Palau is a lively summer resort located on the northeastern coast of Sardinia. Besides being the main getaway for those who want to visit the beautiful region of Gallura, it is also the most important port of call to reach the La Maddalena archipelago.
On Ferryhopper, you'll find lots of useful information about Palau, its beaches, must-see places, and gastronomic delights. Read our travel tips and find out all about ferries departing from its port.
Picturesque balconies in the center of Palau
Vacation in Palau
If you are looking for a seaside destination that offers a dreamy coastline, unspoiled nature and good social life, Gallura and Palau might be the ideal choice.
Although the town is usually overlooked in the rush to board a ferry to La Maddalena, it is definitely worth a visit. During your stay in Palau, you can swim in Blue Flag beaches, visit monuments and archaeological sites, and take advantage of the proximity to the glitzy resorts of Costa Smeralda.
Therefore, a vacation in Palau means relaxing and discovering fun services and activities for young people as well as for families with children.
How to get to Palau
If you are already in Sardinia, you can reach Palau by car, train or ARST buses.
On the other hand, if you want to travel from the Italian peninsula to Sardinia by ferry, you should know that the closest port to Palau is Golfo Aranci. By taking the ferry from Savona or Livorno you will easily arrive at Golfo Aranci and then you will have to drive about 1 hour to the port of Palau.
Another option is to travel by ferry from Genoa or Civitavecchia to the port of Olbia, which is situated 40 km from Palau.
The active Punta Palau lighthouse
What to do in Palau
Palau is a destination offering a perfect mix of mountains, beaches, as well as cultural attractions of great importance.
You can start your vacation in Palau by taking a walk through the lively village and visiting the town museum or exploring millennia-old archaeological sites. Then move on to the promontory of Capo d'Orso, where the Roccia dell’Orso (bear rock) stands, and take lots of photos next to Palau's national monument!
If you love trekking, head to the Punta Don Diego area. Palau is also a favorite destination for surfing, sailing and diving enthusiasts.
And what about its proximity to the La Maddalena archipelago? From the port of Palau you can reach one of the most beautiful places in Italy in no time!
Beaches in Palau
Palau boasts nearly 25 km of coastline. From large and equipped to small and wilder beaches (some are even dog-friendly), its beautiful shoreline manages to please just about everyone.
Here are 8 beaches in Palau not to be missed:
- Porto Faro: located in the heart of Palau, this beach took its name from a characteristic white lighthouse overlooking La Maddalena archipelago. It is a small cove of fine sand, crystal clear and shallow waters, and you will find several services and parking in the area.
- Punta Nera: located a short distance from the town, it is famous for its beautiful pine forest. It has soft sand and clean waters, and is pet-friendly. You can access it on foot or through the 2 parking lots in the area. The beach is even equipped with umbrellas and showers for your 4-legged friends.
- La Galatea: located opposite the promontory of Porto Rafael, it is formed by small coves and surrounded by rocks (it is therefore highly recommended to wear special shoes). There is a bar and a campsite nearby, and it can be reached via a path accessible from the road.
- Cala Trana: enclosed between 2 large granite masses, it is located in the northernmost part of Sardinia and is one of the most striking beaches. It is 200 m long and has pink sand and clear waters. There are no facilities and it is suitable for those who love peace and snorkeling. You can reach it by boat or through a dirt path.
- Nelson: located in the quaint resort of Porto Rafael, it is a small, quiet bay perfect for those who are seeking relaxation. It is characterized by soft golden sand, shallow crystalline waters and green Mediterranean scrub. Especially recommended for families with children!
- Cala Inglese: located between Porto Rafael and Punta Sardegna, it is a beautiful beach surrounded by nature and cliffs. With emerald green waters and a sandy seabed, the beach is also sheltered from the wind. There are several services in the area: boat rentals, umbrellas, bars, restaurants, and houses for rent.
- Le Saline: a little more than 10 min. drive from the center of Palau, it is a unique beach characterized by very white sand. Saline is particularly popular among snorkeling, windsurfing and kitesurfing enthusiasts. Nearby you will find a campground, a Diving Center and a parking lot.
- La Sciumara: almost 500 m long, it is a very peaceful beach offering a breathtaking view of the La Maddalena archipelago. One half of the beach is free and the other is equipped, with wheelchair access as well. Nearby there is a parking lot and a kiosk for drinks and sandwiches. You can reach the beach either by car or on foot by following a path.
Crystal clear waters at the beach of La Sciumara, in Palau
Sightseeing in Palau
In addition to its beaches, Palau offers several cultural attractions. The natural and architectural heritage of the area is quite varied, so you will have the opportunity to visit very interesting places and learn more about the history of Gallura.
