Travelers often wonder if they can safely drink tap water in the places they visit. Tap water is generally safe to drink in most of Italy – for example you can safely drink tap water in Rome, where you’ll find lots of fountains, and in Trentino. Of course, having a bottle of water at hand is the best way to fight the heat and the risk of dehydration, especially during summer.
If you are planning a trip to Sardinia, you probably want to know if you can drink tap water in Sardinia without any problem. Well, you can, but not everywhere!
I am a local and while I happily drink tap water in most places in Sardinia and in the rest of Italy, I can also tell you that Sardinia is a big island, and some areas are so remote that there will be places were the tap water is not safe to drink.
Keep reading this guide to find out more about tap water in Sardinia.
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Can You Drink Tap Water In Sardinia?
According to a recent survey, 70% of the Sardinian population drinks tap water. Of course there are people who do not drink it, as the don’t find the taste of tap water a bit displeasing. I actually think that tap water in Cagliari, my hometown and where I live, is delicious!
In general, the Sardinian water company, Abbanoa, can’t provide drinkable tap water on the whole island, and in some places, it is actually full of metal and bacteria. For example, coliform bacteria were found in tap water near Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport in July 2022, therefore the municipality suggested people avoid drinking tap water until the problem was fully solved. You can check the Abbanoa reports directly on their website.
In cities like Cagliari, water is perfectly safe to drink, but if you venture in the wilder places of the island you may want to get bottled water. In the zones close to the mountains, the quality of the tap water is usually way better than in the cities as it comes directly from the source, or near the coast.
So how will you know if tap water is safe to drink in Sardinia? Well, if it is not, there will normally be a sign, a notice, something that briefly explains you should not drink it, and in the case of fountains they will simply be dry. If you are staying at a hotel or an apartment simply ask the reception or the owner if tap water is safe to drink.
Drinking Fountains In Sardinia
Fountains in Sardinia are commonly found throughout the historic center of larger cities, or even at some beaches. While in the cities fountains generally provide drinking water and you can safely refill your bottle, there are places where fountains do not provide drinking water. This is usually the case close to many beaches (but there are some exceptions), where you are meant to use the fountains to rinse your feet and avoid dragging away sand.
Make sure to also read my post What’s The Deal With Sardinia Sand Theft?
Cagliari has many working fountains, as you can see from this map. Many locals are not too keen on the city’s tap water, so you probably won’t find anyone drinking from them. But I can assure you that water is safe to drink (I certainly drink it!).
Cagliari’s Poetto Beach is lined with lots of fountains that provide drinking water – that’s because lots of locals go there to run and they don’t normally carry water when they do.
Many other cities or towns in Sardinia don’t have working fountains, as the municipality shuts off the supply, in order to safeguard the safety of citizens or to avoid water waste, which is often a cause of concern in Sardinia where there have been many a drought.
In the town of Tempio Pausania, many fountains were closed, as tests showed there were bacteria in it.
Having said that, in some towns like Villaurbana, Simaxis, Orani and Giba, there are fountains that supply fresh and drinkable tap water, where you can refill your bottle for just €0,03 cents.
Tap Water In Sardinia – Bars And Cafés
If you can’t find any fountain to get some drinking water on the go, you may want to get a glass of water from a bar or a café. Bars and cafés usually have a water filter (many families are now also installing filters at home), so the tap water would be safe to drink.
In fact, in Sardinia as in virtually every other place in Italy, cafés usually serve tap water to drink with coffee. You can also specify if you want tap water, bottled water or sparkling water.
Tap water will be free of charge, while you’ll have to pay for sparkling water and bottled water. You may also ask to refill your bottle, but some may not appreciate it, since it is not a common practice in Italy.
Commonly, if you only drink a glass of water you’d be standing at the counter – you don’t really see people sitting at the table of a café just sipping a glass of water. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do that. It’s just that most people would commonly order water at a café along with a coffee, a snack or something else. What happens really depends on the place and the on the management, but fancier cafes may want you to order at least a coffee in order to sit.
Tap Water In Sardinia – Restaurants
Well, as you may imagine, in Sardinia and in Italy in general restaurants rarely serve tap water. As a common practice, the waiters will ask you if you want some water, even if you order other drinks such as wine or beer.
If you want water, you’ll have to specify what kind, choosing from still water or sparkling (in Sardinia we say naturale for still / natural water, and gassata or frizzante to refer to sparkling water). The water will be delivered in a large glass or plastic bottle, and it will cost around €2. You can take the plastic bottle with you, but not the glass one as those are usually to be returned.
Many restaurants and pizzerie in Sardinia now have filtered water – some will only serve that, whereas in others you’ll be able to pick among filtered tap water (still or sparkling) or bottled water.
Of course, you can ask for tap water, but that’s not a very common thing to do in Italy. Some restaurants may not serve it, as they only use it to cook, while others may grant your request.
Buying Bottled Water In Sardinia
While tap water is safe to drink in most places in Sardinia as in the rest of Italy, some people still prefer to buy bottled water, and this goes for Sardinia as well. Some Italians have a certain disdain of tap water, as they believe it could cause the formation of kidney stones, even if this has been proven to be an urban myth, with no scientific evidence.
Of course, there are cities were the tap water doesn’t really have a pleasant taste, and also many people prefer to drink sparkling water (I am a massive fan of that, actually!) – but that is now available with water filters which are much more environmentally friendly than plastic bottled water.
In Sardinia, you’ll still see many people buying bottled water instead of just going to a fountain to get their refill. You can buy bottled water in café, grocery stores and vending machines. Small bottles cost around €1 at a café and just around €0.25 cents at a grocery store , while the large ones will cost around €2.
If you want to do your bit for the environment, you can normally avoid buying bottled water in Sardinia: ask for filtered water at cafés and restaurants whenever available, and simply fill your bottle at fountains when you can.
These posts will be helpful when planning a trip to Sardinia:
- What You Should Know Before Traveling To Sardinia
- The Most Delicious Sardinian Food: Everything You Must Try
- A Great, Easy Guide To Sardinian Wines