You don’t need to leave the town for some time by the sea. San Giovanni Beach, also known as The Lido, is right on the doorstep. It’s lapped by shallow waters, and offers up more than a kilometre’s worth of white sand to spread out on. For when lunchtime rolls around, there’s a good selection of bars and restaurants dotted along its length.
Maria Pia Beach is a 10-minute bus ride out of the city but, because it’s backed by a fragrant pine forest, it feels really out of the way. Wooden boardwalks lead right to the white sand – ideal if you’ve got a pushchair in tow. And a clutch of picnic tables is nestled within the trees. If you don’t fancy bringing a DIY lunch, there’s a café for drinks and snacks.
Bombarde Beach is at the opposite end of the bay to the city. Although it’s a little smaller than Alghero’s other sandy stretches, it’s got great facilities for children. Right by the shore, there’s a playground, sports courts for tennis and basketball, a handful of snack bars, and boats for rent. A 10-minute walk inland, you’ll also find an amusement park complete with kids’ bumper boats, trampolines and a mini go-karting track.
The streets on the edge of the old town, next to the Giuseppe Manno Park, are ideal for picking up edible souvenirs. Wander through these alleys and you’ll come across delis for pasta and olive oil, sweet shops, and markets where local wines and cheeses are laid out ready for pre-purchase tasting sessions.
Alghero’s main shopping area spreads across the old town’s Via Carlo Alberto, Via Roma and the Piazza Civica. The city’s most famous fashion designer, Antonio Marras, has his own store on the Piazza Civica. It’s housed in one of the city’s oldest Medieval buildings and stocks a stylish range of clothes, shoes and handbags.
The Alghero region’s sheer quantity of coral – found within nearby underground caves – has earned it the nickname of the Coral Coast. Skilled jewellers transform it into beautiful earrings, necklaces and other trinkets. To pick yourself up one of these unique mementos, browse the boutiques along Via Roma in the old town.
For a low-key night out, Poco Loco is just the ticket. At this popular bar on Via Gramsci, you can play a game of bowling while listening to a live band. They have a good selection of beers on tap and serve pizza by the metre. Alternatively, head to the Spaggia di San Giovanni to spend an evening sipping cocktails within earshot of the sea, before a nightcap at Piazza Civica’s Café Costantino.
A 15-minute cab ride out of town, La Siesta is the biggest nightclub along the coast. It comes with four dancefloors – three indoors, plus an al fresco one surrounded by sofas and palm trees. Both DJ-spun chart tunes and live music performances are on the bill. Hang around until sunrise and you’ll be able to enjoy the views as well. The club sits on the top of a hill overlooking the sea.
Lobster might be seen as a rare treat in other parts of the world, but for Sardinians it’s an everyday ingredient. Their favourite way to serve it is as Lobster Catalan. This dish consists of boiled lobster mixed with tomatoes, onions, extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
The Algherese love sea urchins so much that they have an annual festival dedicated to them. These spiky molluscs are all over the city’s menus, especially in the winter months as this is when it’s the best time to harvest them. Try them within a pasta dish or eat them like the locals – raw on bread with a glass of wine.
Each Italian region lays claim to its own variety of pasta. Shell-shaped malloreddus is the trademark in Sardinia. The seafood version comes with fresh scampi, asparagus and a creamy dressing. If you’re more of a meat-eater, opt for malloreddus alla campidanese, which comes with a tomato and sausage meat sauce.
In Alghero, ice-cream is available in every colour and flavour you can think of – from mint choc chip to liquorice. You’ll find it in hole-in-the-wall gelaterias on almost every street corner. For an ice-cream alternative, try granite, a traditional Italian crushed ice dessert.
As you’d guess from the name, Crema Catalana is a product of Alghero’s Catalan heritage. Similar to crème brûlée, this creamy, custard-based dessert comes coated with caramelised sugar.
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