A couple of years ago we spent 10-days on the magnificent island of Corsica. It’s French (although the locals think of themselves as Corsicans). I loved every minute of it. If you are interested in exploring this island in the Mediterranean, here’s an itinerary to get you started. Plus, some great hotel suggestions. I would also highly recommend you read, ‘Everything you need to know about Corsica,’ too.
Day 1 -4 Bonifacio
You can get to Corsica a number of ways. You can catch a ferry to one of six ports or fly from Italy, France or Sardinia into one of four airports.
We started our Corsican adventure in Bonifacio. Having caught the ferry from Sardinia we entered the narrow entrance into Bonifacio. With its high cliffs, turquoise water and a spectacular citadel the walled city is impressive. As you get closer to the town you’ll see spot marina tucked behind the mountainous rocks It truly is picture perfect.
Bonifacio’s stunning harbour is on the southern tip of Corsica. It’s only 12km (5o-minute ferry ride) from Sardinia. The town has an air of exclusivity and sophistication with its blend of Italian and French culture. The elegant quay, palm trees and open-aired restaurants create a magnificent Mediterranean ambience, so find a bar and soak up the invigorating vibe.
The weather in May can be as hot as 30 degrees Celsius and even hotter in July and August. So my recommendation is to stay near the sea or somewhere with a pool as the heat is oppressive.
To explore the town, stroll around the harbour and work your way to the old town. It’s easy to get lost in the warren of narrow streets and alleyways enclosed by the sturdy fortress walls.
Another popular site in Bonifacio is the ‘Staircase of the King of Aragon.’ It’s a steep staircase cut into the cliff below the old town. But be warned, the steps are very steep and uneven. The citadel and cliffs are lit in the evening creating an amazing effect so make sure you see the illuminated medieval town at night.
While staying in Bonifacio we did a day trip to Porto Vecchio, about an hour drive north-east from Bonifacio. Like most of the beautiful towns in Corsica, it’s on the coast. Be sure to explore further up the hill where you find a myriad of charming, narrow streets in the old town.
Accommodation Hotel U Capu Bianca, Bonifacio – Highly recommended.
We stayed at Hotel U Capu Bianca not far out of Bonifacio. It is an exceptional boutique hotel and it’s not often I write a blog about just a hotel, but it’s that good …read more.
Our next port of call on our adventure in Corsica was Ajaccio, the capital of Corsica. It’s about a two-hour drive north-west from Bonifacio. On the way from Bonifacio, we stopped at Propriano for lunch. Another lovely coastal town.
Ajaccio is a stunning town surrounded by tree-covered mountains, a port and citadel. As with many sea-facing settlements, the long curved promenade defines the town.
While Ajaccio’s was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, he didn’t live there very long. I visited his birth house, but the Corsican believe he didn’t do very much for Corsica. The Ajaccio Cathedral, the Cathedrale Notre Dame de la Assomption was were Bonaparte was baptized and you can still see the marble font.
The heart of Ajaccio is based around the 16th-century citadel the ‘old town.’ As well as an extensive choice of restaurants and shops you will also find Maison Bonaparte, the Cathedrale Notre Dame the cathedral and Palais Fesch. Inside the Palais, Fesch is the Musée Fesch, Ajaccio’s fine arts museum. It was established by Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch who was a great art lover. He bequeathed a thousand paintings from his collection to Ajaccio, many of which hang in the art gallery today.
Accommodation – Les Mouttes, Ajaccio – Highly recommended.
We were delighted with our choice of hotel on the waterfront and within walking distance of the old town. Our room was perfect with a gorgeous outdoor patio. Loungers on the beach and pool-side provided the perfect place to relax. Both breakfast and dinner were served overlooking the sea.
Calvi Day 6-8
We reluctantly left Ajaccio and drove to Calvi in the north of the island. It too is a beautiful seaside town and a magnet for yacht owner who sails from Nice and Cannes.
Calvi has great beaches and a medieval citadel overlooking the marina. Restaurants line the harbour on the Quai Landry esplanade, making it a delightful area to hang out in the evening.
To get a spectacular view of the sweeping bay, climb to the little chapel of Notre Dame de la Sera. A local legend says if you take the love of your life to admire the view, you will spend many happy years together.
We took an interesting day trip from Calvi to a Port de Galeria. Besides being a delightful, sleepy town, cattle were grazing and sleeping on the beach. They seemed relaxed and at home lying on the metre-high piles of dried seaweed. It was the most unusual sight.
The cattle on the beach at Port de Galeria
Accommodation – Hotel Cas Bianca – Calvi
While it was very roomy, in a great location and within walking distance to the restaurants, it was pretty basic. If you are looking for a little more luxury, try La Villa.
Days 8-10 Saint Florent
Our last night was spent in the delightful town of Saint Florent.
It was originally a fishing village and has a pretty harbour and small fort. It is located on a small promontory in a natural bay with a backdrop of mountains.
If you find yourself in Saint Florent make sure you go to Auberge du Pecheur. It started as a fish shop and still is, but has morphed into the best seafood restaurant I have ever been too.
Accommodation – Hotel Demeure Loredana Saint Florent – Highly recommended.
This hotel five-star has a wonderful authentic character, rich stone and warm colours. Our room had a generous terrace overlooking the turquoise ocean, fishing boat and yachts. Our only regret was we only had one night there.
Up early the next morning we had just a short drive to Bastia to drop the rental car off before catching a ferry from Bastia to Livorno on the Italian coast.
I hope this information helps you plan your Corsican adventure.