Asinara is a tiny uninhabited island (only 52 square km) placed on the north-west side of Sardinia (Sassari province and Municipality of Porto Torres) and belonging to the national parks system of Italy.
It is also a marine protected area (visitors are accepted only through guided tours) being home for several endangered species and the popular albino donkey (known as the Asinara donkey) offspring from the white donkeys introduced in the island from Egypt during the 19th century.
Some argue that the name Asinara is taken from these popular Sardinian donkeys; others think that the name is to be put in relation to the Latin word “sinuaria” – sinus-shaped (island).
Until 1997 the island was a famous maximum security prison (carcere): as of today tourists can still visit the penitentiary.
How to get to Asinara national park
You can reach the Asinara national park in several ways:
- by ferry (Sara D) leaving from Porto Torres at 8:30 and 15:00 to Cala Reale with the company Delcomar (1 hour and 15-minute trip)
- by boat leaving from the Stintino harbour “Tanca Manna” at 9:00 in the morning (with different companies).
The ferry to Asinara runs daily in the high season (07/21 to 08/31 3 times per day), daily in the mid-season (05/01 to 07/20 and 09/01 to 09/30 twice a day) and only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays in the low season (10/01 to 04/30) so check the timetables before leaving
- by Taxi boat – All taxi boats leave from Stintino
How to get to Stintino and Porto Torres
The fastest way to reach Stintino is through the Alghero airport and the SP42, the SP57 and the SP34 roads.
If you want to reach Porto Torres in order to catch the ferry you have to take the SP42 and the SP34 direction harbour.
Asinara guided tours
As we wrote earlier, it is possible to visit the island only through organized tours; all the authorized companies are listed on this page (in Italian).
These companies organize many kind of visits like: sea guided tours, guided diving, sailing charter and tours with electric cars. There are also:
- Daily guided tour by bus (starts: 9:30 – ends: 16:30)
The bus runs through the 25 kilometres that cross the Asinara Park from Fornelli to Cala d’Oliva. During the summer there is also the possibility to stop-over and take a bath in the waters of Asinara.
- Guided tour with train with rubber tyres
The same route can also be made on this tiny train with rubber tyres.
- Off road guided tour (starts: 9:30 – ends: 16:30)
This tour (recommended for tourists who already know Asinara) is made on an 8-seat Jeep (Land Rover) with many stop-overs in order to see the landscape and the white donkeys.
- Fishing tourism
Fish with local fishermen and share their lifestyle and traditions.
- Trekking tours with local guides
The most demanding trails start from Cala d’Oliva; the “Leccio” path will take you on the hills with views on both sides of the island meanwhile the “Faro” one will lead you into one of the most isolated and wild spot of the island.
Moreover, it is possible to walk in the Fornelli area or to follow the hiking trails which start from the docks.
- Asinara bicycle tours
Basically, this is almost the same as the tour bus; you will cross a 25km-path to Cala d’Oliva.
But you can also explore other parts of the island: from Trabuccato you could follow the so called path of the “Asino Bianco” (white donkey) in order to meet the animals which most probably gave the name to the island.
- You can also take the trekking tour by bicycle.
- Horse ride
Besides, it is possible to take a horse ride to the central area of the island, starting from the equestrian centre of Campo Perdu.