Alghero is a coastal town in Sardinia, Italy and its name was derived from the Latin word “Aleguerium” which means seaweeds, because its bay was found to be filled with a huge amount of sea algae during the time it was discovered (1102). It is a wonderful town in the Province of Sassari that offers many corners of paradise to visit. The Old Town retains many vestiges of Spanish rule that makes it look like a local Catalan (a romantic Spanish place) in Italy. The locals here speak the Catalan language from the start of the Spanish colonial occupation during the 13th century and until now most of the street signs are still written in Italian and Catalan language.
The Cappo Caccia area has the most striking views of the bay, harbors, and its line of resort beaches. The historic monuments and structures around this town are presented in Catalan Gothic Aragon and can be clearly seen from churches like the Chiesa di San Francessco and Cathedral di Santa Maria. You can stroll and admire the view of the entire town from the walls of the Torre del portal Alghero; it is interspersed with imposing towers that held the defensive part of the fortress and now form the background to a picture that can be taken perhaps at sunset while the sun plunges into the nearby crystalline Mediterranean Sea. Alghero is an extraordinarily attractive town, a real gem of a masterpiece created by the collaboration between nature and man.
When To Go:
The summer season months of May to September are the ideal time to explore the town of Alghero. The warm weather complements the busy and bustling nightlife scene where most beachfront bars and restaurants are filled with travellers loving the fun party atmosphere filled with live concerts and street performers. The rainy season months begin from November to December, but tourist arrivals start to increase despite brief rain showers and thunderstorm once the Christmas Season begins, all the way to the celebration of New Year in January 1. The winter season of December to February is mellow, in spite of the fact that the town does encounter some Mistral winds which typically keep going for around 3 days on end.
After the summer season, most business establishments are closed, same with some hotels because of the low season (last week of September up to October) or when tourist arrivals are not as frequent compared to summer. This is the time when people who work with tourism related businesses take their yearly vacation. If you plan to tour around these idle months, be sure you have a confirmed flight and hotel accommodation; you must also confirm your tour package availability to avoid inconvenience and getting disappointed with trip cancellations.
Here are the top attractions and
things to do
Capo Caccia Vertical Cliffs
Capo Caccia Vertical Cliffs
is an unspoiled and charming landscape in Alghero with an air of the whole Mediterranean. One of the interesting things to do here is to watch the famous Alghero sunset silently from the top of the hill and then wait to see the other side of the moon that slowly peeks. A beautiful scenic route takes you on this promontory with wonderful views of the sea and steep cliffs along with the company of so many seagulls. From here, you have the opportunity to visit the Cave of Neptune or Neptune’s Grotto by boat or proceed to the “Steps of the Deer”, a staircase of 654 steps. It is absolutely worth it for the breathtaking views and once you get to the cave, you will find this great little gem set in the cliff. The glimpse of the view from up there is priceless, because in between the lighthouse and the rocky coast is where you will find the beautiful blue sea!
Capo Caccia with its promontory overlooking the sea is a wonder to see if you are in the area of Alghero. You’ll be in awe of the spectacular colors of the sea that changes between an intense blue and turquoise while the waves crash into the rocky cliffs. The picture postcard place is where you can enjoy the infinite beauty of Sardinia. It is advisable to visit on foot or take a hike by going from one coastal tower to another which was built at the time of the Aragonese domination in Sardinia. However, the grandeur of these places can be appreciated more by the sea, by renting a boat in a windless day and admiring the various coves and bays arriving up to the island Foradada and the Caves of Neptune; with a chance to swim in the deep sea that has the bluest blue you’ll ever see in your lifetime.
Neptune’s Grotto (Grotta di Nettuno)
You have to go down a long staircase when getting to the
Grotta di Nettuno
, but it is all worth the effort. The cave is beautiful and will leave you speechless with its hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and colors and creates beautiful reflections in the water. The internal path (done in groups and only with a guide) is very short because the cave is quite large.
