Centro storico di Alghero | Escursioni con Dranexperience.com

5 Must-Do Excursions in Alghero

The Coral Riviera is an area that lends itself greatly to both outdoor and cultural activities year-round. You will walk through the labyrinth of narrow streets in the historic center, among old houses that echo the city’s Catalan origins and traditions related to red coral.

Are you thinking of spending a few hours or days vacationing in Alghero, on the Riviera del Corallo, on the northwest coast of Sardinia? Good choice for 2024! And we are not just telling you this because with Dran Experience we specialize mainly in this area with our excursions to Alghero, but because here you can enjoy the sea all year round, within a sparkling and authentic urban setting!

In and around Alghero, you will have the opportunity to admire the following. beautiful scenic spots with the Sunset over the sea at Capo Caccia and beyond, as well as you can take a level wine tour or be hosted for a few hours at a pastor’s family home for a Cooking Class!

Do you feel like doing some activities among friends or family? Great, in Alghero there are several hiking trails for all levels among wild beaches and surrounded by Mediterranean scrub that you can do especially in the less hot months! If you prefer the sea, don’t miss the Wild Beaches & Snorkeling Tour, the name says it all.

Did you know that there are beautiful beaches that are not reached by a Boat Tour? The sea and the beach, a perfect combination of nature, flora and fauna that you will explore among wild beaches, guided snorkeling trails and breathtaking scenery. Now what?

Take a look at our list of tips on must-do Alghero excursions for 2024:

#1 WILD BEACHES AND SNORKELING TOUR

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Yes, there are beaches and coastal stretches in Alghero that are rarely offered and reached by classic boat tours. Therefore, all wild beaches can be visited by land and safely. They are reached by car or minivan (with dranexperience it is included in the cost of the tour). Immersed in unspoiled nature, you will have the opportunity to go on snorkeling tours (weather permitting) together with the environmental guide who specializes in marine biology among fish, starfish, plants and many other species.

How about then tasting typical Sardinian products, on the beach and in front of the enchanting sea? It is the workhorse of this list of must-do excursions in Alghero. Important information 2023:

  • Price from: € 80,00 a persona (All-day tour) – From June to September
  • What’s included: Transportation, multilingual guide and marine biologist, light lunch at the beach
  • What are you waiting for, take a look at the details and Book this excursion to Alghero.

Book Wild Beaches Tour in Alghero

#2 COOKING EXPERIENCE IN A SMALL VILLAGE

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Another spectacular excursion departing from Alghero and focused mainly in Planargia, near the splendid village of Bosa. Drive along provincial road 105, in a theater of irresistible views suspended between sea and mountains, passing through Bosa, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy among “colorful” shots and evocative viewpoints. An excursion to Alghero in which you will admire beautiful waypoints until you arrive at your final destination, or “Gourmet Destination,” where a family of shepherds will be waiting for you to begin an exciting Cooking Class.

Tales and legends will accompany you during the preparation of the products and the rich tasting following the Cooking Class, in a family environment in contact with the local people and their traditions. Important information 2023:

  • Cost from: €130.00 per person (All-day tour) – March to May and October to December
  • What’s included: Transportation, multilingual guide, cooking class with a shepherd family, rich tasting, nature walk and visit to authentic villages
  • What are you waiting for: an experience of a lifetime and definitely one of the excursions in Alghero not to be missed, find out more about details and cost.

Book This Tour

#3 WINE TOUR AND PHOTO TOUR

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It will be one of the most relaxing and enjoyable excursions in Alghero, clearly also not to be missed. It will be the story of a small winery that has become one of the most famous in Sardinia. This will be a trip to a local winery where we will discover the stages of the wine production cycle, opening the doors of each department to the tasting room. This will be a wonderful walk in the Capo Caccia protected area: an invaluable natural heritage, enhanced by the fossil-rich limestones and rare plants that grow in this environment. Here, small coves and imposing cliffs will be the perfect location to watch the sunset. What a spectacular activity and excursion around Alghero, with ample availability from March to November, in the evening and at sunset. Important information 2023:

  • Cost from: $65.00 per person (5 hours) – March to November
  • What’s included: Transportation, multilingual guide, Wine tour to winery, tasting of 3 glasses of wine and typical Sardinian products, nature and sunset walk
  • What are you waiting for: relax, food and wine, nature e great instagram pictures, excursions in Alghero not to be missed. Book it

