Corsica is a road trip paradise. But with high mountains on such a small territory, lots of roads are sinuous.
Below is my complete guide about driving in Corsica to help you prepare, including:
- Is driving difficult? safe?
- Driving rules,
- Road conditions and safety tips,
- Parking information,
- Car rental tips,
- Most beautiful roads not to miss,
Don't worry, it is not as difficult as some people write!
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Driving in Corsica - Essentials to know + Video
Driving in Corsica - Video
Let's start with a short video that shows you what it looks like to be driving in Corsica: straight roads, sinuous roads, the few very narrow roads as well as cities and the biggest distraction of all while driving: the scenery...
Essentials to know before driving in Corsica
- Driving is on the right side of the road
- French rules apply
- Minimum driving age is 18, but some rental companies may ask for drivers to be older
- Seatbelts are mandatory for all
- Alcohol limit is 0.05%
- Speed limits are well indicate in red circle. Most of the time you really don't need them because you can't really drive fast on those sinuous roads.
- Most villages have a 30km/h limit and many (way too many) speed bumps
- Must-carry items - reflective warning triangle, reflective jacket
- In case of accident - emergency number: 112
Where I rent my cars
I always compare prices right away on Discovercars.com.
This is one of the best customer-rated comparison sites on the market.
I have found really great deals and I think the platform super easy to use. I can filter based on my criteria.
Plus, they have a practical coverage option at great price that will cover you in case of damage to the outside of the car.
Need more help? Read my 36 tips for a worry-free experience.
Corsica by car or not?
Do you need a car in Corsica?
Unless you are staying at a resort and only going to the beach, or staying in Ajaccio and don't want to explore too much, you really need a car to admire the variety of landscapes Corsica has to offer.
All my favorite locations are included (with GPS coordinates, map and tips) in my travel guide eBooks that help you easily plan your Corsica road trip:
Plan your dream road trip around Corsica!
- 7 easy-to-plan maps
- 130+ pre-selected locations
- Planning tips
- 220+ large photos
- GPS coordinates direct to carparks
How difficult is driving in Corsica ? Is it dangerous?
Corsica tends to have a bad reputation, but it is not as bad as a few people want you to think.
- NOT TOO DIFFICULT - With a minimum of research to avoid the difficult roads, driving in Corsica is really not that difficult
- TAKE YOUR TIME - It sure is not a country where you will be driving at high speed, but who would like to with such beautiful landscapes!
- WINDING ROADS - Corsica has very few straight line roads. It was so rare that I photographed them! Most roads are sinuous, you keep turning on one side and then the other to get around the mountains
- NARROW ROADS - Only a few specific roads and few kilometers on high traffic roads are very very narrow - avoid the craziest ones and take your time for the others. It will be ok.
- HOLES - And a few side roads to reach specific locations have big holes in the pavement. You just have to drive slowly and it is not a problem
- DRIVING IN SUMMER - Considering the Summer crowds, it does get harder during July and August, especially when crossing path with big coaches
Remember, that on the Internet, the hundreds of thousands of people who had no issue at all don't take the time to write that it was ok.
Getting around Corsica without a car
It is possible to get around Corsica without a car, to see the major sights:
- Bus - There is a network of public transportation
- Organized day trips - There are several companies running tours: historical, food, scenic... but the island is larger that most think, so you can only explore a small portion - check out the options
The driving times in Corsica - Map
To help you decide if you are going to rent a car or not, below is a map of the driving times you can expect around the country.
#1 to 6 - Corsica Driving Rules (France)
Let's start with general rules and regulations you should be aware of:
#1 - License requirement / Age - Do I need an international driver's permit?
It is always better to have you International Driving Permit anywhere you travel out of the country.
This way you never wonder.
However, know that to be allowed to drive in France (for a short stay), you can use a standard International driver’s license. It means a license that has:
- a licence number,
- a photograph,
- a valid date,
- and is in Latin letters,
A valid US license works.
A valid Canadian License works.
A valid UK License works.
You must also always carry a proof of ID and proof of third party liability insurance
In terms of age, you can drive from 18 years old (however to rent a car, minimum age is 21).
#2 - Side of the road
Driving in Corsica is on the right side of the road.
It means that upon entering a roundabout, you head right.
#3 - General behavior rules
- Seatbelts are mandatory for all
- No cell phone while driving
- Kids under 10 cannot seat in the front of the car
- If a crossroads has not sign or indication, you give way to the person coming from your right
- Traffic that is on the roundabout has priority
- The use of horn is authorized only in case of immediate danger (although French people tend to forget this rule)
#4 - Alcohol and driving
The legal limit for driving is 0.05% alcohol in the blood.
I always recommend not drinking at all if you are driving
#5 - Mandatory equipment to have in your car
In Corsica, the following pieces of equipment must be available in the car:
- Warning safety triangle
- Reflective vest or jacket
In Corsica, the new mountain law does not apply. Winter tires or chains are not mandatory but recommended.
