229km (142 miles) NW of Cagliari, 137km (85 miles) W of Olbia

On the northwest coast, this former Aragonese and Catalan fishing port is Sardinia's most beautiful town. Because of its heavy Catalan influence, it is called "Little Barcelona," though the comparison isn't quite apt. It is built on a rocky ledge above the sea, and in summer flowers and palm trees grow in profusion.

Former occupiers, the Aragonese (and later the Catalans) built ramparts and towers that today characterize the old town or Città Vecchia. You can wander for 2 hours or so through the narrow, winding streets with their decaying palaces and churches. Many old town inhabitants still speak Catalan instead of Italian.

An excellent beach extends 5km (3 miles) to the north of Alghero, and the major attraction of the area is not in Alghero itself but in the environs at the Grotta di Nettuno.