Corsica is a jewel of the Mediterranean Sea. It is often referred to as ‘Island of Beauty’ for pretty good reasons. Quaint towns perched atop a cliff, rugged mountains, shoreline with golden beaches and cultural influences adds a fascinating charm to this islet. Corsica is actually a French island but its location is very close to Sardinia. As a result, both France and Italy are beautifully woven into the cultural fabric of Corsica. This perfect blend of different culture makes Corsica special and unique. There are a number of fantastic things to do in Corsica that will refresh you inside out.
Corsica has been titled as one of the best romantic destinations in the world by the popular Gayot.com. The stunning harbour town will charm you. The rocky cliffs will mesmerize you. And the cobblestone villas will delight you. Not all, you also get to grab tasty Corsican food that is an absolute treat for the taste buds.
Best time to visit Corsica
The best time to visit Corsica is between the months of May and September. During this time of the year, the weather is warm and perfect for swimming in the azure water. The temperature begins to descend from the month of October with January being the coldest month of the year. If you want to enjoy skiing and hiking in the mountains of Corsica, February and March is the perfect time to plan a trip.
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12 Top Things to do in Corsica
It is indeed difficult, to cover such a wonderful place in one single visit. But here are the 12 ultimate things to do in Corsica that must be on the priority list of every visitor.
1. Get fascinated by the beauty of Ajaccio
Ajaccio, the capital city with its fantastic seaside setting and mountain ranges at the backdrop is perfect for a relaxed vacation. It is not only the largest city in Corsica but also the birthplace of the legendary hero, Napolean Bonaparte. The most popular attraction here is the Maison Bonaparte, where the Bonaparte family used to reside. You can get to know more about Napolean Bonaparte by visiting his ancestral home which is now a national museum. Ajaccio is also blessed with a wonderful Old Town with architectural beauties and iconic landmarks namely Notre-Dame-de-I Assomption. Wandering around the streets of the Old Town and embracing the surrounding, is one of the most breathtaking things to do in Corsica.
2. Wander through the spectacular town of Bonifacio
Bonifacio is a hidden gem in France. This lovely medieval town is the oldest in Corsica. The narrow cobbled streets will lead you to the 9th-century citadel, a huge fortress perched at a height of two hundred feet on a harbour. During the period of World War II, this monolith was used as a prison. Thus, it holds a dark era in history.
The fortress overlooking the Strait of Bonifacio is one of the prettiest sights to sink in. A walk along the ports also lets you bask in the glory of this charming destination. There are three ports in Bonifacio namely the pleasure port, the fishing port and the main port from where the boat departs. The pleasure port is enclosed with palm trees and lined with numerous shops, bars and restaurants where you can chill over a glass of drink. So, just wander around this place and capture the moment.
3. Indulge in a coastal drive
Do you want to get lost in the coastal vibe of this fascinating island? If yes, you can always rent a car and go for a drive through the nine hundred kilometres winding roads amidst the mountains. During the drive, do not forget to stop by the small villages and experience the local flavour of Corsica. You cannot afford to miss the Gulf of Porto and admire the Genoan Tower perched on top of a hill. On your way, you will come across Calanques de Piana, a worldly vista of red granite cliffs magnificently towering from the emerald sea. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks jaw-dropping especially during sunset.
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4. Embrace the prehistoric site of Filitosa
One of the most remarkable Corsica destinations is Filitosa. This ancient site with stone heads in a completely natural setting is a must visit for everyone travelling to Corsica. It is one of the offbeat places and most of the tourists skip it during their vacation. When you set foot on the site, you get to witness mysterious stone carvings known as menhirs and dolmens.
They are 4000 years old stone figures carved with human features and accessories such as armours and shields. The most interesting specimen can be found in the middle of a field near an ancient Olive tree. According to the archaeologists, these stone statues have a history dating back to the Neolithic Age. They are ancient warriors who fought a fierce battle against the Egyptians.
