How To Travel By Public Transport In Sardinia

Using public transport in Sardinia is a great choice if you’re looking for a cheap way to travel and you are traveling alone. It’s quite comfortable if you enjoy long bus/train rides and are in no particular rush to get anywhere: despite taking significantly longer than a car drive, you can relax and enjoy the scenery from your window.

I don’t recommend it if you’re on a tight schedule, though: there aren’t many rides per day and delays aren’t uncommon. Use public transport in Sardinia only if you’re okay with unforeseen circumstances, if you want a slow, peaceful trip, or if you don’t feel like driving a car.

Now, let me give you some practical information!

public transport in Sardinia

How To Travel By Public Transport In Sardinia

Urban Buses and Timetables

City buses are usually clean and easy to spot and use. The bus stations are well marked, and you will not have any problems finding them. They run reasonably often and the timetables can be found at every bus stop; moreover, the shops selling the tickets will gladly help you with any doubt you might have.

You can also buy the tickets on the automatic machines you’ll find around, or directly on the bus (but paying an extra percentage!).

Every city has a website with thorough explanations and prices, but I’d recommend going to a physical shop because some of these websites don’t have an English version. The qualified shops are usually tobacco/lotto or newspaper shops and have a sign on their windows as proof they will sell bus tickets. Some cities have an online ticketing system as well.

The following are the biggest cities in Sardinia, and the name and website of their bus systems:

1. Cagliari – CTM
2. Oristano – ARST – TPL
3. Sassari – ATP Linee – Azienda Trasporti Pubblici Sassari
4. Nuoro – A.T.P. – Azienda Trasporti Pubblici Nuoro
5. Olbia – ASPO Trasporto Pubblico Olbia

Intercity Sardinia Buses and Timetables

Intercity buses in Sardinia are usually bigger than urban ones. They are dark blue with a big, red stripe and the writing “ARST” (the Sardinian public transport company) on them: you can’t possibly miss them!

They share some stops with the urban buses, but it’s easier to take them inside the big stations (if you’re visiting one of the main cities). You will find the timetables posted there and many workers who will help you find the right bus and bus stop.

You can find the timetables on their website as well, but it’s not the most user-friendly website around, so I’d recommend you ask the bus station’s workers or the ticket shops’ owners for help.

You can buy the tickets in the same places and the same ways you buy the urban line’s ones. They are also starting to use an online ticketing system, here: ARST – – Acquista Online.

How to Validate Tickets On Sardinia Buses

Both urban and intercity buses in Sardinia have a validating machine inside, so you can validate your ticket onboard; there also are validating machines inside the intercity bus stations in case you prefer boarding the bus with an already valid ticket. This only applies to intercity rides though.

TIP: If you can, try to avoid riding a bus between 7:30 – 8.30 am and 12:00 – 2:00 pm. Those are the entry and exit time for schools in Italy, which means public buses will be most crowded. Unfortunately the school bus service isn’t widespread except for some private companies. and students prefer using public transport, overcrowding it.

Masua

Trains in Sardinia

Trains in Sardinia connect the main parts of the island and stretch to several smaller villages. They run less or more often depending on the ride’s importance and there is usually plenty of seats except for the rush hours (similar to the school ones because of university students).

Taking trains in Sardinia is overall a relaxing experience and allows you to focus on the multiple views the island has to offer.

Where to Find the Timetables and the Tickets for Trains in Sardinia

You can easily find the trains’ timetables on the Italian Railways official website, on apps such as Omio or at the ticket-selling machines. They work in five different languages and are the most common way to buy tickets or just find out about the trains’ schedule: you just have to insert your city of departure and arrival and the machine will show you every option, price and available hours.

This is one of the two main ways to buy a train ticket in Sardinia, the other being buying an electronic one through the train app – you can see it here – which also, of course, shows the full trains’ timetable.

You can also buy tickets in some shops (the same ones that sell bus tickets) but they are slowly stopping to sell them because the machines are more popular and comfortable.

If you can’t buy a ticket (both paper and electronic) for any reason, you can buy one on board by paying an extra price: use this chance only if it’s a real emergency because tickets bought on board are way more expensive!

How to Validate Train Tickets

If you have a paper ticket, you will find several validating machines in every station. If you bought your ticket online, it has a preset date and time and it’s already valid. Don’t erase it or throw it away until you reach your final destination: you will have to show your ticket or its QR code to the ticket inspector once on the train.

