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Sardinia Airport car hire - explore Sardinia in a rental car from Olbia, Alghero or Cagliari Airport

Sardinia is the second largest island of the Mediterranean and a popular summer holiday destination in Italy.

See map of Sardinia and Italy.

Sardinia airport guide
The island is served by three international airports offering plentiful domestic and international routes, the latter operated by both regular and low-cost carriers.

Find Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari Airports on a map of Sardinia.

All three airports of Sardinia - Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari - provide car hire services from major and local rent-a-car suppliers, allowing to travel quickly and comfortably across the entire island. By using an internet search engine of car rental, such as Cartrawler Italy, it is also possible to make Sardinia airport car hire inexpensive.

Cheap car hire at Cagliari Airport - southern Sardinia
The airport serving the capital city of Sardinia, Cagliari, is located in Elmas, approx. 5 miles northeast of Cagliari city centre.

Cagliari Airport, also referred to as Cagliari Elmas Airport - CAG handles most of all the air traffic to the island operating seasonal and year round flights from a number of European destinations, as well as to other Italian airports. A large part of all routes at Cagliari Airport are provided by low-cost carriers, such as  Easyjet, Germanwings, Flybe and Ryanair, although regular airlines, amongst them British Airways, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines and Vueling are also present .

Cheap flights from the UK to Sardinia Cagliari Airport are available with Easyjet (from London-Stansted) and Ryanair (from Edinburgh).

Car hire at Cagliari Airport is available from a large number of rent-a-car companies, amongst them: Avis Sardinia, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt, Auto Europcar/Dollar/Thrifty, ASV Autonoleggio Sardegna Vacanze, Maggiore, Matta Autonoleggio, Mida Rent, Pinna Autonoleggio, Pintauro, Ruvioli, Karalis, IS Servizi Autonoleggio, Sardinya Autonoleggio and Locauto Rent.

Find cheap car hire at Cagliari Airport with Cartrawler

Cagliari Airport is conveniently situated near the main road SS131 allowing an easy access to other locations on the island should you opt for Sardinia car hire.

Driving in Sardinia - major roads and distances
Although there are no motorways in Sardinia, the existing road network of dual carriageways, the superstrada, is very well developed and efficient, connecting all the major cities and towns of Sardinia.

See general map of major roads (superstradi) in Sardinia.

The main road of Sardinia, the SS131 (locally known as Carlo Felicie) stretches across the whole island, between  Sassari in the north and Cagliari in the south. The SS131 is a part of the European Route 25, E25.

Even with the greatest intensity of traffic during the busy summer season, it is possible to travel between the most distant cities of Olbia and Sassari in approximately 3 hours, provided that you use the main roads. Please, be aware though,  that the secondary roads in Sardinia may not offer very good conditions for driving, especially in the mountainous areas of the island.

The distances between the three major cities of Sardinia (approximate road distances) are:

  • distance Olbia - Sassari: 103 km / 64 miles
  • distance Olbia - Cagliari: 275 km / 171 miles
  • distance Cagliari - Sassari: 209 km / 130 miles

See more distances between major cities and towns on a map of Sardinia.

Sardinia tourists attractions - Cagliari, southern Sardinia
Most historic sites of Sardinia are concentrated in the island’s capital city, Cagliari.

Caglari Old Town - Castello
The mandatory stop of Cagliari sightseeing is the city’s main historic district, Castello, featuring well preserved medieval fortifications which include two 14th century towers, Torre di San Pancrazio e Torre dell’Elefante. Within the historic quarters of Cagliari you will also find a number of churches and cathedrals, amongst them: Cathedral of Santa Maria, Basilica di San Saturnino and Sanctuary di Bonaria.

See map of Cagliari Old Town (Castello).

Cagliari's museums
Cagliari’s most popular museum is the National Museum of Archaeology, tracing Sardinia’s history from the Neolithic age to the middle ages. It is an important part of Cittadella dei Musei, a museum complex, including also the National Gallery (Pinacoteca Nazionale) and Wax Anatomical Models Museum (Museo delle CereAnatomiche Clemente Susini).

Archaeological sites Cagliari
Cagliari is home to one of the most important archaeological sites of Sardinia, the Roman Amphitheatre. In the summer time outdoor music concerts take place in the amphitheatre. The Roman heritage can be also seen in many others monuments and sites of Sardinia, the Tigellio Villa, Sant’Eulalia, or Galleria dello Sperone, to mention some.

Cagliari parks
The capital of Sardinia is considered to be one of the greenest cities in the whole Italy boasting many beautifully landscaped public parks. Amongst the largest Cagliari parks are: Parco Bonaria, Parco di Monte Claro, Parco di Terramaini, Parco Ex Vetreria and Parco Urpino.

Best beaches of Cagliari
Although Cagliari is, without a doubt, a city of culture, the sun seeking holidaymakers in Sardinha will also find some excellent beaches in Cagliari and along the coast both south-west and south-east from the city.

See map of the beaches in Cagliari area.

