The quick answer is: it depends where and when you go!
Prices in touristy areas increase dramatically during the summer (in particular the second half of July and the first three weeks of August), making Sardinia an expensive place to visit. Some areas, especially the famous Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast), can become exuberantly expensive in this season, making it the holiday destination for the super-rich.
But as long as you avoid visiting the island in high season, you will find it a perfectly affordable destination. Actually, you will most probably find it much cheaper than many other European destinations.
Just to illustrate the point: if the cost of a pitch for a camper and two people is 22€ per night in low season (second half of May or second half of September), it will be around 40€ in peak season (end of July – third week of August). A family of 4, travelling with one motorbike and a dog, will have to fork out around 65€ per night, which is not exactly cheap.
Apart for that, life in Sardinia is not more expensive than in mainland Italy. On the contrary, it is actually cheaper than in other Italian regions and wages in Sardinia are amongs the lowest in the country.
The golden rule for travelling on a budget in Sardinia is “do as the locals do”. Avoid touristy areas (which include nice restaurants in prime locations) and stick to local and, very important, seasonal products. Remember that Sardinia is an island and you will have to pay more for almost everything that needs to be transported from the mainland.
For example, tropical fruits or vegetables which are not in season tend to be rather expensive and might not be worth the price.
The good news is that local products are excellent, so you won’t miss out on delcious food. On the contrary, you will have the opportunity to try something new.
During our trip in October we ate lots of picky pears and persimmons, which I normally don’t eat often back home in Germany. Simply delicious!!!
Here are some examples what we paid during our holiday in October 2019:
Grocery shopping (in supermarkets and at local markets):
Bananas: 1,30€ per kilo
Apples: 1,40€ per kilo
Tomatoes: 1,60€ per kilo
Milk: 0,90€ (1 litre)
Loaf of bread: 1,10€
Local cheese: 11-13€ per kilo
Water: 0,30€ (1,5 litre bottle)
Lunch for 2 people in a restaurant in the centre of Alghero: 40€ (two main courses, 2 desserts, 1 beer, 1 water, 1 espresso)
Artisan ice cream in the centre of Alghero: 2€
Coffee (espresso): 1€
Ferry to and from Sardinia with Grimaldi Lines (Livorno-Olbia, Olbia-Livorno): 282€ (2 people, a vehicle up to 9 metre and a 2 berth inside cabin)
Diesel: 1,46€ per litre (on average)
Highway tolls: none (there are no highways in Sardinia)
All service areas and parking areas: free of charge (please note that in shoulder and high season they would have costed between 5 and 15€).
If we had done the same trip in July or August, we would have paid much more for the ferry and the overnights.
Looking for INEXPENSIVE presents for family and friends back home?
You will be spoilt for choice in Sardinia! Just visit a supermarket or the local market and you will find all you need to make your loved ones happy without spending a fortune.
I bought lots of small presents (all under 5€) for my friends. Here are some examples:
- Confettura fichi e mirto (figs and myrtle jam)
- Confettura di pera e menta (pear and mint jam)
- Confettura di fichi d’India (prickly pear jam)
- Crema di melanzane (aubergine spread)
- Fior di sale della Sardegna, Arancia (fleur de sel of Sardinia, orange flavour)
For less than a tenner you can buy a bottle of Vermentino wine, a light aromatic white that thrives in the north of the island.
A bottle of Mirto di Sardegna, a traditional Sardinian spirit served as an after-dinner drink, will cost you a bit more but will be highly appreciated. Mirto is made from the berries of the myrtle plant and is extremely popular in Sardinia.
Other ideas for presents include Sardinian olive oil, honey or torrone, a nougat confection made of honey, sugar, and egg white, with toasted almonds or other nuts.