Discover (with photos) all the amazing things to do in South Corsica - Guide about the region of Porto-Vecchio Corsica: best beaches, mountain views, canyons, fascinating towns... Inspiration to plan your trip is on of the most beautiful French regions!
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Top 5 things to do in South Corsica
If you don't want to read the whole article and admire the South Corsica landscapes in pictures, here is a short answer with my 5 favorite things to do around Porto-Vecchio in South Corsica:
- Find your favorite beach - the most famous beach is Palombaggia, but there are many others to try: the long sandy ones, the rocky coves, the more scenic isolated ones... My favorites are Tamaricciu, Rondinara and San Giovanni
- Drive & swim in canyons - There are beautiful gorges less than 2 hours from Porto-Vecchio, you can escape the heat and go for a refreshing swim
- Explore the unique site of Bonifacio - definitively one of the best places in Corsica!
- Feel the magic of ancient forest and sites - the Alta-Rocca has a very long history
- Play with giant boulders - by the sea and in the mountains, the region has some amazing rock formations like on the Lavezzi islands and at Capo Pertusato
Note: this article is really about the South of Corsica, not the "South-Corsica region" that goes quite North. I am showing locations reachable in less than 2h drive from Porto-Vecchio Corsica.
Exploring the South of Corsica around Porto-Vecchio - Video
Below is a short video to give you an idea of all the amazing landscapes you could enjoy on your holiday in the South of Corsica:
How to get to Porto-Vecchio Corsica
How to get to Porto-Vecchio & Southern Corsica
- The main town in Southern Corsica is Porto-Vecchio - See the map below
- The region can be reached directly by plane, arriving at the small airport of Figari
- Otherwise you can fly into the bigger airports of Ajaccio or Bastia and drive to the South
- Or you can arrive by ferry (mostly in Ajaccio or Bastia)
- Ajaccio to Porto-Vecchio = 3h drive
- Bastia to Porto-Vecchio = 3h drive
Tips for visiting South Corsica
- It is really recommended to hire a car to explore the region (unless you opt for a hotel 5min walk away from the beach and plan to stay only at that beach the whole time)
- As much as possible try avoiding the months of July and August - the region gets overcrowded and the beaches might not be as enjoyable
- The map above gives you a snapshot of the layout of the region with some of the most famous places to visit - detailed planning-oriented maps are available in the eBooks.
- Don't forget that most roads are sinuous and driving times are longer than imagined
- Porto-Vecchio to Palombaggia beach = 20min
- Porto-Vecchio to Bonifacio = 40min
- Porto-Vecchio to Sartène = 1h15
- Porto-Vecchio to Bavella Needles = 1h30
All the most beautiful places in Corsica with practical maps and info to plan your trip are included in my eBooks:
Hotels near Porto-Vecchio - Where to stay in South Corsica
Before I show you all the best things to do and see in South Corsica, here are some tips to help you find your ideal accommodation:
- The region has a every large choice of accommodations: hotels, villas, campsites, rentals, clubs...
- I would stay inside the town Porto-Vecchio only if you want a large choice of restaurants within a walking distance, otherwise I think it is better to stay a bit outside with the beautiful nature surroundings
- You can stay the whole time at one accommodation, but if you want to see more locations and spend less time on the roads, better to cut you stay into several days at the time and change accommodations (Porto-vecchio, Bonifacio, Propriano...) - for example you can find my suggestion for Bonifacio hotels in my article here
Near Porto-Vecchio I stayed at the Residence U Pirellu - it was one of our favorite stays in Corsica with spacious villas, great views and a beautiful swimming pool. It was only 10min from Palombaggia and 10min from Porto-Vecchio - Check out more photos and availability
Otherwise you can consider:
- LUXURY BY BEACH - Les Bergeries de Palombaggia - probably the most famous luxury accommodation around. It is within walking distance of the beach and offers fantastic views and heated pool - See photos and availability
- LUXURY CLOSE TO TOWN - Hotel Don Cesar is very close to Porto-Vecchio with fantastic views and great pools - See photos and availability
- ORIGINAL - if you are looking for something different, consider staying on a sailing boat with small kitchen facilities and close to Porto-Vecchio - See photos and availability
- CAMPING BUNGALOWS - for those looking to get the camping vibe but with a little more comfort, consider the Asphodele Bungalows - See photos and availability
- VILLAS - Vasca dd'Oro is another residence with fully-furnished villas - See photos and availability
- Or check out all the accommodation options around Porto-Vecchio
Things to do in Porto-Vecchio Corsica - Citadel & Town
Porto-Vecchio Corsica is one of the largest cities on the island and a medium-sized port on the East coast.
