Alghero is situated on the north west coast of Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean sea that makes up part of Italy. Naturally that means it has plenty of influences from the surrounding countries including Italy, France and Spain. The Italian style is not forgotten with celebs such as George Clooney visiting (while I was there!), and with the visitors and locals showing off their incredibly stylish wardrobes like they were all born in Milan.
Alghero is full of history. It’s said that Alghero has been present in some form since the 4th millennium BC. Today you can see buildings that date back to the 16th century including the stunning cathedral and the fortifications of the 12th century that were also rebuilt in the 16th century.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria
The Cathedral can be found in the heart of the Old Town of Alghero. When I visited, the outside was being renovated so there was scaffolding, but this didn’t alter the experience inside. With parts being of Catalan-Gothic style, and others in Late Renaissance and Neo-Classical styles, the cathedral has a fascinating mix of history built into its structures.
One of the most prominent features of the cathedral from the outside, besides its stunning entrance, is the bell tower.
Horse and cart tours
By far one of the most pleasant and convenient ways to see the Old Town is by horse and cart. There are a few different routes to choose from, but each present a treat to be shown the hidden treasures of Alghero up close by your guide.
You’ll be relieved to know that these large carts do not often fill up entirely, but if they do, the horse is aided with a hidden motor. The Old Town’s tight turns and sudden, steep hills could prove to be torturous for these gorgeous equines otherwise!
Entertainment and culture
Open air theatre shows
Alghero is blessed with a couple of theatres. One indoor and one open air. The indoor one seemed be closed when I visited, but the open air theatre was a delight to visit. I managed to catch an Italian monologue called “Il Mondologo Di Arlecchino”. Despite not knowing very much Italian, it was a very funny show and very interactive too! The girl under the various guises was fantastically talented.
Naturally, with Sardinia and Alghero itself producing some fantastic wines, you should take the opportunity to visit a vineyard for a tour and some wine tasting. I didn’t get the chance when I was out there but there are some great reviews of vineyards not too far from Alghero that include an experience not to be missed.
The Neptunes Caves
I didn’t get a chance to see these due to bad weather making the seas rough and the caves unsafe, but this is a major visitor attraction in Alghero full of magnificent structures inside.
I’m sure I don’t have to remind you about how ideal the location is of Alghero for catching some true Mediterranean sun, and how perfect the beaches are, but there plenty of other truly relaxing past-times in this quaint Sardinian town. If you can’t face a day lying on a beach (they can get pretty crowded), there’s a whole host of boat trips to choose from.
Boat trips around Sardinia
I was lucky enough to have a trip out on the Andrea Jensen which is run by a British family incidentally.
The views from the traditional old boat were stunning, and you could do nothing but stop and relax whilst on board. The other guests on the trip were very friendly and we were treated to a great lunch, stop offs for snorkeling and the chance to see some stunning cliff formations up close – not to mention we were invited to help with the rigging and ropes if we wanted to!
I think I’ll be giving myself a reputation as a sunset-chaser as this rate, but the sunsets in Alghero are not to be missed. You can catch them whilst having a stroll along the night market or dining at one of the many shore-front restaurants in Alghero.
Sardinian cuisine and fine wine
Some of the traditional food in Alghero might be easy to predict due to its seaside location; much of it includes fresher-than-fresh seafood.
The Angedras Restaurant
Review websites gave fantastic ratings for this upmarket restaurant in Alghero, situated on the edge of the Old Town – and quite rightly so as I was very impressed by its range and standard of food. I tasted a fresh mussel and clam ‘soup’ and one of the best steaks I’ve had in a long time (alright, I’d had almost entirely seafood up to this point, so it was time for a change!).
The wine was lovely though – I had a lovely red called Carignano del Sulcis Reserva (2007) which originated from Alghero, too.
I can’t mention the Angedras Restaurant without commenting on its fantastic locale for the sunsets. It isn’t every day when you can witness a stunning backdrop at the same time as fine dining.
Unusual Sardinian food
Beware that another speciality in Sardinia is suckling pig. In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s a pig that is slaughtered while it is still suckling on its mother’s milk – so aged between 2 and 6 weeks old. In many places it is said to be speciality due to its unique taste and texture. Although, as you can probably imagine, for an animal-lover like me, it was a bit distressing seeing roast suckling pig in the displays in many cafes.
Other unusual foods I found whilst in Sardinia included horse meat, snails and frogs legs! I can’t say I’ve tried any of the above, but the latter two I am determined to try one day!
As with many places in Italy, there is a fantastic selection of delicious cured meats to sample almost everywhere you go. A selection of these meats with local cheese and/or melon is a highly recommended starter or even light lunchtime snack.
You can also find a whole range of pasta and pizza dishes to cater for almost anyone’s palete.
And let’s not forget my personal favourite, the Italian coffees. Along with the usual cafe lattes and cappuccinos, there was one coffee I sampled called a marocchino. I can’t emphasise enough how you must try this coffee! It is basically a very small cappuccino, but with a shot of chocolate syrup added. Best consumed slowly to savour the delicious tastes and to make the whole experience last as long as possible!
Wines of Sardinia
Along with the aforementioned wine I had in the Angedras Restaurant, I took the opportunity to sample several other local wines – much to my delight as I can’t say I sampled a single bad one! Below are a couple more that I would recommend:
If you’re interested in a lovely break away for a long weekend or a couple of weeks, then I highly recommend Alghero, and specifically the Angedras Hotel for a superb break.