Castelsardo is a picturesque town located just a short distance from Badesi on the northern coast of Sardinia. This historic town is best known for its ancient castle, but there are also beautiful sandy beaches which make this a somewhat strategic stopover between west Sardinia and the islands in the east. Founded by a Genovese family during the 12th century, Castelsardo is quite popular with tourists from around the globe who are always impressed by the magnificent ancient architecture throughout the town. Castles and fortresses were built around the same time as the origin of the town while remnants of a number of watchtowers add further to the antiquated nature of Castelsardo. Featuring many pathways, this is a truly wonderful place to explore on foot while the castle, Castello dei Doria, is arguably the main highlight. From this castle, an ancient citadel opens up, and it is here, you will find several cafes, restaurants, and charming handicraft shops. Stopping for a coffee in one of the café’s is a nice way to pass the time as elderly women sit in their doorways weaving baskets which will soon join the rather elaborate display of handicrafts in the stores. As you might expect, Castelsardo is considered an important commercial center for craftsmanship and particularly famed for its basket weaving industry. There is even a museum dedicated to this tradition, the Museo dell’Intreccio Mediterraneo, which is right at the heart of Castello dei Doria. This is a great place to explore on foot, and the historic lanes are filled with many encounters which offer an insight into how Castelsardo appeared during the 12th century. High up on the periphery of the town, the citadel walls are very impressive while the nearby citadel is now covered with blocks of colorful houses as the village sprawls into the saddle of land towards the seashore. Another highlight of a visit to this charming town is the local food, for Castelsardo is home to some of the best restaurants which serve a wide variety of local Sardinian cuisine. Some of these also have very interesting locations. For example, if you fancy a trek up the pre-mentioned hill, you will find several restaurants that open up to panoramic views. However, these fancy restaurants also offer sublime food and a great place to enjoy a glass of wine while soaking in the majestic sunset views. As for your accommodation, there is a nice selection of hotels that can be found next to the sea and these are perfectly located to explore the surrounding area. Furthermore, two Sardinian boutique hotels can be found right in Castelsardo. Aside from the old castles and fortresses, the nearby beaches are also worth checking out such as Lu Bagnu which is a nice small beach within easy reach of most resorts and hotels in Castelsardo. Either way, this is a very charming town in Sardinia and a hidden treasure which offers a very ancient and authentic insight into the medieval side of the island.
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Where to Stay in Castelsardo - Top Picks
Located in the historic center of Castelsardo, Janus Hotel is a charming 4-star spa hotel which is ideally situated just a few minutes walk from the beach. In fact, some of the most famous tourist attractions in town are also within walking distance, such as the Port of Castelsardo, the Sant'Antonio Abate Cathedral and the Museum of Mediterranean Weaving. Featuring a wonderful outdoor pool, the hotel is accompanied by the most magnificent views of the sea. As a full-service Spa Hotel, you will also find numerous spa amenities which ensure every stay is even more relaxing. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property while the front desk offers bike rental services for guests who prefer to explore the nearby attractions on a bike. Other amenities include private parking, meeting rooms and an in-house restaurant that serves the most sumptuous meals. With this in mind, the restaurant also features a rooftop terrace, which is perfect for soaking in the beautiful views. As you might expect, breakfast is being served here, although you can also choose to have this brought to your room. As for the sleeping quarters, the rooms at Janus Hotel are spacious and comfortable. There is a total of 26 sound-proofed rooms with each one equipped with a satellite TV, minibar, and free Wi-Fi. Furthermore, each room is equipped with a private bath, hairdryer and of course, complimentary toiletries.
The Bajaloglia Resort is a 4-star boutique hotel in Sardinia, located next to a beautiful hilltop village in Castelsardo. Although the hotel is just a short walk from the nearest beach, there is a free shuttle service to and from Sassari which makes it very convenient. The Bajaloglia Resort also has a spacious garden where you will find an ample sized private swimming pool. Surrounded by chairs and sunbeds, this is a great place to take in the spectacular ocean vistas. As for the food, you can avail of Ristorante L'Incantu, the in-house restaurant which receives incredible reviews online. Featuring a wide variety of local and International dishes, the menu is accompanied by a unique wine list which includes some of the finest varieties in the region. You can choose to dine at the open terrace which opens up to stunning sea views and interestingly, this area provides unrivaled views of medieval Castelsardo. Every room at the Bajaloglia Resort is nicely infused with a modern design and a keen attention to comfort in particular. You can choose from the Classic Room, Superior Room, Junior Suite as well as the Junior Suite Deluxe and Prime rooms. All rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with private bathroom and satellite TV while free Wi-Fi is also available. Some rooms open up to the gorgeous views of the sea, and others have their private terrace or balcony. Either way, this is an exceptional boutique hotel in north Sardinia.
