Is Sardinia Safe?

One of the questions you may be asking yourself before planning a trip to Sardinia surely is “Is Sardinia safe?” The short answer is yes! Indeed, Sardinia is one of the safest places to visit in Italy and the same basic precautions you’d use in your own country will apply here.

You see, people in Sardinia are extremely welcoming and friendly and they will go above and beyond to help anyone in need – a local, but especially a tourist who may not know where to get help, or may not speak the language. That’s right: the language barrier hardly bothers anyone here, and no matter what language you speak, if you do need help you will find someone that will kindly offer, out of pure generosity.

Let me now go into a bit more details so that you can draw your own conclusions.

Carloforte
Sardinia is a perfectly safe destination for families

Crime In Sardinia

As opposed to other places in southern Italy, organized crime in the form of mafia-like organizations isn’t an issue in Sardinia.

Between the 1970s and until well into the 1990s, bandits in Sardinia committed a bunch of kidnappings – the most notorious one that of Italian singer Fabrizio De Andre and his wife Dori Ghezzi, who fell in love in Sardinia and decided to live here, in August 1979. For a while, Sardinia had a reputation of being a dangerous place where anyone stood chances of getting kidnapped – even though the average tourist would no doubt be perfectly safe.

In fact, according to ISTAT – the Italian National Institute of Statistics – the crime rate in Sardinia is among the lowest in Italy – and much lower than the Italian average. When asked if they perceive crime in their daily life, chances are the vast majority of Sardinians will tell you they don’t.

With kidnappings finally a thing of the past, and with one of the lowest criminality rates in Italy, you should stop wondering “is Sardinia safe for tourists?” – because really, you have nothing to worry about.

Unsafe Areas In Larger Cities

Sardinia doesn’t really have the big cities you may be accustomed to. The largest one is Cagliari, the capital, which counts about 150000 inhabitants that, with the urban area, get to about 430000. Sassari, the second largest city, counts about 125000 inhabitants.

Albeit small, Sardinian cities definitely have some areas that are unsafe and that you are better off avoiding – but in general, they are areas that have little interest to tourists.

In Cagliari, Sant’Elia, San Michele, Is Mirrionis districts are areas where drug dealing and petty crimes are most common, and best avoided at night. I regularly walk through them during the day, or drive through them on my way back home at night, and never had issues – but alas, if you don’t know your whereabouts you may as well not go.

A similar situation is that of Sassari’s Latte Dolce and Santa Maria di Pisa districts – again, two places that you’re unlikely to visit, as they are not even close to the center of town.

winter in Sardinia
Sardinia gets quite a bit of wind in winter – trees bend to it!

Is Sardinia Safe? Natural Disasters In Sardinia

Sardinia is the only region in Italy that is not subjected to earthquakes. When it comes to natural disasters, the worst occurrences in Sardinia are strong wind storms that usually cause damage to trees and are simply a nuisance; and floods which in recent years have cause a lot of damage to property and people.

Floods are usually the consequence of sudden, heavy rains, most typically occurring at the end of October when fall begins. In 2008, 2013, 2018 and – sadly – even in December 2020, intense rainfall caused floods during which a few people died.

Local authorities are very prompt at sending out alerts so that locals know there may be issues. In general, using your good judgement and avoiding going to the beach and swimming in the sea when the wind is very strong and the sea too rough; or staying safely indoors when the rain is falling heavily will suffice to keep you safe while you are traveling around Sardinia.

is Sardinia safe
If you want to avoid trouble, don’t take sand from Sardinian beaches

So, What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen In Sardinia?

Other than getting caught in a bad thunderstorm and getting soaking wet, or running out of gas, the chances of you getting into trouble in Sardinia are really slim, provided that you respect local laws.

If you are planning to rent a car in Sardinia, make sure to always respect the speed limit, not to drive in ZTL – Limited Traffic Areas (typically the historic center of a city, and only at certain times of day or night), and to park your car where it is actually allowed. If you get a ticket, this will be sent to your car rental company which will forward it to you and demand that you pay – or else, you may be unable to rent a car again on your next trip to Italy.

Another thing that may get you into (this time more serious) trouble is stealing sand, stones and shells from Sardinian beaches. Sand in Sardinia is beautiful and precious, and in order to protect the beaches and the coastal environment taking sand – even tiny amounts is strictly forbidden (some beaches even have regulations in place by which you need to lay down on a straw mat so as not to carry sand away once you leave). If you are caught with sand you will be subjected to a hefty fine and at times even arrested – it really is a serious offense here.

Don’t believe it? It happens every summer.

In August 2019 a French couple was arrested and fined – and faced up to 6 years in prison – for having stolen 40 kg of sand (that’s 88 pounds!) which they had stored in 14 emptied water bottles that they kept in the boot of their car.

Final Considerations On Safety In Sardinia

Sardinia really is a safe, happy place. Whether you plan to visit in the summer months, or are thinking about a winter trip to Sardinia; whether you are planning to travel here solo and use public transportation or will be visiting with your family and kids or on an all-girls road trip, Sardinia will feel like a breath of fresh air and you will be sure to enjoy the island!

Further readings

Are you planning a trip to Sardinia? Make sure to read my other posts:

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