Bargaining is not de rigueur in Sardinia. You can try your luck at local markets, but otherwise you'll be expected to pay the price stated.
Dangers & Annoyances
Sardinia is a safe island, but use common sense.
- Stash away your valuables and lock hire cars.
- In case of theft or loss, report the incident at the questura (municipal police station) within 24 hours and ask for a statement, otherwise your travel-insurance company won’t pay up.
Government Travel Advice
The following government websites offer up-to-date travel advisories:
- Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (www.smarttraveller.gov.au)
- British Foreign Office (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice)
- Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety)
- New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (www.safetravel.govt.nz)
- US State Department (http://travel.state.gov)
- Those under 18 years and over 65 are often entitled to free or discounted admission to state-run museums and cultural sights. To claim your discount take proof of your age, ideally an ID card or passport.
- International Student Identity Card (ISIC; www.isic.org) entitles students to various shopping, accommodation and museum discounts in Cagliari, Sassari and Nuoro. A similar card is available to non-students under 26 years, the International Youth Travel Card. The cost varies depending on where you get it, but reckon on about €15.
- European Youth Card (www.euro26.org) offers a wide range of discounts across Europe. Cardholders do not need to be European citizens. It costs €11 if bought in Italy.
- Student cards are issued by student unions, hostelling organisations and some youth travel agencies. In Cagliari, Sassari and Nuoro, the Centro Turistico Studentesco e Giovanile (www.cts.it) youth travel agency can issue ISIC and IYTC cards and the European Youth Card.
Emergency & Important Numbers
To dial listings from outside Italy, dial your international access code, Italy’s country code and then the number (including the ‘0’).
|International access code||00|
Entry & Exit Formalities
Most articles you take into Sardinia for personal use can be imported free of duty and tax. The following allowances apply to duty-free goods purchased in a non-EU country. In addition you can bring in other products up to a value of €430.
- Alcohol 1L spirits (or 2L fortified wine), 4L still wine
- Other goods 60mL perfume, 16L beer, 200 cigarettes
- Cash Up to €10,000
- EU and Swiss citizens can travel to Italy with their national ID card alone. People from countries that do not issue ID cards must carry a valid passport. All other nationalities must have a full valid passport and may be required to fill out a landing card on arrival in Italy.
- If you are flying to Sardinia via the Italian mainland, all customs and immigration formalities will take place at the mainland airport. The Sardinian leg of your journey will be considered an internal flight.
- You should carry your ID card or passport when travelling on internal flights or ferry crossings.
- Technically all foreign visitors to Sardinia are supposed to register with the local police within eight days of their arrival. However, if you are staying in a hotel, the hotel does this for you – which is why they always take your passport details.
Generally not required for stays of up to 90 days (or at all for EU nationals); some nationalities need a Schengen visa.
- Italy is part of the Schengen area. There are no customs controls when travelling between Schengen countries, so the visa rules that apply to Italy apply to all Schengen countries.
- The standard tourist visa for a Schengen country is valid for 90 days and allows unlimited travel within the entire Schengen zone. You must apply for it in the country of your residence and you cannot apply for more than two in any 12-month period. They are not renewable within Italy.
- EU citizens do not need a visa to enter Italy. A valid ID card or passport is sufficient.
- Nationals of some other countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the US do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Sardinians are a laid-back, friendly lot on the whole, meaning there are very few formalities to observe.
- Hospitality Accept offers of a glass of wine, beer or mirto when offered.
- Culture Win the affection of locals by finding out about Sardinia, for instance that Grazia Deledda was a Nobel Prize winner and that ex-Chelsea-manager Gianfranco Zola is Sard.
- Dress Don't go around dressed scantily for the beach in mountain areas where people can be quite conservative.
- Language Remember that Sardo is not a dialect of Italian; it is a separate language.
- Greetings Shake hands and say buongiorno (good day) or buona sera (good evening) to strangers; kiss both cheeks and say come stai (how are you) to friends.
- Travel insurance to cover theft, loss and medical problems is highly recommended. It may also cover you for cancellation, delays to your travel arrangements or an emergency flight home.
