Cannot recommend this hotel enough! After a mix-up with the B&B that we had booked for our honeymoon, my husband and I were left without a place to stay in Alghero on one of the busiest weekends of the high season. By chance, we walked past this place - the only hotel within the walls of Alghero old town. Luckily for us there had been a cancellation only half an hour before, and the lovely staff welcomed us in. Fantastic value (100 euros/night) considering its location in the heart of Alghero, the San Francesco is based in an old Catalan gothic monastery, abutting the church, with a spectacular cloister dating back to the 14th century where in the mornings breakfast is served. In the summer, the cloister courtyard is used for classical concerts and it's possible to sit and enjoy the music for free from the cloister balcony. The rooms are simple (much in the way the original monks' rooms would have been in fact) but it's a real gem of a hotel.
One of the most amazing sights to see if you're near Alghero, the large coastal town to the north of Sardinia, is the Grotta di Nettuno, an incredible cave network of stalactites which are tens of thousands of years old. Standing only one metre above sea level, the caves can be reached by a winding staircase of steps cut into the rock, leading you down 100 metres from the cliffs above. It costs 10 euros, but you won't regret paying for this experience once you're inside - the clever lighting and majesty of the stalactites creates an eerie subterranean environment that makes you feel like you've travelled back to the beginning of time. Guided tours run every half hour, and although these are nearly always full, the enormity of the caves and the long and winding trail through them means that you never feel too crowded by other tourists. Well worth a visit, particularly if you have kids.
By far the best way to see the stunning coastline near the beach town of Cala Gonone, on the east side of Sardinia, is by kayak. My husband and I hired a couple of kayaks for a day and paddled our way to some of the area's most secluded beaches, including the idyllic Cala Luna (setting to Madonna's film Swept Away), which is only accessible by boat. A fun and self suffiicient way to view sealife such as jellyfish and the cavernous caves along the coast, not to mention a great way to introduce some exercise to a beach holiday.
Kayaks are readily available from the promenade in Cala Gonone.
Google map: bit.ly/MzlwWF
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