Published on: 13 December 2016 | Last updated: 7 January 2020
At a glance
Easy-ish. There are some short climbs, but nothing either long or especially steep.
Mainly on quiet roads. There’re some busier sections going out of Olbia.
Entirely on surfaced roads or cycleways.
Finding your way
There are no cycling-specific signs but the roads are well-signed and you shouldn’t have any problem following the route. You could ride the route in the other direction but riding anti-clockwise means that you are on the side of the road nearest the sea.
When to go
May, June and September are the ideal months. April and October are also good although the weather is more variable.
This route takes you along the coastline of northern Sardegna with its distinctive pink granite rock formations, and the archipelago of islands in the Strait of Bonifacio - the strip of water between the islands of Sardegna and Corsica. Don’t miss the loop to the La Maddalena national park.
After the dramatic Capo Testa the route turns south following one of the least developed stretches of coast towards the towns of Castelsardo and Stintino, and on from here to Alghero.
- La Maddalena archipelago
- the Capo Testa
- the Capo Caccia
- the Capo d’Orso
- Golfo degli Aranci
- Stintino a former tuna-fishing port now a charming coastal resort
- historic Castelsardo, one time base of the Genovese Doria family on the island
- Alghero. Don’t miss the new from the historic bastioni (sea walls)
- Nuraghe Palmavera near Alghero
There are lots of great beaches along the way. My (very arbitrary) list is:
- Vignola a Mare south of Santa Teresa Gallura (one of a long strip of beaches along a stretch of undeveloped coast)
- the Marina di Sorso between Castelsardo and Porto Torres
- La Pelosa beach north of Stintino on of the island’s most famous (but there’s also the Spiaggia delle Saline and Ezzi Mannu)
- the Mugoni, Lazaretto, Le Bombarde, and Maria Pia beaches near Fertilia and Alghero.
For more recommendations check: sardinianbeaches.com an excellent English-language guide to the island’s beaches.
Map and altitude profile
Powered by WP-GPX Maps
tips for using the map
Run your cursor over the graph to show the elevation, and distance from the start, for any given point on the route. (Note: the altitude graph is not shown where the route is flat).
Click the little icon in the right-hand corner to see the map fullscreen
|Olbia to Golfo Aranci||20 kms|
|Golfo Aranci to Palau (via Nuraghe La Prisgiona)||66 kms|
|Golfo Aranci to Palau (direct)||50 kms|
|La Maddalena and Caprera Islands||38 kms|
|Palau to Santa-Teresa Gallura||30 kms|
|Santa-Teresa Gallura to Castelsardo||86 kms|
|Castelsardo to Stintino||64 kms|
|Stintino to Alghero||48 kms|
You could combine this route with the Corsica West Coast route by taking the ferry from Bonifacio to Santa Teresa Gallura, or alternatively, the La Méridionale ferry from Propriano to Porto Torres. And of course you can continue on south following the Sardegna West Coast route on this site.
You could also return by bike to Olbia: the Guida Cicloturistica della Sardegna has a route via Sassari and Tempio-Pausania, and from there there are a couple of roads that take you into Olbia which both look like reasonable options.
If you plan to end your tour in Alghero, but you’d like to extend it a bit, then a good option would be to take the gorgeous coastal road to Bosa and then return to Alghero via Villanova Monteleone.
The Costa Smeralda?
This route deliberately avoids the Costa Smeralda. As this is perhaps the island’s best known resort destination this may seem a bit perverse but this section of the coast is frequented by the super-rich and it has gained a certain glamour that it doesn’t deserve. Porto Cervo, the main resort, is really a pretty dull place. The road to get there is scenic but is also narrow, and during the season it can be busy.
Getting there and back
Olbia airport is served by a wide range of low-cost operators. It’s a short taxi ride from the city centre but is also relatively easy to get into and out of by bike.
There are ferry terminals at Olbia and the nearby Golfo degli Aranci. Of the two Golf degli Aranci is the more convenient, as you don’t need to ride out of the centre of Olbia. However, the town of Olbia is worth a visit.
