“The nice little train comes towards us. It chuffs. It scrambles up and then comes like down the stairs, it struggles and sometimes it twists as if it wants to bite its tail. It seems like running freely, building its track while it is running.”
Elio Vittorini
  • Travelling time: about 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Family
  • Why we love it: Because it's an itinerary that shows that the journey is what matter and not the destination, because with it you can discover in an alternative way the Gallura, pearl of Sardinia
  • Length: 180 km
  • Total Elevation Gain: 500 m
  • Way to travel: by train
  • Cost: 25 €
  • Our Advice: If you are a big group we suggest you to rent the train! Yes, you can! There's nothing more exciting than plan your own travel by yourself: you can choose the route, the stops and even the type of the train
Map of the itinerary
Map of the itinerary, via www.treninooverde.com


The Trenino Verde (Little Green Train) of Sardinia is a perfect example of ecotourism: the railroad did not destroy the nature but has adapted to and harmonized with it.

Among the four lines that the service offers, today we take an interest in the coast-to-coast travel in the north of the island with the Sassari-Tempio-Palau railway line, that joins Costa Smeralda to Riviera del Corallo. We leave from the train station of Alghero, the lovely and picturesque town where the Sardinian and Spanish cultures meet. We move into an undefined territory characterized by olive groves and gardens until we reach the station of Sassari, second city of Sardinia. We then proceed to the northern suburbs of the city, beginning to climb the hills among their olive groves.


Alghero with its boat
Alghero, photo by Alessandro Caproni via Flickr


 After a few stops, we arrive at the beautiful station of Osilo: we are now in the ancient region of Anglona, characterized by volcanic and calcareous uplands. T

he road continues to climb, we arrive to the station of Fenosu, from here we begin to take a long, slow descent to the river Coghinas, the third longest river in Sardinia, on the border with Gallura. The next station is Nulvi, the most important center of Anglona.

The landscape here reminds the one of the American far west. The next important stop is the petrified forest of Carrucana. If you decide to get off at Martis, there’s a unique and fascinating 100 km2 large territory that you can’t miss, where you can see the remains of several trees, fossilized and immortalized by a volcanic eruption happened about twenty million years ago.

The petrified forest of Carrucana, near the train station of Martis
The petrified forest of Carrucana, near the train station of Martis

We proceed now towards the mountains of Gallura. The train crosses the Coghinas river passing on a beautiful bridge, and we go through an increasingly dense vegetation, as we gain altitude with hairpin turns. After the train station of Scala Ruia, the landscape changes more and more, we are entering into the Gallura, a beautiful and uncontaminated area characterized by the granite, the cork oak and the Mediterranean scrub. 

The masterpiece of engineering: the helicoidal tunnel
The masterpiece of engineering: the helicoidal tunnel

We must admire the masterpiece of engineering near Bortigiadas, helicoidal tunnel that spirals up for 500m inside the mountain. From here on the railway continues tortuously to climb to the plateau on which stands the town of Tempio; in the distance we can admire the silhouette of the mountain La Croce and its rugged peaks, till we arrive at the beautiful station of Tempio.

We get closer and closer to the Costa Smeralda, a place of great fame and beauty: in fact a few kilometers later we arrive at the station of Arzachena, the main town of this area so loved by VIPs. From here we already feel the parfume of the sea, but it shows, in all its beauty, only after a few kilometers to the north and after a big curve. Not far away we can see the archipelago of La Maddalena. We take off at the second station of Palau, by the pier in front of the ferry boarding.

Already in its name, the Trenino Verde (Little Green Train) reveals its essence: a vintage train of reduced size that offers a route within nature and in full compliance with it. The line-Sassari Palau is an original way to discover Sardinia, the smells and colors of the Gallura: one of the thousand faces of this island.


Autore: Chiara Marras

Cover photo: View of Palau, our destination