Tips & Tricks - Practical travel information (M - Z)
Useful tips to help you make the most of your holiday in Sardinia
Mediterranean tapeweed (Poseidonia)
The presence of Mediterranean tapeweed, also known as Neptune grass (Poseidonia Oceanica), is an indicator of good water quality and a healthy marine flora. It cleans the water and ensures there is a plentiful supply of oxygen. Depending on the wind and the tides, you can find dark-brown Neptune grass washed up on many beaches, although the sea often takes it away again. In order to maintain the natural balance of marine flora, it must not be removed
from the beach.
Motor boats and motor cycles
You do not need a separate boat driving licence for a motor boat up to 25 PS. Smaller motor bikes up to 50 cc can also be driven on your normal licence. For anything larger, you will need a Class A licence. You must wear a helmet and keep your dipped lights on throughout the day.
There are charges for parking in many town centres. Public car parks cost around €0.50 an hour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. except on Sundays and public holidays. Parking tickets are available from the automatic machines and from newspaper shops and tobacconists. Parking spaces where you have to pay are marked by a blue line, disabled parking by a yellow line and free parking by a white line. During the tourist season, you will have to pay to park at many of the island's beaches. You can buy a ticket directly from the car park attendant.
Pharmacies are usually open on Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Most pharmacies are closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. A system of emergency pharmacies operates out of normal opening hours to ensure that medicines are available in urgent cases. Details of the emergency service can be found in the window of each pharmacy. In many tourist areas, the pharmacies only open during the holiday season and are closed from September to June.
Sardinia is one of the least densely populated areas in Europe. There are around 1,668,000 inhabitants in an area of 24,090 km². That is approximately 69 people per square kilometre. However, the population is distributed very unevenly. Around half a million people, one third of the total, live in and around the island's capital, Cagliari. The island's other main towns are Sassari with around 130,000 inhabitants, Olbia (53,000), Alghero (41,000), Nuoro (36,000) and Oristano (32,000). The remaining population is spread across the island's villages.
Post offices are usually open on Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1.20 p.m. In larger towns they are also open in the afternoon on Monday to Friday and in some cases remain open all day up to 6 p.m. Stamps for postcards or letters cost €0.60 to Italy and €0.65 to other countries within the EU (2010 prices). You can buy stamps at the post office of at the tobacconist (tabacchino). Delivery normally takes 3 to 6 days.
The Pro Loco is a local association that promotes tourism and culture within a town or village. The Pro Loco will provide free up-to-date information on leisure activities and on events and trips in the area.
Shops and many restaurants are closed in Sardinia on the following public holidays: 1 January (New Year), 6 January (Epiphany), Easter Monday, 25 April (Liberation Day), 1 May (Labour Day), 2 June (Italian Republic Day), 15 August (Assumption), 1 November (All Saints), 8 December (Immaculate Conception), 25 December (first day of Christmas), 26 December (second day of Christmas).
Sardinia has a relatively small rail network connecting only the largest towns on the island. The main junction of the railway network is Ozieri-Chilivani, a modest and solitary station in the north-west of the island. In addition to the trains operated by Trenitalia (FS), which run on all the main lines, you can take a trip on a Trenino Verde, which run on narrow-gauge tracks through the enchanting countryside. The most attractive routes are from Arbatax to Mandas, from Isili to Sorgono, from Bosa to Macomer and from Palau to Nulvi via Tempio.
Across Sardinia with the little Green train
Our advice: If you enjoy trains then you just have to take a trip across the island on the Little Green train to get acquainted with the enchanting interior of Sardinia. If you are traveling in a group you can hire a steam locomotive or the normal diesel train. The steam locomotive can be used only in springtime. A trip with il Trenino verde will be a real exciting and unforgettable experience. At the end of the 19th century the Kings of Savoy decided to built a narrow gauge railway in order to connect the inland rural and pastoral regions of Sardinia and the rich mining areas to the island's main ports. The train company Ferrovie della Sardegna was so created and still works today with the famous and fascinating Little Green train, known in Italian as Il Trenino Verde. This train offers fascinatining trips. A journey on the little green train is described by D.H. Lawrence in his great book "Sea and Sardinia". The English writer took the train from Cagliari to Sorgono during his visit in the island in 1921. All his impressions and experiences in Sardinia are reflected in this interesting book. The trip by the little green train is very intriguing. It travels across the most inaccessible regions of Sardinia, reaching areas inaccessible by car as thereare no roads. This journey offers a spectacular variety of landscapes and lifestyles, a rich mosaic of scenic variety and cultural diversity in a land where different regions have distinctive individualities.
Recycling & refuse
New rules on the environmentally friendly disposal of waste were introduced on the island in 2008. Most local authorities organise a collection of private household refuse on specified days of the week depending on the type of waste. The dates are given in a waste collection calendar. On Sardinia, waste is divided into umido (organic), vetro/ latta (glass/metal), carta (paper), plastica (plastic) and secco (residual waste). Depending on the type of refuse, collection may be daily or weekly. Refuse should be placed in the proper container in front of the house between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. You may be fined if you do not dispose of your refuse in the correct way.
Regional and local government
On 28 February 1948, Sardinia was declared an autonomous region of Italy with a special Statute, with Cagliari as its capital. Since 2005, the island has been divided into eight provinces rather than the previous four: Cagliari (CA), Carbonia-Iglesias (CI), Medio Campidano (VS), Nuoro (NU), Ogliastra (OG), Olbia-Tempio (OT), Oristano (OR) and Sassari (SS). The eight provinces are administered from the following provincial capitals: Cagliari (CA), Carbonia and Iglesias (CI), Nuoro (NU), Tortolì and Lanusei (OG), Olbia and Tempio Pausania (OT), Oristano (OR) and Sassari (SS).
