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Lying 200 kilometers south of the French Riviera, in Southern France, Corsica Island (la Corse in French) is like a mini continent in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
The island of Corsica is more than pretty beaches: a single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island, with extraordinary landscapes of cliffs, mountains, gorges, and towering pinnacles.
Its rugged landscapes, beautiful beaches, picturesque villages, and walking trails make this French island an ideal destination for everybody.
The Island of Beauty has only one department and the capital is Ajaccio. Whether you prefer a relaxing holiday or a stay full of outdoor activities, Corsica is a great place to be.
Haven’t you visited this corner of France yet? Let us tell you the best things to do in Corsica Island.
Top Things to Do in Corsica
There are so many wonderful things to do in Corsica that we have grouped most of them by topic, like hiking in Corsica or beaches in Corsica. We’ll make sure to write more dedicated posts about this beautiful island in the near future so you can get the most out of it!
Ajaccio and the Sanguinaires Islands
Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica and the starting point of most of the road trips in Corsica. Ajaccio is also Napoleon’s hometown so there are many places and sites dedicated to this famous French statesman who became the first emperor of France.
The list of interesting sites in Ajaccio includes:
- The traditional market, held every morning on Foch square
- The Bonaparte house where Napoleon spent a part of his childhood
- The cathedral, where Napoleon was baptized
- The Fesch Museum and its collection of Italian paintings
Near Ajaccio, there’s the beautiful Parata Point and the 4 Sanguinaires islands facing it. This site is listed “Grand site de France”, a label that awards France’s most beautiful natural sites.
The site is only accessible by foot, and the Sanguinaires Islands are only accessible by boat. There are many half-day boat tours from Ajaccio to Sanguinaires Islands where you can swim or walk to the lighthouse. For a special occasion, book the Sanguinaires Islands sunset cruise with wine tasting.
Road Tripping in Corsica
Contrary to France mainland, where you can easily use public transportation, Corsica by bus or train does not really work to explore the island. A road trip is thus the only solution to discover Corsica!
Corsica by car is the only way to reach the best beaches and discover all the must-see attractions of the island but also its hidden gems. There are so many wonderful places on a road trip around Corsica that you will appreciate the freedom to stop when you want to admire the landscape or to visit something which was not on your Corsica bucket list.
So rent a car and hit the road to get the most of Corsica.
Located in the extreme south of Corsica, the city of Bonifacio and its surroundings offers splendid panoramas and some of Corsica’s most beautiful beaches. Bonifacio’s citadel and its houses perched on top of a white cliff, overlooking the sea, are clearly two of the island’s most iconic places and definitely a must-see of Bonifacio.
The list of other interesting things to see and do in Bonifacio includes the Fortress of the Standard, going down King of Aragon’s staircase, or a boat tour to see the perched houses from the sea and discover the nearby marine caves.
If you are short of time and you cannot do a Corsica full tour, there are full-day boat tours to discover Bonifacio from Ajaccio or Porticcio.
Located north of Bastia, Cap Corse with its wild beaches and Genoese towers is among the most beautiful places to see in Corsica and definitely one of the must things to do in Corsica.
The best way to explore this area is by taking the Customs Officers’ Path (Chemin des douaniers in French) that connects the villages of Macinaggio and Centuri. This is a 19 km long walk along the coast, divided into different sections. The most interesting part is the 3h 30 walk that links Macinaggio to Barcaggio and covers beautiful beaches where you can stop for a swim.
If you are not in the mood for a hike, you can also explore this area by boat from Macinaggio, with a stop for a swim.
Saint Florent and the Agriates Desert
Often compared to Saint-Tropez in the French Riviera, Saint Florent is the second largest marina in Corsica after Ajaccio and a posh meeting point for French and international stars.
Originally a fishing port located in the gulf of the same name, nowadays pleasure boats have largely taken the place of fishing vessels.
Saint Florent is a pretty place for a stroll, with its picturesque port and citadel with its winding alleys. It is also the departure point for the boat tours to the Agriates desert. The Agriates desert is famous for its beaches listed among the most beautiful of Corsica.
The Perched Villages of Balagne
From Calvi, it is very easy to reach Balagne’s most beautiful perched villages, all connected by a panoramic road starting at Moncale.
Explore Calenzana, Zilia, Montemaggiore, . . . they are all very pretty and some of them offer splendid views over the mountains or the Bay of Calvi.
Beaches of Corsica
Corsica is home to many pretty sandy beaches perfect for a swim on a warm day. There are many beautiful beaches in Corsica, more or less difficult to reach. Some of them are not that far from the main cities while other beaches are only accessible by boat.
Among the best beaches in Corsica outstands Palombaggia near Porto-Vecchio, regularly ranked among the most beautiful beaches in the world. Other beautiful beaches easy to reach are Ostriconi Beach, between Saint-Florent and Calvi, Little Sperone Beach, close to Bonifacio, and Paragan Beach, also located near Bonifacio.
GR20 and Other Great Hikes
With a single chain of mountains making up two-thirds of the island, hike lovers will find extraordinary landscapes of cliffs, mountains, gorges, and towering pinnacles.
The GR20 is the most famous hike in the island, a 200km trail that crosses Corsica from north to south. This hike is for experienced and well-equipped people (it is considered as the most difficult hiking trail in Europe!) and it is divided into 16 stages that last one day each.
But of course, there are hikes of different lengths and for all levels so you don’t necessarily need to be an experienced hiker to get a taste of the mountains in Corsica. Some of the locals’ favorites include the Customs Officers’ Path in Cap Corse, the many trails in the Calanques of Piana (similar to the Calanques of Marseille-Cassis), Piscia di Gallu waterfall in the Ospedale forest, or the hike to Lake Nino starting from Vergio Pass.
With so many wonderful beaches, mountains, canyons, and rivers, Corsica is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities. Corsica proposes all kind of outdoor activities located all over the islands:
- Canyoning in Zoïcu canyon but also in Richiusa canyon, or Verghellu canyon
- Segway on Ile-Rousse
- Boat trips to Cap Corse, Saint-Florent, Porto, Bonifacio, or the Lavezzi Islands
- Tree climbing in the adventure park of Vero, a small village on the heights of Ajaccio
- Kayaking and jet skiing in some beaches
- Climbers will head to the Restonica Valley and the Aiguilles de Bavella
- Paragliding, in Ajaccio, Calvi, and Saint-Florent
There are many beautiful diving sites in Corsica but perhaps the wreckage of the B-17 bomber is the most unique. This was an American plane shot down by the Germans, near the citadel of Calvi.
We think Calvi is a great base for outdoor activities. In Calvi, you can choose between paddle, catamaran, windsurfing, kayaking, or towed buoy. There are also several diving centers offering first dives.
Enjoy the Corsican Cuisine all Year-round
While visiting Corsica, it is a good idea to taste the local cuisine and buy some of the local products (goat cheese, pork cold cuts, olives, and citrus).
The Corsican cuisine is traditionally a mountain cuisine even if in the last years the fishery products have become more important. Try some of its main dishes like the figatellu (a fresh sausage made from pork liver), pulenta, stir-fry veal with olives and pasta, or the fiadone, the traditional Corsican dessert.
Corsica also has 9 PDO wines (Protected Designation of Origin) and the biggest vineyards also offer wine tastings. Pietra is the famous Corsican beer.
We hope that you enjoyed this list of the best things to do in Corsica. If you want to learn about other regions head to this article on the Regions of France, where we have summarized the highlights of each region.
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