you to bring your own car. The ferry also has some entertainment for kids, which might be a benefit if you’re travelling through Italy with little ones.

Let’s go through the two options of air and ferry to Sardinia so you can weigh the information and decide which is best for you.

Flying to Sardinia

As you can see in the map above, Sardinia Island has three airports: Olbia, Cagliari and Alghero. There are flights to all of them from many European cities, but it may not always be a direct route. There are plenty of direct flights from mainland Italy.

Pro Tip: Flights and ferries to Sardinia are a different price for residents than for tourists. If you’re a tourist, be sure not to select a resident flight option. You will be asked to pay for a new flight, and getting your money back for the original resident flight is a hassle you don’t want.

There are no direct flights to Sardinia Island from outside of Europe, so you’ll need to already be in Europe to get a direct flight to Sardinia. Of course, if you’re already on mainland Italy, then there are plenty of direct flights to all three Sardinia airports daily.

Cagliari Airport: Southern Sardinia (Main Airport) 

Cagliari is the capital and largest city in Sardinia and is located in the south of the island. Cagliari is the main airport and city on Sardinia. Flying here is especially convenient if you’re looking to visit the southern part of Sardinia, but you can also rent a car and drive wherever on the island you wish. (This is what we chose to do.)

Cagliari Sardinia

How long does it take to fly to Cagliari , Sardinia?

  • Cagliari rom Rome: under 50 minutes
  • Cagliari from London, UK: 2h 45 mins

Pro Tip: Use Skyscanner to see all airline options and be able to select the flight that fits with your schedule and budget the best

Nearby attractions and things to do in Caligari:

Cagliari Airport brings you close to the city of Cagliari , which you can see in a day or two. (I don’t recommend spending your whole trip there, but it is worth spending a day sightseeing.) In or near Cagliari, you can find:

  • Archaeological sights, such as the Bastion St. Remy which you can climb and get picturesque city views from the top
  • Take a tour of Nora, a pre-Roman archaeological site
  • Beautiful cathedrals and churches, such as the Cathedral of Calgliari (pictured above)
  • An amazing underground tunnel in Cagliari that you can explore
  • Poetto beach, an 8 km long strip that offers stunning views of the Gulf of Cagliari, just 20 minutes from downtown Cagliari
  • Hiking in the Sette Fratelli Mountains Park, a breathtaking mountainous range, just over an hour from the city of Cagliari

Olbia Airport: Northeast Sardinia

Olbia is in the northeast part of Sardinia, close to Costa Smerlda. This is probably the most popular destination for honeymooners and couples, and the most expensive, luxurious area on the island. (I’ve heard that celebrities travel here.) In this area, you can do scuba diving, boat tours to the islands, explore the quaint towns, and enjoy world-class beaches that make you feel like you’re in paradise.

Olbia Sardinia

There are flights to Olbia from many cities in Italy, and throughout Europe, but here’s an idea of how long it takes to fly to Olbia:

  • Olbia from Rome: 1h 5 min
  • Olbia from London, UK: 2h 30 min

Nearby attractions and things to do in Olbia:

  • Explore the ancient city of Olbia; there are museums, archaeological and historic sights. A fun way to do this is a 1-hour tuk tuk tour.
  • Take a boat tour to Maddalena archipelago, which are islands that have been inhabited since the prehistoric times and are surrounded with the clearest, most turquoise water
  • Explore the nearby marine life and even WW2 plane wrecks underwater with Nautilis Dive Centre
  • Explore the quaint town of Palau
  • World class beaches – the east coast of Sardinia has some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, such as Principe Beach, Brandinchini, Capriccioli, and La Celvia

Alghero Airport: Northwest Sardinia

Alghero is a city is in the northwest part of Sardinia. Its a beautiful, medieval coastal city with ancient walls and cobblestone old town, and almost feels like a fairy tale. It’s very busy in the summer months with tourists, but there’s a reason for that. Whether you choose to fly into Alghero, or simply stop here to explore, you’ll be glad you saw it.

Alghero Airport
  • Alghero from Rome: 1h 5 mins
  • Alghero from London, UK: 2h 30 mins

Nearby attractions and things to do in Alghero:

  • Alghero Historic Centre (Centro Storico) which is the medieval old town, with narrow streets, cobbled alleys and lots of boutiques, shops and restaurants
  • Neptune Caves (Cape Caccia), which is a stunning grotto, just 30 mins outside of Alghero
  • Porto Conte Regional National Park, a seaside conservation area with hiking trails and beaches. Great for hiking and spending time outdoors
  • Le Pelosa Beach, on the coastline of the northwestern tip of Sardinia- white sand and tranquil blue waters, its great for swimming and snorkeling

Conclusion: Flying to Sardinia

As you can see, all three airports in Sardinia offer great benefits in terms of what there is to do nearby. Regardless of the one you choose, you can still travel to the areas on other parts of the island.

Travelling to Sardinia by Ferry

Everything you need to know about travelling to Sardinia by ferry, the lengths of times, different ferry ports and what they have to offer

Ferry ports in Sardinia

As you can see in the photo above, there are several ferry ports on Sardinia island, but the main two main ones are Cagliari and Olbia.

The advantages of travelling by ferry are that you can bring your own car. However, this isn’t the only reason to take a ferry. Some people prefer ferries if they’re travelling with kids or if they want more space and room for luggage.

