There are many incredible places to visit in Paris. Whatever kind of traveler you are, Paris is bound to meet – and in fact, to exceed – your expectations.
Whether you are a lover of fine arts or enjoy contemporary architecture; whether you like tiny cobbled alleys or prefer the grandeur of large boulevards; whether you like hitting all the tourist spots or finding hidden gems; and even if you are a lover of gourmet food and good wine, you will find something for you in Paris.
With so many things to see in Paris, you could spend years there without ever getting bored. After all, there is a good reason this is one of the most visited cities in the world. According to Forbes, more than a 19 million people visited Paris in 2018 only. The city was second only to Bangkok.
The other side of the coin of the city being so popular, however, is that it is crowded with tourists who all inevitably want to visit all the same places. And unless you plan your (limited) time there very carefully, you may end up being stuck in line trying to get tickets to the most famous attractions. I will never tell you to avoid these places though – in fact, I suggest you go, but knowing what to expect.
But let’s face it: chances are that you don’t have years to spend exploring the city, but at most a week, and during that week you should be able to enjoy yourself and avoid any hassle.
Worry not though! I am here to help so that you can have a wonderful time in the Ville Lumiere.
In this post, I will tell what I believe are the unmissable places to visit in Paris, as well mention some of those that aren’t as famous, but which are still worth visiting. I will also mention a few places that are perfect for a day trip out of the city. And in order to help you manage your time in Paris more efficiently, I will also share a few tips on how to avoid the big lines at tourist attractions so that you can have a memorable trip.
Continue reading to discover all the nicest Paris attractions.
One of the best views of the Eiffel Tower is that from Trocadero
33 Gorgeous Places To Visit In Paris
Think of Paris and the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Eiffel Tower. Built for the 1889 World Expo, the tower is 324 meters high and was the tallest structure in France until 2004. The Eiffel Tower also has the highest accessible observation deck in Europe – it’s at 276 meters.
This is all to say that – whether you are into touristy things or not – there’s no denying that the Eiffel Tower is one of the unmissable places to visit in Paris.
The bad news is that the lines to climb the Eiffel Tower are long. If you just show up at the ticket counter, you can expect to stand for a long while before you are allowed to access it. The good news is that you can get online tickets that allow you to skip the line.
These are the best tickets and tours of the Eiffel Tower:
I will soon be posting a full guide on how to get tickets to the Eiffel Tower and skip the lines.
Champs de Mars
If you visit the Eiffel Tower, chances are you’ll also be walking through the Champs de Mars. This park, which was first opened in 1780, is located next to the École Militaire and it’s often used for national events. It’s a favorite of both tourists and locals, who can often be seen there having a picnic or just relaxing and enjoying the fabulous views of the tower. The bonus? It can be accessed for free!
The Eiffel Tower can be admired from many places in Paris, but if there is a view you should wake up to, that’s the one from the Trocadéro. The sunrise light is just gorgeous, and the fact that not many people make the effort to get out of bed so early means that you are likely to have unobstructed views.
One of the most visited places in town – the Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
Another one of the symbols of Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, which is located on Place de l’Etoile at the end of the Champs-Elysées and right at the center of the Axe Historique, a line that links all the monuments from La Défense to the Louvre.
This massive arch was erected to celebrate war victories and to homage those that died during the French Revolution and in the Napoleonic Wars.
One of the coolest things to do in Paris is visiting the rooftop of the Arc. Unfortunately, there often is a line to get in – but you can get skip the line tickets here or here.
This is probably one of the most touristy places to visit in Paris, yet a must. It runs all the way from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe, and it is (rightly) thought to be the boulevard that symbolizes the city. Along the Champs Élysées you will find restaurants, cafés beautiful boutiques, gorgeous palaces, movie theaters and even the Lido, one of Paris most famous cabaret shows.
Palais Royal offers endless photo opportunities
This is one of the most interesting things to see in Paris. The building itself is beautiful, but it’s the columns right in front of it that give it an edgy look.
Once a royal property and called Palais-Cardinal, the Palais-Royal used to be the not-so-humble home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642. It then became property of Philippe II Duke of Orléans, who was the regent of the monarchy when Louis XV became king at age 5 in 1715.
The building is now home to the Constitutional Council and the Ministry of Culture. It’s located right opposite the Louvre. It’s courtyard houses an art installation of striped columns of different sizes.
The Louvre is the biggest and most visited museum in the world – for a good reason!
Rumor has it that a day is not enough to visit the Louvre, which is the largest museum in the world, and the most visited art museum. In fact, the building is itself a work of art.
Originally a fortress, in the 1700s Louvre Palace became a gallery where artists could study and practice. The museum houses some of the most famous paintings in the world, including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
As the Louvre regularly attracts crowds of tourists, the best way to avoid the lines is to get tickets in advance. In fact, you may want to consider a guided tour that shows you to the most important pieces and gives you enough background information.
The following are the best skip the line options and guided tours for the Louvre:
I will soon be publishing a post on how to skip the lines at the Louvre.
Art lovers can’t skip the Musée d’Orsay, which is located very close to the Louvre. It houses the largest collection of impressionist art in the world, with works of artists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh and many more. The building itself is beautiful – it was once a train station (Gare D’Orsay, which was built in for the universal expo) and it was finely renovated to house the museum.
To make the most of this museum, it’s probably better that you take a guided tour. Besides, there often are lines at the ticket counter so you may as well book your tickets and tour online to avoid wasting precious time.
These are the best guided tours and skip the line ticket options for Musée d’Orsay:
I will be writing a full guide on how to make the most of Musee d’Orsay.
A lovely and lively square right next to Pompidou gives the chance to spot some local action
Even if you don’t go inside, make sure to at least pass by the Centre Pompidou as it’s one of the coolest buildings in Paris. Located in the 4th arrondissement, it houses the National Museum of Modern Art – which is Europe’s largest modern art museum with works of the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, as well as regular exhibits; and a huge library. If you are interested in visiting, you can get your tickets here.
Mentioning Notre Dame as one of the places to visit in Paris after the massive fire that destroyed it in April 2019 makes little sense. Yet I find that if you are going to Paris you should at least pay homage to one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.
Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole
The combination of making good coffee, being the cutest little coffee shop in Paris, and being close to Notre Dame Cathedral make this café just about perfect. It’s located in the lovely Rue Chanoinesse, a nice medieval street. Not far from the café you’ll find a small courtyard paved with gravestones.
One of the nicest things to do in Paris is cruising the Seine river. Perhaps a bit touristy, but this is also a great way of seeing the city from a different angle and – depending on the time of day you do it – in a different light.
Several companies organize the cruise – some include lunch or dinner with it, some include champagne, some have a live guide and others just an audio guide. Most of the time cruises depart from the area of the Eiffel Tower, but there are some that depart near Notre Dame.
