If there’s a place that helps me clear my mind, no matter where I am in the world, it’s McDonald’s. I’m currently sitting in one in the town of Alghero, writing this article.
The romantics amongst you perhaps pictured me in a beautiful setting, somewhere peaceful and with a magnificent view. Alas no, I’m sitting in the corner, there are two birthday parties, kids running around, teenagers on their first date but none of it annoys me. I’m far away, in my own bubble.
My week in Alghero has come to an end and I couldn’t wait to write about my experience on the blog. I’ll tell you all about the 10 must-do things in Alghero and I’ll add my personal advice too.
1. GET LOST AMONG ALGHERO’S WINDING STREETS
Meander through the town’s maze of alleys and backstreets to best appreciate Alghero’s history. The houses, still untouched by modern renovations, are weathered and show all the signs of time, making them incredibly fascinating. Personally, I found that the best time to go for stroll is after dark when the lights of the shops are switched on and the starry sky is the background. Priceless! The air starts to fill with aromas from the kitchens and those who are out and about begin their search for a restaurant table.
Tip: be careful when choosing a restaurant, there are so many here that it can be tricky to find one that serves fresh seafood. Many restaurants offer frozen products at very high prices. I’m aware this is a standard practice and it can happen everywhere in the world, but I believe that in a seaside town like Alghero, seafood and fish should be fresh. On another note, I hope to see fewer and fewer asterisks on menus everywhere, fresh and seasonal food is always better!
2. GET A COKTAIL AT SKY BLAU
The “Lebua” of Alghero! 🙂 The “Lebua” is one of the tallest skyscrapers in Bangkok, with a rooftop bar on the 64th floor and it’s the most incredible sky-bar in the Thai capital.
The Sky Blau is the bar with the tallest panoramic terrace in Alghero. Though only 9-floors tall, it is still a beautiful space. In addition to the terrace, there’s an indoor bar and, all around its three sides, a long corridor with glass-to-ceiling windows overlooking the town.
I have been there after sunset for an aperitif, and in the morning for breakfast, and I must say that stopping here is definitely worth it, whichever time of day. In the evening, many locals and tourists come to this panoramic terrace to enjoy the magnificent sunset painting the sky red and, as a result, it is very likely that you won’t find a free table. In the morning, however, there are fewer people and this allows you to enjoy your breakfast (and the view) in total tranquility. The bartender recommended us to do just that.
Good to know: you don’t have to pay to access the terrace. The prices aren’t that different from those of a standard bar, so I’d rather have a drink here and enjoy the view, don’t you agree?
3. TAKE A STROLL ON THE PROMENADE
Alghero boasts miles and miles of coastline with several beaches. Without even having to cross the road, you’ll find a long promenade with a cycling lane and a sidewalk. It reminded me of Las Ramblas in Barcelona or Miami’s Ocean Drive.
You’ll find several kiosks where to rent a bike along the promenade as well as many beachfront cafes.
4. TRY SARDINIA’S DELICIOUS CONFECTIONERY
Partiamo dal presupposto che l’unico dolce sardo che amo alla follia è la seada a base di semola, formaggio, miele o zucchero. Ho
I love the seada, which is made with semolina, cheese, honey or sugar. I discovered it last summer in Santa Teresa di Gallura and I can’t resist it, even though it’s high-calorie.
Apart from the seada, Sardinian sweets are typically dry, with almonds, sugar and jams. The photo you can see below was taken at a small dairy shop in Alghero and it shows the most famous delicacies.
5. TRY THE CATALAN PAELLA WITH FREGOLA
Alghero is almost directly in front of Barcelona and this allowed for Spanish and Moorish influences to get here.
You can see this in the architecture, the local works of art and of course, in the traditional cuisine. You’ll come across many restaurants offering authentic Catalan paella.
I take this opportunity to suggest you a nice little restaurant where to try Catalan paella with fregola (as opposed to the usual rice). Fregola is a type of pasta from Sardinia. The restaurant is called Enhorabona and you’ll find it on the promenade.
A paella dish can be shared by 2 people. All in all, you’ll spend around €30 and you’ll get to eat something truly unique!
6. ADMIRE REAL CORALS
Sardinia is often associated with the coral’s beauty. Alghero, in particular, has a long-standing tradition of working coral for jewelry. This is why the area near Alghero is also known as the ‘Coral Riviera’.
