Visiting Alghero - What to See and Do
(Alghero Airport AHO, Italy)
Even within the wide scope of Italian tourism, Alghero competes with the best holiday destinations in the country. Blessed with a warm, sun-kissed climate and a short distance to fantastic beach escapes, Alghero offers plenty for budding holidaymakers. Couple its beach culture with an intriguing medieval hearth and tourists can see why this extraordinary town is among Sardinia's finest.
From the pre-historic Nughare sites to the Palace of Albis, the historical side of Alghero is quite breathtaking. Landmarks like the town's cathedral and protective fortress offer outstanding sights for tourists. Nevertheless, with beaches located just down the road, most tourists forget about the historic treasures hidden within the town itself. As a result, these magnificent attractions are not overly crowded with gawkers.
Those who enjoy culture at its best can walk the rustic, medieval lanes of inner-Alghero. However, history aside, the resident maritime culture also adds splendor to the town's tourism industry. The coral jewellery straddling the town's offshore environments lure divers from all corners of the globe. Scuba diving has never been more popular. The town also boasts the most delectable seafood cuisine in Sardinia
. There is so much to sample in Alghero.
Ten things you must do in Alghero
- Among Alghero's and Sardinia's most appealing attractions is the Alghero Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria). A stunning blend of Moorish, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-classical architecture is on show within the cathedral. Architecture buffs will be in their element here. The contrasts between the Neo-classical western face and the Catalan-influenced, Gothic-style gateway is truly remarkable.
- Albis Palace (Palazzo d'Albis) is a former royal residence in Alghero, once housing Emperor Charles V during the 1500s. This Gothic-style edifice overlooks Piazza Civica, which is a historically significant town square of Alghero. Recent renovations have given this monolithic mansion a facelift, yet the historical beauty is still captured in its medieval facade.
- Neptune's Grotto is Alghero's most treasured attraction. This 110-metre / 361-foot deep cave is a Mother Nature masterpiece. Visitors are advised to wear loose, comfortable clothes for walking, as the mouth to the cave is accessed by a 654-step descending staircase. Alternatively, the heart of this natural attraction can actually be reached by boat.
- Exploring the archaeological sites of Alghero is what attracts many tourists to this pocket of Sardinia. Anghelu Ruju and Nuraghe Palmavera are two stone monoliths built between 1700 and 950 BC, during the height of the Nuragic civilisation. Seeing is believing, so touring these prehistoric sites is recommended.
- St. Michael's Church is among Sardinia's most popular religious structures. It is easily recognisable by its stunning dome. The building provides the perfect specimen for Catalan architecture, as its Valencia-influenced design still derives from western-European backgrounds. The church was refurbished in the late 1960s, but still radiates an ancient, worn feel.
- The Gate Museum (Torre Porta a Terra) was once part of Alghero's town gate system. Today, visitors can enter the site to find an exciting history museum, complete with multimedia displays about the rich history of Alghero. In addition, visitors can breathe in a panoramic view of the town from the 360-degree lookout point.
- The Mare Nostrum Aquarium is the only aquarium located on the island of Sardinia, so it naturally gets all the attention from travellers. Families will have a field day here, as there are plenty of activities to see and do, including piranha exhibitions, leopard shark tanks and a reptile house.
- Laying in the hills just north of Alghero's Old Town is the former fortress, the Bastione della Maddalena. Alghero changed hands many times throughout its history, and hence, numerous battles were fought on its shores. The fortress portrays well-preserved evidence of Alghero's conflicts. It is often regarded as the town's crowning glory, as the entire area was once a formidable bastion, with this site shielding the town below.
- St. Francis Church is another sightseeing stop-off point for tourists. Built in the 12th century, the church boasts original Catalan-Gothic architecture, but also a large bell tower of the 16th century. It has been restored several times since the bell tower was erected. Strolling through the church and its serene cloister will whisk visitors back to medieval times. This is one of the most photogenic spots around.
- The underwater environment around the Marine Reserve offers scuba diving enthusiasts one of Italy's most treasured sites. The sub-marine gardens of the reserve provide ideal spots for beginner divers and experts. Diving at Capo Galera, with its stunning caves, is another fabulous spot that scuba-enthusiasts shouldn't pass up. This activity remains high on Alghero's tourism checklist.