I will be writing a more detailed guide that will help you pick the Seine river cruise that most suits you, but meantime here is a selection of a few good ones:
The Catacombs easily qualify as one of the spookiest places to visit in Paris. The area where they are located in what used to be a limestone mine started being filled with bodies at the end of the 18th century, when cemeteries started being too packed.
They are excavated at 20 meters below street level, so the temperature is steady year round. Bones were moved here up to 1810, at first being placed in no particular order but then organized in a more logic way.
The best way to visit the Catacombs is on a guided tour. These are some of the best ones that you can book online:
The view of the Eiffel Tower from Montparnasse Tower are splendid. The skyscrapers in the background are La Defense
Montparnasse is one of the coolest neighborhoods in Paris, that well deserves to be explored. The best thing to do there is to get on Montparnasse Tower, Paris’ second highest building with its 210 meters, which was built in the early 1970s. The views from there are fabulous – especially those of the Eiffel Tower. You can get your ticket to Montparnasse Tower roof terrace here.
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
Paris’ most famous department store opened in 1894, and it was refurbished a few times. It was in 1932 that it was given the Art Deco lift. It’s a fantastic place to shop for luxury items, but you can also catch wonderful views of the Eiffel Tower and the Opera Garnier from the rooftop.
Pont Alexandre III
Paris’ most famous bridge was built in 1900 for the World Expo and was named in honor of Tsar Alexander II in order to celebrate France’s new ties with Russia. It’s decorated with nymphs, cherubs and various other statues and it joins the two sides of the Seine where the Grand Palais and Les Invalides are located.
Place de la Concorde
This is Paris’ largest square and it is located between the Champs-Elysées and the Tuileries Garden. Its construction was completed in 1772, when it was named Place Louis XV. During the Revolution time, the square was named Place de la Révolution: this is where King Louis XVI and his wife Queen Marie Antoinette were executed.
Nowadays, the square hosts a fountain that dates back to the reign of Louis-Philippe and an obelisk that used to be at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Egypt.
Musee de l’Orangerie
One of the nicest places to visit in Paris is this museum that was built by Napoleon III and that hosts impressionist and modern art. Other than the works of Picasso, Matisse and Cezanne, the masterpiece here is the eight Water Lilies murals that were painted by Claude Monet and donated to the French government.
Currently hosting the law courts, parts of this beautiful building are open to the public who can enjoy the various halls. Up until the 14th century it was the seat of the French kings. But in 1358 King Charles V moved to the Louvre Palace. It then became a prison where inmates were organized based on their wealth. Famous inmates include Marie Antoinette and Napoleon III.
If you have a thing for historical cemeteries, then make sure not to skip Père Lachaise. Located in the 20th arrondissement, it was opened in the early 1800s and there are around 70000 plots, some of them hosting famous figures such as singers Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison, writers Balzac and Oscar Wilde, and many more.
It’s a very large park so you may want to go on a guided tour to explore it. You can book your visit here.
Le Marais is Paris’ most charming neighborhood
Known as the nicest neighborhood in Paris, Le Marais is packed with excellent restaurants, cafés and bars and it’s a nice place to explore. You’ll see beautiful buildings, quaint streets, artists’ ateliers, boutiques and even the Museum of French History.
Formerly the Red Light district of Paris, Pigalle is a really interesting neighborhood with lots to see and do. Its most famous street is Rue des Martyrs, which is packed with nice cafés, bookshops, antique stores, bakeries and even a live music venue – Le Divan du Monde.
Pigalle is also home to the famous Moulin Rouge.
Whether or not you want to sit down to see a show, you should at least pass by the Moulin Rouge – one of the most famous places to visit in Paris. This popular cabaret is famous for being the place where the can-can dance was invented. You can get your tickets for the show here.ù
One of the most iconic churches in Paris, this Romano-Byzantine basilica is located on top of Montmartre hill, where its construction was started in 1875. From the church – especially from its dome – you’ll be able to enjoy one of the best views of Paris.
Square Marcel Bleustein Blanchet
One of the nicest views of Sacré-Coeur is from this small square. It’s a fairly hidden spot, where once the windmills of Paris where located and that is now perfect for some quiet time. Enjoy time in the small park – bring your book or a picnic. You can even visit the small museum about the history of the area.
Charming Montmartre, one of the nicest places to visit in Paris
If you are a fan of low houses, quaint looking shops, cobbled little alleys, small squares and an overall bohemian look, then you will love Montmartre. This part of Paris became famous in the 19th century when it became the home and workplace of artists such as Monet, Renoir and Modigliani.
Montemartre is also a fantastic place for nightlife – and it’s very close to Pigalle.
This quarter is easy to explore, but if you’d like a more in depth experience you may want to join a guided tour. These are some of the best:
Stay tuned as I will be writing a full guide of Montmartre.
Named after the language of academia used as Sorbonne University until the times of the Revolution, the Latin Quarter is a very interesting one. It’s a maze of narrow alleyways with a young feel – after all this is where the protests of 1968 started.
A general overlook at this part of town will reveal some of Paris’ most interesting places to visit.
Built upon orders of Maria de’ Medici at the beginning of the 17th century and currently owned by the French Senate which sits at the palace, Luxembourg Gardens are a fantastic place for a stroll in the shade, especially during the summer. Scattered around the park there are statues, some of which representing 20 French queens. Make sure to also admire Medici’s fountain.
Not to be confused with the one in Rome, the Pantheon of Paris is another must see
One of the highlights of the Latin Quarter is the Pantheon, which is located on Montagne Sainte-Geneviève and is the burial ground of some of France’s most notable people such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Émile Zola. It was built between 1758 and 1790 and – much like the Pantheon in Rome, from which it inevitably borrows, it was originally meant as a church but during the Revolution time it was turned into a mausoleum.
This lovely quarter became very popular at the beginning of the 20th century, when it was a nightlife hotspot and thanks to the low rents attracted a young crowd and became home of jazz clubs and gave shelter to Paris’ gay community. It’s a nice place to explore if you are in search of small independent bookshops, cute cafes and art galleries. You’ll also find Saint-Germain-des-Prés church, considered Paris’s oldest church.
This lovely street of very colorful buildings is a nice one to walk along. Unfortunately it became more and more popular with travelers, so if you want to have it for yourself make it a point to go very early in the morning.
One of the coolest places to visit in Paris if you like contemporary architecture is La Defense. It’s located at the very far end of the Axe Historique and it pretty much started developing int he 1960s, when the modern skyscrapers started being built.
The nicest views of La Defense are actually from the Arc de Triomphe – from there, you can see all the way to the 110-meter Grande Arche which was completed in 1989.
Versailles is an easy day trip from Paris
If you only go on a day trip during your trip to Paris, it has to be to Versailles. This incredible palace is the symbol of all the excesses of the French Monarchy – it went from being a hunting lodge to a proper castle where the king lived surrounded by his court.
The palace is incredible – the Hall of Mirrors is the highlight of the visit – and so are the gardens. It’s huge, so it’s probably better to join a guided tour to make sense of all there is to see.
