Did you know that Sardinia has extensive underground caves and grottos open for tourists to explore? During my research on this beautiful island, I was stunned by the many beautiful Grottos in Sardinia. Intrigued, I placed one of Sardinia’s beautiful Grottos on our itinerary during our visit to Sardinia, and I’m happy to share our tips for visiting Neptune’s Grotto!
Neptune’s grotto (Grotta di Nettuno)
- Known as Grotta di Nettuno in Italian and one of the “fascinating natural jewels of the Mediteranean,” Neptune’s Grotto was first discovered in the 18th century by a local Sardinian fisherman
- It is known as Sardinia’s most biggest and famous caves
- The Grotto is located in the northern, western region of Sardinia in Alghero
- The entrance to the Grotto sits on the foot of the 110 meter high cliffs of the Capo Caccia and is about a meter above sea level, making it only accesible when the water is calm.
- The cave is a few kilometers long; however, only a few hundred meters of these precious walls of complex caves of majestic “concretions of stalagmites and stalactites,” surrounded by the clear waters of the Lake Lamarmora, are open to the public to explore.
- Lake Lamarmora is one of the largest, internal salt lakes in Europe.
- The cave can only be visited via a guided tour along a pathway inside the Grotto. (Read on for more information)
How To Get to the Grotto
There are two ways to reach the Grotto, by land or by sea.
For those wishing to reach the Grotto by land, the best way to reach the entrance is to walk down the 654-steps of the Escala del Cabirol staircase from the top of the Capo Caccia cliffs. From there, you follow the stairs down to the Grotto. Reservations are required for entry, but you won’t have to pay for your tickets until you arrive. (More information can be found in Admissions and Locations below).
From the nearby Alghero City Harbor, you can find many tour boats departing from the area for the Grotto. This is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful views of the coast of Alghero and its many magnificent cliffs. The boat ride takes approximately 40 minutes.This is a great way to see the coasts of Alghero and/or simply avoid the stairs for those that have little ones or aren’t physically able to climb stairs. Otherwise, taking the stairs is perfectly fine. The ticket price for the boat is separate from the entry fee for the Grotto.
Admissions and Locations
LOCATION: Grotta di Nettuno, 07041 Alghero SS , approximately 25km from the Alghero Airport (driving-wise)
OPENING HOURS: Open all year round, except on Christmas Day and also depending on the condition of the water and weather (check the website often for updates of closures due to weather)
Current Hours: 0900-1900 Daily
TO REACH BY LAND: Park at the top of the cliffs of Capo Caccia and/or set your GPS for theEscala del Cabirol staircase. There should be parking nearby. From there, you descend the 654-steps to the entrance of the Grotto. In order to enter the Grotto, you must make reservations according to their website and arrive 40 minutes at the top of Capo Caccia before your reservations to give yourself time to make that descent down the stairs. I highly recommend booking your reservations in advance, especially if you are planning to visit at a certain time frame as reservations are based on time slots available.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR RESERVATIONS IF VISITING BY LAND: Reservations are required according to their website via Alghero Experience. Reservations do not include the purchase of the entry fee to the Grotto. You can buy your ticket directly at the Grotto entrance, or purchase the Alghero Experience Ticket (more information under ADMISSIONS)
TO REACH BY SEA: NO RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED IF YOU ARE TAKING A BOAT TO THE GROTTO. Boat trips are available at the Alghero City Harbor on a daily basis or from the pier of Cala Dragunara in Porto Conte Park. The boat trip takes about 40 minutes from the City Harbor to the Grotto, you’ll have 30-40 minutes to enjoy the guided tour and check out the Grotto, and then take the 40-minute boat trip back to the city harbor. This is a wonderful way to see the coasts of Alghero.
Ticket Prices for the boats are about €15/person and are separate from the entry fee for the Grotto. We paid about €60 for my family of two adults and 2 kids for the boat ride. We called ahead and made reservations for the boat the day before (info below for two boat companies).
Boat Services from Neptune’s Grotto’s website:
1.) Linea Grotte Navisarda, located at Harbour of Alghero- Banchina Dogana; Phone: +39 079 950603 | +39 320 7412400
2.) Frecce delle Grotte, located at Harbour of Alghero- Banchina Dogana; Phone: Phone +39.368.353.6824 | +39.331.722.9999
Metered parking can be found right across the street from the harbor close to the boat service hut near this coordinate.
