Sitting in the glorious seas of the north eastern Costa Smeralda Olbia – Sardinia, are the beautiful islands of La Maddalena and Caprera, which make up what is now known as the Maddalena Archipelago. Recent additions to the fantastic range of tourist destinations in Sardinia, these gloriously unspoilt islands offer much to the visitor.
Beautiful beaches, wonderful traditional cafes, often lively bars and wealth of cultural delights abound, and a variety of interesting buildings plus fine restaurants serving local produce can be found here. From the luxury yachts in the pretty harbour to the boutique shops in the villages, there is something for everyone here.
Glorious Beaches – and an amazing archipelago
The sun, sea and sand element of a summer holiday is not lost on those who promote tourism in the Maddalena Archipelago; having been home to a large NATO base until recently the locals are used to incomers, and welcome tourists with friendly smile and enthusiasm. The beaches surrounding the islands are stunning: on La Maddalena itself – the main island in the group – are Spalmatore and Tegge, both wonderfully open and accessible stretches of sand, while nearby Testa del Polpo also appeals to beach lovers. Caprera, the second island in the group, is home to equally stunning sands, in particular the Cala Garibaldi and Il Relitto, both of which come highly recommended.
Perhaps the best way to get the best from the Archipelago is to hire a car at the Olbia airport for the duration of your stay. Not only does this add convenience to your trip for it allows you to explore the more remote parts of the islands, but it is a cost effective method of getting around. La Maddalena is served by regular car ferries from the village of Palau on the main island of Sardinia, and Palau itself is easily reached from the nearby Olbia Airport by road. La Maddalena is connected to its neighbour Caprera by a road bridge, so is easy to get to. See the latter part of the article for more detailed travel tips.
Wild Uninhabited Islands
While getting around the Maddalena Archipelago by car is easy on the main islands, visitors may need a boat to reach some of the lesser parts of the chain of islands. Stunning Spargi, an uninhabited and therefore perfectly untouched island, features the glorious Cala Soraya beach, where you could easily find yourself alone in a glorious island paradise, while the spectacular outcrops of Razolli are worth a visit, nearby Budelli is a curious delight, and if you’re lucky you may find the quaint bar and restaurant on neighbouring Santa Maria is open for business. This is a true picture of the beauty of Sardinia, and makes for an exciting and interesting excursion for all.
The cultural references offered by the Archipelago are interesting too; Caprera is famous as the island where Giuseppi Garibaldi, one of the acknowledged central figures in the formation of a unified Italy, chose to take a temporary retirement, and there are many notable references to his presence, including the aforementioned beach. These islands are steeped in history, and Caprera remains proud of its association with Garibaldi.
Getting to La Maddalena by Road
Most visitors arrive via Olbia Airport, on Sardinia itself, which is served by many airlines from destinations across Europe. By road, take the main SS125 – clearly signposted from the airport – heading north for the village of Palau. This is a straight run with no deviations, and really could not be easier. From Palau the ferries run regularly to La Maddalena. Once on the island visitors can choose to head to their accommodation on La Maddalena or may need to take the short trip across the bridge to Caprera. In light traffic, the journey from the airport to Palau should take no more than one and a half hours. Connections between La Maddalena and Palau are run by Saremar and other companies (http://www.lamaddalena.it/orario_traghetti.htm).
La Maddalena map
The Maddalena Archipelago is a truly wonderful choice for a holiday, and offers a taste of undeveloped Italy that is hard to beat. By hiring a car you get the best of both worlds: simple, affordable travel, and the convenience to explore these beautiful islands in your own time.