16 Intriguing & Beautiful Caves in Sardinia + Map Locations
Sardinia is a beautiful island that has something for everyone. However, Sardinia is best known for its fabulous Caribbean-like sandy beaches and it’s many stunning caves.
Sardinia has 16 deep, cavernous caves that are open to the public, located in different parts of the island. Mostly they are coastal caves that can be accessed by sea, or inland caves that are deep underground. The majority are located in the east or the south western part of the island. Sardinia has many more caves, but entry is prohibited for various reasons.
Before I get stuck into the toplist of caves I need to cover some other information you should know before visiting the caves.
When you visit a cave you may need to walk through areas with rocks and stones. Some caves even have areas that are slippery. Hence, in general, to explore any of the coastal and inland caves you’ll need a good pair of walking shoes. Rocky Boots are good bet because they make quality military and outdoor shoes with excellent grip on the sole, plus they make international deliveries.
Additionally you will need a guide because exploring caves can be dangerous. In fact it is prohibited for you to explore caves on your own. The entry tickets with a guided tour will not cost more than €12, unless you travel by boat. Most caves have cheaper rates especially for kids.
Caves in Sardinia – Map Locations
For your convenience, here is a map of the cave locations according to the top list. They are ordered from 1 in the top right, and increase clockwise until number 17.
- Grotta di Gana ‘e Gortoe
- Grotta di Ispinigoli
- Grotta del Bue Marino*
- Corbeddu Cave
- Grotta del Miracolo
- Grotta del Fico
- Grotte Domus de Janas Seulo
- Grotta Is Janas
- Grotta Su Marmuri
- Grotte Is Zuddas
- Grotta di Santa Barbara
- Grotta San Giovanni
- Grotta Azzurra
- Grotta di Su Mannau
- Neptune’s Grotto
- Grotta dei Vasi Rotti**
- Grotta di San Michele
*By boat you can get a tour to Grotte del Bue Marino and Cala Luna beach.
Now, let us get stuck into the top list.
1. Grotta del Bue Marino
Location: Drogali here on Google Maps
Grotta del Bue Marino in Dorgali, is definitely one of the best caves you can visit. In fact it is one of the most well-known caves in Sardinia and for good reason. This cave is an impressive at 70 km long! However there is only one coastal entryway into the cave which you can access by boat.
Since the cave is so large, you can only realistically visit a small part of the cave system. However, even so, the cave is spectacular in every way. The large entrance is magnificent in and of itself with beautiful turquoise water surrounding it. Then as you venture inside, you slowly get to see amazing rock formations that are also impressively large. To add to its repertoire are some fascinating Neolithic wall carvings.
You can get a boat tour to Grotta del Bue Marino from several different towns nearby. They are in Arbatax, Cala Gonone, La Caletta, Orosei, and Santa Maria Navarrese.
However, you may want to make a day out of this to enjoy the beauty of the coastal area as much as you can. In this case, you may want to consider a day tour that takes you to Cala Luna, Cala Mariolu, Gotte del Bue Marino and Cala Goloritzè. With this boat tour you will experience a much wider area and some stunning scenic views along the coast.
This is brilliant because you can also enjoy some time at several beautiful beaches and get to swim in the crystal clear light blue waters. Plus you can also see the shallow caves in Cala Luna. The image right at the very top of this article shows the Cala Luna cave from the inside out. In the image below, you can see them from a different angle. They are where the sandy part starts to tapers off to the centre right in the image.
Moreover there aren’t just caves to explore in these parts. Here are some other things to do in the nearby town of Cala Gonone.
2. Neptune’s Grotto
Location: here on Google Maps
Another one of the well-known caves in Sardinia is Neptune’s Grotto. It is located in near Alghero in the Capo Caccia cliffs area, and a definite must see if you are close by. This is also a long cave, but not as long as Gotta del Bue Marino’s at 4km long. You will only get to see a spectacular several hundred meters of it by guided tour.
Similarly to Gotta del Bue Marino this cave has some amazing rock formations. One of its highlights is the La Marmore Lake one of the largest saltwater basins in Europe. It is full of stalactites and stalagmites formed over centuries. One stalactite and stalagmite in particular joined together and is over 2 meters high.