The most popular beach of Cagliari is Poetto Beach, stretching from the Sella del Diavolo view point along the cost to the Quartu Sant’Elena district.

Marina Piccola located on within the Poetto Beach is a perfect location for water sports such as surf and windsurf. After dawn, the area of Poetto continues popular for its animated nightlife with many sea-front restaurants, clubs and discos.

Other popular beaches in Caglari, or in a short driving distance from the city are: Calamosca Beach, Cala Fighera Beach, Cala Regina Beach and Cala e Moru Beach, to mention the most popular ones.

Cagliari daytrips ideas - Sardinia car hire
Make the most of your Sardinia hire car and visit some of the places of interest in a reasonable driving distance from Cagliari.

Just a simple trip along the cost, east or west from Cagliari is already a treat for the beautiful landscapes of a cliff coast alternated with long stretches of white sand beaches. You can also opt for driving inland, for instance to Su Nuraxi di Barumini site, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Su Nuraxi is an excavation site of an ancient Nuragic civilization, dating back to the 17th century BC. Nuraghe is a type of a megalithic construction, unique for Sardinia, and the best preserved nuraghe complex is located in the municipality of Barumini, approx. 37 miles north of Cagliari.

In just about the same distance from Cagliari, in southwestern direction, near the village of Santadi you will find a fascinating cave, Grotte di Is Zuddas where you can admire unique rock formations sculpted by water over thousands of years.

Olbia Airport - holiday car hire in Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
The second largest airport of Sardinia is located in the north-eastern part of the island, near the city of Olbia and the so called Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast).

Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport - OLB is the base for the Italian carrier Meridiana, offering connections to major domestic destinations throughout the year, as well as international routes in the summer season.

Low-cost airlines at Olbia are Easyjet, Jet2, Germanwings, Transavia  and Norwegian.

Major car hire companies offer their services at Olbia Airport, amongst them: Avis Rent a Car, Europcar Italia, Hertz, Sixt, Budget and Auto Europa. The local car providers at the airport include brands as Maggiore, Locauto, Mida Rent, Matta Rent a Car, AM Service Rent a Car, Ellepi Autonoleggio.

Compare prices of Olbia Airport car hire with Cartrawler

Olbia Airport is the most convenient stop for the tourists heading to the beach resorts of Costa Smeralda: Porto Cervo and Porto Rotondo.

Luxury holiday Costa Smeralda, Sardinia - Porto Cervo and Porto Retondo
The Emerald Coast, or Costa Smeralda stretching north of Olbia towards Palau takes its name from the stunning colour of  the Mediterranean surrounding this exceptionally beautiful part of Sardinia.

See map of Costa Smeralda in Sardinia.

Other than breathtaking views one more distinctive quality should be taken into consideration when visiting Costa Smeralda: it is considered to be the most upmarket area of Sardinian coast, thus the most expensive one when it comes to tourist services.

Porto Cervo
Porto Cervo, in 22 miles distance of Olbia is the most important location of Costa Esmeralda. Build in the 1950-ies by the initiative of a group of investors, amongst them prince Kharim Aga Khan, Porto Cervo does not boast historic heritage.  However, the excellent beaches, marinas, an exclusive yacht club and a golf course prove to be irresistable for the more affluent visitors. Some of the world’s most expensive hotels are located in Porto Cervo, amongst them the Pitrizza Hotel and the Cala di Volpe Hotel known from the 1977 James Bond movie (The Spy Who Loved Me).

Mid-range priced accommodation is naturally available in Costa Smeralda too, however, given the relatively short distances to cover, many tourist opt for exploring this part of the Sardinian coast in a hire car having as a base a more affordable tourist location, such as Olbia, Palau, Liscia di Vacca, Capriccioli or Romazzino.

Porto Rotondo
Porto Rotondo, around 12 miles north of Olbia, is another upmarket holiday resort, favourite with  Italian celebrities, actors and soccer players, etc. The former prime minster of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi owns an extravagant house in Porto Rotondo and can be seen vacationing in Costa Esmeralda in the summer season.

Palau and La Maddalena - diving in Sardinia
Palau, a town on the northern extremity of Costa Smeralda is a low-key destination, attracting visitors with all the charms of Costa Smeralda, at much more affordable prices.

For amateurs of scuba diving, Palau is renowned as one of the best diving destinations in the Mediterranean and home to professional diving schools.

There are over 40 exceptional diving sites off the coast of Palau and in the area of an archipelago La Maddalena.

See map of La Maddalena archipelago, Sardinia.

The archipelago formed by seven larger islands and 60 smaller islets is a nature park and a marine reserve, considered by the UNESCO to be included on the list of World Heritage, due to its unique ecosystem and an astounding variety of animal and marine life. Frequent ferry service to La Maddalena is available from Palau port.

Watersports in Sardinia - Olbia
Apart from diving, a variety of water sports are available at the northeastern tip of Sardinia. The mistral Wind formed in the straight between Sardinia and Corsica creates perfect conditions for sailing.

