One of my travel goals moving to Europe was to see as much of the Mediterranean Coast as possible and I’m working my way toward that goal one island at a time. My friend Laura from high school and college was visiting for her spring break from teaching and I needed to escape city life, so we booked cheap flights thanks to the budget airline Ryanair and headed south to the town of Alghero, Sardinia.
Sardinia is a fairly large Italian island off the coast to the west of the mainland and north of Sicily. It’s different from a lot of Europe because it’s more of a destination for natural beauty than old architecture and history. Luckily, all we wanted out of this trip was a tan and some authentic Italian food.
I’ll talk about the pasta first because it was one of the highlights and everyone who knows me knows it’s my greatest weakness. Like to the point where I had to give it up for Lent and then proceeded to break Lent a week before Easter because I couldn’t go to Italy and not have it. Eating out was insanely cheap compared to the U.S.—€8-10 for a plate of pasta and €3 for a glass of wine—so every night we went to a different restaurant. One night we were even able to get a meal deal including lasagna and wine for €10. Our first dinner was particularly special because we were able to eat while watching the sunset, though every restaurant we went to had stunning views of the water. All I can say about the taste is that I obviously expected it to be better than the Italian I ate in the U.S., but I was shocked by how flavorful yet light (America take notes please) every dish was. We also indulged in cappuccinos and pastries every morning, a €3 breakfast.
Every day was clear and in the upper 60s, which honestly felt more like 70s with the Sun’s strength, so we spent most of our time at the beach. The main city beach wasn’t very nice because there were piles of washed up seaweed, but just past it we discovered the clean white sands of Spiaggia Maria Pia. It ended up being about a 45-minute walk from our hotel, but that was the price of getting a bargain of €25 a night for a room. At least the walk was along the water on a tree-lined promenade. It was early into beach season, but there were a decent amount of people out sunbathing, walking their dogs and even windsurfing. It never felt crowded, though, and it was cool to see locals and tourists alike enjoying the same space. The Mediterranean water was calm and clean so if it were warmer outside I definitely would have gone swimming.
Other than the beach, the main tourist attraction in Alghero is the Grotto di Nettuno, caves carved into the face of Capo Caccia, which extends off the coast just north of town. The caves could be reached by bus or boat, and we chose boat for a more scenic trip. The ride from the Alghero marina was almost an hour long, passing the beaches and dramatic rock formations by the water. After we rounded Capo Caccia, the boat docked at a whole in the wall where we basically stepped off the deck and were inside the cliff. A tour guide who spoke in Italian and English took a large group through each room of the caves, which were about 65 million years old (pardon the photography below, taking photos in dim lighting is extremely difficult). When the tour finished, we were able to step right back onto the boat and head to town. I really enjoyed the excursion because it was something completely different from the sightseeing I’m used to doing in Europe, and even the boat ride made it an interesting trip from start to finish.
So Alghero was awesome because it was a unique experience and I got my beach fix (and inevitable sunburn) for a really low travel cost. Highly recommend to anyone who wants to see the Mediterranean and I might even bring my Mom back to do a road trip around the whole island!