How to organize your car trip through Sicily and Sardinia, the main Italian islands
If you plan a car trip Sicily and Sardinia are great destinations to consider, mainly if you really wish to know Italy better. Italian main islands are full of landscapes to admire, great food to taste and they can be a setting you’ll remember forever.
So, you want to organize a car trip in the most authentic Italy?
Well, in this case a car trip through Sicily and Sardinia, the two biggest Italian islands, is the best idea and project you can plan!
Because, my dear friends, planning more than dreaming is what you’ll get today in this post of mines.
Let’s see together how to organize a car trip through Sicily and Sardinia, from planning your itinerary to the car rental options; at the end of the post I’ll tell you what to expect and what you MUST know before you plan such a trip.
Where to land: Sicily or Sardinia?
Living your Italian experience “on the road” is a great and poetic idea.
Local landscapes are the best to be enjoyed and during your way you’ll see so many interesting scenarios and, with your independent car, you’ll have the opportunity to live them slow, following your preferred pace.
But as first thing you need to choose where to land, which airport is more suitable for you since both Sicily and Sardinia are islands.
Sicily has 6 main and well serviced airports: Aeroporto Internazionale Vincenzo Bellini di Catania-Fontanarossa, Aeroporto Internazionale Falcone e Borsellino di Palermo-Punta Raisi, Aeroporto Vincenzo Florio di Trapani-Birgi (TPS), Aeroporto Pio la Torre di Comiso (CIY), Aeroporto di Lampedusa (LMP), Aeroporto Italo D’Amico di Pantelleria (PNL).
I suggest you choose the one of Palermo, the main city of the island, that is also a “regione”, one of the administrative entities of the Italian country.
If you want to land in Sardinia and start your journey from there, land in the airport of Olbia-Costa Smeralda and start your journey from the northern part of this magic island and head south.
How to rent a car for your Italian insular journey?
As soon as you land in one of the above mentioned airports, you’ll have the chance to rent a car directly from one of the several car rental services at the airport but, since your plan is quite complex and engaging, I heartily recommend to book your car before leaving.
In this way you can choose the best car option (the trip is a long one and a comfortable car suitable for all your luggage and trip party is crucial) and find the car in the place you prefer for your trip to begin.
DiscoverCars is a great option, allowing you to choose the best car solution, compare prices and take advantage of the best promotion (you can save up to 70% compared to the coast average).
Available in many languages, Discover Cars compares car rental deals from many companies, without hiding mandatory fees and taxes in the quoted price, this showing you the true final cost of your reservation.
Which is the best itinerary for your car trip through Sicily and Sardinia?
From Palermo to Costa Smeralda
Depending on the airport and which one of the two islands you’ll land, there are different options and “concepts” for your car itinerary.
If, for instance, you prefer landing in Palermo, I recommend you visit this city in order to fall crazily in love with Sicily and Italy.
Stay there min. 3 days (if you can, stay longer).
The city is both ancient and baroque and a modern and lively one.
Depending on your time availability, I would suggest you an itinerary covering the main coast line and to cross some inland areas.
From Palermo, for instance, you can enjoy the amazing coast leading to Agrigento, majestic city that once was the leading cities of Magna Grecia, during the golden age of Ancient Greece . The Temples Valley is still considered one of the most magic and suggestive places in Europe.
From here, if you have at least 4-5 days, follow the coastline to enjoy an amazing cristalline sea and spectacular coast villages up to Catania, in my opinion one of the best cities in Italy.
If you have less time, drive across the inland heading to Catania but please, have a step in Caltanissetta and Caltagirone.
From Catania you can cross the inland road leading to Palermo where you can get your ferry to Sardinia.
But this road is much more than a fast way to get back to Palermo: through it you’ll enjoy the “other face of Sicily”, the one made of breath taking natural parks (Parco di Nebrodi, Parco delle Madonie) and the best local products defining the landscapes, as in the case of Pistacchi di Bronte and orange trees as far as the eyes can see.
In Palermo, you can reach the port where a ferry boat previously booked will lead you to Cagliari, the main city in Sardinia (that, as in the case of Sicily, is also a Regione).
Also Cagliari is worth a minimum 3 days stay.
Exotic, proud and beautiful like the proud and welcoming soul of Sardinian people (the best people I’ve ever met in all my life were from Sicily and Sardinia, they have something special), Cagliari will leave you breathless.
But believe me, going north in your trip is a great idea indeed so don’t be afraid of leaving.
From Cagliari, head to Olbia, in the northern area of the island. You can reach it from the east coast full of marvel to admire.
In Olbia, you should stay for at least a couple of days, and get lost in the small twisted streets of the old part of the port city.
Go a bit norther and reach the amazing Caprera, well known for the amazing sea, the very warm weather and the dolcevita atmosphere.
If you still want to enjoy the most posh Sardinian spirit, you can easily reach Alghero before getting back south, to Cagliari, where you can chose to take your trip back to Sicily or leave from the local airport.
From Olbia to Palermo
Landing in Olbia would change the mood of your journey, that would have a north-to-south ideal concept.
Rent your car in advance, as recommended above, and enjoy for some days the magic of Olbia, thus going south alternating the coast ways and the inland areas (Ozieri, Nuoro and Macomer are definitely worth visiting).
Once in Cagliari you can (read Must) stay for at least 2 nights and 3 days before heading via ferryboat to Palermo and make the above indicated itinerary up to Catania.
The itinerary in short:
Before making a quick recap of your possible itinerary, I recommend you reading the complete driving guide for Italy, by the International Drivers Association.
Here we go with the itineraries to follow:
Palermo – Agrigento – Catania (through Caltanissetta and Caltagirone) – Cagliari – Olbia – Caprera – Alghero.
Olbia + Caprera – Cagliari (through Macomer, Ozieri, Nuoro) – Palermo – Carania (through Caltanissetta and Caltagirone).
Things you must know before you plan your car trip through Sardinia and Sicily
There is something that you must know before you venture through this trip in the Italian Islands.
First of all, they represent and aspects of “italianità” and Italian lifestyle that you won’t experience anywhere else. You can’t say you know Italy if you don’t experience the Italian islands mood.
Then, forget all your diets! In my personal opinion, Sicily in particular has the very best Italian food for all preferences: I am vegetarian and there is no other place in Italy where local traditional food has so many veg options.
On the other hand, Sardinian food is definitely great but more meat centered.
Local transports are not the best you can find while traveling, in both Sicily and Sardinia, and that’s why a car itinerary is the best way to fully enjoy this two unique places, in Italy and in the world.
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