About the airport
Olbia is one of three international airports on the Italian island of Sardinia, and it is a very convenient gateway to the north-eastern part of the island. It is just outside the town of Olbia, to the south.
> Read about the town of Olbia
The airport is named Aeroporto Olbia Costa Smeralda, and its IATA code is OLB. It is used by a number of airlines including a couple operating budget flights from the UK.
Olbia is a modern and reasonably efficient airport, though we found a long queue at passport control for our departing flight. Inside the airport building is an open mall/check in area with a few shops – accessories, souvenirs and food and drink – and after security there’s a cafe, along with souvenir, foodie and duty-free shop.
Flights to Olbia
Most flights to Olbia are seasonal; Sardinia is a summer beach destination, and although it can very appealing at other times of the year, many airlines operate Olbia flights only in the summer months; typically mid-May to late September.
Airlines serving Olbia include, at the time of writing, Easyjet with summer-only flights from the UK (London Gatwick) and other European cities, and Jet2 with flights from Leeds and Edinburgh. The airport is the base for Meridiana Fly, a local Sardinian airline, who operate flights to Cagliari, mainland Italy and other European destinations. There are also flights to Olbia from France, Spain, Germany and other European countries.
Holiday and short break destinations
Olbia Airport is convenient for travelling to a large swathe of northern and eastern Sardinia, though if you are visiting the south coast or the west you are likely to find Cagliari or Alghero airports more convenient. Sardinia’s three airports make it very convenient to plan a touring holiday from A to B, flying into one airport and out of another.
Olbia itself is the most obvious destination for tourists arriving at the airport. There isn’t really enough in the town centre to occupy visitors for more than a day, but with a car or by using public transport it is possible to tour the area visiting beaches, ruins, inland towns and the Costa Smeralda.
The Costa Smeralda is a specially-developed chain of expensive modern resorts along the coast north of Olbia, of which the most famous is Porto Cervo. This is where rich celebrities come to hang out, and where Silvio Berlusconi has a villa of ill repute. Although prestigious, the Costa Smeralda may not satisfy visitors looking for atmosphere or local authenticity. However, outside this strip there are other pleasant, and more affordable resorts. Heading past the Costa Smeralda up to the northern tip of the coast, ferries from Palau connect Sardinia with the island archipelago of La Maddalena, a good destination for a beaches-and-islands holiday. Along the north coast are other interesting destinations and many beaches, some of them wild and undeveloped. Possible destinations along this coast include Santa Teresa Gallura (connected with Olbia by bus) and the historic citadel of Castelsardo.
Onward travel from the airport
Olbia Airport is only just outside town, and it is connected with the town centre by urban buses operated by ASPO, Olbia’s city bus company. Timetables are available on the ASPO website; the journey into Olbia takes only ten minutes. The urban buses connecting airport and city centre are the numbers 2 (Monday-Saturday) and the 10 (daily). In Olbia the most convenient bus stop for the town centre is on Via Mameli near a level crossing, which makes a useful landmark. At the airport you can buy ASPO bus tickets, costing 1 and valid for 90 minutes, from a machine in the airport arrivals hall. It is also possible to pay the driver, for 1.50 a ticket.
Some longer distance bus services also operate from Olbia Airport, although, like flights, they are mostly summer only. The seasonal services include a bus, operated by Turmo Travel, to Palau port (for the Maddalena islands) and Santa Teresa Gallura, an hour and a half away, which at the time of writing runs once daily in winter and several times in summer. The same company operates a bus heading south to Cagliari, a journey of nearly 5 hours. ARST connect the airport with Nuoro and intermediate stops, and Deplano have a service to Nuoro and to the holiday resort Cala Gonone. The airport’s website (see links panel) is a good source of information for up-to-date bus timetables. There is a helpful tourist information desk at the airport where you can check your onward travel arrangements (worth doing, as we found the Turmo Travel bus service had ceased to operate prior to its advertised finish date in September).
An alternative is to travel into Olbia on the ASPO city bus, alight in Via Mameli, and change to longer distance services such as the ARST bus to Palau and Santa Teresa Gallura, which departs from around the corner in Corso Vittorio Veneto.
Both local and long-distance buses depart from bus parking bays outside the airport terminal building, to the right as you leave the arrivals area. The ASPO buses also stop outside departures, for visitors leaving Olbia.
Car hire and taxis
Car hire – auto noleggio – offices for all the major firms are signposted from the airport building. There’s a taxi rank outside the terminal. There is a fixed fare of 15 into Olbia (check the latest official prices on the airport’s website).
Olbia hotels and B&Bs
If you are driving and want to stay right by the airport, the Jazz Hotel is comfortable, modern and right by the airport access road. Otherwise central Olbia is close enough to the airport to be a convenient place to stay with more options for eating, drinking and strolling around town.
>Hotel Panorama, Olbia – my review of an excellence central four-star hotel
Olbia hotels (Booking)