Where to stay in Sardinia without a car: 4 Best areas

In this article, we will look at Where to stay in Sardinia without a car, best areas to stay in Sardinia without a car (along with a helpful map), where I stayed in Sardinia, and the best hotels in Sardinia for all budget visitors.

Sardinia is a beautiful island in Italy known for its stunning beaches, rugged landscapes, and unique culture. While having a car can provide more flexibility for exploring the island, it’s still possible to have a great experience without one. You can use bus, train, taxi, biking, walking, ferry, and guided tours.

Sardinia is served by three airports. Cagliari is the capital city of Sardinia and has the largest international airport on the island, Cagliari Elmas Airport. You can fly directly to Cagliari from major European cities.

The 2nd airport is the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, another major airport in Sardinia, primarily serving the northeastern part of the island. It offers international flights.

The 3rd airport is the Alghero-Fertilia Airport, located in the northwest of Sardinia, also handles international flights. You can find direct flights to Sardinia from various European cities, particularly during the summer tourist season. 

You can take a ferry to Sardinia from mainland Italy or other Mediterranean countries. The major ports for ferries to Sardinia include Genoa, Livorno, Civitavecchia, and Naples in Italy, as well as Barcelona and Marseille from other countries. 

Sardinia has a network of buses and trains that connect many towns and cities on the island. Cagliari, the capital, has a relatively well-developed public transportation system. But, in more remote or less touristy areas, public transportation options may be limited.

Taxis are available in most urban areas and is a convenient way to get around. You can rent a bicycle to explore cities and the countryside. Keep in mind that Sardinia’s terrain can be hilly and challenging in some areas.

If you plan to travel between Sardinia and nearby islands, you can use ferries and boats for transportation. This is particularly useful if you want to visit places like La Maddalena or Carloforte.

In urban areas, walking can be a pleasant way to explore. Many cities and towns have pedestrian-friendly streets, and you can easily explore historic centers and tourist attractions on foot.

Consider joining guided tours that provide transportation. These tours often cover popular attractions and may include transportation to and from your accommodation.

While you may not want to rent a car for your entire stay, you can consider renting a car for specific day trips or excursions to areas that are less accessible by public transportation.

It’s important to note that the availability and reliability of public transportation can vary depending on the season and location within Sardinia. Before your trip, research the specific areas you plan to visit and check the current schedules to ensure that you can get around efficiently without a car.

Where to stay in Sardinia without a car?

The best areas to stay in Sardinia without a car are Cagliari, Alghero, Olbia, and Porto Cervo. These are major tourist destinations on the island with plenty of things to do and see on foot, by using a combination of taxi and public transportation.

Cagliari is the capital city of Sardinia and is well-connected by public transportation. You can explore the city’s historic center, visit museums, and enjoy the local cuisine. There are many hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals available in the city.

Alghero is a picturesque coastal town in the northwest of Sardinia. It has its own airport, making it accessible by flight. The town itself is compact and walkable, and you can also use public buses to explore nearby attractions.

Olbia, located in the northeast of the island, is another city with good public transportation links. It’s a gateway to the Costa Smeralda region and offers various accommodation options.

Porto Cervo is a part of the Costa Smeralda, and is known for luxury resorts and beautiful beaches. You can use taxis and public transportation to explore the area.

During my trip to Sardinia, I stayed in Cagliari at the Hotel Regina Margherita, which has a convenient location, within walking distance to main tourist attractions, restaurants, and shops, as well as easy access to public transportation, around 10 minutes walk from the Cagliari Train Station.

Below is the Map of the best areas and neighborhoods in Sardinia without a car. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the best areas to stay in Sardinia without a car
Map of the best areas to stay in Sardinia without a car

Let’s get into the details of the best areas to stay in Sardinia, especially for travelers without a car. I’ll explain to you how to reach each area, how to get around, as well as the best things to do and some suggestions of the best places to stay in each area for every budget.

4 Best areas to stay in Sardinia without a car:

1. Cagliari

Cagliari, without doubt, is one of the best areas to stay in Sardinia without a car. It is well-connected by air, with Cagliari Elmas Airport serving as the main gateway to the island. The city also has a port for ferries connecting Sardinia to mainland Italy.