- Check your policy covers any activities you might be planning such as diving, motorcycling, climbing, even trekking.
- Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later. If the latter, make sure you keep all documentation.
- Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
- Free wi-fi is available in most hostels, B&Bs and hotels, as well as many cafes and restaurants.
- Due to the widespread availability of wi-fi, internet cafes are a dying breed, although you can still find them in major cities such as Cagliari and Alghero. Access typically costs €5 per hour.
- Note also that whenever you use an internet cafe you’re legally obliged to show an ID card or passport.
- Some hotels provide a computer for guest use.
- Italy has tough drug laws. If caught with 5g of cannabis you can, in theory, be prosecuted as a trafficker. Those caught with amounts below this threshold can be subject to minor penalties.
- The legal limit for a driver’s blood-alcohol reading is 0.05%. Random breath tests do occur.
- If you are detained for any alleged offence, you should be given verbal and written notice of the charges laid against you within 24 hours.
- You have no right to a phone call upon arrest, but you can choose not to respond to questions without the presence of a lawyer.
For travelling around the island, a good-quality map is very useful. The Touring Club Italiano's Touring Editore (www.touringclub.com) does an excellent island map at a scale of 1:200,000. It's available online or at bookshops in Sardinia.
- Newspapers Key newspapers include Cagliari’s L’Unione Sarda (www.unionesarda.it) and Sassari’s La Nuova Sardegna (lanuovasardegna.gelocal.it).
- Radio Radiolina (www.radiolina.it) is a popular local radio station. National stations RAI-1, RAI-2 and RAI-3 (www.rai.it) play a mix of phone-ins, sport, news and music.
- TV Local TV channels, Videolina (www.videolina.it) and Sardegna 1 (www.sardegna1.tv) are usually pretty dire, pumping out news, football and traditional costumed dancing. National channels include the state-run RAI-1, RAI-2 and RAI-3.
ATMs are widely available (daily cash withdrawal limit €250). Major hotels and restaurants usually accept credit cards, but at some smaller places it's cash only.
- Sardinia’s unit of currency is the euro (€), which is divided into 100 cents.
- Coin denominations are one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents and €1 and €2. The euro notes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
- Exchange money in banks, post offices and exchange offices.
- Banks generally offer the best rates, but shop around as rates tend to fluctuate considerably.
- Credit cards are not always accepted, especially in many B&Bs, cheaper trattorias and other smaller establishments, so bring enough cash.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
- Hotels €1 to €1.50 per bag is standard; €1 per day for cleaning staff.
- Bars Round up to the nearest euro.
- Restaurants If service isn't included, give a euro or two in pizzerias, 10% in restaurants.
- Taxis Optional, but most people round up to the nearest euro.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. We’ve provided high-season opening hours; hours will generally decrease in the shoulder and low seasons.
Banks 8.30am to 1.30pm and 2.45pm to 4.30pm Monday to Friday
Bars 7pm to 1am Monday to Saturday
Cafes 7am or 8am to 10pm or 11pm Monday to Saturday
Clubs 10pm to 3am, 4am or 5am Thursday to Saturday
Post offices 8am to 6.50pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 1.15pm Saturday
Restaurants noon to 2.30pm or 3pm and 7.30pm to 10pm or 11pm
Shops 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm Monday to Saturday
- Italy’s, and by association Sardinia’s, postal system Poste Italiane is reasonably reliable.
- Francobolli (stamps) are available at post offices and tabacchi (tobacconists) – look for the official sign, a big white ‘T’ against a blue-black background.
- Post offices are widespread in towns and cities, and most villages and resorts have tabacchi.
Most Italians take their annual holiday in August. Settimana Santa (Easter Week) is another busy holiday period. National public holidays:
Capodanno (New Year’s Day) 1 January
Epifania (Epiphany) 6 January
Pasqua (Easter Sunday) March/April
Pasquetta (Easter Monday) March/April
Giorno della Liberazione (Liberation Day) 25 April
Festa del Lavoro (Labour Day) 1 May
Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day) 2 June
Ferragosto (Feast of the Assumption) 15 August
Ognissanti (All Saints’ Day) 1 November
Immacolata Concezione (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) 8 December
Natale (Christmas Day) 25 December
Festa di Santo Stefano (Boxing Day) 26 December
- Smoking Banned in all enclosed public spaces.