Hotel & Spa Riviera Castelsardo
The Hotel & Spa Riviera is a 4-star hotel in Castelsardo which is situated a short distance from the beautiful Marina beach. You can reach this stunning stretch of sand through a direct underpass from the hotel, but aside from this advantageous location, the amenities and design of this hotel are undoubtedly the highlights. Featuring a spacious outdoor pool with stunning outdoor views, the Hotel & SPA Riviera can feel like quite the secret hideaway. In this sense, there is also a private terrace and a sumptuous restaurant on site called the Ristorante Fofò. Although best known for serving a wide range of seafood delicacies such as fresh lobster, you will also find the most mouth-watering Sardinian dishes. As always, you can also choose to have breakfast here in the restaurant or have it delivered to the comfort of your room. Every room at the Hotel & SPA Riviera is brightly decorated and equipped with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Furthermore, certain rooms are accompanied by magnificent sea views while the private bathrooms are nicely sized and graced with many free toiletries. As mentioned, this is a Spa Hotel which means there are endless options regarding massage and other special treatments. In many ways, this is an excellent way to conclude an account of this hotel in Castelsardo; after all, many online reviews suggest that this is one of the most comfortable accommodation options in the area.
Castelsardo Resort Village
Castelsardo Resort Village is a four-star resort which is ideally located near a stunning beach in north Sardinia. Featuring a bright and spacious design, along with a world-class buffet restaurant, this is also one of the best hotels in Castelsardo. The restaurant features an excellent lineup of traditional dishes which are often the subject of online reviews, while a nearby bar is a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail in the evenings. When it comes to facilities, there are plenty of things to do, and the hotel is equipped with a swimming pool, tennis court, massage room, and gym. Meanwhile, the rooms are incredibly comfortable and brightly decorated, and modern design never fails to impress. At the same time, the location of Castelsardo Resort Village is arguably the highlight of this hotel, and guests are free to use the sun beds and umbrellas on the private beach nearby. Castelsardo Resort Village is also under new management, and the friendly staff is known for providing the highest level of hospitality and service for their beloved guests.
Things to Do in Castelsardo
Visit the Museo dell'Intreccio Mediterraneo
Basketwork is considered a significant skill in the beautiful ancient town of Castelsardo. If you want to learn more about the interesting history of the ancient skill of basket weaving in town, then head to Museo dell'Intreccio Mediterraneo. Located on Via Marconi, this museum is open daily between 10:30 AM until 4:30 PM. Joining a guided tour is an ideal way to discover the unique and fascinating tradition of basket making, but there are also many interesting exhibitions in the museum. For example, some of these exhibitions showcase the history of basket weaving techniques in Sardinia which include religious basket-making techniques, coiled basketry, and twining. Furthermore, the museum also features the work of popular artist Eugenio Tavolara who is credited with bringing a great deal of attention to the basket-making craft in Sardinia. For those who want to get their hands on the craft, joining one of the educational activities is highly recommended. Also, there is a bookshop on site, where you can check out books about Sardinia’s fascinating history of basket making. Lastly, it is also worth mentioning the terrace outside this museum which offers magnificent views of the town.
Visit Cattedrale di Sant'Antonio Abate
The Cattedrale di Sant'Antonio Abate is a popular attraction in town, and a visit here is often a priority regarding things to do in Castelsardo. Featuring a panoramic terrace, this magnificent cathedral is best known for the bell tower which is one of the most prominent landmarks in Castelsardo. Although this cathedral was originally Gothic, it was remodeled during the 17th century, when Renaissance and baroque elements were infused to the design. Inside the cathedral, you will find the main altar is dominated by an interesting work of art, the Madonna in trono col Bambino. Interestingly, this is a 15th-century painting made by the popular Maestro di Castelsardo. While many steps need to be taken to explore the church, it holds many secrets which are certainly worth the effort. For example, in the crypt, you will find the Museum Ampuriense which features some of the best work by Maestro di Castelsardo. Consisting of a series of small rooms that were chiseled out from the rock, this crypt is all that remains from the Romanesque church which stood here many centuries ago. Located at the Via Manganella in Castelsardo, the cathedral is opened from 7 AM until 1 PM and from 1 PM to 8 PM. Entrance is free, but if you want to visit the Museum Ampuriense, there is a minimal cost while guided tours are a great way to understand the interesting history of the Cathedral.