Notre Dame – one of the places to visit in Paris, now unfortunately not accessible.
Other Useful Tips To Plan Your Trip To Paris
Where to stay in Paris
There is an incredible range of accommodation options in Paris, and you will easily find something that suits your needs, interests and budget. I will soon be writing a full guide on where to stay in Paris, with the best neighborhoods and accommodation options in each of them. Meantime, here is a quick selection of excellent places to stay:
Any time is a good time to visit Paris! Some may suggest that it’s too cold to visit in the winter; others claim that it may be too hot in the summer (though it only gets truly hot when it’s under a heat wave). I have been there in October and loved the early fall atmosphere, the colors and the light.
How to get to Paris
Paris is very well connected to the rest of Europe and the world by train and via two easy to get airports.
The main one is Charles de Gaulle, which is connected to the center of town by train, bus, shuttle van and taxi. It takes between 30 minutes (by train) to up to one and a half hour (depending on traffic) to reach the city center from the airport.
Beauvais airport is served by budget airlines and is connected to Paris city center by bus. It takes about 75 minutes to get there.
I will soon be writing a more complete guide on how to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris City Center.
How to move around Paris
Public transportation in Paris works really well and tourists can count on a great web of buses and the metro. The metro is probably the fastest way to get from one place to the other. A one way ticket costs €1.90.
Other useful information
I recommend taking a good guide book with you, as it’ll have at least some basic information about the places to visit in Paris you want to go to, and a map, as well as mention good restaurants and even bars.
These are some good guide books you may want to read and take with you:
Mezzano di Primiero is one of the nicest villages in Trentino. In fact, it has been recognized as one of the nicest villages in Italy – and that is not little, in a country that is really packed with charming little towns.
Also known as Mezzano Romantica, this is a place worth visiting, and if you happen to be in the region you should make it a point to go.
So what’s so special about Mezzano di Primiero? Continue reading this post, and you will find out. But first, let me share some practical information on how to get there and where to stay in the area.
One of the many beautiful wooden piles in Mezzano di Primiero
Practical Information For Visiting Mezzano di Primiero
How to get to Trentino
There are no airports in Trentino, so you will have to fly to one of the airports in the nearby regions. The best one to reach Trentino is Verona airport. From there, it’s an easy bus ride to the main train station in Verona. Once there you can take one of the many trains headed to Trento or Bolzano – the overall bus and train trip should take you no more than 2 hours. You can checkthe train timetable for all of Italy andbuy train tickets here.
How to get to Mezzano di Primiero
If you plan to visit Trentino, I recommend renting a car – a road trip is the best way to enjoy this beautiful part of Italy. You can check out the prices of car rental here.
It takes about one hour and a half to drive to Mezzano di Primiero from Trento. I honestly do not recommend attempting to get there via public transportation as this will require multiple changes and a trip that will last no less than 4 hours!
I actually walked to Mezzano di Primiero from Fiera di Primiero, a nearby slightly bigger town. It’s a pleasant walk of about 3.5 km that should take you around 40 minutes – all of them downhill and offering breathtaking views of the valley and the surrounding mountains.
The gorgeous views of the mountains in Fiera di Primiero
Where to stay, eat and drink in Primiero Valley
I didn’t actually stayed in Mezzano di Primiero during my trip to Primiero Valley, but opted for the slightly larger Fiera di Primiero, which has more accommodation and dining options. It’s a pleasant town with a river flowing through it – I recommend a walk along the river for splendid sunset views!
One of the best places in town is Hotel Isolabella, which has comfortable, modern music themed rooms with gorgeous mountain views. The hotel has a bar where you can get a drink and, as most in the region, prices of the stay typically include dinner and breakfast. There also is a spa – perfect to relax after a day of hiking in the Dolomites.
If you are set on staying in Mezzano di Primiero, I have found a lovely small bed and breakfast called Affittacamere Al Pian, with rooms decorated in the traditional local style and all having beautiful mountain views.
If you are looking for a good budget friendly meal in town make sure to head to Il Caminetto, which has an incredible array of pizze all crafted using fresh ingredients – from the classic margherita to all those that use local cheese. They even have lactose free mozzarella and vegan options.
Make sure to accompany your pizza with a Bionoc beer – it’s a tiny local brewery located in Mezzano that crafts fabulous beers. They offer beer tasting tours, but make sure to book in advance!
The narrow alleys of Mezzano Romantica
What To See And Do In Mezzano di Primiero
Mezzano di Primiero is located in Primiero valley, at around 100 km and 90 minutes drive from Trento, the main city of Trentino. It’s a small village of around 1700 inhabitants, set at little over 600 meters above sea level and at the foot of “Pale di San Martino,” among the most famous peaks of the Dolomites.
Primiero valley is simply gorgeous – take my word for it: I have been to Trentino countless time and this easily qualifies as one of the most scenic ones. So just picture this small village of homes built in the traditional local style – sloping roofs, wooden balconies and banisters, colorful flowers pouring over each and every window – and place it against the backdrop of the gorgeous Dolomites, and you can see why it is pretty special and why you really want to visit it.
As I have said before, Mezzano di Primiero is also referred to as Mezzano Romantica. To be honest, the village – though extremely pretty, isn’t romantic – at least not in the cliché sense of the term. I was curious to find out how it got its name, so I did a bit of research and discovered that the name refers to the connection between man and nature, which here remains incredibly romantic.
Mezzano was founded around the year 1000 (though archeological finds testify that human presence in the region is much older than that!) and became famous a few years ago for the many wooden sculptures and piles of wood that are scattered around the village, not just in a casual manner but in very original, elegant forms – so that they literally become art pieces, to the point that when you walk around you feel like you are wandering around an open air museum.
Even the local dogs are friendly in Mezzano!
There are so many statues and piles of wood that once you get to the village you should go to the information office to get a map to see where they are located. To be fair, Mezzano di Primiero is so small that you can easily wander around without a map and never get lost – but you may well want some more information about what you see, or follow a specific route for your wanderings.
Another thing you’ll find in Mezzano di Primiero is murals, inscriptions, a bunch of vegetable gardens, and various beautiful, ornate fountains that pour icy cold mountain water – which isn’t just safe to drink, but actually delicious and one of the (many) reasons of pride in the region.
There even is an antique laundry house and an ancient barn which is now a small but well curated ethnographic museum.
What I truly enjoyed about Mezzano – and what I am sure you will love too – is the local, authentic atmosphere. It may be that I visited when it was still off season, but my friends and I were the only visitors when we went, and the locals (including the resident cats and dogs such a Maya, a lovely “tripawd” who wanted to guide us through the most hidden spots) all seemed pretty cool and happy of our presence.
Further readings on Trentino
Are you spending some time in Trentino? Make sure to check out my other posts on the region:
Legal Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Tourism Board of Trentino and Trentino Marketing during my trip to Primiero Valley, and wish to thank them for the incredible experience. Needless to say, all the views expressed in this post remain my own.
