Visiting Neptune’s Grotto (Grotta di Nettuno) at Capo Caccia – Alghero, Sardinia
When we decided to visit Alghero, a stop at Neptune’s Grotto was definitely a must. While the cave opened officially in 1959, its orignas date back to the prehistoric era of dinosaurs. The cave is home to Lake Lamarmora which is one of the largest salt lakes in Europe measuring 100 meters long and 9 meters deep. The cave also enormous containing several rooms and a proper guided tour taking visitors throughout the public accessible space, identifying structures of giant stalactites and stalagmites, and history.
There are 660 stairs (known as “Escala del Cabirol” / Billy Goat Stairs) leading down from Cape Caccia to the entrance of the cave. There are two options when visiting – walking down the 660 steps which then also means going up the stairs at the end, or taking a boat that drops guests off at the entrance of the cave. Note that the cave itself does have stairs so there is a need to be able to handle some level of stair activity even when taking the boat. The boat did not appeal to us and we could use some of the physical challenge of all those stairs.
At the time of our visit, there were two things needed to enter Neptune’s Grotto. First was an entrance ticket at 14 euro a person that can be purchased in person or online. Second was a reservation for a time slot to visit that can be done in person or online. It is encouraged to book the reservation online since time slots do fill up and sell out. Since it is about a 40 minute drive from Alghero, you do not want to drive all the way there just to either have to wait for a time slot that is open or not be able to visit at all. It sounds like this system is not going away any time soon but everything is outlined on the website if the process changes.
It is easy to make this area a several hour or longer experience as there is lots to see at Cape Caccia. It was so darn hot out when we visited so we skipped these activities but I knew we would have done them if it wasn’t sweltering. I think the fall or spring would be great times for this.
The drive to Cape Caccia is gorgeous and definitely continued to validate why the scooter was a great option. We enjoyed the views for miles as the coastline met the sea. Parking is a bit tricky here if you have a car (another reason we loved the scooter) so just pay attention to parking signs and cues that you may have a bit of a walk.
You have to arrive at least 40 minutes before your scheduled tour time. This is important because the tour inside the cave starts at the time you reserved so you have to climb down into the cave by that time. The gate opens 30 minutes before the scheduled tour time so the extra 10 minutes gives you time to park, buy your ticket if you had not done so ahead of time, and check in. We reserved the 10AM tour and since we bought our tickets online, we had to check in and receive a physical ticket for the tour. At 930AM, the gates opened and a flood of people (there are 200 slots available for each hour so if your slot sells out, it is going to be crowded) started down the 660 stairs. We held back a bit to let the bulk of the crowd go before we started down the stairs as we knew going down would not take very long.
Thankfully the descent was not very scary as the stairs are concrete and secure – you cannot see through them and get an idea of just how high you are. The area is very beautiful so make sure to take time for pictures on the way down. And if you miss those pictures on the way down, do not worry – you have to go back up all these stairs anyway so you will get a second chance.
We made it into the cave and queued up for the tour. A guide takes the group through the cave into a very large room where the guide gives facts and stories about the caves through a microphone so the entire group can hear. It lasted about 30 minutes and was spoken both in Italian and English so everyone had the opportunity to learn and understand. The guide was super informative and on task considering there are probably 200 people that can be on each tour. Overall, we enjoyed our visit and would defintiely recommend when visiting Alghero!
Enjoy all the photos of Neptune’s Grotto!