10 Best Things to Do in Alghero, Northern Sardinia

Angela Corrias in Tharros Sardinia

Angela Corrias

One of the most popular destinations to include in a Sardinia itinerary, there are so many things to do and see in Alghero and its surroundings that it would be a shame not to spend at least a few days there. Known for the strong influence of Catalan culture, Alghero shows the legacies of the different civilizations that invaded it and with which it came into contact, from the Phoenicians to the Romans to the Pisans.

Like all places with a long history and rich culture, even in Alghero, it is impossible to see everything in one day, but two or three days are already an excellent starting point. Ready to go? Here’s what to do in Alghero to best explore the quiet town in northern Sardinia.

Things to do in Alghero – A simple itinerary + Map

Explore the alleys of the historic center

You cannot say you have visited Alghero without getting lost in its historic center’s picturesque and cobbled alleys. Slightly uncomfortable streets due to the paving made of large pebbles, I highly recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes or sandals, and certainly not high heels.

The streets of Alghero city center are lined up with typical restaurants, artisan shops, low houses typical of the area, bars, and cafes. Setting out to discover the hidden corners between a nice gelato and a seafood-based lunch, you can easily spend a few hours snapping postcard-type photographs of the small architectural jewels of this famous town in northern Sardinia.

Are you unsure how to include Alghero in your trip and what else to see in Sardinia? Book one of my tailored Sardinia itineraries and I will prepare it for you!

Image: Walking along the bastions is one of the best things to do in Alghero, Sardinia.

Walk along Alghero’s ancient walls and bastions

Alghero’s coastline is famously dotted with towers and bastions. Walking along the seafront is a great way to take in the remnants of past wars and civilizations. From the Phoenicians to the Romans, from the Catalans to the Pisans, everyone gave new shapes to the fortress that was Alghero, constantly adjusting the towers to better resist the attacks from the sea.

One of the few cities to have almost entirely preserved the walls and towers that surround it since its foundation in the 12th century by the Doria family, throughout the Middle Ages until the 16th century when the walls around the city were rebuilt, completing those on the facing the sea but not those on land.

Several towers can be seen today, from San Giacomo to Porta Terra, which connected the city by land for those arriving from Sassari. A fascinating walk full of history made even more pleasant by the sea views.

Image: Coral museum one of the best places to visit in Alghero.

Visit the Coral Museum

Housed in an Art Nouveau villa, Museo del Corallo (Coral Museum) is a mandatory stop in Alghero given the rich tradition that the city has with this marine animal. Contrary to what one might think, the exhibition is not limited to jewels and local craftsmanship but retraces the history of the “tree of the sea” linked to the territory of Alghero. It explores the nature of this creature still capable of enchanting tourists and people of the place, and its thousand-year history.

The museum is divided into sections to make the visit easier, and each object on display is accompanied by an explanatory panel. At the entrance, a guide accompanied me along the entire route, certainly enriching my experience since I would have gone into much less detail on my own.

  • Where: Via XX Settembre 8.
  • When: Monday and Wednesday 4.30-7 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 10.30 am-1 pm, Friday to Sunday 10.30 am-1 pm and 4.30-7 pm.
  • Website.
Image: The cathedral one of the places to visit in Alghero.

Visit the Cathedral

Due to its simplicity, the austere neoclassical façade of the cathedral of Alghero, white and poorly decorated, could be misleading. The back of the church, in fact, in late Gothic style, dates back to the first phase of its construction and in addition to a portal, it also includes a bell tower with a pyramidal spire covered in colored majolica that recalls the Catalan style. One of the largest churches in Sardinia, the rich and decorated interior in late Renaissance style is divided into three naves.

Dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria, its main entrance is in Piazza Duomo, in the historic center and a stone’s throw from the port.

Visit the archaeological sites around Alghero

Alghero has several archaeological sites in its surroundings that are worth visiting. The largest is the nuragic village of Palmavera where in relatively recent times a third tower was brought to light around the keep (main nuraghe), an aspect reminiscent of the Santu Antine nuraghe in Torralba.

Among the other archaeological sites to visit around Alghero, there is the fascinating necropolis of Anghelu Ruju made up of several domus de janas, the Green Cave, and the Nuraghe of Flumenelongu.

Image: Visiting the Archaeological Museum is one of the things to do in Alghero.

Visit the Archaeological Museum

If you are unable to visit the Nuragic sites scattered throughout the area, a place not to be missed in Alghero is its interesting archaeological museum. Located in the historic center, therefore very easy to reach, it is divided into sectors ranging from the sea with the wrecks found off the coast, to the ways of living in the sacred, that is, the burials in the Nuragic era. The museum also houses fragments of mosaics and sculptures found in the Roman villa near the city which, however, cannot be visited.

All the sections are very interesting, but I found the one on burials particularly fascinating where you can see the objects they placed in the tombs of both adults and children and which reveal important details about the society of the time.

