Corsica is also called Ile de Beauté, the island of beauty. A name that sums up what makes this Mediterranean island so attractive for visitors. The island owes its incomparable charm above all to its magnificent landscape and natural backdrop.
The coastline is almost 1,000 kilometers long, a third of which is flat and enchants every visitor with its extensive beaches and picturesque bays. But Corsica is more than just a wonderful destination for a beach holiday. Just a few kilometers from the beaches, a wild, rugged mountain landscape begins with 50 peaks that rise to more than 2,000 m. The highest mountain is the 2,706 m high Monte Cinto.
While you can already enjoy the mild Mediterranean climate on the coast in April, you can still ski in the high regions. From spring to autumn, the interior of the island offers countless opportunities for hiking and cycling. The island is rich in attractions. In addition to spectacular views of breathtaking landscapes, idyllic mountain villages and picturesque port cities, you will find traces of an eventful past everywhere. The island has only been part of France for almost 250 years. Before that, Greeks, Romans and especially the Italian seafaring republic of Genoa shaped everyday life and Corsican cuisine.
In the following we present you the most exciting tours, most beautiful attractions and best sights in Corsica.
1. Ajaccio – the city of artists
The house where Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was born is located in the island’s capital. Today it is a museum that is well worth seeing and tells a lot about the history of France. Ajaccio is a city for art lovers. Masterpieces by Delacroix and Tintoretto hang in the baroque cathedral.
The Musée Fesch has an impressive collection of paintings by Botticelli and other Italian Renaissance artists. If you prefer to enjoy the sun and the beach, Plage du Ricanto awaits you on the eastern outskirts, also known as “Tahiti Beach” and considered the hippest beach in town.
2. Bastia – much more than just a ferry port
Bastia is the island’s largest ferry port and you might be setting foot on Corsican soil for the first time. But the city is more than just a stopover on the way to your vacation. The Place Saint-Nicolas in the immediate vicinity of the port is one of the most beautiful squares in France. People meet here to stroll and play boules, to see and be seen.
The legendary Cape Corse aperitif is made in Bastia and the Place Saint-Nicolas is the best place to enjoy this specialty on the terrace of one of the numerous cafés and restaurants. The hustle and bustle is particularly colorful and interesting when the weekly Marché aux Puces, the popular flea and rarity market, takes place here.
3. Fortified city of Bonifacio
The port city of Bonifacio is located high on white limestone cliffs and is probably the most impressive fortress city on the Mediterranean island. The picturesque rows of houses in the old town seem to float on the steep coast. It is worthwhile to enjoy this spectacular sight from the lake side on a boat trip.
During a walk on the upper edge of the cliff you can look out over the Strait of Bonifacio and see the Italian island of Sardinia on the horizon, only 12 km away. The long, well-protected harbor basin of Bonifacio lies at the foot of the chalk cliffs. Here, cafes and restaurants offer the opportunity to refresh yourself in an impressive natural setting.
4. Calanche – colorful rocky landscape
The Calanche is a wild, rugged, almost bizarre rock landscape on the west coast of the island. The rocks are made of colored granite and surprise with a glowing red when the sun is shining. A narrow, winding road leads between the towns of Porto and Piana through the middle of the mountain landscape.
It offers the opportunity to stop in many places to get to know the unusual rock formations better on long walks. Nearby are the picturesque bays of Girolata and La Scandola, the oldest natural park in France. Together with the Calanche, they have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
5. Cap Corse – Corsica from a picture book
The mountainous peninsula in the far north is one of the most beautiful regions of Corsica. A drive along the coastal road is an impressive mixture of natural spectacle and real adventure. There are 32 old watchtowers along the coast that were built in the 16th century to protect against pirates. The most beautiful place for a rest is the black beach of the tiny and idyllic village of Nonza.
You should plan a whole day for a trip around Cape Corse. The roads here, like everywhere in the mountains of Corsica, are extremely winding. If you read the distance of 10 kilometers on a signpost, you should plan at least twice the travel time compared to Germany.
6. Corte – picturesque and fantastically beautiful
In the city of Corte, the beach and bathing island of Corsica shows its mountainous side and on the drive there you will be amazed by the great landscape on every kilometer. Corte is like a fortress and at first glance almost repulsive on a high plateau.
The picturesque old town with its narrow streets and steep stairs is one of the most beautiful sights on the island. Especially when strolling in the late afternoon hours, the place enchants its visitors with a wonderful atmosphere. Although only 8,000 people live in Corte, the city is home to the only university on the island.
7. L’Île-Rousse and the Balange
L’Île-Rousse is a magical resort on the north coast between Bastia and Calvi. The street network is laid out like a chess board and street cafes, restaurants and, above all, many boutiques await you on every corner, making the place a little shopping paradise. The historic market hall, where a day begins at 6:00 am with a range of local vegetables, fruit, fish and other delicious Corsican specialties, is remarkable.
The mountain villages of the Balange are only a few kilometers away from the beaches. They are lovingly cared for places with romantic alleys and sometimes crooked houses. Here you will encounter the unadulterated charm of traditional Corsica and almost every village square will surprise you with a magnificent view of the coastline and the sea
8. Hike to Monte Cinto
A hike on Monte Cinto requires a little sporting commitment, but rewards you with one of the most beautiful holiday experiences on the already wonderful sunny island of Corsica. You should use the early morning hours for the excursion and avoid the rising temperatures of the midday sun.
In the morning the temperature is still pleasantly mild and the clear air allows for a clear view. You can enjoy a spectacular view from a height of 2,700 m. In addition to the impressive mountain landscape, you can see the Mediterranean Sea on both sides of the island on a clear day.
9. Porto-Vecchio and Palombaggia
Porto-Vecchio is the most popular holiday destination and is located in the southeast of the island. Among the numerous beaches, the sandy beach of Palombaggia is particularly attractive and worth a day trip, even if you are spending your vacation in another part of Corsica. The idyllic beach of Palombaggia is considered to be the most beautiful bathing place on the Corsican coast.
The bay with its turquoise water and immaculate white sand lies on the edge of extensive pine forests and is surrounded by deep red rocks. Because of the calm water, the sheltered bay is an ideal meeting place for families and also offers excellent opportunities for snorkeling.
10. Corsican Railway
Corsica is a fascinating island that surprises and inspires not only with its great sights, but almost everywhere. A wonderful way to get to know the imposing island world effortlessly and very comfortably is a ride on the Corsican railway. The “Chemin de Fer de la Corse” offers two impressive routes. One leads from Ajaccio on the west coast across the island to Bastia on the east coast
The trains travel at a leisurely pace over a length of approx. 158 km through narrow gorges, over high passes and over dizzying viaducts. The other line, the Tramway de Balagne, runs from L’Île-Rousse through the Balange area to the port city of Calvi. Traveling by train in Corsica is a great experience for the whole family and a very relaxed way of getting around!