corsica trip

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Jutting from the foaming Mediterranean like an impregnable fortress, Corsica resembles a miniature continent, with astounding geographical diversity. Within half an hour's drive, the landscape ranges from glittering bays, vibrant coastal cities and fabulous beaches to sawtooth mountain ridges, verdant valleys, dense forests and time-forgotten hilltop villages. Holidays in Corsica offer tremendously varying opportunities: from hiking and canyoning to snorkelling and sunbathing, enjoying a leisurely boat trip, delving into the island’s multifaceted history and sampling local delicacies.

Best Things to Do

Attractions, must-see attractions.

Corte Citadel  Historical Capital of Corsica

The great joy of visiting Bonifacio lies in strolling the tangled medieval lanes of the citadel. The paved steps of montée du Rastello and montée St-Roch…

Trekking on the GR20 trail in Corsica near the Aiguilles de Bavella hiking towards Refuge d'Asinao

Aiguilles de Bavella

Southern Corsica

The high pass by which the D268 crosses the mountains, the Col de Bavella (Bavella Pass; 1218m), is overlooked by the magnificent silhouettes of the…

1824004739

Corsica's most important prehistoric site, 20km north of Propriano, preserves extraordinary granite menhirs (standing stones) that were originally erected…

Palombaggia beach, Corsica

Plage de Palombaggia

When it comes to longing for the archetypal 'idyllic beach', it's impossible to think past the immense Plage de Palombaggia, southeast of Porto-Vecchio…

Réserve Naturelle de Scandola

Réserve Naturelle de Scandola

The Northwest Coast

The jewel of the Golfe de Porto World Heritage Site, the Réserve Naturelle de Scandola extends both above and below the water, from the russet-hued cliffs…

Fort at Cucuruzzu, Corsica.

Cucuruzzu & Capula

A side turning north from the D268, 3km west of Levie, arrives after 4km at a beautiful forest, where an easy 2.5km loop trail leads past two remarkable…

View of the Citadel of Calvi on Corsica, France.

Crowning a rocky headland, Calvi’s massive citadel was fortified by Corsica’s Genoese rulers from the 12th century onwards, and has fended off everyone…

corsica trip

Looming above the harbour, Bastia’s stern-walled citadel was built between the 15th and 17th centuries for the city’s Genoese masters. Known as the Terra…

Top picks from our travel experts

Top 11 things to do in corsica.

The Galerie, a great room for the guests, in the Maison Bonaparte in Ajaccio, ancestral home of the Bonaparte family and the birthplace of Napoleon.

Maison Bonaparte

Unremarkable from the outside, the old-town house where Napoléon was born and spent his first nine years was ransacked by Corsican nationalists in 1793,…

The main gate into Palais Fesch with the central museum of fine arts in Ajaccio on Corsica.

Palais Fesch – Musée des Beaux-Arts

Established by Napoléon’s uncle, cardinal Joseph Fesch (1763–1839), Ajaccio’s superb art museum holds the largest French collection of Italian…

Église St-Jean Baptiste

Église St-Jean Baptiste

The dramatic twin-towered church of John the Baptist soars majestically above the Vieux Port waterfront. Viewed from the citadel above, it’s the most…

Église St-Spyridon

Église St-Spyridon

Cargèse’s Greek community had been established in the village for 150 years by the time they erected this Greek Orthodox church, between 1868 and 1874…

Terra Vecchia

Terra Vecchia

Criss-crossed by narrow lanes, Terra Vecchia is Bastia’s heart and soul. Shady place de l’Hôtel de Ville hosts a lively morning market on Saturday and…

The Governors Palace in the citadel, Bastia, Corsica, France.

Musée de Bastia

Occupying the former palace of Bastia’s Genoese governors, set into the formidable walls of the citadel, this museum retraces the city’s history from its…

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Algajola railway station. Balagne. Corse. France.

Train Travel

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Old port and church of St. John the Baptist in Bastia, Corsica, France.

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CHARLIES WANDERINGS

THE TRAVEL BLOG FOR HIKING LOVERS AND EFFICIENT TRAVEL ITINERARIES

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BLOG , CORSICA , Destinations , Europe , France , Road Trips · August 13, 2023

The Best 7 Day Corsica Travel Itinerary

If you’re looking for the ultimate road trip itinerary around Corsica then you’ve come to the right place. This incredible island in the Mediterranean Sea is perfect for a self-drive holiday and I am a 100% sure you’ll have the best time exploring this drop dead gorgeous island.

Corsica is one of the most diverse islands in Europe when it comes to nature . Wether you want to visit l’Ile de Beauté for its pristine beaches, its historic and charming towns or its spectacular mountainous region. The island of Corsica has something to offer for everyone .

This 7 day Corsica itinerary is perfect for the efficient traveler who loves to visit as many places as possible during their holiday.

I visited Corsica at the start of April and while the weather was pretty okay at times I don’t recommend doing the same. A lot of hotels and restaurants were still closed and some roads higher up in the mountains were still covered in snow. Keep on reading to find out what is the ideal time to visit Corsica.

In this Corsica holiday guide you’ll find a ton of tips for visiting the island, my personal itinerary, the best places to eat and where to stay in Corsica .

I hope you’ll enjoy this Corsica itinerary and if you have any questions feel free to drop a comment below.

A small coastal town on the East Coast of Cap Corse

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary – A 7 Day Road Trip

Do you want to explore the stunning landscapes and crystalline waters of Corsica ? An island steeped in history with a unique culture waiting to be discovered?

With its rolling hills, majestic mountains, rugged coastline, and picturesque villages, you won’t want to miss the chance to witness this spectacular Mediterranean island.

This introductory article will provide an insider’s guide to the very best of Corsica , featuring a comprehensive 7-day road trip itinerary that will lead you through the diverse and breathtaking destination.

From discovering hidden coves to exploring ancient archaeological sites, you’ll find something that suits you in this carefully curated itinerary. So, start planning your journey today and prepare to experience the wonders of Corsica !

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

How to reach Corsica

Reaching Corsica can be achieved in a multitude of ways. The most convenient way is to fly into one of the region’s four international airports, located in Bastia, Figari, Calvi and Ajaccio . Air Corsica, Air France, and Volotea offer daily flights throughout the year from French destinations including Marseille, Nice, Paris Orly, and Lyon. Other airlines provide seasonal and charter direct flights to and from Corsica’s four airports.

The flights vary in price depending on the season, but there are also ferry services available from France and Italy that can be a more cost-effective option .

Additionally, there are a number of cruises that make a stop in Corsica for a taste of the region’s beauty and culture. These cruises are most popular during the summer months when the Mediterranean climate is perfect for soaking up the sun. Popular cruise stops in Corsica are Porto Vecchio, Calvi, Bonifacio and Bastia.

For my road trip I chose to fly in and out of Figari near Bonifacio and pick up my rental car at the airport.

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

The best time to visit Corsica

The best months to visit Corsica are  May, June and September . During these months the weather is already nice and warm but  France  and Italy’s summer-holiday crowds are absent. You’ll be able to enjoy all of the activities the island has to offer and hotel prices won’t skyrocket through the roof yet. Especially  if you love to go hiking these are the ideal months .

If it’s not possible for you to travel off season then  July and August  are beautiful months to visit Corsica as well. Just know that temperatures will a lot hotter and you’ll have to deal with the big crowds. If this is the case it’s best to  book your accommodation well in advance  to avoid steep price increases and the best hotels getting sold out.

I visited in April and while I still had an amazing time it’s really not ideal. The season hasn’t started yet so a lot of hotels and restaurants are still closed. The weather can also be very unpredictable and you’ll have to deal with a lot of rain on certain days. I even drove through a snowstorm so I wouldn’t advice you to go in April for the best experience.

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

How to get around Corsica

The best way to get around Corsica is to simply  rent a car .

🚘 I always use  SunnyCars  when booking a rental car cause their company policy makes me feel the most at ease.

There’s  never any hidden costs  with them and free  cancellation up to 1 hour before rental start . Their price is transparent and everything is included. So no worries about any extra costs when you pick up your rental.  You won’t need any extra insurance cause its all covered in the original price.

corsica trip

Is Corsica worth visiting?

Corsica has a captivating combination of stunning wild landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and ancient historical sites. From the highest mountains in the Mediterranean to the beautiful bays that line the coast, there’s something for everyone .

Whether you’re looking to explore hiking trails, relax in the sun, or take in the historical sites, Corsica has it all.

With its vibrant culture, friendly locals, and unique cuisine, it’s well worth visiting. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder why Corsica is one of the top vacation spots in Europe .

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

The perfect Corsica Road Trip Itinerary

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

DAY 1 – Arrive in Figari and visit Bonifacio

There are 4 international airports in Corsica. I opted for Figari Sud-Corse Airport due its direct flight from Brussels Charleroi Airport.

The airport is very small so disembarkation went very fast.

The rental car booth is located right outside of the airport and after picking up my rental car from SunnyCars it was time to drive to Bonifacio.

Bonifacio cliff

Bonifacio is the most Southern town in entire Corsica and if there’s one coastal town you absolutely can’t miss it’s this one!

Bonifacio is the perfect starting point of your trip if you land in the airport of Figari, from there it’s only 30 minutes driving to this wonderful village . The roads inside the city itself are pretty narrow but there are plenty of parking lots. Two of them are located near the marine, the other two are closer to the old city.

The Old City of Bonifacio is  located in a 9th century citadel  and consists of a maze of small cobblestoned streets.

💡  TIP  – Hike to the Phare de Pertusatu to get the best views over Bonifacio. It’s an easy hike which will take you alongside the cliffs.

🥘  WHERE TO EAT  – Have lunch at  Café Des Vestiges  and try their Aubergines à la Bonifacienne, a lovely and typical vegetarian dish.

🏨  WHERE TO STAY  –  Hotel Sp a Genovese  for an unforgettable stay, a clifftop location and panoramic views.

corsica trip

DAY 2 – Explore the Aiguilles de Bavella

If you love hiking in a spectacular area or you just want to drive across a stunning landscape then you will love this part of Corsica! The Aiguilles de Bavella are only 1,5 hour driving from Bonifacio and consist of rocky spikes of red granite hat dominate the hill of the same name in Corse-du-Sud. The site is characterized by jagged peaks, large rock walls and pine trees twisted by the wind.

Following the route of the Col de Bavella between Sartene and across Corsica towards the east (north-west of Porto-Vecchio), you pass through the  Alta rocca mountains . The Col de Bavella itself reaches an altitude of 1218 metres with the peaks of the ‘needles’ reaching more than 1800 metres. 

The road up to the Col de Bavella offers some spectacular coastal views and it’s definitely a good idea to stop the car now and then to take them all in!

corsica trip

If you want to adventure a little more I can highly recommend going on one of the following hikes:

  • Cascades de Purcaraccia Hiking Trail  – a 4.8km out & back trail that will lead you to some beautiful waterfall cascades.
  • Tour des Aiguilles de Bavella  – A more demanding 11km loop trail that will take you through the stunning Aiguilles de Bavella.

🥘  WHERE TO EAT  – Have lunch at  A uberge du Col de Bavella  and indulge in one of the typical Corsican dishes such as Civet de sanglier (Wild boar casserole) or Veau aux olives (Veal with olives).

Cascades de Purcaraccia Hiking Trail

DAY 3 – Calanques de Piana

The Calanques de Piana is my personal favorite place in Corsica to explore . There are  a ton of beautiful hikes  here to explore the area but even if hiking is not really your cup of tea you’ll find plenty of things to do here!

One of the best things to do is simply drive through the stunning natural site. The Calanques de Piana is a  UNESCO World Heritage Site  featuring stunningly shaped red rock cliffs plunging into translucent water. From the water it resembles Scandola Nature Reserve but the biggest difference here is that you can also explore on foot or by car.

If you want to  visit the Calanques de Piana by car,  you have to take the  D81 road, connecting Porto to Piana . It’s the only road in the Calanques and its an absolute stunner! There are several small patches next to the road as well if you want to stop for a photo. Another option is to leave your car in Piana and explore on foot from there.

visit the Calanques de Piana by car

  • The Capo Rosso hiking trail – The 6.9km hike passes by the  Genoese tower of Turghiu , one of the tallest towers on the Corsican coast, whose summit offers stunning views of the Gulf of Porto, the Gulf of Sagone and the Scandola Reserve.
  • Source des Roches Bleues and Calanchi di Piana hiking trail – The 4.3km route  crosses the Dardo stream and offers a magnificent view of the Calanques de Piana .

🥘  WHERE TO EAT  – You’ll probably stay here for a couple of days so I would recommend having dinner at  Le Moulin  and take their home made burger which comes with an incredible Corsican cheese sauce. Another day you should go eat at  Le Maquis  and order the Escaloppe Milanese! Both finger licking delicious!

🏨  WHERE TO STAY  – Stay at  Hôtel Bella Vista . There aren’t any luxury hotels in the area but this one comes with incredible panoramic views, a modern bathroom and clean rooms.

The 6 Best Hikes In Corsica, Incredible Hiking Trails You Can't Miss

DAY 4 – Scandola Nature Reserve and Girolata

Scandola Nature Reserve is a stunning marine and terrestrial nature reserve in the East of Corsica that’s under  strict regulated access .

You can’t reach Scandola Nature Reserve on foot or by car,  the only way to visit is by boat . Luckily there are a ton of tour operators that offer excursions from the marine of Porto.

You can choose between different lengths but the best one to choose is where you’ll visit Scandola Nature Reserve, Girolata and the Calanques de Piana.

corsica trip

Girolata is a  former fishing village  that only has about a 20 inhabitants and which can not be reached by car.

There are  two ways to reach this hidden gem  in East Corsica:  on foot or by boat . If you want to go by boat you can book one of the many excursions that leave from Porto and where you’ll also visit the Scandola Nature Reserve .

The hike 9.7km to Girolata is called the  Sentier du Facteur  and it’s one of  the most beautiful hikes in Corsica !

The Sentier du Facteur is called this way because  the local mailman used to hike this trail every single day to deliver the mail to the people living in the small town of Girolata .

The hike starts at the Col du Croix where you can park your car and the first part simply goes down through a forest until you reach the  Plage de Tuara , a beautiful beach where you won’t find many other people.

🥘  WHERE TO EAT  – After reaching Girolata on foot you should have lunch at  R estaurant Le Bon Espoir  and try some of the best Corsican food you’ll have during your holiday!

🏨  WHERE TO STAY  – Stay at  Le Bella Vista  for a 2 bedroom apartment that offers incredible panoramic views.

Sentier du Facteur hike with a view over Girolata

DAY 5 – Explore the Balagne region

The Balagne region in Corsica offers a wealth of history, culture, and beauty, making it an ideal destination for those looking to explore the area. Verdant valleys, cobalt blue seas, and pale yellow sand beaches run the length of its coastline, providing beautiful vistas for travelers.

Its winding streets and delicious cuisine also make it an attractive place to explore as well .

A short hike up Monte Cintu offers breathtaking views from the peak, while the neighboring villages are stuffed with history and tradition, perfect for the inquisitive traveler.

With so much to see and experience, the Balagne region of Corsica is sure to be a memorable destination for any traveler looking to experience its culture and beauty.

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

The most charming villages to visit in the Balagne region

  • Montemaggiore – The view of Montemaggiore as you approach the village is one of the highlights – it appears very small compared to the dramatic scenery around the village, which includes the  Monte Grosso mountain , and is perched on a ledge overlooking the valleys to the west.
  • Lunghignano – The perfect stop after you visit Montemaggiore since it’s only a couple of minutes away.
  • Aregno – Aregno is another one of these beautiful mountain villages in the Balagne region
  • Sant’Antonino – Because of its dramatic situation clinging around the top of a hill the village is sometimes referred to as the ‘ Eagles Nest ‘.
  • Speloncato – The best town to visit during sunset.

🥘  WHERE TO EAT  – L’Altezza Restaurant is your best bet in the area and offers delicious food! Or go to  I Scalini  for a Moroccan feel roof terrace with panoramic views over the city. Visit U Sechju  for a delicious lunch in a historical setting.

🏨  WHERE TO STAY  – Stay at  Cas’Anna Lidia – Hôtel De Charme , a boutique hotel with an outdoor heated pool and a hot tub overlooking the surrounding mountains. Or stay at Hotel A Piattatella , which is set in gardens, overlooking the Reginu Valley.

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

DAY 6 – Cap Corse

Cap Corse, which is often called mini Corsica, is the most northern peninsula of Corsica.

The eastern coast slopes rather gently to the sea and is home to many bays suitable for swimming , the most beautiful of which are at Pietracorbara , north of Macinaggio and near Barcaggio. 

To the west, the coast is much more rugged and the road sometimes passes well above sea level. The most beautiful village in Cap Corse is probably Centuri, famous for its lobster fishing . Its pastel-coloured houses with slate roofs crowd around the small port.

The ideal is to circumnavigate the Cap in an anti-clockwise direction  , from Bastia , in the direction of Saint-Florent . You will thus benefit from better light for your photos, while enjoying spectacular views since you will be driving on the sea side.

For a first discovery of the Cape, one day is more than enough, but the peninsula is extremely diversified and you can also spend several days there without any problem.

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

Best places to visit during a day trip around Cap Corse

  • Bastia – Bastia is both the capital of the department of Haute-Corse and the most important port of the island in terms of maritime traffic.
  • Erbalunga – It was  once the most important harbor on the Cap Corse , a fact supported by the magnificent houses that still stud the peninsula to this day.
  • Porticiollo – A small coastal town on the East side of Cap Corse.
  • Pietracorbara Beach – Perfect to lounge and relax during the middle of. theday and catch some waves.
  • Moulin Mattei – A short walk will give you beautiful, breezy views from both sides of the Cape. In good weather you can see the Tuscan islands and the Italian coast.
  • Centuri – Centuri is a beautiful coastal town that reaches all the way up into the mountains. Centuri port is the perfect place to indulge in some seafood cause the many restaurants will serve their catch of the day.
  • Nonza – Its colorful buildings make it stand out from all of the other picturesque towns and form a wonderful contrast to its black beach all the way down below.
  • Barrettali – A small town on the Cap Corse peninsula but definitely worth the stop while you’re driving down the D80.
  • Saint-Florent – It is a friendly town, and though similar in style, less pretentious and more intimate than St Tropez.

🥘  WHERE TO EAT  – Dine at  Le P irate  for the most perfect setting and a  Michelin star  experience or indulge in some of the finest lobster on Cap Corse at  Le Langoustier .

🏨  WHERE TO STAY  – Stay at the most stunning  Misincu , a 5 star hotel that forms the perfect base for exploring the area of Cap Corse

The Very Best Corsica Itinerary - A 7 Day Road Trip

DAY 7 – Corte

Although Corsica is known for its beautiful coastline, most of the island consists of a rugged but spectacular mountain landscape . If you want to explore these mountains, the centrally located Corte is the ideal base.

Corte is a historic town in the heart of Corsica as it was the capital of Corsica from 1755 until 1769 during the “government of the Corsican nation” of Pascal Paoli. And during World War I, German prisoners were held in the citadel on top of the hill.

These days Corte is a university town which houses a ton of students. The old city is perched on top of a hill but is also easy accessible. Don’t even bother trying to park your car on the side of the road, instead simply park it at the  underground parking lot  and you’ll arrive in the heart of the Old City.

🥘  WHERE TO EAT  –  Restaurant La rivière des Vins  for delicious meats cooked in a wood fire oven, accompanied by homemade french fries.

🏨  WHERE TO STAY  – Stay at  Dominique Colonna  for a luxurious stay on the river’s edge.

Sunrise over the town of Corte

This 7-day Corsica itinerary is an unforgettable experience . From the beautiful town of Bonifacio to the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Gulf of Porto, you’ll get to enjoy the best of Corsica’s landscape and get a real feel for culture and history of the island.

Whether you’re a beach lover or a mountain enthusiast, Corsica offers something unique and special to its visitors. Take in the views, explore the charming towns or simply relax on the beaches. There’s nothing like a Corsica road trip.

corsica trip

Charlotte Lint is the founder, main photographer and writer of Charlies Wanderings . She has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice. She is an expert on writing insightful hiking guides and creating unique and efficient travel itineraries . Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.

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To awaken your senses in Corsica - Claire et Manu’s Blog

Visiting Corsica: our 35 travel tips

by Claire ROBINSON , Region Lovers | 9 July 2023 | no intrusive ads, no sponsored content, just some affiliate links - if you use them, we get a small commission (read more)

Visiting Corsica: paradisiacal beaches , surprising citadels , majestic mountains … the beauty of the landscapes of the island of Corsica offers you unforgettable holidays! But to make sure your trip to Corsica is a success , it’s best to have some information in mind and be well prepared. On this page, we have gathered all our travel tips to help you make the right choices and to find the trip that suits you: when, how, where…

travel to corsica tips guide

Visiting Corsica: top 10 travel tips

Don’t want to read the whole article, want to get to the point? Here are our top 10 tips for a successful trip to Corsica:

  • Book your flights, ferries, cars and hotels well in advance, especially if you are going in summer. Many French people come to the island for the school vacations, the places fill up quickly and the prices go up.
  • Consider the ferry if you want to bring your car and there are more than 2 of you traveling – see ferry availability
  • Consider flying if you live far from the Mediterranean (to reduce travel time) – compare flight prices
  • If you rent a car , choose a car that is not too big and avoid low power cars because the roads are mountainous – see car offers
  • Make sure you have a valid ID, even for the ferry.

Lotu Beach

  • Don’ t over-plan each day. At each location you will want to explore and enjoy.
  • Don’t limit yourself to the seaside, explore the magnificent Corsican mountains.
  • Put on your hiking boots, it’s the best way to appreciate these wonderful landscapes.
  • Take the time to listen to a concert of Corsican polyphonies . It’s a really powerful experience.
  • Respect the locals, their culture and nature!

Corsica Flag

Clarification before continuing

Corsica is an absolutely beautiful destination, from the sharp peaks to the turquoise waters and white sand. But make no mistake, it is not for everyone. It is for nature lovers, who accept the winding roads due to the mountains (and the crowds if you go in summer). Its charm is undeniable but very different from other French regions. If you are looking for museums, castles and cities full of architectural wonders, choose another destination (the Loire , for example).

Tips 1 to 4 – How to travel to Corsica

1. where is corsica in which country how to get there.

Corsica is a French island in the Mediterranean Sea, nestled between France and Italy. The island is located in the north of Sardinia and is geographically closer to Italy than to France. Here is a map of Europe to help you visualize its position. You can get there either by plane or by ferry. There is no bridge or tunnel to reach the island.

where is Corsica country

2. How to get to Corsica by plane? What flights?

The island has 4 international airports: Bastia, Ajaccio, Figari and Calvi. Bastia and Calvi serve the north of Corsica, Figari and Ajaccio rather the south. The most important airport is Ajaccio, followed by Bastia.

The local company is called Air Corsica, but the island is also served by Air France, Transavia, Easyjets and other companies. There are flights from many major European cities. But if you start your trip outside of Europe, you will necessarily have a stopover.

The duration of the flights are:

  • from Paris = less than 2 hours
  • from London = 2h30 (if direct)
  • from Rome = 1h

Discover flight options on Skyscanner

And learn more in our article on how to get to Corsica .

Plane to Ajaccio airport

3. Which ferry to Corsica

If you really want to come with your car, you can take a ferry from Italy or France (Nice or Marseille or Toulon).

  • You can arrive in Ajaccio, Bastia, Propriano, Porto-Vecchio or Ile-Rousse
  • Departures are from several ports in France and Italy
  • The 3 departure ports in France are Nice (5 to 10 hours), Marseille (11 to 12 hours) or Toulon (5 to 10 hours)
  • Le plus court trajet depuis la France est entre Nice et l’Ile Rousse (5h45)
  • The shortest distance from Italy is between Piombino and Bastia (2h45)
  • None of the 4 companies stood out as the “Best”. But the one with the most options is Corsica Ferries.

If you go during the high season, it is advisable to book your ferry ticket well in advance, to have availability and the best prices.

See ferry schedules and availability

And find out more in our article about the ferry crossing to Corsica .

Corsica ferry route map

4. Visa and identity papers for Corsica

Corsica is part of France, and is therefore in the Schengen area. If you are one of them, you don’t need a visa. Otherwise, you need a Schengen Visa.

For all of them, you must have a valid identity document to circulate on the territory, and also to take the plane or the ferry.

Note for the French: the validity of the identity card has been extended from 10 to 15 years. Therefore, cards that have been expired for less than 5 years are admissible.

OUR TIPS FOR RENTING A CAR IN Corsica

  • Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
  • Choose a car that is powerful enough (the roads are steep) but compact (some passages are narrow).
  • Think of the complete insurance (some roads are tortuous and narrow).
  • There is a lot of demand, book it early .

corsica trip

6. What is the size of Corsica?

Corsica is much larger than many people imagine. Maximum: 183km from North to South and 83km wide. It is the 4th most important island in the Mediterranean Sea.

But most importantly, it has high mountains. Its geography makes it much longer to get around the island. It takes 4 hours to drive from north to south on the main road (but much longer on the beautiful west coast) It takes at least 2 hours to cross from east to west.

Here is a map to help you visualize these movements:

Map Road time in Corsica

7. How long to stay in Corsica

Of course, you can focus on one area and visit it in depth. Each region can deserve 3 weeks of vacation… But, if you want to see a bit of each region, here are our estimates for a road trip on the whole island. Please note that these times do not include full days spent on the beach:

  • Bastia and the Cap Corse – 2 to 4 days
  • Calvi and Balagne – 2 to 5 days
  • Piana and the central west – 2 to 5 days
  • Corte and Upper Corsica – 2 to 5 days
  • Bonifacio and South Corsica – 3 to 5 days
  • Ajaccio and the South-West – 3 to 5 days

8. How long to go around Corsica

Don’t try to do the whole tour of Corsica in a road trip if you have less than 2 weeks. Even with two weeks, diligence would be required to focus on only certain locations in each region to make it work. 3 weeks is much more comfortable.

Animals on the Corsican roads

9. Always allow more time than the GPS suggests

Your travel time will be extended for 2 main reasons:

With the mountains, the roads are limited (and not highways). Therefore, as soon as there are a few people, the traffic slows down. If you plan in February but leave in August, the travel times can be very different.

Then, the landscapes are magnificent, we want to stop everywhere, to make detours to see beaches, to walk a little further to see the view on the other side…

Don’t plan too much each day!

10. Dates to choose or to avoid

Depending on what you are looking for, there are some competitions and festivals to consider that may derail your plans. Either you want to include them in your trip or you want to avoid them so you don’t get stuck in the middle of your plans. For example:

  • February: Italian film festival in Bastia
  • Easter processions all over the island
  • march/april: Ajaccio marathon
  • June: Corsica-Raid in June – infos
  • June: Jazz Festival in Ajaccio
  • July: sometimes the Tour de France passes through Corsica! And it cuts the roads a lot!
  • July: Calvi on the Rocks in July
  • July 14 is the French national holiday
  • August 15, public holiday in France and big party in Ajaccio for Napoleon Bonaparte’s birthday
  • September: Polyphonic Song Meetings in the citadel of Calvi
  • october: Tour de Corse historique, classic car rally – infos
  • October: Porto-Vecchio marathon
  • and also many days dedicated to Corsican specialties in different towns and villages

cheeses in Corsica

11. If you are going in the summer, adapt to the crowds

If you don’t have a choice of dates and you go in summer, understand that it is very crowded in Corsica at that time. The most famous beaches are taken by storm, the parking lots are full and the roads are clogged. You can still enjoy it but you have to know it and adapt your program: find less known places, get up earlier to enjoy the beaches before the crowds (and before the storms), schedule less places to see in your day.

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Tips 12 to 14 – Holiday budget in Corsica – how to reduce prices

12. price and budget.

Corsica has a certain cost.

  • Many products are more expensive on the island than in mainland France
  • As demand is higher in summer, prices for car rentals, flights and hotels are higher.

