A favourite tourist haunt – in summer, the population swells to four times its normal size – thanks to its natural beaches, its monuments and its rich culture, Alghero is one of the most beautiful of Sardinia’s cities.

Ever-increasing numbers of visitors are choosing Alghero as the base for their holidays, due to the numerous opportunities offered by the low-cost flights that connect Alghero to the main European cities, and to the sea links (at Porto Torres) with the main Mediterranean ports.

Alghero is known as Italy’s “Catalan city”, or, as they put it in Catalan, as “Barcelonetta de Sardegna”. It was founded in 1102 by the powerful Genoese dynasty of the Doria family. The settlement expanded to become an important coastal city, playing a leading role in trade in the Mediterranean.

The local celebrations include the Rite of Holy Week, which takes place during Easter week and sees large-scale ceremonies and processions into which the locals throw themselves wholeheartedly. Then there is the firework display to mark the end of summer, as well as the so-called Retrobament events, the Scala Piccada road race and the Feast of the Sea Urchin (Bogamarì), which is held every January, shortly after the famous Cap d’any – a long series of concerts and cultural events staged during the Christmas holidays. There is a plethora of other new initiatives geared towards boosting the tourist industry.

Alongside its various cultural offerings throughout the year, Alghero is above all famous for its beaches and its breathtaking panoramic views. If you so desire, you can purchase one of the limited number of fantastic little villas or farmhouses that look out to sea. These unique properties generally come with their own lush gardens of Mediterranean maquis, and outhouses with swimming pools – these really are exceptionally prestigious pieces of real estate.

Alghero City Council has succeeded in retaining its natural wonders, reducing urbanisation and the presence of newbuilds in the surrounding areas, thereby making the existing properties all the more exclusive.

The Lazzaretto, Bombarde and Maria Pia beaches – as well as the long stretch of the Lido – are just some of the pearls that the “Coral Riviera” has to offer, where you can relax, take the sun or indulge in watersports of various types. Indeed, it is directly across from the beach of the Lido di Alghero that you will find a number of apartments in a quite unrivalled location, some with their own pool, others with wonderful verandas affording stunning sea views. Then, when evening comes, there is nothing better than admiring the city from the numerous, tortuous alleyways of the historical centre – the city’s bona fide Catalan heart, so rich in fragrances and unadulterated Mediterranean life – as you sample the refined local cuisine in the finest restaurants. The Catalan centre of the city remains something of a time capsule, but it nevertheless plays host to a multitude of restaurants, bars, ice-cream parlours and nightspots.

Equally impressive is Via Carlo Alberto, the historical centre’s main drag, which features numerous jeweller’s shops and craft boutiques specialising in the working of coral, for which the city is rightly famed. It is here, in the old town, that we find typical 18th-century one- and two-room apartments, as well as large, late-19th century palazzos, with their generously proportioned, barrel-, cross- and cloister-vaulted ceilings, which once belonged to the city’s most high-ranking families.

For more information on the city of Alghero, its beaches, the monuments most worth visiting and the myriad other enchanting places to discover in Sardinia, visit: Sardegna turismo