Taxes & Refunds
Value-added-tax (VAT) is a 22% sales tax levied on most goods and services. To reclaim VAT on purchases made in tax-free shops, visit www.globalblue.com.
- To call Sardinia from abroad, dial your international access number, Italy's country code (39) and then the local number (including the area code with the leading 0).
- To call abroad from Sardinia, dial 00 to get out of Italy and then the relevant country and area codes, followed by the telephone number.
- Mobile phone numbers begin with a three-figure prefix, typically 330, 331 etc.
- Sardinian area codes all begin with 0 and consist of up to four digits. Always dial the area code, even when calling locally. Toll-free (free-phone) numbers, known as numeri verdi, usually start with 800.
- As of June 2017, roaming charges no longer apply in the EU. Australian mobiles must be set up for international roaming.
- US cell phones that operate on the 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies work in Sardinia.
- SIM cards are readily available at phone and electronic stores in Sardinia.
- Sardinian time is one hour ahead of GMT/UTC.
- Daylight-saving time, when clocks are moved forward one hour, commences on the last Sunday in March. Clocks are put back an hour on the last Sunday in October.
- Italy operates on a 24-hour clock, so 6pm is written as 18.00.
- The following times do not take daylight-saving time into account.
Noon in Cagliari
Noon in Cagliari
Noon in Cagliari
Noon in Cagliari
Noon in Cagliari
Noon in Cagliari
Noon in Cagliari
Noon in Cagliari
- Most toilets in Sardinia are of the Western-style, sit-down variety.
- Public toilets are not widespread. If you're caught short, nip into a cafe or bar, all of which are required by law to have a toilet.
Sardegna Turismo (www.sardegnaturismo.it) For the lowdown on the island online.
Italia (www.italia.it) Multilingual site of the Italian State Tourist Office.
Alghero Helpful tourist office in the town's centre.
Cagliari Main island tourist office in the capital.
Olbia This should be your first port of call for information on Olbia.
Travel with Children
Ah, bambini! The Sardinians just love them, so expect pinched cheeks, ruffled hair and warm welcomes galore. And with the island's easygoing nature, gently shelving beaches, caves to explore and prehistoric mysteries straight out of a picture book, travelling here with kids in tow is child's play.
Best Regions for Kids
- Eastern Sardinia
Cave exploring, climbing, biking and all kinds of activities for older kids and teens, plus family-friendly campgrounds.
- Northeastern Sardinia
Excellent beaches with entertainment for kids, wildlife excursions, gentle hiking and dolphin-spotting boat trips.
- Northwestern Sardinia
Fantastic child-friendly beaches for all ages, nature parks, fascinating caves and wildlife-watching and an array of water sports for older kids and teens.
- Southeastern Sardinia
A long town beach, dizzying tower climbing in the historic centre, fun shops and the wonderful trenino verde train ride in the countryside.
- Southwestern Sardinia
Cavallini (mini-horses) roaming on the mountain plateau of La Giara di Gesturi, excellent beaches on the south coast, eerie mines and wondrous caves.
- Western Sardinia
Water-sport-heavy beaches for teens, wild, sandy beaches for toddlers and beautiful bird life for all ages.
Sardinia for Kids
Like all of Italy, Sardinia is wonderful for kids of all ages. Babies and toddlers are cooed over everywhere, while older kids and teenagers can unleash their energy with a host of outdoor activities – from horse riding on the beach to learning to dive and snorkel, kayaking to climbing, wildlife spotting to coastal hiking. Most resorts have tree-fringed promenades suitable for buggies, as well as playgrounds and gelaterie.
Wherever you base yourself, discounts are available for children on public transport and for admission to sights.
