Saturday 26 September 2019 (6 Days)
Just over the water from Palau, the pink-granite island of Maddalena lies at the heart of the archipelago. From the moment you dock, you’ll be taken by the urbane character of the place, its cobbled piazzas and infectious holiday atmosphere.
The archipelago of La Maddalena, off the Costa Smeralda, is a quiet place of turquoise lagoons, deserted islands and the most heavenly beaches in Sardinia, with barely a footprint to spoil them
In the translucent seas of the La Maddalena archipelago, you're in another world. It doesn't feel like the Mediterranean here. It feels like a more rugged version of the Caribbean. Suspended between Sardinia and Corsica this scatter of seven large islands and 55 tiny isolotti has some of the most spectacular beaches in Italy and some of the cleanest and clearest water.
But it is only recently that these islands have begun to discover tourism, and in turn to be discovered by tourists.
Napoleon later besieged the port, and met his first defeat here. Nelson visited the waters off Maddalena three times in the build-up to Trafalgar, but never once came ashore, though he did present a silver crucifix to the parish priest.
in the archipelago, swimming, sailing and long walks are the default activities. At the end of a long day's communing with nature, you come home to La Maddalena, a surprisingly large, lively, sophisticated town, buzzing with bars and bookshops, cinemas, shops and restaurants. Because all the development has been concentrated in the town, the island itself has some quiet corners which are well worth exploring.
Things to see and do
La Maddalena is quite a large island with several very appealing sandy beaches. These all lie outside the town, but are easy to reach thanks to a panoramic circular bus service. Organised boat trips depart every day from the waterfront in La Maddalena. Boats leave in the morning, cruise through the islands stopping at two or three beaches for long bathing/exploring breaks, and lunch (usually seafood pasta) is provided on board. This is a great way to see the island group, atmospheric uninhabited islands and some beautiful isolated beaches - although you will be sharing them with your fellow passengers and those of other boats.
Palau is definitely one of the most spectacular and noteworthy seaside towns in Gallura and bordering the Emerald Coast. It's also an important landing place for ferries coming from Corsica and the archipelago of La Maddalena. Its modern harbour's development is tied to the entire extending coastline, offering a variety of gulf, dream-like bays, uncontaminated spiagge and small rocky islands that emerge from a crystal-clear sea teaming with life.
Drive to Tempio Pausania, a quaint little town around 40 minutes inland that's a centre of cork manufacturing and wine production. It sits on a granite plateau and granite has been used in many of its buildings, including the cathedral. From here, hike into the Gallura mountains, but first stock up on some of the town's own mineral water.
Watch the sun set from the top of the Capo d'Orso, a rock formation near Palau that looks like it has a bear sitting on top of it (if you use your imagination and see it from the right angle). It's one of many weirdly-shaped rocks along the northern coastline, sculpted by centuries of wind and rain,that have been likened to all kinds of animals and even to Mussolini. From the Capo d'Orso you can look across the Maddalena archipelago and, on a clear day, to Corsica beyond. It's a short and gentle climb with a well-made path and bench stops along the way.
Go star spotting in Porto Cervo, a millionaires' playground on the Costa Smeralda. Even if you don't see any celebrities or Premiership footballers, you can gawp at the enormous yachts in the marina.
Enjoy a picnic at the Baia Sardinia with some delicious pane carasau, a wafer-thin flat bread made of pasta dough that's cooked in a special rough brick oven. It is usually brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and rosemary, but may also be softened with water or broth and covered with a layer of cheese, tomatoes and eggs (pane frattau). Beware, though, it is addictive: you'll regret not saving room for the next four courses.
4* Hotel Excelsior
The Excelsior is located in the city centre of La Maddalena Island, a 2-minute walk from the ferries to/from Palau. There is free public parking in front of the hotel.
A varied buffet is served in a breakfast room with views of Santo Stefano Island. In summer, guests can enjoy it on the panoramic outdoor terrace.
The hotel provides elegant rooms with classic Italian furniture, plasma-screen TV, and free Wi-Fi. Some rooms offer views of the sea, and some are equipped with spa bath and emotional shower. Bicycles to explore the island can be rented at the Excelsior's 24-hour reception.
Safe-box in room
Express Check In
Express Check Out
From 7.30 PM to 01 AM, try one of the cocktails offered by our barman, while the sun sets in front of you, on the panoramic terrace on the first floor, or after a romantic dinner by candlelight, while the light turns off the island Santo Stefano.
Full Day Island Cruise of the Archipeligo (a touch of the Caribbean, crystal clear turquoise seas and white sandy beaches)
Day Trip To Corsica and the beautiful town of Bonafacio
Day Trip to Porto Cervo on the Costa Smeralda (the Monaco of Sardinia)
Train Journey on Vintage style train into the mountains
Return Flights from Manchester to Olbia
Resort Transfer from Olbia to Palau (approx. 45 mins)
Return Ferry from Palau to La Maddalena (15-20 mins)
5 Nights Bed & Breakfast
4* Hotel Excelsior in the centre of La Maddalena
All Airport & Local Taxes
1 Item of Cabin Baggage (55x40x20cm)
Scheduled Ailrine Failure Insurance
Single Supplement: £175 (double room, single occupancy)
Hold Luggage (15kg) £50
Door2Door Transfers: £70pp Return (Rotherham and Sheffield Areas Only)
Flight Times: TBC