Sardegna North Coast: Part 5 Stintino to Alghero

Published on:  | Last updated: 14 March 2018

The Torre della Pelosa near Stintino

The Torre della Pelosa near Stintino

At a glance

Distance

88 kilometres

Difficulty/​terrain

Easy. There are some small climbs but nothing too challenging.

Traffic

Mainly on quiet roads. Note that the road between the Capo Caccia and Alghero is likely to be busier on summer weekends with traffic heading to and from the beaches.

Surfaces

Entirely on surfaced roads and cycleways.

Overview

The first part of this section takes you out from Stintino to the Cap Falcone and the beach at La Pelosa which looks out onto the national park of the Isola dell'Asinara. From here it heads south to the Capo Caccia and Alghero. The Capo Caccia is another dramatic headland topped with a light­house. If you have the energy you can visit the caves of the Grotte di Nettuno. The final leg takes you past the Nuraghe Palmavera as well as some beautiful beaches before ending in Alghero (L'Alguer) a city with its distinctive Catalan heritage.

Highlights

  • Asinara national park. Once a prison-island and now famous for its wild albino donkeys.
  • the Capo Falcone and Spiaggia della Pelosa and its watchtower
  • the Capo Caccia and Grotte di Nettuno
  • the Nuraghe Palmavera
  • Alghero's bastioni (city walls)

Beaches

The most famous beach near Stintino is probably the Spiaggia La Pelosa on the road north from Stintino, but other options include the Saline and Ezzi Mannu beaches.

After Stintino the best and most accessible beaches are between the Capo Caccia and Alghero:

  • the Spiaggia Mugoni
  • the Lazzaretto and Le Bombarde beaches
  • the Spiaggia Maria Pia
Stintino: Spiaggia della Pelosa and Torre della Pelosa

Stintino: Spiaggia della Pelosa and Torre della Pelosa

Map and altitude profile

Powered by WP-GPX Maps

tips for using the map

Map screen grab

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).



map detail

Click the little icon in the right-hand corner to see the map fullscreen


Distances
Stintino - Capo Falcone loop 10 kms
Stintino - Capo Caccia 54 kms
Capo Caccia - Fertilia 25 kms
Fertilia - Alghero 4 kms

Route description

Stintino to Alghero

Heading north from Stintino the route takes you to the Capo Falcone and the Spiaggia della Pelosa - one of Sardegna’s most famous beaches, with its fine pale sand and clear turquoise water. It also has a much-photo­graphed watchtower.

Unfortunately, the beach has also been a magnet for some fairly unsym­pathetic devel­opment. So you'll need to look the other way towards the Asinara national park famous for its white donkeys.

The Asinara

While the Asinara national park may be best known for its donkeys but is also home to another 80 animal species as well as being the centre of a protected marine area. There's also a rescue centre for loggerhead turtles.

The island has had a checkered history. The government estab­lished a a leper colony here in the 1850s and when the residents objected, they were moved off the island and went on to establish the village of Stintino. The leper colony became by turns a penal colony and a prisoner-of-war camp, before eventually becoming a maximum security prison where those convicted for terrorist and organized crime offences were held. The island became a national park after the prison was decom­mis­sioned in the 1990s. In theory you can visit the visitor centre in the former prison, but at the time of writing visits had been suspended.

If you have an off-road capable bike you can explore the island by bike. There are boats from Stintino, and the Delcomar ferry company operate a service between Porto Torres and Asinara. For more inform­ation see: delcomar.it: tratte e orari. At the time of writing (2017) the service runs every day between the beginning of May and end of September with a reduced service in the rest of the year.

After the Capo Falcone its back to Pozzo San Nicola and the junction with the SP57 road to Alghero.