Bosa, Sardinia, is known as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy – and for a good reason. This town of no more than 8500 people is colorful; it is on the hills, yet right by the sea. A placid river flows through it and there even is a hilltop castle. In case you are wondering, let me be clear: it would really be a pity not to visit Bosa during your trip to Sardinia.
Bosa was first founded during Phoenician times and prospered during the time of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages it was repeatedly invaded by Arab pirates; but in the 12th century the Malaspina Family built a protective castle that proved vital to defend the town.
When the Savoys arrived to Bosa in the 19th century, they established a lucrative tanneries business. Tanneries are still visible, but this craft has been abandoned decades ago.
The castle and the tanneries are only two of the things to see while in Bosa. The Medieval center is a lovely place to explore. But there’s more – continue reading this post for guidance on what to see and do on Bosa, Sardinia, and for tips on how to plan your trip there.
A gorgeous view of Bosa from Malaspina Castle
15 Things To Do In Bosa, Sardinia
Walk up Malaspina Castle
If you only visit one place when in Bosa, Sardinia, it has to be the Malaspina Castle. This was built by the Malaspina family in 1112, when they moved to the region from Tuscany. Not much remains of the original structure (just the walls and the watchtowers), to be honest – and some may tell you it is not worth visiting because of that. But admission is very cheap and the views are absolutely breathtaking. So make sure to go.
The castle is open daily from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, but keep in mind that it often observes reduced opening hours in the winter months, so unless you are traveling in the summer you may want to double check before visiting.
Visit Our Lady de Sos Regnos Altos church
Inside Malaspina Castle there are the remains of a 4th century chapel, Nostra Signora di Regnos Altos, where there is a 14th century fresco that depicts various saints and martyrs, including St. Lawrence and St. Christopher. It’s definitely an interesting sight.
Explore Cattedrale dell’Immacolata
Built over a Romanesque church, Bosa’s Cathedral dates to the early 19th century. It’s a good example of Rococo style, and its highlight is the marble altar and Emilio Scherer 19th century’s frescoes.
Sant’Antonio Abate Church
Located on the southern bank of Temo River, crossing the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge), this church dedicated to Sant’Antonio the abbot can only be visited during Sant’Antonio Abate festival on 16 and 17 January, and then again during Carnival. If you are in town at that time of year, make sure to stop by.
And Cattedrale di San Pietro Extramuros
This lovely church is located 2 km outside the village, walking upstream along the river from Sant’Antonio Abate Church. The cathedral was built in 1073 and is thought to be one of the oldest Romanesque churches in Sardinia. The apse was modified in the 12th century and the facade in the 13th – it’s in Gothic style.
Go to Museo Casa Deriu
This museum showcases local crafts and arts and it is located in a beautiful historical building that dates from the 19th century. Each floor hosts an exhibit about a different historical period of the city. The first floor hosts temporary exhibits and traditional embroidery; the second floor is dedicated to the original decor and furnishing of Casa Deriu (the townhouse where the museum is located); and the third floor is dedicated to Melkiorre Melis, one of Sardinia’s most important modern painters.
Practical Information: Museo Casa Deriu is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. Admission is € 4.50 and includes a ticket to visit Pinacoteca Atza.
The beautiful, colorful buildings along Temo River
And to Museo delle Conce
Located in the former tanneries which were in use until after WWII and on the south bank of the river, this museum is a good place to visit to get more insights on how the tanneries worked. On the ground floor you can see the original stone tanks used to wash the leather; on the second floor there is a photo exhibit that illustrates the tanning process.
Practical Information: Museo delle Conce is open daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 5:00 to 6:00 pm. Admission is €3.50
Attend Bosa Carnival
Carnival is quite a big deal in Sardinia, and each village has its own celebration. Though the most famous carnival is that of Mamoiada, Bosa Carnival is worth attending too – and it has the benefit of being significantly less touristy.
Bosa Carnival starts with a burning pyre in front of Sant’Antonio Abate church. It consists in parades that culminate in the celebrations of martedì grasso (Shrove Tuesday). On Shrove Tuesday, morning celebrations consists in locals dressed in black lamenting the passing of Carnival; whereas in the evening people are dressed in white to hunt the giolzi, a manifestation of the carnival that is thought to hide in people’s groin. Make sure to attend to discover how the giolzi are caught!
Santa Maria del Mare festival
Celebrated during the first week of August, during this festival fishermen form a procession of boats to accompany the statue of Virgin Mary from Bosa Marina to the Cathedral. Fireworks and traditional dances add to the celebrations. It’s still quite local, so go before it changes.
And Bosa Beer Fest
Bosa Beer Fest has been launched in recent years and takes place at the end of April. It literally is a celebration of Sardinian craft beer. If beer is your favorite drink, it’s a must.
Speaking of drinks, I should probably mention that Bosa is an important center for the production of Malvasia, a dessert wine. To discover more about this grape and the wine that’s made with it, make sure to join a guided tour that goes to local vineyards – several tastings are included.
Enjoy the beaches
Not far from Bosa there are several good beaches to spend a day roasting in the sun and swimming in the clear waters. Bosa Marina is the most easily accessible one; but if you are looking for something unique go to Cumpoltittu, a tiny cove of white sand nestled among gorgeous rock formations, and with the clearest waters you could hope for.
Go for a hike
The surroundings of Bosa offer great hiking and even birdwatching opportunities. The best areas for that are those of Capo Marrargiu Bio-marine Park and the Nature Reserve of Badde Aggiosu, Marrargiu and Monte Mannu.
An easy hike is the one that goes to Managu beach, formed as a consequence of a volcanic eruption. If the weather is nice, during the hike you even get to see Capo Caccia in the distance.
Another hike goes to Torre Argentina and departs from the parking lot located on the left side on SP49 on the way from Bosa to Alghero. The trail is mostly easy to follow and, crossing an area that reveals the (very old) volcanic origins of Sardinia, leads to a watchtower where you can enjoy a beautiful view.
Visit the nearby nuraghe
There are two nuraghe at easy driving distance from Bosa. Nuraghe di Santa Cristina is very easily reached as it is located right off SS131. It’s an important complex that dates back to the Bronze Age, and you’ll be able to see the best preserved well temple of Sardinia. This is accessed via a very steep staircase of 24 incredibly well preserved steps. On the other side of the nuraghic village, Nuraghe Santa Cristina is a single tower of about 7 meters located in a beautiful olive grove.
Another nuraghe that can be visited from Bosa is Nuraghe Losa, one of the best preserved in Sardinia. It dates to around 1500 BC and the central tower is about 13 meters tall.
Stop by Cuglieri
Not many people who visit Sardinia go to Cuglieri. It’s a pity – this village, perched on a hill at almost 500 meters above sea level, is lovely. I feel like mentioning it here as it is an easy drive from Bosa, and the way there is rather scenic. The main highlight of the village is the gorgeous Basilica di Santa Maria della Neve. You will love the view of the church as you approach the village, and you will love the views of the sea from the village itself.
