How to travel by train in Sardinia

October 11, 2017

Unknown to most travellers to Sardinia, the large island in the Mediterranean Sea actually has a pretty good rail network.  The train will get you to most towns, from where buses can be used to access nearby beaches (although the train itself will take you some too).  The service is provided by two companies: Trenitalia (Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane) and ARST (Azienda Regionale Sarda Trasporti).


Last Updated: 11th October 2017


A simplified railway map of Sardinia 




Trenitalia is operated by the Italian Government which means that FIP coupons and Interrail tickets are valid on these services (but it isn’t worth buying an Interrail ticket specifically to travel around Sardinia as the fares are pretty cheap anyway).  The core part of the network connects Olbia, Sassari, Cagliari and Cagliari-Elmas (airport) together.  From Olbia it is possible to connect with a local train and travel to the beaches along the Golfo Aranci peninsula and from Sassari, a local train will take you to Porto Torres Marittime. 


What is the journey like? 


Journey times are relatively quick and the trains used are usually modern and air conditioned (there are a few exceptions, such as on the route between Olbia and Golfo Aranci).  Here are a few journey examples:


From Cagliari...

... to Cagliari-Elmas (aiport) - approx 10 minutes - €1.30 

... to Olbia - approx 3 hours 25 minutes - €18

... to Sassari - approx 3 hours 5 minutes - €16.50


From Sassari...

... to Olbia - approx 1 hour 50 minutes - €8.10

... to Porto Torres Marittime - approx 20 minutes - €1.90


From Olbia...

... to Golfo Aranci - approx 25 minutes - €2.50


Where to check train times and fares? 


Simply visit Trenitalia's journey planner and enter the journey you're trying to make.


Example: one-way journey from Cagliari to Cagliari-Elmas on 11th October 2017 at 16:00


My Journal


Thursday 7th September 2017 - Olbia to Marinella and Cala Sabina




Sassari station building (8th September 2017)


One of Trenitalia's new modern trains at Ozieri-Chilivani (8th September 2017)


ARST "Servizi Ferroviari" and ARST "Trenino Verde"


ARST is owned by the autonomous regional administration of Sardinia and provides commuter style rail services around Sassari, Macomer and Cagliari (Monserrato).  The company also operates touristic trains over scenic stretches of the rail network which no longer have regular train services.  The biggest difference between ARST and Trenitalia trains is the track gauge they operate on - Trenitalia is "standard gauge" whereas ARST operates on "narrow gauge" tracks meaning that the two companies can never share the same piece of railway. 


What is the Journey like on a "Servizi Ferroviari" train?


The most common route for tourists is the line from Sassari to Alghero.  The journey takes 35 minutes and costs just €3.10.  Trains depart about every 90 minutes from each end, but check the timetable as this pattern varies throughout the day.  The trains on this route are very much like a modern tram, whereas on the routes from Macomer and Cagliari (Monserrato) the trains are still much older but will no doubt be replaced very soon. 


Where to check train times and fares? 


Simply visit ARST "Servizi Ferroviari" and select the city or town that you are looking for - this should open up a PDF of the timetable.  Note: "Sassari" is for the route Alghero to Sassari. 

 ARST "Servizi Ferroviari" homepage showing the three regions the trains operate in (just click the text next to the circular train image to open a PDF timetable for the route).




ARST tram like train at Alghero station (8th September 2017)

An ARST train ticket from Sassari to Alghero and the route timetable (8th September 2017)


What is the Journey like on a "Trenino Verde" train?


These train services are purely operated for tourists.  They run only on certain days in the peak tourist season and the fare is considerably more expensive than a similar length journey on either Trenitalia or ARST "Servizi Ferroviari".  However, these trains do cover some of the most scenic stretches of railway on the island (which are no longer operated over by normal trains), passing through plenty of typical Sardinian scenery as they wind around the mountains to reach their destination. 


Where to check train times and fares? 


Simply visit ARST "Trenino Verde" and select the route that you are planning to travel.  This should open up a PDF document detailing the timetable, fares and what to expect along the way.  


The first page of the PDF document with details of the Macomer to Bosa route


My Journal


Saturday 9th September 2017- Bosa Marina to Macomer.




ARST "Trenino Verde" 1950's rail car at Bosa Marina (9th September 2017)




1) Tickets must be purchased separately for Trenitalia, ARST "Trenino Verde" and ARST "Servizi Ferroviari" services. 


2) There are more photos available in my Flickr Italy (Sardinia) album but these will be mixed in with other Sardinia photos.


Previous trips to Sardinia


September 2017




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