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.

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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26 thoughts on “Is Sardinia Safe?”

  1. Thank you for this Claudia after the pandemic I want to make sure where ever we visit my little boy is safe. Have a good day x

  2. This video documentary is disturbing. Fact that NATO forces have been bombing the shit out of Sardinia since after WWII really breaks our heart to learn. In fact, it would appear that 1/3 of this once pristine island has been abused by military from many countries and are off limits to the public. Wouldn’t want to go anywhere near there anyway. Apparently, radioactive war heads have been fired off or destroyed in and around the island for decades. Occupants/residents/military personnel, particularly in close proximity, have had serious medical issues and even died as a result of the exposure.
    It was our number one destination place to relocate on the planet. Now we are not so sure.

  3. Hello Jay, thank you for your comment. The way you describe it, it sounds like we in Sardinia have been living under bombs and that is not the case. Yes, there are areas – Teulada, Quirra and La Maddalena – that have been used for military exercises and yes, the impact on the environment has been proved to be disastrous and many lives have been affected. However, I can assure you that Sardinia remains a fantastic place to live and for the most part very healthy – have you read my post about the Sardinia Blue Zone?

  4. hi Claudia, Do you think at nearly 77 years old that I am to old to buy a property and live in Sardinia. I do have health issues, but when the weather hots up I feel so much better. I would like to come on holiday and would like to stay either in a hotel by the beach or perhaps a family that I could pay to stay with. I do not want to stay on my own where I don’t know anyone. I realize there would be a lot to do after Brexit and wondered if you could suggest anyone that could help me. I hope I am not asking to much of you, but it has been a dream of mine for quite a long time, but would like to know what is possible for me. Yours sincerely Pauline

  5. Hello Pauline, I don’t know of families that would take in a guest like that – a homestay, as you’d call it. I think if you wish to buy a property, an estate agency would be the best one to guide you into all the technicalities and legal issues of the matter. There are many reputable ones, including Tecnocasa, Tempocasa, Temporete, Remax…

  6. Hi, I have spent over £2000 pounds on a week in Sardinia and not getting on that plane once we found out about Bad air pollution, radio active levels and NATO using it as a play ground. It’s in the Air. Water and food. People dying of cancer. More people should know about this.

  7. And yet Sardinia is one of the few blue zones in the world, where people live well beyond 100. I am glad you get to live in a pristine place where you have no worries at all! 🙂

  8. Yes thank you, I would of loved to have gone due to the Paradise pictures we saw, my wife fell in love with the place, she imagined swimming in clear blue waters and breathing clean fresh air. As soon as we found out about what’s going and the high levels of radiation levels and air pollution we were absolutely gutted.
    The military areas used for NATO activities are highly polluted with radioactive materials, when We booked our holiday we never thought this would be an area for NATO to test their weapons.
    We have a 2 year old girl and could not not imagine putting her in these waters and breathing the Air. If you go to the weather App on your phone it advises people to reduce outdoor activity and may cause issues to some due to poor Air quality. I also understand on the 15th of every month there are rallies against the NATO presence on the Island. I hope Italy manage to stop this from happening in the future as it’s such a same to see such a beautiful place being used in such an unfair way causing harm to people. What a crazy world

  9. What can I say? Your choice. People live in Sardinia – safe, happy. Yes there are NATO basis, like there are in many other countries in Europe. Yes there is pollution, but no worse no less than in most of the world. Children here are happy and free, they enjoy swimming and the outdoors. Hope you have a good life.

  10. Hi Claudia

    Myself female 49 husband 50 and 8 year old daughter would be keen to investigate your government grants for living there. Any idea on where to get started? We are English and naturally our childs education and social aspects are major factors. All advice greatly appreciated

  11. I suppose you have read that hugely misleading article on The Daily Mail? Basically there are incentives to buy old buildings that would have to be completely refurbished. I haven’t really looked into it, but the buildings are in really small villages.

  12. Hello Claudia,

    It is really nice article. Thank you. Can I kindly ask you what would be the more safe places to live on in Sardinia? Suitable for family with a little kid?
    So if I understand correctly there is no kidnapping any more at all right?

    Thank you very much.

  13. Kidnapping only happened to VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY (don’t think I can add more “very”) prominent families. No, there hasn’t been a kidnapping case in more than 30 years and even then the average family would have zero worries about it. Sardinia is a very safe place.

  14. Claudia–enjoyed your article! My husband & I, along with a friend, are seeking a place to retire to within the next couple of years–and I never realized how beautiful Sardina is! So, now I’m curious–very much so. We’re looking to be more in the country areas so that we can relax, enjoy Nature along with our dogs, cats. I’m also slowly exploring–wherever we move to–creating an animal sanctuary, not just for our own lifetime, but create it as a Foundation that can function after we’re gone by developing & utilizing an “eco-tourist” side to it (eventually leave our home to it). The idea is to have the tourist side eventually pay for the sanctuary side, hopefully even including a resident veterinarian, etc. Is something we’ve discussed but still need to plan/work out the hundreds of details.

    Is such a thing possible to do in Sardinia? Do you know how many domestic dogs, cats we are allowed to bring with us?

    Any information would be much appreciated!
    Deb Kovacs

  15. Hello Deb, thank you for your comment. Sardinia is a lovely place and we definitely need more animal (pet) shelters here. However, I am unable to help you for queries relating to investments, buying property or moving to Sardinia even with animals – though I know of many friends who have come with their cat and / or dog. You are better off getting in touch with a lawyer or estate agency for that.

  16. Hi Claudia, me and my wife are travelling to Sardinia in about two weeks time,we are flying into Cagliari and staying near Solanas. We have hire a car and didn’t know you could advise us of some places to go?
    Thanks for your help Andy

  17. Well, there are 300 posts on this site you can use for inspiration. I think you can definitely go to Villasimius and Costa Rei from Solanas. Yes, I have posts on both 🙂

  18. Hi!
    Unfortunately we were rubbed. Our car was broken and all our staff were stolen meanwhile we were having a fast lunch at 2pm in center of Cagliari. But island is one of the best we have ever been. So we are going to back there, but by plane.

  19. Oh I am so sorry. I hope you can at least claim everything back from insurance. The feeling of someone robbing you is horrible, I can relate as my bag was stolen in Rome months ago.

  20. Been back from Sardinia. The island is fantastic, I didn’t experience big safety issues, but there are two, more like ‘problems’.

    First is the old center of Sassari (maybe also Calgiari – haven’t been tbere) with lots of beggars and suspicious people moving around. I wouldn’t go there late at night too.

    Second is the problem of the, freely walking around, dogs. I don’t mind that much stray dogs, to which I even gave some food, but the proprietary dogs, so dogs who have owners and are much more agressive. The known tourist cities are mainly not a problem, however I experienced them in the the small towns and villages in the inland, where there hardly wasn’t a day to have an unpleasant encounter, with the one, and inSsassari (three times in a day I was there).

    So dear Sardi, I will surely return but please take care of your dogs not to bother turists. Thanks!

  21. Hello Urtew, thank you for leaving a comment. In fact, can I actually add to your comment that leaving dogs to roam freely is actually BAD for the dogs too! They may get lost, they may get stolen and sadly they may get hit by cars too. Please, don’t leave dogs unattended, take good care of them, in Sardinia and anywhere else in the world.

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