In this work, a coating of chitosan onto alginate hydrogels was realized using the water-soluble hydrochloride form of chitosan (CH-Cl), with the dual purpose of imparting antibacterial activity and delaying the release of hydrophilic molecules from the alginate matrix. Alginate hydrogels with different calcium contents were prepared by the internal setting method and coated by immersion in a CH-Cl solution. Structural analysis by cryo-scanning electron microscopy was carried out to highlight morphological alterations due to the coating layer. Tests in vitro with human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) were assessed to check the absence of toxicity of CH-Cl. Swelling, stability in physiological solution and release characteristics using rhodamine B as the hydrophilic model drug were compared to those of relative uncoated hydrogels. Finally, antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli was tested. Results show that alginate hydrogels coated with chitosan hydrochloride described here can be proposed as a novel medicated dressing by associating intrinsic antimicrobial activity with improved sustained release characteristics.