Corsica, rightly nicknamed “the Island of Beauty” has a sublime patchwork of landscapes of character, sensational and dizzying . Hamlets clinging to the side of the cliff, an incredibly fragrant maquis and secret coves with turquoise waters make up this French Mediterranean island. Corsica is famous for having the whole range of reliefs, mountains, canyons and forests but also heavenly beaches. It is a land of traditions and adventure which is the pride of its inhabitants. I quote you below the essential places to discover during your next trip to Corsica.
Traveling in Corsica is the guarantee of being dazzled wherever you go. From north to south and from east to west, from the seaside to the heart of the land, this island has so much to offer that you can’t get enough of it. Third largest island in the western Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia, the natural heritage of Corsica has been incredibly well preserved.
On the sea side, we appreciate the golden beaches , the coves with crystal clear waters at the foot of the cliffs and extravagant rocky landscapes but also the seabed which attracts divers from all over the world. On the land side, we cross high mountain landscapes, high altitude lakes and isolated hamlets by taking hiking trails through an intoxicating maquis.
And then, the Corsican historical heritage offers a real change of scenery and a journey into the past. Archaeological sites, coat of arms with a Moor’s head, Pisan convents and churches, cave paintings, Napoleon’s house, the road is long to go around! Corsica is also and above all strong traditions, culinary specialties, polyphonic songs and a very present regional language which is transmitted from generation to generation.
1. Tourist maps of Corsica
Corsica is an island of 8,722 km2, located 175 km from mainland France (Côte d’Azur), between 11 km from Sardinia and 83 km from the Italian coast (Tuscany).
Map of the departments of Corsica
Corsica is divided into two departments: Corse du Sud and Haute Corse. Below is the map that shows you the main regions that make it up: Cap Corse, Balagne, Castagniccia, Western Corsica, the Centre, the Eastern Coast, the Ajaccien Country, the Satern Country and South Corsica .
What to see in Corse-du-Sud?
1. Bonifacio, its cliffs and its citadel
Famous for its citadel dominating the sea, the town of Bonifacio (Bunifaziu in Corsica) is best known for its steep white limestone cliffs . Reaching up to 100 meters high, the cliffs offer breathtaking panoramas and give an incredible perspective of the Mediterranean, the Bouches de Bonifacio, Sardinia and the upper town. At the foot of the citadel, a belvedere offers a sublime view of the high limestone cliffs as well as the famous “grain of sand”, a large isolated rock resulting from a landslide. And then, don’t forget to take the Escalier du Roy d’Aragon, 187 steps down and then back up to a height of 65 meters. You can also go on an excursion to the Sdragonato and St Anthony sea caves.
2. The Lavezzi Islands, South of the South
The Lavezzi Islands form an archipelago that is home to 23 islands, islets and granite reefs, including Lavezzu Island which is the largest and most visited. These islands are located 10 kilometers south-east of Bonifacio, they can be reached in 20 minutes via a shuttle from Bonifacio . The Lavezzi islands are home to two superb beaches: Cala di u Lioni and Achiarina beach which overlook Cala Lazarina. It is a spot renowned for its seabed and its beautiful hikes.
Sartène is an inland village less than an hour’s drive from the town of Bonifacio. It is an essential site because it displays a very present Corsican ancestral tradition, far from the seaside souvenir shops. The writer Prosper Mérimée has also named Sartène ” the most Corsican of Corsican towns “. It is an ancient Genoese town formerly called “Sartena” which still has fortifications and medieval architecture. You will take a nice walk in the cobbled streets to admire the old houses and the granite fortress which overlooks the Rizzanese valley.
4. Roccapina beach, the wild beach
Roccapina beach is a little wild paradise which is located about twenty kilometers from the towns of Sartène and Figari and 35km from Bonifacio. Its turquoise waters, its strip of fine sand and its pink granite Lion Rock are marvels of nature that will amaze you. It is a beach that has no buildings, so you will find absolute calm there!
5. Porto Vecchio, picturesque and lively city
Porto-Vecchio (Portivechju in Corsica) is a pretty Genoese port city which is home to an old town with narrow streets and a lively marina lined with lively bars and restaurants . It is a particularly bubbling site during the summer because many cultural events take place there. Porto Vecchio is called the “City of Salt” because it is home to the salt marshes at the mouth of the Stabiaccu which are worth a detour. Travelers appreciate this city because the nearby beaches are among the most beautiful in Corsica.
6. Tamaricciu and Palombaggia beaches
The beaches of Tamaricciu and Palombaggia are located 10 km from Porto Vecchio. They are renowned worldwide for their picture-postcard landscape of white sand and turquoise waters. With its white rocks and pine trees, these beaches are often compared to those of the Seychelles because they look like tropical lagoons . Victims of their success, Tamaricciu and Palombaggia are invaded by tourists and deckchairs every summer!
Ajaccio (Aiacciu in the Corsican language) is the largest city on the Isle of Beauty . It is home to a small picturesque marina ( Port Tino Rossi ) and a colorful historic center as well as beautiful beaches. This port city saw the birth of Napoleon Bonaparte. We therefore discover his ancestral home, his statue on the Place Austerlitz and the baroque Notre-Dame cathedral where he was baptized. The city of Ajaccio is full of hiking trails that will lead you to discover the surrounding nature on the shores of the Mediterranean. Don’t miss the Sentier des Douaniers or the Sentier des Crêtes! To go around the city, you can also take a small tourist train.