An important school of sailing of the Mediterranean, Centro Velico Caprera is located on the island of Caprera, north of Olbia and the Yacht Club Costa Esmeralda is one of the attractions of Porto Cervo. Every year, in September, a prestigious sailing regatta, Sardinia Cup is held in Costa Smeralda.

The favourite destination for surfers and kitesurfers in Sardinia is the bay of Porto Pollo, near Palau.

Alghero Airport Sardinia car hire
An alternative airport for holidaymakers in northern Sardinia is located on north-western coast of the island, near the city of Alghero.

Find cheap car hire Sicily with the pick-up at Alghero Airport

Alghero Airport - AHO, also referred to as Alghero-Fertilia is the smallest of all Sardinia airports, however, growing in popularity, due to the presence of major low-cost carriers: Ryanair, Easyjet, Germanwings and Wizzair.

Ryanair is the predominant airline at Alghero Airport with over 26 routes (international and domestic), including an year-round connection to London-Stansted and a seasonal route to London-Luton, in the UK.

Rental cars at Alghero Airport are provided by major providers, such as Avis Rent-A-Car, Europcar, Dollar, Sixt, Budget, Hertz, AutoEuropa Sicly by Car amongst many other Sicily car hire companies.

Read more about Alghero car hire.

Things to do in Alghero
Alghero is a lively coastal town with a range of tourist attractions including several nice beaches and an interesting, well preserved historic centre.

The long Spanish domination on Sardinia has left traces in the architecture of Alghero’s old quarters, whose main monuments include the churches of St. Francis and St. Michael, as well as the impressive Cathedral and the Palace D’Albis. n fact, Alghero used to be nicknamed in the past as ‘Little Barcelona’ and if you speak a little Italian you will be able to identify the Catalan influence in the dialect still spoken in Alghero’s area.

See map of Alghero Old Town.

Alghero’s Old Town is a charming place, filled with tourists during the day, but also in the evening, when the al fresco restaurants and cafés seem especially inviting.

During daytime, naturally, the main attraction of Alghero are the beaches. The best beach locations in Alghero area, however, are located outside of city centre and can be hardly accessed on foot from Alghero. If you have a hire car at your disposal, do not miss the opportunity to visit Maria Pia Beach, Le Bombarde Beach, Mugoni Beach, Stintino Beach and Porto Torres. 

A medieval village of Bosa, approx. 26 miles south of Alghero is also well worth a trip, as the scenic coastal road leading to Bosa is one of the most beautiful drives on Sardinia.

One of the most popular tourist attractions of Alghero, the Neptun’s Grotto, is located approx. 14 miles west of the city at the tip of Cape Caccia (Capo Caccia). The Grotta di Nettuno is a fascinating stalactite cave featuring rare rock formations and a salt water lake. The access to the cave is done by a 645 steps "goat trail" down the cliff. Since the entrance to the cave is located very close to the sea level, the Neptune’s Grotto may be closed for visitors on the days when the sea is rough and the weather stormy.

Sassari - tourist attractions in northern Sardinia
The second largest city of Sadinia is Sassari located approx. 22 miles north-east of Olbia.

Sassari’s tourist attractions include architecture landmarks, such as the Cathedral of St. Nicolas (Duomo di San Nicola) and St. Mary of Betlem Church (Chiesa Santa Maria Di Betlem) as well as several interesting museums, amongst them Museo Nazionale G.A. Sanna. See the museum’s website (available in Italian only).

See map of Old Town Sassari, in Sardinia.

Sassari is also an excellent base for short trips to the places of interest located in within a short drive from the city. With a hire car at your disposal when visiting Sassari do not miss out on Monte d’Accoddi, a prehistoric sanctuary and an archaeological site, 8 miles from Sassari, in a north-west direction.

It is only a short drive from Sassari to the wonderful beaches of Porto Torres and Marina di Sorso, on the northern coast of Sardinia.

Sardinia weather - off-season Sardinia car hire
The island of Sardinia is not a year round destination. The best time to visit is between May and October when the weather is warm and dry, while in the winter months the temperatures in Sardinia can get surprisingly low, especially in the mountainous inland area. There is even a ski resort on the second highest summit of Sardinia, in Bruncu Spina.

See temperature chart for Sardina (Cagliari).

The peak of the summer season is in July and August, but if you prefer to avoid the tourist crowds, spring is also a great time for Sardinia holiday, with the additional benefit of less inflated prices and marvelous landscapes of the island’s wild flowers are in full bloom.

Sardinia car hire in April-May is substantially cheaper than in the summer, but even in the peak of the summer season competitive car rental deals can often be found on Cartrawler search engine, by comparing prices from many suppliers and booking well ahead of your holiday.


Sardinia Airport car hire - explore Sardinia in a rental car from Olbia, Alghero or Cagliari Airport
Article: Sardinia Airport car hire - explore Sardinia in a rental car from Olbia, Alghero or Cagliari Airport
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Published: Thursday, July 18 2013
Latest revision: Tuesday, November 24 2015

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