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May 22, 2010

Sardinia Car Hire: Top places to visit

This island is very popular with people who like to experience a little of the Mediterranean, its history, culture and beautiful weather without going to any of the other overly touristy spots in the Mediterranean. The island has a number of airports, including Cagliari, Olbia and Alghero. Many of the main airlines fly to more than one, so you can pick and choose as you like.

What?s to see in Sardinia?

Cagliari, the Sardinian name is Casteddu (which means ?the castle?), is the capital of the island. The aforementioned castle can be found dominating the old town area from a hill. This location offers spectacular views over the surrounding Gulf of Cagliari. Other sights to see in Cagliari include the Basilica di San Saturnino, the Sardinian Archaeological Museum, and there is also Poetto Beach, which is 13kms of the finest sandy seaside.

On your way north to Oristano you will pass close to Barumini. Located near to the town you can find the Nuraghe. This is one of the most significant archaeological megalithic monuments on Sardinia. The original occupants of the island built it some 3.5 thousand years ago!

Continuing northwest, you will find Oristano on the east coast. As you are passing through the town keep an eye out for the Tower of St. Christophoros, which is a 13th century tower that was part of the city walls. Other interesting sights include Cathedral of St. Mary from the 12th century and the Franciscan church of Santa Chiara from the 15th century.

Driving Tip: When driving in Sardinia all the usual rules of Italy apply such as driving on the right, a minimum age of 18, always wear your seatbelt and absolutely don?t drink and drive as the penalties in Italy are very severe.

Travelling northeast for about 90kms you will arrive at Nuoro. There is evidence of settlements in the area as far back as 2000 BC! Considered the cultural heart of the island, Nuoro is an important stop on your trip around the island. If you are visiting during August you could attend the Sagra del Redentore festival with all its traditional music and culture in full flair.

Heading north for about 100kms you will arrive at Olbia. As well as an airport, there is also a port in the town that connects Sardinia to the mainland. While in the town you can check out the 11th century Cathedral of San Simplicio. Located nearby is Tavolara Island, while much of the island is restricted to military personnel only, the waters off the island are popular with scuba divers. To the north of Olbia there is a village called Palau on the northern coast that is popular with kite flyers and wind surfers due to the strong winds that blow between Sardinia and Corsica.

Driving Tip: While Southern Italy has a reputation for reckless driving, this is less true on Sardinia, though the small narrow streets in the towns and villages can be a little daunting at times especially since they can often be two-way!

Returning to Olbia and heading west for about 100kms you will arrive at Sassari. This is the 2nd most populated town in Sardinia and it is also one of the oldest settlements on the island. Some 13th century towers from the city wall remain and from the same century there is also the church of Santa Maria di Bètlem and The Cathedral of St. Nicholas of Bari. There are many other fascinating historical buildings worth checking out.

A short drive to the northwest of Sassari, sitting on the coast is Porto Torres. This colony was founded during roman times, possibly by Julius Caesar. There are many roman ruins to be found in the area including aqueducts, sewers, thermal baths, the forum and a few temples as well.

Driving Tip: The speed limit in urban areas is 50kph, on the open road 90kph, and on the motorways 130kph.

Turning south you will find Alghero on the west coast of the island. This is a great place to get in some relaxation, as this area is best known for its many magnificent beaches. This town is unusual on the island as it has some roots from Catalan and has in the past been known as Little Barcelona. Before hitting the beaches, you might make time to explore the Palazzo Carcassona, the Palazzo D’Albis, Neptune?s Grotto, the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju and Nuraghe Palmavera.

The coast road from Alghero to Bosa is a very popular area to drive due to the stunning scenery and the beautiful beaches that serve as excellent rest stops. Special mention goes to Bosa Marina Beach as it has won the cleanest beach in Italy award a number of times. Bosa itself has a number of interesting sights to see including Castello Malaspina, a castle that overlooks the town; and Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, the main street in the old town with many interesting shops and buildings.

Mairead Foley writes for where you can book car hire at airports, ferry ports, rail stations, cities and towns all over the world.

Visit for all you need to know before you take to the roads in Italy, like where to go and what to see with your car hire. Book your Car hire Sardinia now.

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