Are you curious about one of the most beautiful places in Sardinia? This article will reveal what to do and see in Palau!
On the north-eastern coast of Sardinia, Palau is a pretty town that has grown from a small fishing village to one of the most popular tourist destinations in Gallura. Inhabited by just over 4000 souls, the municipality of Palau offers many places of attraction - both scenic and cultural - and a magnificent coastline with crystal-clear waters. Here are 5 unmissable things to do and see.
What to see in Palau
Palau is located right in front of the enchanting La Maddalena Archipelago. It is set in a natural inlet and enjoys a position sheltered from the strong winds, typical of the area. Over the centuries, the action of wind events and waves has carved a rugged and rocky coast. The fascinating natural scenery is rich in several beaches and coves surrounded by spectacular crystal clear waters. Presumably, the name Palau comes from the term parago used in ancient times by the fishermen to indicate a shelter from the strong winds that affect this coastal region.
The inland landscape is coloured by dense pine forests and a thick Mediterranean maquis, where wild broom, lavender, myrtle, rosemary and many more plants grow naturally. Alongside the lush nature, the landscape hosts spectacular granite sculptures modelled by Mother Nature over the centuries. In addition, there are several archaeological sites of great historical and cultural interest, testimony to the ancient roots of these places. Moreover, by reaching the heights of the hills, it is possible to behold landscapes of rare beauty. Finally, by a pleasant walk along the promenade in the old town, visitors can reach the central square where a suggestive market of handicraft creations is set up every summer evening. Then, along the Via Nazionale, visitors get to the touristic port from where they can easily reach the beautiful island of La Maddalena.
The Gulf of Palau offers local gastronomy rich in fish products enjoyed as a second course or as a condiment for first courses based on fresh handmade pasta. However, many typical dishes of Gallura are also based on meat. We recommend the famous Suppa Cuata (literally hidden soup), also known as Gallura Soup. It is one of the traditional island recipes based on meat broth (usually sheep or lamb), stale bread and pecorino cheese. If you are a dessert lover, you can not miss the unique flavour of puligioni dulci, a classic 'ravioli' (fresh pasta) stuffed with ricotta cheese and lemon zest and seasoned with a super sweet sauce of tomato. Moreover, the wines of the historical cellars of Gallura accompany all the tasty dishes typical of the place.
What to do in Palau
Besides the magnificent seaside resorts, Palau offers many ideas for leisure and entertainment. For trekking lovers, the surrounding landscape rich in trails lost in the Mediterranean vegetation is the perfect place for long walks surrounded by nature. Photography enthusiasts can also find many viewpoints to build the perfect shot, such as the Barrage viewpoint overlooking the islands of the La Maddalena Archipelago.
As for the nightlife, visitors will be spoilt for choice: aperitifs at sunset, lively evening on the beach, parties and live music will accompany the nightlife to every corner of this beautiful village in the North of Sardinia. Palau is also the setting for some of the most beautiful events in North Sardinia. These include the Festival Internazionale Isole che Parlano (Islands that Speak International Festival) in September every year. To stay up-to-date on this and other events, you can consult the programme of 'Salude & Trigu', a Sassari Chamber of Commerce initiative created to promote Northern Sardinia and its wonderful traditions.
So, if you are curious about our tips on what to see and do in Palau, here are our top 5!
5. The Tombs of the Giants
Sardinia is a land rich in ancient history. The remains on its territory testify to the passage of numerous populations and cultures. In the hinterland of Palau, there are several archaeological sites of great historical interest. Among the most important, we point out the so-called Tombs of the Giants, dating back to the Bronze Age and still partially shrouded in mystery. The most famous is Li Mizzani and Sajacciu, imposing funerary structures composed of monolithic stone blocks. Here is a fun fact: if observed from above, the site looks like the head of a bull, an animal worshipped by Sardinian civilizations in ancient times.
4. The Fortress of Monte Altura and the Talmone Artillery Battery
For an immersion in history, it is worth visiting the Fortress of Monte Altura. The XIX century military fortress offered a panoramic view of the entire surrounding area to allow the control and defence of the northern coast of Sardinia from external attacks. Given its architectural and historical value, the Fortress is often counted among the most beautiful fortresses in Europe. The peculiarity of this construction lies in the use of the principal material, the granite of the place, which makes the Fortress of Monte Altura fit perfectly into the landscape. The imposing granite building is located on the road that leads to the picturesque village of Porto Rafael, famous for its narrow streets built of Sardinian granite and for its chic style.
Still, for wild trekking lovers, it is worth reaching the remote Punta Don Diego on the extreme northern coast of the island to visit the Talmone Artillery Battery, perfectly camouflaged between granite rocks and Mediterranean scrub. The Talmone Battery is part of a defensive system built towards the end of the eighteenth century. This site represents a place of immense historical value, as it had the a fundamental role in the Unification of Italy and World Wars.
3. Roccia dell'Orso (Bear Rock)
Visiting Palau, it is inevitable to see the Bear Rock, the symbol depicted on the town’s coat of arms. The rock is a granite hill that stands over 100 meters above sea level. Shaped over time by atmospheric agents, the Roccia dell'Orso is famous for its particular shape reminiscent of the enormous mammal. Given its mammoth proportions and its peculiar shape, the rock was used as a natural reference point for sailors since ancient times. In addition to the famous rock, visitors are always amazed by the spectacular panoramic view looking at the nearby La Maddalena Archipelago.
2. Sailing sports
Palau is a paradise for those who want to practice sailing. To try something new, you can engage in sailing sports such as windsurf and kitesurf even if you are an amateur! In Palau, you will find many schools and specialized facilities to request personalized lessons from highly qualified instructors. In short, more than just a thing to do in Palau, an experience not to be missed!
1. The beaches
Palau's coastline stretches 24 km from the Gulf of Saline to the mouth of the River Liscia, offering some 20 sandy beaches and an equally considerable number of amazing coves and inlets. If you are wondering what to see next because Palau is too beautiful to settle for, here are some must-sees:
• The Sciumara (west of Palau) has a sandy and shallow seabed. Here, the contrast between the green Mediterranean maquis surrounding the beach and the blue crystalline waters is breathtaking. Also, it is possible to see the Island of La Maddalena in the distance.
• The peninsula of Isuledda (or Isola dei Gabbiani - Seagulls Island) is a sandy strip of 50 meters formed by the mouth of the river Liscia. Isuledda is a paradise for windsurfers and all other sailing sports. Moreover, it is a natural habitat for many marine mammals. The spectacular turquoise sea is divided between the two beaches of Arenaria and Porto Pollo.
• The most adventurous visitors can reach Cala di Trana with a trekking path of about 45 minutes. The route leads through spectacular rocks and dense bushes and reaches the top of the magnificent pink dunes. The crystal clear waters and the challenging accessibility make the location less frequented and contaminated. That is why it is considered one of the most beautiful of all of Sardinia.
Do not forget: from Palau is possible to make excursions to the nearby and stunning La Maddalena Archipelago.