Restaurants / Pizzerias
Outside the towns, most restaurants and pizzerias are only open during the tourist season. In summer people tend to eat later in the evening at around 9 p.m. As a result, most restaurants do not open in the evening until 8 p.m. At lunchtime, restaurants are usually open between 12.00 and 2 p.m. Not all pizzerias are open at lunchtime. In the main tourist season it is advisable to book a table in advance, especially at the weekend.
Rivers and lakes
The longest rivers on the island are the Tirso (150 km), the Coghinas (123 km) and the Flumendosa (122 km). The only river open to ships is the Temo, which reaches the sea near Bosa on the west coast. Many of the island's rivers dry up in the summer. The only natural sweet water lake on the island is Lago Baratz near Alghero in the north-west. Sardinia's other lakes, the Omodeo, Coghinas and Flumendosa are all reservoirs. It is also worth mentioning the island's eight sizeable lagoons. These are protected under the Ramsar Convention on the preservation of wetland areas: Stagno di Cabras (3,575 ha), Stagno di Cagliari (3,466 ha), Stagno di Corru S’Ittiri e San Giovanni (2,610 ha), Stagno di Mistras (680 ha), Stagno di Molentargius near Cagliari (1,401 ha), Stagno Pauli Maiori (287 ha), Stagno S’Ena Arrubia (223 ha) and the saltwater lagoon Stagno Sale Porcus (330 ha). The saltwater lakes are home to many bird and animal species and are very popular among ornithologists.
There are various types of road in Sardinia. The SS 131 (SS = strada statale, national or state road) is a dual carriageway. It runs from Porto Torres to Cagliari via Sassari and Oristano. The SS 131 dir. links the towns of Olbia, Siniscola and Nuoro and joins the SS 131 at Abbasanta. In the south of the island, the SS 130 runs between Iglesias and Cagliari. Many holiday regions and coastal resorts are only accessible on provincial or country roads. These are well built and maintained but often have many bends. The speed limit on all main long-distance and country roads is 90 km/h. Outside towns and villages, you are required to drive with dipped headlights even during the day.
Shop opening hours
In most cases, the island's shops are open on Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Mondays many shops are only open in the afternoon. Large supermarkets are open throughout the day and mostly on Sundays, too. Outside the main holiday season, shops and supermarkets in many remote holiday areas are closed.
Smoking is not permitted in enclosed public spaces, medical centres, cultural and sports centres, educational and training establishments or in cafés and restaurants. Some restaurants have separate smoking rooms.
Especially during the summer months, it is important to protect yourself well against UV light and sunburn. Children in particular should avoid getting sunburnt. It is a good idea to use a high-factor sun cream and to wear a hat and possibly a neck scarf. Uncovered skin should be protected by a generous application of sun cream. Ideally, in summer you should avoid the sun between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
When the outside temperature is particularly high or the pool is being used very frequently, it is important to clean the pool more regularly than usual and top up the level of chlorine. After cleaning the pool, you should not swim underwater with your eyes open. Sensitive eyes can be protected using goggles or a diving mask. Avoid leaving toys in the pool if no one is there. They can be sucked up by the pool's circulating pump, causing a loss of pressure that can damage the pump.
The international telephone code for Italy is 0039. When you are using the Italian landline network, you always need to dial the code before the number, even within the same area. Remember to dial the "0" before the local area code. To make an international call from Sardinia, you will need to dial the country code for your destination: 0049 for Germany, 0043 for Austria, 0044 for the UK and 0041 for Switzerland. For international calls, leave out the "0" before the local area code. Since the introduction of mobile phones, the number of coin- or card-operated telephone boxes has fallen considerably.
Televisions are usually fitted with a DVB-T decoder. Alongside the three channels operated by the Italian state broadcaster RAI, you can watch the Mediaset channels Italia 1, Canale 5 and Rete 4, the full-service channel La 7 and numerous regional and national special-interest channels such as BBC World and France 24 all over the island. Two of the island's biggest broadcasters are Videolina and Sardegna Uno.
As a rule, traffic regulations on Sardinia are the same as those in most other European countries. However, there are a number of important differences. Both cars and lorries are required to drive with dipped headlights during the day as well as at night outside urban areas. The speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas and 90 km/h on main roads outside towns and in the countryside. Advance warning of speed controls is given on road signs. If you have an accident, you must wear a reflective jacket if you leave the car. The jacket should be kept in the passenger area ready for use. The alcohol limit is 0.5 g per litre (50 mg per 100 ml) of blood. For new drivers and drivers under 21 the limit is zero.
Water shortages are common in Sardinia, especially during the summer months. The water pressure in hotels and holiday homes is often below the central European standard. You should give proper consideration to these local conditions and use this valuable resource carefully.
Wind directions and winds
Because of its location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia is exposed to winds from all directions. The strong, cold Mistral blows from the north-west. In summer, it helps to clear algae from the sea and provides some relief from the heat. The Scirocco is a hot desert wind from Africa. It brings high levels of humidity and red sand from the desert. The Libeccio also blows warm air onto the island from the south-west. The Levante from the east and the Ponente from the west bring moist, fresh air. From the north and north-east the island is exposed to the cold winds of the Tramontana and the Grecale.