Here are some must-see attractions in Palau:
- The Baragge Viewpoint, from which to admire the archipelago of La Maddalena
- The Ethnographic Museum, which tells the story of ancient Gallura life
- The Talmone Artillery Battery, a coastal shelter from the 1700s
- The Li Mizzani Giants' Tomb, an important symbol of the Nuragic civilization
- The fortress of Capo d'Orso, built to guard the gulf of Arzachena and La Maddalena
- The fortress of Monte Altura, a fortified citadel built in 1887
- The Roccia dell’Orso, a wind-carved granite sculpture 120 m above sea level
The imposing Bear Rock overlooking Palau and its coast
Nightlife in Palau
Palau comes alive especially in the summer. Events and concerts are organized in the streets of the center, gathering many curious visitors from other parts of Gallura. Most clubs and bars in the area also have happy hours and host famous DJs.
If you’d rather enjoy a beautiful sunset by the sea with a delicious aperitif, Porto Pollo beach is among the most popular destinations.
Food in Palau
Even though it’s situated on the coast, Palau strongly preserves the culinary tradition of the hinterland. Cheeses, cured meats, spit-roasted meats, and soups are the must-haves of the local cuisine, but fresh fish and desserts will also not disappoint.
Here are some local delicacies not to be missed during your vacation in Palau:
- roasted suckling pig
- faa and laldu (broad beans and lard with wild fennel)
- Gallurese soup (bread and cheese inside a rich broth)
- lu Pan'a Fitti (made with leftover bread boiled in meat broth)
- Pecorino cheese
- acciuleddi (fried pasta passed first in honey)
Mouth watering cheese wheels of aged Sardinian pecorino
What to visit around Palau
The surroundings of Palau are rich in nature, history, beaches, and villages frozen in time. During your stay in the town we also recommend visiting:
- Porto Rafael: a charming small village founded in the 1960s by Raphael Neville, Count of Berlanga de Duero
- San Pantaleo: a small village set on a hill above the gorgeous Costa Smeralda and famous for its small square, bars and craft stores
- Arzachena: with its archaeological treasures and its warm and colorful historic center
Here are 4 useful tips for when you visit Palau:
- A day trip to La Maddalena is a great option if you do not have much time and do not wish to spend the night on the island.
- If you love water sports you should take advantage of the many sailing, surfing and kitesurfing schools in Palau. A fun time is guaranteed for young and old alike.
- Hop on board the famous Trenino Verde (little green train) to visit a section of Gallura! The route from Palau to the town of Tempio Pausania is 59 km long and will allow you to cross areas rich in vegetation.
- From June to September, the Night Market is celebrated in Palau, an evening jam packed with live entertainment, dance performances, food, and arts that lures many visitors every year.
Useful information about Palau
Despite its size, Palau offers various services to its visitors.
As far as accommodation goes, you can choose from hotels, vacation homes, apartments, and B&Bs. There are also 3 campsites near some of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
The port area is quite serviced, with bars, restaurants, parking lots, and mini markets. The town's 2 pharmacies and major banks are also nearby.
In Palau there are a few clinics, a Medical Guard and a veterinary clinic for all needs.
Important phone numbers for your stay in Palau
Here are some numbers that may prove useful during your vacation in the Sardinian town:
- Port of Palau: +390789708435
- Municipality of Palau: +390789707089
- Carabinieri: +390789709503
- Medical Guard: +390789709396
- Polyclinic: +390789708504
- Post Office: +390789708527
- European emergency number: 112
Transportation in Palau
Palau is a fairly small village. Its harbor is just a stone's throw from the old town and you can walk to most attractions. To reach the more remote beaches you can hop on the local bus or your car.
Tip: generally speaking, in Sardinia it is always best to move around with your own vehicle, especially if you wish to get away from the main cities. You can then decide to board your car on the ferry or rent one locally, so you can explore the beautiful locations of Gallura to the fullest.
Porto Rafael's famous little square with its bars
Port in Palau
Palau's marina is located right in the city center and is the main getaway to reach the La Maddalena archipelago.
The port area has some services such as boat rentals, restrooms and ticket offices. There are also bars and hotel facilities nearby.
Palau train station is 8 min. from the port and can be easily reached on foot.
Palau ferry: schedules and tickets
Ferries depart from the port of Palau for La Maddalena, a beautiful island northeast of Sardinia and off the well-known Costa Smeralda.
Connections to La Maddalena from the port of Palau run year-round and are operated by the companies Delcomar and Ensamar. The trips are very short, since they only last 15 min.
Ferries from Palau sail at 30 min. or 1 hr. intervals and travel throughout the day to the port of Cala Gavetta in La Maddalena.
Palau - La Maddalena tickets start at fares of €3.70, but prices vary depending on the season and time of day. Also, keep in mind that the La Maddalena Municipal Disembarkation Tax (€2.50) is added to the cost of the ticket.
On all Palau - La Maddalena ferries you can also board motor vehicles and travel with your pet by paying a small fee.
The marina of Palau
Where to book Palau ferry tickets online
At the moment it is not possible to book tickets from Palau to La Maddalena on Ferryhopper. In the meantime, we invite you to check out our Map of Ferries and find out all available ferry connections to beautiful Sardinia!