Corsica Island Pictures, France

A stone-faced Corsican.

Holidays on Corsica island

Corsica is a small, rugged island in the Mediterranean Sea about four hours by ferry southeast of Nice in southern France. It’s about 160 kms/100miles long and 80kms/50miles at its widest.

The birthplace of Napoleon and still French territory in spite of local demands for independence, Corsica is a popular holiday target not only for French travellers but also European tourists in search of a mild climate, warm seas, piles of fine sandy beaches and dramatic hiking trails through an unspoilt and picturesque landscape of mountainous red and grey granite outcrops separated by huge swathes of pines and eucalyptus trees.

Calvi beach, Corsica, France

Calvi beach.


High and mighty rock landscapes, long and short hikes, big and little beaches, boating, pre-historic sites, outdoor activities in general. The road network, climate and local cuisine are excellent, people and costs fine.


Style free, concrete friendly new urban development; neglected old and historic buildings. Ajaccio, yuk! Porto Vecchio and outskirts of Corte, Ile Rousse, Calvi, demi-yuk. Where have all town planners gone? Gone to live in Monaco, every one, on a fat pension no doubt.

Our Corsican holiday route

Corsica Ferry arriving in Ile Rousse, France

The Nice – Corsica ferry arriving in Ile Rousse (which is not an island as far as we know! ), central north coast.

Our trip started from the north ports of Ile Rousse, wobbled around the hairy west coast road to Porto, passed through the amazing Calanches rock formations to the hideous capital mess of Ajaccio, on to the neolithic menhirs of Filitosa and – in the far south east – stopping off at the delightful and spectacular fortified port of Bonifacio.

From bonny Boni we then travel north up the fast and relatively straight east coast roads, taking in several of the Mediterranean’s best beaches, flashing through the sadly unremarkable Porto Vecchio to get to the heart of Corsica’s independence movement, the more-or-less geographical centre and the hub of the island’s hiking, climbing, canyoning and so on, Corte. From there it’s a really fast trip back to the northern ports, not much more than half an hour.

Porto town view from high, Corsica, France

Porto town view seen from the precipitous coast road.

Getting to Corsica


By plane is easy enough with 30 minute flights from the Cote d’Azur or direct flights from varied airports in the UK and many European countries to Calvi, Bastia or Ajaccio (try to avoid the Ajaccio as it’s large, complex and car-jammed)

A ferry from French and Italian mainlands is a good alternative if you’re in the vicinity anyway, saving on packing, passports, airport stress and you get to drive your own car, just don’t bring a wide vehicle if you’re planning to drive the narrow and winding mountain roads.
Corsica Ferries is the best known fleet (French so probably more reliable and better staffed than Italian vessels that have a rocky reputation) and runs – depending on the time of year – from Nice, Toulon and Marseilles in France; Livorno, Genoa, Piombino, Savona and more ports in Italy. Ferries dock in north Corsica at Bastia, Ile Rousse or Calvi, or in the southwest in Ajaccio or Propriano.

Calvi old town, Corsica, France

Calvi’s popular little town on Corsica’s north-west coast, with a large and excellent beach, though some unsightly development is seeping in.


Bastia port in north Corsica.

Bastia’s Vieux Port. Photo by Pasteur.

On the north-east coast Bastia is another port but much older and less touristy than the other two northern towns, dating from Roman times and sporting a charming tangle of ancient streets and a refreshing interest in commerce, though this raison d’etre results in some unsightly industrial zones.

Bastia town is not very large and is short of budget accommodationbut has a lively daily market, a handful of magnificent churches and is connected to an airport 16kms (10miles) away by shuttle bus; the town has its own stony beach though there’s a much better sandy one a kilometre south, L’Arinella or head west by 4WD vehicle and scramble over to the island’s best beach Plage de Saleccia or go north into the wilderness of Cap Corse.

When to visit Corsica?

The best months to travel around Corsica island are May, June and September when there is plenty of sunshine, flowers and less visitors, though July and August are fine if you like it hot on the beach and book accommodation well ahead. These are also the best months to walk the spectacular GR20 mountain trails.

Ostricone beach on Corsica island's east coast, France beaches

Ostricone beach on Corsica island’s east coast. Photo by lotangelini.