Book Wine Tour & Photo Tour

#4 ALGHERO’S OLD TOWN TOUR

Alghero is famous for its prized coral, used locally with gold to make all sorts of ornaments, and this is another magnificent activity and excursion in Alghero not to be missed. You will see, directly from a local craftsman, the steps involved in working red coral into a work of art, even starting with a visit to the only live red coral aquarium in Europe. (Read the article in La Repubblica). You’ll walk through the historic center, a maze of narrow streets connecting squares bustling with life, yellow walls and old houses echoing the city’s Catalan origins. At the end of the excursion, a short walk will take you to Alghero ‘s main beach where a light lunch of typical Sardinian products will be served. Important information 2023:

  • Cost from: 80.00 per person (5 hours) – March to May and October to December
  • What’s included: Multilingual guide, visit to red coral aquarium and class from local artisan, walking tour to old town, tasting of typical Sardinian products on the beach.

  • What are you waiting for:

    Culture, art, tradition-these are the main themes of this must-do excursion to Alghero. Take a look at availability.

Book This Tour

#5 HIKE, BERNARDU’S PATH

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Alghero is famous for its prized coral, used locally with gold to make all sorts of ornaments, and this is another magnificent activity and excursion in Alghero not to be missed. You will see, directly from a local craftsman, the steps involved in working red coral into a work of art, even starting with a visit to the only live red coral aquarium in Europe. You will walk through the historic center, a maze of narrow streets that connect

For those who love the outdoors and trekking, this is the last excursion to Alghero that we suggest not to miss. You will immerse yourself in a wild natural oasis surrounded by rocks, coves and Mediterranean scrub: you will be in Capo Marrargiu, in the surroundings of Bosa. Here the environment is so impervious and secluded that over the decades it has welcomed majestic and extremely rare wildlife species including peregrine falcons, golden and Bonelli’s eagles, but the big star is another bird of prey: the griffon vulture. It is a hike departing from Alghero, and after about a 40-minute drive (included) you will arrive at the starting point of the Bernardu Trail, which walks the route traced by shepherds and animals. Wild, natural landscapes accompanied by snorkeling routes (weather permitting) and the delights of typical Sardinian products while the slow, deep beats of the griffon vulture will join the unique panorama of Alghero and Capo Caccia in the distance. Important information 2023:

  • Cost from: 80.00 per person (5 hours) – March to May and October to December
  • What’s included: Transportation, Multilingual guide, tasting of typical Sardinian products

  • What are you waiting for:

    If you love to spend your time outdoors, this excursion to Alghero is for you. Book now

Book Bernardu's Path

complesso minerario argentiera | ex miniera e cosa fare in Sardegna con Dranexperience.com

What to do in Sardinia

Sardinia: a magnificent land hard to forget, from nature to food via art, history and culture.

On this page we thought we would recommend what to do in Sardinia, especially in the Alghero area, a city connected to the rest of Europe by an international airport and with a marina about 30 km away, it therefore represents a perfect Hub for your island vacation.

Attractions and guided excursions in Alghero are definitely the best things to do in Sardinia, for a vacation full of excitement and connection with the local people and nature. So let’s take a look at the advice from DRAN Experience:

#1 CAVES OF NEPTUNE BY LAND

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Neptune’s caves are a spectacular natural monument present in Alghero and definitely a must-see in the area. You can visit it either by sea (taking a boat that leaves from Alghero) or by land (I recommend DRAN Experience). If you decide to visit the cave by land you will have to walk 654 steps through the Escala del cabirol (Catalan for roe deer staircase). It is definitely a must-do in Sardinia if you plan to admire a unique view along the coast, learn more about the geology and nature of one of Sardinia’s most beautiful locations, and maybe keep fit with some physical activity.

Down the steps you will arrive at Neptune’s Cave, one of the most beautiful and largest sea cavities in the Mediterranean with a formation that dates back about two million years. You will be able to visit about 250 meters of cave (although it is several kilometers long) in an exciting salt vision with karst formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, and columns but also a white sand beach and an underground lake. What to do in Sardinia? We recommend it to you!

