Are you planning a trip to northern Sardinia and wondering what is worth visiting besides the famous beaches of Costa Smeralda? Here is a small guide to the main places of interest and the three most important cities in the north of Sardinia: Olbia, Sassari and Alghero.

Your own village means that you're not alone, that you know there's something of you in the people and the plants and the soil, that even when you are not there it waits to welcome you.

Cesare Pavese

How to move across the main tourist routes in the north of Sardinia

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Alghero Fertilia and Olbia Costa Smeralda are two main airports in the north of Sardinia and they are located on opposite sides of the island so you can decide whether to take an itinerary from east to west coast or vice versa, its depend on where you land. The travel time from one coast to the other in Sardinia is about 2 hours by car, 3 hours if you decide to travel by bus or train: travelling by public transport will have a significant economic advantage but with a rental car you will have the possibility to visit more places without undergo the scheduled timetables.

Starting from Olbia and the east coast, I suggest you spend a few days at the famous Costa Smeralda, the pride of Italian beaches, and the picturesque town of Porto Cervo, which overlooks a beautiful deer-shaped gulf. Stay on topic “sea and nature”, if you continue your itinerary northwards you will reach the town of Palau, from where the ferries leave for the enchanting Maddalena islands: here you can admire one of the most evocative landscapes in the world, with such intense and bright colours that it has earned the name "archipelago of wonders". After these natural beauties, I suggest you head inland, where an equally amazing surprise awaits you: in the Arzachena archaeological park you can admire many interesting relics of the Nuragic civilisation, such as the famous Tomb of the Giants.

Moving westwards you will enter the province of Sassari, the largest in Sardinia, where you can visit the picturesque municipalities of the hinterland that boast fascinating traditions and organise many events throughout the year to highlight their artistic, historical and gastronomic excellence. I recommend you to visit Castelasardo, which is home to the suggestive Domus De Janas, a set of prehistoric tombs excavated in the rock. Moving northwards, you will reach Porto Torres from where you can embark on an unforgettable excursion to Asinara Island which has reopened its doors to tourists after 115 years of closure: it is a true naturalistic paradise where you can observe a fauna and vegetation that has no equal in the whole Mediterranean.

Finally, before entering the beautiful city of Alghero, I recommend you to visit the fairy-tale Grotta del Nettuno, a karst formation just 24 km from the city, and the necropolis of Anghelu Ruju, the greatest prehistoric burial site in all of northern Sardinia.


Sardinian Events

The journey is a kind of door through which one leaves reality as if to penetrate an unexplored reality that seems like a dream

Guy de Maupassant

OLBIA, THE HAPPY CITY

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The city of Olbia was called from Greeks 'happy city', it is the gateway to Sardinia and the economic engine of the Gallura region. This enchanting town overlooking the gulf is the ideal place to relax but also to let oneself be carried away by the merriment during the numerous events organised during the year: Olbia has hosted, for example, the World Aquabike Championship, the "Tattoo Show" Convention, the Giro d'Italia (an annual multiple-stage bicycle race) and concerts by international artists such as Jovanotti, J-AX, Laura Pausini, Subsonica and Maneskin.

In addition to worldly events, Olbia is also the ideal place for those interested in history and archaeology: within the city you can visit the Archaeological Museum, the Basilica of San Silpicio and from there the Necropolis Museum, which houses an ancient Punic-Roman burial site consisting of 450 tombs. In mid-May, you can attend the festival of the city's patron saint, San Simplicio: a colourful procession accompanies the procession with traditional music and folkloric costumes.

Strolling through the streets of the town, you can admire the old houses in the area around Umberto Street, which date back to the 17th century and are known as 'Carreras Bezzas': on many of them, you will see inscriptions carved in granite with the name of the owner.

Finally, let's have a quick look at some of the local tastes: if you like octopus, try the famous sandwich if you prefer street food, or if you want to take your time over the meal, try the olbiese octopus salad with lemon and chilli pepper. Remaining on the fish topic, you cannot give up the crostino di pane carasau con bottarga (toasted bread with mullet roe) and mussels, both stewed and au gratin. If you prefer meat, I suggest you try the zuppa gallurese made with sheep and cow meat and the chjusoni with wild boar ragout. If you prefer vegetarian dishes, try casgiu furriatu, a dish made of fresh cow's cheese, cream and honey. The wines of the wineries around Olbia have the intense aroma of the coastal regions: a must is the Vermentino di Gallura, which smells of ripe fruit and offers fresh and mineral sensations in the mouth.


Sassari does not need to form a public garden, if its circumstances form a garden so varied, pleasant and vague, that art could not do better.

