The Corsican Mountains is one of the main reasons the island is so magnificent. The landscapes between summits and see are splendid in every corner. Let me tell you more about those mountains and show you some of the best drives in Corsica to enjoy them!
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About the Corsican Mountains
The Corsican Mountain Range
Corsica is basically a giant mountain surrounded by sea.
Here are a few facts about the Corsican Mountains:
- It is one mountain chain that cuts the island in 2
- The average altitude in 568m
- Mountains are higher in the North part of the island
- There is evidence that there used to be glaciers on them
- More that 20 river flow through them, for 1380km. Therefore Corsica has a lot more water that other Mediterranean island
- You can find around 40 lakes niched in those mountains
Corsica Mountain Peaks
Corsica has at least 120 summits over 2000m.
Classically they are separated into 4 blocks:
- Around Monte Cinto, the highest point in Corsica at 2706m (North of the island)
- Around Monte Rotondo, the second highest mountain peak at 2622m (Center of the island)
- Around Monter Renoso, the third highest summit at 2352m (between Ajaccio and Aleria)
- Around Monte Incudine at 2134m in the South of the island
The Corsican mountains in video
Below is a short video to give you a snapshot of the Corsican mountains:
Driving in the mountains of Corsica
Driving has the reputation to be difficult in Corsica.
It is true that because of the mountains, there are no straight easy roads.
They are always winding and never very large.
But that's also why the landscapes are so amazing at every turn!
But don't be afraid to drive. Only a few roads are really difficult and narrow.
Otherwise you just have to take your time and enjoy the drive.
Just be careful of farm animal wandering freely in the mountains.
For more information, check out my article about Driving in Corsica. It also has a video to give you an idea of what to expect.
The mountains of Corsica - My 5 favorite views
As I said before, you can enjoy magnificent views of the mountains of Corsica at every turn. They are everywhere!
It was not easy to select my favorites. But here is my top 5:
On the way to Bavella Needles
This was my absolute favorite view of the Corsican mountains. It is focussing on the famous Bavella Needles in South Corsica (Aiguilles de Bavella in French).
Most people admire them from the Bavella Mountain pass. But my favorite view was at another pass up on the Solenzara Gorge.
Those jagged peaks are fascinating.
The 'Needles' are counted as 7 peaks. The highest point reaches 1855m and is Punta Alta.
Cap Corse - where the Corsican mountains meet the sea
Next is the West coast of Cap Corse.
There is where you truly realise the expression 'mountain in the sea'.
The peninsula is only 10 to 15km wide. So there is no space to have flat land.
Its mountain chain La Serra goes all the way along the 40km from north to South. The highest point is Cima di e Follice at 1322m.
This small territory has more than 10 summits higher than 1000m!!!
A winding road goes all the way along the coast offering magnificent views of the mountains and the Gulf of Saint-Florent. See my Cap Corse Guide.
On the picture is one of my favorite views along that road.
Gorge de Spelunca
In the Gulf of Porto, on the West Coast, the stars are the Calanques of Piana and the Scandola Reserve (for good reasons).
However, if you have your own car, don't miss the inland part of the regions. Those red rocky walls extend around the Spelunca canyon and the road to Evisa offers some magnificent views including this one (that is not at the official viewpoint).
From the Calvi Citadel
I had a big surprise when visiting the Calvi Citadel.
I was going there for the history and architecture. But my favorite part of the visit were the views from the fortification walls.
Especially when looking North towards the beach.
As you can see in the picture above, you can see the Monte Cinto range with very high summits. On a clear day you can even spot the highest summit in Corsica, Monte Cinto.
For a better view, I recommend visiting in the evening. As you can see in my photo taken in the morning, I am almost facing the sun.
From the Agriates Desert
And this is probably my second favorite view of Corsican mountains.
It was taken in the Agriates desert on the hike between Lotu beach and Saleccia beach (more photos here) .
It is a wonderful mix of what Corsica is about: The Medietrranean maquis vegetation, a white sand beach with turquoise water, a deep gulf and mountains in the background! (those are the mountains of Cap Corse).
All my favorite viewpoints in Corsica are included in my eBooks:
Corte, Corsica's mountain town
Corte is the central town of Corsica, the mountain town and considered the heart of the island.
It has had a long and rich history.
History - the essentials
- Corte is the historical and cultural capital of Corsica
- Its history dates back to ancient times
- When Pascal Paoli declared the independence in 1755, Corte was chosen as the capital city (until the island was conquered again in 1769)
- Today it is still the heart of the Corsican culture. It is home to a large university.
Despite being in the middle of the mountains, Corte is very easy to reach.
All the main roads built on the island go through Corte. The train is also going through Corte.
This is the central hub to travel quickly from one end to another.
In the town itself, you can enjoy
- Walking the streets of the old town (but wear good shoes because the pavement is uneven). Note that some streets are uneven
- If you don't feel like walking up, there is a touristic train taking you to the museum
- At the top is the Citadel with the Museum dedicated to Corsica and its history. Each room is dedicated to a different part of the Corsican culture. It does not overload you with information. I enjoyed touring the museum
- And don't miss the splendid 360° view from the Belvedere - see next section
The Belvedère of Corte
And this is my favorite part of Crote. Even if you do nothing else, you should stop at Corte to get to the Belvedère and appreciate the 360° view.