Your budget will vary greatly depending on how you want to travel: sleeping in a campsite, sleeping in a rental or doing a road trip by changing hotels regularly… eating in a restaurant or making your own food… It is therefore very difficult to give an average budget…

Here are a few numbers to consider:

  • In August: 2500 euros for 2 people, for a week with a flight from Paris and accommodation in a 2/3 star hotel
  • In low season: 1700 to 2000 euros for 2 people, for a week with a flight from Paris and accommodation in a 2/3 star hotel

Residence U Pirellu

13. Reduce the biggest expenses: compare and book in advance

The largest items in the budget are:

  • Transportation to Corsica
  • Travel once in Corsica (if you don’t have your own car)

In any case, the best ways to reduce costs are to compare prices on comparison sites and to book well in advance (6 to 9 months). Our favorite comparators are:

  • Car rental: compare prices on Discovercars (they often have great deals!)
  • Plane: compare prices on Skyscanner
  • Compare Directferries prices
  • Hotels: compare accommodations on Booking

14. Choose free activities

The advantage of Corsica is that you can get busy for free in :

  • Choosing beaches (where parking is not charged)
  • Visiting villages

The landscapes are so beautiful that there is no need to plan more if you don’t have the budget. If you have some, we suggest you choose from the following activities:

  • Boat trip around Bonifacio
  • Boat to the Lavezzi Islands
  • Boat to the calanques of Piana and the Scandola reserve – see
  • Boat to the Bloody Islands – see
  • Desert of Agriates in 4×4 – see

Tonnara beach, free parking

Tips 15 to 17 – How to travel around Corsica

15. how to get around the island.

Corsica by car It remains the most practical option for exploring Corsica. If you want to discover small corners of paradise, you will need a vehicle, because public transport goes mostly in the cities and villages. You can come with your own car by ferry or rent one on the spot (see next tip).

Corsica by motorcycle Corsica is a paradise for bikers with roads that make them dream, winding and with great landscapes.

motorcycles in Corsica

Corsica by motorhome The motorhome is not the most recommended option for Corsica, unless you arrive by ferry directly to your destination and land your vehicle. Many roads are winding and narrow. Some places are feasible but you need to know your vehicle well and do a lot of research before the trip.

Corsica by train and bus Some cities are connected by trains and buses. If you have time to adapt to their schedules, the network allows you to discover several cities of the island: Ajaccio, Corte, Bastia, Calvi, Ile-Rousse…

Excursions from a main city Another option is to land in one of the big cities and take organized tours to explore the area. Ajaccio is the city with the most options See the tours

One of our rental cars in Corsica

16. How to rent a car in Corsica

You will find all international brands at the major airports and ferry terminals. Our main tips are:

  • Choose a car that is not too big so that you are more comfortable in the narrower sections of the roads
  • Choose a car with a good engine to drive more comfortably in the mountains
  • Book early if you want an automatic car (there are few in France)
  • You don’t really need a 4×4, especially since most companies won’t allow you to drive off-road even with a 4×4 for insurance reasons
  • Compare prices on Discovercars.com – our preferred platform. It is one of the best rated sites by its customers!
  • Book early to have a choice of your vehicle!

Learn more in our article with all our tips for renting a car in Corsica .

corsica trip

17. Don’t be afraid to drive

Many people are afraid to drive in Corsica, so let’s be clear:

Yes, the roads are winding and they are sometimes narrow. This is not the easiest region to drive in, when the mountains plunge into the sea! But Only people who have had problems write on the Internet. The millions of people who have not had any problems, do not take the time to go on the forums and say that everything went well in terms of driving… Most of the roads are not really difficult. There are just a few places where they are narrow. In this case, slow down well and take your time.

Learn more in our article with all our tips for driving in Corsica . And here is our video:

Tips 18 to 22 – Where to go in Corsica, best things to do

18. choose one of the best destinations.

All the corners of Corsica are beautiful. You can’t go wrong. Your trip to Corsica will be successful. But, if you want to know everything, our 3 favorite destinations are:

  • Bonifacio for the citadel, the impressive cliffs and the beaches around
  • Calvi, Ile-Rousse and Balagne for the charm of the towns and villages, as well as the beaches and rock formations
  • Saint-Florent for the variety of landscapes between semi-desert, mountains, white sand beaches…

Learn more in our article with our 9 favorite destinations in Corsica .

19. Or plan a road trip

But if that’s your style, Corsica is an ideal destination for a road trip. You can go around to discover the most beautiful corners of the island. If you choose this option we think the must stops are

  • The beaches of the South
  • The calanques de Piana
  • Calvi and the Balagne
  • L’Île-Rousse
  • The Agriates desert

USE OUR GUIDE TO PLAN A DREAM TRIP TO Corsica

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20. Explore the towns and villages

Looking for the most beautiful cities and villages? It is not the richest region of France in terms of architecture but with the surrounding landscapes, some villages and towns have a lot of charm. In cities, we particularly like:

  • Bonifacio and its citadel at the edge of the cliffs
  • City of Calvi and its citadel on a peninsula
  • L’Île-Rousse for its relaxed atmosphere and its colored islands
  • Saint-Florent surrounded by desert and mountains
  • Sartene and its historical atmosphere

For the villages, our favorites are:

  • Pigna with its charming alleys, in Balagne
  • Speloncato , to have the impression to travel in time in Balagne
  • Evisa, as if suspended among the pink peaks
  • Nonza overlooking its black beach

Learn more in our articles with the most beautiful villages of Corsica and the most beautiful cities of Corsica .

Citadel of Bonifacio

21. Discover the most beautiful beaches of Corsica

And if you wish to discover the most beautiful beaches of Corsica, there is plenty to do. The most famous are in South Corsica between Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio but there are some very beautiful ones all around Corsica. Our favorites include:

  • the Beach of Ostriconi (North)
  • the beach of Tamaricciu (South)
  • the beach of Palombaggia (South)
  • the beach of San Giovanni (South)
  • the beach of Saleccia (North)
  • Punta di Spanu , a cove rather than a beach (North)

Learn more in our article with the most beautiful beaches of Corsica .

Beach of Tamaricciu

22. Enjoy the most beautiful hikes

Corsica is a paradise for hiking. Whether you’re in the mountains or on the water, you have a wide range of choices for walks of varying difficulty. We particularly like it:

  • Capo Rosso, above the calanques of Piana
  • the famous GR20 which crosses Corsica
  • the customs path at the level of the Cap Corse
  • the Restonica valley surrounded by mountainous peaks, towards the Lake of Melo and the Lake of Capitello
  • the walk in the forest towards the Cascade des Anglais
  • the customs path in the Agriates desert

Hiking in the Agriates desert

23. Don’t over-plan each day

Corsica is a beautiful island. It is famous for its beaches, its mountains, its villages… it has a lot to offer and a great variety of points of interest. You may want to stop at viewpoints, take back roads to explore hidden areas, or simply stay longer in a village or on a beach because it is spectacular. So be sure to be reasonable in your planning!

See our itinerary suggestions:

  • 3 days in Corsica
  • 4 or 5 days in Corsica
  • coming soon: 1 week, 10 days and 15 days

24 to 28 – Where to stay in Corsica

24. one or more units.

Unlike other Mediterranean islands such as Mallorca, it is not possible to explore the entire island based on a single location.

Either you choose a single accommodation and explore a single region. Each region has a lot to offer. Either you go on a road trip. Or you can do a mix of both.

For example with 2 weeks you could:

  • you 5 days in South Corsica
  • go up the west coast with 2 nights in Ajaccio and 2 nights in Piana
  • then 5 days in the North, in Saint-Florent for example

It all depends on what you are looking for during your vacation.

25. Is it necessary to stay in Ajaccio?

Ajaccio

Ajaccio is the main city of Corsica. It has many assets:

  • choice of restaurants
  • access to islands
  • beautiful beaches less than 30 minutes away
  • waterfalls and mountains less than 1 hour away
  • plenty of organized tours

But it’s not really a must-see city. The city does not have an architectural marvel that is a must-see. And not all of the most famous places in Corsica can be visited on an excursion from this city. If you prefer nature to cities, we advise you not to stay in Ajaccio.

But if you want to discover more about Napoleon, Corsican art or Corsican gastronomy, plan at least one stop in Ajaccio.

26. Where to stay in Corsica?

Our favorite places to stay were:

  • The citadel of Bonifacio: the place is exceptional and the cliffs change color with the setting sun! – see the options
  • L’Île-Rousse: the rocks of the islands turn red-orange at sunset – see options
  • Saint-Florent (or Patrimonio, next door, in the heart of the vineyards): easy access to various landscapes and attractions – see options

Cliffs of Bonifacio at sunset

In terms of hotels, see our dedicated articles with our reviews of many hotels:

  • The most beautiful hotels in Corsica (charming)
  • Luxury hotels in Corsica
  • Where to sleep in Porto-Vecchio
  • Where to sleep Bonifacio
  • Where to sleep in Propriano / Sartène
  • Where to stay in Ajaccio
  • Where to sleep in Piana
  • Where to stay in Calvi
  • Where to stay in L’Île-Rousse
  • Where to stay in Saint-Florent
  • Where to sleep in Bastia

More tips in our article: where to stay in Corsica / South Corsica .

Beach of Calvi

27. Choosing your home wisely: what to look out for

The accommodation offer on the island of Corsica is really impressive. You can find every type of accommodation imaginable. When making your choice, don’t forget to check the following aspects:

  • Book early, especially for a trip to Corsica in summer. Do your research
  • Parking – if you are staying in a city, the parking lots may be paid for. This should be taken into consideration in your budget or you should choose an accommodation with parking
  • In France, air conditioning is not systematic, far from it. But it can be very hot in Corsica. If it is essential for you, check the conditions before booking
  • Accommodations near the beach are rarely on the beach. There are only a few and they are not the best. The best accommodations are often within 5 minutes walk of the beach.
  • The pools are not always heated, depending on the hotel.

Hotel Cala di Greco in Bonifacio

28. Use a VPN

Do not make the same mistake we made.

On one of our last trips to Europe, a hacker stole our credit card details while we were using a hotel WiFi. So our trip began with a “card blocked” call … Not funny at all! Learn from our mistake, make a small VPN investment to surf without worry .

corsica trip

Tips 29 to 32 – What to bring: packing for Corsica

29. what to wear in corsica.

Classic clothes. There is nothing special to think about. It also depends on your activities And don’t forget:

  • Clothing for rain and for colder nights in the evening and in the mountains
  • Hiking shoes

30. Protect yourself from the sun

Beware, the sun can be brutal. Don’t take any chances, protect yourself with sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

Beach of Verghia

31. Carrying cash

Most places accept credit cards on the island. However, there are a few instances where you will need cash:

  • Some places to visit (both on and off the beaten track)
  • To pay for certain parking areas

32. Power strip and adapter

We travel with more and more electronic devices. Being able to recharge them is essential. In France, and therefore in Corsica, the plugs are 2 round holes (Type E which also work with a type C). If it doesn’t match yours, consider bringing a plug adapter. And we advise you to travel with a power strip because there is not always enough for the whole family, or the plugs are not well placed.

Corsican sand

Tips 33 to 37 – Corsica travel tips: good to know for an unforgettable experience

33. be respectful of people and the environment.

The Corsicans have a strong character. And we love them for it. Remember that you are guests on this island. Be respectful towards Corsicans and their culture. Take the time to talk. The Corsicans are very welcoming. Also be sure to preserve the beautiful nature of this island. “Take only memories, Leave only footprints” – Chief Seattle.

34. Learn some words in the Corsican language

Knowing a few words in the local language is always appreciated. The official language is French but Corsicans are very proud of their local language and many people still speak it.

French – Corsica :

  • Hello = Salute
  • Goodbye = Avvedeci
  • Please = Per piace
  • Thanks to you = To ringraziavvi
  • Excuse me = Scusatemi

35. Food – what to eat in Corsica

Delicatessen in Corsica

Visiting Corsica also means tasting its culinary specialties. Here are some products and recipes of Corsica not to be missed:

  • the delicatessen: salty and tasty, it is strong in taste and will not leave you indifferent. Coppa, lonzu, figatellu, prisuttu, wild boar sausage… the choice is endless!
  • cheese: they also have a lot of taste. The local cheeses are mainly made from goat or sheep milk. Bruccio is one of the most famous.
  • mussels and oysters from the Diana pond
  • the wines of Corsica with a particular soil made of sun and mountains
  • canistrellis, dry cookies for those who are looking for something sweet
  • the Corsican chestnut, used in many recipes including the Pietra, a beer flavored with chestnut.

36. Listen to Corsican singers

Polyphonies: an experience not to be missed in Corsica. These are singing experiences where only the voices come together to produce music. In Corsica, the typical groups are only male voices. They sing in perfect harmony, mainly in Corsican language. They are very powerful and carry deep emotions. Even when you don’t understand the words, you feel the song. There are regular performances almost everywhere, often in churches. Just look for small signs attached along the roads. For example, we had the chance to listen to I Campagnoli in a small church in Bonifacio!

i Campagnili

37. What are the best activities to do in Corsica

In addition to beaches and hiking, Corsica is a beautiful destination for:

  • canyoning with more than 100 sites, but about ten are the most famous – see options
  • the GR20, more than just hiking
  • scuba diving – see options
  • via ferrata – see options
  • climbing and bouldering
  • ATV – see options
  • kayaking – see options
  • coastering also arrives in Corsica

38. What to do in an emergency

The emergency number is 112 (and also the classic numbers for the French).

Travelling to Corsica: FAQs

Is the tap water drinkable in corsica.

Thanks to its beautiful mountains, Corsica’s water is good and even excellent in some places. Tap water is safe to drink unless otherwise indicated.

Is it necessary to give a tip in Corsica?

As everywhere in France, the service is always included in the restaurant. The bill is given to you at the end of the meal. Tipping is not mandatory. If you are very satisfied with the service, you can leave a tip of a few euros (but not 20% like our American friends).

Is Corsica safe?

On the whole, Corsica is quite safe. No particular scam to mention. Pay attention to :

  • The heat, especially if you hike on paths without shade
  • Pickpockets in the cities (as in all tourist cities…)
  • Summer forest fires – follow the rules
  • Do not swim alone – many beaches are not supervised
  • Jellyfish that can sometimes get close to certain beaches
  • Don’t leave valuable personal belongings in plain sight in the car (like everywhere)

Why travel to Corsica:

Corsica is a unique and colorful place. There are many reasons to visit Corsica:

  • its mountains of more than 2500m high which plunge into the sea
  • its beaches with white sand and turquoise waters
  • rock formations of all colors
  • its citadels and its eventful history
  • its gastronomy with Mediterranean influences
  • its cultural heritage so specific with its language and songs full of emotions

Why is Corsica known?

Corsica is a little less known than other islands of the Mediterranean, but, apart from its extraordinary nature, its most famous elements are:

  • Ajaccio is the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte
  • The GR20 hike crosses the island and is one of the most beautiful in the world.
  • Its geography with the second highest peak in the Mediterranean (Mount Cinto)
  • The Gulf of Porto with the calanques of Piana, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Is Corsica a volcanic island?

Yes, Corsica is an island of volcanic origin. We see it particularly with the volcanic rocks of the reserve of Scandola. But they date back 150 million years, the volcanoes are no longer active.

Which is the most beautiful corner: the north or the south of Corsica?

The 2 regions are beautiful. The north has beautiful beaches, but in terms of number of heavenly beaches, the south wins. On the other hand, the northern towns and villages have more charm, in our opinion. It’s really hard to choose. See a more detailed comparison in this article (coming soon).

Are there mosquitoes in Corsica.

There are no more mosquitoes in Corsica than in the south of France or the other Mediterranean islands. As everywhere, bring a repellent for the evening, especially if you stay near a lake.

Are there snakes in Corsica

There are no animals considered dangerous in Corsica. There are very few snakes and they are not poisonous.

Is Corsica better than Sardinia?

Neither more nor less beautiful. Just different. Corsica is 3 times smaller than Sardinia and much more mountainous.

What is the time zone of Corsica

Corsica is at the same time as Paris i.e. GMT+1.

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The Ultimate Corsica Road Trip Itinerary

Planning a road trip in Corsica? Then you are in for a fantastic time!

Often called ‘the Island of Beauty’, it is blessed with an incredible landscape, where soaring ochre cliffs plunge into shimmering turquoise waters that dazzle in the sun.

Also featuring breathtaking gorges replete with chestnut trees, the island has 1000 km of scintillating coastline which accommodates more sandy beaches, jagged peninsulas and hidden coves than you could ever hope to visit.

Throw in historic stone villages that cling precariously to cliff faces, centuries of history and tradition – it is after all the birthplace of Napoleon – and some fantastic local foods and wines, and you have a destination that is a must-visit.

Best explored on walks through its cities, and scenic drives in Corsica, there are plenty of places you can see on the island to really ‘discover’ it.

In this guide, we will help you plan your ultimate Corsica Road Trip, by outlining for you some of the island’s most notable destinations.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!

corsica road trip

Table of Contents

Planning a road trip in Corsica

When planning your Corsica road trip itinerary, you will need to know when the best time to go is. How to get to Corsica. And also where to go once you arrive on the island.

In the sections below we will attempt to answer these questions for you, so you can start to put a proper driving tour of Corsica itinerary together.

When is the best time to do a road trip in Corsica?

While the island offers something all year round for tourists, the general consensus is that the months from May to September are the best for visiting Corsica.

During this period the weather is sunny and the water is usually quite warm for a swim.

All of the island’s most popular attractions are open as well. While you can also enjoy plenty of hikes and boat trips on and around its spectacular landscape. 

How to get to Corsica

Overall, there are two main ways to get to Corsica.

You can either fly there from various cities in France, and other parts of Europe, or you can get the ferry over.

Should you decide to take the ferry, the quickest route is the one that runs from Nice to Ile Rousse, which takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete. 

Ferries to Corsica also run regularly from Toulon, Savona and Piombino, which is in Livorno in Italy.

Once on the island, driving in Corsica is fairly straightforward, and public transport is fairly reliable too.

The Perfect Itinerary for a road trip in Corsica

Planning a Corsica road trip? Well here are some fantastic places to head to during your time there.

Stop 1: Ajaccio

The capital of the island, the port city of Ajaccio is where many Corsica road trip visitors first arrive.

And what a place to do so! 

Nestled on the island’s craggy western coast, you’ll instantly be charmed by its unique mix of history, culture and modernity.

As the birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte, it boasts plenty of noteworthy attractions honouring him and his family. Including The National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence – his childhood home – which now displays a fabulous selection of family heirlooms and priceless artworks.

With a plethora of fabulous bars and restaurants, a wide range of accommodation offerings, lively market and a terrific beach, this is a place you will want to stay for a few days.

  • Visit The National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence: The iconic French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, was born in Ajaccio on August 15, 1769. So you will find lots of monuments and references to him there. 

One of the most impressive is his birth house, which has now been turned into a fascinating museum that showcases how he and his family lived. It is well worth visiting if you are into French history.

  • The Fesch Palace: A must for all art lovers, Ajaccio’s fine art museum features original masterpieces by such revered painters as Botticelli, Titian and Poussin. There is also a whole area which features portraits of the Bonaparte family.
  • Hit the beach! There are some beautiful beaches in Ajaccio and if you have some time available it is worth visiting more than just one of them. Saint-François beach is the one most visitors head to, as it is within walking distance of the city centre and is also close to the citadel, and the port. 

However, if you get the chance you should also try and visit The beach of Terre Sacrée, which has lots of sandy coves to explore and huge rocks by the water.

As well as the beaches at Barbicaja and Marinella. Both of which are great places to sunbathe and also have some nice restaurants in which to dine at.

  • Check out the Ajaccio Market: If you love good food then you simply have to get yourself over to the Ajaccio market. Situated in Foch Square it runs every morning (except on Mondays between November and March), and is a great place to discover all the best locally produced cheeses, deli meats, jams and wines.
  • A Cupulatta turtle sanctuary: Not quite in Ajaccio, rather 20 km from it, this fabulous 2.5 hectare park is Europe’s largest that is dedicated solely to turtles. It features over 170 species from all around the world, including all continents where they exist, and is a great place to see and learn all about them.

Stop 2: Bonifacio

When driving in Corsica, the city of Bonifacio is a fabulous place to visit.

Situated on the island’s southern tip, it is probably best known for its bustling marina.

As well as its impressive, historic, medieval citadel that sits on a clifftop and features structures like The Chapel of St. Roch, which was built back in 1528.

There is plenty to see of interest for those who visit this part of the island.

Much of which is contained within a warren of narrow cobblestone lanes that are so charming, you could easily wander around them in a happy daze of contentment for hours upon end.

If you plan to stay here there is plenty of accommodation near the port, city centre and citadel. You’ll also find some great beaches to relax on too when you have had your fill of sightseeing.

  • Explore the citadel: Perched on a 70 metre high cliff that overlooks the sea, the medieval buildings, landmarks and walls contained within Bonifacio’s old town are a must-see. Be sure to check out The King of Aragon’s Staircase, 187 incredible steps that have been expertly carved into the cliff face.
  • Check out the port: Nestled at the foothill of the old town, this buzzy neighbourhood has several very good restaurants and bars to enjoy.
  • Walk on the Campu Rumanilu path: Starting from the Saint-Roch Pass you will get to enjoy spectacular views, as well as visit the Cap de Pertusatu and the stunning Trois Pointes beach.
  • Take to the water – Whether you want to stand up paddle on the sparkling waters of Piantarella lagoon, windsurf, kayak or kite-surf at Piantarella beach, or jet ski around the port itself, there are plenty of opportunities for you to do that here.

Stop 3: Porto Vecchio

Translating to ‘Old Port’, which is thought by some to be a reference to a Roman port whose remnants can still be seen in the area, Porto-Vecchio is Corsica’s third largest town.

Once occupied by Sempiero Corso in 1564, it is now home to about 12,000 residents.

Though, as it is a very popular tourist spot, the number of people at Porto Vecchio can exceed 40,000 on any given day in the summer.

The town is sometimes referred to as ‘the city of salt’, on account of it being built on salt-water marshes, which were subsequently drained to facilitate development.

Plenty of plush yachts fill the marina, while its main square, Place de la République, is packed with an eclectic mix of shops, boutique stores and cafes.

The pine tree-lined Palombaggia beach is a popular spot to head to for those visiting Corsica.

  • Marvel at the views from The Bastion de France: Want some Insta-worthy photos? Then head on over to the fantastic terrace here which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Gulf of Porto-Vecchio.
  • Take the small tourist train: Between the port and the citadel, the road is quite a steep incline. So you might want to take the small tourist train that runs between the lower and upper town of Porto Vecchio. The views are pretty spectacular.
  • Go Canyoning: Beginners should head to the Pulishellu canyon, while more seasoned enthusiasts should head to Vacca or Purcaraccia.
  • Enjoy quality beach time at Rondinara: Spectacular fine sandy beaches that house stoic, crystal clear waters.

Stop 4: Corte

Corte has a rich history. Under the leadership of Pasquale Paoli, it served as the Corsican independent state capital.

It was also the birthplace of Joseph Bonaparte in 1768 (Napoleon’s eldest brother), as well as Theophilus of Corte in 1676, a prominent Roman Catholic priest and member of the Order of Friars Minor. 

It even housed German prisoners POW in its citadel during World War I. So it offers plenty to excite historophiles.

Now better known as a university town (Pasquale Paoli University is based here) Corte has a youthful and energetic vibe.

Its citadel, which was built in the 15th century, is also the only one located in the centre of the island. Thus giving the town a unique point of difference.

  • Follow the ‘heritage trail’: This series of signposts will lead you to the city’s main and major historical buildings.
  • Check out The Musée de la Corse: Known as the Regional Museum of Anthropology, this captivating museum showcases three different exhibits that highlight Corte’s past.
  • Take in the views from The Belvedere: A promontory that looks out to the city and directly faces the citadel, the panoramic 360° views of the Tavignano and Restonica valleys are sensational.
  • Peruse The Cours Paoli: Take a stroll through the main shopping street in Corte, where you will find plenty of shops, boutique stores, bakeries, cafes, bars and restaurants. A great place to mingle with locals.
  • Treat your taste buds at The Casanova bakery: Famous for its incredible vegetable and chestnut fondant pies, which are a must-try! You’ll probably want more than one so bring your fat pants!

Stop 5: Bastia

Bastia is the second biggest city in Corsica. It is also a port city and serves as the capital of the département of Haute-Corse.

A well-known manufacturer of preserves, cigars, and cigarettes, it is also famous as an exporter of highly acclaimed Cape Corse wines. Like Ajaccio, it is home to a professional football team too.

When embarking on a road trip in Corsica be sure to add Bastia to your itinerary, as there is plenty to see and do here.

Lively cafes, restaurants and bars flank the Old Port, while the dual-towered Church of St. Jean-Baptiste is also a major drawcard.

Its citadel, Terra Nova, features ramparts that were built by Genoese rulers and the Bastia Museum, which is situated within The Governor’s Palace, exhibits the history of the city.

Close to it, the Cathedral of Ste. Marie also boasts outstanding marble statues and paintings.

  • Pay your respects at The Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste: Renown for being the largest church in Corsica, this stunning church was built in a baroque style. It is notable for its twin bell towers and also features an interior that is lavishly decorated with sensational art, like a marble statue of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and the silver tabernacle of the high altar.
  • Take in the sights from Romieu Garden: Just to the south of the Old Port, this leafy park features the iconic Romieu Stairs. Which will take you on a challenging journey up to a viewpoint that conveys magnificent views of the surrounding city.
  • Browse through The History Museum of Bastia: Located in The Governor’s Palace, this museum is a living monument to Corsica’s history and heritage.
  • Shop at the flea market: A very large market. It takes place every Sunday at St. Nicolas Square.

Stop 6: Nonza

Positioned on the side of a cliff, southwest of the peninsula, Nonza is the last village of interest you will pass as you make your way around Cap Corse.

You might not want to stick around here for too long.

However, it is one of the best scenic drives in Corsica, showcasing some lovely views.

It also has a quaint church that dates back to the 16th century, a ruined castle and a historic tower as well.

You’ll also find good shopping and food here, as well as some lovely wines. There is also a very interesting grey beach, which, although is not the best for swimming, is a nice spot for a wander.

  • Visit the Church of Sainte-Julie: Built around the 16th century, this sacred building was dedicated to a saint who was martyred during the Roman period.
  • Check out The Tour Paoline: Set within a ruined castle that sits atop the cliff along the fringes of the village, this tower was built under the order of Pascal Paoli in 1760.
  • Nonza Beach: Take a walk along the grey sand of this striking beach.
  • Peruse the local shops: Nonza has a lovely collection of boutique stores and shops to check out.

Stop 7: St Florent

Known for being the gateway to the Agriates desert, Saint-Florent is the place to come if you want to visit some of the best beaches on the island.

Once operating as a fishing port in the gulf, which it was named after, today you are more likely to see yachts and pleasure boats in the marina. And plenty of them!

With a capacity to hold almost 1,000 boats, the marina is the second biggest on the island. Along with the old town, it is also one of the more livelier parts of the city to visit too.

  • Explore the Citadel: Built by the Genoese in the 15th century, you can go inside it in the summer as it hosts regular art displays.
  • Visit the Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral: Dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, this stunning 12th century church is a historical monument. Just 700 metres away from the old town, it features a 15th century fresco of the 12 apostles which were found in Rome some time in the 18th century and brought back to Corsica.
  • Adventure through the Agriates Desert: Despite its name, the Agriates Desert is quite a vast and pristine mountainous region. It does however feature two excellent beaches, Saleccia and Lotu which are well worth visiting for their stunning turquoise waters and fine sand.
  • Go Diving: The Gulf of Saint-Florent is a noted spot for diving as the area is teaming with spectacular marine wildlife. Several centres operate in the city. Most of which are situated in the marina.

Stop 8: L’Ile Rousse

Tucked away on the Northwestern coast of the island, l’Île-Rousse is a charming seaside town that boasts a good beach and an intoxicating laid-back vibe.

Protected by the hilly terrain of La Balagne, people have lived in this area since between 5000-3000 BC. Indeed it was even called Agilla in 1000 BC.