  • Type and location: Guided tour inside the cave upon payment of a ticket, Alghero
  • Cost: € 14.00 per person, reduction for younger children, open year-round (weather dependent)
  • What’s included: Neptune’s cave ticket with guided tour

All you have to do is visit the official website and book your ticket.

Book the "Ticket for the Caves of Neptune"

#2 COOKING EXPERIENCE IN A SMALL VILLAGE

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The second-largest island in the Mediterranean can also be vocal about food, but are you ready to get involved as well? One of the things to do in Sardinia is definitely to “get your hands dirty” in an overwhelming and exciting Cooking Class. On this tour you will travel near the beautiful village of Bosa where a family of shepherds will be waiting for you to try your hand at preparing some of Sardinia’s traditional culinary dishes including pasta and desserts. Tales and legends will accompany you throughout the day, in a family environment in contact with the local people and their traditions.

  • Cost from: € 130.00 per person (All-day tour) – March to May and October to December
  • What’s included: Transportation, multilingual guide, cooking class with a shepherd family, rich tasting, nature walk and visit to authentic villages

What to do in Sardinia? Definitely this life experience. Book Now

Book the "Cooking Experience in a small village"

#3 PRE-NURAGIC COMPLEX OF MOUNT BARANTA

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Sardinia is a very ancient land with a history that links this land to man as far back as 450,000 years with the first indirect findings. On the island, among the seven thousand archaeological sites there is one in particular that deserves to be discovered and experienced as one of the most fascinating things to do in Sardinia, located exactly at Olmedo. This archaeological site constitutes one of the most outstanding examples of pre-Nuragic fortified settlements dated to the Copper Age (2500-2200 BC). Consider that it is set on a plateau over 150 meters above sea level and is protected by an enclosure-tower, a long and extraordinary wall enclosing a group of rectangular huts, separating them from a sacred area with menhirs and megalithic circle. It is currently not run by any association, so admission is free to anyone who wants to visit. This is an opportunity to discover lesser-known Sardinia.

Location Mount Baranta

#4 WINE TOUR AND PHOTO TOUR

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As we anticipated earlier, food and wine in Sardinia plays an important role, what to do and taste on the island? You can find out through this relaxing and enjoyable excursionin the Alghero area, with a trip to a local winery where you will discover the stages of the wine production cycle all the way to the tasting room. Small walk right after the wine tour, where your photography skills will be put to the test in one of Sardinia’s most beautiful locations…at sunset. You will be welcome at Capo Caccia: an invaluable natural heritage, enhanced by the fossil-rich limestones and rare plants that grow in this environment.

  • Cost from:
    $65.00 per person (5 hours) – March to November
  • What’s included: Transportation, multilingual guide, Wine tour to winery, tasting of 3 glasses of wine and typical Sardinian products, nature and sunset walk

Relaxation, food and wine, nature and beautiful photos. Reserve your place

Book This Tour

#5 ARGENTIERA SITE

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Sardinia boasts an extraordinary mining tradition, and among the things to do during your vacation and discover its most distinctive sites and aspects. Consider that the Argentiera site was among the first Sardinian deposits to be exploited even in Judicial times (c. 1100), later becoming among the most important in the area only around 1800 due to the vast silver deposits in the area. Today, you can also visit this beautiful open-air mining museum in augmented reality, a meeting of tradition and innovation through an exhibition, revolutionary and fascinating path that is sure to engage you emotionally.

Currently the visit to the (open-air) museum has no admission charge, find out more. Here the location

Location Argentiera Mine

#6 ALGHERO OLD TOWN TOUR

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Alghero is famous for its prized coral, used locally with gold to make all sorts of ornaments, and this tour is definitely one of the activities to put on the special “What to do in Sardinia” bucket list. You will start with a visit to the only live red coral aquarium in Europe (Read the article in La Repubblica). and then see how a local craftsman works the coral into a work of art. To walk through the narrow streets of Alghero is to discover the soul of a town that shows its Catalan character everywhere.

  • Cost from: €80.00 per person (5 hours) – March to May and October to December
  • What’s included: Multilingual guide, visit to red coral aquarium and class from local artisan, walking tour to old town, tasting of typical Sardinian products on the beach.

