Last updated on January 17, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sardinia

Is renting a car in Sardinia expensive? And HOW TO SAVE MONEY

So you’re thinking about renting a car in Sardinia to explore the island’s stunning beaches, quaint villages, and mountainous landscapes. But, you’ve got a burning question on your mind: “Is renting a car in Sardinia expensive?”

The simple answer is that it can be more expensive than in mainland Italy, however, there are different factors that influence the cost of hiring a car in Sardinia.

In this guide, I will tell you all about car rental costs, from seasonal fluctuations to insider tricks for landing better deals.

I understand how every penny counts when travelling; therefore let’s check out all ins and outs associated with renting cars.

Sardinia - Scenic Strada Statale on the Sea Coast
Sardinia – Scenic Strada Statale on the Sea Coast

Is renting a car in Sardinia expensive? Possibly, and that is why!

You should ask yourself a simple question: What influences the cost of hiring a car in Sardinia?

Your choice of vehicle will play a significant role in the overall cost when hiring a car in Sardinia.

If you’re eyeing up a sleek convertible or a spacious SUV, prepare to dig a bit deeper into your pocket.

However, if your needs are more modest, a compact car will often come with a friendlier price tag.

The duration of your rental period is another key factor.

The longer you rent the more expensive it gets, right?

Well, not really if you consider the cost on a daily basis. In fact, renting usually becomes cheaper the longer you keep the car.

So, overall it is probably cheaper to rent the car for 2 weeks than only for the 5 or 6 separate days that you need the car for a local excursion.

And let’s face it. If you have the car already in the backyard, you will explore so much more of Sardinia.

The time of year you choose to visit Sardinia also impacts the price.

During the high season, between June and August, prices tend to be higher. Conversely, the low season offers lower rates and quieter roads.

Insurance is another cost to consider. It’s crucial to ensure you’re covered, but different insurance options come with varying prices.

From basic coverage to comprehensive protection, it’s important to understand what each package offers and pick what suits you best.

Lastly, don’t forget about those extras.

Need a GPS to navigate the winding roads? That’ll be extra (use Google Maps instead).

Bringing the kids and needing baby seats? Add that to the bill (bring the car seat from home to save some money).

Want to add an additional driver to the rental agreement? Yup, that costs too.

So, remember to factor in these costs when budgeting for your trip. They can add up quickly, but being aware of them in advance will help you avoid any unwelcome surprises.

Sardinia - Picturesque view of Medieval town of Castelsardo.

The picture above is a picturesque view of the Medieval town of Castelsardo, one of the best places to stay in Sardinia.

Average Costs of Renting a Car in Sardinia

Here below you find a table with the average cost of renting a car in Sardinia. Keep in mind that these values can vary widely based on different factors like season, weekday/weekend, how close you are to the booking, general availability, etc.

TypeLow Season Avg. Daily Cost
(7 days rent)
June & September Avg. Daily Cost
(7 days rent)
July & August Avg. Daily Cost
(7 days rent)
Average Daily Cost in June
1 Day rent
Average Daily Cost in June
3 Days rent
Average Daily Cost in June
7 Days rent
Economy€30€50€65€120€60€50
Mid-size€40€65€80€130€75€65
Large€50€80€90€135€80€80
SUV€60€90€105€145€95€90
Vans€150€240€240€310€250€240
Station Wagon€75€100€120€160€110€100
Based on DiscoverCars prices, booked 12 months in advance

As a rule of thumb, the sooner you book your car the better deal you get doesn’t matter the type of car of the month you are travelling to Sardinia.

Renting a car for a day is honestly a killer. The daily cost is twice as much as when you rent it for 3 days or more.

The longer you rent the cheaper the daily cost becomes. For example, passing from 3 days rent (€60 daily on the Economy car) to 1-week rent (€50 daily on the Economy car) usually makes you save around 20%. From 1 week to 2 weeks (€45 daily on the Economy car), you can save an additional 10% on the daily cost.

I usually hire my cars on DiscoverCars. This is a great comparative website which operates in a similar way to AirBnb.

