“Sardinia,” explains my motorbike-obsessed friend, “is a motorbiking heaven”.
Here’s why: there is little traffic. The roads have lots of curves. There are amazing coastal roads (with lots of curves) and amazing mountain roads (with lots of curves). And – here comes the best part – you can drive fast, because nobody cares about speed limits.
When I say I was in Sardinia on a motorbike trip, I mean I sat on the back of the motorbike and my friend did the driving. We took an overnight ferry from Genoa, on mainland Italy, to Porto Torres in Sardinia after driving all day from Switzerland in the rain. In the Swiss mountains we had seen snow even though it was only September, but when the ferry arrived in Sardinia we woke up to Mediterranean sunshine.
In Your Bucket Because…
- Your dream vacation means riding your motorbike all day, every day.
- You love roads with curves.
- You are happy to use traffic rules only as suggestions.
- Good for: bikers and their partners.
We had our first Sardinian breakfast in a small coffee bar in Alghero: a few cups of cappuccino and a couple of cornetti (the Italian version of the croissant). As we drove from Alghero to Bosa along the coast I began to understand why my friend had fallen in love with Sardinia. On my right side was a clear blue sea. On my left side were hills and rugged mountains. On the hills, and on cliffs overlooking the sea, stood odd circular stone towers, nuraghi: structures that are unique to Sardinia and were built by a highly skilled Bronze Age civilization.
Driving in Sardinia: Little Traffic, Lots of Curves
It was true: there is very little traffic in Sardinia. The roads do have lots of twists and curves. Nobody seems to care about speed limits, but somehow the system works, and strangely enough Sardinians live longer than most other nations in the world. Sardinia is small (24,090 km² or 9,300 sq miles), but it has the kind of roads most bikers love. Go to any biker discussion forum and you will find people raving about their best rides in Sardinia.
The most famous part of Sardinia is Costa Smeralda, where the rich and the famous party, yet there is another Sardinia to be found if you leave the Emerald Coast behind. We drove up to the mountains, through cork forests and olive plantations, stopped in small villages, and camped at night under pine and eucalyptus trees on a quiet beach.
On our usual day trips back home we get off the bike at lunchtime for a quick sandwich, but in Sardinia it is typical to have a delicious three-course (or perhaps even five-course) meal, polished off with excellent coffee, before getting on the bike again. There is a certain charm about Sardinia and its way of life that makes you fall in love with it and start dreaming about buying a piece of land up in the mountains.
Sardinia is one of the least populated regions in Italy, so you will not have to worry about the kind of traffic jams you see in the big Italian cities. If you come from a country where drivers actually observe things such as red lights, however, driving in Italy may come as a surprise. Fortunately Sardinia’s roads are relatively quiet and mostly in good condition. If you are in Italy for the first time, though, bear in mind that for most Italians traffic rules are really only suggestions.
Practicalities for Motorbiking in Sardinia:
- There are ferries between several cities on mainland Italy and many ferry ports in Sardinia. You can also take a ferry from Sicily or Corsica to Sardinia.
- Places to stay in Sardinia range from campsites to 5-star hotels; in the high season (July/August) you may want to book your accommodation in advance.
- Mid-July through August is the European summer holiday season and a busy time in Sardinia. Try May and June, or September, if you don’t like crowds.
- Gasoline is more expensive than on mainland Italy.