Bosa 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. So, when putting together your Sardinia itinerary, make sure to include it!
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.
16 Things To Do In Bosa, Sardinia
Walk up Malaspina Castle
If you only visit one place when in Bosa, 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.
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.
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 Cumpultittu, a tiny cove of white sand nestled among gorgeous rock formations, and with the clearest waters you could hope for.
Dive into Cane Malu
Cane Malu is a natural pool carved by the sea and wind in the white trachyte rock typical of the area of Bosa. You can only get there on foot. Once there, you can enjoy swimming in the natural pool or, if you have the nerve, dive right into the water. Make sure to wear rock sandals as the surfaces may be slippery and there may be sea urchins in the water; and by all means avoid getting in the water when the sea is rough.
To get to Cane Malu, follow the signs from Bosa Marina to Alghero and take the road to Sas Covas. Park the car at the end of the marina and take the easy path that will lead you there in about 15 minutes.
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.
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:
- Rooms on the River is a fully equipped modern apartment with incredible views and centrally located. Click here for the latest rates.
- Palazzo Sa Pischedda is by far the best hotel in town, with gorgeous rooms and incredible views of the river. It has its own on site restaurant. Click here for the latest rates.
- Pessighette Dimora di Campagna is located in an idyllic setting in the local countryside while at the same time close to the town and the beach. Rooms are spacious and comfortable. Click here for the latest rates.
- Aghinas Albergo Diffuso has lovely rooms located in a couple of historical buildings in the center of Bosa. Click here for the latest rates.
How to get to Bosa, Sardinia
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.
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
As for any other trip, I recommend getting a good travel insurance for your trip to Bosa and Sardinia.
For more readings about Sardinia, make sure to check my other posts:
- A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia
- An Excellent Guide To The Best Beaches In Sardinia
- Hiking In Sardinia – 14 Incredible Trails
- 11 Amazing Surfing Spots in Sardinia
- A Local’s Guide To Costa Rei, Sardinia
- A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Cagliari
- A Guide To The Beaches In Cagliari And Its Surroundings
- A Guide To Hotels In Cagliari: Where To Stay In Sardinia’s Capital
- A Complete Guide To Alghero Sardinia
- A Complete Guide To The Island Of Asinara, Sardinia
- All The Sardinian Food You Should Try
Make sure to also read my post “17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible.”