The magical solitude of the Gallura lighthouses: between untouched landscapes and hidden stories.
Stone towers, square white buildings or small coloured lanterns, these are the lighthouses of Northern Sardinia with one thing in common: they are solitary and immersed in unique landscapes where nature dominates undisturbed. Like the Capo Testa lighthouse, which watches over the granite ridges of the Valle della Luna or the one at Punta Palau, which illuminates the transparent waters of a small beach surrounded by Mediterranean maquis, or then again the lighthouses of the La Maddalena Archipelago, among forgotten wrecks, sea birds and immaculately clean seabeds.
Our journey to discover these fascinating guardians of the sea is about to begin. From the Gulf of Asinara to Capo Ferro, here’s where to see the most beautiful lighthouses in Northern Sardinia.
The lighthouses of the Golfo dell’Asinara
Scattered along deserted white beaches in the westernmost part of the island and hidden amidst solitary coves to the east, the Gulf of Asinara is the name of the long coastal arc stretching along the north-west of Sardinia. The lighthouses that guard the Gulf are located in its westernmost part, between the island of Asinara and the town of Porto Torres.
If the light house at Porto Torres helps ships to reach the most important commercial seaport in Northern Sardinia, the Cala Reale lighthouse appears in the middle of the sea in front of the only inhabited centre on Asinara, from which the lighthouse takes its name. The village of Cala Reale used to host the Savoy Royal family during their frequent trips to this corner of Sardinia and became famous for the presence of a Lazzaretto, or quarantine station established by the Piedmontese in 1885 to house crews affected by infectious diseases who landed on the island.
Also on the “island of the white donkeys” it is possible to admire the Punta Scorno lighthouse on its northernmost coast. From the top of a rocky hill, this guardian of the sea illuminates the thousand shades of blue of what is the Asinara Marine Protected Reserve.
The light house at Capo Testa
Heading towards the east coast of Gallura you will find the Capo Testa lighthouse in Santa Teresa Gallura. To reach it, you have to take a scenic tourist route in front of the bay of Santa Reparata until you reach the Capo Testa peninsula. A paradise for trekking and diving, this area is known for its particular natural beauty which has made it a Site of Community Importance (SIC) and a Protected Marine Reserve. It is no coincidence that hippies chose it as a natural home in the 1970s and even today there is a small undisturbed community living in the Valley of the Moon, on the western side of the peninsula.
The lighthouse and the nearby navigation lights are part of the most popular attractions of Santa Teresa Gallura, a lively and colourful town with a breathtaking view: on the left the sea breaks on the granite cliffs that protect Cala Francese, on the right high rocks overlooking the sea support the square white lighthouse of Capo Testa. Behind them Corsica seems very close.
The moonlike landscapes of this area can be reached in just ten minutes by car from the Valle dell’Erica Thalasso & Spa Resort.
The lighthouses at Palau
There are numerous lighthouses surrounding the Capo d’Orso Hotel, Residence Il Mirto and Park Hotel Cala di Lepre between the lush green of the Palau coast and the Caribbean waters of the La Maddalena Archipelago.
Staying first on the mainland and therefore in the town of Palau, one of these solitary guardians overlooks each of the three outcrops. Starting from the west, the lighthouse of Punta Sardegna is built on a rocky promontory and perfectly divides the town of Palau from the romantic village of Porto Rafael. This rectangular-shaped building is now home to the Osservatorio sulle Coste e sull’Ambiente Naturale Sottomarino (Coastal and Underwater Natural Environment Observatory – Oceans), an organisation committed to the protection of the marine and coastal heritage of the Straits of Bonifacio. Once here, a swim in the crystalline waters of the small Cala Trana is highly recommended, along with a visit to the 19th century artillery battery of Monte Altura.
A little further east the Punta Palau lighthouse is the guardian of a small beach with golden sand. This suggestive beach and its lighthouse can be reached on foot by walking along the coast starting from the beach at Palau Vecchio near the port. The third and last lighthouse of the village is more isolated, located on a small rocky peninsula under the majestic Roccia dell’Orso, or Bear Rock. The Capo d’Orso lighthouse can be admired from aboard the antique sailing ship Pulcinella on one of Delphina’s organized boat excursions.
The lighthouses of La Maddalena Archipelago and Arzachena
Let’s start with the northernmost lighthouse in Sardinia: the Razzoli. Along with Mother Nature, this is the most distinguished feature of the island and the oldest lighthouse in Sardinia! Built in 1843, it still has the original kitchens and floors. Right in front of the building’s north facade stands an ancient 12-metre high tower in natural stone which is now the site of the lantern and therefore the island’s true light source.
Still among the crystal clear waters that are home to the archipelago of wonders, two other lighthouses emerge. One is the Punta Filetto lighthouse on Santa Maria, which together with La Maddalena is the only other inhabited island. The other is the I Corcelli lighthouse, a black and red lantern resting on one of the islets that dot the waters of the island of Santa Maria and known as I Barrettini.
In the eastern part, the Isolotti Monaci lighthouse. illuminates the Secche dei Monaci e delle Bisce from the top of the arid “Sperduti di Caprera” while a little further east two other lighthouses guard the Strait of Bisce with its wrecks dating back to Roman times: one is on the Isola delle Bisce, from which it takes its name, the other at the end of Capo Ferro where the lantern points North East. Still in Capo Ferro, near Arzachena where the Cala di Falco Resort in Cannigione is located, another splendid guardian illuminates the golden cliffs of the Costa Smeralda: the Capo Ferro lighthouse. Thanks to the setting that surrounds it, this striking red and white tower acquires a particular charm during the hours of sunset, when the sun’s rays fill the blue of the sky and the sea with golden shades.
Article updated the: 29/09/2023