Other Useful Tips For Using Public Transport In Sardinia

Although many depict Sardinia as a peaceful Heaven on Earth (and they are right to some extent), there are unpleasant sides and rules everywhere and this island is no exception.

Here are some tips you may find useful when traveling by bus or train in Sardinia:

WATCH OUT FOR YOUR BELONGINGS: Like in many other parts of the world, traveling by public transport isn’t always 100% safe. Be careful about your belongings, try to keep an eye on them, and don’t go around with your bag/pockets/backpack open: you might never know who’s sitting next to you.

RESPECT COMMON ETIQUETTE: Don’t eat food that has a strong odor, don’t occupy three seats all for yourself and your luggage unless it’s necessary, and don’t be overly noisy.

DON’T ALWAYS RELY ON TIMETABLES: Especially paper ones. It’s not uncommon for buses and trains to be delayed or for their schedule to change from summer to winter (and sometimes not to be promptly updated!). if you have been waiting for too long and your bus still didn’t show up, don’t be afraid to ask a local, it may save you some time. Luckily, train stations are a bit better than the bus ones and usually have up-to-date schedules and delay warnings.

MIND THE RULES: Be careful of the single companies’ rules to avoid fines or arguments with the person sitting next to you.

BOOK YOUR TICKET IN ADVANCE: If you can, book the tickets in advance through the various apps – for trains, use this one. Beware that some tickets have a preset time and date and you can’t use them whenever you want.

Sardinian flag

Useful Words and Sentences When Using Public Transport in Sardinia

  • Ticket: Biglietto (bee-lyeh-toh)
  • Station: Stazione (staa-tzyeoh-neh)
  • Bus: Bus (boos)
  • Train: Treno (treh-noh)
  • Shop: Negozio (neh-gaw-tzyeoh); Ticket shop: Negozio di biglietti (neh-gaw-tzyeoh dee bee-lyeh-tee)
  • Excuse me, where is the station?: Mi scusi, dov’è la stazione? (mee scoo-see, daw-veh lah staa-tzyeoh-neh?)
  • Excuse me, how do I go to…?: Mi scusi, come arrivo a… (mee scoo-see, caw-meh ah-ree-voh aa…)?
  • One ticket to…, please.: Un biglietto per…, per favore. (oon bee-lyeh-toh pehr…, pehr fah-vow-reh)
  • How much is it?: Quanto costa? (qwan-toh coh-stah)
  • I’m lost.: Mi sono perso. (mee saw-naw pehr-saw)
  • Is there a bus/train to…?: C’è un bus/treno per…? (cheh oon boos/treh-noh pehr…)
  • Where is the bus/train station?: Dov’è la stazione dei bus/treni? (daw-veh lah stah-tzyeoh-neh day boos/treh-nee)
  • Where is the bus stop?: Dov’è la fermata dei bus? (daw-veh lah fehr-mah-tah day boos)
  • Thank you!: Grazie! (Grah-tsyeh)

Whatever means of transport you choose for your trip, have a great time in Sardinia!

Further Readings

Make sure to read my other posts:

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24 thoughts on “How To Travel By Public Transport In Sardinia”

  1. How can i get from Cagliari to Cala Gonone on 16.06 (the airplane arrives at 12.00)?
    greetings from Luxembourg. Pia

  2. You are better off renting a car. Otherwise, from Cagliari Elmas airport take bus 9342 to Nuoro and then take bus 520. It will take you almost 5 hours on public transport, vs. around 3 by car.

  3. Thank you for sharing all your tips, Claudia.

    Do you know how I can get from Cagliari City Centre to Santa Maria Navarrese if I’m not driving?

  4. Hello Carl! From Cagliari main bus station (ARST, in Piazza Matteotti) take bus 103 to Tortolì Fra Locci, where you get off and take bus 301 to Santa Maria Navarrese. It will take you a bit more than 3 hours. The bus from Cagliari leaves at 9:45 am. Not sure it’s available at weekends!

  5. Hi Claudia

    Thank you for all the useful information. We are a group of 4 travelling from Santa Teresa Gallura to Castelsardo. It is in the peak summer period. Is it necessary to buy tickets in advance for that route and can it be done online? Thanks

  6. Does any car rental company offer delivery and pick up of car near Vignola mare? We are staying at tortuga camping.

  7. Some great tips here !
    We are thinking of taking a ferry from Citavecchia to Sardina for maybe 4 or 5 days and then on to Barcelona (by ferry also).
    I would prefer not to drive while on Sardinia.
    Can you sugest what is the best option in terms of using one location as a hub to travel around Sardinia. We don’t want to travel a lot but would like to see some of the island by taking public transport for day trips.
    Also, for convenience of our trip to Barca.