Bosa – with the Malaspina Castle on top of the hill
Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Bosa, Sardinia
Where to stay in Bosa, Sardinia
Despite being small, Bosa has some great accommodation options. You can opt to stay in the village or closer to the sea, in the area called Bosa Marina. Personally, I’d rather stay in town for more eating and drinking options, and use the car to explore the beaches and nearby areas. These are the best options:
The closest airport to Bosa is that of Alghero, which is well connected to Italy and to the rest of Europe by regular and budget flights. There are five daily buses that connect Alghero Fertilia Airport to Bosa. The ride takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. There are two daily buses connecting Alghero city center to Bosa. If you plan to move around during your stay, you may be better off renting a car directly at the airport and drive to Bosa from there. You can check the prices and book your rental car here.
How to move around Bosa, Sardinia
Bosa is small and easy to explore. However, if you want to explore the surrounding region, I recommend renting a car. You can check the prices and book your rental car here.
When to visit Bosa
Bosa is a lovely place to visit year round, but if you want to fully enjoy all that it has to offer, try to visit in the spring and summer months, when businesses are open and when festivals take place. It’s when it’s going to be busy, but it won’t be overwhelmingly crowded.
Other useful information
You may find a guide book about Sardinia a great resource to plan your trips and for more insightful information. These are some good options:
It’s incredible how a place as small as Alghero Sardinia, can offer so much to see and do.This is one of the island’s best preserved Medieval cities; one of Sardinia’s main tourist attractions – especially in the summer season. Yet, it has retained all of its character.
With little less than 50000 inhabitants, this Catalan enclave is Sardinia’s 5th largest city. It’s a very lively place, with a beautiful historical center and lots of bars, restaurants, shops, and easy access to a number of gorgeous beaches and other natural attractions.
Called L’Alguerium (or L’Alguer in the local Catalan language) in reference to an algae that washed up the coast, Alghero was founded by the Genoese in the 11th century as a fishing village. It had a very strategic position which made it attractive to the Pisan, who briefly ruled over it in the 1280s.
It was only in 1353 that Alghero fell to the Catalan and these started settling in the area. As the local community was forced to relocate to the nearby Villanova Monteleone, Alghero started to take on its Catalan identity and thrived until 1720, when it turned to Savoy rule.
In the 1920s Alghero only counted 10000 inhabitants, that became even less when the city was heavily bombed in 1943. It was only when tourists started arriving in the area in the 1960s that the city finally got back into shape – to then become one of the nicest places to visit in Sardinia.
In this post, I will provide information on what to see and do in Alghero and on how to plan your trip to this lovely part of Sardinia.
The Bastions of Alghero are a lovely place for a walk
20 Things To Do In Alghero, Sardinia
Walk along the beautiful Bastioni
The historic center of Alghero is surrounded by beautifully kept walls (bastioni) that were built by the Aragonese in the 16th century. They run from Porta a Mare (literally meaning “door to the sea”), which is the second of Alghero’s gateways, to Piazza Sulis (where you will also find Sulis Tower).
Along the Bastioni you will see various towers – among them, Torre di San Giacomo, Torre della Polveriera, Torre di Sant’Elmo. The Bastioni are the perfect place to go for a walk and catch a gorgeous sunset over Capo Caccia. The stretch called Bastioni Marco Polo is the one where you will find many restaurants, perfect for al fresco dining during the summer.
Visit Alghero’s Cathedral
Santa Maria Cathedral overlooks Piazza del Duomo. Originally built in the 16th century in Catalan Gothic style, the church went through several modifications. It has columns in Doric style and a neoclassical facade that was added in the 19th century and looks a bit out of place. The interior is in Renaissance and Baroque styles.
The beautiful Campanile of Alghero
Admire the bell tower
The Campanile, or bell tower, is annexed to the Cathedral and it’s much more interesting to see. It can be accessed via a Gothic doorway that is located in Via Principe Umberto and it was built in Catalan Gothic style. Luckily, it hasn’t undergone the series of unfortunate renovations that the Cathedral went through.
And the Torre Porta a Terra
This tower is located near the Giardini Pubblici and it’s what’s left of the 14th century Porta a Terra, one of the two main gates to Alghero. It is 23 meters tall and it houses a multimedia museum where you can learn about the history of the city. From the terrace on the second floor you can enjoy a fabulous 360 degrees view.
Go to San Francesco Church
This church is actually much prettier looking than the Cathedral. It was originally built in Catalan Gothic style in the 14th century. Its facade was renovated in more of a Renaissance style after it collapsed in 1593. The highlight is the 14th century cloister which can be accessed through the sacristy.
Hang out in Piazza Civica
The nicest square in Alghero is located right by Porta a Mare. In Medieval times, this used to be the administrative center of the city. It is now lined up with beautiful boutiques and coffee shops – the best one is Caffé Costantino, located on the ground floor of Palazzo d’Abis, which hosted Spanish Emperor Charles V during his 1541 visit.
Known as the capital of Riviera del Corallo (Coral Riviera), in Alghero you’ll find a plethora of jewelries where you will be able to find the famous red coral. Other than that, the historic center of Alghero is shopping paradise, with boutiques for all tastes and budgets.
If you are into fashion, make sure to stop at Boutique Marras. Antonio Marras is a famous Italian designer who was born and raised in Alghero. The shop, run by his brother, is housed in a gorgeous palace and sells Marras as well as other designers’ clothes.
If you like seafood, you are in for a treat. Fish and shellfish rule in Alghero. This part of Sardinia is famous for its lobster, which here are cooked “alla catalana” – with tomato and onion. You won’t have a hard time finding a place to eat, but I recommend making reservations during the weekend, as it gets really busy.
If you would like a very local experience, you could opt for a dinner at a fisherman’s house. You can book it here.
The following are the places I recommend – they have all been tried and tested:
Nautilus – incredible location overlooking the harbor; excellent quality seafood; great, professional, friendly service. It’s not cheap, but worth every penny. Reservations are recommended. Ask for a table on the terrace.
The Kings – located on the Bastions, it serves delicious seafood in a classy setting. It’s pricey and also very popular.
Focacceria Milese – located on the waterfront, it’s the perfect place to grab a quick bite for lunch. It’s very informal and incredibly budget friendly.
Roberto Murgia Dolci In Corso – if you want to try Sardinian sweets, including the local “menjar blanc,” this is the place to go.
Quintilio – unbeatable location right by the sea; it’s a bit outside of Alghero. It only serves seafood and everything, including sebadas, is grilled. It’s not cheap.
Al Vecchio Mulino – by far the best pizzeria in the historic center of Alghero.
Go wine tasting
Sardinia is famous for its wine productions and in the surroundings of Alghero you’ll find several excellent vineyards. The most famous one is Tenute Sella e Mosca, founded in 1899 and which offers wine tasting tours lasting between 2 and 3 hours and whose prices range from €15 to €50 per person, depending on the number of tastings and on the wines tasted.