The staircase of more than 600 steps (although numerous, there are levels among some of them that makes it easy to climb and allows you to contemplate the view) that leads to the cave is magnificent, entirely leaning over the Capo Caccia Vertical Cliffs and the blue Mediterranean Sea in the background. The boats leave from the port of Alghero and stops at the entrance to disembark passengers where there is an almost constant stream of visitors, whether coming from the staircase or the boats. The climb is challenging while the view of the sea during the descent is something indescribable, especially if the day is clear and sunny.
Chiesa di San Francesco (Church of Saint Francis)
Chiesa di San Francesco
Church of Saint Francis
is a Spanish Gothic church in Alghero. The Church of St. Francis presents architectural Catalan Gothic reflecting the distant domination of the Aragonese era. The interior has a splendid marble altar of local production. The wooden statue of the scourging of Jesus and the statue of St. Francis entices pilgrims to meditate and pray in the cool shadows of the church. Outside, a beautiful cloister opens in the evening light and shows the graceful bell tower.
It is located in the heart of the old town of Alghero and has all the characteristics of the sixteenth century Spanish churches, or rather Catalan with its sandstone structure of Alghero, a collection of wooden icons enclosed in a cloister that truly deserves a visit. It is one of the most important examples of the late Gothic and Renaissance architecture in Sardinia and a style that is distinctly Catalan. The church shows a simple facade with a beautiful portal that leads into an elegant large room with majestic looking side chapels. This is the only church in Alghero that has Holy Masses in Catalan language once a day and the others in Italian.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria (Cathedral of St. Mary)
Cattedrale di Santa Maria (Cathedral of St. Mary
) is one of the most important churches in Alghero. It is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Alghero-Bosa. The church was built in the 16th century and is located in the historic center of the city in between the civic square and ramparts. The interior is divided into three naves with 3 to 6 chapels all decorated with Baroque architecture adorned with wooden apse and paintings that recall the Spanish Art. The altar is made with precious Carrara marble and on the left side you can climb the tower to admire the town of Alghero. There are four columns in neo-classical style that greet visitors at the main entrance.
The Tower and seat of the tourist office can be visited from the terrace and from the square near the tower. On the walls of the ramparts you can enjoy a splendid view of the gulf and you can admire the architectural beauty of this wonderful town. If you love taking pictures, the tower adds a dramatic backdrop to the whole scenario. A visit to this tower is like taking a leap back in time to the Spanish invasion of Sardinia, because most of the markers carry descriptions in Spanish Catalan language.
The various towers inside the old fort like the tower Sulis, tower of dogs, tower of Porta Terra, etc., are all perfectly kept and testify to the greatness and importance Alghero had in the past when it was founded by the Genoese and became a Catalan territory for many years (the reason for the Catalan dialect of the city and its strong bond with Catalonia). The Square of Santa Croce was once part of the Jewish quarter of Alghero. It was renovated a few years ago and is now a beautiful place to stop and enjoy a bit of relaxation.
is a cozy family beach with a great pine forest that is easily accessible by bus from the center of Alghero. It is a nice, quiet bay with several good eateries, affordable sun beds, parasols and pedal boats for rent. It is located in the Park of Porto Conte and from this point you can also see the fabulous cliffs of Capo Caccia. It is an ideal beach if you are looking for unspoiled nature and tranquillity in Alghero.
The beach is small and enclosed on one side by the coast and therefore protected from the strong mistral wind. Spiaggia Mugoni is a bay where the panorama gives chills on the back and a view that stretches to the horizon where the sky merges with the sea. It has white sand and crystal clear water and there are small bars on the beach where you can eat and drink at affordable prices!
Maria Pia Beach
Maria Pia Beach
, the sand is white and the sea looks more like a swimming pool. The beach is very crowded even in early July but the pine wood is an oasis of cool shade and the sea is beautiful and definitely worth going back more than once. The cold showers are free if you rent the sun beds, while the hot shower comes with a fee. There are bars and restaurants to eat sandwiches or a complete menu. Behind the beach there is a beautiful pine forest where you can chill and relax with your friends. It is suitable for families with children because the transparent sea water level remains low for several meters.
