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 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 visiting 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, Sardinia and on how to plan your trip there.

Alghero

The Bastions of Alghero are a lovely place for a walk

23 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.

GOOD TO KNOW: Another nice place for a walk and to catch a bit of local action is the Lungomare – AKA Alghero waterfront.

Alghero

The Cathedral bell tower seen from the Bastioni

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.

Go up 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. You can go up and from there enjoy great views of the city.

Alghero

Having a good time in Alghero

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.

GOOD TO KNOW: Other churches to look for are St. Michael Church, which has a pretty, colorful dome, and St. Barbara Church, the oldest one in town.

Alghero

Alghero is a great shopping destination

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.

Visit the Coral Museum

The Museo del Corallo is a cool place to visit to learn more about this traditional local craft. It’s located inside a Liberty-style villa and has a special focus on the history of the Mediterranean Sea. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Coral Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday – opening hours vary depending on the day. Admission is €5.

Go shopping

Known as the capital of Riviera del Corallo (Coral Coast), 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.

sweets sardinia

Traditional sweets are sold in local bakeries

Eat 

If you like seafood, you are in for a treat. Fish and shellfish rule in Alghero, Sardinia. This part of the island is famous for its lobster, which here is 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 restaurants can get really busy.

These are my favorite restaurants in town.

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 seadas, is grilled. It’s not cheap.

AL VECCHIO MULINO – By far the best pizzeria in the historic center of Alghero.

If you would like a very local experience, you could opt for a dinner at a fisherman’s house. You can book it here.

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.

Beach in Alghero

Mugoni is one of the nicest beaches near Alghero, Sardinia

Enjoy the beautiful beaches

There are many beautiful beaches in the immediate surroundings of Alghero Sardinia. These are the ones you may want to visit:

LE BOMBARDE – North of Alghero on the way to Porto Conte, it’s a small cove with incredibly clear waters, fine sand and surrounded by a forest of Mediterranean pines where cicadas live and sing very loudly. 

IL LAZZARETTO – It’s located right next to Lazzaretto and quite similar to it. 

MUGONI – In the area of Porto Conte, it’s a thin stretch of very white sand lined with pine trees and with clear waters and gorgeous views of Capo Caccia.

LIDO SAN GIOVANNI – Alghero’s main city beach.

MARIA PIA –  A bit outside Alghero, towards Fertilia, this beach is famous for the beautiful sand dunes.

SPIAGGIA DI PORTICELLO – One of the perks are the views over Porto Conte Natural Park.

PORTO FERRO – North of Alghero, this beach is beautifully surrounded by mountains and overlooked by three Aragonese towers.

Go diving

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.

Capo Caccia

Sunset views of Capo Caccia from Alghero

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.

Alghero grotta

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.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: 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 depart at regular intervals from Alghero tourist harbor and 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.

Alternatively, you can reach Neptune’s Cave 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 – the views are incredibly rewarding.

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.

Porto Conte

Porto Conte is a great place for hiking and biking

Explore Porto Conte Nature Park

One of the nicest places to explore near Alghero, Sardinia, is the area of Porto Conte. That’s where you’ll find Mugoni beach and Capo Caccia, which I have already mentioned. It’s a great place to hike and bike.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Porto Conte is easy to reach from Alghero if you have a car. Admission fee is €5 for cars and €3 for bikes or pedestrians. For guided tours that also include transportation from Alghero, click here.

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.

Palmavera

Palmavera is one of the best kept nuraghe in Sardinia

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. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Nuraghe Palmavera can be visited every day from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission is €5; if you also include the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju, it will be €8. A guided visit is an extra €2 per person but must be booked in advance. Audio-guides cost €3. 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 Sardinia

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.

Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To Bosa Sardinia.”

Sassari

A cute corner in Sassari

Visit Sassari

Sassari isn’t the most popular place to visit in Sardinia, but if you are in Alghero it may be worth going there for half a day or so. The second largest city in Sardinia, Sassari has a well kept historical center where you will find all the main sights: the beautiful St. Nicholas Cathedral and its bell tower, St. Anthony Abbot Church, the Civic Theatre and Piazza Italia, one of the biggest and impressive squares in Sardinia. Not far from it, Museo Sanna – the Argheological Museum – is incredibly well curated and worth popping in. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Sassari is at about 40 minutes drive north of Alghero. You can get there by car or also bus.

La pelosa, Sardinia

La Pelosa is one of the most famous beaches in Sardinia

Go to La Pelosa Beach

About one hour north of Alghero, La Pelosa is acclaimed as one of the best beaches in Sardinia and a real slice of paradise on earth. In order to protect its beauty, access to the beach is limited to only a restricted number of visitors daily so if you intend to go during the peak season – June to September included – you will have to book your stay with a specific local app. It’s 100% worth the hassle of booking in advance and of driving there.

Don’t ride the horse pulled carriages

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.

If you care to read more on how to become a responsible tourist, head over to my post The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”

Alghero

Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Alghero, Sardinia

Guided tours of Alghero

If you are tight on time you may want to spend just a day in Alghero when visiting the island. In that case, I recommend joining this guided day trip to Alghero from Cagliari. Check it out here.

Where to stay in Alghero

The choice of accommodation options in Alghero, Sardinia 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

How to get to Alghero

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.

Check out my post “How To Get To Sardinia: Routes From Italy And Europe.”

How to move around Alghero, Sardinia

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, Sardinia

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.

How long to spend in Alghero

One day will be enough to visit Alghero proper, but if you are planning on exploring the surroundings, you won’t regret booking a week stay there.

Other useful information

You may find a guide book about Sardinia useful. These are some good options:

As for any other trip, make sure to get a good travel insurance for your trip to Alghero. Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get your travel insurance here.

Further readings about Sardinia

For more readings about Sardinia, make sure to check my other posts:

Make sure to also read my post 17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible.”

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Read about the things to see and do in Alghero, Sardinia - via @clautavani

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