Mugoni is one of the nicest beaches near Alghero
Enjoy the beautiful beaches
There are many beautiful beaches in the immediate surroundings of Alghero. The most famous ones are Le Bombarde and Il Lazzaretto, two small coves right next to each other and surrounded by a forest of Mediterranean pines where cicadas live and sing very loudly. Another lovely beach a bit further away is that of Mugoni – a thin stretch of very white sand lined with pine trees and with clear waters and gorgeous views of Capo Caccia.
The area of Alghero is one of the best in Sardinia for diving, and there are several companies that organize diving expeditions as well as diving courses. If you fancy something unique, opt for Nereo Cave – the biggest underwater cave in the Mediterranean.
Sunsets from Capo Caccia are as beautiful as they get
Admire a breathtaking sunset
There is little doubt that Alghero, Sardinia, is one of the best places to catch the sunset on the island. A simple walk on the Bastioni will offer splendid views, but for a really breathtaking experience head to Capo Caccia. An easy trail will take you around the area and you will be able to see the sun setting behind the small Foradada Island – it’s a sight you won’t easily forget.
Go for a walk to Capo Caccia
The beautiful white cliffs of Capo Caccia, which can be seen from Alghero, are an impressive sight. But for an even better experience, make sure to go there for a walk. An easy trail takes you around the area and offers incredible coastal views.
Grotta di Nettuno is a must see when in Alghero
Visit Grotta di Nettuno
Located in the area of Capo Caccia, Grotta di Nettuno is possibly the most popular tourist attraction in the area of Alghero, Sardinia – and for a good reason. These caves are a masterpiece of stalactites and stalagmites, with large rooms that look like concert halls, underground lakes and beautiful lighting.
Neptune’s Caves can be reached via sea by speed boats that regularly depart from Alghero’s harbor, or from Capo Caccia, via the Escala del Cabirol. It takes 654 steps to get to the cave – and you’ll have to walk them all the way up after your visit. But the cave and the views are incredibly rewarding.
Practical information for visiting Grotta di Nettuno
Neptune’s Cave can be visited year round. Admission is €13 for adults and €7 for children up to the age of 12. Tickets include a guided visit.
Ferries to the cave cost €16 for adults and €8 for children – the ride does not include admission to the cave, for which you’ll have to pay separately.
Go rock climbing
If you are into rock climbing, make sure to do the Via Ferrata del Cabirol. This cliffside via ferrata of medium difficulty offers splendid coastal views. It’s best done in spring or autumn, as it is very exposed to the sun during the summer.
Explore the bay of Porto Conte
One of the nicest places to explore near Alghero, Sardinia, is the area of Porto Conte. That’s where you’ll find Mugoni beach, which I have already mentioned. Another place I recommend visiting is Le Prigionette Nature Reserve, a beautiful reserve of Mediterranean scrub (macchia mediterranea) and rocky coastline with several walking and biking trails. It’s a great place for spotting wildlife.
Porto Conte is easy to reach from Alghero if you have a car. For guided tours that also include transportation from Alghero, click here.
Visit Nuraghe di Palmavera
Sardinia is famous for its nuraghe and one of the best kept ones is not far from Alghero. This nuraghic village dates back to 3500 years ago. You’ll be able to see a central limestone tower and a secondary one that was added later, and the remains of the surrounding village. You can get tickets for Nuraghe di Palmavera here.
And Necropoli di Anghelu Ruju
10 Km north of Alghero, on the way to Porto Torres, there’s the Necropoli di Anghelu Ruiu, where the remains of 38 tombs carved in sandstone – known locally as domus de janas – have been found. These date from between 3000 to 2700 BC. In some of the chambers you can still see the paintings.
If you want to make the most of Anghelu Ruju Necropolis I recommend joining a guided tour. Otherwise, you can get tickets online here. You can even get a combined ticket for Anghelu Ruju Necropolis and Nuraghe di Palmavera here.
Bosa is a lovely addition to your trip to Alghero
Spend a day in Bosa
At around 45 minutes drive from Alghero, Bosa is by far the prettiest village in Sardinia. Picture colorful low rise buildings along a river that flows towards the sea; the remains of a Medieval castle on a hill and from where you can admire the most impressive views; a peaceful little town where it is pleasant to walk around – and you will get the picture. If you have a spare day while in Alghero, make sure to visit.
This is more a thing you should not be doing in Alghero, actually. Unfortunately horse pulled carriages are still a thing even in this lovely city. Don’t ride them! Even if you have kids that wish to do so, explain them the discomfort that the horses feel when forced to walk in a city, on the pavement, among cars and noise. There are great alternatives that are way more ethical, such as the train on wheels.
Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Alghero, Sardinia
Where to stay in Alghero
The choice of accommodation option in Alghero is great and you are bound to find something for your taste and budget. Some places are close to the beach, others are in the city center. These are the best options:
Alghero is well connected to Italy and to the rest of Europe via a series of regular and budget flights. Reaching the city from the airport is easy – there are regular bus services. Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi or a private transfer. You can book your private transfer here.
How to move around Alghero
Alghero itself is fairly small and easy to explore. If you are keen on exploring the surroundings and all the places mentioned in this post, I recommend renting a car directly from the airport. You can check the prices and book your rental car here.
When to visit Alghero
I find Alghero to be charming year round, but if you want to make the most of all that it has to offer I recommend visiting in the late spring and summer months. That’s when all businesses will be open and you will be able to enjoy things such as dining al fresco, the local beaches and the long day with the splendid sunsets.
Other useful information
You may find a guide book about Sardinia useful. These are some good options:
Despite being an island at the heart of the Mediterranean, most traditional food in Sardinia is actually not fish or seafood base. Sardinia, one of the 20 regions of Italy, is different from the rest of the country on many levels. Isolated from the mainland, from where it is very far, its food reflects its ancestral culture and traditional activities.
The majority of traditional Sardinian food is pork or lamb based, and you’ll find a lot of sheep cheese. This is because on of the most traditional occupations on the island was (and still is) sheep farming.
Food in Sardinia is tasty, unique and at times plain weird. One thing for sure, people who visit Sardinia are hardly disappointed with it.
In this post, I will highlight all the best Sardinian food that you should try, and share a few tips to fully enjoy Sardinian cuisine.
Making pane carasau the traditional way
All The Sardinian Food You Should Try While On The Island
There are more kinds of bread in Sardinia than I can possibly name in this post – to the point that an entire exhibit is dedicated to traditional bread in the Ethnographic Museum of Nuoro, one of the main cities of Sardinia. Traditionally, bread is made using “su framentu” – natural yeast. These kinds of bread are the most common, and at times used for other preparations.
Probably the most famous Sardinian bread outside Sardinia, it is commonly found in supermarkets. It’s a very thin and crispy bread typical of the Barbagia mountain region. With olive oil and salt it becomes known as “pani guttiau.” It it highly addictive.