You can easily get from Cagliari airport to the city center by  hotel’s shuttle, public bus, taxi, or train. It is only a 10 mins train ride. The airport train station is located only 5 mins walk from the airport arrival terminal. Cagliari central train station is centrally located close to the harbor, La Marina and Stampace.

Cagliari is the capital city Sardinia, located in the southern part of the island and is its largest city. Cagliari is known for its rich history, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture. 

Cagliari is a great base for exploring Sardinia if you enjoy city life, want good transportation connections, and enjoy taking day trips to explore other parts of the island.

Cagliari has a long and diverse history, with roots dating back to ancient times. It has been inhabited by various civilizations, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, and the Kingdom of Sardinia.

The city features a mix of architectural styles, reflecting its historical influences. You can find Roman ruins, medieval castles, and beautiful Baroque churches.

Cagliari is surrounded by a stunning coastline and beautiful beaches. Poetto Beach, one of the most famous, stretches for several kilometers along the Gulf of Cagliari and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

The city has a rich cultural scene with museums, theaters, and festivals celebrating Sardinian traditions. The Cagliari Opera House is a notable cultural venue.

Sardinian cuisine is distinct from mainland Italian food. Some local specialties include seafood dishes, lamb, pecorino cheese, and traditional Sardinian pasta called “malloreddus.”

Beyond the city, Sardinia offers a wealth of natural beauty, including rugged mountains, forests, and unique rock formations. The island is also known for its wildlife and hiking trails.

Cagliari’s economy is diverse, with sectors like tourism, trade, and services playing significant roles. The city is also home to important institutions, including the University of Cagliari.

Best places to stay in Sardinia in Cagliari without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Palazzo Doglio, 5- star hotel, located in a nice location, easy walk to the city center, the port, and the castle. Also a short walk from San Saturnino Basilica and Via Roma.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Regina Margherita, 4-star hotel, located in the historic center, a short walk to many restaurants and shops. Only 10 mins walk from Cagliari Cathedral and the harbor. 
  • Budget ($): Albergo Diffuso Birkin Castello, this 3-star hotel offers airport shuttle service which is a bonus for car-free travelers. It’s within walking distance from the Cathedral and Cagliari Train Station. You can easily take a bus from a bus stop near the hotel to reach the train station.

2. Alghero

Alghero is a charming coastal town located on the northwest coast of Sardinia, which has its own international airport. It is known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and distinctive Catalan influence. 

Alghero has a unique cultural heritage due to its Catalan history. The town was originally founded in the 12th century by the Genoese Doria family but was later conquered by the Catalan Crown in the 14th century. This Catalan influence is still evident in the local dialect, architecture, and traditions.

The historic center of Alghero is well-preserved and features narrow cobblestone streets, medieval walls, and picturesque squares. The town’s ramparts offer panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Alghero boasts some of Sardinia’s most beautiful beaches. The most famous ones include Lido di Alghero, Maria Pia Beach, and Bombarde Beach. These sandy shores are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.

Just a short drive from Alghero, you can visit the Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune’s Grotto), a stunning sea cave known for its impressive stalactites and stalagmites. You can access the cave by boat or by descending a long staircase carved into the cliffs.

Alghero hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, including the Feast of St. John (La Festa di San Giovanni) and the Catalan-Algherese Carnival.

Sardinia is known for its wine production, and Alghero is no exception. The region produces excellent wines, including Vermentino and Cannonau, which you can taste at local wineries.

Alghero and its surroundings also feature several archaeological sites, such as the Nuraghe Palmavera, which are remnants of an ancient civilization that once inhabited Sardinia.

Beyond the town, you’ll find beautiful natural landscapes to explore, including the Porto Conte Regional Natural Park, which offers hiking trails and opportunities for birdwatching.

Best places to stay in Sardinia in Alghero without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Smy Carlos V Wellness & Spa Alghero, 5-star hotel, located just a few steps from the Bay of Alghero, great location, 10 mins walk to the Old Town.
  • Mid-range ($$): Hotel Domomea, 4-star hotel,  located in the city center area, an easy walk to the Cathedral and the harbor. It offers paid airport shuttle service which is a bonus for car-free travelers.
  • Budget ($): San Francesco Heritage Hotel, 3-star hotel, located in the town historic center, within easy walk from the Alghero Cathedral, and Alghero Harbour. 

