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Corsica: tourism and sightseeing

Photo of Corsica in France

Visit Corsica, France

Great weather, some of the world's finest beaches, spectacular mountain scenery and fascinating towns and marinas - these are just some of the reasons why the sun-kissed 'Isle of Beauty', as Corsica is known, is such a popular destination...

Why visit Corsica?

Given its relatively small size the island combines an extraordinary amount of highlights. Apart from the coast and beaches for which the island is best known (there are 1,000km of coastline and more than 200 beaches) there are ancient hill villages and bustling port towns, and some of the most stunning coastal and mountain scenery to be found in Europe.

Corsica has very good weather for most of the year with spring and autumn being especially lovely times to visit.

Places to visit in Corsica with reviews from France This Way

Corsica travel guide and highlights

You will also find numerous historic monuments, some dating from prehistoric times with numerous megalithic sites, dolmens and menhirs eg at Filitosa, still reminding us of the long history of the island. There are more monuments from the ancient Greek and Roman periods, and many fortified towers and citadels built when the Genoese controlled the island.

The departments in Corsica are Haute-Corse (to the north) and Corse-du-Sud (to the south)

Corsica beaches

In most parts of Corsica you are also spoiled for choice when looking for beautiful beaches. Calvi, Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio are popular towns close to some of the best beaches, while there are rather less on the eastern side of the island, the north-eastern coast and around Cap Corse.

Although less 'famous' than certain of the beaches such as Palombaggia and Saleccia, Calvi is particularly popular because of the very long sandy beach immediately accessible from the town center.

So your first challenge when planning a visit is to decide where on Corsica you are going to be based! Each region has its own characteristics and highlights, and a fortnight is not enough to explore the whole island.

Walking in the mountainsScandola nature reserveAiguilles de Bavella
Hiking in the mountains / Scandola Nature Reserve / the Col de Bavella

Exploring Corsica: the regions

Most visitors are based near the coast on the western side of the island, where the majority of the famous ports, beaches and scenic highlights are found. But that still leaves a large area to choose from!

If time permits the Corsica Coast Road circumnavigates the whole island and is an excellent way to discover all the highlights - but if you are to also allow time for beaches and excursions inland you might need to allow three-four weeks.

North-east

Saint-Florent

North-east Corsica includes the popular towns of Saint-Florent and Bastia, and the peninsula known as Cap Corse that extends northwards from these towns to reach some of the more secluded parts of the island.

Among the places of particular interest as you travel around the peninsula are the villages of Erbalunga, Ersa and Nonza and the beaches at the northernmost point.

South of Saint-Florent you can explore the vineyards and villages of the Nebbio region and the village of Lento, and also the remote beaches of the Desert des Agriates (the only region in Europe officially classified as a desert).

On the eastern side of the island here in the north you can explore the hill villages south of Bastia in the region called the Casinca.

North-west

Calvi

Visits to the north-west of the island are focussed around Calvi and L'Ile-Rousse,both of which are lively resorts. Calvi in particular is well known for its extensive sandy beach.

If you are staying in this region of Corsica we suggest you also take a trip inland to visit the small villages in the hills and to explore the Balagne region: Sant'Antonino, north-east of Calvi, is listed as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France' and Belgodere is another of our favourites.

The Balagne is a mountainous region with small villages hidden in the hills, often with very impressive views out across the coast - follow the 'corniche road' for the best of these.

West

Ajaccio

The most important town here in the west is the port town of Ajaccio (birthplace of Napoleon) and Cargese is also on the western coast.

This western region of Corsica is best known for its scenery: some of the most dramatic coastal landscapes are found near Porto to the west, with the Scandola Nature Reserve and the Calanques de Piana being the highlights.

The Gorges de Spelunca (a short distance inland) and the Isles Sanguinaires (south-west of Ajaccio) are also exceptionally attractive scenic highlights here.

The village of Piana, south of Porto, is classified among the 'most beautiful villages of France'

South

Bonifacio

The part of Corsica to the south of Ajaccio includes Propriano on the western coast and Porto Vecchio to the east, with Bonifacio perched on a clifftop at the southern tip of the island.

Several of the most beautiful beaches in Corsica are found close to Bonifacio and Porto Vecchio.

Inland one of the more important towns is Sartene,  and close to here is the Col de Bavella, a scenic mountain pass with huge cliffs looming overhead.

The south is of the island is also the best place to see prehistoric monuments, including the curious carved figures at Filitosa and the standing stones at Palaghju.

Central Corsica

CorteThe central part of Corsica is where you will find the dramatic mountain scenery - to explore the stunning landscapes in this mountainous heart of the island we suggest you start in Corte. To the east of the island the densely forested hills are relatively unexplored and contain numerous small villages hidden away in the forests.

The Natural Park of Corsica - the Parc Naturel RĂ©gional de Corse - covers more than a third of the island, essentially all the mountainous interior of the island, and is home to many scenic spectacles and hundreds of protected species of plants and animals.

Among other scenic attractions here you should visit the scenic Gorges de la Restonica just south of Corte, while our favourite villages in the region include Moltifao and Popolasca.

The East

CastagnicciaThe coast of eastern Corsica has less developed towns than the other regions of the island, with Aleria and the associated resort of Caterragio being the largest. In Aleria you can also see some important Roman ruins.

It is here in the east that you can venture into the forested hills to discover the Castagniccia region, with dense woodlands hiding villages that seem to have been passed by during the centuries and one of the few places in Corsica where you can explore without often passing other tourists.

You will quickly discover your own favourites but we suggest the villages of La Porta, Morosaglia and Piedicroce as being quiet typical of the region.

Eating out in Corsica

You visit Corsica to relax so don't miss the chance to visit some of the restaurants and sample the local Corsican food, preferably one of those serving fresh fish around a bustling harbour. With the sea all around, the seafood here is always fresh and delicious.

Note that prices are usually lower if you venture into the streets of the older parts of the towns rather than eat in the harbour front restaurants. Be sure you have seen a price list before ordering food and drinks in the more upmarket seafront cafes!

Apart from fish the local specialities on Corsica include an abundance of goats, sheep and pigs...hence you will find cured meats, sausage, bacon, and ham.  Chestnuts, nectarines, clementines and figs also grow on the island and influence the local cooking.

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Map of Corsica with attractions and places to visit

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A Corsica photo gallery with some of the selected highlights

An index of every place in Corsica

French version: Corsica (Francais)

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