The mix of the Mountains, the old town and the Citadel balancing on the peak is fascinating. It ended up on my list of the best places to see in Corsica.
What do you think?
Best drives in Corsica
Now on to my favorite roads in Corsica. The best canyon and gorges to drive in Corsica.
As I wrote earlier, it is beautiful everywhere, at every turn. But I still have some favorite.
The Restonica Valley is probably one fo the most famous gorges in Corsica.
It is located near Corte, and is the departure point for the famous Lake Melo hike.
The whole drive over 15km is wonderful with jagged peaks, forest, river and (depending on the season) patches of snow.
However before you start driving, you should know that:
- This is one of the most difficult drive in Corsica. The road is narrow with difficult sections where there is no railing. If you have any fear of mountain driving, do not go
- The last section to the last carpark is gated. You have to pay a fee for the day (6 Euros) to get to the end
- Learn more about the drive and see more photos and a video in my Restonica Valley article.
In South Corsica, Solenzara is a favorite because it is a great place to refresh during the hot summer days. There is lots of shade with the tree and cyrstal clear water pools created by the river.
The road is large and in good conditions. There are several carparks along the way.
THis is an easy drive and you can continue on to the Bavella mountain pass with amazing views of the Bavella Needles.
The whole drive is fantastic.
The Inzecca Canyon is a lesser know road through the mountains.
It is a short drive just South of Aleria. You can't stop at many places but just the drive between the walls of rock is fascinating.
Evora to Porto
And o the West coast of Corsica, you can drive from Porto Ota to the mountain village of Evisa, surrounded by pink and red walls of rocks.
The roads is not too bad. Just look ahead and take your time if you are crossing path with a coach.
And with mountains come... waterfalls!!!!
But before you get too excited, remember that those looks fantastic in Spring when all the snow is melting. But they might be boring in Summer when there is not much volume...
Some are famous, other you really have to know that they are there.
Here are a few
Voile de la Mariée
My absolute favorite was Voile de la Mariée.
It is a 10min steep climb but it is worth the effort!
Have a look at this 70m high flow of water jumping from rocks to rocks.
Cascade des anglais
The Cascade des Anglais is the most famous waterfall in Corsica.
However most people go in Summer where the flow is low, mostly to enjoy the series of pools created by the river.
But during the other seasons, the water is flowing fast and it is really a series of small waterfalls.
And the walk through the forest is stunning.
For this waterfall, you really have to know that it is there.
Lost in the Middle-mountain range of La Castagniccia, it drops 15m in a natural amphitheater.
The rocks, the vegetation and the clear water pool create a magical environment.
The waterfalls above and the villages in the next section are all included in my eBooks:
Corsican Villages in the mountains
An the mountains of Corsica are spotted with a lot of charming villages.
The most famous villages are in La Balagne, but they are quite low in altitude so they are not included here (you can learn more in this article).
Here we are focusing in mountains in altitude.
Below are a few to consider visiting.
The famous one - Bastellica
Bastelica is on of the most famous villages for 2 main reasons:
- It is quite close to Ajaccio and there is even a touristic train making the connecting in Summer...
- It is renowned for its delicatessen. There are several shops were you can purchase it in town. The pigs are growing in the chestnut groves around.
Located inland from Porto Ota, the village of Evisa itself is not the most charming (to my opinion)
But is lcoation is fantastic. It is surrounded bu the red mountains and offers views of the calanques of Piana in the distance.
I wish I had a picture without the couds to show you. But you can already guess the magnificence of the environment.
La Castogniccia - Vescovato
La Castagniccia is a mid-altitude range on the East side of Corsica.
Its village looks austere from the outside but they have a long history and are fascinating to explore.
Some have unique features like the tunnel hidden in Vescovato.
La Castogniccia - Pedicroce
Higher in La Castagniccia is the central village of Pedicroce.
The village itself was not my favorite but it has views of mountains in all direction which is beautiful.
Plus it has a large church with impressive paintings.
Significant evens during the independence of Corsica happened in the area.
In the South of Corsica you can find the historical region or the Alta Rocca.
It gathers many sites from prehistorical ages such as Cucuruzzu, Filitosa, Caurai... where you can find mehnirs, dolmens and much lore.
Levie is the central village where you can find the Alta Rocca museums with pieces found at all those sites.
Mountain Hiking in Corsica
When you have mountains, you have hiking opportunities...
Corsica is really a giant playground for hikers.
However, except from the Sentier des Douaniers along the coast, most walking path are not easy because of the mountainous terrain.
And as a rule, we have found that even when it is written easy, we would have rated some hiking path as medium difficulty... especially after rain when it is all slippery!
The most famous trail is the GR20 which allow you to cross the island. IT is considered the toughest long distance train in Europe (learn more).
You can only walk portion or it or the whole trail.
We walked the small portion near Cascade des Anglais and found things well indicated.
Want to see more of CORSICA?
Do you prefer mountains or sea?
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