Ferry to Sardinia from Italy

Ferries to and from Italy to Sardinia are often overnight, and last anywhere from 7-15 hours, depending on where you’re going or coming from. There are restaurants on board, entertainment for kids, and cabins that you can sleep in. It’s not a high-class cruise, like a Disney Cruise, but the ferries are pleasant enough.

Boat to Sardinia

There are a few different ferry companies that you can sail from Italy to Sardinia (or back) with; the two main ones are Moby (pictured above), Tirrenia, Corsica Ferries and Grimaldi.

You can take a ferry to Sardinia from the following places in mainland Italy:

  • Civitavecchia (82 km from Rome) to Caligari, Arbataz, Olbia and Porto Torres
  • Livorno (near Pisa) to Olbia or Golfo Arranci
  • Naples to Caligari
  • Genoa (in northern Italy) to Porto Torres

The ferry company you choose to will depend on if you have a strong preference for where you’re coming from or where in Sardinia you wish to dock at. For example, Moby lines only sails to Olbia from Livorno, Italy. If you wanted to sail to Porto Torres for example, then you’d need to sail with Tirreni or Grandi Navi Veloci, as they’re the only two ferry companies that go to Porto Torres from mainland Italy.

Pro Tip: Use Direct Ferries to see all the schedules and port options for your ferry trip to or from Sardinia. This makes it easy to see all of the available options rather than having to check each website individually.

Choosing your Ferry port in Sardinia

Regardless of which port in Sardinia you choose to sail into, you can’t really go wrong. They all have beautiful attractions nearby, and there are perks to each one. If you’re renting a car in Sardinia, then you can all of the top destinations within a few days. So just because you sailed into Olbia, for example, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to drive over to Porto Torres (its about a 90 minute drive.)

However, here are the highlights of each of the ports, to make your decision easier:

  • Cagliari: beautiful old town, historic city centre with museums and artifacts, hiking in the Sette Fratelli Mountains Park
  • Arbatax: visit the nearby Red Cliffs, an impressive rock formation, Rocce Rosse museum, hiking in the Supramonte mountain range or the Gennargentu National Park, beautiful beaches such as Orri and Cea beach
  • Olbia: charming old towns, boat trip to La Maddalena Archipelago, the 11th century Basilica of San Simplicio church, beautiful sandy beaches with crystal-clear water such as Pittulongu, Bados and Marinella
  • Porto Torres: ancient town with Roman architecture (it was the first Roman settlement, so needless to say, its history is very rich) quaint old town with old city walls, stunning nearby beaches, hiking
Sardinia Island

Ferry to Sardinia from mainland Europe

You can get ferries to Sardinia from France and Spain. Grimaldi Lines sails from Spain to Sardinia.

From France, you can depart from Nice to go to Sardinia by ferry. From Nice, you can sail to either Porto Torres or Golfo Aranci.

Check Direct Ferries to view schedules and timetables and book your ferry

Getting to Sardinia: FAQs

Here are the most common questions that travellers ask (and that we wish we had asked) about getting to and around Sardinia island in Italy

What is the fastest way to get to Sardinia?

The fastest way to get to Sardinia is undoubtedly, by flying. Flying is cheaper and quicker, but there are perks to taking the ferry too, such as being able to more easily bring kids, pets or luggage. Plus, you can bring your own car on the ferry, which saves you having to rent one on Sardinia.

What airport do you fly into for Sardinia?

You have three airports to fly into on Sardinia island: Cagliari, Olbia and Alghero. The largest one and main city is Cagliari .

How long is ferry from Italy to Sardinia?

It depends where in Italy you sail from. You can sail from Civitavecchia (north of Rome), Livorno (near Pisa), Naples, Sicily, or Genoa. The length of time you’ll be on the ferry travelling to or from any of these places to Sardinia will range from 8 to 15 hours.

Is Sardinia an expensive destination?

Yes, Sardinia is noticeably more expensive than mainland Italy – you can expect to pay a bit more for accommodations and food. This is to be expected though, because many of their goods are imported from mainland Italy and other areas – this adds to the cost of the product.

What is the best month to visit Sardinia?

The most popular time to visit Sardinia is the summer, with average highs reaching 32 °C (89.6°F.) There is also more frequent service during the months of May through to September, since this is when most tourists visit. For example, ferries and flights travel more frequently in summer months than any other time of year.

Can you get around Sardinia without a car?

Yes, you can get around Sardinia without a car. You can bike (although likely not throughout the whole island unless you’re extremely ambitious) and there are also taxis. Taxis can be hailed on the street, or you can book them online. There is also public transportation in Sardinia – ARST, which operates buses throughout the island, and Trenitalia, a train network throughout Italy, including Sardinia. Renting a car is probably the easiest option, but you have these other options as well.

Sardinia iIaly

Final Thoughts on Getting to Sardinia

Regardless of your method of travel to Sardinia, you are sure to fall in love with its medieval and ancient buildings, its natural beauty, and stunning beaches, laid back atmosphere and kind people. Whether you’re travelling with kids, or you’re on your honeymoon, Sardinia will have activities that will leave you fondly remembering your trip forever.

We chose to do both: we flew from Rome to Sardinia (to the Cagliari airport), and rented a car to drive around the island. When we returned to mainland Italy, we took a ferry from Sardinia to Livorno, which is near Pisa.