If you are interested in local culture and tradition, this tour is perfect: Cost and availability in this link

Book this tour

#7 THE FORTIFICATIONS OF MONTE DOGLIA

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Still undecided on what to do and see in Sardinia? Explore Monte Doglia and the historical heritage enriched by an extraordinary view of the bay of Porto Conte. From 1930 to the early 1940s Sardinia underwent intensive fortification of the coast and the near hinterland aimed at hindering the landing of possible enemies. Even the territory of Alghero has not been excluded, and hundreds of masonry artifacts can be identified that bear witness to this historical period, such as that of Monte Doglia.

You can walk along a trail among military forts and natural and geological features of enormous interest. No fees to pay, no entrance fees-this area is free for anyone who wants to discover lesser-known areas, so what are you waiting for? Prepare yourself by reading description and information of Mount Doglia fortifications, download the brochure here.

Monte Doglia fortifications brochure

#8 HIKE BERNARDU’S PATH

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For those who love the outdoors and trekking, in the Bosa area you will find yourself immersed in unspoiled nature among beautiful coves, Mediterranean scrub and species living under protection. It’s a tour that starts from Alghero, and after about 40 minutes by car (included) you will arrive at the starting point of the Bernardu Trail, which walks the route traced by shepherds and animals. What to do in Sardinia will surely find an answer on this wonderful day among wild, natural landscapes accompanied by snorkeling routes (weather permitting) and delights of typical Sardinian products. The unique panorama of Alghero and Capo Caccia in the distance.

  • Cost from: €80.00 per person (5 hours) – March to May and October to December
  • What’s included: Transportation, Multilingual guide, tasting of typical Sardinian products


Book now
this excursion and experience the magnificent nature of Sardinia

Book Hike Bernardu's Path

#9 WILD BEACHES & SNORKELING TOUR

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Going to the beach on vacation but not fully experiencing it, this is one of the common problems. We know very well how to make you experience one of the most exciting excursions and thus have a clear idea of what to do in Sardinia. On this wonderful tour you will take snorkeling routes (weather dependent) together with the environmental guide who specializes in marine biology, exploring and then learning about the marine environment among fish, starfish, plants and many other species. Definitely high on the list of things to do in Sardinia during one’s vacation.

  • Cost from: €80.00 per person (7 hours) – June to September
  • What’s included: Transportation, multilingual guide and marine biologist, light lunch at the beach

What are you waiting for, take a look at the details and book this Sardinia excursion.

Book Wild Beaches & Snorkeling Tour

#10 CYCLING IN A NATURAL OASIS

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Activities, flora, fauna, scents and viewpoints, these are the main reasons to rent a bicycle and ride inside the Prigionette Nature Oasis near Alghero. We recommend that you call at least 24 hours and at the entrance you will have a series of nature trails to follow by bike but also on foot or by electric vehicles. All trails vary in length and difficulty with the possibility of spotting deer, donkeys and wild horses, as well as birdwatching for griffon vultures and other species of important wildlife value. Are you a family? Wonderful, there is a picnic area at your disposal and the availability of children’s play area. It’s definitely a must-see attraction in Sardinia, ready to get active?

  • Entrance fee: € 4.00 per person, reduction for younger children, open year-round (weather dependent)
  • What’s included: Entrance ticket to the natural oasis Le Prigionette

What are you waiting for, take a look at the details and visit this beautiful location

Details Natural Oasis Le Prigionette

Lago e spiaggia | grotte di nettuno Alghero con Dranexperience.com

Caves of Neptune Alghero: What to Know

Welcome to the Antro, the Cave where Neptune or Poseidon, god of the sea, has always taken refuge.

The Caves of Neptune in Alghero are absolutely a MUST to see and admire if you plan to spend your vacation in the area. Located 24 km from the beautiful city of Alghero (check out our post about the Red Coral) the cave is a huge karst cavity formed about 2.5 million years ago and named after the god of the sea, Neptune. Every year it is visited by about 150 thousand people and is by far the most important economic income in terms of tourism in Alghero. What is there to know? Read the post carefully, with Dranexperience.com you will be prepared for your visit.