Visit Castello dei Doria
There is very little known regarding the history of Castello dei Doria, the magnificent castle sitting on top of a hill in St. Mathew. However, this stunning piece of architecture is a remnant of medieval times and a must see regarding any list of things to see in Castelsardo. Featuring stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area, the castle was named after Giacomina Doria, the mother-in-law of Eleanora of Arborea. Eleanora is a popular heroin in Sardinia, and from 1383 she was hailed as the most powerful judge in the history of Sardinia. That being said, the appearance of Castello dei Doria is the real highlight. Dating back to the 12th century, this castle was originally owned by the Doria family. The Doria family was originally from Liguria and built this castle as part of a defensive line of Anglona, Sardinia. All over Sardinia, you will find similar castles and towers that were built during the medieval times for the purpose of protecting the town against attackers. As outlined, Castello dei Doria is amongst the most impressive of these castles and also offers a great insight into the ancient history of Sardinia. Located in the Dolceaqua area, Castello dei Doria is close to many shops and restaurants and with free admission, it makes for one of the best things to do in Castelsardo.
Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie
Paying a visit to Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie is a nice thing to do in Castelsardo. This church is one of the most ancient remnants to explore in north Sardinia. The structure dates back all the way to the 1300s. While there is no actual façade, the building has three beautiful limestone arches and an impressive neoclassical altar at the center. What’s more, there is a famous crucifix of the Black Christ which is said to be the oldest in Sardinia. Next to the church, you can find a Franciscan monastery and Doria Castle which was a fortified stronghold back in Medieval times. While a genuine sense of intrigue fills the air, the sight of these ancient walls and furnishings makes this one of the most insightful attractions in the region. When you consider the dramatic scenery on this part of the coast, the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie is quite an awe-inspiring site and one that is most certainly worth visiting on a trip to north Sardinia.
Castelsardo Restaurants - Where to Eat
Il Cormorano (Italian Food, Traditional Sardinian Food)
When it comes to heritage and culture, Il Cormorano is one of the most historically significant places to eat in Castelsardo. Featuring a wide range of Italian and Sardinian cuisine, this quaint restaurant is located right next to the main square in Castelsardo. Situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, the medieval town is typically rustic while this particular restaurant is symbolic of such an authentic appearance. In this regard, you can also expect to enjoy a sumptuous meal with the sound of local chatter passing by the front of the restaurant. Furthermore, the traditional décor in Il Cormorano ensures a warm atmosphere which is often the subject of online reviews. As for the menu, this changes with the season and consists of the finest local produce in every instance. From delicate pesto and pasta to a wide selection of seafood dishes including oysters, sea bass sardines; these excellent arrangements never fail to delight visitors. Lastly, there are also many prestigious Sardinian and Italian wines on offer to accompany this world-class cuisine. While many restaurants in Castelsardo have an impressive reputation, there are few who can claim such a famous chef, for Renato Pinna is one of the most respected on the entire island of Sardinia.
L'Incantu is another of the best places to eat in Castelsardo, and this traditional restaurant is located close to the medieval town. With stunning views and a quiet setting, this is also the perfect place for a romantic meal with excellent wines to add to the occasion. Many visitors are surprised by the interior in L'Incantu with neatly decorated tables featuring sparkling silverware and immense attention to detail. While it may not be the best-known restaurant in Castelsardo, this elegant eatery is the recipient of Michelin awards which is largely due to the excellent menu and talented chefs. As you might expect, the menu consists of many seafood varieties such as oysters, sardines, and salt-crusted sea bass. Furthermore, many customers are impressed with the generous portions of gnocchi, Caprese salad freshly baked bread. Finally, rest assured the extremely friendly staff at L’Incantu makes every effort to provide the most memorable dining experience for every meal. As mentioned, the house wine is popular, and L'Incantu is ideally designed for a romantic meal, but in truth, this stunning restaurant in Castlesardo is suitable for just about any occasion.
Baga Baga (Seafood, Pizza)
While Hotel Baga Baga is best known for its accommodation, this three-star hotel is also home to one of the most exciting restaurants in Castelsardo. With two separate dining rooms and a particularly impressive veranda, the restaurant features beautiful décor and stunning views. Fresh seafood is common in the town, and Baga Baga restaurant is another excellent example of quality in this regard, for oysters, sea bass, and every other local variety is available. At the same time, there is also a pizzeria at Baga Baga which uses a wood-fired oven to produce incredible results. As you can see, the food is both typically Sardinian and Italian which makes this a popular choice for groups with a preference for seafood alternatives. Located in the center of the medieval town and facing out to the ocean, Baga Baga is renowned for sunset views from the restaurant and hotel rooms. Quality wines, delicious meals, and polite staff are guaranteed at this charming restaurant while the price is also reasonable in comparison with other restaurants in Castelsardo.
How To Get To Castelsardo
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The nearest airport to Castelsardo is Aeroporto di Alghero-Fertilia, at a distance of approximately 65 kilometers. To get to Castelsardo via the fastest route, take the Strada Statale 291 in a north-east direction to Sassari. Once you've reached the area of Sassari, head north on the Strada Provinciale 60 towards Sorso for a few kilometers, then take the Strada Provinciale 48 in the direction of Castelsardo. The trip shouldn't take you longer than one hour.