You may notice as you pass through Pozzo San Nicola that the signs with the village's name are in three languages. The three languages are (I think) Italian, Gallurese and Sassarese. Gallurese is the language spoken in much of northern Sardegna (and southern Corsica) while Sassarese is thought to be a hybrid of languages from Toscana, Liguria and Corsica. If you're curious about Sardegna and Italy's mosaic of languages wikipedia is a good place to go ( en.wikipedia.org: Sassarese en.wikipedia.org: Gallurese)

Spring flowers on the road to Alghero

Spring flowers on the road to Alghero

The SP 57 (from Pozzo San Nicolà) was an unexpected pleasure: hedgerows filled with spring flowers, the occasional car, and apart from that, nothing but the sound of the birds, and occasionally sheep-bells (cow-bells for sheep). The SP57 comes to an end in the outskirts of the village of Palmadula. Turn left, following the signs for Alghero onto the SP 69. If you fancy a side trip (and a bit of climbing), you can turn right and go down to the old mine at Argentiera on the coast.

The SP69 is mainly downhill all the way to the coast. There are a couple of very short climbs. After one of them there's a bend in the road and a view over the Capo di Caccia. The SP69 comes out onto the SP55, at the junction you have two altern­atives: turn right and head for the Capo Caccia or turn left and head for Fertilia and Alghero.

Lighthouse on the Capo Caccia.

Lighthouse on the Capo Caccia. Photo Gianni Careddu (source: Wikimedia Commons

The Capo Caccia

The Capo Caccia is another dramatic headland with limestone cliffs rising sheer out of the sea. Perched at the top of the cliffs (168 metres altitude) is the Faro di Capo Caccia (Capo Caccia light­house). At the very bottom of the cliff are the Grotte di Nettuno (en.wikipedia.org: Neptune's Grotto) the caves that are probably Alghero's major tourist attraction. Most people arrive by boat, but you have the option (if you have the energy) of descending the 654-step Escala del Cabirol (goat's steps) that are carved out of the cliff face and lead down to the caves (and of course climbing back up again). Admission is €13.

https://youtu.be/nSuJXBl-NzU

  show larger in overlay

As you head for the Capo di Caccia it's worth making the short detour to visit the Torre del Porticciolo - another pictur­esque watchtower overlooking a scenic cove.

The road continues into the Porto Conte Parco Naturale Regionale. A little further on, you come to a turning on your right-hand side with a sign saying panor­amica and a viewpoint symbol. It's defin­itely worth the climb which takes you to the Belvedere Foradada (on the right-hand side of the road) where there’s a dramatic view over the Isola Foradada. Unfortunately you cannot continue to the light­house itself as it’s a Zona Militare.

Nuraghe Palmavera

On the weekday and out of season the road between the Capo Caccia and Alghero was really very calm, but there is a popular beach (the Spiaggia Mugoni), so on weekends it is likely to be busier. The road takes you past the Nuraghe Palmavera arche­olo­gical site.

The site contains the remains of the village as well as the nuraghe at its centre and a communal meeting room ceremonial chamber. It's thought that the village dates back to about 1500 BC. The village seems to have been destroyed by a great fire in about 1200 BC. There are all were, about hundred and 20 homes here for approx­im­ately 600 people.

Admission is 3€, although you should defin­itely gets the audio guide (available in several languages) which costs another €3.50. There is also a ticket that covers both the Nuraghe Palmavera and the nearby Necropoli di Anghelu Ruj. The site is open open from nine in the morning until seven in the evening from the beginning of May until the end of September.

Lazaretto and Le Bombarde beaches

If you'd rather visit the beach, turn right at Porto Conte and pick up the Via Degli Eucalipti - a bliss­fully quiet country lane which takes you to Lazaretto and the Spiaggia di Lazaretto where there’s a couple of beach bars and that’s about it really. Further on is the rather more developed Spiaggia Le Bombarde. Next door to the beach is the beautiful Le Bombarde pineta. Also on the way is the Parco Avventura Le Ragnatele - which might be a welcome treat for kids.

A little under 900 metres beyond the nuraghe there's a cycleway that runs for two and a half kilometres into the outskirts of Fertilia. The cycleway is on your left-hand side separated from the road by trees and bushes.