- Sinis Peninsula Long sandy beaches and tiny pebble beaches, perfect for toddlers.
- Cala Gonone Low-key family-oriented resort, with a pine-fringed lungomare (seafront promenade), a shady campground and several playgrounds.
- Costa del Sud Stretches of sand and shallow, limpid waters along Sardinia's southwest coast.
- Cala Battistoni, Baia Sardinia Hair-raising rides and water madness, plus fine sandy beaches.
- Riviera del Corallo, Alghero Greenery, umbrellas, sunloungers and kids’ play areas.
- Costa Verde Gorgeous, dune-backed beaches off the beaten track. Not many facilities but plenty of space to run around.
- Kayak Cardedu Kayaking and nautical camping on a remarkable stretch of red granite coast.
- Horse Country Resort This huge horse-riding resort in Arborea offers lessons and treks along the beach or through pine woods.
- Golfo di Orosei Canoeing, biking, caving, diving and canyoning, all great for teens.
- Palau and Porto Pollo These north-coast neighbours offer water sports galore – from windsurfing and kayaking to kids' diving courses.
- Laguna di Nora Canoe expeditions and basic snorkelling.
- Capo Carbonara & Villasimius Shallow water and sandy beaches for play and snorkelling.
Nature & Wildlife Encounters
- Sinis Peninsula Salt lakes and pink flamingos in spring.
- Parco Nazionale dell'Asinara Albino donkeys steal the show at this wildly beautiful national park in the north.
- Parco Naturale Regionale Molentargius Protected reed-fringed wetlands with abundant bird life – flamingos, herons and little egrets.
- Stagno S’Ena Arrubia Keep binoculars handy to spot flamingos, herons, coots and ospreys.
- La Giara di Gesturi Try to spy the shy miniature wild horses that roam this tabletop plateau.
- Capo Carbonara A marine reserve with flamingo-filled lagoons and boat trips to the islands.
- Riserva Naturale di Monte Arcosu A WWF reserve home to wild boar, martens, wildcats, weasels and birds of prey.
Rock Stars & Cave Capers
- Roccia dell’Orso, Palau Wind-blasted granite formation in the shape of a bear.
- Grotta di Nettuno, Capo Caccia Count the 656 steps to the bottom of this glittering, cathedral-like cave.
- Le Grotte Is Zuddas, Santadi Marvel at helictites in this spectacular cave system.
- Roccia dell’Elefante, Castelsardo Seen the bear rock? Go check out the elephant.
- Grotta di Ispinigoli, Dorgali Underground fairyland of stalagmites, including the world's second tallest.
What to Pack
- Most airlines allow you to carry on a collapsible pushchair for no extra charge.
- For additional items such as booster seats and travel cots, they often levy a fee of around £10 to £20 per flight.
- You can take baby food, milk and sterilised water in your hand lugguage.
When to Go
- The best time to visit Sardinia with children is from April to June and in September, when the weather is mild, accommodation is plentiful and crowds are fewer.
- In July and August, temperatures soar, prices sky-rocket and tourist numbers swell.
- If you are tied to school holiday dates, check out alternatives to the packed coastal resorts.
Where to Stay
- Coastal resorts are well geared towards families. Hotels and camp sites often have pools, kids' clubs organising activities and special children's menus.
- Apartment rentals are often a good bet, too, providing space and freedom – and they often work out cheaper than hotels.
- Agriturismi (farm stays) are great for giving the masses the slip; here you'll find space for the kids to play freely, farm animals, trails to explore and a genuinely warm welcome.
- Book in advance whenever possible, and be sure to ask about the hotel's kid policy – many places will squeeze in a cot for free or an extra bed for a nominal charge.
- Baby formula, disposable nappies (diapers; pannolini) and sterilising solutions are widely available at farmacie and supermarkets.
- Fresh cow’s milk is sold in litre and half-litre cartons in supermarkets, alimentari (food shops) and in some bars. Carry an emergency carton of lunga conservazione (UHT).
