An eternal paradise for travel enthusiasts from across the globe, Corsica is a multifaceted holiday experience in the waiting. As a mountainous island sitting close to mainland Europe, it had always been a major draw for travellers from that part of the world owing to its lush outdoors and serene beaches. But with an ever increasing interest from elsewhere, a burgeoning gourmet industry firmly rooted in local flavors, and the continuing development efforts, the fabled island was truly transformed into a global holiday paradise.
And yet, despite all of that and popular belief of it being a very mainstream touristy destination, Corsica surprisingly offers a very personal and laid-back vacation prospect. That's partly due to the efforts made to keep the island's cultural fabric intact; as a result, Corsica has rejected the beach partying and festival gatherings in favour of a more localised experience. All Corsican towns, big or small, lend a unique flair to their vacation experience, which then makes the choice for accommodation a tricky affair. But that's where we step in to help! Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Corsica and what they might have in store for you traveller!
The capital city of Ajaccio is best known as the birthplace of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, but the port town is so much more. Before we get to that, let's actually talk about the prospects centred around Bonaparte's personality cult. The childhood home of the emperor has been converted into a fantastic museum by authorities; the stunning rustic exterior of the building only adds to the appeal. The Maison Napoleon, as it is known locally, stands out in an already stunning cityscape characterised by beautiful French townhouses and large public squares and boulevards. Also notable are the citadel and the Notre-Dame cathedral, with the latter housing a vast collection of paintings by maestros of the French romantic and Venetian schools of art.
Corsica's coastline and abundance of natural bounties have been fabled for long now and the capital city does not disappoint in either of those departments. The vibrant harbor is a great place to spend your evenings at, as you will find the most sought after restaurants and waterfront eateries to choose from. The natural walking trail up the wilderness in the western part of the town will lead you to the most incredible sunset viewing points. A hike up one of these trails should definitely be at the top of your to-do lists in Ajaccio; Point de La Paratha is one of the more mainstream options, but once you set off on the trail, you might as well explore some other great spaces of your choosing.
The Ajaccio Napoleon Bonaparte Airport is in the eastern part of the commune, but is only a short drive away from the city centre. Ajaccio is also accessible by the sea route with services running to and from such mainland cities as Marseilles. You will not have to sweat out too much to find a suitable hotel in this part of the island.
Another great choice for first time travellers to Corsica is the northwestern city of Calvi. As one of the most developed parts of the island, Calvi has become the centre for a wide array of mainstream tourism activities. It is here that you will find bustling crowds going in and out of bars and restaurants, partying in the nightclubs, roaming around the streets and enjoying the sunshine on the sandy beaches. The gourmet industry of the city is particularly noteworthy; the list of not to be missed eateries here is endless, but among the things that you definitely have to try out are the artisanal cheese, the seafood, and local wines. Waterfront restaurants are in abundance and make for a fine setting to enjoy the best Corsican meal.
Another major highlight of Calvi is the crescent shaped shoreline, which is the venue for the city's eponymous beach. Recliners and umbrellas dominate the setting and while the beach remains crowded at most times, it still remains a must visit. Especially impressive is the view of the famed citadel, which casts an overbearing shadow from atop. The citadel itself makes for a great trip as the cobblestone streets and grand architecture will surely transport you to another era altogether. The broad-walks that run along the crescent are just the place you want to be at in the evenings, when the well-lit shoreline casts a sparking reflection onto the calm waters.
Calvi has the highest concentration of resorts and hotels in all of Corsica and is a great choice for travellers looking for an easy going vacation. You can even go a step further and look for an Air BnB or a nice homestay for a more local experience. The city offers boat tours to the nearby Scandola island, services for which can be available from the central harbour.
Head a little eastward from Calvi and you will find yourself in the major port city of Bastia. A historic centre of sorts, this is the city that you want to base yourself in if you wish to live through the years of Corsica's past, without having to miss out on any of its modern day charms. The Old Port is the anchor that holds the present-day cultural fabric of the island together on a compact space; the iconic catholic church of Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Bastia stand amor far from the port, which itself has a fine range of restaurants and shops that you will love rummaging through in the lazy days. The nearby Terra Nova citadel is also home to the Bastia Museum and a few other eye-catching seafront landmarks that will draw you in with their stunning facades.
The Place du Marché, a beautiful public square not far off of the Vieux-Port de Bastia, is the centre of all activities in the Bastia. Start your tour of the city from this point and go restaurant hopping in the vicinity; you will find the area rich in seafood cuisine as most restaurants specialise in the best French, Mediterranean and even more localised Corsican dishes. There's also a few great ice cream parlours that you must try out during your walks in the quaint surroundings. Bastia is also one of the few places on the island where you will find your modern traditional bars and pubs, so you know where to head for drinks at the end of a long day of sightseeing in the neighborhood.