At the entrance to the Gulf of Ajaccio, the Sanguinaires archipelago (Ìsuli Sanguinarii in Corsica) is an archipelago of 4 islets of magmatic rocks with dark colors. Their name comes from the bloody reflection of the rays of the setting sun on its rocks! The emblematic sites are the Parata tower and the lighthouse of Alphonse Daudet . You can swim in this exceptional site and go for a walk on the island of Mezzumare.
9. Portigliolo Beach (Coti-Chiavari)
The beautiful beach of Portigliolo in the town of Coti-Chiavari is located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Ajaccio. It is a 400 meter long sandbank which opens onto a beautiful cove, renowned for its translucent waters. It should not be confused with the beach of the same name located near Campomoro in the Gulf of Valinco.
Halfway between Ajaccio and Calvi, on the road to the Corsican seaside, the creeks of Piana and the Genoese tower of Capo Rosso offer an extraordinary landscape on the Gulf of Porto. Here, pink granite rocks surrounded by turquoise waters are pierced by different breathtaking cavities . These creeks can be discovered from above after a sporty hike, but it is impossible to access the creeks from the road. To approach them closely you will therefore have to go there by boat from Ajacccio or from Porto .
11. The collar and the needles of Bavella
The Bavella pass is the southernmost four “great passes” of Corsica, connecting the east coast to the west coast from the inside. It is one of the major must-see sites on the great Corsican hiking trail (the GR20). It is considered the most beautiful pass in Corsica for the richness of its panorama. The pass is dominated by the Aiguilles de Bavella at an altitude of 1218m. The site is characterized by large red and gray rock ramparts with astonishing shapes, dotted with laricio pines. Here, many walks and hikes are to be practiced.
1. Calvi and its huge citadel
Calvi is home to a monumental perched medieval citadel. From up there, a magnificent panorama overlooks the marina and the half-moon bay. At the foot of the imposing Genoese building, the lively terraces face the boats moored in the colorful port. The town center of Calvi also has a long fine sandy beach and a verdant pine forest. You can go hiking by the sea to the tip of Revellata via the beach of Alga.
2. Île-Rousse, between sea and maquis
In the heart of Balagne, L’Ile-Rousse is an old fishing village located between sea and maquis. A particularly warm corner of paradise, soaked in sunshine, where it is good to stroll and explore its surroundings. Ile-Rousse is home to magnificent landscapes tinged with ochre, turquoise blue and sparkling green.
3. The Agriates Desert, wild and remote
25 km from Île-Rousse, the Agriates desert is a territory located between Balagne and Nebbio. The site owes its name to its past use, Agriate meaning “agriculture”. Les Agriates has white sand beaches surrounded by wild maquis, such as Lotu, Malfalcu and Saleccia beaches. L’Agriate is also a paradise for hikers because the old 43 km Customs Trail crosses virgin land by the sea.
4. Saint Florent, the Corsican Saint-Tropez
Saint Florent ( San Fiurenzu in Corsica) is a town wedged between Cap Corse and Balagne in the Agriates. It is an old Genoese city famous for its marina which welcomes luxury yachts and its family beach in the city center. It is called the ” Saintt Tropez of Corsica “. It is a seaside resort that appeals to vacationers looking for relaxation and summer attractions, an ideal starting point for hikes in the Agriates and scuba diving in the Gulf of St-Florent.
5. Centuri, a living painting
Centuri is a tiny, picturesque port village located at the western tip of Cap Corse. It has only 250 permanent inhabitants. This fishing village is a haven of peace with omnipresent charm . Surrounded by the maquis, it is a place that delights lovers of wild hikes and tranquility.
6. Macinaggio, a color palette
The large port of Macinaggio (Macinaghju in Corsica) is located at the eastern tip of Cap Corse in the town of Rogliano. It is a tourist hotspot with a mild microclimate all year round. This hamlet nestled in lush greenery amazes with its natural setting made up of maquis, sun-drenched vineyards and beaches with clear, turquoise waters. From Macinaggio, trails lead to superb wild creeks.
7. Bastia, the capital of Baroque
capital of Haute-Corse, Bastia is located at the foot of Cap-Corse on the west coast. It is a typical city with an invading charm which shelters a citadel and a marina but above all an impressive heritage. City museum, Bastia is sometimes called the French capital of the Baroque because it has a large number of historical and religious buildings. It is also a steep city with its stairs and steep streets.
Corte, in the center of Haute-Corse inland, is the historical and cultural capital of the Island of Beauty. Corte is 70 km from Bastia and 80 km from Ajaccio, connected by a national road and a railway. Its impressive citadel set on a rocky peak 400m above sea level is impressive!
Monte Cinto is the highest peak in Corsica , it culminates at 2,706 meters above sea level and is located 25 km from Corte. The “roof of Corsica” is accessible by a sporty hike, the GR20 trail is also a good option to get there.