    Thanks in advance.

  8. If you only want to use public transport, Alghero or Cagliari are the best places to base yourself!

  9. HI Claudia

    1.Thanks a lot for the blog it was quite informative , I have some questions to ask. Currently I am not able to find train tickets on platforms which you shared, mainly Omio or Trenitalia, apparently ti shows that there are no train ticket for example I checked several days from Alghero to Sassari during JUL 15,16,19,20 also AUG 2,3,4. Is there a problem or there are no train travel

    2.BTW I am planning to travel to ALghero (2 August) and from there to cala goloritze, cala luna , I am not sure which route would be better for me to choose , do you have any recommendations
    I think traveling to Baunei and from there it would be easy for me to go . Train or bus would be better , I am going to be in Sardinia from 2 AUG till 4 AUG

    I would really appreciate if you could give some tips. Thanks!

  10. I am truly confused. Are you coming to Sardinia for a couple of weeks, or for 3 days in August?

  11. my apologies for confusion

    soo I am flying to Alghero 2nd of August and my return ticket is on 6th of Aug, during my stay in Alghero , I want to try to visit Cala goloritze as well. Can you please recommend me a route which I could use to get to Cala golorizte from Alghero . by train or bus

    and I have checked the train tickets from alghero to some cities 3rd Aug (eg Sassari ) on that websites you shared and there were no trains or busses . is it normal? Dont they have daily trains?

  12. Yes it is normal because the journey is almost impossible by public transport. You are looking at a journey of more than 7 hours by public transport, with multiple changes and that’s to only get to Baunei, from where you’d need to reach the Golgo Plateau where the hike departs. With so much to see and do in Alghero and so little time, I really recommend you stick to Alghero and its surroundings.

  13. Dear Claudia,
    first of all thank you for making this very usuful blog. Secondly I would like to have your advice: I’m planning a visit to Sardinia in August with my daughter – I know it’s the most expensive and crowded time, but because of her school we can travel only in school holidays. I’m checking the airline tickets and accommodation prices both in Cagliari and Alghero and simply can not decide which city to choose. I’m even thinking of spending a couple of days in both of them, but as I do not drive we have to take public transport between them.
    So if you recommend only one between the two cities which one would you suggest?
    Thank you so much for your help!

  14. Hi Claudia, i am Anca and i fly in on sunday around 8 a.m. to Cagliari and must arrive in Villaputzu. But the taxi is very expensive. Do you know sny other services or something like uber ? Also for the stay ..so that we can go a bit around. I am with my 2 year old daughter..and 7 month pregnant, so ..i would be thankful to find something a bit comfortable to travel with.. 😉 thank you!

  15. You will need a private transfer. We don’t have Uber in Sardinia. Your hotel should help you arrange one 🙂

  16. Hi Claudia
    I am travelling to Sadinia for first time for 8 days In October with my 2 year old son
    We need to travel by bus or train as we do not drive
    I am confused as to which part to cover South or North
    In south , Costa Rei Villasmus and Chia I have thought
    In north Alghero stintino and olbia
    I am thinking of covering only one part this time.
    I found that both south and north have good beaches and we are not keen on visiting historic places
    But what about public transport ? Which part is better ? I am confused
    What do you suggest ?

  17. Hello Arun! October can be a bit of a hit and miss when it comes to beach weather. Some years, it’s amazing all the way into the mid of the month, others the weather turns bad (rain, wind, proper fall) at the beginning. With this in mind, I would recommend basing yourself in Alghero which is easy to visit via public transport and where you have plenty of activities in case the weather turns bad. Chia, Costa Rei and Villasimius are amazing but you don’t have much to do there other than beaches whereas Alghero is a small town proper.

  18. Hi Claudia,

    First of all thanks a lot for taking the time to answer the questions, I had one myself: What buslines are available if I am in Cagliari and want to go to Villasimius and Costa Rei?

    Best,

    Ryan

  19. ARST has a service from Cagliari central bus station to Muravera that also stops in Villasimius and Costa Rei (various stops) along the way.

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