5. Get a glimpse of Castagniccia
One of the most fascinating things to do in Corsica is to get a glimpse of Castagniccia. It is the home to the largest chestnut grove in the world. The most striking part is that the sprawling chestnut forest has remained unchanged since the last 100 years. It is believed that the chestnut trees were planted in the 17th century so that there is no scarcity of food on the island. This place is also the homeland of the famous leader Pasquale Paoli who revolted against France and Genoa to earn Corsican independence. Today, Castagniccia is a lush of verdant greenery with picturesque sight and under-populated villages. You can walk through the narrow winding lanes going up and down the hills and absorb the tranquillity of the atmosphere around you.
6. Embark on an unforgettable boat trip
The ideal way to explore the best-kept secrets of Corsica is to engage on a boat trip across the sea. Two of the all-time favourite destinations are Girolata Village and Scandola Nature Reserve which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Both of these places are accessible by boat or by foot through a narrow lane down the hill.
Girolata Village on the south of Scandola Nature Reserves has a dramatic setting with captivating serenity. The scenic location with a small beach and a Genoese tower leave visitors dazzled. Scandola Nature Reserve covers a sprawling area of 900 hectares of land and 1000 hectares of the sea. The magical vibe of Scandola with crystal clear water and rich vegetation is a haven for nature lovers. Grab your camera because these places are perfect for your Instagram feed.
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7. Explore the lively town of Calvi
Calvi is a well known Corsican destination, blessed with a picturesque landscape and stunning coastline. Calvi is filled with ancient sites that are historically and culturally significant. One of the most prominent attractions of this lively town is the massive citadel with protective walls that is immersed in the sea. Another prime attraction is the Santa Maria Church that was built in the 17th century. There is also a jazz festival that takes place during summer and attracts talented musicians from different parts of the world.
8. Spend some exclusive beach time
Another amazing thing to do in Corsica is to escape in one of the idyllic beaches. Some of the most popular beaches in Europe are located in Corsica. Porto Vecchio is charming town was built by the Genoese and still has the remains of the old walls and a citadel. The most picturesque beach is the Plage de Palombaggia with soft sandy shore and azure water. Another beautiful beach is the Plage de Santa Giulia where visitors chill by the beach and sink in the beauty of the place. The best part is that both of the sea beaches are in lagoons and thereby provides an ideal environment for swimming.
9. Embrace the adventure seeker in you
If you are extremely passionate about outdoor-adventures, a hike through the GR20 trail is a must-try activity. Hiking through GR20 is considered as one of the most difficult in Europe. This trail is long and covers rough terrain, wild gorges and rugged hills. If you are able to successfully complete the hike, you will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery and exceptional panoramic vistas.
10. Experience the nightlife in Corsica
When we talk about the nightlife in Corsica, it is slightly low key. If you have a thing for clubs with live performance and sipping wine at piano bars, you will fall in love with Corsica. A spectacular event, known as ‘Calvi on the Rocks’ takes place in the month of July and it attracts individuals with superior taste and flamboyance. In addition, there are a number of restaurants and bars with an incredible view that leaves a magical aura after sunset. So, witnessing the nightlife in Corsica is a must when you are here.
11. Delve into sumptuous Corsican food
Being a major beach destination, Corsica is popular for its seafood delicacies. Food is indeed the heart and soul of this enchanting island. Mouthwatering prawn, oysters, and crayfish dishes are available in almost all the restaurants in Corsica. Slow-cooked meat with fresh herbs is another popular delicacy among the visitors and locals alike. Corsica is also known for its fine wine. A glass of the local wine makes the ideal accompaniment with the exotic meal.
12. Experience shopping in Corsica
Shopping in Corsica is not a popular thing to do among tourists. It does not have exquisite shopping malls and discount outlets like many other places in France. The main centres of Calvi, Porto Vecchio, and Bonifacio are lined with small shops that specialise in leather items, pottery, local food, souvenirs and antiques. If you are brand conscious and shopping is your forte, Ajaccio has a number of high-end boutiques that are worth a visit.
Corsica lives up to its name ‘Island of Beauty’. Incredible landscapes, good food and welcoming locals, Corsica has it all. It is the perfect travel destination for everyone seeking a relaxed vacation by the sea.