#6 - Mandatory insurance
The mandatory insurance in France is: third-party liability insurance - it is automatically included in the price of all car rentals.
If you are visiting with your own car, don't forget to bring proof of insurance.
#7 to 13 - Corsica Roads conditions and Road Signs - is driving difficult?
Ok. Now we are arriving at the big question everyone is wondering.
How difficult is it to drive in Corsica?
You can read a lot of stories online of people who got scared.
The fact is that Corsica is full of mountains. So, yes, you have mountain roads. But all the millions of people who had no problem driving around Corsica don't write on the Internet that all went well...
#7 - Most frequent types of roads in Corsica
Most roads are really ok. It is just that there is only one lane in each direction and they are very very sinuous. You keep turning and turning. But it reveals splendid scenery at each turn sometimes with the sea, sometimes with mountains. So it is actually quite enjoyable.
This is far less boring than straight line.
It slows you down and you really appreciate the land. My dad was ecstatic driving there. He thinks it is the best kind of driving.
But sometimes you have a huge surprise when you see a straight line! LOL
#8 - Smaller side road conditions
For a few locations such as at to get to Cauria or some isolated beaches, the road is paved but in really bad shape.
So for not more than 5km, you might have to drive slowly to avoid the holes.
But that is not really difficult, just longer.
And if you really have to go inside one hole, because there are too many, always try to go sideway not frontal.
#9 - The few narrow roads or sections that scare people
Now let's talk about the few roads that scare people.
They are mostly cut through the cliff or in canyons.
In that case, they get really narrow with the emptiness on one side but you still have to cross path with incoming traffic.
There are 2 roads to reach beautiful touristic must-see places that have such sections:
- Between Piana and Porto when driving in the Calanques de Piana - this is cut into the rocks. But there are many passing places. So if people where not stupid and did not park there, you don't have to maneuver too much to cross a coach or truck
- The West Coast of of Cap Corse - it has a few section that are quite narrow. It is actually large enough to cross a large bus, but barely. So it is quite impressive
Your solution if you are scared: Take those roads early morning when the other tourists are sleeping late!
But there is one road I absolutely do not recommend driving if you are even a little scared: The Restonica Valley.
That is a difficult drive and a popular destination. It gets really narrow very often and the road does not always have a railing.
It is a beautiful drive, but not worth the scare.
Again if you go early you should not cross other cars when going up. But you will anyway when driving back down (this is a dead-end road)
Going completely off touristic trails
Only once, did we decide to cut through the mountains to reach our next destination and I must admit that it was a bad idea. We ended up on a mountain road that was only one lane. Fortunately it was only for 3 km and not a touristy road so we had no issues. But I don't recommend trying to find shortcuts.
#10 - Driving in Towns and Villages
Driving in town and villages has no special difficulties.
We were surprised by the amount of speed-bumps though. They really want you to respect the limit at 30km/h in villages.
The oldest part of villages have anarrow streets that are not accessible by cars, so you park outside and explore on foot.
Here is driving in Corte:
And through a village in Balagne:
#11 - Speed limits and signs
- Speed limits are indicated on circular signs with red border and a number
- Speed limits are in kilometers per hour
- Speed limits are - 30 to 50km/h in residential areas
#12 - Road signs in Corsica
Road signs are quite clear and using the latin alphabet.
A specificity of Corsica is that name of locations will be written first in French and then in the local language Corsican.
See in the picture below Ajaccio and then Ajacciu.
Also you will see a lot of signs where the French name is hidden. Some Corsican have very strong feelings towards becoming independent and promote the use of their local language.
Don't worry the names are pretty close and you will be able to find your way
#13 - Tolls in Corsica
There are no tolls on the roads of Corsica
#14 to 16 - How to drive safely
#14 - Know the potential dangers
Generally, driving in Corsica felt fine.
My 3 warnings to you are:
- Be careful in Summer, there are lots of tourists who don't know the size of their car. Slow down!
- It is easy to get distracted by the amazing scenery (especially in the mountains). Be careful and focus!
- But the main danger on the roads in Corsica are animals. You may turn and find yourself with a cow, a pig, a goat or a donkey in the middle.
I am not kidding, they are everywhere, even on larger roads where you could not expect them. So remain vigilant!
#15 - What to do in case of accident
In case there are people hurt or there is a conflict, the emergency number in 112 is:
The best order of actions is:
- contact emergency services
- contact the police
- contact your rental provider
#16 - Motorbikes in Corsica
With those beautiful sinuous roads, Corsica is also paradise for motorbikes.
They often travel in group.
Slow down and squeeze to the right to let them overtake you so that you can keep enjoying your own road trip.
#17 to 18 - Parking in Corsica - rules
#17 - Parking in towns
Nothing very original about parking in Corsica.