HOW NEPTUNE’S CAVE WAS FORMED

We begin in the best way possible by analyzing its geological history, that is, when and how Alghero’s Neptune Cave was formed. At the natural level, the caves are located within the Capo Caccia promontory characterized by limestone rocks (with calcium carbonate). About 2.5 million years ago, a fairly recent geological time, a long, slow process began in which water from rainfall, and probable rivers on the surface, began to dissolve the components of the rocks that form today’s Capo Caccia, But in what way? The formation of the Alghero caves is caused by the aggression and thus by the erosion of limestone rocks by percolating waters. Going into detail, they seep from the surface to the subsurface through fractures in the rock itself by dissolving the calcium carbonate with which the rock is formed. This image gives the idea.

This chemical process initially creates vertical channels downward, but the channels also widen horizontally due to the collapses that occur when the support of the already eroded parts of rock is lost. The water then continues to move, erode and completely enlarge the cave not only through the chemical process just mentioned but also through a mechanical process in which the power of the water and the debris it carries erodes the rock even more.

At this point as erosion proceeds, I remind you that we are talking on the order of thousands and millions of years, the cavities increase in size until they join neighboring cavities creating both horizontal and vertical development. Not only that, the caves have real “halls,” with underground lakes, small beaches, fascinating concretions hanging from the ceiling of the caves called stalactites and concretions rising from the floor called stalagmites.

The last two just mentioned, at the tourist level, create fascination and curiosity during the visit. Analyzing them scientifically, we can say that a stalactite inside the Neptune Caves of Alghero is formed as a result of the continuous and prolonged deposits of minerals (especially calcium bicarbonate) from percolating waters in the cave, which subsequently settles forming the stalactite. Its formation takes a very long time, on the order of even thousands of years. Stalagmites, on the other hand, develop on the floor of the cave where the drop falls off the ceiling. Finally, the columns form by downward extension of the stalactites and upward growth of the stalagmites until they join. Take a look at this image below.

THE DISCOVERY.

Even today it is not known with certainty who discovered the Grottoes of Neptune in Alghero but several sources also present in the municipal library claim that it was Ferrandino, un local fisherman in the late 1700s. Other sources claim it was that i Romans, who settled in Porto Conte around the 1st century AD, had already discovered this wonder of nature. Taking a look at the nearby Green Cave, we can certainly count the latter hypothesis since remains of civilizations dating back to ancient times have been found. One thing is certain, the cave is the Antro, or the place where Neptune, the god of the sea, has always taken refuge.

Initially and for about 150 years after its discovery, visits to Alghero’s Neptune Caves were entrusted to a local committee that organized summer events with a mode of reaching the caves exclusively by sea. It would leave from the port of Alghero in small boats and around midnight, with the journey to the caves taking several hours (as opposed to the 40 minutes by boat that it takes now) and this was seen as an event full of fascination and excitement. Arriving more or less at dawn, the sailors would first enter the cave to place hundreds of candles at strategic points in order to illuminate the cave. In fact, many parts of black rock can currently be seen, a discoloration caused by the candles that were placed many years ago to illuminate the cave. Finally, the presence of a small boat inside the cave allowed visitors to be ferried to the internal lake until they reached a small beach where, on the occasion of some special events, it was allowed to dance in the presence of an orchestra

A particularly important date is 1954, when the Escala del Cabirol (roe deer staircase in Catalan) opened, a full 400 meters long on the spectacular and incredibly sheer 119-meter-high wall. This is the time when Neptune’s Cave became a real tourist attraction since it could also be visited by a land route starting from the end of Capo Caccia and descending to sea level 0, the opening point of Neptune’s Caves. In 1999 However, the big breakthrough: the geonaturalistic importance of the area where the cave is present was sealed with the birth of the Porto Conte Regional Natural Park, an exceptional heritage of biodiversity to which in the 2002 was added the Marine Protected Area of Capo Caccia and Isola Piana For the protection of Mediterranean species.

THE VISIT TO THE CAVE OF NEPTUNE

Neptune’s caves, as anticipated, are accessible by sea with a journey of about 30 minutes from Alghero or by taking a scenic flight of 654 steps from the ticket office located at Capo Caccia. The moment you arrive at the cave entrance there will be a guide waiting for you to begin the guided tour (included in the price). The first room in front of you is the one that houses Lake La Marmora, with clear salt water about 9 meters deep and 90 meters long, and because of these measurements it is considered one of the largest salt lakes in Europe. Why is it salty? Because it is connected to the sea by an underground tunnel that passes under the cave entrance.