Maria Pia is the busiest beach in Alghero and around, both for its proximity to the town and for the fact that it is surrounded by a pine forest with a system of dunes that slope down to the sea. The impact is very impressive. The beach is formed by very thin white sand that gives the water a crystalline appearance (in the morning and late afternoon). The shallow water also makes the entrance to the sea smooth and safe for children.
Porto Ferro (Iron Beach)
is totally different from the other beaches you will find on the island because it deviates from the Sardinian landscape and where it is most windy all throughout the year. The beach has a characteristic iron color and is often windswept and because of the strong current, it is also known as one of the most dangerous beaches in the area. The strong winds make it an excellent place for lovers of kite surfing. It is located in the North West part of Sardinia, a beautiful isolated attraction with long walks on the shoreline and separated by three small intimate beaches.
Spiaggia Torre del Porticciolo
If you are returning from a visit to the Capo Caccia, you need not miss a visit to the town marina; the
Spiaggia Torre del Porticciolo
. It is a charming beach on the outskirts of Alghero on the road to Capo Caccia and it immediately affects the view of the sea with the beautiful beach of white sand and upstream on the promontory of the classic Tower. It is open and accessible following a path that opens at the foot of the headland. To access the beach you must leave your car in the parking lot and proceed on the road leading to the camp.
From there exists a path that is a bit ‘steep (not suitable for wheelchairs) leading to the beach. The beach is similar to that of the Port Iron; it looks golden. The ocean floor is not the same as that of the beach of Porto Ferro, because it has stones and rocky outcrops, but it is also far more animated with algae and small fish. A bathroom with a mask or goggles can be very pleasant if you plan to go snorkelling. The beach is surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation and pine trees and eucalyptus trees of the campsite. If you go to Sardinia or if you’re in the area of Alghero, visit it.
Nuraghe di Palmavera
The site of
Nuraghe di Palmavera
is definitely interesting and recommended for all those who, in addition to the beautiful sea of Sardinia, also want to explore the treasures of the hinterland. It is suitable for families even with young children with the possibility to use an audio guide automatically. It is here where you can find the Necropolis of Anghelu Ruju and the prehistoric altar of Monte d’Accoddi.
This archaeological site is near the airport and the city of Sardinia. It is worth a visit, the complex is very large, and well maintained except for the information and billboards that are old. These ruins give a good idea of the Nuragico Village and the old civilization during the early part of Alghero’s history.
You can visit the
site with a group ticket of €6 along with a visit to the site of Nuraghe di Palmavera. It is highly recommended to rent the audio guide that costs €3 for each of the two sites. Anghelu Ruju is a prehistoric necropolis that is composed of 38 tomb complex excavated and arranged in clusters of 7 and 31. Each unit, more or less complex, is composed sometimes also by more than 2 underground rooms connected by very small doors. Inside, the tombs date back to as far as 3300 BC. The audio guide explains in detail the entire site with a numerical correspondence between the various tombs along the way and the descriptive passages of the guide. It is an interesting testimony of a remote past of Sardinian history. The price is really low for an archaeological site of this magnitude.
Alghero is the most beautiful town in Sardinia with strong ramparts surrounding the old town and the fascinating marina. The ramparts allow a comfortable and pleasant stroll through the old town and the modern side of Alghero. The ramparts are surrounded by the magnificent watchtowers that bring character and depth to the significant location of Alghero in Sardinia. It is wonderful to experience a walk on the wall that surrounds the old town which is full of local shops that sell souvenirs made of gold and coral. You can walk by following its fortifications composed of 7 towers and 3 forts. At the end of the day, you can have coffee or a drink in one of the many venues where you can see the famous sunset with a panoramic view of the sea. It is a must to discover Alghero- a fortified gem in Italy.