Alghero – Sardinia’s Best Kept SecretPosted on: 22 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves
Alghero is one of those places that the Italians have been happy to keep to themselves.
Tucked away on the north-western coast of the island of Sardinia, this fishing port remains unspoilt and mostly devoid of the package holiday crowds. One look at the medieval old town with its mighty stone wall and seven surrounding watchtowers, and you’ll likely be keeping quiet about where you went on your holidays too.
Invaded by Catalan colonists in the 14th century, Alghero offers an enticing mix of two nations: delicious Catalan cuisine served in Italian piazzas, impressive monuments erected during Aragonese rule and Italian vineyards such as the prestigious Sella e Mosca, also a museum.
The ruling families even gave Alghero the nickname Barcelonetta, ‘Little Barcelona’, and all the street signs are bilingual. With holiday destinations as practically undiscovered as this, there’s usually one essential thing missing – maybe the beach ends up being little more than a cliff, or there’s nothing to see or do after you’ve strolled around the main square.
But with Alghero, there is no catch. The beautiful beach is long and sandy, shaded by pine forests. There are fetes, carnivals and events through the year and the locals actually seem pleased to see you.
What To See & Do
This historic town has become one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Sardinia. The car free narrow lanes of the atmospheric old town contain numerous bars and cafes whilst the restaurants are renowned for excellent seafood.
The surrounding area brings many delights for those who venture out of the city. These include the famous beaches at La Pelosa - Stintino, the eerily abandoned mining town of Argentiera and the ancient palace complex at Nuraghe di Palmavera.
The coastal road south of Alghero is beautiful, an unspoilt and protected panorama of sparkling sea, lush vegetation and rocky mountains. It leads to Bosa, a small medieval town, which has a distinctive and living historic centre and many points of interest. Bosa is an ideal spot for a relaxing holiday, as it is friendly and has a character and economy which is not based solely on tourism.
Watch The Boats Come To The Port
Ports can be an endless source of fascination. Noisy and bustling with activity, Alghero’s port is a great place to sit, have a coffee, and watch the fisherman bring in the day’s catches.
Bake On The Beach
Not only is Alghero blessed with a charming old town, it even has a stunning beach nearby. The Maria Pia Beach is sandy, lapped by clean blue waters and, most of the year, at least, not overly-crowded.
Anghelu Ruju & Nuraghe di Palmavera
About 10km from Alghero, Sardinia’s two most important archeological sites can be fitted in on the way to or from the airport. Anghelu Ruju is a necropolis, whose tombs were used between 3500 and 5000 years ago, whilst the Nuraghe di Palmavera is a similarly ancient, and no less fascinating, site.
Neptune’s Grotto is the most well-known of the many caves and grottoes that line this stretch of the Sardinian coastline. Guided boat tours can be arranged to take you out to it, as well the Grotta dei Ricami and the Grotta Verde.
Walk Around The Walls
Alghero’s city walls stare resolutely out to sea, much as they have done for the last six hundred years or so. From this excellent vantage point, the views of both the sea and the town are superb, with sunsets, naturally, being particularly spectacular.
The best known of Sardinia's three major airports, Alghero has been opened up massively since the arrival of Ryanair. The budget airline now operates cheap flights to Alghero from Dublin, East Midlands and Liverpool, aswell as from Stansted.
Thomson fly from London Gatwick and Birmingham International in the summer months.
By Mark O'Haire
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