In the main towns (and the touristic ones), parking is generally not free.
You need to display your ticket.
However know that in Summer time parking can really become a pain.
Small villages in the mountains really don't have the space to have large carparks and beaches are taken over so the carparks fill up quickly.
The solution: not traveling to Corsica in Summer... but that may not be an option...
Another solution to enjoy more Corsica in Summer is to take advantage of the morning. Most people head out around 11am or in the afternoon. If you do your exploration early morning and rest at home in the afternoon, you should enjoy it a lot more.
#18 - Parking at beaches and attractions
At some beaches and attractions, when the free carpark is full, you can find some paid ones. They often belong to restaurants installed on the beach. You either have to pay a fee or eat/drink at the restaurant. I think it is fair enough since it is their land.
Where to stay in Corsica?
- South Corsica:
Porto-Vecchio for a city (see best rated accommodations)
Bonifacio for history and scenery (see best rated accommodations)
Propriano for beach holiday (see best rated accommodations)
- Central Corsica:
Ajaccio for a city (see best rated accommodations)
Piana for the magnificent pink cliffs (see best rated accommodations)
Corte for access to the mountains (see best rated accommodations)
- North Corsica:
Bastia for a city (see best rated accommodations)
Saint-Florent for a practical location with e -verything (see best rated accommodations)
L'île-Rousse for lots to do nearby (see best rated accommodations)
More tips on my article about where to stay in Corsica
#19 to 20 - Gas stations
#19 - Fuels and their names
- Petrol is called "Essence sans plomb"
- Diesel is called "Diesel" or "Gazole"
- Petrol station is "Station service"
- LGP is GPL
- See the concentration of electric car charging station, where you are going in Corsica on this website
#20 - Management of gas stations
- Nothing much to stay about refueling in Corsica.
- There are plenty of stations in the towns
- They accept credit cards
#21 - Most beautiful roads in Corsica
Corsica is stunning all around. You will rarely get bored when driving there.
My absolute favorite roads to drive are:
#22 to 25 - Corsica Car Rental Tips
Below is a snapshot with the main things to know.
You can find all my tips in this other complete guide about renting a car in Corsica.
#22 - What vehicle to rent?
I know it depends on how many people are traveling and how much luggage you are traveling with.
But here are a few things to keep in mind when traveling in Corsica:
- There are many mountain roads
Therefore, it is more comfortable to have enough power. I recommend not choosing the smallest engine
- There narrow roads in villages and sometimes in mountains
Therefore, I recommend choosing a car that is not too big, to reduce the stress of some situations
#23 - Where to rent your car in Corsica
The largest car rental hubs in Corsica are:
- Ajaccio airport - see car rental deals
- Bastia airport - see car rental deals
- Figari airport - see car rental deals
- Town of Ajaccio - see car rental deals
- Town of Bastia - see car rental deals
Most major international brands are available in Corsica. However it is an island so not all are present.
And those are small airports with limited staff. So at each plane arrival you will have to queue a little to get your car.
#24 - Best car rental company in Corsica
I don't have a specific recommandation for a rental company in Corsica. There are no famous local ones with great records.
But you can find all the major brands at the airports and ferry ports.
- Compare car rental prices on my favorite platform: Discovercars.com - one of the best customer-rated comparison sites
- Each rental company has a mark on 10 points. This is an average of the marks given by actual customers.
- Book early to have a large choice of vehicles!
Don't forget that on Tripadvisor or Google for example, anyone can write a review even if they have not used the company.
Some of the best rated on Discovercars.com are:
#25 - General tips for worry-free experience
There is no particular thing to do when renting a car in Corsica, no specific scam.
I recommend always doing those things wherever you are renting:
- Take pictures of the car as you take it
- Don't forget to check the state under the bumper of the car (look for scratch and take pictures)
- Don't forget to check the state of the roof (look for rock fall dent and take pictures)
- Take pictures of the car as you leave it
- Cleaning - Most company gives you a big warning that they may charge you with a cleaning if you bring a dirty car. Read the official conditions and they should say that 'normal' cleaning is included. So a little bit of sand should not be a problem.
- Return - In most case, returning car is not an issue. However in Summer, a few employees of the tourism industry tend to be less charming. Make sure you check all the details of your return ticket and that you agree with them before signing: Agree on the status of the petrol level, agree on the cleaning status (show the rental conditions if you unluckily have a disagreement with one of them)
Planning your Corsica road trip itinerary
Want to see more of the best Corsica has to offer?
- 35 best places to visit in Corsica - read article
- 21 best beaches in Corsica - read article
- 9 best things to do in Corsica - read article
- 35 of the most beautiful Corsica landscapes in photos - read article
- How to plan a road trip in Corsica - read article
- Where to stay in Corsica - read article
Planning a trip to Corsica?
Check out my travel guide to help you plan:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
And keep track of your own trip!
Want to see more of CORSICA?
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