Come discover together one of the most special towns in Sardinia, tucked away between protected areas, cliffs, and sandy beaches, ancient walls, and caves where the gods used to dwell. Pack your bags, we’re going to Alghero!
When you arrive, you will probably think that you are in Spain. In fact, this town is known as Sardinia’s “Little Barcelona”. In north-west Sardinia, this hidden treasure is one of the most beautiful, idyllic towns on the island, as well as the capital of the Coral Coast. Sardinians and tourists love it because of its many attractions, starting with the light of its sunsets.
In addition to its historic walls, Alghero has retained a strong Catalonian influence, and its multicultural character can be felt everywhere. The locals speak the Alghero dialect of Catalan, and, on the colourful streets of the town centre, people drink red wine and eat tapas.
What you should see in Alghero in every season
Ready to discover the town? Let’s start at the fully preserved historic walls, with its towers that still look out on the surrounding landscape. Once you have crossed them, you will enter Alghero’s lively town centre, teeming with little bars and shops. You will soon realize that these often sell beautiful coral jewelry and souvenirs. Indeed, the town is the capital of the Coral Coast: a coastline that has been famous since ancient Roman times for its red coral. Even today, the coral is harvested and processed, then crafted into little works of art that turn Alghero shop windows red.
The historic centre
As you walk through the streets in the town centre, make a stop for a tapas snack at Piazza Civica, take a look at the nearby alleys, eat a good plate of paella, visit Saint Mary’s Cathedral, which you will recognize by its Neoclassical façade, and follow the smell of sea salt, which will lead you to the ramparts. Once you reach the ramparts that overlook the blue sea around Alghero, drink in the view, take a few pictures, and allow yourself to be charmed. Find a comfortable spot, and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in Sardinia.
Sunset at Capo Caccia
I have already mentioned the sunsets. Those in Alghero are the most famous on the island, astonishing free displays of light and colour. You can watch them from the ramparts in the town centre, beer in hand, from one of the many bars with a terrace overlooking the sea, or from the famous Riservato Beach Bar: a bar that is literally on the sea (I recommend going well in advance as it’s usually very busy) – either way, it’s always a spectacular view. However, the view of the sunset that is said to be the most beautiful is that from the belvedere at Capo Caccia, the limestone promontory that, together with Punta Giglio, frames Porto Conte.
Porto Conte Park
The Porto Conte regional park is a treasure trove of biodiversity only 20 km from Alghero: 5,000 hectares of environmental heritage including protected species, plants, cliffs, and beaches, as well as the Capo Caccia marine area. Do you know that this corner of the world used to be known as Noah’s Ark, because of the variety of the animals here? Part of the area is now protected and can only be visited with expert guides so as not to cause any damage. For more information, click here.
Alghero is beautiful in every season. However, it is a very popular summer destination because of its incredibly beautiful beaches and coves. If you are in town in the summer, I recommend going to the beach early to secure a parking space and specially a place in the sand. The most popular beaches are le Bombarde, the 20 metres of red beach at Porto Palmas, the coast of Porto Ferro, and Maria Pia beach. If you like more secluded, smaller coves, my favourite is Cala Dragunara. As you see, you have a difficult choice ahead of you! If the weather and the season allow it, I also recommend renting a dinghy or booking a sea trip to discover the area from a different point of view. You can also read our post on the most beautiful Alghero beaches.
Eat a focaccia on the seafront
Now I recommend one of the most typical Alghero experiences: join the queue outside the historic Il Milese bar and get a delicious stuffed focaccia. Then cross the street and eat it as you walk on the Lido Beach, two steps away from the town centre. In Alghero, the sea is always nearby: the main beach on one side of the town is a bit like Barcelona and a bit like Miami. The perfect place to take a break and have a beer with friends.
The Palmavera Nuraghe
An important archaeological site is only 1 km from the sea. The Palmavera Nuraghe is one of the most important surviving ancient complexes and also the perfect place to learn about the skill and ingenuity of the Nuragic civilisation. The Nuraghe can be visited all year round except for Christmas Day. I recommend getting the audio guide for a more in-depth experience and to fully understand the historical importance of this monument. For more information on opening hours and tickets, click here.
The Anghelu Ruju necropolis
In addition to one of the most important Nuraghic complexes in Sardinia, there is also one of the largest necropolis. The Anghelu Ruju Necropolis enables visitors to understand the strong link that the past inhabitants of the island had with the world of the dead. A remarkable almost 40 tombs have been found in this area. Even though they are burial complexes, Sardinian folk tradition has it that the Domus de Janas, or Fairies’ House, carved in the rock, belongs to these magical beings. Opening hours and more info here.
It is said that these caves, a few kilometres from Alghero, once were the home of the god Neptune. For this reason, kings, princesses, and other celebrities have flocked here too. Even today Neptune’s Grotto is one of the most visited sites in the area. Its astonishing natural beauty and the surrounding area make it an integral part of the Porto Conte Nature Park. The Grotto can be reached from the sea, or by braving its 654 steps!
What to see in the area
In addition to the beautiful town of Alghero, there are other unique spots in the surrounding area that are well worth a visit. I recommend spending a day on Asinara island, which is rich in history and has kilometres of unspoilt nature, now a National Park. You can spend the day in the company of the iconic Asinara white donkeys. If it’s your first time here, I recommend the 4×4 tour. A dip in the famous La Pelosa a Stintino beach is a must: if you are here in the summer, it’s best to pre-book a mat, which is mandatory to be allowed on the beach. You can also book a trip to Argentiera and learn about the mining history of the island, and visit the historic medieval village of Castelsardo.
I bet you now feel like visiting Alghero, don’t you? Book your Volotea flight now and go discover the island! You may also be interested in our article about 10 things to do in magnificent Gallura.