Italians have pulled coral from the Mediterranean sea for centuries. This magnificent material was already used for jewelry and ornaments in ancient Rome. The craft evolved through time, with artisans being able to create true works of art.
Coral from Alghero is of a particularly fine variety, due to its intense red color and because of how hard it is. It is cut immediately after it’s fished out of the water, with special saws and files, bringing out all its best qualities and almost turning it into a gem, ready to ornate beautiful jewelry.
7. WALK ALONG THE RAMPARTS
Alghero is one of the few fortified towns in Italy where you can still find almost all of the ancient walls intact. Another example is the beautiful Cittadella, just outside Padua.
In 2000 the walls were restored thanks to the ‘Muralia 2000’ initiative. They’re now a unique attraction making this town truly special.
One morning, I left the B&B where I was staying (more about it later on) looking for a cafe where to have breakfast, thinking I’d then go back to my room to write. It was raining and drab. By the time I had eaten my delicious cream filled croissant and drank my coffee (my favorite breakfast), it had stopped raining so I took advantage of this sudden change in weather and took a longer route back to the B&B.
We stayed out for about 3 hours and came across this incredible ramparts walk. I’ll never forget how beautiful it was! The day before, I had publicly announced I was pregnant and throughout the entire walk, I kept receiving messages from well-wishers. A special moment in an even more special setting.
8. CHAT WITH THE ELDERLY
This is one of my favorite pastimes. I love listening to their stories and imagine myself living in the past. Alghero is famous for being home to several 100-year-olds. This summer, photographer Daniela Zedda decided to celebrate this unique milestone with a photo exhibition displaying portraits of the elderly living in Alghero. The exhibition is supposed to last until October 2017, but I hope they extend it.
I was moved by those beautiful portraits, by the words accompanying them, by the smiles and by the eyes of the elderly. A great initiative that will inspire you to meander through the old town looking for one of Alghero’s older inhabitants to talk to.
9. RENT A BIKE
This is, for sure, one of the best things to do in Alghero.
There’s a cycling lane along the promenade. Here you’ll find many kiosks renting bikes to tourists and you can choose between e-bikes, city bikes, racing bikes, mountain bikes and more. Renting a bike is quite cheap, about €10/day per person. Of course, prices are subject to change, especially during high season and depending on the bike you choose.
Tip: try the bike you intend on renting before paying. Many reviews warn that these kiosks scam tourists renting out broken bikes.
10. DAY TRIPS WITH A CAR: STINTINO AND CASTELSARDO
Did you rent a car? Or perhaps you took your car to Sardinia? Then if you want to go on a day trip I recommend you visit Castelsardo, a medieval small town perched atop a hill.
Now a tourist attraction, Castelsardo is well prepared to welcome visitors. There are plenty of beachfront cafes and restaurants with beautiful vistas of the Sardinian sea.
Tip NUMBER 1: be careful when choosing a restaurant, there are many restaurants but only a few offer local dishes from Sardinia. I don’t want to generalize as I went to only one restaurant, but I advise you to choose a restaurant not just because of its location or how it looks. Read the reviews beforehand as well as the menu, and if all else fails, go with your gut!
Tip number 2: visit the castle in Castelsardo, not only because it’s truly magnificent but also because you can admire an amazing view from the top.
Stintinto is another stop to add to your itinerary. Here, La Pelosa beach is known as one of Italy’s most beautiful beaches.
Located on a strip of land in the furthest part of North-West Sardinia, this is a must-visit beach. Fine white sand, turquoise, clear waters, lush vegetation flanking the beach and breathtaking panoramas. I went there at the end of September so I couldn’t fully appreciate its beauty. For this reason, here’s a photo of Stintino in summer so you can get a better idea.
WHERE TO STAY IN ALGHERO?
I was invited by Stefania to stay at her B&B, Alghero In. She was an excellent chaperone and guide, showing me around Alghero and the various sights listed in this article. Her B&B is really nice and conveniently located.
I won’t write too much about the B&B as the website does a great job in describing it (www.algheroin.it). It’s comfortable, nicely decorated and in a tranquil street yet minutes away from the town center.
You can send an email directly to Stefania, who’ll be happy to answer your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org