There’s no ferry port in Alghero there are ferry services between Porto Torres and Marseille, Toulon, Genova and Barcelona. There are also ferry services between Santa Teresa Gallura and Bonifacio in Corsica France.
Maps to print out or view offline
The zip files contain pdf files packaged together for convenience. If you are using a tablet you may find it easier to download the individual sections.
Show map download links for individual sections
Sardegna North Coast A4 maps
- Sardegna North Coast Part 1: A4 maps
- Sardegna North Coast Part 2: A4 maps
- Sardegna North Coast Part 3: A4 maps
- Sardegna North Coast Part 4: A4 maps
- Sardegna North Coast Part 5: A4 maps
Sardegna North Coast A5 maps
About the maps
The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smartphones. (A4 and A5 are international paper sizes).
Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.
- Sardegna North Coast gps files
(.zip file containing five gpx trackfiles and one file of waypoints)
- Italy Points of Interest
POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include information about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instructions. Updated April 2018. The file format is only compatible with Garmin GPSes .
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs
This is one of the main tourist areas of Sardegna, so there are plenty of places to stay in the main towns: Olbia, Golfo degli Aranci, Palau, Santa Teresa Gallura and Alghero.
Find and book places to stay with Booking.com
Booking.com area pages:
About these links
If you use these links to book accommodation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.
I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirmation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.
I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the opportunity to let me know if there’s a problem.
Many properties offer free cancellation but it’s a good idea to check the conditions as these vary from property to property.
There is (I think) a hostel in Alghero and another one on the Asinara island, but if you go outside the main tourist season you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding more economical accommodation options.
There are plenty of campsites along the route, but some have a relatively short opening season, so if you are travelling in April or October be sure to check opening times.
Campsites map: FT-map-campsites-sardegna-north-coast-show map in overlay | FT-map-campsites-sardegna-north-coast-show map in new window
Transport and services
There’s a train station in Alghero with services to Sassari where you can connect to Porto Torres, Olbia and Cagliari. For more information see this page: Getting around: local and regional train services. There are also rail stations at Olbia, Golfo degli Aranci and Porto Torres.
Renting a bike
There’s a good choice of firms offering bike rental. Alghero, Oristano and Cagliari offer the best prospects, but you may be able to arrange delivery to other places. For more information see the Sardegna section of the page on renting a bike: italy-cycling-guide.info: Renting a bike
Bike shops on this route
- Olbia: Fancello Cicli Sport
- Sassari: Bici Mania
- Alghero: Marti Cicli-Scooter
If you know of other bike shops, or you spot a mistake, please let me know.
Tourist information websites
- sardegnaturismo.it (it/en/de/fr/ru) is the tourist information site run by the region
- olbiaturismo.it (it/en/nl)
- castelsardoturismo.it (it/en/de/fr/es)
National and regional parks
- parks.it: Parco Nazionale Arcipelego Maddalena
- Parco Nazionale Arcipelego Maddalena
- parks.it: Parco Nazionale dell’Asinara (it/en)
- parcoasinara.org: come visitare il parco (listing of providers of tourist services)
- Porto Conte Parco Naturale Regionale
Other places of interest
- Memoriale di Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Cool Tour Santa Teresa
- Nuraghe Palmavera archeological site
- Parco Avventura Le Ragnatele .
- GNV (Grandi Navi Veloci) (GNV Genova-Porto Torres)
- Grimaldi Lines (Porto Torres - Civitavecchia and Porto Torres - Barcelona).
- Corsica-Sardinia Ferries (Porto Torres - Toulon)
- Tirrenia (Genova - Porto Torres)
- La Méridionale (Porto Torres - Propriano - Marseille)
- Moby Lines (Bonifacio-Santa Teresa)
- Blu Navy (Bonifacio-Santa Teresa)
Articles in this series
- Sardegna North Coast: Introduction
- Sardegna North Coast: Part 1: Olbia to Palau
- Sardegna North Coast: Part 2: La Maddalena national park
- Sardegna North Coast: Part 3: Palau to Castelsardo
- Sardegna North Coast: Part 4: Castelsardo to Stintino
- Sardegna North Coast: Part 5: Stintino to Alghero
Get in touch
Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.
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