To get to Neptune’s Grotto you have a choice of going by boat or on foot. Opting to go by boat is the more convenient way to get there, but of course it is more expensive. It is at least €15 more expensive for adults, depending on which company you use. They depart from Alghero or Porto Conte.
Alternatively you will need to walk all the way down the 110 meter high cliffs of Capo Caccio. Here is what that looks like:
It is a long way down, but you are rewarded with beautiful views and you get to see the cave. The problem is the effort it takes to go back up! Unless you are the sporty type and do not mind the exercise.
In The Area – Grotta dei Vasi Rotti
One other tip – another cave you might consider seeing while you are in the area is Grotta delle Brocche Rotte. This cave is also called Grotta dei Vasi Rotti. It is a shallow cave with not much depth which you can access by hiking up a hill. I’m suggesting this cave because the view from here is amazing, here it is for you to judge –
3. Grotta di Ispinigoli
Another very popular cave is Grotta di Ispinigoli, but unlike the others above, this cave is an inland cave. Similarly to the others, it is also a highly rated and fascinating cave with massive large scale mineral formations.
One formation in particular is a column that formed when a stalactite and stalagmite joined the vault of the cave to the floor. It is around 38 meters tall and featured in the image above.
4. Grotta su Marmuri
Location: Ulassai here on Google Maps
The name of these caves ‘su Marmuri’ comes from the natural stone inside the cave which is like marble. The cave is around 850 meters wide, but that is not all. One thing that makes it one of the more impressive caves in Sardinia is the height. One chamber is an impressive 70 meters high.
This cave is made up of large rooms or chambers, each one unique and different from one another. There is the Great Hall, Sala del Cactus (Cactus Hall), The Hall of Bats with actual bats, the Organ Room, Galleria delle Vachette and the Sala Terminale (Terminal Hall). There is one of the chambers with small lakes.
Hence between the fantastic rock formations, the size of the cave, the bats and the lakes it makes a great cave experience.
5 Grotta di su Mannau
Location: Fluminimaggiore here on Google maps
Another large and impressive inland cave in Sardinia, Grotta di su Mannau is 8km long. During a tour you will get to see 500 meters of this amazing cave. The highest part of which is in the Ribaldone room which is 150 meters high.
Grotta di su Mannau has two main sides to it which were both carved out by different rivers. The left side is from the River Placido and the right side is from the River Rapido.
Each side is different. The left side has tunnels and chambers or rooms, on the other hand, the right side scales upwards. The cave also has a pathway that was made back in the day by the Romans. This pathway leads to the Temple of Antas, you can have a look at the temples on TripAdvisor.
Since these caves were formed by the rivers you will see some lovely waterfalls inside. The water falls into the caves and forms lakes in various parts with crystal clear water. In some parts you can also spot unique species of shrimp. You have to look carefully to spots them because they are transparent.
6. Grotta del Fico
Location: Coast of Baunei here on Google Maps
Grotta del Fico cave is a coastal cave. The only way to get to it is to travel by boat from one of the nearby areas. There are boats that leave from; Santa Maria Navarrese, Arbatax, Cala Gonone, Orosei and La Caletta.
Unlike Grotta del Bue Marino, this cave is 10 meters above sea level. Hence you have to scale up a wooden staircase shored up against the cliff.
This is a lovely cave, however there are other caves in the area. Which means that I could only pick one cave to see, I would pick Grotta del Bue Marino. That is to say unless there is some amazing tour that combines this cave with something else. The combined Grotta del Bue Marino and Cala Luna is pretty good though.
7. Grotte Is Zuddas
Location: Santadi here on Google Maps
Another amazing inland cave, but this time it is close to Sardinia’s capital city – Cagliari. It has everything you would expect to see from any cave, plus a nice waterfall which is always nice.
Grotte Is Zuddas is interesting because it has some incredibly delicate formations like the ones in the image.
8. Grotta di Santa Barbara
Location: Iglesias here on Google Maps
This is one cave discovered accidentally in a completely unexpected place. Construction workers were digging to create a tunnel inside the San Giovanni mine. To their surprise, the workers stumbled upon this cave. Grotta di Santa Barbara is in the middle of a mountain.