Bastia is a frequent stop for ferries that bring in tourists from the neighborhood areas and the city can get crowded during peak hours, so if bustling crowds and a dynamic seaside is what you're looking for, Bastia is the place for you. It is on the pricier side when it comes to hotel accommodations and food, but you'll have plenty of options to choose from.
And onto a hidden gem of sorts then! The northernmost commune of Rogliano is a rustic setting that offers you almost all the perks of the Corsican landscape in their most unadulterated form possible. The beaches and mountains sans the modern construction and bustling crowds make for a unique experience here and you will be surprised with how little you need for a dream vacation after all. The major beaches in the area: the Plage de Macinaggio and Plage de Tamarind, which are the major draws in the commune, and the more secluded and serene Plage de Cala. You can enjoy a nice day of swimming or go sunbathing without having to worry too much about the crowds; what little points these beaches lose in terms of number of restaurants or cafes close by, they make up for with the serenity of their setting.
Rogliano is a lush commune with a largely mountainous terrain. The rugged landscape also opens up the prospects for the hikers and travellers looking to base themselves in the midst of nature. The walk along the seafront leading up to the Genoese towers is an absolute delight; not too challenging or tiresome, the walking trail will still reward you with sweeping views of the sea and of course the remains of the stone. monuments. The small hill town of Bettolacce is another pristine locale; one day trips to the town which comprises stunning houses and historic landmarks, all of which are built with stone, offers a nice change in scenery. The moss covered towers and gigantic church walls here are nothing short of a dream!
Far out in the north, Rogliano might be harder to access than some other more mainstream parts of the island. But that's a sacrifice you should be willing to make for a more private and quieter holiday experience. Hotels and homestays are concentrated around the beaches and major landmarks.
Continuing the conversation around the lush surroundings of Corsica, the next town on the list in Corte. The only inland town on the list, this small village has quite a few unique selling points. For starters, this is one of the areas of the island where you'll probably never need to drive a car around. Getting a rental bike to take around the meandering hill roads is the best way to commute here, unless of course you prefer taking a walk in the woods. The walking trails in Corte are serene; you will encounter small creeks and stunning cliffs at almost turn. Pack your afternoon meals and find your ideal spot to enjoy a nice meal while taking in the sweeping views of the island.
All of that is not to say that Corte has a dearth of interesting sights or an absent cultural fabric. A visit to the Musee de la Corse, situated at the town's own citadel, will quickly have you interested in knowing more about the history of the town and the local crafts. The citadel in itself is probably the most picturesque of settings in all of Corsica, with the giant moss covered stone walls melting into the green surroundings. Around the citadel, there are some great restaurants and home-grown eateries that serve the best local delicacies, especially the stew that has almost become synonymous with the small town.
Corte offers the unique opportunity for camping in the outdoors. Several campsites offer tents and cabins and are definitely a great option in terms of accomodation. As a rather compact town, Corte will not trouble you too much when it comes to commuting.
And to end the list, we take you back to a marina based town. Porto-Vecchio, one of the major towns in the southern part of the island, is the quintessential Corsican town. Set in the background of an incredible mountain setting, it is a walled commune that has made great use of its old-world charm in setting up an incredible tourism industry. One of the first things to know about the area is that it is extremely family friendly and with a university campus in the vicinity, is also popular with the younger crowds. The central thoroughfares are lined with a wide variety of stores ranging from souvenir shops to chic boutiques to local stores selling local produce, making Porto-Vecchio one of the few great places in Corsica to shop at. And the plaza right behind the Tourism Office in the downtown part has the best cafes and casual diners that cater to the ever-increasing Gen-Z crowds here.
The beaches, although a little outside the central quarters, are really among the best in Corsica. The Plage de Palombaggia and the Plage de Carataggio are the most popular beaches and are great for swimming and watersports activities. Local service providers even offer diving and snorkeling excursions in the vicinity. And even for the lazy beach bums, the soft sand is a great place to relax around. Some parts of the beaches are not accessible by motor vehicles, but instead offer their own walking trails that lead up to the most pristine of stretches. Even otherwise, Porto-Vecchio has a few great trails and viewing points that are the perfect venues for your morning walks and/or sunset viewings.
Porto-Vecchio is fairly easy to access through road and is serviceable through public transport as well. Hotels and resorts and in plenty and you should not have any difficulty finding your right pick.
That, then, is our complete list traveller. Take your pick and start packing for your next getaway; the dream destination of Corsica awaits!