ADMISSIONS: Pay at the Grotto or buyt the Alghero Experience ticket. We purchased our ticket at the Grotto entryway and were given the Alghero Family Ticket for €40 (same ticket from the Alghero Experience ticket website. We found out this ticket gives us not only entry to the Grotto, but also other sites and also discount offers to other sites in Alghero and much more, find out here.
Single ticket Admissions: €14
Reducted Ticket Admissions (senior citizens, children 7-15 yo, and pre-booked large groups of minimum 25 people): €10
More admission information, here.
OR buy the Alghero Experience ticket for access to more sites in Alghero (see below)
Alghero Experience Ticket: €20 for single adult
Alghero Family Experiece Ticket: €40 (includes 2 adults, and up to 3 kids up to 14 years of age)
More on the Alghero Experience Ticket Here and Here.
TOURS: Guided Tours are offered every hour on the hour and are included in the entry fee. The tour lasts about 30 minutes with a tour guide talking via a speaker/microphone. Tours are offered in several languages (Italian, English, German and Spanish).
COVID REGULATIONS/GREEN PASS: As of August 6, 2021, an EU DIGITAL COVID CERTIFICATE (Green Pass) is required to access the Grotto. For children, 12 yo and under, and/or persons with specific medical certifications are exempt, read more here. Masks were also required during our visit.
Visiting Neptune’s Grotto
Since Neptune’s Grotto was located near the Alghero Airport (where we landed), I immediately added this location to our itinerary the day we landed as we were only in Alghero for that one day. Unknowingly on my part, I did not realize reservations were a must. I tried booking our reservations the day before our visit, and unfortunately, it was already booked for the time we needed. I emailed the staff and they re-directed me back to their website for reservations and/or taking the boat as our other option since reservations are not required for those.
We did contact the boat company the day before to reserve our slot. We paid directly at the Harbor where the boat company’s hut was located. For the boat ride, be prepared for it to be a slightly rocky ride. My daughter became seasick due to the rocking. A bathroom is available onboard.
Overall, the boat ride was beautiful. The water was so crystal clear blue and the backdrop of the rocky cliffs of Alghero’s coast was magnificent. Once you are near the Grotto, the views do get better. We actually docked right in front of the Grotto and were immediately herded to the entrance to pay for our entry.
The line to pay for our ticket was chaotic at first. There were so many people from the boat trying to purchase tickets to see the Grotto. In addition, those who walked from the stairs were also there to purchase their tickets at the same time. It was madness when we arrived.
From purchasing our ticket, we formed a line and walked the whole way in a line, herded like sheep through the trail. The tour guide spoke from speakers placed all over the Grotto and spoke in several different languages. The tour took about 30 minutes or so until we were herded back out as we had come in to return back to the boat that was leaving as scheduled, so there was no time to really explore the cave. As magnificent as the Grotto was, this was one disappointing part of the tour, there was not enough time to really enjoy the Grotto and take it all in. This is why I would recommend taking the stairs to the Grotto, rather than taking the boat; so you can really have that time to enjoy exploring the cave and not feel rushed.
Tips for Visiting Neptune’s Grotto
- Make Reservations for your visit way in advance
- Take the earliest tour as soon as it opens to avoid the large crowds from the boats.
- Wear slip resistance shoes, it can get slippery in certain spots. I don’t recommend flip flops.
- The temperature is constantly around 20 degrees celsius. I wore my leggings on a July; shorts are fine, it wasn’t too cold inside the Grotto, to be honest.
- Bring water, especially if you plan to take the stairs
- Wear Sunscreen for the boat ride or for the stairs
- I hear the stairs have amazing views along the way and is not too hard
- Bring masks, it is required during the tour.
- Take plenty of photos, the Grotto is just beautiful!
Is it worth visiting Neptune’s Grotto? Yes and no. For the price of the boat and the Grotto entrance, it would have been better to take the stairs and then enjoy the Grotto without feeling rushed. Despite the crowd, the Grotto itself is just beautiful and magnificent! I have never seen anything like it. I know from my research Sardinia has several other Grottos to explore that I am also interested in visiting. I probably recommend the smaller, less touristy Grottos, but Neptune’s Grotto was a good one to visit if you are pinched for time and wanted to see an amazing cave with a lake.
I hope you’ve found this helpful for planning your trip. Be sure to stay tuned for more Sardina Blog posts. Until next time adventurers! Alla prossima avventurieri! Ciao!