One of Sardinia's most beautiful medieval cities, Alghero is the main resort in the northwest. Although largely given over to tourism – its population can almost quadruple in July and August – the town hasn't given up its unique character and it retains a proud and independent spirit. Its animated historic centre is a terrific place to hang out, and with so many excellent restaurants and bars, it makes an ideal base for exploring the beaches and beauty spots of the nearby Riviera del Corallo.
The main focus of attention is the picturesque centro storico, one of the best preserved in Sardinia. Enclosed by robust, honey-coloured seawalls, this is a tightly knit enclave of shady cobbled lanes, Gothic palazzi and cafe-lined piazzas. Below, yachts crowd the marina and long, sandy beaches curve away to the north. Presiding over everything is a palpable Spanish atmosphere, a hangover of the city’s past as a Catalan colony. Even today, more than three centuries after the Iberians left, a form of medieval Catalan is still spoken, and street signs and menus are often written in both Catalan and Italian.