But after several names and ownership changes, Pasquale Paoli eventually founded l’Île-Rousse as a port that would remain firmly out of the control of the Genoese.

Named after the tiny Pietra Island, which features a natural phenomenon whereby its rocks turn red at sunset, the town is a lovely place to explore.

  • Marvel at the Church of the Immaculate Conception: Flanked by palm trees, this stunning church was first inaugurated in 1893, though had to be rebuilt after fire damaged it in 1914. It features spectacular paintings and stained glass windows that date back to the 17th century.
  • Take a walk along Promenade de Marinella: This lovely walkway runs along the sea close to Paoli Square. It showcases stunning views in both directions.
  • Visit the Ile Rousse Lighthouse: Built in the 19th century, this white-washed lighthouse is also called the Phare de la Pietra. It is a very Insta-worthy landmark that also offers terrific views of the mountains and the town.
  • Relax at Ile Rousse beach: Enjoy the stunning white sand and crystal clear waters of this gorgeous beach.

Stop 9: Calvi

Folklore dictates that Calvi was the birthplace of Christopher Columbus (it was under the rule of the Genoese Empire at the time).

While this may be up for debate, what is not, is how dazzling its half-moon shaped bay and gorgeous beaches are.

Located on the northwest coast of the island, Calvi accommodates an imperious medieval citadel that overlooks the marina, at the western end of the bay.

Home to the impressive Baroque St-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral, as well as the chapel of Notre-Dame de la Serra, which is nestled on a hill and showcases fabulous views of the surroundings, the town also has a fabulous warren of cobbled streets to explore.

When you are hungry, you can also choose to eat at any of the great selection of restaurants that line the harbour’s esplanade.

  • Stop by the Saint-John the Baptist Cathedral: A historical monument that boasts a stunning wooden triptych and two fabulous statutes honouring Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Christ of Miracles respectively.
  • Explore the old town of Calvi: Nestled at the bottom of the citadel, the quaint paved streets of the old town feature lots of interesting craft and souvenir shops.
  • Take a boat trip to the Scandola Nature Reserve: This fabulous UNESCO World Heritage Site is both a marine and terrestrial Nature Reserve that is well worth exploring. You can book a 4-hour cruise from Calvi that also includes a stop to enjoy snorkelling.
  • Hike in the Bonifatu Forest: Located a 30 minute drive from Calvi, this 3000-hectare forest is a must for those who love to hike in beautiful nature!
  • Calvi Beach: 4.5 miles of gorgeous sandy beach to sunbathe, walk or play on.

Stop 10: Scandola Nature Reserve

As mentioned previously, The Scandola Nature Reserve is a popular destination to visit from Calvi, and should be on any Corsica road trip itinerary.

Established in 1975 on the west coast of the island, this reserve lies within the Corsica Regional Park.

It has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status on account of its magnificent landscape, maquis shrubland and rich biodiversity, and is especially noted for its ochre cliffs, fine sandy beaches, and imposing headlands.

There are two sectors within the reserve – the peninsula of Scandola and the Elpa Nera inlet.

Both of which are equally compelling. Its soaring, rugged cliffs also possess many fascinating grottos which are framed by several stacks and other coves and islets that are virtually inaccessible.

  • Go diving: While you are not permitted to dive in the protected area, nothing is stopping you from diving around the edges of it. If you do, you will get to see a spectacular seabed, as well as the likes of spiny lobsters, groupers and moray eels.
  • Swim near the Reserve: If you don’t fancy diving, you can always opt to swim near the protected area and take in the magnificent scenery while you do.

Stop 11: Ota

Flanked by two chains of mountains, Ota is a small, yet picturesque village, that resides on a hillside under the Mont Capu d’Ota.

Not far from Porto, it lies among terraces of olive trees, features quaint narrow streets and offers incredible views of the surrounding cliffs and valley.

Once the centre of the ‘pieve du Sia’, the village is both the starting and finishing point of the mule track that traverses the Spelunca gorges that will take you up to Evisa. 

It is a lovely, laidback place to explore on a driving tour of Corsica and is well worth a visit if only to experience a slightly different way of island life.

  • Observe: The wonderful views of the Spelunca Gorge.
  • Walk the Mule Trail: It will take you three hours to walk one way to Evisa.
  • Check out the pink church: There is a beautiful pink church in town that has a stunning tall square bell tower
  • Enjoy local fare: Eat and drink at one of the local bars and restaurants.

Stop 12: Calanques de Piana

Forming part of the Gulf of Porto UNESCO World Heritage Site, Les Calanques de Piana comprises some incredible geological formations.

Translating as ‘place of the coves’, it is situated in Piana, in between Ajaccio and Calvi and has a slightly eerie feel to it.

Taking the form of soaring cliffs, jagged columns of red granite and stunning sea caves and arches, this natural phenomenon is a notable attraction that can be explored on foot.

Getting there is an adventure in itself. During the drive to Porto, through the mountainous region from Ajaccio, you’ll see plenty of fabulous views, as well as falcons and eagles.

Those who get close to it by boat may be able to see nesting ospreys, cormorants, and even dolphins.

  • Go Hiking: Several trails, both short and long will help you explore the nature reserve of the Calanques.
  • Relax on the beach: Plage d’Arone is a beautiful beach which is perfect to relax on after you’ve finished hiking.

Stop 13: Cargèse

Cargèse is a lovely village on the west coast of the island that very much has its roots in Greece.

It was established towards the end of the 18th century by descendants of immigrants from the Mani Peninsula of the Greek Peloponnese.

Whose ancestors had settled in Corsica over 100 years previously.

Noted for its twin churches that were built in the 19th century – one by Corsicans and the other by Greek immigrants, the town spills from the top of a hill down to a small harbour.

Aside from being a tourist hotspot with beautiful architecture and a sense of history, it is best known for being the home of the Cargèse Institute for Physics.

  • Visit the twin churches: Take in a service at the Greek Orthodox church or the Roman Catholic church. Both of which are active and share a priest who has special dispensation.
  • Check out the three towers: Three Genoese towers are situated within the village – Tour de Cargèse, Tour d’Omigna and Tour d’Orchinu, which are well worth checking out.
  • Hit the Beach!: There are several fabulous beaches to visit near the village including Chiuni, Peru, Menasina, Capizollu and Stagnoli.
  • Tour the Cargèse Institute for Physics: Take a tour of this fascinating centre of physics.

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How to Plan a Unique Corsica Road Trip: 7-day Itinerary

Corsica - Corte [2]

Are you dreaming of holidays in Corsica? Follow my 7-day Corsica road trip itinerary. Discover the “Ile de Beauté”, with its dreamy beaches, crystal clear water, jagged mountains, and charming towns. This Corsica itinerary will make you fall in love with one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful islands.

Hiking in the Dolomites or a road trip to Corsica? That was my dilemma when I had to choose the destination and the travel style for my birthday trip. I never get tired of the mountains, and I like traveling by public transportation. Indeed, I gave up having a car years ago. However, I was keen to make a road trip again,  as I did in Northern Ireland along the scenic Causeway Coastal Route . It felt good being free to stop wherever I felt like and to stay at a place as long as I wished.

Corte: one of the most beautiful towns in Corsica

Don’t get me wrong. I still love mingling with locals on the bus, the train, or the boat, especially in faraway countries with different cultures. However, the truth is that in some places getting around by public transportation means seeing very little, and hiring a car is almost paramount

Corsica is one of those places. Because only by car (or motorbike or, if you’re not scared by steep climbs, by bike) one can discover the contrasts of the Ile de Beauté as the island is often called in French.

Visiting Corsica… Once again

So I decided. I would go back to Corsica, France, on a solo road trip.

I visited Corsica several times previously, but I hadn’t been back for a few years. Being one of my favorite spots in the Mediterranean, I was keen to spend one week in Corsica and explore hidden corners of the island I hadn’t visited before.

Corsica Restonica Valley

If you wonder why Corsica holidays are always a good idea, no matter how many times you have visited, let me tell you that it’s hard not to fall in love with Corsica. The island has it all (or almost). Breathtaking beaches with crystal-clear water, jaw-dropping mountain sceneries, delightful small villages where time seems to have stopped, beautiful forests and rivers, all in an area of about 8,800 sqm.

How to plan your Corsica road trip itinerary

Once bought my flight to Ajaccio, I started studying the map to draw my Corsica road trip itinerary. I was willing to include some Corsica must see places, as well as spending time in the Corsica mountains. I had to make choices, though, as a week in Corsica is not enough to explore the entire island unless you want to spend all the time behind the wheel. Over the years, I grew more and more fond of slow travel, willing to see less but experience and taste more.

I eventually decided to focus on Corsica’s western coast and cross inland almost in the middle of the island. I would drive along the coast and to the mountains, visit charming villages, and enjoy the beautiful beaches. And I also craved a couple of short hikes.

I like freedom when I travel, and I try to limit planning as much as possible so that I can change my mind along the way. However, Corsica in Summer gets busy. So I built up a 7-day itinerary to visit some of the most beautiful places in Corsica.

Corsica road trip: Know before you go

corsica trip

How to get to Corsica

By air : Corsica has four airports: Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, and the smaller Figari in the south. International flights are limited to Europe. Therefore, if you’re coming from overseas, your most likely ports of call are Paris,  London, Frankfurt, and Zurich. Many flights to Corsica from France and other European cities are only seasonal, so it’s better to  check and book  as soon as possible.

By ferry: Bastia, Ajaccio, and Calvi are connected by ferry from Italy (Savona, Genova, Livorno) and France (Marseille, Toulon). If you plan to travel to Corsica with your car in high season (July-August), I recommend booking in advance for better fares.

Best time to visit Corsica

Although I’d be curious to see Corsica in Winter, the best time to visit Corsica is from April to late September, mid-October . If possible, avoid July and August, which are the busiest months and also very hot for hiking. Additionally, should you plan holidays in Corsica in July and August, choose your accommodation and book well in advance.

Driving in Corsica

Allow plenty of time, as most roads are winding, often narrow, and sometimes in poor conditions. Driving in Corsica can also be challenging due to animals crossing the streets (wild boars, goats, etc.). Drive slowly and with caution, and buy full-coverage car insurance.

Car rental in Corsica

Corsica airports have booths of several car rental companies. If you’re envisaging a Corsica road trip in the high season, I recommend booking a car well in advance. Check the prices and book your car .

Accommodation in Corsica

Corsica accommodations range from simple guesthouses to luxury hotels and apartments. Camping in Corsica is also very popular, as well as basic lodging for hikers. Read further and find out where to stay in Corsica on this 7-day itinerary.

A week in Corsica by car: itinerary

Day 1 – ajaccio to sartène.

From Ajaccio airport, I went directly to the car rental booth, where everything went smoothly. In a matter of minutes, I picked up my car and started my Corsica road trip heading south and inland to Sartène .

Perched atop a rock, with its medieval structure, narrow alleys, and granite houses, Sartène somehow epitomizes the essence of Corsica: secluded, closed, sometimes even a little rough, although also capable of great warmth.

Corsica - Sartène

As I often do, I explored Sartène wandering around aimlessly,  getting lost in the tiny streets, and admiring the tall granite buildings which date back to the 16th century. Camera in hand, I couldn’t choose which corner I should take a picture of. They were all so pretty. The town is small, so even walking slowly and stopping every few steps, I didn’t need much time to discover the nicest spots. I took a break sitting on the terrace of a cute cafè, people-watching and just taking in the sense of peace surrounding me.

Day 2 – Sartène, Zonza, Bavella

Crossing the pretty village of Zonza , the winding road toward the mountains rewarded me with stunning views. Here and there, I spotted wild pigs walking alongside the road, sometimes even lying unconcerned on the pavement and slowly moving away as I approached.

corsica trip

Suddenly, the Aiguilles de Bavella (the ‘Bavella Needles’) appeared on the horizon, with beautiful rocks and peaks dominating the landscape. I had been anticipating a beautiful hike at one of the most scenic mountain areas of Corsica, but when I arrived, there were so many people that I gave up. The scenery is indeed breathtaking, but it was far too crowded for my taste. It’s worth going back in Spring or Autumn, though.

Day 3 – Corte

With its narrow streets leading up to the citadel and the old houses looking a little unkempt, Corte is charming. As you stroll this in the lovely alleys, you’ll hardly think that Corte was the former capital of Corsica during the short period in which the island achieved independence in the mid-18th Century.

Corte fortress

The Corsican Republic was short-lived, but the old town maintained its pride and scrupulously kept its traditions, starting from the language.

Seen from below, the houses perched on the hill make for a lovely composition, while from atop, the citadel overlooks the surrounding mountains and forests of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica . Corte is one of the most beautiful towns in Corsica and a must-see.

Day 4 – Hiking the Restonica Valley

The nearby Restonica Valley , which I had never visited before, is well known for its beautiful hikes. I couldn’t miss it this time, and after breakfast, I started the drive along the narrow and somewhat bumpy road.

Corsica - Restonica Valley

I picked up randomly one of the many trails crisscrossing the Restonica Valley and started the ascent, surrounded by breathtaking wild scenery. Rocks sculpted by erosion, green pine trees bent by the strong winds, and clouds running fast in a cobalt blue sky. Surprisingly, I met only a handful of people along the trail, which made my hike all the most enjoyable. Hiking in Corsica is extremely popular , and the island boasts the GR-20 , one of the best long-distance treks in Europe.

The Restonica Valley ended up being one of the highlights of my Corsica road trip and a place I wouldn’t have been able to reach without a car.

Day 5 – Corte to Ota

More winding roads through the mountains, and then, the blue sea appeared on the horizon. Time for a change of scenery, from the rocks to water. I could hear my stomach grumbling, reclaiming attention. Shortly after, I approached Algajola, a lovely fortified small town along the coast, almost halfway between Ile Rousse and Calvi, and a lovely spot for a lunch break.

I treated myself to a dish of delicious fresh fish and a glass of cold local white wine. The sandy beach was too tempting, so I went for a long walk and a short bath before entering the car once again. I continued my journey heading back inland to the enchanting village of Ota .

Corsica - Ota

From the Gulf of Porto, the sole UNESCO World Heritage Site in Corsica , the road climbs up to Ota, a delightful hamlet leaning against the mountain. It’s an oasis of peace, popular with hikers coming here for daily excursions or stopping along the Mare e Monti hiking trail .

Day 6 – Ota and the Gorges de Spelunca

Small and secluded, Ota was the perfect place to relax. Afterward, I went for a scenic drive and a day hike to the beautiful Gorges de Spelunca.

Back from my walk, I chilled out on a terrace overlooking the mountains and the village. Sipping a drink, I watched the colors of the houses getting warmer hues as the sun started setting down.

Ota invites you to stop for a couple of days to enjoy the silence, the beautiful scenery, and the life of the locals along the streets or at the bar. A corner of authentic Corsica I thoroughly liked.

Day 7 – Ota to Ajaccio

The last leg of my Corsica road trip was also the most scenic. I left Ota shortly after sunrise and reached the Calanques of Piana . The sun was still low.  And the rocks, shaded in pink, made a beautiful contrast with the deep blue of the water beneath.

Corsica - Calanques de Piana

I stopped at a couple of viewpoints, striving to catch as much as possible of this awe-inspiring beauty. I was willing to fix into my eyes and memory the sight of one of the most beautiful sceneries in the Mediterranean. The Calanques de Piana are one of the unmissable attractions in Corsica and should be included in any Corsica itinerary.

Sadly, my Corsica holidays had come to an end, and I retook the road down to Ajaccio. As I drove back to the airport, I couldn’t help feeling a bit melancholy. A week in Corsica passed in a heartbeat. At the same time, I was pleased because, after more than ten years, Corsica was as beautiful as I remembered it. It was only a goodbye. I know I’ll be back.

Where to stay in Corsica

Corsica is not a cheap destination, especially if you are a solo traveler. If you’re looking for budget accommodations in Corsica, your best bet is staying at the Gites d’étape. These are hostels popular with hikers, mostly in small villages, offering accommodation in dormitories, usually with half-board.

Although somewhat pricey, Corsica boasts many beautiful accommodations, often with stunning views. Here’s a selection of hotels in some of the most beautiful towns and areas of the island:

Accommodation in Sartène and nearby

The colorful Rossi Hotel is only 1,2 km from Sartène. It features a terrace with panoramic views of Sartène and the countryside and an outdoor swimming pool, which is a good option if you’re visiting Corsica with kids.

Maredda 2 is a charming apartment tastefully decorated. Located less than 1 km from Sartène center, it features several amenities, including air conditioning.

Best Western Plus San Damianu :  The hotel features modern and bright rooms with a balcony, an outdoor swimming pool, and a large terrace with superb views of Sartène and the surrounding landscape.

Propriano (14 km / 9 mi from Sartène, 15-20 min drive)

Miramar Boutique Hotel :  Modern and stylish, it overlooks the Gulf of Valinco and its beautiful beaches. Amenities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, a sauna, and a spa. Perfect for a romantic getaway and a relaxing holiday.

Résidence & Hôtel Aria Marina : Overlooking the Gulf of Valinco, Aria Marina Hotel and Residence features tastefully decorated self-catered apartments with a balcony and a terrace with superb views.

Olmeto (21 km / 13 mi from Sartène, 30 min drive)

L’Hostellerie du Moulin des Oliviers   is a beautiful boutique hotel surrounded by a charming Mediterranean garden. The Hotel features all kinds of amenities, including a swimming pool, private beach, spa, and fine dining.

Accommodation in Piana and the Calanques

Hôtel Capo Rosso boasts a wide terrace with superb views of the Calanques de Piana and the Gulf of Scandola, one of the most scenic areas of Corsica.

Hotel Scandola features modern and tasteful décor and spacious rooms with a balcony. The charming terrace offers sweeping sea views.

Where to stay in Corte

Dominique Colonna Hotel :  A stylish hotel with a wide terrace overlooking the river. Dominique Colonna features an outdoor swimming pool with a sundeck and a spa.

If you’d rather stay in nature, check out Hôtel de la Restonica . Rustic but tasteful, the hotel features a summer outdoor swimming pool and views of the mountains. It’s a perfect choice if you want to do some hiking in Corsica since there are some trails nearby.

Corsica Road Trip Map

corsica-road-trip-map

  Note:

This post contains affiliate links to carefully selected products and services, some of which I tested myself. If you make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Corsica Road Trip

Travel addict and passionate about photography, Simon Falvo started Wild About Travel back in 2009. Leveraging her strong PR background, she developed an extensive knowledge of Digital Communications and Content Creation. Besides travel writing Simon holds workshops and trainings, she collaborated with tourism boards for digital marketing campaigns and participated as a speaker at several events.

15 thoughts on “How to Plan a Unique Corsica Road Trip: 7-day Itinerary”

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I am so happy to discover your blog tonight. Thanks for sharing your Corsica road trip. I enjoyed read your post very much,

I love hiking and have hiked world wide. We are going to be in Corsica and Sardinia next month.

I was wondering how many days it took you for this Corisca Road trip?

Hi Rachel, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the article. My road trip in Corsica lasted 1 week, but there’s so much to do and see on this beautiful island that you can easily spend a month there. I’m sure you’ll enjoy Corsica and Sardinia. The islands are quite different, even if close to one another. Just beware, if you plan to hike, that Sardinia is much drier and that you’ll have much less shade than in Corsica.

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Corsica looks stunning! I’m hoping to do a similar road trip next month. I’m really looking forward to it after reading this post.

Hope you’ll get to go to Corsica, Andrea. Wonderful island, perfect for road tripping!

Stunning photos and useful tips, Simon. I’d love to visit Corsica someday. It looks a bit like Sicily with French accents.

Your photos make us want to plan a trip to Corsica this year! Look at that village of Ota – so charming!

I’ve always wanted to visit Corsica – and what a fabulous set of images you’ve got that make me want to go.

Corsica sounds great! Beautiful views….thanks for a wonderful narrative!

Lovely photography of a very beautiful island. It’s one of my favourite places in the world but I haven’t seen much of the interior. I’d love to travel by train from Ajaccio to Corte and then down to L’Ile Rousse. I heard it’s a superb journey. As for driving in Corsica – I tried it once – not a good experience. It’s as flat as a pancake where I live. Give me a roaring motorway over hairpin bends and plunging drops with no barriers anytime.

You must definitely go back, Kathryn, and visit the interior, otherwise you would have seen only one half of the moon 🙂

I made part of the journey with the little train years ago and loved it.

We just did a road trip through Corsica in August. Gorgeous! I couldn’t believe the diversity of the country. I can’t wait to go back. Gorgeous shots!

Thank you, Corinne. However, it’s not hard to get nice shots of an island which is so beautiful. You’re right, the diversity is what makes Corsica so special, an unexpected.

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I would give this 6 stars if the ratings went that high! This really was one of the highlights of our vacation. Due to scheduling issues, we ended up with ...

More than three million people visit Corsica each year, drawn by the mild climate and some of the most diverse landscapes in all Europe. Nowhere in the Mediterranean has beaches finer than the island’s perfect half-moon bays of white sand and transparent water, or seascapes more dramatic than the red porphyry Calanches of the west coast. Even though the annual visitor influx now exceeds the island’s population nearly ten times over, tourism hasn’t spoilt the place: there are a few resorts, but overdevelopment is rare and high-rise blocks are confined to the main towns.

Ajaccio (Aiacciu)

The balagne (a balagna), bonifacio (bonifaziu) and around, things to do in bonifacio, central corsica, corte (corti), corsican food and drink, napoleon and corsica, the nebbio (u nebbiu), porto (portu) and around, porto-vecchio, sartène (sartè) and around, the réserve naturel de scandola.

Bastia , capital of the north, was the principal Genoese stronghold, and its fifteenth-century citadelle has survived almost intact. It’s first and foremost a Corsican city, and commerce rather than tourism is its main concern. Also relatively undisturbed, the northern Cap Corse harbours inviting sandy coves and fishing villages such as Macinaggio and Centuri-Port . Within a short distance of Bastia, the fertile region of the Nebbio contains a scattering of churches built by Pisan stoneworkers, the prime example being the Cathédral de Santa Maria Assunta at the appealingly chic little port of St-Florent .

To the west of here, L’Île-Rousse and Calvi , the latter graced with an impressive citadelle and fabulous sandy beach, are major targets for holiday-makers. The spectacular Scandola nature reserve to the southwest of Calvi is most easily visited by boat from the tiny resort of Porto , from where walkers can also strike out into the wild Gorges de Spelunca . Corte , at the heart of Corsica, is the best base for exploring the mountains and gorges of the interior which form part of the Parc Naturel Régional that runs almost the entire length of the island.

Sandy beaches and rocky headlands punctuate the west coast all the way down to Ajaccio , Napoleon’s birthplace and the island’s capital, where pavement cafés and palm-lined boulevards teem with tourists in summer. Slightly fewer make it to nearby Filitosa , greatest of the many prehistoric sites scattered across the south. Propriano , the area’s principal resort, lies close to stern Sartène , former seat of the wild feudal lords who once ruled this region and still the quintessential Corsican town.

More megalithic sites lie south of Sartène on the way to Bonifacio , a comb of ancient buildings perched atop furrowed white cliffs at the southern tip of the island. Equally popular, Porto-Vecchio provides a springboard for excursions to the amazing beaches of the south. The eastern plain has less to boast of, but the Roman site at Aléria is worth a visit for its excellent museum.

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Brief history

Set on the western Mediterranean trade routes, Corsica has always been of strategic and commercial appeal. Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans came in successive waves, driving native Corsicans into the interior. The Romans were ousted by Vandals, and for the following thirteen centuries the island was attacked, abandoned, settled and sold as a nation state, with generations of islanders fighting against foreign government. In 1768 France bought Corsica from Genoa, but nearly two-and-half centuries of French rule have had a limited effect and the island’s Baroque churches, Genoese fortresses, fervent Catholic rituals and a Tuscan-influenced indigenous language and cuisine show a more profound affinity with Italy.

Corsica’s uneasy relationship with the mainland has worsened in recent decades. Economic neglect and the French government’s reluctance to encourage Corsican language and culture spawned a nationalist movement in the early 1970s, whose clandestine armed wing – the FLNC (Fronte di Liberazione Nazionale di a Corsica) – and its various offshoots were until recently engaged in a bloody conflict with the state.

Relations between the island’s hardline nationalists and Paris may be perennially fraught, but there’s little support among ordinary islanders for total independence. Bankrolled by Paris and Brussels, Corsica is the most heavily subsidized region of France. Moreover, Corsicans are exempt from social security contributions and the island as a whole enjoys preferential tax status, with one-third of the permanent population employed in the public sector.

Opinion, however, remains divided on the best way forward for the island. While centre-right parties push for an all-out promotion of tourism as a socio-economic cure-all, local nationalist groups resist large-scale development, claiming it will irrevocably damage the pristine environment visitors come to enjoy. Meanwhile, bombings of second homes – a feature of island life since the 1980s – has given way to a marked increase in assassinations and counter killings, most of them linked to organized crime and corruption rather than feuds between nationalist factions, as in the past. Corsica now suffers the highest per capita murder rate of any European region – a statistic attributed by locals to the failure of the French government to address ingrained social and economic problems, but which has roots deep in the island’s cultural DNA.

The extent to which violence is nowadays a symptom of mob influence rather than part of the liberation struggle was dramatically underlined in June 2014, when the FLNC announced a definitive end to its armed conflict with the French state. The announcement came in the wake of a particularly bloody period for the island, during which several prominent figures, including politicians, lawyers and civil servants, were gunned down.

Corsica’s troubled underbelly, however, is largely invisible to visitors. Political graffiti and bullet-scarred signposts, which used to be ubiquitous, are fast becoming a thing of the past, while the drive-by shootings and mafia assassinations which dominate the local press tend to occur well away from the resorts.

Edward Lear claimed that on a wet day it would be hard to find so dull a place as Ajaccio , a harsh judgement with an element of justice. The town has none of Bastia’s sense of purpose and can seem to lack a definitive identity of its own, but it is a relaxed and good-looking place, with an exceptionally mild climate, and a wealth of smart cafés, restaurants and shops.

Although it’s an attractive idea that Ajax, hero of the Trojan War, once stopped here, the name of Ajaccio actually derives from the Roman Adjaccium (place of rest), a winter stop-off point for shepherds descending from the mountains to stock up on goods and sell their produce. This first settlement was destroyed by the Saracens in the tenth century, and modern Ajaccio grew up around the citadelle founded in 1492. Napoleon gave the town international fame, but though the self-designated Cité Impériale is littered with statues and street names related to the Bonaparte family, you’ll find that the Napoleonic cult has a less dedicated following here than you might imagine: the emperor is still considered by many Ajacciens as a self-serving Frenchman rather than as a Corsican.

Since the early 1980s, Ajaccio has gained an unwelcome reputation for nationalist violence. The most infamous terrorist atrocity of recent decades was the murder, in February 1998, of the French government’s most senior official on the island, Claude Erignac, who was gunned down as he left the opera. However, separatist violence rarely (if ever) affects tourists here, and for visitors Ajaccio remains memorable for the things that have long made it attractive – its battered old town, relaxing cafés and the encompassing view of its glorious bay.

The core of the old town – a cluster of ancient streets spreading north and south of place Foch , which opens out to the seafront by the port and the marina – holds the most interest. Nearby, to the west, place de Gaulle forms the modern centre and is the source of the main thoroughfare, cours Napoléon , which extends parallel to the sea almost 2km to the northeast. West of place de Gaulle stretches the modern part of town fronted by the beach , overlooked at its eastern end by the citadelle.

Built on the estuary at the mouth of the River Tavignano on the island’s east coast, 40km southeast of Corte along the N200, Aléria was first settled in 564 BC by a colony of Greek Phocaeans as a trading port for copper and lead, as well as wheat, olives and grapes. After an interlude of Carthaginian rule, the Romans arrived in 259 BC, built a naval base and re-established its importance in the Mediterranean. Aléria remained the east coast’s principal port right up until the eighteenth century. Little is left of the historic town except Roman ruins and a thirteenth-century Genoese fortress, which stands high against a background of chequered fields and green vineyards. To the south, a strip of modern buildings straddling the main road makes up the modern town, known as Cateraggio , but it’s the village set on the hilltop just west of here that’s the principal focus for visitors.