Traditional Sardinian bread baked in a wood oven. It’s a bread that is consumed daily and it is still found in many bakeries. The most famous one is produced in Sanluri, a small town in the Campidano region.
Less common compared to the other two kinds of bread, it’s made with semolina and cooked in the traditional wood oven. The pulp is very thick and somewhat dry, and the crust thick and very crispy, if not hard. It’s meant to last several days.
You’ll find a million different varieties of Pecorino cheese in Sardinia – from semi-fresh to hard. The harder the cheese, the stronger the flavor. The “stagionato” (hard) variety has a peppery taste.
This kind of pecorino is typical of Gavoi, a small town in the heart of Sardinia.
Culurgiones are a must when in Sardinia – photo courtesy of andriaflickr (flickr)
Pasta and soups
Much like in the rest of Italy, pasta is a staple in Sardinia as well. Pasta dishes here are nothing like what you get in other regions. We have our own, unique shapes and our own fillings and sauces. Traditional Sardinian pasta dishes aren’t an every day business: they are meant for special occasions. They are the kind of dishes that you should only eat at the very best restaurants, as they require excellent quality ingredients and hours of preparations.
Having said so, there are a few excellent pasta dishes and soups among the Sardinian food that you should try. Here are some.
Malloreddus alla Campidanese
Campidano is the main plain of Sardinia. This is where malloreddus, a pasta that is often referred to as “gnocchetti sardi” comes from. Malloreddus are best when homemade, and they tend to be a very chewy pasta, with a strong bite to it – the kind that will hardly ever get overcooked.
The best way to enjoy malloreddus is “alla campidanese,” a sauce that is made by cooking together a rather rough pork sausage, tomatoes and saffron. The end result is a thick, somehow sweet sauce that is full of flavor. For the perfect touch, once malloreddus are tossed in the sauce, they are sprinkled with abundant pecorino cheese (more about that later).
Fregola con le arselle
Fregola is similar to cous cous, but with more of a bite to it as its “pearls” are much bigger. This pasta is made with semolina, water and salt. It’s together and then rubbed between the fingers to get the rounded shape. There are various ways to prepare it, but the most traditional one is with clams (arselle), tomatoes, parsley, garlic and just a hint of chillies. The best fregola is a bit soup-ey, so you should eat it with a spoon.
Culurgionis is similar to ravioli in concept – it’s a filled pasta – but completely different in flavor. They are typical of a region of Sardinia called Ogliastra and are made with potatoes, mint, garlic and cheese. Different villages make them differently – some use pecorino cheese, others a local cheese called “cas’e fitta”, and the end result can be very different depending on where you eat them.
The best culurgiones to me are those from a village called Seui. They are typically served just boiled with no oil and abundant pecorino cheese sprinkled on them. Alternatively, they are eaten with a plain tomato sauce.
Finding good, traditional culurgiones is very hard. You’ll often see them on the menu in restaurants and trattorie, but unless they are very well known restaurants, most places don’t make them from scratch. The best culurgiones are usually home made or eaten at a well known agriturismo (farm house).
INTERESTING FACT: A lot of restaurants are now offering modern versions of culurgiones, so you may come across variations that include a seafood bisque, a sauce made with burrata, and so on. For an innovative, delicious version of culurgiones, go to Le Segrete, a lovely restaurant in Cagliari.
Locally known as “suppa cuata,” this dish is typical of Gallura, a region in the north east of Sardinia. It’s made using stale bread which is soaked with sheep broth and then layered with pecorino cheese mixed with parsley and mint. It’s then cooked in the oven until the cheese melts, and served piping hot. For a lighter flavor, it can be done with beef broth.
Known as Italy’s rarest pasta, the tradition of su filindeu is currently held by no more than two or three women in Sardinia – one of them is Paola Abraini, whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet during a filindeu workshop during which, however, she didn’t spell the secret on how to make this unique pasta.
The pasta is made with water, flour and salt – though proportions are unknown – and the dough stretched and pulled seven times to create 256 thin strands of pasta which are then laid down to dry. Once dry, the pasta is cooked in a thin sheep broth and served with pecorino cheese.
Spaghetti ai ricci
Fine, spaghetti ai ricci (spaghetti with sea-urchin) isn’t exactly a Sardinian food that can be defined traditional, since it is mostly a modern dish. But it is something that we in Sardinia consume abundantly – except when the local authorities restrict the fishing of sea urchins in an attempt to protect the species and allow them to reproduce.
Spaghetti are drained when al dente, and thrown in a pan where garlic, chillies and parsley have been lightly fried in oil. Sea urchin pulp is added at the very last, for a delicate yet intense flavor.
Porceddu is a local delicacy – photo courtesy of Samuele Pau
Meat and fish dishes
Most of the meat dishes of Sardinian cuisine require hours of preparation. If you intend to eat them while visiting, you really need to research a place where you can try them, and request them in advance.
As far as traditional Sardinian food, porceddu (maialetto in Italian) is probably the most famous dish. It is a milk piglet that was born and raised in Sardinia, which is split in two and roasted ever so slowly on a spit over the fire, until the meat is soft and moist yet the skin crispy. The best one is made occasionally rubbing lard and mirto leaves on the skin of the piglet.
Porceddu takes an average of 4 hours to cook properly, so don’t expect to pop at a restaurant and have it fresh made to order. The best porceddu is usually eaten at home, where it is prepared for special occasions, or at a good agriturismo.
Pecora in cappotto
Literally meaning sheep in a coat, this is a dish typical of Barbagia, a mountainous region of central Sardinia. It’s a very flavorful stew prepared using carrots, potatoes, various herbs such as parsley and bay leaves, onions, celery and sundried tomatoes. You either love it or hate it. I admit I am not a fan of it, but many locals as well as tourists swear by it.
Sa Cordula and Sa Trattalìa
This is for the real so called “foodies” – those who aren’t afraid of trying new things. They are both made with the internal organs of either goat or lamb, which are kept together by the thin guts. It is usually cooked over the fire, on a spit, very slowly until the guts become golden and crispy. Other versions are stewed with peas and other vegetables.
Agnello coi carciofi
One of my favorite dishes of traditional Sardinian food is lamb slowly stewed with artichokes. Both of them become incredibly soft and moist, and the dish is very delicate in flavor, with a sweet hint. I recommend eating it with large amounts of bread.
Spigola alla vernaccia
A very simple dish made by oven roasting a large seabass covered in vernaccia wine, adding black olives. The wine thickens to become a delicious sauce to accompany the moist fish.
Burrida a sa casteddaia
Typical of Cagliari, it’s a dish of dogfish cooked in vinegar and walnuts. It’s not exactly light, but it is oh so tasty. It is never missing on special occasions.
This soup is prepared by cooking mussels, clams, octopus, mullet in vermentino wine with olive oil, garlic, onion, parsley and chilli peppers. If you like seafood, it’s a must.
