By train from Mandas to Arbatax, in Sardinia

With its 159 km between the station and Mandas to Arbatax this authentic mountain line that runs through the Gennargentu, is the longest tourist line in Italy
  • Travelling time: 10 hours

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Why we love it: A train journey that takes you through across Sardinia passing through rugged mountains and glimpses sailors only

  • Length: 159 km

  • Total Elevation Gain: 800 m

  • Way to travel: By train

  • Cost: €

  • Our Advice: It is advisable to book before the ticket to avoid not find seats. Although the service is active throughout the year, to enrich their experience you can choose to travel on the train pulled by steam locomotive. The service is available from 15 October to 31 May.

Train route that comes from Mandas to Arbatax
Train route that comes from Mandas to Arbatax

Shortly after leaving Mandas, the railway branches off into two sections: one proceeds north towards Isili, the other runs east to Orroli. The first part of the trip takes place in a hilly landscape, where the train goes round and round with no points of reference. And here, the first station of Orroli, starting point for visiting the nearby Nuraghe Arrubiu, and after that of Nurri, from where you can easily reach Lake Flumendosa.

Inclines rash on Railway Arbatax - Mandas, photo by Giorgio Altieri via Flickr
Inclines rash on Railway Arbatax - Mandas, photo by Giorgio Altieri via Flickr

The train, then plunges into the valley of Garullo, and reaches, isolated, the pretty Villanovatulo station, a few km from the village. The scenery changes abruptly here is the Lake Flumendosa that is crossed on a long bridge parallel to the driveway. We have left the Sarcidano and find yourself nalla Barbagia of Seulo. The train climbs up a slope for a long climb, leaving travelers with stunning shots of the lake below.

A view from the admirable green train, photo by Marco Alioli via Flickr
A view admirable from the green train, photo by Marco Alioli via Flickr

Then, set between two galleries, here is the roadhouse of Palarana (No. 73), called "punishment" because destined to menders less disciplined. From here, from a terrace belvedere opens another scenic part panoramic valley below. Soon after, you arrive at the pretty mountain station of Betilli, in the open and in front of the imposing Mount Santa Vittoria, in the territory of Esterzili, whose station is reached after an unusual turn, needed to overcome the steep slope. The landscape changes again: the train goes through the sparse vegetation of the plateau of Sadali, to station in the country, shared with Seulo, just a few km. It's between the points of arrival Popular Sadali offers visitors a warm welcome, combined between the beauty of the area and excellent cuisine.

Carry on uphill: traveling above the altitude of 800 meters towards Seui, not before he had touched another stop a very important time, near the old anthracite mine of San Sebastiano. Seui station is among the most important of the line and is another popular travel destination.

In the heart of the Heels, Gennargentu National Park. Photo by Giorgio Altieri via Flickr
In the heart of the Heels, Gennargentu National Park. Photo by Giorgio Altieri via Flickr

From here begins the result to be as the most challenging for the builders of the railway: one is the 800 meters, through the mountains of Gennargentu, which are overcome with long tunnels and bold bridges, including that impressive on the Rio San Gerolamo, provided with a metal girder 50 meters long, suspended at a height of 40 meters. Here is another interesting stop for those who love the mountains, in Ussassai: Niala. It proceeds in share in the thickest green and switch to another region: the Ogliastra. The first station is to Ussassai, a few km from the village, and then to Gairo, reached after passing through the lunar landscape of the valley of Taquisara. From here started another trunk, bound for Jerzu, dismantled in 1956. Go through the other galleries, you get to the second round of the Flumendosa, near the station of Villagrande and Lake High River.

Red rocks, Arbatax (Ogliastra). Photo by SignorDeFazio via Flickr
Red rocks, Arbatax (Ogliastra). Photo by SignorDeFazio via Flickr

Proceeding to the side of the Rio Siccaderba you reach the station of Arzana and here in the distance the sea and the beautiful, spacious panorama of the Ogliastra coast. Down sharply from the quota after the strap of Pitzu 'and Cuccu, where the line passes under itself, you come to another important station: Lanusei. Still downhill, cross Elini, with her pretty little station stone in the center of the country; therefore, we proceed on the flat up to Tortolì, lively and important town ogliastrina and, finally, we arrive at the terminus of Arbatax, in front of the Red Rocks.

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Cover photo: Near the National Park of Gennargentu. You can see the tunnel which is build into the rocks. Photo by hl_1001 via Flickr 

Eco-friendly accommodations

Al Vicoletto Genuine B&B

Tortolì (Sardegna)

Starting from 50,00 €