Eating with Kids
Eating out with the kids is pretty stress-free in Sardinia, where bambini are made very welcome. There are few taboos about taking children to restaurants, even if locals with little ones in tow stick to the more popular trattorias – you’ll seldom see children in an expensive restaurant.
- Even if there is no children’s menus, most places will cheerfully tailor a dish to appeal and serve a mezzo porzione (half portion).
- Very few restaurants have seggioloni (high chairs), so bring a fabric add-on or stick your wiggly toddler on your knee and hope for the best.
- Baby-changing facilities are few and far between, though the staff will usually find a space for you (sometimes rolling a tray table into the toilets for you!).
- Food-wise, most kids are in heaven. Spaghetti, pizza and ice cream abound, as do Sardinian takes on pasta like ravioli-style culurgiones.
- It is possible to hire car seats for infants and children (usually for a daily fee) from most car-rental firms, but book them well in advance.
- Most compact cars are short on space, so you may struggle to squeeze in your luggage and pushchair in the boot.
- Check the car’s dimensions before booking or consider upgrading to a bigger model.
- Under-fours generally travel for free on trains and ferries, but without the right to a seat or cabin berth; for children between four and 12, discounts of 50% are usually applied.
- Sardinian trains are seldom busy, but in high season it’s advisable to book seats.
- Note that coastal and mountain roads can be very curvy and travel sickness is a serious prospect, so be prepared.
- Kids love the Trenino Verde, a narrow-gauge train that chugs through some of Sardinia’s most spectacular and inaccessible countryside.
- Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children is packed with practical tips, while the Kids’ Travel Guide – Italy, published by FlyingKids, is a fun take on the country.
- Lots of general advice, though nothing specific to Sardinia, can be found at www.travelwithyourkids.com.
- Tots Too (www.totstoo.com) is an online agency specialising in upmarket, kid-friendly properties.
Sardinia has little infrastructure to ease the way for travellers with disabilities, and few museums and monuments are wheelchair accessible. Footpaths are generally well maintained, though the access to some of the island's more remote beaches is on rough, off-road dirt tracks.
- Rete Ferroviaria Italiana Provides assistance for train travel; two dedicated telephone lines are active between 6.45am and 9.30pm daily.
- Italia (www.italia.it) The Italian State Tourist Office's official site may be able to provide advice on associations for travellers with disabilities.
- Accessible Italy (www.accessibleitaly.com) Specialises in holiday services for travellers with disabilities, including tours and the hiring of adapted transport.
For more information download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
- Volunteering opportunities are fairly limited in Sardinia.
- Websites such as www.transitionsabroad.com have links to organisations offering volunteering positions in Italy and Sardinia. A common request is for mother-tongue English speakers to work at summer schools/camps.
- Some seasonal farm work may be available through organisations such as WWOOF.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
Sardinians are almost universally polite to women, and it is unlikely that you will suffer the sort of harassment that you might in parts of mainland Italy.
It is wise – and polite – to dress modestly in inland Sardinia, however. Communities here are very conservative, and you will still see older women wearing the traditional long, pleated skirts and shawls. Take your cue from the local women.
- High unemployment in Sardinia, particularly among young people, means job opportunities are scarce on the island.
- Seasonal work in resorts, bars, restaurants and hotels does exist but most jobs are snapped up by young Sardinians or Italians coming over from the mainland.
- Other possibilities include English-language teaching – in a company, language school or through private lessons – and working as an au pair.
- A useful online resource is Season Workers (www.seasonworkers.com), listing job opportunities on summer resorts.
Although homosexuality is legal, Sardinian attitudes remain largely conservative. There is practically no open gay scene on the island and overt displays of affection could attract unpleasant attention, especially in the rural interior.
- The most tolerant places are the island’s two largest cities, Sassari and Cagliari.
- The island’s most high-profile gay activist organisation is the Sassari-based Movimento Omosessuale Sardo. Check out its website for listings and information on gay-friendly accommodation, clubs and beaches.
- Also useful is the national gay organisation Arcigay (www.arcigay.it).
- Sardegna Pride takes to the seafront streets of Cagliari in June.