A Guide To Visiting Neptune’s Grotto, Sardinia

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The Neptune’s Grotto (Grotte di Nettuno, in Italian) is a beautiful cave complex nearby Alghero, and among the most beautiful caves in Sardinia, and they have charmed thousands of people – a lot of celebrities, too! – during the years. They are one of Alghero main tourist attractions and a site of great scientific interest as well.

If you are visiting Alghero, you should definitely not miss the opportunity of visiting. Not only the caves are spectacular, but the overall experience of getting there (either by boat or via a stunning staircase), the incredible views that surround the area, make it all worth it.

Curious to find out more about Neptune’s Grotto? You are in luck! I have been there many times, including recently, and I am ready to share everything you should know to plan your visit and make the most of it.

For more information about Alghero, read my posts A Complete Guide To Alghero and The Best Beaches In Alghero.

The History Of Neptune’s Grotto

There is no certain proof of when the Grotte di Nettuno were discovered first.

Official records mention a fisherman finding the place in the 1700s, but historians agree on the fact that ancient populations must have at least visited these places, especially because the nearby complex of Porto Conte was notoriously inhabited since the pre-historical ages (tons of tools have been found inside the caves) and the Romans had a village there.

Anyway, Neptune’s Grotto has been thoroughly explored only in relatively modern times. Several important persons, such as La Marmora and John Warre Tyndale, have visited the caves and mentioned them in their writings.

Some parts of the complex, deemed more dangerous, are still reserved to expert speleologists and closed to the public, but contrary to many other caves in Sardinia, Neptune’s Grotto have been explored in their totality.

There are many other caves in the area of Capo Caccia that are only accessible by sea and are actually relatively unknown even to locals. Among them, there are the Grotta dei Pizzi e Ricami, Grotta di Nereo and Grotta Verde. The latter is particularly interesting since paintings dating back to the Neolithic were found there.

The caves in the area of Capo Caccia used to provide shelter to the now extinct monk seals.

Caves in Sardinia Neptune's Grotto

A Guide To Visiting Neptune’s Grotto

The caves are about 4 km broad – it’s not a huge complex – but the part that’s actually safe to visit and therefore open to the public is just a few hundred meters wide.

Despite these reduced dimensions, there is plenty to see and the visit lasts overall more than one hour, especially because you can’t visit on your own: the only available option is to join a guided tour, for safety reasons and to protect the site.

Whether you get to the caves on foot (via the stairs) or by boat, you’ll end up at the same entry point, and will start your guided tour of the place, which will show you several rooms carved in the limestone by centuries of water dripping.

The first room is the one where you can see the famous La Marmora Lake, one of the biggest saltwater basins in Europe. Around it, several stalactites and stalagmites decorate the room: the most important of them, the so-called Holy Water Font, is more than two meters tall and serves as a small water holder for the birds living in the Neptune’s Grotto.

The deeper you venture into the caves, the more you’ll discover about them: the guide will tell you every secret about the various rooms, which all have very suggestive names (such as the Hall of Ruins and the Royal Palace Hall); I don’t want to spoil the whole experience for you!

My last recommendation is to bring a camera with you as you will want to take photos for sure.

Grotte di Nettuno

Practical Information To Plan Your Visit

Where is Neptune’s Grotto?

The Grotte di Nettuno are located in the area of Capo Caccia promontory. The easiest access point is Alghero, which is about 25 km (15.5 miles) east of Capo Caccia; or Sassari, which is 45 km (28 miles) southeast of Capo Caccia.

Neptune’s Grotto opening hours

The site is open every day except on Christmas, from 9:00 am to either 5:00 pm or 7:00 pm (last admission) depending on the season. If you are going there by boat, much will depend on favorable weather (it’s impossible to access the caves with a rough sea).

Neptune’s Grotto tickets

Neptune’s Grotto tickets are €14 (full price); whereas reduced tickets for kids between 7-14, people over 65 years old, and for groups of more than 25 people are €10. Kids under 7 and disabled visitors can visit for free.