Old Town & History tour

Take a break and check out our tour of Alghero

It is easy to notice the spectacular and impressive stalagmite concretion rising from the lake: this is the stoup. This stalagmite is characterized by dripping and also has several small pools on its top where little fresh water collects, a valuable source of watering for the various species of birds that nest in the marine protected area.

Next you pass through the Hall of Ruins and again the Palace Hall, it is here that the nature and enchantment of this site will leave you speechless. The lake’s clear waters reflect the spectacular columns that rise nine meters to the ceiling. The large stalagmite formation called the Christmas Tree also stands out on the bottom of the lake, while Lake La Marmora ends with a small sandy beach called the Pebble Beach; in fact, at one time there were small pebbles that have now disappeared perhaps due to erosion.

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After the palace, we move on to the Smith Hall with the Great Organ at its center, the largest and most spectacular column in the cave with castings resembling precisely the pipes of an organ. Imprinted in the Great Organ is a plaque commemorating Victor Emmanuel’s visit.

We continue the visit by reaching the Dome, a rather unusual stalagmite formation given the perfectly smooth walls, which joins the ceiling, stimulating the visitor’s imagination as he or she remembers it as a cathedral dome. A natural workshop among reliefs, lacework, and carvings that can be admired in the Hall of Trine and Lace until you reach the Music Tribune, a magnificent balcony that offers everyone a view of the cave from above. It was here that the orchestra played while people danced on the beach below.

WEATHER FORECAST AND HOW TO GET THERE

The first thing to do if you want to visit Alghero’s Neptune’s Cave is to take a look at the weather forecast and figure out how to get there. The weather forecast is important because given the particular location of the cave’s access opening, the visit is only allowed if weather and sea conditions permit. To get to Neptune’s Cave and Capo Caccia you have only two options:

  1. By Sea: It leaves from the Port of Alghero or the dock of Cala Dragunara in Porto Conte. The excursion by sea is really scenic and offers a chance to observe a magnificent stretch of coastline, including beaches, cliffs and small caves. There are 2 different companies operating to transport passengers to the caves: The service of Caves and Navisarda Line, both active daily from April 1 to October 31 with a cost of € 15.00 for adults and €7.00 for children aged 5 to 10. Excluded within the ticket cost, however, is the ticket to visit Neptune’s caves.
  2. By Land: The first and easiest solution is to arrive at the cave ticket office, located at the Capo Caccia promontory, by car. The distance from Alghero is about 25 km, and again you will admire a coastal spectacle that will leave you breathless. After purchasing tickets you can walk up the 654 steps to the entrance of the caves. If you want to make a “sustainable” choice instead, rent a bicycle from Alghero and occupy the entire day exploring not only Neptune’s Caves, but both the coastal and inland paradise of the Porto Conte area.

More information regarding cost and booking in this link.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST AND HOW LONG DOES THE VISIT LAST

Neptune’s Cave is open all year round and every day except Christmas and some other days. Guided tours usually start every hour and last 30 minutes, in case you want to visit the cave by land our advice is to report to the ticket office at least 40 minutes before the scheduled tour time.

The entrance fee costs €14. 00 for adults and €10.00 for the over-65s and children aged 7 to 14.

NEPTUNE CAVE TRIVIA

  1. Since their discovery, the cave has been visited by famous people such as kings, princes and princesses, Italian and foreign scholars. These included Charles Albert Prince of Carignano, future King of Sardinia, who visited them three times, his son Victor Emmanuel, future King of Italy. But also the scholar Alberto La Marmora (he named the lake after him), British Capt. William Henry Smith (he named the Smith Room after him) who was the first to make a plan of the cave, and an English traveler named John Warre Tyndale, who told her in his The Island of Sardinia.
  2. The part usable by visitors is only 250 meters, in fact the Neptune Caves of Alghero are characterized by numerous tunnels, caverns and underground lakes (example the semi-lunar lake about 50 meters deep) that only speleologists can visit, admire and study for scientific purposes.
  3. At one time the cave was the perfect habitat for the Monk Seal. Unfortunately, it has not been present in these places since the early 1900s, probably due to the continuous hunting activities of the late 1800s.
  4. In 1978 Neptune’s Cave was the set of the film The Island of Fish Men, inspired by the fanciful tales of Jules Verne.
  5. Just think that 1 cubic centimeter of stalagmite is formed in about 200 years, while 1 cubic centimeter of stalactite takes 100 years to form. How hard did Mother Nature work to create a geological paradise like Neptune’s Caves?