Fishing from the old Roman bridge across the Calik laguna at Fertilia

Fishing from the old Roman bridge across the Calik laguna at Fertilia

Fertilia

The cycleway comes to a junction with a little bar-chiosco. Cross over the road and then follow the cycleway as it makes a brief detour to the remains of the old Roman bridge over the Stagno di Calich.

The road into Alghero bypasses Fertilia. The village was built in the 1930s when the marshland in the surrounding area was reclaimed. It was originally settled by immig­rants from north-east Italy, and then in the aftermath of the second world war, by Italian-speaking refugees from Istria and Dalmatia in what is now Croatia and Slovenija.

Between Fertilia and Alghero there is a long stretch of pale sandy beach (the Spiaggia Maria Pia). The beach is surpris­ingly uncom­mercial and unspoiled, behind a quite beautiful stretch of pineta where there’s a percorso sportivo (outdoor gym) if you feel like you need some exercise.

Expect the beach to be busy on summer weekends as people come out from Alghero.

Maria Pia beach, Fertilia

Maria Pia beach, Fertilia

Alghero

After the Camping La Mariposa there’s a long stretch of cycleway which takes you all the way into Alghero, and the Forte della Maddalena on the edge of the centro storico.

As you ride into Alghero you'll quite probably see Catalan flags flying on the beach. Catalan (alghereseis one of the official languages of the city (L'Alguer in Catalan).

If you’re in a hurry you can bear right and follow the road as it skirts round the centro storico, but the most scenic option is to follow the bastioni (the defensive seawalls). To do this you need to turn right onto the Banchina Dogana quayside and then turn left through the Porta a Mare. There are no entry signs on the Porta a Mare —but there's also a cyclist-pedes­trian sign which I assume trumps the no-entry sign. Turn right into the Piazza Civica which takes you past the Duomo (Cathedral) and then turn right again in front of the Duomo and onto the Via San Erasmo. Just a little further on (after the Movida restaurant) is the Piazza San Erasmo where there’s a ramp that takes you up to the Bastioni Magellano. (Note that the piazza seems to have been renamed the Piazza Pasqual Gal). On a clear day you can see from the walls across the golfo to the Capo Caccia.

Parts of the centro storico are a pedes­trian zone however, you can ride along the bastioni, but you need to apply common sense and discretion: if it's crowded, you may need to get off and walk at the narrow points.

You can follow the bastioni to the Torre Sulis where you pick up another cycleway which takes you to the Mirador Giuni Russo at Calabona on the edge of town. From here you pick up the SP105 heading for Bosa.

Options

The route takes you to the Capo Caccia. However, it may be easier to visit it unloaded so you don't have to worry about your bags. You could easily visit it as a loop from Fertilia or Alghero, or there are some places to stay in the immediate area (including a campsite/​holiday village) so you could compromise and stay somewhere nearby. You can of course also visit the caves, without your bike, by boat from Alghero.

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, stay overnight in Bosa, and then return to Alghero via Villanova Monteleone.

Flag on the beach at Alghero (L'Alguer). The flag reads 'Pais Catala di Sardenya'

Catalan flag on the beach at Alghero (L'Alguer). The flag reads 'Pais Catala di Sardenya'

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

There are some accom­mod­ation options along the route, partic­u­larly around the Capo Caccia, but the best bet is probably Alghero and Fertilia.

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

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.

Hostels

According to Google, the the Hostal de l'Alguer in Fertilia has closed perman­ently. If you know better please let me know.

Campsites

I stayed at the Camping Laguna Blu Calik at Fertilia but I also heard good things about La Mariposa on the outskirts of Alghero.

The Camping-Village Torre del Porticciolo opens from mid-May so it wasn't open when I passed through, but it looked like a good option if you want somewhere close to the Capo Caccia.

  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

Transport links

Alghero has an airport, but no ferry terminal.

There's a train station 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.

Resources

Tourist information websites

Other tourism resources

Parks and attractions

Fertilia: Roman bridge across the Calik laguna

Fertilia: Roman bridge across the Calik laguna

Articles in this series


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.

Join the mailing list?

If you’ve found this site useful why not sign up to the mailing list for occasional updates about new routes.