This post's overview:
- 1 Do you really need a car in Sardinia?
- 2 The best places to stay in Sardinia without a car
- 3 Alghero
- 4 Santa Teresa Gallura
- 5 Palau
- 6 Why we didn’t like Olbia that much
- 7 Summary of the best place to stay in North Sardinia without a car
- 8 Here are some other articles you might find useful
Planning a trip to Sardinia and not sure where to stay if you aren’t planning to rent a car? In this post, I will share my thoughts on the best place to stay in North Sardinia without a car!
We visited Sardinia in July (read my itinerary for 4 days in Sardinia: North Sardinian road trip) and then worked remotely for a few more days. It was a lovely experience; honestly, Sardinia turned out to be completely different than I had expected!
Do you really need a car in Sardinia?
Unfortunately, public transport is not operating very frequently in Sardinia and some places on this itinerary are not accessible by public transport. However, running not very often is much better than non-operating at all!
On Sundays, buses go rarely, and some don’t operate. On all other days, buses to the beaches and nearby towns operate at least 5-6 times per day and some buses go every hour.
In our case, since we wanted to explore the island properly (travel bloggers and writers don’t go on trips to relax, that’s the harsh reality – that’s especially painful if you also have a full-time job), we rented a car for 3.5 days and spent the rest of time-based in Olbia and working remotely. We actually managed to visit some of the beaches near Olbia after work using public transport, although, I must admit that it was a bit stressful.
However, Olbia didn’t steal our hearts, and I think there are much better places to stay in Sardinia if you don’t have a car.
The best places to stay in Sardinia without a car
(We will be focusing on North Sardinia only, as we hadn’t had a chance to visit Cagliari and the Southern part of the island yet)
When thinking about the best places to stay in North Sardinia if you don’t have a car, two cities immediately come to my mind. It’s also worth mentioning that we are talking about Sardinia in summer or early autumn when the water temperature is hot, and it’s possible to swim. If you’re going to Sardinia off-season, then it’s probably worth going just to the large cities like Cagliari and Alghero as small towns will be deserted and most businesses will be closed.
So the two best places in North Sardinia for staying without a car are, in my opinion, Alghero and Santa Theresa Gallura. I would also probably add Palau to this list – it’s not a bad destination either. We will also talk about Olbia and why it’s probably not the best city to stay in Sardinia.
Let’s start with Alghero. Alghero is the most beautiful city we have seen in North Sardinia. It has a pretty sizeable historic Old Town, a lovely promenade, a variety of restaurants and shops and a variety of beaches located very close to the city centre. It reminded me of Catania in Sicily (read this post about our 7-day road trip around Sicily), although, Catania is much larger and more opulent. However, just like Catania, Alghero has it all – nice beaches and nice city.
I was very sad that we ended up working remotely from Olbia and not Alghero. Still, for us, it was just impossible logistically as we had to fly from London Heathrow and there were no flights to Alghero. Also, we didn’t expect Olbia to be bland compared to Alghero.
The only downside of Alghero is the fact that the water temperature is a bit colder on the West Side of Sardinia and the beaches are not as impressive as Costa Smeralda beaches. On the other hand, you have La Pelosa much closer to you!
Where to stay in Alghero
In Alghero, we stayed at the Hotel Angedras, however, having visited Alghero now and explored other parts of the city, I would recommend staying somewhere between the city centre and the beaches. That way, you can have the best of both worlds. These properties would be a much better option, in my opinion: Casa Giglio, MaBi or “Here” Mini Loft.
Tours to take from Alghero
There are public buses that go to Porto Torres from Alghero, for example (bus 714) and from there, you can hop on another bus to Stintino for the famous La Pelosa beach.
Alternatively, you can also book tours that would bring you to other destinations in Sardinia like these ones:
Santa Teresa Gallura
Santa Teresa Gallura is a town located right at the edge of Costa Smeralda, Sardinia’s most famous coast. It’s a very nice and also very small town. Yet, there are a few nice restaurants and a lot of different B&Bs and Guesthouses, but more importantly, there is a stunning beach located in the middle of the city.
After visiting over 8 beaches in North Sardinia, this one (Spiaggia de Rena Blanca) is probably my favourite one! I liked it even more than the famous La Pelosa! You can rent sunbeds there as well, however, they sell out pretty quickly, so make sure to arrive there early if you need one.
Overall, I again regretted that we didn’t stay in Santa Teresa Gallura to work remotely (instead of Olbia, where we stayed for another 3 nights after the sightseeing part of the trip), because it was one of the nicest combinations of a lovely town and amazing beach.
If you like swimming a lot and don’t care that much about the town, where you are staying, I would probably recommend Santa Teresa Gallura over Alghero in this case.
Where to stay in Santa Teresa Gallura
Consider staying at these well-rated accommodations:
The final option for a good combination of town-beach in North Sardinia is Palau. Palau is another small town located almost at the edge of Costa Smeralda. It’s not very impressive from the architectural point of view (I wouldn’t call it a very pretty town), but it had a lovely port, a pleasant promenade, a very good beach right in the city centre and a lot of excellent restaurants!
From Palau, you can take a boat to La Maddalena archipelago or buy a private tour like this one >
Why we didn’t like Olbia that much
A lot of people are wondering whether Olbia is a great place to stay without a car and honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it. In total, we spent 5 nights in Olbia and it was a mildly disappointing experience. First of all, Olbia is not a pretty town. There is a nice bit of the city centre, but overall, it’s not impressive and there are no landmarks at all. Restaurants in Olbia are hit and miss as well and there is almost nothing open for lunch – the town is completely dead in the middle of the day!
We stayed slightly outside the historic centre and all around us, there were plenty of abandoned buildings and if you stay on the other side of the city, there is a large industrial area. There are no beaches within walking distance to Olbia, so you need to take a bus to go to a beach and buses usually operate every hour (to Pittulongo) or a few times per day (to Porto Istana).
However, there are buses that would bring you to other places, further away from Olbia as well.
That’s a shame because we really hoped to like Olbia, but the city just doesn’t have much personality, even compared to Palau or Santa Theresa Gallura!
Summary of the best place to stay in North Sardinia without a car
Alright, this was our experience staying in North Sardinia and recommendations on where to stay in Sardinia without a car. To summarise, I would recommend Alghero if you like the combination of lovely city-good beach and Santha Theresa Gallura if you don’t mind the city so much but would like to have a stunning beach nearby! However, all the opinions are, as always, my own – maybe you would love Olbia, who knows!