If you are also interested in Alghero and red coral, we have a perfect tour for you: Costs and availability in this link.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Inside the cave it is forbidden to: use flash, touch or lean on all karst formations, smoke and abandon any kind of waste. We also recommend that you put on a pair of comfortable shoes since many areas are slippery, carry at least 1.5 liters of water per person especially if you plan to visit by land.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

The Caves of Neptune in Alghero are positioned in a luxury location from the perspective of nature. Nearby you can find beaches, coves, natural oases, lakes and more. You can also visit Alghero’s attractions independently thanks to the excellent tailor-made itinerary service offered by Travel Planner Family. The team can create a detailed itinerary for you on what to see, what to do and where to eat in the area based on your needs and requirements.
Visit thi website
for more information about this.

If you would like to visit the Alghero area with a local guide, all you have to do is contact us or visit our special section regarding the guided excursions in Alghero. We are at your disposal to make your vacation memorable.

Polipi di corallo rosso | Alghero paese del corallo rosso con Dranexperience.com

Alghero: The land of red coral

Corallium Rubrum (Mediterranean Red Coral) is an integral part of the identity , history and nature of Alghero.

Legends, tales and mysteries link the Red Coral, long mistaken for a vegetable, to the Catalan town of Alghero but what exactly do we know about the history, biology and market of this animal species? Find out together with Dranexperience.com.

THE STORY

In ancient tradition, coral was connected to blood; imagine that in Greek mythology the gorgon monster Medusa petrified plants with her gaze, turning them into corals. Greeks and Romans used Coral in pharmacopoeia while the Celts adorned horse bridles with coral. In classical times, slowly, coral is also seen as an ornamental work, and fishing, along with its processing, were practiced throughout the Mediterranean. Due to its impact on each country’s economy, the market was controlled by local authorities who issued permits for its fishing and sale upon payment of taxes. The supply chain was simple: The wealthy entered into contracts with boat owners who in turn relied on the corallers, the real players in the fishing business. Then the role of artisans, that is, the masters who transformed a raw product into high-value material, was crucial.

Going into detail regarding the connection between red coral and Alghero, one has to take a leap back to the Middle Ages when the powerful Genoese Doria family, which owned a great deal of land in Sardinia, collected huge tributes from the coral market. The situation on the island changed from about 1320, when the crown of Aragon came into possession of most of Sardinia, changing the balance of the political and economic system in their favor. However, the west coast still remained under Genoese control, at least from the point of view of the coral market.

In 1354, the crown of Aragon conquered Alghero, imposing on them the right to fish between Capo Mannu and Asinara. Thus began the long history that links Alghero to red coral.

AT THE SCIENTIFIC LEVEL

Corallium Rubrum (scientific name for Mediterranean Red Coral) is an animal species belonging to the Phylum Cnidarians and more specifically to the class Anthozoa. Its main characteristic lies in the fact that it creates colonies equipped with a calcareous skeleton and composed mainly of Calcium Carbonate. The one who creates the skeleton (it is nothing but the “poop” of the animal) is the tiny octopus, the living unit of the Red Coral colony. However, one must distinguish the word “Corals” from “Coral,” since the former refers to Anthozoans capable of creating colonies consisting of thousands of reef-forming polyps, currently found only in tropical seas. Instead, the word Coral refers to the organism that is unable to form barriers, such as our Corallium Rubrum typical of the Mediterranean Sea.

DISTRIBUTION

Speaking of the distribution of Red Coral, it can be said that it is well present throughout the Mediterranean as far as the African coasts, from the Cape Verde Islands to Senegal to the Canary Islands, in any case, the most abundant quantities are recorded in Sardinia (From Alghero to Oristano) and Corsica. They can be found from 10 meters up to 200 meters deep, and in shallow areas their habitat is mostly within caves and overhangs, areas however with little lighting and lots of hydrodynamics, these are the key factors that determine their survival.

