I would definitely recommend renting a car for at least a few days when you’re on holiday in Sardinia. There is so much to see outside of the beach town areas. You might be surprised though of how big of an island Sardinia is. Driving across the island from for example Alghero to the capital of Cagliari on the south coast would take at least half a day. We mostly stayed on the northwest part of the island and explored the surrounding areas. However, if you feel like visiting France, the island of Corsica is a day trip away!
If you are looking for information about Alghero and the nearby area >>>
A sunny summer week in Alghero, Sardinia (Italy)
La Pelosa beach and Stintino
In the very northwest corner of Sardinia is the very pretty beach of La pelosa. It has turquoise water and beautiful white sand. However, it’s crowded so choose your time for a visit wisely. I’ve heard that it’s absolutely packed on weekends in high season. We were there on a Monday afternoon in late June and it was pretty crowded then as well. The beach itself is pretty small and only takes a few minutes to walk across. There are cafés and beach bars.
The Sardinian authorities are very protective of their sandy beaches. When visiting La Pelosa, you are not allowed to put your towel down directly on the sand. Then you risk a hefty fine! We didn’t know and within five minutes of us arriving to the beach, the beach police came up to us and told us to very quickly remove our towels, otherwise the fine would be 100 euros for each towel. We went up to the beach bar and bought beach mats made of bast for 4-5 euros each. The mats are also sold by individual vendors on the beach road. So, don’t ignore the signs of the mandatory beach mats! You can also rent chairs and umbrellas although they are expensive (25-30 euros for the set).
After a few delightful hours on the beach, we drove down to the small fishing village of Stintino. We had dinner by the harbor and then wandered in the village for a while.
Bosa and the coastal road to get there
Bosa is a very cute town about an hour south of Alghero. It has a river, historical houses and a fort. We went to the Tuesday market and then had lunch in one of the quiet, pretty streets. The walk along the river was very nice as we saw the colorful houses further up on the hill from a distance. Across the river from the main town is a row of houses that used to be the tannery area. Apparently, they were placed across the river because of the industry smell.
For lunch, we had the special sandwich of Sardinian bistoccu bread. It was kind of like a large crispy toast with different toppings, very tasty.
The road to Bosa from Alghero is absolutely beautiful and should not be missed on any trip to Sardinia! It runs along the sea with pretty views of the cliffs and nearby areas on basically every turn. There are view points and parking places along the way so take your time!
Nuraghe settlement of Santu Antine
An hour inland from Alghero and Bosa is the nuraghe settlement of Santu Antine. It is the main settlement of the nuraghe valley, which is where many of the nuraghe round stone towers with surrounding villages were located. The nuraghe buildings are common across Sardinia and were developed during the Nuragic age about 1900-730 BC. The towers vary in height.
In Santu Antine, you pay a fee of 6 euros to visit and go inside the multistory nuraghe building. You can walk up the different stairways and into the tower rooms. It’s a very comfortable temperature inside the stone walls. I think they have guided tours as well. From the top of the tower you can see the surrounding valley and other smaller towers.
A museum five minutes away by car is also included. It contains some information material and also some objects found while excavating the nuraghe ruins. I think the museum is still being developed so most of the explanations were in Italian although we were given a sheet with a short description in English.
More information about Nuraghe Santu Antine (in Italian)
The French island of Corsica is only a 50 min ferry ride from the harbor in Santa Teresa di Gallura in northern Sardinia. It does take more than two hours to drive there from Alghero so be prepared for a long day. You can take your car across but you won’t need it in Bonifacio where most streets are pedestrian only.
On the way from Alghero, you can have a quick detour to the Elephant rock which is a burial place by the road that looks like an elephant. It’s near Castelsardo and well signposted from the road.
The ferries to Corsica are equipped with a solar deck where you can enjoy the view of the islands and the strait. We had a very comfortable ride to the harbor in Bonifacio. Once there, the marina had lots of expensive looking yachts and nice looking restaurants along the water.
Once you go up the stone steps to the upper town (haute ville), you will enter the old fortification with narrow streets and cute alleys. There are excellent view points as well along the walls and the cliffs. The cemetery is located right by the cliff edge and consists of small mausoleums above ground, well worth a visit for the great views at least. Corsica is definitely an island I would like to spend more time on, although it was (at least in Bonifacio) considerably more expensive than Alghero/Sardinia.
On Corsica, don’t miss the speciality beer Pietra ambrée which is made with chestnuts. As in Sardinia, the myrtle berry is very popular and you can find for example ice cream and liqueurs made with it. Otherwise, practice your French and have some nice French wine!