Tips & Tricks - Practical travel information (A - Z)
Useful tips to help you make the most of your holiday in Sardinia
In the event of a car accident, you can request breakdown assistance via the emergency number 116 operated by the Italian Automobile Club (ACI), which recognises the international travel certificate issued by the German ADAC. If the accident involves damage to the vehicle or property, you must make a note of the other person's insurer, insurance policy number and vehicle registration and the contact details of any witnesses. In Italy, evidence of insurance cover is attached to the car's windscreen. If anyone is injured in the accident, you are obliged to notify the police.
'Agriturismo' is the Italian term for a farm that also has a restaurant and often provides rooms for holidaymakers. The farms usually offer simple but well-tended rooms with traditional local food and a family atmosphere. In most cases there are also pets and farm animals. Agriturismos often produce their own cheese, ham, wine, spirits, jam and honey. Visitors will be treated to typical local dishes such as home-made ravioli or pasta and suckling pig. Most farms are situated away from the coast towards the interior of the island.
At present, Sardinia has three modern international airports at Cagliari (south), Olbia (north-east) and Alghero (north-west). All three have good links to the local public transport system and are signposted all over the island. In addition, there are regional airports at Tortolì (east) and Oristano (west). These are only used during the tourist season by charter companies.
An 'Albergo diffuso' is a small hotel in restored buildings of architectural or historic importance. Alberghi diffusi are divided into a main building, where the reception and services are located, and a number of annexes no more than 200 metres away. The rooms are equipped to modern standards but in a historical setting. Many rooms are also available as apartments with their own kitchen units and self-catering facilities.
Banks are usually open on Monday to Friday from 8.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and in some cases from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. The banks are closed all day Saturday and Sunday throughout the island. When you enter or leave a bank, you will often have to pass through a double set of security doors. Bear in mind that in many smaller resorts and more remote mountain villages there may not be a bank or cash machine. Travellers' cheques can only be exchanged in a bank. You will need to show your passport or an official ID card.
Many of the island's beaches are very child-friendly with fine sand, shallow water that only gradually becomes deeper and gentle waves. Many beaches, however, especially those on the west coast, are steeply sloping with stronger waves and unpredictable underwater currents. Needless to say, they should be treated with greater caution. By no means all beaches are supervised. If there is a rescue service at the beach, remember that you are not allowed to bathe if the red flag is flying.
Compared to central and northern Europe, the Italian breakfast is very modest. It often consists of no more than a few pieces of zwieback toast and packaged croissants instead of fresh bread. In the morning, you will not usually find anything more substantial on the table, such as bacon, eggs, cooked meats or cheese, except by special request, in which case you will be expected to pay a supplement.
Even quite small villages can be reached on the island's buses. You can buy tickets before your journey at the counter, from the tobacconist, at a kiosk or in a bar. Tickets are also available on departure from the driver. Most buses leave from the island's main bus stations. Up-to-date timetables can be found on the internet and in local newspapers. As well as the regular bus service, which runs all year round, numerous buses are laid on to take tourists to the larger holiday areas. These run from June to September in many parts of the island, especially in the north.
The following items may not be taken out of Sardinia:
Pork, animals, minerals, sand and archaeological finds. For information about taking out less common products and large quantities, you will need to contact the customs authorities in your own country.
Distances across Sardinia are much greater than most visitors think. The island is only about 270 km long and about 150 km wide, but journey times are often underestimated. The roads take you through some beautiful countryside but tend to be very winding both in the interior and along the coast. You also need to keep a relatively full tank if you are driving. There are not very many petrol stations, even on the main routes. In Italy you are not allowed to carry a full spare can of fuel in the car.
If you travel to Porto Torres or Olbia by car you will get the chance to admire some of the stunning panoramic views of the island. Many of the secondary and minor roads wind their way over
hills and are normally very narrow with many curves, but as you are on vacation take your time and enjoy Sardinia nature while driving to your holiday resort. The SS131 or Carlo Felice is
Sardinia's Main road. It is a dual carriage way that connects Cagliari to Porto Torres and the four corners of the island.
Sardinia has no high-ways, therefore should you need to travel from South to North or vice versa you can drive along the island main road dual carriageway called Carlo Felice SS 131. It was named Carlo Felice after the King of Savoy who built this dual carriage way in 1824 tracing the new road on top of the original Roman one, that crossed the whole Sardinia from Karalis, ancient name for Cagliari, to Turrys Lybissonis, at present Porto Torres. The SS131 starts in Cagliari where out of the city it crosses the fertile plain of Campidano where crops are cultivated together with local products such as artichokes in winter and vineyards in summer, or rice around Oristano. After the central plain of Oristano the scenery changes completely offering views of the central volcanic plateau and the wild forests of Mount Ferru dead volcano. The vegetation becomes thicker with wild olive trees, oaks and shrubs. Near the province of Sassari we find again more cultivations and fertile lands with green meadows. Much more fascinating are the secondary coastal roads such as The Bosa-Alghero or the Domus de Maria-Teulada in the sunny Costa del Sud. Driving along this dazzling coastline will be a real exciting experience with amazing landscape and panoramic sea view. If you want to enjoy Sardinia by car you can choose the SS195 or the SS 125, but take your time, relax and enjoy the driving. Such roads are serpentine like and very winding, but this scenic drives offer sensational views of the mountains and coastline with many high viewing points on the way providing excellent panoramas.