Aragosta alla catalana
This lobster dish comes from the area of Alghero, which is a Catalan enclave in Sardinia. Lobster is boiled and then served with thin slices of onion and tomatoes.
Insalata di polpo
Literally octopus salad. The recipe varies from place to place, but the most traditional version calls for fresh, boiled octopus, boiled potatoes and celery dressed in abundant oil with garlic and parsley. It’s usually served as an appetizer.
Orziadas is the Sardinian word for anemones, which are passed in flour and semolina and friend in abundant oil until golden. It’s a favorite local appetizer, though not very easy to find.
Fish a la Scabecciu
Fish is fried and then marinated in oil, vinegar, salt, garlic and parsley. Occasionally, capers and chopped tomatoes are added to the mixture. It’s typical of Cagliari.
I wouldn’t know how else to classify these typical dishes – they are commonly consumed as a full meal.
This traditional Sardinian food is prepared by slightly soaking pane carasau in broth (preferably sheep) and then layering it with a poached egg, onions, tomatoes and basil, and an abundant dose of grated pecorino cheese. It’s very nutritious, and incredibly delicious.
The idea of this dish is similar to that of empanadas, of which you have probably heard while traveling across South America. It is typical of Assemini, a small town near Cagliari, but can be found all over the island.
In Sardinia, panada are usually large – though there is now a trend to make single portions. A dough made of flour, lard, water and salt is thinly laid on a tray, then filled with a mix of meat (usually lamb) or eel mixed with parsley, garlic, sundried tomatoes, potatoes and olive oil. The dough then covers the mix and everything is cooked in the oven.
The dough becomes crispy and golden, while the filling piping hot, moist and full of flavor.
A tray of pardule, one of the most popular sweets in Sardinia
Most Sardinian sweets involve the use of almonds or cheese. Much like the rest of Sardinian food, the best are home made by women who know all the secrets to their preparation. These are just a few you should try.
This sweets are probably the most famous Sardinian ones outside of Sardinia. A very thin dough is filled with a mild cheese cooked with sugar and lemon peel, and then fried in oil and serve boiling hot with abundant honey on top of it. Yes, it is delicious.
Lovely sweets made with ricotta, saffron, sugar and very little flour. They are moist, rich and delicate at the same time. Simply mouthwatering.
Pabassinas and Pan’e Saba
Pabassa is the Sardinian word for raisins, which are highly present in both sweets – typically consumed during Christmas or Easter. Other ingredients are eggs, flour, candied orange peel, walnuts and almonds.
Ever present when you buy a tray of Sardinian sweets, sweeter than sweets, gueffus look a lot like very large candies as they are wrapped in thin colored paper. They are made with lots of sugar, almonds, orange flowers water and lemon peel.
Sardinian wine deserves a post of its own, so I won’t even begin talking about it here. The ones below are drinks that we in Sardinia typically enjoy after a large meal.
A strong liquor made of myrtle berries. Commercial one is easily found in supermarkets and liquor store, but the best one is always the homemade stuff.
Filu e ferru
Literally meaning “iron thread,” a name that refers to the thread of iron that allowed people who stored it illegally underground to find it. It’s a very strong kind of grappa.
Pizzetta sfoglia is the ultimate snack
Weird yet tasty stuff
I promise all of this is eatable.
I have honestly never tried Casu Marzu (literally “rotten cheese”), but people who have say it is delicious. It’s a very strong pecorino which is laid outside, holes dug in it for flies to lay their eggs. The larvae open up and feed on the cheese, giving it a creamy texture. It’s not exactly easy to find, but were it dangerous as they say, generations of Sardinians would have been wiped out.
Sardinian caviar is actually fish roe made by pressing together tuna or mullet eggs, salting them and drying them. It’s usually grated over pasta, pizza, seafood dishes or served sliced with lemon and olive oil for a quick, cholesterol rich appetizer.
Bitter honey is made of arbutus flowers. It’s sweet and at the same time bitter. Interesting for sure.
Pizzette sfoglia aren’t actually weird – they are just tasty. I used to think they are Italian, but realized they are a local thing when my friends in the rest of Italy said they have never heard of them before. A good pizzetta sfoglia is made with phyllo pastry. The greasy, crispy and moist crust is filled with tomato sauce, a couple of capers and an anchovy. The end result is the ultimate snack, which we in Sardinia love at breakfast (instead of the very Italian cornetto) or any time we want to treat ourselves to a snack. Pizzette sfoglia are sold in “bars,” grocery stores and even in some good bakeries.
Sebadas is the most famous dessert – photo courtesy of Joselu Blanco (flickr)
7 Tips To Find The Best Sardinian Food
Join a food tour
Joining a food tour may be a great way to learn more about local food and culture. There isn’t much available online, but I have managed to select a few tours that may be interesting. Most of the time, food is paired with wine for a more complete experience.
One of the best way to discover Sardinian food is by attending one of the many festivals that take place around the island. Many of them are highly centered on traditions, so they will have a focus on traditional food too. If you happen to be in Sardinia during the fall, you can opt for Autunno in Barbagia, which takes place every weekend in a different village for a whopping 29 weeks. Also watch out for culurgiones or porceddu festivals.
Try a Sardinian aperitivo
If you want to try a bunch of Sardinian cold cuts and cheese, the best thing to do is to go for a Sardinian style aperitivo. You will typically get a glass of good local wine and a tray with lots of dry sausage, lard, pancetta, ham and a variety of aged and semi-aged cheese, as well as local olives and bread. Make sure to drink plenty of water because it is very salty – but oh so tasty.
Go to an agriturismo
The best traditional Sardinian food is found at good agriturismi. These are rural restaurants where owners typically cook using their own products. Keep in mind that no agriturismo in Sardinia will ever offer seafood – it just never is on the menu. For that, opt for an ittiturismo.
Learn where (and when) to eat certain foods
As I have tried to explain throughout this post, certain traditional Sardinian food is only eaten seasonally and in certain places. You can’t expect to sit down at an average restaurant and be able to order a portion of porceddu – not unless you warn the restaurant days in advance that you will going there specifically for that reason.
In fact, you should stay away from places that have porceddu or other dishes that require long cooking time on the menu: if they do, chances are that you will be served something that’s been pre-cooked and stored, and then warmed up to be served.
Get to know about Sardinia Blue Zone
I know a lot of the Sardinian food I mentioned in this post sounds very rich, and not exactly healthy. But did you know that some areas in Sardinia are famous for being one of the six blue zone regions in the world? These are places where people live longer than in the rest of the world. Ongoing research proves that a combination of healthy food, family and social bonds, daily light exercise all contribute to a long, healthy and happy life.
Further readings about Sardinia
For more readings about Sardinia, make sure to check my other posts:
Hi, my name is Claudia. One day I packed my life and started traveling… except I packed too much. Follow me as I fill my life with dreams, drop the weight and inspire you to live your dreams. View and download my media kit here (updated July 2019). Learn more about me here…