Vittorio Angius

SASSARI, THE CITY OF "CANDELIERI"

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Moving westwards you will merges Sassari, one of the main towns on the island. The settlement dates back to medieval period and was built on a limestone plateau surrounded by rolling hills, olive groves and woods. Strolling through the streets of this beautiful city you can admire the remains of its glorious past such as the towers that connected the city walls (today only six remains), the charming Rosello fountain and Piazza Italia, the main square of the city. The downtown area is distinguished by its beautiful mansions and places of art and culture: you can visit many museums as Mus'A picture gallery, the Biasi museum for design and contemporary art, the Tavolara pavilion where you can admire works of craftsmanship and the Sanna National Museum with its archaeological treasures.

If you visit this enchanting town during the August 15th, you will be able to witness the most characteristic and folkloristic event of Sassari's culture, the Discesa dei Candelieri (descent of candlesticks):it is a procession that winds its way through the city streets during which three enormous wooden candles are carried on the shoulders of the townspeople to the church of Santa Maria di Betlem to fulfil a vow to the Virgin Mary, who saved the city from the plague in according to tradition. Another smaller but equally characteristic event is the Cavalcata Sarda, which takes place in the last week of May: it is a picturesque parade on horseback through the streets of the city in traditional dress.

Sassari is also a very pleasant place to visit because of the city parks that make it particularly green, the most important of which is the Monserrato park. If you would like to take a dip in the clear waters of the Mediterranean, I recommend going to Platamona, in the Gulf of Asinara, the so-called 'beach of the Sassaresi': it is only 17 km from the city.

About the dishes, Sassari ones are very nutritious and homemade, characterised by what is known as 'old-fashioned recipes': these are dishes made from 'poor' but very nutritious and tasty ingredients. In particular, I recommend you try the sausage with beans, broad beans with pork rinds, liver and tripe with tomatoes. Another typical dish of Sassari's cooking is snails, which you can find served au naturel or with tomato or cheese. Another typical speciality of Sassari is horsemeat, which you can enjoy either cooked in a good restaurant or in its street food version. About wine: excellent grapes are grown throughout the province of Sassari, producing some of Sardinia's most famous wines such as Cannonau (rosé, red and fortified), Moscato and Vermentino.


I want to go to Alghero In the company of a foreigner The wild rides On chrome motorbikes Summer evenings

"Alghero" canzone di Giuni Russo

ALGHERO, THE SARDINIAN BARCELONETA

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Imagine yourself strolling along the ramparts of Alghero, enjoying the breeze blowing from the sea and the scent of saltiness, meanwhile the enveloping summer sun warms your skin. The city of Alghero is a little daydream, overlooking an emerald sea and adorned with enchanting red roofs and honey-coloured walls that contrast beautifully with the blue sky - a city born to be photographed!

The reason why this picturesque town is called the little Barcelona (Barceloneta) is that Alghero spent many years under Catalan rule, absorbing many of its customs and traditions, particularly its language: one in five people in Alghero speaks Catalan, albeit in the Algherese variant.

Another curiosity linked to this place is that along the 90 km that make up the coast of Alghero lives an immense colony of coral of the finest quality: shopping will certainly be exciting!

The historic centre of Alghero is undoubtedly fascinating, as you find yourself in a maze of very characteristic alleyways made up of old Catalan-style houses, simple and elegant religious buildings (such as the 16th-century Santa Maria Cathedral and the church of San Michele with its characteristic coloured majolica dome) and squares full of tourists and locals sitting together at the outdoor tables of the bars, chatting and laughing together: Alghero is truly tourist-friendly!

In Alghero your taste buds will be no less delighted than your eyes! Don't miss Alghero's paella, a reinterpretation of the classic Spanish dish prepared with fregola (typical Sardinian pasta), lamb, the famous artichoke from Ittiri, monkfish, mussels and red prawns. Another typical delicacy are the clulurgiones, which in the local version are filled with potatoes, garlic, mint and fresh pecorino cheese. If you like seafood flavours, this area is very popular with bottarga di Muggine, also known as 'Sardinia's gold', delicious sea urchins, lobster Catalan style, which is cooked with cherry tomatoes, onion, pepper and lemon, and finally agliata, a mixture of garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and chilli pepper sautéed in extra virgin olive oil with the addition of fresh tomatoes, salt and vinegar, which is used as a base for dressing various types of fish.

"Alghero” is also a denomination of controlled origin assigned to some specific wines that you will recognise from the label: you can find for example Alghero Torbato, Alghero Sauvignon and Alghero fortified.

Throughout the month of August 2021, in Alghero, you can enjoy the famous event, now in its fourth edition, JazzAlguer 2021. 

Focus on Alghero

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