It compares prices and provides the best deals. You will find also a rating of the rental agencies based on real customers’ feedback, which is so useful. Try to book from agencies rated at least 7/10. There is always a good reason why a few are rated much lower than that, and scams are one of the reasons.

I always suggest having full insurance (no excess) when renting a car. Even more so in Sardinia where parking and streets can be really narrow. Scratching and denting a car is not that unusual, unfortunately. This website offers it for less than 8 Euros/day (a real bargain)

Sardinia - Coastline at Arbatax near Tortoli on the east coast
Sardinia – Coastline at Arbatax near Tortoli on the east coast

How to Save Money When Renting a Car in Sardinia

There are a few ways to minimize the cost of rentals. Here are 4 possible options that may or may not apply to you.

Booking in Advance

As much as spontaneity is the essence of adventure, it’s not exactly your friend when it comes to cost-saving.

Renting a car in Sardinia can be significantly cheaper if you book well in advance.

Early birds definitely get the worm in the car rental world!

Booking ahead gives you a wider range of cars to choose from and ensures availability, especially during peak seasons.

Comparison Shopping

Don’t just settle for the first quote you get.

Use online comparison websites. Consider factors like mileage allowance, additional insurance and driver fees, and fuel policies.

I usually get the best deals on the comparison website called DiscoverCars and they offer also full insurance (no excess) for less than 8 Euros/Day. An amazing deal, especially if compared to what the major players charge (20-40 Euros/day)

Airport vs. City Rentals.

Rentals at the airports are usually more expensive than in the city.

This is because there are airport fees that you cannot avoid.

You can take the bus to the city and pick up the car there. The savings might well justify the slight inconvenience.

Sometimes the rental agencies are located just outside the airport to save on the airport fees and they are happy to pick you up and leave you back at the airport. There is an annoyance to organise the pick-up (you have to call them once you arrive at the airport), but the saving is usually totally worth it.

Choosing the Right Car

It’s easy to be seduced by that sporty convertible or the rugged SUV, but always consider your actual needs.

A smaller car is usually cheaper both in terms of rental cost and fuel efficiency.

If you’re a solo traveller or a couple with little luggage, an economy car might be the perfect choice for exploring Sardinia.

Of course, this is not an option if you are travelling with the whole family.

Sardinia - The characteristic nuraghe - Massive conical stone towers that you can find in many areas of the island
Sardinia – The characteristic nuraghe – Massive conical stone towers that you can find in many areas of the island

Still unsure of where to stay in Sardinia? These are the best areas!

The Hidden Costs of Renting a Car in Sardinia

Hidden costs can sneak up on you if you’re not careful, inflating what seemed like a good deal into an expense that leaves you gasping.

Firstly, there’s the refuelling policy.

Some car rental companies will provide you with a full tank of petrol and expect it to be returned the same way.

If you don’t, you could be hit with a steep refuelling charge. Others may have a “full-to-empty” policy, meaning you pay for a full tank upfront and return the car as empty as possible. This can be a catch-22 situation, as you end up paying for any petrol left in the tank.

One-way rental fees are another hidden cost. Planning on picking up the car in Olbia and dropping it off in Cagliari? Be prepared to pay a one-way fee. These fees vary depending on the rental company and the distance between locations. The extra cost is highlighted during the booking process

Lastly, cleaning fees can catch you out. If you return the car looking like a sand dune after a day at the beach, some companies will charge a healthy cleaning fee. To avoid this, give the car a quick tidy before returning it.

Another important thing is to never seat in the car with wet clothes, otherwise, you may leave that typical white halo coming for the seawater. And be sure they will charge a cleaning fee for that.

Sardinia - Typical  granite rock and azure bay in Capo Testa
Sardinia – Typical granite rock and azure bay in Capo Testa

Conclusion

Renting a car in Sardinia is more expensive than in mainland Italy, however, do your homework, look into a comparative website like DiscoverCars, book well in advance and you can still find some great deals.

Honestly, having a car during your holiday in Sardinia will be a game-changer. You will be able to experience so much more of this beautiful island.

Once you drive beyond the popular destinations, you can find some amazing hidden gems, still undiscovered by most.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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