The island of La Maddalena is the largest of the archipelago and – with around 10,000 inhabitants – the only inhabited one.
Overlooking Palau, it is part of the Maddalena Archipelago National Park, the first national park in Sardinia.
Located on the north-eastern coast, it can be reached from the port of Palau, which is 15 minutes away by ferry. The cost of the round-trip Delcomar ferry is around €8 per person. Around 20€ with a car. The first ferry from Palau leaves at 6.30am and frequencies are every 30 minutes until the night service.
All you need to know about La Maddalena
- What to see
- When to go
- Most beautiful beaches of La Maddalena
- The islands of the archipelago
- Boat excursions
- Important things to know
- TOP 3 Experiences at La Maddalena Island
The town of La Maddalena: what to see
Once you arrive on the island, the town of La Maddalena will welcome you with its characteristic old town, shops, colourful houses and, of course, beautiful beaches. A historic town founded in 1770, it has played a dominant role in the Mediterranean Sea.
Thanks to its privileged position, it has experienced important historical events, including the French occupation by a young Napoleon Bonaparte, from which the people of the island defended themselves with pride and courage. Also worth mentioning is the presence on the island of Admiral Nelson and his fleet, which – for commercial activities – stationed in the waters of the archipelago for several years.
La Maddalena: what not to miss
La Maddalena is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, thanks to its 18th-century palazzi, small shops and a set of streets and alleys that intersect to form a fascinating, colourful village.
In the historic centre, the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena is worth a visit. Valuable objects such as candlesticks and a silver crucifix donated by Admiral Nelson are kept here.
Walking tour in the city
- Trinity Church
- Church of Our Lady of Peace
- Piazza Garibaldi with the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Marina of Cala Gavetta
- Church of Santa Maria Maddalena
- Sobborgo Moneta
Day trips by car
The scenic road, about 20 km long, to discover the island from different points. The route will take you to some of the most beautiful beaches as well as to one of the most evocative places on the island: Punta Tegge.
The Punta Tegge cliff overlooking the island of Spargi is one of the most beautiful panoramic points for enjoying unforgettable sunsets in Gallura.
Another place not to be missed is Cala Francese, very important for the working of granite.
The quarry began operations in the second half of the 19th century and worked at full capacity until 1930. Thanks to the engineer Bertlin, the quarry became very important on an international level, bringing the granite of La Maddalena to world fame (it even reached New York for the construction of the Statue of Liberty basement).
Also worth visiting are the Old Guard, the highest point on the island, Fort St. Andrea, once used as a prison, Fort Carlo Felice, and the Naval Archaeological Museum, where it is possible to admire the full-scale reconstruction of the hull of a Roman ship with more than 200 amphorae stowed away.
La Maddalena’s main beaches
The island of La Maddalena offers white beaches and coves overlooking a sea of incredible colours.
BEST LA MADDALENA BEACHES
- Capocchia du Purpu (Octopus’ Head): on the peninsula of Giardinelli (connected to La Maddalena by an isthmus) opposite Caprera.
The beach owes its name to the rock that has the characteristic shape of an octopus’ head. It is characterised by fine, light-coloured sand, a rather shallow seabed and extraordinarily blue water.
2. Punta Tegge beach: a special place characterised by an expanse of flat, smooth granite rocks on which to walk or sit and enjoy the beautiful sunsets. The beach is equipped with a bar and refreshment area and is also accessible to the disabled. Spectacular!
3. Bassa Trinità beach: easily reached from the scenic road, it is characterised by white sand, Mediterranean vegetation and crystal-clear, transparent waters.
To preserve the beautiful sand dunes, the Park has created a path of walkways to allow access in full respect of the surrounding nature.
4. Monti d’à Rena beach: also easily accessible from the scenic road. The beach owes its name to the presence of sand dunes. Although it is often lashed by the mistral, on calm days it offers clear waters with a shallow, sandy seabed. Surrounded by natural landscapes, it allows access for the disabled thanks to walkways.
5. Spiaggia dello Strangolato: a little complicated to reach because it is inside an area owned by a campsite. However, it allows access to the car park at a cost of 10€ plus the use of some services. Alternatively, you can leave your car at the start and walk down for about 10 minutes. Very characteristic beach with granite rocks, clear water with lots of marine life perfect for snorkelling. A little paradise.
6. Cala Lunga: reached via a small path. Shallow and mostly sandy seabed and protected from the Mistral.
7. Costone Beach: access is not exactly easy but it is recommended as a quiet place sheltered from the winds. Sand formed of granite grains with an amber colour. Transparent emerald-green waters. To choose if you are looking for tranquillity.
8. Cala Spalmatore: easily reached by following the panoramic road. Shallow and well sheltered from the winds, it is an ideal place on Mistral days, offering a sheltered spot and a sea that is always calm and clear. It can be reached by bus and there is also a bar-restaurant.
The islands of the archipelago
In addition to the main island of La Maddalena, there are at least 62 islands and islets forming part of the archipelago. The main islands of the archipelago include the island of Caprera (connected by a bridge with La Maddalena), the island of Santo Stefano, Spargi, Budelli, Santa Maria and Razzoli.
When to go to La Maddalena
The busiest months are obviously the peak months of July and August. The central weeks of August are far too crowded, which makes it difficult to enjoy the places and sites normally. It is advisable to visit La Maddalena from April to October, avoiding the central weeks of August.
To enjoy the beaches at their best, the best months are definitely June, the first part of July and the first half of September.
Where to stay in La Maddalena: TOP 3 special places
Best Trips at La Maddalena
TOP 3 Boat excursions on the island
Typical dishes to eat in La Maddalena
Ziminu: classic fish soup with oil, onion and tomato and a variety of fish from scorpion fish to ‘capon’.
Zuppa gallurese (suppa cuata): an ancient recipe from the Gallura tradition, once a typical food for special occasions such as weddings. It consists of sheep broth, grated pecorino cheese, fresh parsley, and stale wheat bread. It is baked at 180° and is ready once it is dry and has formed a cheese crust.
Niuleddi: sweets made with honey, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon.
Curconi: sweet of Genoese origin: in addition to flour, lard and yeast, prickly pear must is used to give it its characteristic brown colour.
Important things to know
In order to carry out certain activities within the La Maddalena Archipelago Park, it is necessary to obtain authorisations (ticket) that entitle you to sail, moor, anchor and stop within 300 metres of the coast.
Obtaining the authorisation before entering the Park’s waters is indispensable in order not to incur penalties and not to pay the 40% surcharge on pleasure boating.
In addition to the cost of the ferry, it is necessary to pay the landing tax: it ranges from €0.50 in low season to €2.50 per person in high season.
➡ TOP 3 Experiences on La Maddalena Island
If you have little time and want to discover the best of this island, this is our classic TOP 3 Experiences
- Excursion in the archipelago on a sailing boat
- Punta Tegge at sunset
- Walking tour in the Historical centre