The Balagne , the region stretching west from the Ostriconi valley as far as the red-cliffed wilderness of Scandola, has been renowned since Roman times as “Le Pays de l’Huile et Froment” (Land of Oil and Wheat). Backed by a wall of imposing, pale grey mountains, the characteristic outcrops of orange granite punctuating its spectacular coastline shelter a string of idyllic beaches, many of them sporting ritzy marinas and holiday complexes. These, along with the region’s two honeypot towns, L’Île Rousse and Calvi , get swamped in summer, but the scenery more than compensates. In any case, Calvi, with its cream-coloured citadelle, breathtaking white-sand bay and mountainous backdrop, should not be missed.

Seen from the water, Calvi is a beautiful spectacle, with its three immense bastions topped by a crest of ochre buildings, sharply defined against a hazy backdrop of mountains. Located twenty kilometres west along the coast from L’Île Rousse, the town began as a fishing port on the site of the present-day ville basse below the citadelle, and remained just a cluster of houses and fishing shacks until the Pisans conquered the island in the tenth century. Not until the arrival of the Genoese, however, did the town become a stronghold when, in 1268, Giovaninello de Loreto, a Corsican nobleman, built a huge citadelle on the windswept rock overlooking the port and named it Calvi. A fleet commanded by Nelson launched a brutal two-month attack on the town in 1794; he left saying he hoped never to see the place again, and very nearly didn’t see anywhere else again, having sustained the wound that cost him his sight in one eye.

The French concentrated on developing Ajaccio and Bastia during the nineteenth century, and Calvi became primarily a military base. A hangout for European glitterati in the 1950s, the town these days has the ambience of a slightly kitsch Côte d’Azur resort, whose glamorous marina, souvenir shops and fussy boutiques jar with the down-to-earth villages of its rural hinterland. It’s also an important base for the French Foreign Legion’s parachute regiment, the 2e REP, and immaculately uniformed legionnaires are a common sight around the bars lining avenue de la République.

Social life in Calvi focuses on the restaurants and cafés of the quai Landry , a spacious seafront walkway linking the marina and the port. This is the best place to get the feel of the town, but the majority of Calvi’s sights are found within the walls of the citadelle.

Calvi beach

Calvi’s beach sweeps round the bay from the end of quai Landry, but most of the first kilometre or so is owned by bars which rent out sunloungers for a hefty price. To avoid these, follow the track behind the sand, which will bring you to the start of a more secluded stretch. The sea might not be as sparklingly clear as at many other Corsican beaches, but it’s warm, shallow and free of rocks.

The citadelle

“Civitas Calvis Semper Fidelis” – always faithful – reads the inscription of the town’s motto, carved over the ancient gateway into the fortress. The best way of seeing the citadelle is to follow the ramparts connecting the three immense bastions, the views from which extend out to sea and inland to Monte Cinto. Within the walls the houses are tightly packed along tortuous stairways and narrow passages that converge on the place d’Armes. Dominating the square is the Cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste , set at the highest point of the promontory. This chunky ochre edifice was founded in the thirteenth century, but was partly destroyed during the Turkish siege of 1553 and then suffered extensive damage twelve years later, when the powder magazine in the governor’s palace exploded. It was rebuilt in the form of a Greek cross. The church’s great treasure is the Christ des Miracles , which is housed in the chapel on the right of the choir; this crucifix was brandished at marauding Turks during the 1553 siege, an act which reputedly saved the day.

L’Île Rousse

Developed by Pascal Paoli in the 1760s as a “gallows to hang Calvi”, the port of L’Île Rousse (Isula Rossa) simply doesn’t convince as a Corsican town, its palm trees, smart shops, neat flower gardens and colossal pink seafront hotel creating an atmosphere that has more in common with the French Riviera. Pascal Paoli had great plans for his new town on the Haute-Balagne coast, which was laid out from scratch in 1758 as a port to export the olive oil produced in the region. A large part of it was built on a grid system, quite at odds with the higgledy-piggledy nature of most Corsican villages and towns. Thanks to the busy trading of wine and oil, it soon began to prosper and, two and a half centuries later, still thrives as a successful port. These days, however, the main traffic consists of holiday-makers, lured here by brochure shots of the nearby beaches. This is officially the hottest corner of the island, and the town is deluged by sun-worshippers in July and August. Given the proximity of Calvi, and so much unspoilt countryside, it’s hard to see why you should want to stop here for longer than it takes to have lunch or a coffee on the square.

The dominant tone of Corsica’s most successful commercial town, Bastia , is one of charismatic dereliction, as the city’s industrial zone is spread onto the lowlands to the south, leaving the centre of town with plenty of aged charm. The old quarter, known as the Terra Vecchia, comprises a tightly packed network of haphazard streets, flamboyant Baroque churches and lofty tenements, their crumbling golden-grey walls set against a backdrop of maquis-covered hills.

The city dates from Roman times, when a base was set up at Biguglia to the south, beside a freshwater lagoon. Little remains of the former colony, but the site merits a day-trip for the well-preserved pair of Pisan churches at Mariana, rising from the southern fringes of Poretta airport. Bastia began to thrive under the Genoese, when wine was exported to the Italian mainland from Porto Cardo, forerunner of Bastia’s Vieux Port, or Terra Vecchia. Despite the fact that in 1811 Napoleon appointed Ajaccio capital of the island, initiating a rivalry between the two towns which exists to this day, Bastia soon established a stronger trading position with mainland France. The Nouveau Port, created in 1862 to cope with the increasing traffic with France and Italy, became the mainstay of the local economy, exporting chiefly agricultural products from Cap Corse, Balagne and the eastern plain.

The centre of Bastia is not especially large, and all its sights can easily be seen in a day without the use of a car. The spacious place St-Nicolas is the obvious place to get your bearings: open to the sea and lined with shady trees and cafés, it’s the main focus of town life. Running parallel to it on the landward side are boulevard Paoli and rue César-Campinchi, the two main shopping streets, but all Bastia’s historic sights lie within Terra Vecchia , the old quarter immediately south of place St-Nicolas, and Terra Nova , the area surrounding the citadelle. Tucked away below the imposing, honey-coloured bastion is the much-photographed Vieux Port , with its boat-choked marina encircled by crumbling eighteenth-century tenement buildings.

Bonifacio enjoys a superbly isolated location at Corsica’s southernmost point, a narrow peninsula of dazzling white limestone creating a townsite unlike any other. The much-photographed haute ville , a maze of narrow streets flanked by tall Genoese tenements, rises seamlessly out of sheer cliffs that have been hollowed and striated by the wind and waves, while on the landward side the deep cleft between the peninsula and the mainland forms a perfect natural harbour.

A haven for boats for centuries, this inlet is nowadays a chic marina that attracts yachts from around the Med. Its geography has long enabled Bonifacio to maintain a certain temperamental detachment from the rest of Corsica, and the town today remains distinctly more Italian than French in the atmosphere. It retains Renaissance features found only here, and its inhabitants have their own dialect based on Ligurian, a legacy of the days when this was practically an independent Genoese colony.

A view of Bonifacio port and old town, Corsica island, France

Bonifacio port and old town © Pawel Kazmierczak / Shutterstock

Bonifacio's charming marina and beautiful waters make it no surprise that the best things to do in the area involve boats and beaches. However, the old town forms one of the most arresting spectacles in the Mediterranean, and warrants at least a day-trip. If you plan to come in peak season, try to get here early in the day before the bus parties arrive at around 10 am.

Although Bonifacio has its inevitable drawbacks; exorbitant prices, overwhelming crowds in July and August and a commercial cynicism that’s atypical of Corsica as a whole, it has an unexpected charm that is well worth exploring.

There are impressive views of the citadel from the cliffs at the head of the Montée Rastello (reached via the pathway running left from the top of the steps), but they’re not a patch on the spectacular panorama from the sea. Throughout the day, a flotilla of excursion boats ferries visitors out to the best vantage points, taking in a string of caves and other landmarks only accessible by water en route, including the Îles Lavezzi , the scattering of small islets where the troopship Sémillante was shipwrecked in 1855, now designated as a nature reserve.

The whole experience of bobbing around to an amplified running commentary is about as touristy as Bonifacio gets, but it’s well worth enduring just to round the mouth of the harbour and see the vieille ville , perched atop the famous chalk cliffs. The Lavezzi islets themselves are surrounded by wonderfully clear sea water, offering Corsica’s best snorkelling. On your way back, you skirt the famous Île Cavallo , or “millionaire’s island”, where the likes of Princess Caroline of Monaco and other French and Italian glitterati have luxury hideaways.

The beaches within walking distance of Bonifacio are generally smaller and less appealing than most in southern Corsica. For a dazzling splash of turquoise, you’ll have to follow the narrow, twisting lane east of town in the direction of Pertusatu lighthouse, turning left when you see signs for Piantarella , Corsica’s kitesurfing hotspot. A twenty-minute walk south around the shore from there takes you past the remains of a superbly situated Roman villa to a pair of divine little coves, Grand Sperone and Petit Sperone – both shallow and perfect for kids.

Another superb beach in the area is Rondinara , a perfect shell-shaped cove of turquoise water enclosed by dunes and a pair of twin headlands. Located 10km north (east of N198), it’s sufficiently off the beaten track to remain relatively peaceful (outside school holidays). Facilities are minimal, limited to a smart wooden beach restaurant, paying car park and campsite. Shade is at a premium, so come armed with a parasol.

Bonifacio, Corsica, France

Aerial of Bonifacio © LuckyViks / iStock

Top Image: Bonifacio (Bonifaziu) © Andrea Sirri / Shutterstock

Boat trips from Bonifacio

From the moment you arrive in Bonifacio, you’ll be pestered by touts from the many boat companies running excursions out of the harbour. There are more than a dozen of these, but they all offer more or less the same routes, at the same prices.

Lasting between thirty and forty-five minutes, the shorter trips take you out along the cliffs to the grottes marines (sea caves) and calanches (inlets) below the old town.

Longer excursions head out to the Îles Lavezzi , part of the archipelago to the east of the straits of Bonifacio. Most companies offer a shuttle ( navette ) service, allowing you to spend as much time as you like on the islands before returning. Boats go out past the Grain de Sable and Phare du Pertusato and then moor at the main island of Lavezzi , beside the cimetière Achiarino . Buried in two walled cemeteries are the victims of the Sémillante shipwreck of 1855, in which 773 crew members and soldiers bound for the Crimean War were drowned after their vessel was blown onto the rocks.

Classified as a nature reserve since 1982, the islets are home to several rare species of wild flower , and offer fabulous snorkelling and some exquisite shell-sand beaches . A network of footpaths runs between them, well waymarked, as you’re not permitted to wander off into the fragile vegetation.

Until Napoléon III had a coach road built around Cap Corse in the nineteenth century, the promontory was effectively cut off from the rest of the island, and relied on Italian maritime traffic for its income – hence its distinctive Tuscan dialect. Many Capicursini later left to seek their fortunes in the colonies of the Caribbean, which explains the distinctly ostentatious mansions, or palazzi , built by the successful émigrés (nicknamed “les Américains”) on their return. For all the changes brought by the modern world, Cap Corse still feels like a separate country, with wild flowers in profusion, vineyards and quiet, traditional fishing villages.

Forty kilometres long and only fifteen across, the peninsula is divided by a spine of mountains called the Serra, which peaks at Cima di e Folicce , 1324m above sea level. The coast on the east side of this divide is characterized by tiny ports, or marines , tucked into gently sloping river-mouths, alongside coves which become sandier as you go further north. The villages of the western coast are sited on rugged cliffs, high above the rough sea and tiny rocky inlets that can be glimpsed from the corniche road.

Centuri-Port

When Dr Johnson’s biographer, James Boswell, arrived here from England in 1765, the former Roman settlement of Centuri-Port was a tiny fishing village, recommended to him for its peaceful detachment from the dangerous turmoil of the rest of Corsica. Not much has changed since Boswell’s time: Centuri-Port exudes tranquillity despite a serious influx of summer residents, many of them artists who come to paint the fishing boats in the slightly prettified harbour, where the grey-stone wall is highlighted by the green serpentine roofs of the encircling cottages, restaurants and bars. The only drawback is the beach, which is disappointingly muddy and not ideal for sunbathing.

A port since Roman times, well-sheltered Macinaggio , 20km north of Erbalunga, was developed by the Genoese in 1620 for the export of olive oil and wine to the Italian peninsula. The Corsican independence leader, Pascal Paoli, landed here in 1790 after his exile in England, whereupon he kissed the ground and uttered the words “ O ma patrie, je t’ai quitté esclave, je te retrouve libre ” (“Oh my country, I left you as a slave, I rediscover you a free man”). There’s not much of a historic patina to the place nowadays, but with its packed marina and line of colourful seafront awnings, Macinaggio has a certain appeal, made all the stronger by its proximity to some of the wildest landscape on the Corsican coast.

Another reason to linger is to sample the superb Clos Nicrosi wines, grown in the terraces above the village, which you can taste at the domaine’s little shop on the north side of the Rogliano road, opposite the U Ricordu hotel.

North of the town lie some beautiful stretches of sand and clear sea – an area demarcated as the Site Naturel de la Capandula . A marked footpath, known as Le Sentier des Douaniers because it used to be patrolled by customs officials, threads its way across the hills and coves of the reserve, giving access to an area that cannot by reached by road.

Central Corsica is a nonstop parade of stupendous scenery, and the best way to immerse yourself in it is to get onto the region’s ever-expanding network of trails and forest tracks. The ridge of granite mountains forming the spine of the island is closely followed by the epic GR20 footpath, which can be picked up from various villages and is scattered with refuge huts, most of them offering no facilities except shelter. For the less active there are also plenty of roads penetrating deep into the forests of Vizzavona, La Restonica and Rospa Sorba, crossing lofty passes that provide exceptional views across the island. The most popular attractions in the centre, though, are the magnificent gorges of La Restonica and Tavignano , both within easy reach of Corte.

Stacked up the side of a wedge-shaped crag against a spectacular backdrop of granite mountains, Corte epitomizes l’âme corse , or “Corsican soul” – a small town marooned amid a grandiose landscape, where a spirit of dogged patriotism is never far from the surface. Corte has been the home of Corsican nationalism since the first National Constitution was drawn up here in 1731, and was also where Pascal Paoli , “U Babbu di u Patria” (“Father of the Nation”), formed the island’s first democratic government later in the eighteenth century. Self-consciously insular and grimly proud, it can seem an inhospitable place at times, although the presence of the island’s only university lightens the atmosphere noticeably during termtime, when the bars and cafés lining its long main street fill with students. For the outsider, Corte’s charm is concentrated in the tranquil haute ville , where the forbidding citadelle – site of a modern museum – presides over a warren of narrow, cobbled streets.

It’s the herbs – thyme, marjoram, basil, fennel and rosemary – of the maquis (the dense, scented scrub covering lowland Corsica) that lend the island’s cuisine its distinctive aromas.

You’ll find the best charcuterie in the hills of the interior, where pork is smoked and cured in the cold cellars of village houses – it’s particularly delicious in Castagniccia, where wild pigs feed on the chestnuts which were once the staple diet of the locals. Here you can also taste chestnut fritters ( fritelli a gaju frescu ) and chestnut porridge ( pulenta ) sprinkled with sugar or eau de vie. Brocciu , a soft mozzarella-like cheese made with ewe’s milk, is found everywhere on the island, forming the basis for many dishes, including omelettes and cannelloni. Fromage corse is also very good – a hard cheese made in the sheep- and goat-rearing central regions, where cabrettu à l’istrettu (kid stew) is a speciality.

Game – mainly stews of hare and wild boar but also roast woodcock, partridge and wood pigeon – features throughout the island’s mountain and forested regions. Here blackbirds ( merles ) are made into a fragrant pâté, and eel and trout are fished from the unpolluted rivers. Sea fish like red mullet ( rouget ), bream ( loup de mer ) and a great variety of shellfish is eaten along the coast – the best crayfish ( langouste ) comes from around the Golfe de St-Florent, whereas oysters ( huîtres ) and mussels ( moules ) are a speciality of the eastern plain.

Corsica produces some excellent, and still little-known, wines , mostly from indigenous vine stocks that yield distinctive, herb-tinged aromas. Names to look out for include: Domaine Torraccia (Porto-Vecchio); Domaine Fiumicicoli (Sartène); Domaine Saparale (Sartène); Domaine Gentille (Patrimonio); Domaine Leccia (Patrimomio); and Venturi-Pieretti (Cap Corse). In addition to the usual whites, reds and rosés, the last of these makes the sweet muscat for which Cap Corse was renowned in previous centuries. Another popular aperitif is the drink known as Cap Corse, a fortified wine flavoured with quinine and herbs. Note that tap water is particularly good quality in Corsica, coming from the fresh mountain streams.

Winding some 170km from Calenzana (12km from Calvi) to Conca (22km from Porto-Vecchio), the GR20 is Corsica’s most demanding long-distance footpath. Only one-third of the 18,000 to 20,000 hikers who start it each season complete all sixteen stages, which can be covered in ten to twelve days if you’re in good physical shape – if you’re not, don’t even think about attempting this route. Marked with red-and-white splashes of paint, it comprises a series of harsh ascents and descents, sections of which exceed 2000m and become more of a scramble than a walk, with stanchions, cables and ladders driven into the rock as essential aids. The going is made tougher by the necessity of carrying a sleeping bag, all-weather kit and two or three days’ food with you. That said, the rewards more than compensate. The GR20 takes in the most spectacular mountain terrain in Corsica and along the way you can spot the elusive mouflon (mountain sheep), glimpse lammergeier (a rare vulture) wheeling around the crags, and swim in ice-cold torrents and waterfalls.

The first thing you need to do before setting off is get hold of the Parc Régional’s indispensable Topo-guide , published by the Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pédestre, which gives a detailed description of the route, along with relevant sections of IGN contour maps, lists of refuges and other essential information. Most good bookshops in Corsica stock them, or call at the park office in Ajaccio.

The route can be undertaken in either direction , but most hikers start in the north at Calenzana, tackling the most demanding étapes early on. The hardship is alleviated by extraordinary mountainscapes as you round the Cinto massif, skirt the Asco, Niolo, Tavignano and Restonica valleys, and scale the sides of Monte d’Oro and Rotondo. At Vizzavona on the main Bastia–Corte–Ajaccio road, roughly the halfway mark, you can call it a day and catch a bus or train back to the coast, or press on south across two more ranges to the needle peaks of Bavella.

Accommodation along the route is provided by refuges , where, for around €13–17, you can take a hot shower, use an equipped kitchen and bunk down on mattresses. Usually converted bergeries , these places are staffed by wardens during the peak period (June–Sept). Advance reservations can be made online via the national park (PNRC) website, parc-corse.org, for an advance payment of €5 per bed; any un-booked places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so be prepared to bivouac if you arrive late. Another reason to be on the trail soon after dawn is that it allows you to break the back of the étape before 2pm, when clouds tend to bubble over the mountains and obscure the views.

The weather in the high mountains is notoriously fickle. A sunny morning doesn’t necessarily mean a sunny day, and during July and August violent storms can envelop the route without warning. It’s therefore essential to take good wet-weather gear with you, as well as a hat, sunblock and shades. In addition, make sure you set off on each stage with adequate food and water . At the height of the season, most refuges sell basic supplies ( alimentation or ravitaillement ), but you shouldn’t rely on this service; ask hikers coming from the opposite direction where their last supply stop was and plan accordingly (basic provisions are always available at the main passes of Col de Vergio, Col de Vizzavona, Col de Bavella and Col de Verde). The refuge wardens ( gardiens ) will be able to advise you on how much water to carry at each stage.

Finally, a word of warning : each year, injured hikers have to be air-lifted to safety off remote sections of the GR20, normally because they strayed from the marked route and got lost. Occasionally, fatal accidents also occur for the same reason, so always keep the paint splashes in sight, especially if the weather closes in – don’t rely purely on the many cairns that punctuate the route, as these sometimes mark more hazardous paths to high peaks.

In June 2015, a landslide caused by a violent storm in the notorious Cirque de la Solitude, between Asco Stagnu and the Tighjettu refuge, killed five trekkers and forced the closure of this part of the route. At the time of writing, minibuses were being used to shuttle walkers between the valleys instead, while the PNRC were equipping an alternative high-level “variant” route to bypass the cirque, which is expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future. Full details on the new variant are posted on the PNRC website.

Le Golfe de Valinco

From Ajaccio, the vista of whitewashed villas and sandy beaches lining the opposite side of the gulf may tempt you out of town when you first arrive. On closer inspection, however, Porticcio turns out to be a faceless string of leisure settlements for Ajaccio’s smart set, complete with tennis courts, malls and flotillas of jet-skis. Better to skip this stretch and press on south along the route nationale (RN194) which, after scaling the Col de Celaccia , winds down to the stunning Golfe de Valinco . A vast blue inlet bounded by rolling, scrub-covered hills, the gulf presents the first dramatic scenery along the coastal highway. It also marks the start of militant and Mafia-ridden south Corsica, more closely associated with vendetta, banditry and separatism than any other part of the island. Many of the mountain villages glimpsed from the roads hereabouts are riven with age-old divisions, exacerbated in recent years by the spread of organized crime and nationalist violence. But the island’s seamier side is rarely discernible to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who pass through each summer, most of whom stay around the small port of Propriano , at the eastern end of the gulf. In addition to offering most of the area’s tourist amenities, this busy resort town lies within easy reach of the menhirs at Filitosa , one of the western Mediterranean’s most important prehistoric sites.

Set deep in the countryside of the fertile Vallée du Taravo, the extraordinary Station Préhistorique de Filitosa , 17km north of Propriano, comprises a wonderful array of statue-menhirs and prehistoric structures encapsulating some eight thousand years of history. There’s no public transport to the site; vehicles should be parked in the small car park five-minutes’ walk from the entrance in the village.

Filitosa was settled by Neolithic farming people who lived here in rock shelters until the arrival of navigators from the east in about 3500 BC. These invaders were the creators of the menhirs, the earliest of which were possibly phallic symbols worshipped by an ancient fertility cult. When the seafaring people known as the Torréens (after the towers they built on Corsica) conquered Filitosa around 1300 BC, they destroyed most of the menhirs, incorporating the broken stones into the area of dry-stone walling surrounding the site’s two torri , or towers, examples of which can be found all over the south of Corsica. The site remained undiscovered until a farmer stumbled across the ruins on his land in the late 1940s.

Propriano (Pruprià)

Tucked into the narrowest part of the Golfe de Valinco, the small port of Propriano , 57km southeast of Ajaccio, centres on a fine natural harbour that was exploited by the ancient Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans, but became a prime target for Saracen pirate raids in the sixteenth century, when it was largely destroyed. Redeveloped in the 1900s, it now boasts a thriving marina, and handles ferries to Toulon, Marseille and Sardinia.

During the summer, tourists come here in droves for the area’s beaches . The nearest of these, plage de Lido , lies 1km west, just beyond the Port de Commerce, but it’s nowhere near as pretty as the coves strung along the northern shore of the gulf around Olmeto plage . You can reach Olmeto on the three daily buses from Propriano to Porto.

Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio in 1769, a year after the French took over the island from the Genoese. They made a thorough job of it, crushing the Corsican leader Paoli’s troops at Ponte Nuovo and driving him into exile. Napoleon’s father Carlo, a close associate of Paoli, fled the scene of the battle with his pregnant wife in order to escape the victorious French army. But Carlo’s subsequent behaviour was quite different from that of his former leader – he came to terms with the French, becoming a representative of the newly styled Corsican nobility in the National Assembly, and using his contacts with the French governor to get a free education for his children.

At the age of 9, Napoleon was awarded a scholarship to the Brienne military academy , an institution specially founded to teach the sons of the French nobility the responsibilities of their status, and the young son of a Corsican Italian-speaking household used his time well, leaving Brienne to enter the exclusive École Militaire in Paris. At the age of 16 he was commissioned into the artillery. When he was 20 the Revolution broke out in Paris and the scene was set for a remarkable career.

Always an ambitious opportunist, Napolean obtained leave from his regiment, returned to Ajaccio, joined the local Jacobin club and – with his eye on a colonelship in the Corsican militia – promoted enthusiastically the interests of the Revolution. However, things did not quite work out as he had planned, for Pascal Paoli had also returned to Corsica.

Carlo Bonaparte had died some years before, and Napoleon was head of a family that had formerly given Paoli strong support. Having spent the last twenty years in London, Paoli was pro-English and had developed a profound distaste for revolutionary excesses. Napoleon’s French allegiance and his Jacobin views antagonized the older man, and his military conduct didn’t enhance his standing at all. Elected second-in-command of the volunteer militia, Napoleon was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to wrest control of the citadelle from royalist sympathizers. He thus took much of the blame when, in reprisal for the killing of one of the militiamen, several people were gunned down in Ajaccio, an incident which engendered eight days of civil war. In June 1793, Napoleon and his family were chased back to the mainland by the Paolists.

Napoleon promptly renounced any special allegiance he had ever felt for Corsica. He Gallicized the spelling of his name, preferring Napoléon to his baptismal Napoleone. And, although he was later to speak with nostalgia about the scents of the Corsican countryside, he put the city of his birth fourth on the list of places he would like to be buried.

Taking its name from the thick mists that sweep over the region in winter, the Nebbio has for centuries been one of the most fertile parts of the island, producing honey, chestnuts and some of the island’s finest wine. An amphitheatre of rippled chalk hills, vineyards and cultivated valleys surrounds the area’s main town, St-Florent , half an hour’s drive west over the mountain from Bastia at the base of Cap Corse. Aside from EU subsidies, the major money earner here is viticulture: the village of Patrimonio is the wine-growing hub, with caves offering dégustations lined up along its main street.

St-Florent is the obvious base for day-trips to the beautifully preserved Pisan church of Santa Maria Assunta, just outside the town, and the Désert des Agriates , a wilderness of parched maquis-covered hills across the bay whose rugged coastline harbours one of Corsica’s least accessible, but most picturesque, beaches.

Patrimonio (Patrimoniu)

Some 6km from St-Florent lies PATRIMONIO , centre of the first Corsican wine region to gain appellation contrôlée status. Apart from the renowned local muscat, which can be sampled in the village or at one of the caves along the route from St-Florent, Patrimonio’s chief asset is the sixteenth-century church of St-Martin , occupying its own little hillock and visible for kilometres around. The colour of burnt sienna, it stands out vividly against the rich green vineyards and chalk hills. In a garden 200m south of the church stands a limestone statue-menhir known as U Nativu, a late megalithic piece dating from 900–800 BC. A carved T-shape on its front represents a breastbone, and two eyebrows and a chin can also be made out.

The U Nativu menhir takes pride of place next to the stage at Patrimonio’s annual open-air guitar festival , held in the last week of July next to the church, when performers and music aficionados from all over Europe converge on the village.

Viewed from across the bay, St-Florent (San Fiurenzu) appears as a bright line against the black tidal wave of the Tenda hills, the pale stone houses seeming to rise straight out of the sea, overlooked by a squat circular citadelle. It’s a relaxing town, with a decent beach and a good number of restaurants, but the key to its success is the marina , which is jammed with expensive boats throughout the summer. Neither the tourists, however, nor indeed St-Florent’s proximity to Bastia, entirely eclipse the air of isolation conferred on the town by its brooding backdrop of mountains and scrubby desert.

In Roman times, a settlement called Cersunam – referred to as Nebbium by chroniclers from the ninth century onwards – existed a kilometre east of the present village. The ancient port was eclipsed by the harbour that developed around the new Genoese citadelle in the fifteenth century, which prospered as one of Genoa’s strongholds, and it was from here that Paoli set off for London in 1796, never to return.

The Désert des Agriates

Extending westwards from the Golfe de St-Florent to the mouth of the Ostriconi River, the Désert des Agriates is a vast area of uninhabited land, dotted with clumps of cacti and scrub-covered hills. It may appear inhospitable now, but during the time of the Genoese this rocky moonscape was, as its name implies, a veritable breadbasket ( agriates means “cultivated fields”). In fact, so much wheat was grown here that the Italian overlords levied a special tax on grain to prevent any build-up of funds that might have financed an insurrection. Fires and soil erosion eventually took their toll, however, and by the 1970s the area had become a total wilderness.

