The Maddalena Archipelago, comprising 60 islands and islets scattered off the north-eastern coast of Sardinia, was the Region’s first national park, created in 1996. The islands of the archipelago, made of granite and schist rock, form a precious land and marine environment, which has been preserved over the centuries also thanks to limited human presence. The park has a surface area of 50 km2, and a total coastline length of 180 km. Apart from La Maddalena itself, the only inhabited island in the archipelago since the founding of its village in 1770, the other main islands are Caprera, linked to La Maddalena by the “Passo della Moneta” road bridge, Budelli, Razzoli and Santa Maria to the north, while Spargi lies to the south. Varying in size, geological composition and history – on the Santo Stefano island traces of Neolithic settlements (2500-2000 BC) have been found – the archipelago’s islands can be explored on one of the many boat tours organised almost year round. The high points of the town of La Maddalena, framed by high defence walls, offer splendid views of the whole archipelago. The village was born around an Italian Navy base, and still retains this heritage, having long lived side by side with the Italian and US military. Its strategic position in the Mediterranean also drew the interest of Napoleone Bonaparte and Admiral Nelson. The archipelago was also home to Italian unification hero Giuseppe Garibaldi in his later years: He set up residence on the island of Caprera, where he lived till his death in 1882.
A scheduled ferry service from the port of Palau (Province of Olbia-Tempio) takes you to La Maddalena in about 20 minutes. The island can also be reached from the port of Santa Teresa Gallura, but on private boats, as there is no ferry service operating from there.
The two main islands in the archipelago, La Maddalena and Caprera linked to each other by a road bridge, can be toured by car. A recommended alternative for discovering the stunning coast and sea of the archipelago is touring it by boat. There is a choice of both organised boat trips and boat rental at Palau, Santa Teresa Gallura and La Maddalena. Archaeological diving tours are also available. The Environmental Education Centre based in Stagnali, on the island of Caprera, offers educational experiences targeting schoolchildren. The centre includes an interesting mineral museum, the dolphin research centre and the museum of the sea. Garibaldi’s home and museum are also on the island of Caprera, while the Nino Lamboglia naval museum is at La Maddalena.