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I have to change flights in Cagliari on a Sunday evening and I'll have around 2 hours free between the two, so I decided not to just sit in the terminal but actually rush out to the city. I have interests in history and transport (and maybe food, but this timescale definitely not allows for a good eat). I made the following plan:

18:55 Arrival

19:11 / 19:44 Take the train from Elmas-Aeroporto to Cagliari station

Walking through from the station/harbour to Republicca to catch a tram just for a few stops, and then coming back with another one and walking back to the train station (or by bus).

20:40 / 20:44 / 21:00 Take the train back to the Airport.

22:40 Scheduled time of my flight leaving

My questions are the following:

  • How reliable are the railway timetables and trains? Should I expect them arriving on time?
  • What is the easiest ticketing option? Do they do contactless travel? (I have euro account debit card) I looked at Trenitalia and the ticket description says it is only valid at the given time, but I can't know for sure which train I'll be able to catch. Can I buy any train tickets before travel? Is there any return tickets? (however the price is so cheap I don't mind paying two singles, the main constraint is time.
  • Are the tram timetables reliable? It seems to be a 20 minutes service on Sunday evening. Are the same trams returns from the final station? (they have 6 minutes return time there) What is the quickest ticketing option for the trams? I only found Italian on the tram website so that is not much helpful.
  • Can I rely on Google Maps (my usual transit app) for bus stops, arrival and route times? (getting back to the train station)

Thanks if you can answer any of the above.

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    I said 2 hours free. There is 3:45 between the arrival and departure, and I have no bags to check-in and travel alone and light, so a bit more than 1:30 should be enough to go across security, passport control and gate. – Mcload Oct 11 at 9:51
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    @Mcload Sounds like a recipe for 2 hours of stressing about whether you’ll get to anything remotely worth seeing and get to the departure gate by the cut-off time for your next flight. – Traveller Oct 11 at 10:16
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    @Traveller I had around 25 flights between European cities in the last 2 calendar years plus plenty more by family and friends and 2 hours was always enough to clear check-in - even with bags -, passport (if needed) and get to the gate at any possible airports including London, Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Budapest, Dublin... I'm not a person typically worrying on anything, and as you can see, I try to prepare well. – Mcload Oct 11 at 10:22
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    Trenitalia tickets can be bought from their app and do not normally need to printed (at least for local trains). Last time I checked my local train ticket was also valid for other local trains on the same route at least in the next few hours after the departure of the train it was bought for, but that may depend on the fare selected. – FDMS Oct 12 at 5:45
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    At the end, all this is to stay an hour near the station/ old harbour? I would skip tram/bus and enjoy a drink at the center. Trains to the airport should be reliable and tickets can be also bought at automatic machines. – Alchimista Oct 12 at 12:26
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Don't know if it's too late, but a couple of personal suggestions:

  • The railway timetables normally are respected, could happen a short delay (few minutes in short trips - let's say 5 min in a 40 min trip), but sometimes could happen a bigger delay. Since you don't have much margin, could be risky...it's not common, but could happen, so better considering 10/15min delay for the return travel, just in case.
  • the easyest tiketing option for trains is buy the tiket online from their official site, i guess you will use trenitlia. Consider that the tikets you buy online don't need to be stamped because are valid only for the date/time you selected...good for timing but the drawback is that if you miss the train, you loose the money of the tikek unless you choose a more expensive tiket that let's you to change date/time. You don't need to print the tiket, it's enough show the pdf you receive via mail when purchase the tiket. Consider you can buy online the tikets until few minutes the train leaves the station.
    In the stations there are also automatic machines where you can buy the tikets, but in this case you have to stamp it before entering in the train, using the yellow/green machines in the platforms (like this), you can buy both the tikets and stamp them when needed. If you miss the stamping, or don't have time for the tiket, or whatever, when reaching the platform go straight to the officer that controls the entrance/exit of the people in the train and tell him/her the problem...he will make the tiket for you (probably asking a small fee) but no fine.
  • you can rely to google maps for the position of the stops and, normally, for the scheduled times...but if the tram is late, maps is usually wrong so don't rely on it about the precise online timing.

After all, my suggestion is to completly avoid the train/tram since the center is quite close to the airport, and go for a taxi. Maybe it will be a little bit more expensive, but it's about 10/15 min drive...should not be so high. Using a taxi you can avoid the "dead times" of the fixed timing of the public transport (since you don't have much time) and directly ask the driver to bring you in the spot you would like to visit, if you find any, or ask him a suggestion...for example visit bastione di saint remy, enjoy the view and walk aroud in the near "quartiere castello" (castello district). Also you can ask him the mobile number and call him back for the return, or decide a time/place where to meet for the return.

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