Numerous crackpot schemes to redevelop the Désert have been mooted over the years – from atomic weapon test zones to concrete Club-Med-style resorts – but during the past few decades the government has gradually bought up the land from its various owners (among them the Rothschild family) and designated it as a protected nature reserve.

A couple of rough pistes wind into the desert, but without some kind of 4WD vehicle the only feasible way to explore the area and its rugged coastline, which includes two of the island’s most beautiful beaches , is on foot. From St-Florent, a pathway winds northwest to plage de Perajola , just off the main Calvi highway (N1197), in three easy stages. The first takes around 5hr 30min, and leads past the famous Martello tower and much-photographed plage de Loto to plage de Saleccia , a huge sweep of soft white sand and turquoise sea that was used as a location for the invasion sequences in the film The Longest Day .

The overwhelming proximity of the mountains, combined with the pervasive eucalyptus and spicy scent of the maquis, give Porto , 30km south of Calvi, a uniquely intense atmosphere that makes it one of the most interesting places to stay on the west coast. Except for a watchtower erected here by the Genoese in the second half of the sixteenth century, the site was only built upon with the onset of tourism since the 1950s; today the village is still so small that it can become claustrophobic in July and August, when overcrowding is no joke. Off season, the place becomes eerily deserted, so you’d do well to choose your times carefully; the best months are May, June and September.

The crowds and traffic jams tend to be most oppressive passing the famous Calanches , a huge mass of weirdly eroded pink rock just southwest of Porto, but you can easily sidestep the tourist deluge in picturesque Piana , which overlooks the gulf from its southern shore, or by heading inland from Porto through the Gorges de Spelunca . Forming a ravine running from the sea to the watershed of the island, this spectacular gorge gives access to the equally grandiose Forêt d’Aïtone , site of Corsica’s most ancient Laricio pine trees and a deservedly popular hiking area. Throughout the forest, the river and its tributaries are punctuated by strings of piscines naturelles (natural swimming pools) – a refreshing alternative to the beaches hereabouts. If you’re travelling between Porto and Ajaccio, a worthwhile place to break the journey is the clifftop village of Cargèse where the two main attractions are the Greek church and spectacular beach.

Competition between hotels is more cut-throat in Porto than in any other resort on the island. During slack periods towards the beginning and end of the season, most places engage in a full-on price war, pasting up cheaper tariffs than their neighbours – all of which is great for punters. In late July and August, however, the normal high rates prevail.

The Calanches

The UNESCO-protected site of the Calanches , 5km southwest of Porto, takes its name from calanca , the Corsican word for creek or inlet, but the outstanding characteristics here are the vivid orange and pink rock masses and pinnacles which crumble into the dark blue sea. Liable to unusual patterns of erosion, these tormented rock formations and porphyry needles, some of which soar 300m above the waves, have long been associated with different animals and figures, of which the most famous is the Tête de Chien (Dog’s Head) at the north end of the stretch of cliffs. Other figures and creatures conjured up include a Moor’s head, a monocled bishop, a bear and a tortoise.

One way to see the fantastic cliffs of the Calanches is by boat from Porto. Alternatively, you could drive along the corniche road that weaves through the granite archways on its way to Piana. Eight kilometres along the road from Porto, the Roches Bleues café is a convenient landmark for walkers .

Picturesque Piana occupies a prime location overlooking the Calanches, but for some reason does not suffer the deluge of tourists that Porto endures. Retaining a sleepy feel, the village comprises a cluster of pink houses ranged around an eighteenth-century church and square, from the edge of which the panoramic views over the Golfe de Porto are sublime.

Calanches walks

The rock formations visible from the road are not a patch on what you can see from the waymarked trails winding through the Calanches, which vary from easy ambles to strenuous stepped ascents. An excellent leaflet highlighting the pick of the routes is available free from tourist offices. Whichever one you choose, leave early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat in summer, and take plenty of water.

Walk one: The most popular walk is to the Château Fort (1hr), which begins at a sharp hairpin in the D81, 700m north of the Café Roches Rouges (look for the car park and signboard at the roadside). Passing the famous Tête de Chien, it snakes along a ridge lined by dramatic porphyry forms to a huge square chunk of granite resembling a ruined castle. Just before reaching it there’s an open platform from where the views of the gulf and Paglia Orba, Corsica’s third-highest mountain, are superb – one of the best sunset spots on the island – but bring a torch to help find the path back.

Walk two: For a more challenging extension to Walk one, begin instead at the Roches Rouges Café . On the opposite side of the road, two paths strike up the hill: follow the one on your left (nearest the stream, as you face away from the café), which zigzags steeply up the rocks, over a pass and down the other side to rejoin the D81 in around 1hr 15min. About 150m west of the spot where you meet the road is the trailhead for the Château Fort walk, with more superb views.

Walk three: A small oratory niche in the cliff by the roadside, 500m south of Café Roches Rouges , contains a Madonna statue, Santa Maria, from where the wonderful sentier muletier (1hr) climbs into the rocks above. Before the road was blasted through the Calanches in 1850, this old paved path, an extraordinary feat of workmanship supported in places by dry-stone banks and walls, formed the main artery between the villages of Piana and Ota. After a very steep start, the route contours through the rocks and pine woods above the restored mill at Pont de Gavallaghiu, emerging after one hour back on the D81, roughly 1.5km south of the starting point. Return by the same path.

Cargèse (Carghjese)

Sitting high above a deep blue bay on a cliff scattered with olive trees, Cargèse , 20km southwest of Porto, exudes a lazy charm that attracts hundreds of well-heeled summer residents to its pretty white houses and hotels. The full-time locals, half of whom are descendants of Greek refugees who fled the Turkish occupation of the Peloponnese in the seventeenth century, seem to accept with nonchalance this inundation – and the proximity of a large Club Med complex – but the best times to visit are May and late September, when Cargèse is all but empty.

Eating and drinking

A fair number of restaurants are scattered about the village, as well as the standard crop of basic pizzerias, but the most tempting places to eat are down in the harbour.

The overall standard of restaurants in Porto is poor, with overpriced food and indifferent service the norm, particularly during high season. There are, however, three noteworthy exceptions:

The Gorges de Spelunca

Spanning the 2km between the villages of Ota and Évisa , a few kilometres inland from Porto, the Gorges de Spelunca are a formidable sight, with bare orange granite walls, 1km deep in places, plunging into the foaming green torrent created by the confluence of the rivers Porto, Tavulella, Onca, Campi and Aïtone. The sunlight, ricocheting across the rock walls, creates a sinister effect that’s heightened by the dark jagged needles of the encircling peaks. The most dramatic part of the gorge can be seen from the road, which hugs the edge for much of its length.

Set on a hillock overlooking a beautiful deep blue bay, Porto-Vecchio , 25km north of Bonifacio, was rated by James Boswell as one of “the most distinguished harbours in Europe”. It was founded in 1539 as a second Genoese stronghold on the east coast, Bastia being well established in the north. The site was perfect: close to the unexploited and fertile plain, it benefited from secure high land and a sheltered harbour, although the mosquito population spread malaria and wiped out the first Ligurian settlers within months. Things began to take off mainly thanks to the cork industry, which still thrived well into the twentieth century. Today most revenue comes from tourists, the vast majority of them well-heeled Italians who flock here for the fine outlying beaches . To the northwest, the little town of Zonza makes a good base for exploring the dramatic forest that surrounds one of Corsica’s most awesome road trips, the route de Bavella .

Around the centre of town there’s not much to see, apart from the well-preserved fortress and the small grid of ancient streets backing onto the main place de la République. East of the square you can’t miss the Porte Génoise , which frames a delightful expanse of sea and saltpans and through which you’ll find the quickest route down to the modern marina, which is lined with cafés and restaurants.

Prosper Mérimée famously dubbed Sartène “la plus corse des villes corses” (“the most Corsican of Corsican towns”), but the nineteenth-century German chronicler Gregorovius put a less complimentary spin on it when he described it as a “town peopled by demons”. Sartène hasn’t shaken off its hostile image, despite being a smart, better-groomed place than many small Corsican towns. The main square, place Porta, doesn’t offer many diversions once you’ve explored the enclosed vielle ville , and the only time of year Sartène teems with tourists is at Easter for U Catenacciu , a Good Friday procession that packs the main square with onlookers.

Close to Sartène are some of the island’s best-known prehistoric sites , most notably Filitosa , the megaliths of Cauria and the Alignement de Palaggiu – Corsica’s largest array of prehistoric standing stones – monuments from which are displayed in the town’s excellent museum.

The megalithic sites

Sparsely populated today, the rolling hills of the southwestern corner of Corsica are rich in prehistoric sites. The megaliths of Cauria , standing in ghostly isolation 10km southwest from Sartène, comprise the Dolmen de Fontanaccia, the best-preserved monument of its kind on Corsica, while the nearby alignments of Stantari and Renaggiu have an impressive congregation of statue-menhirs.

More than 250 menhirs can be seen northwest of Cauria at Palaggiu , another rewardingly remote site. Equally wild is the coast hereabouts, with deep clefts and coves providing some excellent spots for diving and secluded swimming.

As you snake your way through the maquis, the Dolmen de Fontanaccia eventually comes into view on the horizon, crowning the crest of a low hill amid a sea of vegetation. A blue sign at the parking space indicates the track to the dolmen, a fifteen-minute walk away. Known to the locals as the Stazzona del Diavolu (Devil’s Forge), a name that does justice to its enigmatic power, the Dolmen de Fontanaccia is in fact a burial chamber from around 2000 BC. This period was marked by a change in burial customs – whereas bodies had previously been buried in stone coffins in the ground, they were now placed above, in a mound of earth enclosed in a stone chamber. What you see today is a great stone table, comprising six huge granite blocks nearly 2m high, topped by a stone slab that remained after the earth eroded away.

The twenty “standing men” of the Alignement de Stantari , 200m to the east of the dolmen, date from the same period. All are featureless, except two which have roughly sculpted eyes and noses, with diagonal swords on their fronts and sockets in their heads where horns would probably have been attached.

Across a couple of fields to the south is the Alignement de Renaggiu , a gathering of forty menhirs standing in rows amid a small shadowy copse, set against the enormous granite outcrop of Punta di Cauria. Some of the menhirs have fallen, but all face north to south, a fact that seems to rule out any connection with a sun-related cult.

The extraordinary Réserve Naturel de Scandola takes up the promontory dividing the Balagne from the Golfe de Porto. Composed of striking red porphyry granite, its sheer cliffs and gnarled claw-like outcrops were formed by Monte Cinto’s volcanic eruptions 250 million years ago, and subsequent erosion has fashioned shadowy caves, grottoes and gashes in the rock. Scandola’s colours are as remarkable as the shapes, the hues varying from the charcoal grey of granite to incandescent rusty purple.

The headland and its surrounding water were declared a nature reserve in 1975 and now support significant colonies of seabirds, dolphins and seals, as well as 450 types of seaweed and some remarkable fish such as the grouper, a species more commonly found in the Caribbean. In addition, nests belonging to the rare Audouin’s gull are visible on the cliffs, and you might see the odd fish eagle ( Balbuzard pêcheur ) – there used to be only a handful of nesting pairs at one time, but careful conservation has increased their numbers considerably over the past two decades.

Connected by a mere mule track to the rest of the island (1hr 30min on foot from the nearest road), the tiny fishing haven of Girolata , immediately east of Scandola, has a dreamlike quality that’s highlighted by the vivid red of the surrounding rocks. A short stretch of stony beach and a few houses are dominated by a stately watchtower, built by the Genoese in the seventeenth century in the form of a small castle on a bluff overlooking the cove. For most of the year, this is one of the most idyllic spots on the island, with only the odd yacht and party of hikers to threaten the settlement’s tranquillity. From June to September, though, daily boat trips from Porto and Calvi ensure the village is swamped during the middle of the day, so if you want to make the most of the scenery and peace and quiet, walk here and stay a night in one of the gîtes .

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Corsica Travel Guide (France)

Corsica, France is one of the most beautiful islands in Europe with breathtaking scenery from Mountain to Sea. Below is my Corsica Travel guide to help you plan your ideal itinerary including the best places in Corsica (especially beaches), a road trip guide and plenty of photos and video to make you dream of your next trip!

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME IN CORSICA!

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Corsica Travel Guide written by Claire , the ultimate Travel Planning Geek

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All the articles are now redirecting to my regional website dedicated to my home region: Normandie. You will find even more content to help you plan your amazing trip!

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Best things to do in Corsica

Discover general articles about the best destinations and best things to do in Corsica. Get inspired to visit this magnificent French island with many landscapes from mountains to sea displaying unbelievable colors!  The whole island is magnificent with breathtaking scenery everywhere you look. You won't get bored! Here are the best places in Corsica:

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Best beaches in Corsica

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Corsica Travel Guide - How to Plan your Trip

Below are my articles to help you define your ideal itinerary, get ready to drive in Corsica, plan your accommodations, pack and have a fantastic trip!

Here is a map to help you understand where Corsica island is located in the Mediterranean Sea, South West of France. You can also get a better understand of where the main towns and roads are (Detailed maps designed to help planning are available in the  eBooks .)

Corsica Map

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How to rent a car in Corsica

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Driving in Corsica

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Where to stay in Corsica

Need to rent a car in Corsica? My tips:

  • Compare prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best rated comparison sites!
  • Choose the car and company you prefer (not too big but with enough power for mountain roads)
  • Consider their full coverage option - I always take it for peace of mind! 
  • Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!

See my 36 tips about renting a car in Corsica

Best places in North Corsica

Below is your North Corsica Travel guide with some of the best places to see in the region - stunning wild beaches, a desert, a Citadel, the villages of La Balagne... and the Unesco Reserve around the red calanques of Piana and the Scandola peninsula. Unmissable when visiting Corsica!

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Scandola Nature Reserve Corsica

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Things to do in Calvi Corsica & La Balagne region

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Saleccia Beach + Agriates Desert Corsica

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Magnificent Cap Corse Tour

At the North end of Corsica is the magnificent Cap Corse. It is a unique destination with charming villages, beaches with gold or black sand and mountains plunging into the sea. It offers some of the most breathtaking views on the island.

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Best places in South Corsica

And now we head to South Corsica famous for its paradise-like beaches such as Rondinara or Palombaggia. But you can also discover great mountain roads, gorges and villages for a more varied holiday in Corsica. Don't miss the famous town of Bonifacio built at the edge of white cliffs. Quite impressing!

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Palombaggia Beach Corsica

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Corsican Mountains

The center of Corsica is mountainous all the way to 2,706 m (8,878 ft). It is a world of magnificent gorges and a hiker paradise. Its main town Corte has a long history and and one of the most breathtaking view in Corsica.

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And keep track of your own trip!

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GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS

And below are some of my tips to help you have a wonderful trip!

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Travel Checklists and Must have travel items

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Travel Safety Tips

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Best Travel Binoculars

Practical websites to Book your trip

BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION

  • I personally use Booking.com for their large choice of both hotels and apartments, their real reviews and reductions for repeat customers - Book your accommodations via Booking.com
  • I know that some of my Readers from the US and Canada favor Hotels.com for their repeat customer deals - Book with Hotels.com
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The ultimate 14-day corsica road trip.

the ultimate 14 day Corsica road trip

Breathtaking mountain landscapes, azure blue bays, picturesque villages, and an abundance of culinary delights. In this blog post, I’ll take you on a captivating 14-day road trip through the beautiful island of Corsica .

This breathtaking French island in the Mediterranean is often overlooked compared to other popular holiday destinations. But make no mistake, behind its modest appearance lies a true paradise, hence the nickname ‘Île de Beauté’ (Island of Beauty). This was exactly what appealed to us. Alongside Jan, I explored the island by car over two weeks, curious about the hidden treasures Corsica has to offer.

So, get ready for a journey of discoveries, where every turn in the road reveals a new adventure, and every stop provides an opportunity to experience the authentic charm of Corsica.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains interesting affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through my recommendations, I receive a small reward. The best part? It doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps my blog continue to grow. A win-win situation, so thank you!

Île de Beauté

An important question that is likely on everyone’s mind is, why is Corsica called the ‘Île de Beauté’ (Island of Beauty)? Well, this nickname reflects the breathtaking diversity of the island, ranging from the most enchanting Mediterranean beaches and dramatic coastal landscapes to majestic mountains, green valleys, and picturesque villages.

Cap Corse, Corsica

Thus, the coastline of Corsica contains idyllic beaches featuring azure blue water, surrounded by granite rock formations and cliffs. The island’s interior provides an impressive contrast with its mountainous terrain, where the Corsican mountain range with its sharp peaks and lush forests captures attention.

Much like its landscape, Corsica reflects a rich history dating back to times long past. Scattered across the entire island, traces can be found of various dominions and historical events. Think of notable landmarks such as the historic Corte, the Genoese towers along the coast, and the medieval charm of Bonifacio. Even remote locations breathe history and authenticity, especially in the small, charming villages where age-old traditions and culture have been preserved.

Whether you prefer lounging on sun-drenched beaches, embarking on explorations of adventurous places, or delving into the rich cultural heritage of picturesque villages and historical sites, Corsica caters to every taste. The island’s versatility makes it a unique destination where nature, adventure, and culture harmoniously come together, offering an unforgettable experience.

Best time to travel for a road trip through Corsica

During low season.

The best time to embark on a 14-day road trip through Corsica is undoubtedly the shoulder seasons, namely spring (April, May, and June) and fall (September and October). During these periods, temperatures are generally mild, ranging from 15°C to 25°C, ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the island’s natural beauty. Traveling during the shoulder seasons allows you to take advantage of lower prices for flights , car rentals , accommodations , and even some attractions. Additionally, roads are less congested, and there is more available parking at places you’d like to visit. These parking areas often incur charges only during the peak season. We visited at the end of May and enjoyed beautiful sunny days with occasional local thunderstorms.

During high season

Certainly, you can plan this Corsica road trip during the summer months as well. During this time, you have a higher chance of experiencing warm and sunny weather, but given the erratic and unpredictable weather conditions in the mountains , this is by no means a certainty. Keep in mind that July and August fall right in the middle of the tourist high season. This means that prices for flights , car rentals and accommodations are significantly higher. Additionally, there is more traffic on the island, making travel less smooth in busier areas. Moreover, there is less parking available at iconic landmarks or popular beaches, requiring you to arrive very early to secure a spot, and often, you will need to pay for it as well.

How to travel to Corisca?

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Traveling to an island in the Mediterranean may sound a bit challenging, but it certainly isn’t! Corsica is easily accessible through various means, so accessibility should not be an excuse not to visit this beautiful island.

The easiest and, of course, most time-saving way to reach Corsica is by plane. Did you know that this small island boasts no less than 4 airports?

  • Ajaccio Napoleon Bonaparte Airport (AJA)
  • Bastia-Poretta Airport (BIA)
  • Calvi-Sainte-Catherine Airport (CLY)
  • Figari Sud-Corse Airport (FSC)

From Brussels South Airport, you can fly to these destinations with Air Corsica . Upon arrival at the airport, you can pick up your rental car to start your road trip around Corsica.

Tip: Book a rental car before you embark on your journey. I always opt for Sunny Cars . The significant advantage of renting a car with Sunny Cars is that all insurances are already included in the price. This way, you won’t be faced with unpleasant surprises in the form of extra costs when picking up your car.

Prefer to embark on your Corsica road trip with your own car? This is certainly possible. You can take the ferry from various ports in France (Marseille, Nice, Toulon) and Italy (Livorno, Savona) to Corsica. There are several ferry companies available, including Corsica Ferries, La Méridionale , and Moby Lines , which sail to the main ferry ports on Corsica (Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, and L’Île-Rousse). The duration of the ferry journey depends on the departure port and can range from a few hours to multi-day trips.

Want to learn more about driving in Corsica, finding accommodations, currency matters on the island, and other crucial details for planning your vacation? You’ll find all my tips in my blog post ‘ 10 Corsica travel tips you need to know before you go’

Based on my personal experiences, I have put together an itinerary that can assist you in planning your road trip through Corsica. You can follow this route entirely, but, of course, you have the freedom to make adjustments based on your own preferences.

For this extensive road trip, I recommend allocating a minimum of 14 days. This way, you will have sufficient time to explore all the places on this itinerary.

Discover the peninsula Cape Corse

The first region you will explore on this Corsica road trip is Cape Corse . This is a beautiful peninsula that extends like an outstretched finger into the Mediterranean Sea, located in the northern part of Corsica.

Known for its impressive cliffs, charming villages, and untouched nature, Cape Corse is a must-visit destination for those seeking to experience the authentic charm of Corsica.

This region is characterized by a dramatic landscape, with steep cliffs rising from the azure blue sea and picturesque coves hidden among the rocks. The winding coastal roads lead you through picturesque villages where time seems to have stood still.

Cape Corse is not only a feast for the eyes due to its natural beauty but also houses historical landmarks such as ancient Genoese towers standing along the coastline as silent witnesses to a rich past.

The best things to do in Cape Corse, Corsica

Opt for accommodation with a convenient location so that you can effortlessly explore the nearby surroundings. I can already recommend Hôtel Pineto in Biguglia, Hôtel Casa Mea in Bastia, Hôtel La Dimora & Spa in Saint Florent, and Aethos Corsica , located between Saint Florent and Bastia.

Day 1: Bastia and wine route in Patrimonio

Explore the historic port city of bastia.

Start your first day in Corsica with a visit to the historic port city of Bastia, the second-largest city on the island and the main gateway for ferries from France and Italy.

Explore the historic center with narrow streets, old buildings, and churches dating back to the 14th-century Genoese rule. The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral is a baroque masterpiece with beautiful frescoes and offers a panoramic view of the city and the harbor.

Eglise saint Jean Baptise Bastia, Cape Corse, Corsica

Stroll along the Vieux Port, the old port which is the beating heart of the city. Enjoy picturesque promenades along the water, surrounded by colorful houses and numerous restaurants and cafes. The lively Place Saint-Nicolas, a vibrant square, is a meeting point for both locals and tourists.

Bastia, Cape Corse, Corsica

Have lunch at one of the many charming dining establishments and savor the local cuisine that blends Mediterranean influences with unique Corsican flavors.

Bastia, Cape Corse, Corsica

The wine route of Patrimonio

Love drinking wine? Then the wine route of Patrimonio is a great afternoon activity. This route spans rolling hills, lush vineyards, and historic villages, providing you with a unique opportunity to explore Corsica’s rich wine culture.

Patrimonio, Cap Corse, Corsica

During this route, you have the opportunity to visit various wineries and cellars, where you can not only enjoy delightful wines but also learn about the production process and the history of winemaking in this area. The hospitable wine producers are eager to share their passion for wine and their knowledge of the unique terroir of Patrimonio. Some renowned domains you can visit include Domaine Leccia , Domaine Orenga de Gaffroy and Domaine Arena

As you travel along the wine route, you can relish breathtaking landscapes with vineyards extending to the Mediterranean Sea. Col de Teghime offers the most impressive view. Along the way, discover the charming village of Patrimonio with its idyllic streets and stone houses. Don’t forget to make a stop at the delightful Libertalia Bistro Tropical , a cozy outdoor restaurant.

Col de Teghime, Cap Corse, Corsica

Day 2: Road trip around Cape Corse

The best way to explore the Cape Corse peninsula is through the Route du Cap. This scenic drive encircles the entire peninsula, allowing you to experience the unique character of both the east and west sides of Cape Corsica.

The west coast of Cape Corse will impress you with its wild, rugged beauty and authentic fishing culture, while the east coast will enchant you with its gentler landscape, picturesque villages, and winemaking traditions.

Cape Corse, Corsica

Must-see attractions on this day trip include

Erbalunga, once the main port of Corsica, is now a charming fishing village. The old harbor with the Genoese tower, Torra d’Erbalunga, is definitely the eye-catcher.

Erbalunga, Cape Corse, Corsica

The cobblestone streets invite you to stroll along charming cafes and boutiques, making the historic center the ideal place to experience the local culture. Erbalunga is also known for excellent restaurants serving delicious Corsican dishes, including fresh fish, local cheeses, and charcuterie.

Erbalunga, Cape Corse, Corsica

Finocchiarola Islands

The Finocchiarola Islands are a remarkable attraction, even though together they are only 3 hectares in size. The trio, consisting of Terra, Mezzana, and the most prominent Finocchiarola with an ancient Genoese tower. These islands serve as a bird reserve, with the rare Audouin’s Gull nesting there between March and August. The Finocchiarola Islands are accessible on foot from Tamarone Beach via the beautiful trail sentier des douaniers. After a 20-30 minute walk with breathtaking coastal views, you will reach the beach of this natural reserve.

Finocchiarola islands, Cap Corse, Corsica

Moulin Mattei  

At the very tip of Cap Corse in Ersa stands the iconic white windmill Moulin Mattei. Although it is currently not accessible to visitors, the 10-15 minute climb to the windmill offers breathtaking views of the Tuscan islands and the Italian coast. From here, the enchanting fishing village of Centuri captures attention, with its lively harbor where fresh fish, lobster, and langoustines are brought in daily for delicious local dishes.

Moulin Mattei, Cap Corse, Corsica

The hidden palaces of Pino

Along the route, you will also come across the picturesque mountain village of Pino. This charming town, surrounded by lush oak forests, has a rich medieval history. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the majority of its residents emigrated to America, a setback from which Pino never fully recovered. Nevertheless, this sense of abandonment adds to its allure. In the oak forests, you will still find abandoned houses and impressive villas, called palazzi, funded by American emigrants and now sadly vacant. Pino also houses the abandoned Couvent Saint François convent and the impressive Genoese Tower Scalo at the small port.

Pino, Cape Corse, Corsica

Nonza and its black beach

Nonza is known for its breathtaking perch atop a rock, with traces dating back to prehistory. Thanks to this strategic position, the village could spot pirates from afar. At Nonza, you’ll find a remarkably dark gray-black beach. The beach owes its unusual color to waste rock from a 1950s asbestos factory nearby. Although it may not be the coziest beach for sunbathing, it is stunning to behold. You can reach the beach only on foot via a steep staircase.

Plage Nonza, Cape Corse, Corsica

After this impressive day trip, you can relax on one of the delightful terraces in the harbor of Saint-Florent.

More tips on what to do in Cap Corse can be found in my blog post ‘The most beautiful sights in Cape Corse’

Admire the most beautiful villages in Balagne

After Cap Corse, continue your road trip to the northwest of Corsica. There lies the beautiful green region of Balagne , nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and mountains. Stretching between Calvi and L’Île Rousse, it forms a semi-circle around the base of the Monte Cinto massif. Balagne, also known as the garden of Corsica, is renowned for its fertile soil, olive and vineyards, and historic towns. In recent times, the region has attracted artists, craftsmen, and ecological farmers who continue Corsican traditions here. In the villages located in the green hills of Balagne, you can still witness the production of local specialties using age-old methods.

11 prachtige stadjes in Balagne Corsica

Highly recommended accommodations in this region include Campo Di Fiori in Calvi, Casa Legna near Pigna, Hôtel Restaurant Villa Joséphine in L’Île-Rousse, and Hotel A Piattatella in Monticello.

Day 3: From Cap Corse to Balagne

On this day, you’ll travel from Cap Corse to Balagne. It’s not very far, as you can reach L’île Rousse from Bastia in just an hour and a half by car. Along this route, you have the opportunity to make some stops at the most beautiful beaches. So, make sure to have your swimwear ready in the car.

Plage de Saleccia and Plage de Lotu

On the route from Cap Corse to Balagne, you will pass through the nature reserve of Désert des Agriates. Contrary to what the name suggests, it is not a traditional desert with sand dunes but rather an extensive, rugged plain covered with maquis, low shrubs, and rocky formations. This area is a true paradise for nature lovers and adventurers, featuring two of Corsica’s most beautiful beaches , Plage de Saleccia and Plage de Lotu. These beaches are known for their fine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water. They are only accessible via hiking trails, by boat, or with a jeep, which ads to the pristine charm of the area.

