When you hear the word Sardinia, you often imagine Costa Smeralda. Olbia is the place you just missed. But it should not be so. Olbia is much more than an industrial town. Olbia has its charm, and it is not only a great starting point for the nearby tourist attractions. Underneath the economic centre, Olbia bears its own rich history worth of exploring. Basilica di San Simplicio is just one of many historical sites for you to see. Greek, Phoenician, Punic and Roman origins you will find in their Museo Archeologico. Besides, it’s a surprisingly budget-friendly city so you won’t have to worry about every euro you spent.
Hire a car at Olbia Airport also known as the Costa Smeralda and drive to Tomba dei Giganti Su Monte 'e S'Abe or Costa Corallina Beach if you’re not really into crowds of tourists and just want to enjoy crystal clear water.
Basic info and car hire in Olbia
- Location: north-eastern Sardinia
- Population: 59,885
- Official language: Italian
- Currency: euro (€)
- Weather: The climate is Mediterranean. Summers are long and hot, winters are very mild and short. Average summer temperatures range from 27-30, with record highs over 42. Temperatures in winter range from 5-8.
- Public holidays in Italy: Click here for the full list of public holidays in Sardinia
- Internet coverage: Numerous places in Olbia offer free Wi-fi. The majority of restaurants, hotels and stores will give you access for free. Read more info on wi-fi in Olbia.
- Road conditions: Good. May be expected some traffic during high season.
Driving in Olbia
Best way to explore Olbia and beyond is to hire a car. Driving in Sardinia is easy. There may be some traffic during summer. Otherwise, your access to beautiful sights is stress-free. Remember to drive on the right and keep your lights on all the time. Bear in mind that while driving max BAC level is 0,05%.
- Age limits: 18
- International Driving Permit: yes
- Additional papers: valid ID, valid driving licence
- Additional requirements: warning triangle and a reflective jacket are required.
- Children in the car: In Italy, it is illegal for Children under 3 years to sit in the front or rear sits without a proper child seat. Children between 4 and 12 must use a suitable safety restraint seat or an adaptor for a seat belt. There can be exceptions; if there is no available seat, they can use the adult seat belt in the rear if accompanied by another passenger aged over 16.
- Driving side of the road: right
- Lights: You have to have dipped headlights on at all times when driving on the Autostrada.
- General speed limits: Autostrada 130 km/h, highways 110 km/h, open roads 90 km/h, in town 50 km/h
- Parking suggestions: Check parkopedia for suggestions
What to see in Olbia
Our favourite spots
This top choice journey will take you back to prehistoric times. The Museum is settled near the port, designed by a great modern architect Giovanni Mariocco. Everything you wanted to know about local history is stored in this place, from boats to Roman amulets, from pottery to coins. Definitely a must see.
If you hire a car, you can park here
It’s shopping time! Shopaholics will just love this street. Promenade of all sorts of boutiques with local flavour also offers some great restaurants and gelato, lots of gelato. Bon Apetit!
Park here and have a walk down the promenade
Church of St. Paul Apostle
Church of St. Paul Apostle is a different kind of church. We are talking about specularity in Valencian-style. Here you can see and find the colours and frescoes of all shapes and sizes. If you want to embrace the Greatness, this is a place to be and contemplate.
Leave your car at the parking spot and have a relaxed visit to the church
Basilica of San Simplicio
Just outside the heart of town, you will find this Pisan-style church built in the late 11th century. If you are getting bored of baroque overly decorated churches, this is the stone to rest your eyes on. Made entirely of granite, simple, yet compelling.
Check where you'll park your car before entering the Basilica
Hotels in Olbia
Hotel For You
Five minutes from the port you will find this friendly hotel. If you hired a car at the airport, they have free parking. Wi-fi, meeting room and 24-hour service.
Marvelous view over the historic city centre on the top floor of the hotel is definitely something to consider. Besides that, you will have the privilege of free parking, reading room, wi-fi areas or just relaxing in their spa wellness centre.
Situated in the heart of the historic centre of Olbia. This inviting hotel will offer you free parking, air conditioning, wi-fi zone, and last but not least, you can reach Costa Smeralda in few minutes.
If you’re up for a swim or if you want to experience Sardinian cuisine, Jazz Hotel is at your service. If you hired a car at the airport, the Hotel is situated only 500m away. Air-conditioning, wi-fi, free parking and breakfast included.
Drive your rental car around Olbia
A car hire in Olbia will enable you to take some extra trips around the island and see its beauty. So much more convenient than paying for organised day trips with the agencies.
Only a hop away from Olbia Airport you can find “giant’s graves” or Tombs of Giants from the megalithic period. These unique constructions bring up so many questions and mysteries. They could symbolise woman’s uterus, open up questions about life and death or for those more practical they may be nothing more than scattered rocks. In the last case, it is better to go hiking at Castello di Pedres, not far away.
If you have a hard time controlling your adrenaline, trip to Tavolara island is a perfect choice. You can decide between diving, hiking or maybe visiting some small cosy restaurant to fulfil your hungry senses. You can hire a boat at the marina and explore this wild, radiant island.
Port town of Palau is a mandatory stop when in Sardinia. If you hire a car, it will take you about 40 minutes to see this place of surf shops and lively boutiques. But the most important thing you need to do when taking a trip to Palau is to hire a boat and explore the island Arcipelago di La Maddalena. This island of striking beauty with turquoise lagoons and freakish shaped rocks will blow your mind.
Land of rich and beautiful where you'll see the most prestigious mega-yachts and billionaires. Costa Smeralda is a piece of paradise spreading at about 20 km from Olbia. It is one of Europe's priciest regions, but if you do not want to miss glamour, you should hop and peek into a life of oligarchs and celebrities.
Where to eat, drink and party in Olbia
Sardinian food isn’t exactly typically Italian since Sardinia became part of Italy in 1860. Style of Sardinian cuisine is a mix and match of styles from all around the world: a little bit of Spanish, African, Greek and Italian influence – all combined in one exclusive gastronomic identity. Snails, octopus, spiny artichokes, pecorino and of course pasta, are the names of their cuisine tradition.
For the night owls, there are lots of bars and clubs you can explore. Each beach club has its own vibe; you can choose between hard party till morning or choose a bit more romantic place with live music if that’s what you wish for. The pick is yours.
Underground you'll find a cellar to enjoy some vino, up stairs you can dance and swing to beats of live music. This spacious place has it all.
Situated 10 km north of Olbia this farmhouse will make you feel at home. Cosy and authentic.
In the main street of Olbia, you'll find this stylish place to eat, drink or party.
Rabbit Lamb with olives, sliced fresh tuna or Sardinian Gnocchi at the reasonable prices for those who yearn for Sardinian classics. Yummy!
Coffee and croissant in the morning, after that you can pick some great wine or cocktail at acceptable prices in this simple yet friendly bar.
Major events and festivals in Olbia
Regattas, cabarets, performances and jazz, lots of jazz with local and international musicians. There is also Festa di San Simplicio in May, where you’ll be able to taste some local delicacies and vino. Fireworks everywhere!