The formations in this cave are made of the predominant stone in Sardinia – limestone. However there is also yellow dolomite. It is one of the oldest caves in Italy and is well into the mountain which is a perfect little adventure. To see it you will need to ride a mining train, go up 36 meters up with a lift and after that walk up a spiral staircase.
9. Grotta San Giovanni
Location: Domusnovas here on Google Maps
The San Giovanni cave has the longest road that you can travel through by carriage out of all the caves in the world. There are only 3 caves like this worldwide. The San Giovanni cave has a long 850 meters carriageway. Out of all the caves in Sardinia and Italy as a whole, it is the only cave with a carriageway.
This cave was used by people from the Noelithic and Byzantine periods. We know this because they left earthenware and artifacts behind in the cave.
10. Grotta Is Janas
Location: Sadali here on Google Maps
Grotta Is Janas is not the largest cave you will see out of all the caves in Sardinia. However this inland cave is in a beautiful mountain setting in the town of Ogliastra. It is surrounded by natural forest and is quite a nice cave with interesting rock formations.
Additionally inside the cave you will get to see a nice waterfall that creates a small lake. Another highlight is the colony of bats that you will see inside the cave.
11. Grotte Domus de Janas
Location: Seulo here on Google Maps
The Grotte Domus de Janas is in a lovely location in the middle of the Oak tree forest of Addoli. However you can get to this cave by car and follow the signs once you arrive to find the cave. This cave is fairly long at around 300 meters for tourists to explore.
The main area of this cave is a long chamber that varies between 7 – 12 meters in width. The vault in the chamber is around 6 – 7 meters in height. Not the largest of caves in Sardinia, but it is quite striking with all sorts of rock formations.
12. Grotta del Miracolo
Location: Baunei here on Google Maps
Gotta del Miracolo has many stalactites and stalagmites. Some of them have defied gravity by developing in different directions and forming all sorts of bizarre shapes. Several of them have formed columns that stretch from the floor of the cave to the vault.
The largest chamber in this cave is 5-6 meters high. Not one of the most impressive caves in Sardinia, but it is beautiful. On tour you will get to see over 200 meters of this cave.
13. Corbeddu Cave
Location: Oliena here on Google Maps
In this cave the oldest human remains were found in Sardinia. It is 130 meters long and split into 3 rooms and corridors that connect them. The cave is named after Giovanni Corbeddu Salis, a famous outlaw that hid in the cave.
14. Grotta Azzurra
Location: Masua here on Google Maps
This grotto is only around 30 meters long, hence not one of the larger caves. However the scenery makes up for it. Grotta Azzurra translates to Blue Grotto in English. It is a perfect name for this grotto because it is surrounded by beautiful turquoise sea. It is not just the sea that is lovely here, but the whole area around this grotto is beautifully flanked by large cliffs.
You will get to enjoy this grotto and the scenery by boat since this is a coastal cave. You will not get a tour of this cave so you will only need to pay for the boat from Masua beach.
15. Grotta di San Michele
Location: Vicolo here on Google Maps
This cave is quite small, but there are no other caves in this area. Hence it is still nice to see once you are there. It is an interesting cave that was inhabited by ancient people back in the day. They used it as a place of worship and a burial area. In fact ancient artifacts found here are now in the National Museum of Sanna in Sassari.
16. Grotta di Gana ‘e Gortoe
Location: Siniscola here on Google Maps
This cave is for brilliant for anyone that enjoys exploring. For this cave you have to go prepared. That means you should have good shoes and clothing, technical equipment, a professional guide and lighting.
Grotta di Gana ‘e Gortoe is a large cave, but the issue is accessibility. The entrance is a large cavity that leads to a gallery that is quite high. However the height of the chamber slowly diminishes until about 40 meters which leads to a hole in the rock.
This is the bit that is least accessible because you have to climb through the 5-6 meter hole to access the rest of the cave. You could potentially explore for an hour in this section because it is very long.
Additionally there is an underground lake called the water of Buda. No one has ever gone past the lake because no one wanted to risk getting lost. That is how large this cave is!
As you would expect the cave has rock formations, but they are quite bizarre and grow in all sorts of directions.
Deep Sea Caves
Apart from coastal and inland caves, Sardinia has marine, deep sea caves. However you can only access these by diving into the sea with scuba diving gear. Plus a scuba diving guide like the ones at Protec Sardinia.