In general, dogs are not allowed in public spaces such as restaurants, bars, post offices, banks and supermarkets. You will not be able to take your dog on most of the island's beaches, although there are a number of designated beaches where dogs are allowed. To enter the island, they will need a valid certificate from your own country and must be identifiable by a microchip or a tattoo. Vets strongly advise you to have your dog vaccinated and take suitable precautions against babesiosis and leishmaniasis. There are clear rules, too, if you want to take a dog or cat out of the island. You will need a local pet certificate and a valid rabies vaccination. The animals must also be identifiable by a microchip or a tattoo.
For many years, Sardinia's economy was dominated by agriculture, livestock breeding, fishing and mining. Most of the mines have closed down in the last 15 years and they are now converted into sites of interests according to the recent foundation of the Sardinia UNESCO Mining Park (Parco Geominerario). Some of the most important mines have recently been declared Unesco monuments as part of the world heritage. The island also established a reputation for producing cork and supplying granite. Nowadays, the economy is largely based on the tertiary sector, providing services to private individuals and business, with the tourism industry accounting for an ever greater proportion of the island's economy every year. Another important source of income are the refineries in Porto Torres and Sarroch near Cagliari. Sea salt is produced in large quantities in the island since prehistory. The tourism industry is growing and it represents nowadays a new resource opening up Sardinia to the outside world. Biological fruit and vegetable, great wines and pecorino cheese and other dairy fresh products are also part of the economy of the island.
The power supply is 220 V. You will need an adapter to use German appliances from an Italian socket. Adapters are available at the hotel reception, from your local tour rep or from supermarkets and specialist electrical shops. As a rule, the power supply to private homes and holiday homes is limited to 1.5 - 3 kW, so in most cases you cannot use more than two electrical appliances (e.g. washing machine and kettle) at the same time without tripping the safety switch at the fuse box.
In case of emergency, you should ring the free emergency number 112, equivalent to 999 in the UK. You will be put through to an operator who will transfer your call as necessary to the police, fire or rescue service.
If you wish to contact a specific emergency service, you can call one of the following numbers directly:
Military police (carabinieri): 112
Police (polizia): 113
Fire service (vigili del fuoco): 115
Ambulance (ambulanza): 118
ACI (Italian Automobile Club) roadside rescue: 116
Coastguard (guardia costiera): 1530
Forest fire service (guardia forestale): 1515
There are ferry ports in Porto Torres (north-west), Golfo Aranci and Olbia (north-east), Arbatax (east coast) and Cagliari (south). Ferries run to Liguria, Latium and Tuscany from all the island's ports. In addition, there are ferries from Porto Torres to Corsica, Barcelona and Marseille and from Cagliari to Sicily. You can take a ship out to Sardinia's La Maddelana islands from Palau and to Carloforte from Calasetta and Portovesme. There are regular departures from Santa Teresa Gallura to Bonifacio on Corsica.
Festivals listed below are well worth a visit:
17. January: Sant’Antonio Abate - the start of Carnival in Mamoiada; Carnival Sunday & Shrove Tuesday: Sa Sartiglia in Oristano; Shrove Monday: Su Lunis de sa Pudda in Santu Lussurgiu; Monday before Easter: Lu Lunissanti in Castelsardo; Good Friday: Su Descalvement Good Friday procession in Alghero; Easter Monday: Sagra del Torrone – honey nougat festival in Tonara; April: citrus fruit festival in Muravera; 1–4 May: Sagra di Sant' Efisio – pilgrimage and costume parade in honour of patron saint of Capoterra and the diocese of Cagliari; 6–7 July: S'Ardia – horse racing in Sedilo; mid-July: Sagra della Pesca – peach festival in San Sperate; 14 August: Faradda der Candelieri in Sassari; end of August: Su Redentore – pilgrimage and costume parade in Nuoro; first Sunday in September: Corsa degli Scalzi – barefoot racing in Cabras;
In the countryside, you should never light a fire away from designated barbecue spots. The risk of fire is especially high in the summer months in woodland areas. To report a forest fire, call the Guardia forestale on the emergency number 1515. For other emergencies, you should call the free number 112, equivalent to 999 in the UK. You will be put through to an operator who will transfer your call as necessary to the police, fire or rescue service.
Lead-free petrol (benzina verde/senza piombo) and diesel (gasolio) are available at all the island's petrol stations. Many petrol stations also have automatic pumps that take cash (up to 50 euro notes) and debit or credit cards. It is worth making a generous estimate of how much fuel you will need before starting your journey. Distances are often greater than visitors think, and in many holiday areas there are relatively few petrol stations. There are only a few refuelling stations for vehicles running on LPG.
With an area of 24,090 square kilometres, Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and well ahead of Cyprus and Corsica. It stretches for 270 km from north to south and 150 km from east to west. The distance to the boot of Italy is 190 km, although only 180 km separate the island from Tunisia. The neighbouring French island of Corsica is only 12 kilometres to the north. Incidentally, Sardinia is one of the few regions in Italy that is not threatened by earthquakes of volcanic eruptions.
Hiking & climbing
You can go hiking and climbing on Sardinia nearly all year long. However, the best times for hiking and climbing are spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November). In terms of its geology, Sardinia is an island of great contrasts. For climbers there is a tremendous variety of sites to choose from, with mountain groups made of volcanic rock, slate, granite and limestone. Many paths and routes are poorly marked, so it always advisable to obtain a detailed map. Sturdy footwear and plenty of water are essential.