Plage de Saleccia, Corsica

Along the main road, there are facilities that offer jeep tours to these beaches, but you can also choose to do this excursion later. Head directly to Calvi and book one of the various tours to these tropical beaches through GetYourGuide from there.

Plage de l’Ostriconi

Not in the mood for a jeep excursion? Opt for a day of water fun at the beautiful Plage de l’Ostriconi. This golden sandy beach, surrounded by clear water and lush vegetation, is known for its unspoiled character. The beach is accessible by car, but from the parking lot, it’s about a 15-minute walk through the greenery, which is an experience in itself.

Plage de l'Ostriconi, Corsica

Once you arrive at the expansive beach, it’s easy to find a peaceful spot. Because the beach is less known, there are fewer tourists, mainly local visitors. Keep in mind that there are no facilities such as a bar, restaurant, or toilets, so be sure to bring plenty of drinks, snacks, and sun protection.

Plage de l'Ostriconi, Corsica

After a day of water fun, depending on where you are staying, you can head to the center of L’Île Rousse or Calvi to indulge in the local culinary delights.

Day 4: Explore the most beautiful villages of Balagne via the Craftsmen Route

In Balagne, there are numerous craftsmen, including artists and farmers, who open their workshops to the public. Through the Craftsmen Route or Strada di l’Artigiani you’ll pass by workshops located in some of the most beautiful villages in Balagne. Since you can’t visit all the villages in one day, here are some of my personal favorites. For the complete route and more information, it’s best to check out my blog on the most beautiful villages in Balagne .

The first place on my list is a bit of an exception. Calvi is not exactly a small village but rather a vibrant coastal town. The highlight is the impressive historic citadel where you can wander through a maze of narrow alleyways. Additionally, you have a breathtaking view of the sea and the harbor. Furthermore, there are numerous cozy eateries where you can taste the local cuisine and artisanal boutiques where you can pick up some charming souvenirs. This is a fantastic starting point for a route through the inland of Balagne.  

Calvi, Corsica

The next village is the picturesque Lumio, located along the coastal road from Calvi to L’Île Rousse. Lumio offers a perfect blend of hillside tranquility and coastal splendor. The charming village, with narrow cobbled streets and old stone houses, provides breathtaking views of the Gulf of Calvi.

Lumio, Balgane, Corsica

From the central square, you can take a stroll to the abandoned village of Occi, with ruins where you can enjoy a magnificent view. For beach relaxation, follow the route to Plage de l’Arinella, one of Corsica’s most beautiful beaches , with shallow water and a stunning view of the green hills of Balagne.

Occi near Lumio, Balagne, Corsica

The next charming mountain village in line is Pigna. Pigna is especially known for its artists and craftsmen, as the village is home to various craft workshops that you can visit.

The well-preserved, old center of Pigna consists of winding cobbled streets, old stone houses, and brightly blue-painted shutters, creating an enchanting atmosphere. In addition to its rustic charm, you’ll find beautiful panoramas of olive groves.

Pigna, Balagne, corsica

Pigna’s cultural heritage resonates in the Centru Culturale di u Pighjolu, a renowned center for Corsican polyphonic singing, hosting live concerts and musical events during the summer.

Sant’Antonino 

Next is Sant’Antonino! This village is situated on a hilltop at an impressive altitude of 500 meters. Sant’Antonino’s history dates back to the 9th century, making it one of the oldest villages in Corsica. Additionally, it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Sant'Antonino, Corsica

Despite its somewhat weathered appearance, the old town exudes a charming atmosphere. The panoramic viewpoint, known as the eagle’s nest of Balagne, provides a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea, Monte Grosso, Monte Padru, and the Regino Valley. From the village square, you can take a stroll to the Monastery of Saint Dominic in Corbara.

Sant'Antonino, Corsica

Speloncato 

Another eagle’s nest in Balagne, next to Sant’Antonino, is Speloncato. This village is perched on a rock at an altitude of about 600 meters. The history of Speloncato dates back thousands of years.

The highlight here is undoubtedly the panoramic view from the Cima district, accessible via winding alleys. From the highest point where a feudal castle once stood, you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the Reginu Valley to the sea, overlooking Petra Tafunata in the west.

Speloncato, Balagne, Corsica

Montemaggiore 

Another gem surrounded by the green hills of Balagne is Montemaggiore. This beautiful village is located a bit more to the west. Montemaggiore is especially known for its olive production. You can still visit the old olive mill U Fragnu, where olive oil is still produced. In July, the annual olive fair ‘Fiera di l’Alivu’ takes place here, which is truly a unique experience.

Here too, you have several spectacular views of the surrounding landscape dotted with olive groves and surrounded by impressive peaks.

Montemaggiore, Balagne, Corsica

Do you want to discover more beautiful spots in this region? Be sure to read my blog post about the most beautiful villages in Balagne .

Marvel at the beautiful landscapes in the Gulf of Porto

After Balagne, you travel to the west of the island, taking a few days to explore the enchanted Gulf of Porto . This region is located within the Regional Natural Park of Corsica and offers spectacular sights such as the protected Scandola Nature Reserve and the impressive Calanques de Piana with red cliffs towering up to 900 meters.

Furthermore, the Gulf of Porto is characterized by beautiful coastlines, rugged cliffs, and green hills, making it ideal for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. You will also discover some of Corsica’s most beautiful beaches surrounded by authentic coastal and mountain towns.

Prepare for magical sunsets, where you can enjoy a true spectacle as the sun bathes the granite rocks in golden-orange hues!

De mooiste bezienswaardigheden langs de Golf van Girolata, Corisca

Looking for an exceptional stay in the area? Definitely check out L’Aiglon in Serriera, Hôtel Capo Rosso near Piana, and VILLA FLAKA Boutique Hôtel in Cargèse.

DAY 5: From Balagne to the Gulf of Porto

On this day, you will travel to the Gulf of Porto. The travel time from Calvi to Piana is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, but in reality it may take much longer. Prepare for a few hours of winding along narrow roads and impressive cliffs! Take your time to enjoy the spectacular views, and don’t drive too fast, as you may encounter many animals along the way.

West Corsica

The Calanques of Piana

The final stretch of the route between Porto and Piana runs right through the Calanques de Piana. These are a spectacular series of red granite rock formations that extend over an area of about 2 kilometers. They have been formed by the erosion of the rocks over millions of years. Wind, water, and other natural forces have carved the red granite cliffs into unique and bizarre shapes. This is very impressive to see, and that’s why they are also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For me, this was one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken. So, be prepared for many WOW-moments. Of course, along the road, there are designated areas where you can briefly park to explore the most beautiful spots up close or take stunning photos.

Les Chalanches De Piana, Corsica

For the adventurous souls, there is an immediate hiking opportunity here. Starting from the main road, there are various hiking trails, including one to Château Fort. The starting point for this hike is at Tête du Chien, a rock formation where you can also park your car. Follow the yellow trail, which takes only twenty minutes, and be rewarded with breathtaking views over the Gulf of Porto. An alternative route starts at Chalet des Roches Bleues, near the statue of Mary. A steep path uphill takes you to the old mule track between Piana and Ota, where impressive views will leave you amazed.

Take a break in the picturesque town of Piana. Get lost in the narrow streets of the village, admire the traditional houses with their red roofs, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the local people and their pets. Yes, you heard it right! In Piana, the pets of the residents roam freely, so don’t be surprised if you are suddenly greeted by a friendly dog or cat during your stroll.

Piana, Corsica

Here, you can find many restaurants where you can enjoy delicious meals. One of my favorites was Le Joséphine , an open-air restaurant with a stunning view over the Gulf of Porto. This restaurant is pretty popular, so make sure to book in advance if you plan to dine here during sunset.

Plage Ficaghjola 

plage Ficaghjola, Corsica

In Piana, you’ll discover one of Corsica’s hidden gems: Plage Ficaghjola, a beautiful beach surrounded by impressive red granite rocks of the Calanques de Piana. The beach is not easily accessible, but you can drive by car along a winding road to a parking area and then take a short walk to this enchanting bay with crystal-clear turquoise water. An idyllic spot to relax after your drive from Balagne.

plage Ficaghjola, Corsica

Day 6: Explore the Scandola Nature Reserve and the fishing village of Girolata

The scandola nature reserve.

The Scandola Nature Reserve is a breathtaking piece of unspoiled nature, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This reserve encompasses a stunning coastline along the Gulf of Porto, featuring imposing red cliffs rising from the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Scandola Corsica

The area harbors diverse flora and fauna, including rare plant species and various bird species such as the osprey and the rare monk seal. If you’re lucky, you may spot them there.

Scandola Corsica

In this nature reserve, efforts are made to harmonize environmental conservation and tourism. As a result, the park is protected, and you can only admire it from the sea. You can choose from various boat tours via GetYourGuide, departing daily from the port of Porto. There are numerous options, such as combining your trip to the Scandola Nature Reserve with a visit to Girolata or a detour along the Calanques de Piana.

The fishing village of Girolata

During your Corsican journey, a visit to the authentic fishing village of Girolata is a must. Situated in the heart of the Scandola Nature Reserve, the only access is by boat or on foot through the hiking trail Sentier de Facteur. This approximately 10-kilometer route, starting at Col de Croix, follows the path of former mail carriers to Girolata. It offers beautiful views, secluded beaches, and a good workout, with some challenging climbs. Choose appropriate footwear and bring an ample supply of water.

Sentier de Facteur Corsica

Once in Girolata, you can relax on the beach, where local cows keep you company, or indulge in a local lunch at a nearby restaurant before continuing your hike. Although Plage de Girolata may not be the most beautiful beach in Corsica , it exudes an authentic charm.

Girolata, Corsica

Day 7: Hike along the Gorges de Spelunca

Gorges de spelunca .

A few kilometers inland from the coastal town of Porto are the enchanted mountain villages of Ota and Evisa. Between these two mountain villages lies the renowned Spelunca Gorge, offering a beautiful hiking experience.

If you park your car beyond Ota at the bridge over the D124, you can immediately experience the most beautiful part of the Gorges de Spelunca. It’s a 40-minute walk to Pont de Zaglia. This well-marked route offers stunning views and swimming opportunities along the Porto River. The path winds through forests and along steep rock walls, with some elevation changes, but it is certainly manageable for children. From Pont de Zaglia, you can choose to return or continue your hike through the scrubland forest to Evisa. If you’d like to walk the entire old mule track between Ota and Evisa, it will take you about 3 hours one way.

Gorges de Spelunca, Corsica

Relaxing on the beach at Plage de Porto or Plage d’Arone

If you want to relax on the beach after the hike, you have two options:

Plage de Porto 

The nearest beach is Plage de Porto, an expansive pebble beach that provides the perfect setting for an afternoon of water fun. Here, you can enjoy a stunning view of the majestic red granite cliffs in the surroundings.

Another highlight is the robust Genoese tower proudly standing atop the rocks and overlooking the beach. This square tower, constructed in the 16th century, has recently been renovated and is now open to visitors. Climb the tower for a splendid panoramic view of the Gulf of Porto.

Plage de Porto, Corsica

With ample parking and various facilities for food and drinks, Plage de Porto is an ideal place to relax.

Plage d’Arone 

An alternative option is the more southern Plage d’Arone, an enchanting sandy beach accessible via an adventurous mountain road with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Porto and Capo Rosso.

Plage d’Arone is known for its crystal-clear water and pristine scenery, surrounded by lush hills and untamed nature. Therefore, it is an ideal spot for those seeking tranquility and nature enthusiasts.

Plage d'Arone, Corsica

Near the beach, you’ll find various facilities, including restaurants and bars. Moreover, you can enjoy various water activities such as kayaking, jet skiing, windsurfing, and snorkeling. Parking is available for a fee at the restaurants and bars, but be aware that during the peak season, it can be crowded, and finding a parking spot may be challenging.

Want to discover more of this region? Be sure to read my blog post about the best things to do along the Gulf of Porto.

From beautiful beaches to impressive mountain peaks in Southern Corsica

After a stay at the beautiful Gulf of Porto, you venture further south on the island. There, you’ll find prominent cities like Ajaccio, Bonifacio, and Porto-Vecchio, as well as the impressive Bavella massif and the most breathtaking beaches on the island.

Southern Corsica guarantees an engaging exploration with a great diversity of landscapes. Lush green hills meet rugged mountains, while enchanting bays and pristine beaches adorn the coastline. This varied environment, combined with beautiful cities and charming villages, makes Southern Corsica a special and unforgettable destination.

De mooiste bezienswaardigheden in Zuid-Corsica

Also, keep in mind that the East and West coasts of Southern Corsica are quite a distance apart. Due to the mountainous inland terrain, you need to either drive around the coastline or navigate through the impressive rocks. To minimize travel time, it is advisable to opt for two separate stays in both parts. Choose a 2-night stay on the Southwest coast, perhaps at A’mare Corsica . Additionally, I recommend booking 4 nights around Porto-Vecchio, where you should definitely consider Domaine de Casanghjulina for an unforgettable experience.

If you prefer a single 6-night stay, I would suggest a centrally located accommodation around Bonifacio. Options include Hôtel Version Maquis Santa Manza or Hôtel & Spa Version Maquis Citadelle .

Day 8: Explore the capital Ajaccio

From the Gulf of Porto to Ajaccio, it’s approximately a one-and-a-half-hour drive. Along the way, you’ll pass by Cargèse, a picturesque town with whitewashed houses and breathtaking vistas. Feel free to make a brief stop here if you need a break.

Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica, enchants with its beautiful location on the Gulf of Ajaccio. Enjoy spectacular views of the azure blue sea and explore various points of interest.

Ajaccio Corsica

The city is divided into two parts. The historical center includes a citadel, a lively harbor, and charming alleys, while the more recent part is characterized by chic boulevards with Parisian allure and beautiful 19th-century houses.

Ajaccio is especially known as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, a fact that is evident everywhere. From statues in squares to souvenirs in shops, the city breathes imperial references. You can also visit the ancestral home of Napoleon, Maison Bonaparte .

corsica trip

Are you an art enthusiast? Then, pay a visit to the Musée des Beaux Arts in Palais Fesch. There, you will find an impressive collection of Italian masters from the 14th-18th centuries, surpassed only by the Louvre.

Explore the narrow streets of the historic center, visit the Citadel for a strategic view, and admire the impressive cathedral with a blend of Baroque and neoclassical architecture, where Napoleon was baptized.

DAY 9: Travel back in time and discover traces of history in Filitosa and Sarène

Travel back to prehistory in South Corsica, where various archaeological sites reveal traces of bygone times. Filitosa is considered the most beautiful, and I can definitely confirm this.

Filitosa Corsica

The site, located on an expansive hilly domain amid granite rocks and wild olive trees, offers a dreamy landscape. The highlight is the prehistoric stone statues and menhirs from the Neolithic and Bronze Age. These statues range from human figures to animals and are scattered across the estate. As you follow the walking route, you’ll see them all

Filitosa Corsica

According to research, a megalithic people once lived here, creating statues of defeated enemies for the decoration of hero graves. The Torréens, who drove them away, are said to have used these statues as revenge, repurposing them as building material. While the story is not entirely certain, one thing is for sure: a visit to Filitosa is truly worthwhile!

Filitosa Corsica

Plage de Cupabia

Take a break between your visits to Filitosa and Sartène at one of Corsica’s most beautiful beaches , Plage de Cupabia.

Plage de Cupabia, Corsica

This secluded yet spacious sandy beach, surrounded by mountains and dense vegetation, offers tranquility and privacy. The crystal-clear water invites you to cool off and is perfect for snorkeling or diving. Besides, the surroundings are also excellent for beautiful walks.

Plage de Cupabia, Corsica

The beach is easily accessible by car, and there is parking available. On weekends and during the peak season when it is busier, parking may become more challenging. Last but not least, there is also a beach bar for refreshing drinks and snacks.

If you want to experience the real Corsica, a visit to Sartène is a must on your Corsica road trip. This town is known as “the most Corsican of all Corsican cities” and boasts a strong cultural identity reflected in its festivals, music, and traditional crafts.

Sartène’s historic city center, with narrow alleyways, old churches, and houses with carved granite facades, transports you back in time. The central square, Place de la Liberation, is the bustling heart of the city and also the location of the annual “Catenacciu” ritual, a deeply rooted religious procession symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus.

Sartène, Corsica

Nearby, you’ll find prehistoric sites in Cauria and Palaggiu, featuring dolmens, menhirs, and stone statues. Sartène also hosts a Prehistoric Museum showcasing artifacts excavated in the area, providing insight into the lives of early inhabitants.

Moreover, Sartène is renowned for its local wine production, especially the characteristic red wine of the region. If you’re a wine enthusiast, be sure to visit some nearby vineyards to experience the unique flavors of the area.

Surrounded by stunning landscapes, including the impressive mountains of Alta Rocca and nearby beaches, Sartène offers a perfect blend of culture and nature.

Day 10: Explore the most iconic city of Corsica, Bonifacio

Discover bonifacio.

Today we say goodbye to the stunning West Coast of Corsica and head towards the East Coast. On this route, we certainly cannot miss the most iconic landmark of Corsica, namely Bonifacio. This city is famous because it’s built on cliffs of white limestone. Bonifacio is also referred to as the Gibraltar of Corsica because it is the southernmost point of the island.

Bonifacio, Corsica

It goes without saying that Bonifacio attracts many visitors, so my main tip is to arrive here as early as possible (before 10 am) to easily find a parking space.

In Bonifacio, the city unfolds in two parts: the lively lower town by the port and the old upper town in the citadel, accessible via a steep climb. The view from the upper town, with narrow medieval streets, boutiques, and restaurants, is the reward for the effort.

Bonifacio, Corsica

A must-see is the impressive “Escalier du Roi d’Aragon,” a beautifully carved stairway to the sea dating back to the 13th century and surrounded by legends and stories about its origin.

Escalier du Roi d'Aragon, Bonifacio, Corsica

Ohter h ighlights include the phenomenal view over the city and the Strait of Bonifacio from Mount Saint Roch, where, in good weather, you can see the island of Sardinia.

Bonifacio, Corsica

What to do near Bonifacio?

Can’t get enough of these phenomenal views? Then you can combine a visit to Bonifacio with the 8 km long cliff walk to Capu Pertusato, where you can enjoy panoramic vistas.

corsica trip

Need some relaxation after your visit to Bonifacio? Head to the beach! Some of Corsica’s most beautiful beaches in the area include Plage de la Tonnara and Petit Sperone.

Day 11: Stroll through Porto-Vecchio and seek refreshment in the natural springs of Vallée du Cavu

Take a morning stroll through porto-vecchio.

Meanwhile, you have arrived on the East Coast of Corsica. You can immediately notice, with the well-maintained roads, the buildings, and the various supermarkets along the way, that this part of Corsica is more adapted to tourists than the other regions on the island. But that doesn’t mean that it is less pleasant to stay here.

Start your day with a morning stroll through Porto-Vecchio, which literally means “old port.” With a history dating back to Roman times, the historic center offers breathtaking panoramas of the sea and the harbor. Wander through narrow cobblestone streets past local boutiques, bars, and restaurants, enjoy the lively atmosphere in charming squares, and admire charming pastel-colored houses. Discover historical landmarks such as the 16th-century Genoese citadel. Furthermore, If you want to learn more about this charming town, consider opting for a guided walking tour .

Porto Vecchio, Corsica

The marina, dotted with colorful boats, contributes to the Mediterranean allure of the city. Along the coastline, restaurants, boutiques, and cafes invite you to sample local dishes and artisanal products.

Porto Vecchio, Corsica

Seek refreshment at the natural springs in Vallée du Cavu

Looking for an adventurous yet refreshing outing for both young and old? Then the natural springs in Vallée du Cavu   are the place to be. Various hiking trails, ranging in difficulty, lead to natural springs where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and even canyoning.

Natural springs, Vallée du Cavu, Corsica

The starting point at A Tyroliana Park offers paid parking facilities. From here, the most popular spot at the Les 3 Piscines restaurant is accessible via an unpaved path. During the high season, there is a free shuttle service for those who need it.

If you enjoy some climbing and scrambling, you can opt for a slightly more adventurous hiking trail along the rocks along the river. This way, you can discover the most beautiful and secluded spots to take a break and go for a swim. Approximately in the middle of the hiking trail, you reach Pont de Marion, which spans the valley and the river with its three arches. Here, you cross over and return on the other side of the bank through the woods. This looped hiking route along the springs is about 2.9 km.

Natural springs, Vallée du Cavu, Corsica

Day 12: Explore the impressive peaks at Col de Bavella

Discover the mountainous interior of South Corsica today at Col de Bavella, a breathtaking mountain pass at an altitude of approximately 1,218 meters. Enjoy spectacular views of sharp granite peaks, including the famous Aiguilles de Bavella, which dramatically pierce the sky. This destination is beloved by adventurous travelers and nature enthusiasts for its numerous hiking trails, including the renowned GR20.

Col de Bavella, Corsica

Parking can be found for a fee at the Col de Bavella parking lot, the starting point for most hiking trails. Be prepared for unpredictable weather and bring a rain jacket, sweater, plenty of water, and snacks. Good hiking boots are essential. For beginners, you can opt for the shorter hiking route to the Trou de la Bombe (6.3 kilometers), an impressive hole of 8 meters in a rock ridge.

For adventure seekers, there is a  challenging 11-kilometer long hiking trail  through the high mountains. The first part involves a steep ascent, followed by a descent using chains. Along the way, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views. The return journey takes the GR20, a slightly easier path along waterfalls and lush greenery. Despite unfavorable weather with heavy rainstorms, making the hike more challenging than expected, it was undeniably one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever experienced.

Col de Bavella, Corsica

DAG 13: beach day 

After a day of hiking in the mountains, you’ve certainly earned some relaxation. And what better way to unwind than with a day of blissful relaxation at the beach. If you’re still near Porto-Vecchio, you’re in luck! This area is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Corsica , so you have plenty of choices. To spare you from decision fatigue, let me narrow it down to my top 3 favorite beaches.

Plage Sant Giulia

Plage Santa Giulia, recognized by UNESCO, ranks among the best beaches in Corsica. With its clear turquoise waters, fine white sand, and rocks along the coast, it resembles the Seychelles.

Plage Santa Guilia, Corsica

Along the beach, you’ll find numerous trendy beach bars and clubs with photogenic cabanas, comfortable sunbeds, and cocktail service. Make sure to arrive early, as these spots are popular.

Are you a fan of water sports? Then I have good news. Here, you can enjoy one of the best sailing and windsurfing schools, with lessons available in English and German, as well as water skiing and diving lessons. You can also rent a boat to explore the other bays nearby.

The beach is accessible by car, with ample parking available. On busy days, additional parking spaces are available for 5 euros for the entire day.

Plage de Palombaggia  

Plage de Palombaggia, known as the most beautiful beach in Corsica, enchants with golden sand, azure blue water, red rocks, and majestic pine trees. Enjoy the cooling breeze on warm days in this stunning setting with a view of the magnificent Îles Cerbicale.

Plage de Palombaggia 

Plage de Palombaggia is easily accessible by car, and there is ample free parking available on the north side of the beach. However, during the high season, finding a parking space in the middle of the day can be impossible. So, try to arrive as early as possible. To alleviate this issue, you can also use the bus to reach this beach during the summer.

In addition, Plage de Palombaggia offers numerous facilities such as cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, and hotels.

Plage Pinarellu  

Surrounded by tall mountains, picturesque villages, and dense forests, you can find the beautiful sandy beach of Plage Pinarellu in a extensive bay.

Plage Pinarellu, Corsica

The beach features both lively and tranquil areas, allowing you to enjoy privacy and silence. You can relax in an untouched environment by heading further south, while heading north provides access to numerous facilities. Here, you get the best of both worlds.

The beach is accessible by car. You can park for free along the road and reach the most pristine part of Plage Pinarellu via a short walk through the forest.

Want to explore more of Southern Corsica? Be sure to read my blog post about the best things to do in Southern Corsica .

From the south, you head back towards the north, but not without a visit to Corte. Despite Corsica’s fame for its breathtaking coastline, a rugged yet spectacular mountain landscape dominates most of the island. For those eager to explore these impressive mountains, centrally located Corte is the ideal base.

Beautiful accommodation options in Corte include Hôtel de la Restonica , Dominique Colonna , Maison San Giovanni and kyrn flor .

corsica trip

Day 14: Visit the Citadel of Corte

End your journey with a visit to Corte, the former capital of Corsica. The city is renowned for its imposing citadel, towering high above the town, providing panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

corsica trip

When you’re here, a visit to the Citadel is a must. The citadel has a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages and played a significant role in the military strategies of the region. Moreover, the citadel offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and countryside, making it not only a crucial military stronghold but also an impressive architectural masterpiece. Today, you can still wander through the ancient corridors and uncover the history of Corsica. It also houses museums and exhibitions that provide a deeper insight into the rich culture and history of this beautiful island.

Corte Corisca

The charming old town center hosts quaint squares, restaurants, and artisanal shops, making Corte an indispensable destination if you want to experience the authentic charm of Corsica.

Corte Corisca

The surrounding mountains and valleys also make Corte a popular base for hikers and nature enthusiasts, with the impressive Gorges de la Restonica nearby. So, you can spend much more than just one day here.

This 14-day road trip of the enchanting island of Corsica was a fantastic experience. The wide variety of stunning landscapes that this small island offers, combined with its rich culture and authentic charm, is simply fantastic. One thing we can all agree on is that Corsica has something for everyone! Hopefully, my Corsica itinerary and tips can convince you to explore this wonderful island and help you plan an unforgettable journey.

Would a road trip through Corsica be something for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Want to read more about Corsica?

  • 10 Corsica travel tips you need to go before you go
  • 19 stunning boutique hotels in Corsica
  • The 18 most beautiful beaches in Corsica
  • The best things to do in the Gulf of Porto
  • 11 stunning villages in Balagne
  • The best things to do in Cap Corse
  • The best things to do in South Corsica

Thank you for reading!

Yours truly,

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The ultimate 14 day Corsica road trip

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Sarah de gheselle, 2 thoughts on “ the ultimate 14-day corsica road trip ”.

I have reviewed you tour and we are very keen to follow 14 day Itinerary. Can you provide the number of nights in the locations you stayed and the hotels you used. With two separate stays in both parts 2 night stay south west coasts and east coast. We are a party of 4 would you recommend car hire or scooter we are travelling in the beginning of October.

kind regards

All the info about how many nights per region, the accommodations and where to rent a car is in the blog post. Have a great trip!

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17 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Corsica

Written by Lisa Alexander Updated May 3, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

With its stunning seaside scenery, expanses of pristine forests, and soaring snowcapped mountains, Corsica lives up to the label, "Island of Beauty." Along the coast are attractive port towns, and the hillsides are dotted with picturesque villages.

Palombaggia Beach, Corsica, France

Corsica offers no shortage of things to do. This idyllic island is a paradise for beach lovers , hikers, and outdoor sports enthusiasts. The island boasts some of Europe's most inspiring rugged landscapes and a 1,000-kilometer shoreline with translucent waters, perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving.

Although Corsica has been part of France since 1769, the island has its own culture. Donkeys still roam the countryside; the music is unique; and the cuisine features distinctive specialties, such as strong spicy cheeses, chestnut polenta, and chestnut cookies.

Discover the best places to visit on this enchanting island with our list of the top tourist attractions in Corsica.

2. Bonifacio

5. cap corse, 6. sant'antonino, 8. beaches near porto vecchio, 9. village of piana and calanques de piana, 10. castagniccia region, 11. réserve naturelle des bouches de bonifacio, 12. belgodère, 13. réserve naturelle de scandola, 14. désert des agriates, 15. extreme hiking on the gr20 trail, 16. col de bavella, 17. forêt de valdo niello, map of attractions & places to visit in corsica.

Ajaccio

Corsica's most famous native son, Napoléon Bonaparte, was born in this bustling capital city, pleasantly situated on the Gulf of Ajaccio. Sensational views of the sea can be admired from various spots throughout the town.