Included in the ticket there’s a guided tour. Tours depart regularly in a variety of languages which include English, German, French, Spanish and obviously Italian; and last about 45 minutes to an hour.

You can’t get to the caves and simply buy a ticket, too. You will need to reserve your spot with the app/website Alghero Experience: once you have saved your information and booked the visit, you can buy the ticket at the caves’ entrance.

The booking on the website doesn’t actually include the ticket, which you will have to pay for and retrieve once you get to Capo Caccia: it is only a way to save your spot.

How to get to Neptune’s Grotto

By car

In order to visit Neptune’s Grotto, you will need to get to the promontory of Capo Caccia (the one you can see from Alghero Bastions).

From Alghero, take State Road SS127 Bis to Fertilia, then switch to SP 55 to Capo Caccia. It’s about 25 km (15.5 miles) from the city. It’s roughly a 35 minutes drive.

From Sassari, you will need to drive southwest along the SS291 var, then the SS291, and finally the SP55 bis and SP55. It will take you around 40 to 45 minutes.

Once in Capo Caccia, you will have to park your car. Parking on the site is free but depending on the season is limited, so you may have to walk a bit before you actually get to the ticket counter.

By bus

Bus ARST 9321 regularly connects Alghero to Capo Caccia, from where you can get to Neptune’s Caves. Buses depart from Alghero Via Catalonia bus station and take about 40 minutes to get to Capo Caccia.

If you are coming from elsewhere in Sardinia (ie Sassari) you will first have to make your way to Alghero, so the overall journey ends up being much longer.

Once you get to Capo Caccia, retrieve the ticket you have previously booked at the ticket counter, and then the fun begins: walking down the 654 steps of the “Escala del Cabirol” (Billy Goat Stairs), designed appositely for the caves’ visitors and opened in 1959. It seems like a lot of steps, but don’t worry: they are not steep and the views along the way will keep you entertained.

Plan to arrive to Capo Caccia a minumum of 40 minutes before your scheduled visit. This will give you enough time to retrieve your tickets and walk down the stairs to get to the site.

It will take you about 15 minutes to walk down, and about the same amount of time to walk back up depending on your level of fitness and how often you stop for photos and to catch your breath.

Neptune's Caves

Boat trips to Neptune’s Grotto

If stairs aren’t your cup of tea, you can reach the caves with a ferry boat. There area few companies operating the trip, leaving either from Alghero’s tourist harbor or from Porto Conte.

The ride lasts about 45 minutes and the price starts at €15 (it may vary a bit according to the season and the company). You need to book your spot in advance – you can do so directly with the company at the harbor.

The most popular companies operating the boat trip are Frecce delle Grotte di A. Piccinnu and Linea Grotte Navisarda. Here’s all the information you will need to contact them and book your seat:

Linea Grotte Navisarda, Port of Alghero; phone number +39079950603. Tickets: adult €16; children 3/12 age €8; groups €13; schools from €8 to €10.
Frecce delle Grotte di A. Piccinnu; Port of Alghero; phone number +393683536824 or +393317229999. Tickets: adult €15; children 3/12 years €7.

More recently, another company called Linea Grotte Attilio Regolo has also started offering the ride to the Neptune’s Cave.

The boat ticket doesn’t include the caves’ ticket, however people visiting by boat don’t need to book tickets as they have a reserved spot along the boat ride.

Guided tours

Some guided tours of Alghero also go to Neptune’s Grotto and Capo Caccia. They are in the range of €135 per person, but keep in mind they last up to 9 hours!

For more information on guided tours, click here.

Final Tip

If you are flexible with your timings, try to plan your visit of the Grotte di Nettuno so that you get to see the incredible sunset from Capo Caccia – it’s one of the most impressive sunset views in Sardinia.

You will obviously have to go by car if that’s something you want to do. Just factor in about one hour to go down the Escala del Cabirol and to visit the caves, and another 15 to 20 minutes to walk up before you can walk up to the panoramic spot. Make sure to check out the daily sunset time for that!

Further Readings

For help planning your trip to Alghero, make sure to read these posts:

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