3. Olbia

Olbia is a coastal city located in the northeastern part of Sardinia, facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the administrative capital of the province of Olbia-Tempio and is known for its beautiful coastline, historic sites, and vibrant atmosphere. 

Olbia is one of the main entry points for tourists arriving in Sardinia due to its well-connected airport and port. The Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, which is one of the busiest airports in Sardinia. The city’s port serves as a major ferry terminal for connections to mainland Italy and other Mediterranean destinations.

Olbia is a popular tourist destination, primarily because of its proximity to the stunning Costa Smeralda, a stretch of coastline known for its crystal-clear waters, beautiful beaches, and upscale resorts

Olbia has a rich history dating back to ancient times. The city was founded by the Greeks in the 4th century BC and was known as “Olbia” or “Olbia-Terranova” (New Olbia). Archaeological remains from this period can be explored, including the Roman Baths of Olbia and the ruins of the ancient city.

Beyond its beaches, Olbia offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the nearby natural parks and wildlife reserves. The area is also known for its biodiversity.

Olbia has a variety of shops and restaurants where you can sample Sardinian cuisine, including seafood dishes, cheeses, and wines. The city’s markets are great places to find local products and crafts.

Best places to stay in Sardinia in Olbia without a car:

  • Mid-range ($$): Grand Hotel President, popular 4-star hotel in Olbia, located in an old part of town with many restaurants and shops. It is also a short drive from Costa Smeralda, Palau, Porto Cervo, and Porto Rotondo.
  • Mid-range ($$): L’Essenza Hotel, 4-star hotel, centrally located in Olbia, within walking distance to the harbor, lots of restaurants and shops in its surroundings.
  • Budget ($): B&B Biddanoa, 3-star accommodation close to attractions, and public transportation. You can easily explore attractions such as the San Simplicio Church, Church of St. Paul the Apostle and Archeological Museum of Olbia.

4. Porto Cervo

Porto Cervo is a famous resort town located in the northeastern part of Sardini. Without a car, you can still stay in the central area and use taxis or organized tours to explore nearby beaches and attractions.

Porto Cervo is part of the larger area known as the Costa Smeralda, which is renowned for its stunning coastline, crystal-clear waters, and upscale tourism. 

Porto Cervo was developed in the 1960s and 1970s as a luxury tourist destination. The town was designed by the famous Italian architect Luigi Vietti and has since become a playground for the rich and famous, attracting celebrities, yacht enthusiasts, and affluent travelers.

Porto Cervo is particularly famous for its marina, which is often filled with luxurious yachts and sailboats during the summer months. It hosts various international sailing events, including the prestigious Sardinia Rolex Cup.

The town’s central square, known as the Piazzetta, is the heart of Porto Cervo. It is surrounded by designer boutiques, high-end restaurants, and cafes. It’s a popular spot for people-watching and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere.

The Costa Smeralda, including Porto Cervo, boasts numerous beautiful beaches with fine white sand and clear waters. Some well-known beaches in the area include Liscia Ruja, Capriccioli, and Spiaggia del Principe.

Porto Cervo is home to the Pevero Golf Club, which offers a scenic 18-hole golf course overlooking the sea. There are numerous luxury hotels, resorts, and villas in Porto Cervo, catering to upscale travelers seeking a lavish vacation experience.

The nightlife in Porto Cervo is vibrant, with a variety of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues where visitors can enjoy music and dance late into the night.

Best places to stay in Sardinia in Porto Cervo without a car:

  • Luxury ($$$): Cervo Hotel,Costa Smeralda Resort, 5-star hotel with a private beach in Porto Cervo, easy access to sport clubs, a shopping promenade and nightlife area.
  • Mid-range ($$): Colonna Country Club, 4-star hotel located close to Cala Granu, a few minutes from Porto Cervo marina.
  • Mid-range ($$): Dolce Vita Boutique Hotel, 4-star hotel, offers an airport shuttle, which is convenient for those without a car, good location, beautiful sunsets from the rooftop.

In conclusion, Cagliari, Alghero, Olbia, and Porto Cervo are the best places to stay in Sardinia without a car. Remember to plan your transportation in advance, including using reliable taxi services, guided tours, or public transportation to get around these cities and explore the island.

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I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful. If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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