Here too, a guide accompanied me throughout the museum, making the visit more interesting than doing it alone. If you can’t find the guide, each section and all the rooms are completed with explanatory panels. As with the Coral Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Alghero also opens upon reservation from Monday to Friday while entry is free on Saturdays and Sundays. For timetables and information, it is best to consult the official website.

  • Where: Via Carlo Alberto 72.
  • When: Monday and Wednesday 10.30 am-1 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 4.30-7 pm, Friday to Sunday 10.30 am-1 pm and 4.30-7 pm.
  • Website.

Don’t miss a trip to the Neptune Caves

Naturalists cannot miss an excursion to the Neptune Caves, a labyrinth of fairy-tale ravines and a forest of stalactites and stalagmites set in the Capo Caccia promontory. You can arrive by land in about half an hour’s drive from Alghero followed by the famous Escala del Cabirol, “roe deer’s staircase”, a staircase of just under 660 steps, or with about 30 minutes by boat from the port of Alghero.

We went with our one-and-a-half-year-old son so the steps down and then back up in the sun were not a feasible option. We booked the boat the day before and had no problems, but we went before the high season started and although they only ran twice a day, at 10 am and 3 pm, there still weren’t many tourists. In July and August, the two companies will organize more trips throughout the day, but I still recommend booking at least a few days in advance.

The visit to the caves must also be booked, but if you go by boat when booking the ride, the shipping company itself will communicate how many visitors it is bringing, while if you go by land, you must necessarily book directly by calling the office of Alghero Tourism.

For information on timetables, ticket costs, and how to book the boat and entry to the caves, it is best to consult the tourism office website.

Image: Neptune caves one of the best things to do in Alghero.

Try the local cuisine

When you say Alghero, you say lobster, especially the “Catalan style”. But since we can’t always spend so much on food when we travel, don’t worry, Alghero cuisine offers many other delicious options, especially fish-based. Throughout the historic center you will find many typical restaurants where you can taste various local delicacies starting from agliata, a tomato sauce with a lot of garlic served in particular with starters (we ate it over pieces of breaded swordfish).

The first courses range from malloreddus to ravioli dumplings to tagliolini, and are served with prawns, swordfish, bottarga, mussels, clams, scampi, and much more. Among the second courses, in addition to lobster, calamari reigns supreme, the catch of the day prepared in different ways, mixed fried fish, and slices of larger fish such as tuna or shi drum.

If you don’t like fish, don’t worry, all the restaurants also have land dishes and some vegetarian options, especially in the first courses and starters, as well as the side dishes.

Image: In Alghero tray the local food.

Go shopping in the coral artisan shops

You can’t go to Alghero and not take a tour of the artisan coral workshops of the Mediterranean. The displays of these red jewels will blow your mind and regardless of how much you want/can spend, you will surely find something that suits you. Prices vary depending on the type of coral and the processing. There are very eclectic pieces of craftsmanship, therefore not only in Sardinian style but also ethnic and more modern.

But if you want something purely local, you can ask for coral and filigree jewelry. I recently purchased some pendants with the typical Sardinian button and some earrings in the shape of the “corbula”, all in silver and red coral filigree. To be sure that it is Mediterranean coral certified by the Municipality of Alghero, check that outside the shop there is the official symbol of a red “A” decorated like the coral itself.

Image: Shops and workshops in Alghero city center.

Take a day trip to La Pelosa Beach in Stintino

About an hour’s drive from Alghero is the famous La Pelosa beach in the Stintino area. Known for being one of the most beautiful beaches in Sardinia, after spending a day there, I can only confirm.

Very fine white sand, crystal clear water that begins with a shallow, clear seabed and gradually becomes intense turquoise. Perfect for children because the water remains shallow for several meters. Both from here and from Stintino you can book trips to the Asinara Natural Park, which has a limited number of places.

Image: La Pelosa beach in Stintino in Sardinia.

How to reach Alghero

Alghero can be reached by plane from many Italian cities, and if there are no companies that land there, the other closest airport is Olbia Costa Smeralda. Check out Omio’s website to see all the routes to Alghero and Olbia airports.

If you have rented a car, from the west coast, you can take the scenic coastal road. Mostly winding, it is still an easy road and truly has some breathtaking views. Arriving from central Sardinia, you can take the SS131, while if you arrive from Olbia, the shortest route is to go through Sassari.

Check out Discover Cars if you are looking into renting a car in Sardinia.

Image: Panoramic road to reach Alghero from south.

Where to stay in Alghero

Alghero is one of the best places to stay in Sardinia if you want to discover beautiful beaches but also local handicrafts and delicious food.

Where to eat in Alghero

The undisputed protagonist of the local cuisine is seafood. Among our favorite restaurants in Alghero are Trattoria Caragol (Via Majorca 73) and Lo Romanì (Via Principe Umberto 29), both in the historic center.

Unfortunately, we stayed too little and were unable to try two gems recommended by all the locals we asked, Mabrouk (Via Santa Barbara 4), open only for dinner, and Al Tuguri (Via Majorca 113), open every day days except Sunday.

WANT TO SAVE THIS FOR LATER? PIN IT TO YOUR BOARD!

Leave a Comment