At the center of Ajaccio is the Place de Gaulle , a grand square with an equestrian statue of Napoléon I (created in 1865 by Viollet le-Duc).

Next, visit the Musée National de la Maison Bonaparte (Rue Saint-Charles) to see the house where Napoléon I was born. The Bonaparte family lived here in the late 17th century and the 18th century. In the 19th century, Napoléon III inherited the house and refurbished the decor. Today, the Maison Bonaparte is classified as a Monument Historique and presents portraits, memorabilia, and family documents.

Continue your discovery of the Napoleonic era at the Palais Fesch (Musée des Beaux-Arts). The Collection Napoléonienne galleries display imperial portraits of Napoléon I and Napoléon III (both were titled "Emperor of the French") as well as medallions and coins that depict Napoléon I and Napoléon III.

The old town of Ajaccio is also worth exploring. Spend some time wandering around to discover the historic charm within its maze of winding, narrow streets.

Not to be missed in the old town is the 16th-century Cathédrale d'Ajaccio (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de l'Assomption), where Napoléon Bonaparte was baptized in 1771. The cathedral's most noteworthy work of art is the La Vierge au Sacré Côur painting by Eugène Delacroix.

Bonifacio

Bonifacio is a well-preserved fortified town perched on a steep limestone cliff with stunning sea views. Brimming with old-world ambience, the town is a jumble of medieval lanes and narrow alleyways.

At its heart is the 12th- to 13th-century Eglise Sainte-Marie-Majeure , a Romanesque church with early Gothic elements. Also worth visiting is the 13th-century Eglise Saint-Dominique, which has an austere facade and a simple interior.

Bonifacio is found within Corsica's largest nature reserve, the Réserve Naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio, which encompasses limestone cliffs, seaside grottos, and the Lavezzi Islands.

Near the town are numerous beautiful beaches. Another destination within easy reach of Bonifacio is the port of Santa Teresa di Gallura in Sardini, just a one-hour ferry ride away.

Read More: Best Beaches in Corsica

Calvi

This sun-drenched waterfront town has an attractive marina and beautiful beaches along the Bay of Calvi. Soak up the marvelous scenery of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, with jagged mountains framing the harbor.

Besides sunbathing, swimming, and spending time at outdoor cafés, a top attraction is the Citadel of Calvi . Enter the ancient walled Citadel and you'll find a cluster of medieval cobblestone streets and staircases that lead to discoveries of pleasant squares, historic churches, and fabulous views.

Within the Citadel, the 13th-century Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste exemplifies Corsican Baroque architecture. The interior features noteworthy works of art, including a 15th-century altarpiece depicting the Annunciation and a 16th-century Virgin of the Rosary statue from Spain.

Calvi is also renowned for its summertime jazz festival, which draws top musical talent. The Jazz in Calvi festival takes place annually at the end of June; performances are held at the Citadel and other venues.

Read More: Top-Rated Beach Destinations in France

Bastia

If you want to experience the real Corsica, this lively seaside city is the place to go. Bastia has a picturesque harbor and a quaint Old Town (Terra Vecchia) bursting with narrow lanes and tightly packed houses.

Within the Terra Vecchia are several noteworthy churches: the 17th-century Eglise Saint-Jean-Baptiste, the largest church in Corsica; the Baroque Chapelle de l'Immaculée Conception; and the Chapelle Saint-Roch, which overlooks the mesmerizing Mediterranean waters.

On a rocky spur to the south of the harbor is the ancient citadel, dating back to 1378.

Read More: Best Places to Visit in France

Cap Corse

At the northernmost tip of Corsica, the Cap Corse peninsula is one of the prettiest areas of the island. The peninsula is covered by a range of foothills and fertile valleys where vines, fruit, and olives grow.

Dotting the landscape are medieval perched villages such as Pino on a wooded hilltop; Nonza clinging to a cliffside; and Rogliano, which is a collection of hamlets and old fishing ports. Rogliano encompasses Erbalunga near Bastia; Macinaggio, with a yacht marina; and Centuri , a tiny fishing village with a working harbor.

If you prefer sunbathing to sightseeing, then head to the Plage de Farinole . This picturesque beach has a fine sand shoreline and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The beach is not great for swimming because of the undercurrent, but the waves are appreciated by surfers. Another highlight of the Plage de Farinole is the restaurant on the beach.

Sant'Antonino

Perched like an eagle's nest on a granite hilltop at almost 500 meters, the ancient walled town of Sant'Antonino offers superb views of the surrounding countryside and the sea.

In the lush Balagne region , Sant'Antonino is one of the oldest villages in Corsica, with a Moorish heritage dating back to the 9th century. Thanks to its old-world charm, Sant'Antonino has earned a place on the list of Plus Beaux Villages de France .

Get ready to do some walking. The village is designed for pedestrians, with its medieval tangle of winding cobblestone streets, alleyways, and covered passageways.

About seven kilometers from Sant'Antonino, the Couvent Saint-Dominique des Frères de Saint-Jean à Corbara perches on a hilltop between snow-peaked mountains and the sea. It's worth the detour to see the splendid 15th-century architecture and admire astounding coastal views.

You may visit the Couvent Saint-Dominique des Frères de Saint-Jean à Corbara by taking a guided tour (in French) or by participating in a spiritual retreat . Guided tours are offered year-round every day (except Mondays) at 3pm.

Sartène

Sartène prides itself on being the "most Corsican" city. This characteristic medieval hilltop town is listed as a Ville d'Art et d'Histoire because of its exceptional heritage.

Must-see tourist attractions include the Eglise Santa-Maria-Assunta , with a simple facade typical of Corsican churches; the former Palais des Gouverneurs Génois , now the Town Hall; and L'Echauguette (tower), which affords sweeping views of the Vallée de Rizzanese.

The Musée de Préhistoire et d'Archéologie (Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology) brings to life the island's ancient history. Exhibits present statues from prehistoric megaliths; Bronze Age and Iron Age weapons, tools, and ceramics; Ancient Roman archaeological finds; and artworks and everyday objects of the Middle Ages.

Near the Palais des Gouverneurs Génois, you'll find an enchanting pedestrian area. Take a stroll to discover the secret corners: arcades, vaulted passageways, and picturesque staircases. The Place du Maghju is a hub of artisan boutiques.

Every year in the spring, the town celebrates the Carnaval de Sartène . This fun-loving carnival festival features parades, musical entertainment, and masked balls.

Sartène also hosts an annual religious procession on Good Friday called the " Catenacciu ," which reenacts the events of the Passion of Christ. One of the "Penitents" carries a heavy cross and a chain during a somber procession, beginning at the Eglise Sainte-Marie and concluding at the altar of Sainte-Marie church. This event attracts pilgrims from near and far.

About 15 kilometers away from Sartène is the Domaine Rosa de Caldane , a pampering thermal bath facility with a mid-range hotel and a brasserie restaurant that serves seasonal cuisine.

Beaches near Porto Vecchio

Some of Corsica's dreamiest sandy beaches are around Porto Vecchio, which has become a busy summertime resort. These beaches are prized for their expansive sandy shorelines, gentle waves, and unspoiled scenery.

The most famous beach is the Plage de Palombaggia, renowned for its wide sandy shore and calm turquoise waters. Another excellent sandy beach is the Plage de Santa Giulia . Both of these beaches are in sheltered bays, which provide a protected environment ideal for swimming.

Slightly farther away, the less-crowded Plage de Rondinara is halfway between Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio. This gorgeous sandy beach nestles along Rondinara Bay. The crystal-clear aquamarine waters at Rondinara Beach have an almost tropical quality.

The citadel of Porto Vecchio is also worth visiting. In the 16th century, the Genoese built this impregnable citadel with sturdy fortifications that remain intact. Enclosed within the citadel is a little world of atmospheric narrow alleyways, covered passageways, and quiet squares. Many restaurants and shops are found around the Place de la République.

Piana

Piana dazzles you with its old-world character and stunning views of the Golfe de Porto. Thanks to its historic charm and natural beauty, Piana is listed as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France .

Giving the village its special appearance, red-tile-roofed houses spiral around the slopes of a wooded hillside. An exquisite parish church stands at the heart of Piana. The Italian Baroque-style Eglise Sainte-Marie features lovely frescoes and arcades decorated with sculpted medallions.

A pedestrian jaunt is the way to discover this dreamy perched village. You will delight in strolling the quaint narrow streets, while stumbling upon pleasant tree-shaded squares and terraces with gorgeous sea views.

At the entrance to the village, Les Roches Rouges offers upscale accommodations and gourmet meals. In a magical setting, the hotel's guest rooms and outdoor patio look out onto the mesmerizing azure waters of the Gulf of Porto. The hotel's gastronomic restaurant serves classic French cuisine in an elegant dining room that is protected as a Monument Historique .

More awe-inspiring panoramas are found in the hamlet of Vistale , which has an ancient chapel, the Chapelle Saint-Lucie (open in July and August) adorned with Byzantine-style frescoes created by 20th-century Russian artists.

Between the village of Piana and the seaside resort of Porto is a scenic (and challenging) coastal drive on curvy roads that wind through the UNESCO-listed Calanques de Piana mountains. The Calanques de Piana is an inlet surrounded by rose-colored granite cliffs that plunge into the deep-blue Mediterranean Sea. The area's hiking trails feature amazing vistas.

Castagniccia Region

About a one-hour drive south of Bastia is the hilly region of Castagniccia, which takes its name from the chestnut trees that grow abundantly here. The traditional stone-roofed houses all have chestnut-drying rooms.

This peaceful countryside is dotted with ancient hilltop villages, small hamlets, and magnificent churches. Many of the churches, such as the ornately adorned Baroque Eglise Saints-Pierre-et-Paul in Piedicroce and the 18th-century Eglise Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel in Stoppia Nova, are listed as Monuments Historiques .

In a sublime natural setting, the Couvent d'Alesani (another Monument Historique ) in Piazzali has an inspiring spiritual ambience. You may take a guided tour in July and August and on the Journées du Patrimoine in September. During that period, tours are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays between 3:30pm and 7pm. The convent also hosts summertime events.

Adventurous hikers can climb Monte San Petrone (1,767-meter altitude) from the starting point of Piedicroce or from the Col de Prato; either way the six-kilometer ascent takes about five or six hours. The trail traverses rocky mountain ridges, above chestnut-tree forests, valleys, and little hamlets. From the summit, the vistas sweep across the Mediterranean Sea to the coastline of Italy.

Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve

The UNESCO-listed Bouches de Bonifacio Nature Reserve is a protected marine environment that includes all of the waters in French territory, from the tip of southern Corsica extending to the French Riviera and Italian coastline.

Covering 80,000 hectares, the reserve also includes marshland, lagoons, and other coastal areas. Many rare, protected species of birds and fish thrive in this ecosystem.

A highlight of the Bouches de Bonifacio is the Lavezzi Islands marine reserve, a top snorkeling and scuba diving destination in Corsica. Beneath the translucent turquoise waters, a magical underwater world awaits deep-sea divers. Sightings include colorful and exotic fish such as the rainbow wrasse and the silver bream.

Many companies organize snorkeling and scuba diving expeditions; advanced booking is recommended. Boat tours and dinner cruises (departing from Bonifacio or Porte Vecchio) are available for those who prefer to simply relax and enjoy the scenery.

Belgodère

This medieval hilltop village will steal your heart with its enchanting ambience and sensational vistas. Exceptional panoramic views of the sea and the Regino Valley are found throughout the village.

If you're here for a beach holiday, you'll find everything you need in Belgodère and nearby. Below the historic part of Belgodère is a modern beach resort with many hotels, vacation rentals, and restaurants.

Be sure to explore the old walled area of Belgodère (the Cabanne and Cima du Fondu quarters). You will enjoy wandering around the winding streets, relaxing at an outdoor café terrace, and discovering historic monuments.

The Baroque Eglise Saint-Thomas displays a noteworthy 16th-century Virgin and Child painting.

Réserve Naturelle de Scandola

A surreal coastal landscape awaits you at the Réserve Naturelle de Scandola. Overlooking the Gulf of Porto, this UNESCO-listed nature reserve is only accessible by boat.

The Scandola Nature Reserve encompasses a remote mountainous peninsula and offshore islands formed from an ancient volcano. Crystal-clear turquoise waters lap against cliffs and hidden coves.

Scuba and snorkeling enthusiasts, rejoice! You will find here some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Corsica. Marine life includes dolphins, seals, moray eels, swordfish, and coral reefs.

Shuttle boats depart frequently from Calvi and less frequently from Porto and Galéria. Many companies offer organized tours, for an easier way to visit.

Désert des Agriates

The Désert des Agriates is a vast protected wilderness of scrubland, agricultural plains, craggy coastline, and cream-colored sandy shores. If you're planning a summertime visit to the Agriates Desert, you will probably want to sunbathe at pristine sandy beaches.

Two favorite beaches are the Plage de Lotu and the Plage de Saleccia , prized for their soft white sand and transparent waters. Both beaches are ideal for sunbathing and swimming.

The Plage de l'Ostriconi , tucked away behind sand dunes, feels like a secret spot because of its secluded quality.

Besides lounging at the beach, other things to do in the Désert des Agriates include hiking, nature walks, and fishing.

GR20 Hiking Trail

Corsica's GR20 trail traverses the island of Corsica from north to south, covering wild and remote hillsides and deep gorges. Extreme outdoor adventure enthusiasts and advanced hikers hold this trail in high esteem.

The trail is considered to be the most difficult long-distance hike in Europe . Not only is the trail extremely long, the terrain is rugged and dramatic. Those who are sufficiently conditioned to attempt the hike will ultimately be rewarded with jaw-dropping panoramas.

Read More: Top-Rated Hiking Trails in France

Col de Bavella

If you're touring Corsica by car, the scenic drive through the Col de Bavella is highly recommended. The road travels through majestic landscapes and along the path of an ancient Roman road, continuing up to the mountain pass at 1,243 meters. From that point, there are breathtaking views of the forests and plains, the mountains, and the sea.

Forêt de Valdo Niello

The Valdo-Niello Forest is an unspoiled environment of shady Corsican pine trees that can reach heights of 50 meters. The specific variety of tree, the Laricio Pine, is emblematic of Corsica. These dense woodlands provide a habitat for bird species such as the Corsican Nuthatch.

Also within the forest is Corsica's highest mountain, Monte Cinto , which soars to 2,706 meters and is snowcapped even in summer.

A variety of walking paths and hiking trails wind through the forest. Taking a hike here is an invigorating experience that allows you to breathe in the fresh air and admire the natural beauty.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

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Dreamy Island Destinations in Italy: It's an easy ferry ride from Corsica to two idyllic Italian islands. Just 20 kilometers south of Corsica is the island of Sardinia (considered one of the best places to visit in Italy ). The shortest ferry route from Corsica departs from Bonifacio and takes about one hour to arrive at the port of Santa Teresa in Sardinia.

From Bastia, it's a 4.5-hour ferry ride to the island of Elba in Italy's Tuscany region , where Napoleon was exiled. Today the island is a paradise of secluded beaches, alluring seaports, and luxuriant Mediterranean scenery.

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Stylish Towns in the South of France : Several destinations in the south of France could be combined with a visit to Corsica. From Bastia in Corsica, travelers can reach the fashionable city of Nice on the glamorous French Riviera in about five hours by ferry.

From the port of Ajaccio in Corsica, it's a six-hour ferry ride to the atmospheric port town of Toulon , which is near Provence's glitzy beach resort of Saint-Tropez (a one-hour drive from Toulon) and charming Aix-en-Provence (about a one-hour drive from Toulon).

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Discover the Best of Corsicwith Our Tailored Services for Foreign Travelers!

Are you planning an unforgettable trip to Corsica? Make the most of your visit with our specialized services designed exclusively for international travelers. At Corsica Trip, we are committed to providing you with an exceptional experience

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Welcome to our boat tour service! We are thrilled to offer you an unforgettable experience on the water. Our boat tours are designed to provide you with a unique perspective of the surrounding natural beauty, coastal landmarks, and marine life. Here's what you can expect from our boat tour service:

  • Knowledgeable and friendly guides: Our experienced guides are passionate about the local area and its marine ecosystem. They will provide you with informative commentary, interesting facts, and stories about the sights you'll encounter during the tour.
  • Scenic routes and landmarks: Our boat tours are carefully planned to showcase the most breathtaking scenery and iconic landmarks along the coast or on the waterways. You'll have the opportunity to see stunning vistas, picturesque beaches, rugged cliffs, and other natural wonders.
  • Wildlife encounters: Depending on the location and tour type, you may have the chance to spot a variety of marine wildlife, such as dolphins, seals, seabirds, and maybe even whales. Our guides will help you identify and learn about the different species you encounter.
  • Comfortable and well-equipped boats: Our boats are spacious, comfortable, and equipped with all the necessary safety features. You can relax and enjoy the tour while taking in the sights from a comfortable seating area. Some boats may also have amenities like onboard restrooms, refreshments, and shaded areas.
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Prepare to embark on an adventure and discover the beauty of the waterways. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply seeking a relaxing experience on the water, our boat tour service is here to make your journey unforgettable. Contact us now to book your boat tour and get ready for a memorable aquatic adventure!

Trip from 4 to 12 people per boat 

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Transportation service from Ajaccio Airport or Harbor

Welcome to our airport location transport service! We specialize in providing reliable and efficient transportation to and from airports. Whether you're arriving at or departing from the airport or harbor, our service is designed to make your travel experience stress-free and convenient. Here's what you can expect from our airport location transport service:

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off: We offer prompt and reliable pick-up and drop-off services at the airport. Our drivers will be waiting for you in the designated area, holding a sign with your name or company logo for easy identification. They will assist you with your luggage and ensure a smooth transition from the airport to your destination.
  • Flight monitoring: We closely monitor your flight status to ensure that we are aware of any delays or changes in your arrival time. This allows us to adjust our schedule accordingly, ensuring that our drivers are there to pick you up promptly, regardless of any unexpected delays.
  • Meet and greet service: If desired, we can provide a meet and greet service where our driver will meet you inside the airport terminal. They will assist you with your luggage and guide you to the vehicle, eliminating the need to search for transportation on your own.
  • Comfortable and spacious vehicles: Our fleet of vehicles is carefully chosen to provide you with comfort and ample space for both passengers and luggage. Whether you're traveling alone or with a group, we have a range of options available, including sedans, SUVs, vans, and minibusses.
  • Professional drivers: Our drivers are experienced, professional, and familiar with the airport and surrounding areas. They will ensure a safe and efficient journey, taking into consideration traffic conditions and the best routes to get you to your destination in a timely manner.
  • Additional services: We understand that each traveler has unique needs, so we offer additional services to enhance your airport transportation experience. This may include options such as Wi-Fi access, bottled water, and even pre-arranged stops for shopping or sightseeing, depending on your preferences.
  • 24/7 availability: Our airport location transport service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to accommodate your travel needs at any time. Whether you have an early morning departure or a late-night arrival, you can rely on us to provide reliable and timely transportation.

We are committed to providing a seamless and comfortable airport transportation experience. Contact us now to book our airport location transport service and enjoy a stress-free journey to or from the airport. Sit back, relax, and let us take care of your transportation needs, allowing you to focus on your travel plans.

Drop off or visit of different beaches

Welcome to our beach driving and dropping service! We are delighted to offer you a convenient and hassle-free way to enjoy the beach. Our service is designed to provide you with transportation to and from the beach, allowing you to relax and make the most of your time in the sun. Here's what you can expect from our beach driving and dropping service:

  • Convenient pick-up and drop-off: We will pick you up from your desired location and transport you directly to the beach. At the end of your beach day, we'll be there to pick you up and take you back to your original location.
  • Flexible scheduling: We offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate your needs. Whether you want to spend a few hours at the beach or enjoy a full day of sun and surf, we will work with you to create a personalized itinerary.
  • Beach essentials: We understand that beach trips require certain essentials. Our service includes complimentary beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels, so you can relax and enjoy the beach without worrying about bringing your own equipment.
  • Local recommendations: Our drivers are knowledgeable about the local area and can provide recommendations on the best beaches to visit, based on your preferences. They can also suggest nearby attractions, restaurants, and activities to enhance your beach experience.
  • Safety and reliability: Your safety and satisfaction are our top priorities. Our drivers are experienced and trained to ensure a safe and reliable transportation service. We strive to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience from start to finish.

Language Support

Welcome to our Language Support service! We are dedicated to providing you with comprehensive language assistance to meet your communication needs. Whether you require translation, interpretation, we have you covered. Here's what you can expect from our Language Support service:

  • Professional translators and interpreters: Our team consists of skilled and experienced language professionals who are fluent in multiple languages. They have expertise in various fields, ensuring accurate and contextually appropriate translations and interpretations.
  • Written translation services: We offer high-quality written translations for a wide range of documents, including legal, business, technical, medical, and general content. Our translators ensure that the meaning, tone, and nuances of the original text are accurately conveyed in the target language.
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Whether you need assistance with business communication, legal documentation, academic translations, or language learning, our Language Support service is here to assist you. We strive to bridge language barriers and provide you with the language skills and support you need to achieve your goals. Contact us now to discuss your language support requirements and let us help you overcome linguistic challenges.

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Welcome to our airport location transport service! We specialize in providing reliable and efficient transportation to and from airports. Whether you're arriving at or departing from the airport or harbor, our service is designed to make your travel experience stress-free and convenient. 

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Welcome to our beach driving and dropping service! We are delighted to offer you a convenient and hassle-free way to enjoy the beach. Our service is designed to provide you with transportation to and from the beach, allowing you to relax and make the most of your time in the sun. 

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corsica trip

On Corsica road trip rugged scenery, hilltop towns, traces of Napoleon, aggressive drivers

  • A road trip is a good way to see the jagged French island, birthplace of Napoleon, but beware of locals who think they're rally drivers

If you are going to drive around Corsica, you'll need your wits about you.

Mountain roads are sometimes little more than gravel tracks littered with blind curves, precipitous drops, herds of goats and marauding wild pigs.

Most lethal of all are locals who think they're rally drivers. They flash their headlights, blast their horns, overtake aggressively and suggest, in the strongest possible terms, that other drivers get out of the way.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge , our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

The more precarious a road is, the faster Corsican motorists come hurtling around the corner.

Fortunately there are plenty of places to pull over, recompose yourself and marvel at the Mediterranean island's rugged interior.

Villages cling to hillsides crowned with jagged granite peaks, pine forests cloak lowland slopes, and meadows of wild flowers carpet the countryside. Given the lofty terrain, the Corsicans did well to find space to build four airports.

Many tourists steer clear of roads and rental cars and head into the hills on foot. Footpaths such as the 180km (110-mile) GR20 long-distance trail test the fitness levels of hikers on what is arguably the most demanding and dangerous walking route in Europe.

A mutter of thunder coincides with my arrival in the photogenic settlement of Ota and I hurry into my guest house just as raindrops begin to plummet out of a sullen sky.

High above, at the summit of Mont Capu d'Ota, a perilously positioned boulder looks like it could tumble down and flatten the village at any minute.

According to my hosts, I needn't worry. Legend has it the giant rock is held in place by chains constructed by monks who take it in turns to keep watch and protect the village.

I am not entirely reassured and cannot help wondering why, if the monks have got everything under control, there are so many road signs warning of falling boulders.

Eventually the clouds part a little to reveal misty vistas and sublime snatches of scenery. I decide on a short walk along the picturesque Gorges de la Spelunca.

The river valley is connected by mule trails that lead through a wooded gorge to refreshing plunge pools and arched bridges dating back to the Genoese occupation of Corsica in the Middle Ages.

Talking of medieval times, the Corsican language, which is more closely related to Italian than French, has been around in some form or other since the ninth century, and is still widely used across the island.

Place-name signs are bilingual, although the French version is often spray-painted out or riddled with bullet holes.

"Does every Corsican carry a gun?" I ask at my hotel in the charming city of Ajaccio (Aiacciu, in the local lingo).

"Only hunters and people who like shooting at French-language signs," comes the reply. Folks in these parts are proudly Corsican first and reluctantly French second.

Staff at the tourist office don't think independence from France is likely any time soon.

"These days it's more of a graffiti campaign than anything serious," a clerk says, with a shrug. I've seen "Corsica Libera!" ("Free Corsica!") and "Corsica Nazione" ("Corsica Nation") daubed on walls but I've also heard that hostilities are never far beneath the surface.

French-owned holiday homes have been bombed or burned down, and in 2019, explosive devices were discovered outside two tax offices in the town of Bastia, three days before a visit to the island by President Emmanuel Macron .

I am in Ajaccio to find out about another French leader with some experience of conflict.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) is the island's biggest tourism asset. The military tactician and emperor spent the first nine years of his life in a house on Rue Saint-Charles, a property that now serves as Corsica's national museum.

The former family home feels somewhat cramped in its current role, particularly as two cruise ships are in town.

Forty people would not overwhelm many tourist attractions but as I shuffle along with the seniors, it becomes clear that Maison Bonaparte will soon need to introduce timed entry slots and daily visitor caps.

I arrive in the 16th century hilltop town of SartEne just as the setting sun is painting the "most Corsican of Corsican towns" in honeyed hues. Shopkeepers chat with passers-by; grandmas hang laundry on lines strung high above narrow lanes; and, in the main square, children burn off energy before bedtime.

I find a busy restaurant with tables spilling onto the street and order the island's signature dish: wild boar stewed in wine, paired with a glass of something red, robust and Corsican.

Early the following morning I drive the short distance to the town of Bonifacio (Bunifaziu).

Corsica's southernmost town is spectacularly perched on a limestone plateau overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and dawn is a time of ethereal beauty.

While I am fiddling with my camera, the first ferry of the day carves through the glistening water as it pootles over to the Italian island of Sardinia, 17km away.

The crossing takes less than an hour, which opens up the possibility of two-centre holidays. Or just pop over for a lunchtime pizza, as I did.

Despite being adored by French tourists, Bonifacio feels more Italian - from its street names and ice-cream parlours to the Genoa dialect spoken hereabouts.

The walled citadel is still entered via an ancient drawbridge and the echoing cobblestone alleyways are at their most atmospheric while most tourists are still fast asleep.

I am tempted to linger over a lazy breakfast but the island's beaches beckon and Corsica is home to some of Europe's most exquisite.

Palombaggia is a creamy crescent of sand lapped by calm, clear water so swimming-pool-like, you can almost smell chlorine. Evergreen trees provide shade and unless you visit on a weekend at the height of summer, there's enough room for everyone.

The car park gets busy, but that's a good thing as it means fewer Corsican drivers are out harassing tourists.

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Pull over and step out of your car to admire Corsica's spectacular mountain scenery. Photo: Tim Pile

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Road trip in Corsica: The best itineraries for 3, 5, 7, 10 and 15 days

The 5 best road trip itineraries to visit corsica by car.

You’re planning to do a road trip in Corsica ?

Great idea!

Visiting Corsica by car is the only way to reach the best beaches and discover all the must-see attractions of the island.

Contrary to other countries where you can easily use public transportation, in Corsica, it’s really impossible. A road trip is thus the only solution to discover Corsica!

In order to help you plan your stay , I have prepared this travel guide with the 5 best road trips itineraries in Corsica depending on the duration of your stay (2,3,4 5, 7, 10 and 15 days). For each duration, I will give you a summary of the itinerary as well as the link to read the detailed itinerary article.

And at the end of this guide, I will also give you my list of the best accommodations in Corsica depending on your budget as well as my best tips to enjoy the perfect road trip.

Let’s plan your road trip!

What’s the best airport to start a road-trip in Corsica?

What’s the best port to start a road-trip in corsica, renting a car for a road-trip in corsica, road trip in corsica: 2, 3, 4 or 5 days, one-week road trip in southern corsica, 7 days road-trip in northern corsica, 1) ajaccio (1 day), 2) bonifacio (3 days), 3) porto-vecchio (1 day), 4) ospedale / bavella pass (1 day), 5) corte (1 day), 6) corte / porto (1 day), 7) scandola nature reserve / calanques de piana (1 day), 1) northern corsica (6 days), 2) southern corsica (7 days), 3) corsican mountains (2 days), where to stay in corsica during your road trip, when is the best time to do a road trip in corsica, you’re traveling to corsica these articles will help you.

