6 Best Sights in Alghero, Sardinia

Grotta di Nettuno

Fodor's choice

At the base of a sheer cliff, the pounding sea has carved an entrance to a vast fantastic cavern filled with stunning water pools, stalactites, and stalagmites. The dramatic cave and coves, discovered by fishermen in the 18th century, are popular tourist attractions for their sheer natural beauty. You must visit with a guide; tours start on the hour. It's possible to reach the caves by boat or by land. Between April and October, boat trips depart regularly from the port of Alghero for €16 round-trip (admission to the grotto is extra). To reach the grotto by land, you can descend the 654 dizzying steps of Escala del Cabirol ("Goat Steps"), which are cut into the steep cliff here.  By public bus from Alghero's Via Catalogna, the trip to the top of the stairway takes about 50 minutes. Allow 15 minutes for the descent by foot. Visitors arriving by land must book beforehand by telephone or online at  www.algheroexperience.it.

Capo Caccia

Head 25 km (16 miles) west of Alghero for the spectacular heights of the imposing limestone headland of Capo Caccia. The rugged promontory, blanketed by thick maquis, forms part of the Porto Conte nature reserve and is home to deep caves such as the Grotta di Nettuno. Close by are the beaches of Porto Ferro, Cala Viola, and, on the beautiful Porto Conte inlet, Cala Dragunara.

Le Bombarde and Lazzaretto Beaches

A couple of kilometers north of Alghero's old town, backed by pine woods, Maria Pia beach offers a convenient though unspectacular spot for an afternoon of bathing and sunbathing, but if you don't mind going farther afield, head for the altogether superior beaches of Le Bombarde and Lazzaretto, on adjacent inlets 10 kms (6 miles) west of town. Sheltered from the wind and equipped with bars and facilities for renting pedalos and canoes, the beaches are similar in style—both curves of soft sand studded with a few rocks, and both packed in August. The beaches are easy to reach on the frequent tourist bus service, Il Trottolo. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee in summer); showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; windsurfing.

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Museo del Corallo

The coast around Alghero is one of the Mediterranean's most abundant sources of red coral, the subject of this entertaining and informative museum housed in a Liberty-era villa near Piazza Sulis. Old photographs and films show the process of harvesting the substance, and there are impressive displays of coral jewelry and ornaments.

Museo Diocesano d'Arte Sacra

This cathedral museum is housed in a 13th-century church designed in the Catalan Gothic style. The usual assortment of religious treasures—paintings, wooden sculptures, and bronze statues—is on display; look for the masterful 16th-century Catalan silverware, forged with intricate ancient motifs. Call ahead to check opening times.

Via Maiorca 1, Alghero, 07041, Italy
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €5

San Francesco

Alghero's cathedral on Via Manno hosts most of the town's official religious functions, but this 15th–16th-century church built in the Catalan-Gothic style is closest to the hearts of the algheresi and is the one place where you might come across the local dialect, used in some of the masses here. The simple interior holds a particularly emaciated-looking wooden Christ, while the crypt and cloister have an atmospheric charm, but the highlight of a visit is to climb the hexagonal belltower—not too arduous—for some great views of the old town. Evening concerts are held here in the summer months.

Via Carlo Alberto 48, Alghero, 07041, Italy
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €6, €3 church and cloister only, Closed Mon. morning, Thurs. afternoon, and Sun.