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REPRODUCTION

Some knowledge about their reproduction, which occurs sexually, with separate sexes at the level of polyps. After emission from the male polyp, the sperm navigate in search of the female polyp according to an as yet unknown mechanism of attraction until they find and fertilize it. The young planula larvae develop in the first 20-30 days before emerging into the open sea. Thanks to the cilia with which the planula is equipped, it looks for a place to settle in order to develop into a new colony. (I remind you that all polyps are bound, at the base and to each other, by common tissue). One of the reasons why Corallium Rubrum, in the form of an ornamental object, is expensive is also due to the fact that its growth happens very slowly, 1 to 3 cm every 5 years (think that in the Portofino area the growth has been attested to be 1 cm every 15 years).

More information about biology in this link.

NUTRITION AND BREATHING

Red Coral is considered a suspensivore, in particular it feeds mainly on small planktonic organisms (shrimps, plankton) and is also capable of absorbing dissolved organic matter. Capture is facilitated by the presence of mucus lining the tentacles: after contact, the tentacles retract, bringing the material into the cavity for digestion. Not possessing an anal opening, all unassimilated substances and waste products are excreted through the one opening that also serves as a mouth, resulting in the slow formation of the skeleton that will later be the raw material taken by corallarians. Respiration is by direct exchange with water of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the nervous system is simple, consisting of a network of nerve cells, and lacking specialized sense cells.

THE LINK WITH ALGHERO

Walking through the historic center of Alghero, one breathes an air of history, tradition and art. Prominent among it all is red gold, so called locally the Red Coral (Corallium Rubrum), also found in the official coat of arms of Alghero, granted by King Peter IV in 1355, and it is no coincidence that Alghero is also called “The Coral Riviera.” Coral is harvested only by licensed fishermen (exactly 12) and is still processed by the skilled hands of artisans, who turn it into unique and timeless jewelry. Coral fishing was traditionally done using techniques that were devastating to the ecosystem, but recently and after years of work, a national red coral management plan. The Plan regulates the initial stages of a production chain, the artisanal processing of coral, so that there is a real and concrete protection of the raw material that for centuries has been an integral part of the economic fabric of the Torrese territory and, above all, of its history, tradition and identity.

Each year fishing takes place between May and October, and each fisherman may harvest no more than 2.5 kilograms of coral, through the use of an axe and at a depth of no less than 50 meters. Therefore, the use of underwater robots is prohibited.

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THE TRUE VALUE OF ALGHERO CORAL

Over the centuries, the working of Alghero’s red coral has become more and more precise, presenting real works of art connected especially with local art and tradition. One example out of all is the inclusion of works made with coral in Sardinian clothing, jewelry, and gold buttons. Coral is worked primarily by the technique of engraving, which allows branches to be changed, using cuts, filings, abrasions, and sawdust. 

Alghero is also home to the Coral School, which makes it clear that its craftsmanship has maintained a very high level over time. At the market price level, the same varies depending on the size and color (lighter or darker depending on the depth in which it was taken). To complete a necklace for example, it sometimes takes years of work to find mostly corals of the same color, which is why a necklace of pure coral can cost up to 30 thousand euros.

THE CORALLIUM RUBRUM BRAND IN ALGHERO

The Corallium Rubrum brand was born in Alghero in October 2015, uniting artisans, traders, institutions such as the Porto Conte Park and representatives of trade associations. Thus, guidelines have been created to protect and enhance the red coral of Alghero, from the traders to the artisans via the corallarians who are the true creators and those who “risk” their lives at the bottom of the sea. The store, in order to obtain a license to use the trademark undergoes rigorous and periodic inspections, committing above all not to market products made from imitations of Corallium Rubrum in their establishments. Currently, there are about 20 companies with the brand name, and this only better directs customers who want to buy a product ti high quality and that is made only from Corallium Rubrum, as tradition dictates. The mark is a true certificate of competence and professionalism on the part of the workshop and the artisan himself. How to recognize the brand? Nature, Identity and History. The mark features branches of red coral (Nature), the A for Alghero (Identity) and the narrow streets of Alghero’s historic center (History) and the place where most of the stores are located. Happy vacations in Alghero.