If you want to do a road trip in Corsica, you can get there by plane. There are 4 airports on the island:

  • Bastia , in the North-East
  • Ajaccio , in the South-West
  • Figari, in the South of the island, between Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio
  • Calvi , in the West

Most of my itineraries in Corsica are starting from Bastia and Ajaccio. It’s easier to get around Corsica by car if you arrive in one of these 2 cities.

You can also take the ferry to go to Corsica . It’s the only way to get there with your own car!

There are many boats departing from Nice, Marseille , Toulon, Italy and Sardinia .

Corsica’s main ports are:

  • Porto-Vecchio
  • Île-Rousse (near Calvi)
  • Bonifacio (only if you arrive from Sardinia)

As for the airports, you should arrive in Bastia or Ajaccio , as these 2 cities have more ferry connections with the mainland.

Bastia Port

Obviously, you will need a car for your road trip in Corsica, as there are very few public transports on the island.

If you arrive in Corsica by ferry boat and with your own vehicle, you can directly go to the next paragraph of this article.

Otherwise, whether you arrive by plane or by boat, you’ll find many car rental companies on the island. But you should book your car in advance online to get the best prices!

As you already know if you’ve read some of my other articles, I always book my cars on Booking.com Cars, whether I’m in Greece , Sardinia or even Thailand !

On this website, you can easily compare prices between all the rental companies in Corsica. You’ll discover the cheapest companies and those with the best customer’s reviews.

Booking Cars also offers a “ Full Protection Insurance “, to be fully refunded in case of accident or theft. It’s clearly the best option if you don’t have an insurance with your credit card. Tested and approved, they already refunded me more than 1300€😎! 

And if you find a cheaper car rental elsewhere, they will reimburse you the difference.

Last but not least, you can modify or cancel your booking for free, up to 24 hours before departure. That’s why you should book your car as early as possible!

Click the button below to compare car rental prices in Corsica:

Cap Corse bay

If you’re going to Corsica for a short stay, you should stay in the same city and discover its surroundings during day-trips.

For a short road trip in Corsica, your port or airport of arrival will really define the places you will be able to visit.

I’ve thus prepare road trip itineraries to make the most of your 2 to 5 days stay in Corsica, depending on your arrival city (Bastia, Ajaccio, Bonifacio, Porto-Vecchio, Calvi)

For each trip, you’ll discover the best places to visit every day as well as my selection of the best accomodations depending on your budget.

You’ll find everything you need in my article: The best itineraries for a short stay in Corsica.

Bonifacio

Here is the best itinerary if you’re doing a one-week road trip from Ajaccio, to visit Southern Corsica by car.

During your tour, you will discover:

  • Ajaccio (1 day)
  • Bonifacio (3 days)
  • Porto-Vecchio (1 day)
  • The Bavella Pass (1 day)

1st day – Get around Corsica’s largest city and visit:

  • The Fesch Museum
  • The Imperial Chapel
  • Foch square and the Ajaccio market
  • The National Museum of the Bonaparte Residence
  • The Ajaccio Cathedral
  • Place d’Austerlitz
  • The Sanguinaires Islands

I’ve prepared an itinerary to visit Ajaccio in 1 day in my article: The definitive guide to visit Ajaccio.

2nd day – Drive between Ajaccio and Bonifacio along the coastal road to discover:

  • Agosta beach
  • Ruppione beach
  • Mare e Sole beach
  • San Giovianni beach
  • Paragan Beach
  • Fazzio beach
  • Tunara Beach
  • Stagnolu beach

3rd day of this one week road trip in Corsica – Visit Bonifacio and its surroundings:

  • The Citadel
  • The Fortress of the Standard
  • King of Aragon’s staircase
  • The marine cemetery
  • The Gouvernail (The Rudder)
  • The Campu Romanilu Trail
  • Cap de Pertusatu and its lighthouse
  • Saint-Antoine beach

Bonifacio cliffs boat trip

For the 4th day, take the shuttle boat to the Lavezzi Islands . It’s one of the best things to do during your 1-week road trip in Southern Corsica!

You can find more information about Bonifacio’s must-see attractions in my article: The 20 best thigs to do in Bonifacio.

And if you want to visit the Lavezzi Islands, have a look at my detailed guide: How to visit the Lavezzi Islands?

On the 5th day, you’ll spend a relaxing day swimming and sunbathing at the beach, near Porto-Vecchio. The region is renowned for its magnificent beaches, often ranked among Corsica’s most beautiful! You can choose between:

  • Rondinara beach
  • Santa Giulia beach
  • Palombaggia beach
  • Tamariccui beach

You want to learn more about the best places to visit in Porto-Vecchio and its surroundings? Have a look at my article: Visit Porto-Vecchio: the definitive guide.

6th day – Hike in Corsican mountains. If you don’t feel like doing those 2 hikes in one day, choose the one that suits you best!

  • The Piscia di Gallu hike in the Ospedale forest, to reach Corsica’s highest waterfall
  • The Trou de la Bombe (Bomb Hole) hike, starting from the Bavella Pass.

7th day – Your one-week road trip in Corsica is already over! Get back to Ajaccio for your return flight or ferry.

If you want to do a one-week road trip in Southern Corsica, you should read my detailed article: The best itinerary to visit Southern Corsica in one week.

You’ll discover a list of the best places to visit and my selection of the best hotels in Ajaccio, Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio. It’s the best way to plan your trip to Corsica!

Palombaggia beach Corsica

If you’re planning to do a 7 days road-trip in Northern Corsica, you should read my article: The best 7-day itinerary in Northern Corsica.

You’ll arrive in Bastia and discover all the best places to visit in the North of the island: Cap Corse , Saint-Florent , the Agriates Desert , Calvi, Porto , the Calanques de Piana and Corte .

Here is a short summary of this road trip to help you plan your 7-day stay in Corsica: 

  • 2 days in Cap Corse, north of Bastia. On the first day, hike the customs officers’ path from Maccinaggio to Barcaggio. The next day, drive along Cap Corse’s West Coast to reach Saint-Florent.
  • 1 day in the Agriates Desert to enjoy the white sandy beaches of Saleccia and Lotu.
  • 1 day in Calvi: visit the city in the morning, and spend the afternoon at Calvi beach or at the Revellata peninsula.
  • 1 day in Porto, to do a boat trip. It’s clearly one of the best things to do during your 7-day road trip in Corsica! You will discover Scandola Nature Reserve and the Calanques de Piana .
  • 1 day in Corsican mountains, near Corte . There, you can go swimming or hiking in the forest of Aïtone, Nino Lake, the Golo river or the Radule waterfalls. During your journey, you’ll also drive through the Scala di Santa Regina parade. End your day with a short stroll in the city of Corte.

For more details and a guide of the best places to stay during this 7-8 days road trip in Corsica, have a look at my detailed itinerary (click here)!

In addition to this detailed itinerary, you can read my articles about each city you’ll discover during your road-trip in Northern Corsica:

  • Saint-Florent
  • The Agriates Desert
  • Scandola Nature Reserve

The Agriates Desert

10 days road-trip in Corsica

If you want to visit Corsica by car in 10 days, here is the best itinerary to discover both the South of the island and the mountains and forests.

This 10-day road trip starts from Ajaccio,  Corsica’s largest city. During your tour, you’ll be amazed by the island’s sublime beaches, beautiful hikes and breathtaking natural landscapes!

During this 10-day road trip in Corsica, you’ll visit:

  • The Bavella Pass
  • The Calanques de Piana

You’ll find a short summary of this itinerary below, but you should have a look at my article for more details: The best 10-days itinerary in Corsica.

Let’s start this 10-days road trip in Corsica in Ajaccio. As it’s a rather small city, you won’t need more than one day to discover its best points of interest!

1st day – The best places to visit in Ajaccio are:

  • Ajaccio Cathedral
  • The foreigner’s district

Spend the night in Ajaccio.

You can find more information about Ajaccio’s must-see attractions in my article: The 20 best things to do in Ajaccio.

For the 2nd day,  continue your 10-days road trip in Corsica and drive South, towards Bonifacio.

You’ll spend a whole day on the beautiful coastal road connecting Ajaccio and Bonifacio. During your journey, you’ll discover pretty villages and splendid beaches, perfect for a refreshing dip! The best places to see are:

  • Paragan beach
  • Tunara beach

Spend a first night in Bonifacio.

For the 3rd day , you’ll visit the city of Bonifacio . Take a stroll in the Citadel, then hike the Campu Rumanilu path. It’s the best place to enjoy breathtaking views over the citadel, perched on the edge of the white limestone cliffs at more than 70 meters high!

Spend another night in Bonifacio.

4th day – Take the shuttle boat to discover the Lavezzi Islands, mostly renowned for their beautiful beaches and coves with turquoise waters. It’s one of the best places to swim during your 10-days itinerary in Corsica!

If you want more details about the Lavezzi Islands, you should read my article: How to visit the Lavezzi Islands?

Spend a last night in Bonifacio.

Do you want more information about the best places to visit in Bonifacio? Have a look at my article: The definitive guide to visit Bonifacio.

The Lavezzi islands

On the 5th day, you’ll discover the magnificent beaches around Porto-Vecchio: 

All these heavenly beaches feature white sand and turquoise waters!

Spend the night in Porto-Vecchio.

You can find more details about the best places to visit in Porto-Vecchio in my article: Visit Porto-Vecchio: the definitive guide.

For the 6th day of your road trip in Corsica, it’s now time to go hiking in the Corsican mountains!

Drive North of Porto-Vecchio, to the Ospedale forest. There, you can hike to the Piscia di Gallu, Corsica’s largest waterfall.

You can also go to the Trou de la Bombe (“Bomb Hole”), a famous hike starting from the Bavella pass.

aiguilles de Bavella

On the 7th day, you’ll stay in the Corsican mountains and choose between several hikes.

You can for example hike to the Cascade des Anglais (English waterfalls), located in Vizzavona forest. There, you’ll discover several small waterfalls and beautiful natural swimming pools to take a dip!

The most popular hike near Corte is the Restonica Gorge. Follow the marked trail to reach the Melo and Capitello Lakes, at nearly 2,000 meters of altitude!

After your hike, you’ll have some time left to discover Corte. 

During your stroll, you should visit the Citadel , the Musée de la Corse, the Belvedere, Gaffory Square and the Cours Paoli.

Spend the night in Corte.

You can find more information about the Corte’s must-see attractions and most beautiful hikes in my article: The 20 best things to do in Corte.

Cascade des Anglais Corsica

8th day – You’ll leave Corte and drive through the Scala di Santa Regina Parade , one of the island’s most impressive landscapes!

On the road between Corte and Porto, you’ll have plenty of time to stop for a refreshing swim or to go on a beautiful hike. You can choose between:

  • Calacuccia lake
  • A refreshing dip in the Golo river , near the village of Albertacce
  • A short hike to discover the Radule waterfalls
  • A longer hike to Nino Lake , Corsica’s second largest lake!
  • A relaxing afternoon in the forest of Aïtone, where you can swim in large natural swimming pools
  • A short hike to go swimming at the Genoese bridge of Zaglia, in the Spelunca Gorge.

Spend the night in Porto.

For the 9th day of your 10-days trip to Corsica by car, you’ll do a boat trip to discover Scandola Nature Reserve and the Calanques de Piana.

These 2 splendid natural sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As Scandola is inaccessible by foot or by car, this cruise is the only way to get there!

These boat trips are Porto’s must-see attraction and must be booked as soon as possible.

You can find more details about Scandola in my dedicated article: How to visit Scandola Nature Reserve?

After your cruise, get back to your car and drive to Ajaccio.

There are several beautiful beaches where you can stop for a last swim:

  • Arone beach
  • Chiumi beach
  • The beaches of Menazina and Capizollu
  • Liamone beach

For the 10th and last day of your 10-days road trip in Corsica, you just have to get back to Ajaccio to take your plane or ferry back home.

If you want more details about this 10-days road trip in Corsica , have a look at my detailed article: The best itinerary to visit Corsica in 10 days.

You’ll also find a selection of the best accommodations in each city. It will be super easy to plan your 9-10 days trip to Corsica!

Scandola Nature Reserve Corsica

2 weeks road trip in Corsica

You’re planning a 15-days road trip in Corsica? You’re lucky, as you’ll have enough time to discover the whole island!

This 2-week road trip in Corsica starts from Bastia , North of the island.

You will find every information you need to organize your trip to Corsica in my article: The best 2-week itinerary in Corsica.

Here is a short summary of this itinerary:

For the first stage of this 2-week road trip in Corsica, you’ll spend 6 days in the North of the island.

1st day – Get around Bastia on foot to discover: Saint-Nicholas Square, Napoleon Street, the church of Saint John the Baptist and the Citadel.

You’ll have enough time to enjoy Bastia’s must-see attractions I’ve detailed in my article:  The 17 best things to do in Bastia.

2nd and 3rd day – Cap Corse

Hike the customs officers’ path and enjoy the beautiful coves and typical villages. It’s one of the best places to visit during your holidays in Corsica!

If you’re looking for more details about Cap Corse, have a look at my article: The definitive guide to visit Cap Corse.

For the 4th day of your 15-day road trip in Corsica, you’ll visit the Agriates Desert. Take the shuttle boat from the village of Saint-Florent to discover the splendid beaches of Saleccia and Lotu. You’ll spend a relaxing day, sunbathing and swimming in crystal clear waters!

You can find more information in my detailed articles: The 12 best things to do in Saint-Florent and  How to visit the Agriates Desert ?

5th day – Take a short stroll in Calvi in the morning, and spend your afternoon at the beach, in Calvi or at The Revellata Peninsula.  If you prefer hiking, you should go to the forest of Bonifatu, a 30-minute drive from Calvi.

Everything is detailed in my Calvi travel guide.

6th day – Drive from Calvi to Porto, then do a 4-hour boat trip to discover Scandola Nature Reserve , Girolata and the Calanques de Piana.

Click the button below to book your cruise:

It’s clearly one of the best things to do during your 15-days road trip in Corsica!

Calvi

Let’s continue this 15-days road trip in Corsica in the South of the island.

7th day   – Drive from Porto to Ajaccio along the coastal road . You can hike in the Calanques de Piana , or stop at the beaches of Peru, Menazina or Liamone for a refreshing swim!

8th day – Visit Ajaccio’s old town in the morning, then do a cruise to the Sanguinaires islands .

Click the button below to book your boat trip:

And if you’re looking for a romantic cruise to the Sanguinaires Islands at sunset, it’s right here:

You can find more information about Ajaccio’s must-see attractions in my article: The definitive guide to visit Ajaccio.

Sanguinaires Islands Ajaccio

On the 9th day, you will go from Ajaccio to Bonifacio. There are many beautiful places to discover during your journey, such as typical villages and sublime beaches!

10th day – Visit one of Corsica’s most iconic cities: Bonifacio.

Get around the upper town on foot to discover the Fortress of the Standard and the King of Aragon’s staircase (among many other great places to visit). Then, hike the Campu Rumanilu path to discover breathtaking views of Bonifacio’s cliffs.

You want more details about the best places to visit in Bonifacio? Have a look at my article: The definitive guide to visit Bonifacio.

11th day – You’ll do a cruise to the Lavezzi Islands, only 30 minutes by boat from the port of Bonifacio.

You can find more information in my article: How to visit the Lavezzi Islands?

12th day – Take some time to relax at the beach near Porto-Vecchio.

You can choose between Palombaggia, Tamaricciu, Rondinara and Santa Giulia. All these beaches are ranked among Corsica’s most beautiful!

If you’re looking for more details about Porto-Vecchio and its beaches, you should read my article: The 15 best things to do in Porto-Vecchio.

Rondinara beach Porto-Vecchio

For the 13th day of this two weeks road trip in Corsica, you’ll discover the island’s beautiful mountains.

From Porto-Vecchio , drive North towards Zonza and the Ospedale . There, you can hike to the Piscia di Gallu. You can also opt for the Trou de la Bombe (“Bomb Hole”) hike, starting from the Bavella Pass. If you’re an experienced hiker, you can do both in 1 day!

14th day – During this day, you can also choose between 2 beautiful hikes: the Cascade des Anglais (English waterfall), in the forest of Vizzavona, and the Restonica Gorge, near Corte.

Then, get back to your car and drive to Corte, where you’ll spend the night.

You can find more information about Corte in my article: The definitive guide to visit Corte.

Fifteenth and last day of this 2 weeks road trip in Corsica: return to Bastia to end your holidays!

As I mentioned earlier, you can find a detailed version of this 2-weeks road trip in Corsica in my article: The best itinerary to visit Corsica in 15 days.

You’ll discover all best places to visit as well as a selection of the best accommodations in each city, depending on your budget.

Ospedale forest and lake Corsica

Now that you’ve discovered the best places to visit during your road trip in Corsica, you probably want to know where to stay at every stage of your journey.

You will find here a list of all the best accommodations in Corsica, depending on your budget, for each city you will visit during your road trip.

Have a look at my detailed itineraries to discover all the best places to stay in Corsica!

You can also click directly here to find the island’s best hotels: 

  • Ajaccio: where to stay in Corsica’s largest city?
  • Bastia: the 5 best hotels
  • Bonifaco: where to stay in the city?
  • Calvi : the 5 best accommodations
  • Cap Corse: the best hotels in Macinaggio
  • Corte: the best accommodations in the city
  • Porto-Ota: where to stay to visit Scandola and Piana?
  • Porto-Vecchio: the 5 best hotels 
  • Saint-Florent: the 3 best places to stay

U Palazzu Serenu - Oletta

The best months to do a road trip in Corsica are May – June – July – August – September.

During these months, you can enjoy all the island’s must-see attractions: beaches, beautiful natural landscapes, hiking, boat trips and short strolls in the cities and villages.

You should also know that the sea is still a bit cold in May and early June, and that July and August are the most touristic months.

The beaches and roads are often very crowded during these 2 months! You must also book all your activities and boat trips in advance at this time of the year.

In my opinion, September is the best month to visit Corsica by car. You’ll enjoy a nice weather, the sea is still warm, and it’s a bit less crowded than in summer.

It’s also nice to do a road trip in Corsica in October , even if the sea might be a bit cold.

You shouldn’t go on holidays in Corsica during winter, as there’s not much to do. You can’t relax at the beach, and hiking might be dangerous, especially when it snows. Winters are also very windy in Corsica.

And you, what do you plan to visit during your road trip in Corsica?

Discover all my articles about Corsica : All my articles to help you plan your trip to Corsica are listed there.

  • The 35 Best Things to do in Corsica – The Ultimate Bucket list!
  • Itinerary: 2, 3, 4 or 5 days in Corsica – The perfect itinerary for a short stay in Corsica
  • Itinerary: 1 week in Corsica – The best Itinerary to visit Southern Corsica
  • Itinerary: 6, 7 or 8 days in Corsica – The definitive guide to visit Northern Corsica in 1 week
  • Itinerary: 10 days in Corsica – The best 10 days itinerary in Corsica
  • Itinerary: 2 weeks in Corsica – How to visit Corsica in 14, 15 or 16 days.
  • Ajaccio: The 20 Best things to do
  • Bastia: Top 17 places to visit
  • Bonifacio: Top 20 things to do and see
  • Calvi: The 15 things you must do!
  • Cap Corse: The 15 must-see attractions
  • Corte: 20 things to do and see
  • Porto: Top 12 things to discover
  • Porto-Vecchio: Top 17 things to do and must-see attractions
  • Saint-Florent: The 12 best things to do
  • Agriates Desert – The definitive guide
  • Calanques de Piana – How to visit the Calanques de Piana by boat, by car and on foot
  • Lavezzi Islands – Oganize your trip to the Lavezzi island easily!
  • Scandola Nature Reserve – All my best tips to visit Scandola
  • The 23 Best Beaches in Corsica : The definitive guide to the most beautiful beaches!

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corsica road trip itinerary

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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The Best Villas in France

Image may contain Nature Outdoors Sea Water Shoreline Coast Pool Swimming Pool Plant Vegetation and Aerial View

Between the faded glamour of Paris’s Grand Dames and the splashy resorts that line the shores of Saint-Tropez, France is a treasure trove of wonderful hotels. But for larger groups, greater privacy, and the knowledge there’ll always be a sun lounger available by the pool , a villa always makes a better choice. With views over sparkling seas and rolling hills, infinity pools and outdoor kitchens, here are eight of our favorites to book now.

Image may contain Nature Outdoors Scenery Grass Plant Bench Furniture Chair Backyard Yard and Architecture

Château de la Bourlie, Urval, Bergerac

France has no shortage of stunning châteaux, but this surely is one of the most spectacular available to book on Airbnb. In total, there are 16 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms, along with a variety of spacious common areas to take over, each impeccably decorated and ripe for exploring. When you’re done getting lost indoors, head to the manicured gardens for lounge chairs and stargazing—light pollution here is virtually nil.

Sleeps: 16+ Price: From around $5,877, with a three-night minimum

Image may contain Nature Outdoors Sea Water Shoreline Coast Pool Swimming Pool Plant Vegetation and Aerial View

Mediterranean villa, Corsica

Corsica’s wild hills are on full display from the windows of this unapologetically modern villa, cut into the hillside and strikingly opposed to its rugged environs with its smooth curves, concrete floors, and Scandi-cool interiors. Outside, there are acres of garden to meander through that lead right down to Propriano Beach, plus a barbecue and a huge, glittering infinity pool.

Sleeps: 10 Price: From around $3,825, with a seven-night minimum

Image may contain Backyard Nature Outdoors Yard Pool Water Swimming Pool Plant Tub and Hot Tub

Ad Austrum, Occitania

To those in the know, France’s south-western Occitanie region, where this traditional farmer’s home sits, is regarded as ‘the other Provence’, with a similar climate and bucolic landscapes punctuated with pretty villages—all without the crowds. A stay at this villa is best spent wandering the cobbled streets of nearby Uzès, biking through the surrounding thyme-scented woods, and breaking up sunbathing stints on the terrace with a dip in the plunge pool. There are great hiking trails a little further afield in Pont Du Gard—ask your hosts to recommend some of the best walks.

Sleeps: Seven Price: From $383 per night

Image may contain Architecture Building Cottage House Housing Bicycle Transportation and Vehicle

Maison Bord de Rivière, Normandy

Travel 60 miles from Paris to the cusp of this traditional Normandy village, and you’ll find this 18th-century estate right up at the edge of the river Seine. Its French roots have been given a California cool shakeup inside—a nod to the owners’ childhood in the US—with breezy white and neutral tones pepped up with dusty pinks and blues and the odd gleam of brass. Guests wake to a daily delivery of croissants, bread, jam and tea, and complementary Champagne on arrival helps get things off to a marvelous start.

Sleeps: 18 Price: From $743 per night

Image may contain Pool Water Architecture Building House Housing Villa Swimming Pool Chair Furniture and Outdoors

Casonu, Corsica

Designing this villa was a labor of love for the owners, who have gone to great lengths to use original and local materials wherever possible, in homage to Corsica’s rural heritage. The result is a cozy countryside abode with stone flagstone walls, patterned tiles, and vaulted ceilings, surrounded by all the hiking and mountain bike trails you could ever need. Jump in the car for 30 minutes, and you’ll reach several of the area’s best beaches—Plage de Baraci, Capu Laurosu and Capicciolo—in Priopolo, along with pretty Campomoro, with its unspoilt grassy hillscapes and clutch of fantastic bars, and restaurants.

Sleeps: Four Price: From $3,183 a week

Image may contain Pool Water Architecture Building House Housing Villa Nature Outdoors Scenery and Swimming Pool

Casa Fortificata, Corsica

People flock to Corsica for its mix of hiking trails and sandy beaches, both of which are right on the doorstep of this stone villa, which has been built with mostly reclaimed materials and enjoys unchecked views over the Gulf of Valinco. A modern take on the area’s traditional bergeries —aka sheepfolds, designed to provide protection for shepherds and their flocks—scattered throughout the mountains, inside you’ll find wood-beamed ceilings, a stone fireplace and a 19th Century chandelier, along with classic Corsican floor tiles that lead out onto a pool terrace with outdoor kitchen.

Sleeps: Eight Price: From $5,489 a week

Villa Neptune france

Villa Neptune, Théoule-sur-Mer, Cote d’Azur

This villa doesn’t just overlook the Mediterranean; it’s practically teetering on it, with the waves of Théoule-sur-Mer lapping underneath. The unique location means you can dive straight into the sea from the private steps or launch a boat from the private jetty. There are sun loungers, a jacuzzi by the water's edge, and a shaded al fresco dining area that makes the most of those stunning blue views. The house epitomises French coastal elegance—polished floors, white walls, and neutral decor. All five bedrooms have private balconies overlooking the water, while some have romantic four posters or ensuite bathrooms with clawfoot bathtubs.

Sleeps: 10 Price: from $8,848 for 7 nights

What puts this lowslung villa a cut above the multitudes of swoonworthy holiday homes near St. Tropez has everything to...

Villa Ama Pampelonne, Saint-Tropez, French Riviera

What puts this low-slung villa a cut above the multitudes of swoon-worthy holiday homes near St. Tropez has everything to do with art. It’s owned by a renowned European collector, so the walls and 108,000 square-foot garden area are filled with astonishing museum-quality contemporary works from Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, and Damien Hirst, rivaled only by the enchanting unbroken vistas of Pampelonne Bay. With a staff of four on hand, limo service, and a helicopter pad for quick getaways, you may still prefer to lounge on a sun bed by the heated pool or take the wooded path to the beach, a five-minute walk to Le Club 55. The sleek modern interiors of the seven bedrooms—which includes one kids’ room with three beds, plus two bedrooms in the guesthouse—are uncluttered and unpretentiously elegant. In keeping with the spirit of the place, there’s an extensive gym for toned-body maintenance and, best of all, an open-air cinema with a giant screen that springs magically from the ground.

Sleeps : 14 Price : from about $54,533 for a one-week stay, or about $3,895 per person

This gallery was originally published on Condé Nast Traveller UK .

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    0) Arrival in Bastia. If you're planning to do a 7-days itinerary in Northern Corsica, the best is to arrive in Bastia.. Bastia is the largest city in the North of Corsica, and you can easily get there by plane or by ferry boat.. Boats and planes arrive in Bastia all-day long, even late in the evening (I arrived at 11p.m during my trip to Corsica!).

  22. Corsica Trip

    Corsica Trip offers boat tours, airport transportation, beach driving and dropping, and guided tours in Corsica. Contact us to book your unforgettable trip and enjoy the natural beauty and culture of this island.

  23. On Corsica road trip rugged scenery, hilltop towns, traces of ...

    A road trip is a good way to see the jagged French island, birthplace of Napoleon, but beware of locals who think they're rally drivers If you are going to drive around Corsica, you'll need your ...

  24. U Paesolu

    Corsica Dream: 8-Day Shared Group Escorted Package. Historical Tours. from . $3,508.97. per adult (price varies by group size) The area. Address. 5 Rue Napoléon, 20200 Bastia, Corsica France. Reach out directly. Call Email. Full view. Best nearby. Restaurants. 305 within 3 miles. Café Des Gourmets. 337.

  25. Road Trip in Corsica: The 5 best itineraries

    The beautiful panoramic roads of Cap Corse Road trip in Corsica: 2, 3, 4 or 5 days. If you're going to Corsica for a short stay, you should stay in the same city and discover its surroundings during day-trips.. For a short road trip in Corsica, your port or airport of arrival will really define the places you will be able to visit. I've thus prepare road trip itineraries to make the most ...

  26. U Paesolu

    Corsica Dream: 8-Day Shared Group Escorted Package. Historical Tours. from . C$4,774.63. per adult (price varies by group size) The area. Address. 5 Rue Napoléon, 20200 Bastia, Corsica France. Reach out directly. Call Email. Full view. Best nearby. Restaurants. 305 within 5 kms. Café Des Gourmets. 337.

  27. The Best Villas in France

    Corsica's wild hills are on full display from the windows of this unapologetically modern villa, cut into the hillside and strikingly opposed to its rugged environs with its smooth curves ...