Personally I think the region is magnificent but the town of Porto-Vecchio itself is not fascinating.
Although I love seeing it from the distance with the mountains in the background.
There are 2 main things to do in Porto-Vecchio Corsica:
- Enjoying the relax vibe and café/restaurants along the marina
- Getting up on the hill, walking past the Genoese door and exploring the narrow streets of the Citadel with its unique shops and the charming Saint-Jean-Baptiste church. You can visit the Bastion and from there get great views of the gulf.
The best part is actually exploring the region - under 2 hours from Porto Vecchio. Let me show you in pictures some of the best places in South Corsica.
Be impressed by the best places around Porto-Vecchio with open views
South Corsica has it all: beaches, mountains, gorges, cliffs, islands... Everywhere you drive the views are fantastics.
But some are more famous than others. Here are a few of the best things to see in Porto-Vecchio and South Corsica:
For example, you can stop at the Ospedale viewpoint to see all the South coast of Corsica with the gulf of Porto-Vecchio.
This is one of the most famous viewpoint in the region. It is not my favorite but since it is on the road to many attractions, it is easy to stop.
Look better at the picture below and you will see the mountains of Sardinia in the distance. We are very close!
Tamaricciu Postcard shot
The region has many fascinating beaches and rock formations as you will see further in the article.
However for some reason, one of the most photographed places in South Corsica is the little cove between Tamaricciu beach and Palombaggia beach.
It has giant white and grey boulders, shallow transparent water and a beautiful lone stone pine tree.
All along the coast you can see amazing views with white sand beach, turquoise water, mountains, red rocks and dense vegetation... The colors are just gorgeous.
And one of my favorite views of the whole island of Corsica is one the way to Capo Pertusato, the panorama with the white limestone cliffs and Bonifacio perched on top of it.
This is a truly incredible site, one of the best in France because of how unique it is. I recommend you plan at least 1 day and a half for the area. Check out my Bonifacio article.
Another famous viewpoint in South Corsica is on the way West towards Sartène. It is called Roccapina.
It offers an open views of the coast, with a beautiful beach, a genoese tower and a rock formation that looks like a lion guarding the island.
Can you spot the lion in the picture below?
Find the Best Beaches in South Corsica (not far from Porto-Vecchio)
Of course, most people head to Southern Corsica for their holidays because of the many beautiful beaches.
Even only 30min drive from Porto-Vecchio you can find 10 magnificent beaches, among the best beaches in Corsica.
You can find different style of beaches:
- Long stretches of sands easily accessed (carpark nearby) with rental equipment for water sports - one of my favorite is Favone
- Isolated beaches that are a little hidden but offer fantastic treasures such as San Giovanni
- Large bays offering long beaches and restaurants and facilities nearby such as Pinarellu
- Scenic beaches surrounded by nature only and where the only human touches are Genoese towers such as Fautea
- The famous - Palombaggia is the most famous of all those beaches - a wild bay with red rock formations, white sand and turquoise water (see article)
All those beaches (and many more) are included in my eBooks with photos to help you choose, and with practical info and GPS coordinates to help you plan: The road trip guide - Corsica or The road trip guide - South Corsica
Below is a selection of photos of Porto-Vecchio beaches and other beaches further away but still within 1h drive of the town:
Explore the Canyons & Gorges
If it is starting to get too hot by the beaches, you can decide to explore the inland region of Southern Corsica.
There are magnificent drives to complete in beautiful gorges.
For example the Inzecca Gorge, is a wonderful drive often overlooked by tourist. It is a bit further up North but the views are splendid.
One of the most visited gorges is the Solenzara Valley. It has several sections where it is easy to reach the water and enjoy a swim to cool down. Plus you can continue the drive up to the Bavella pass with views of the famous Bavella Needles.
The water is has an emerald color, a great contrast with the rocks in the river bed which are sparkling white.
And the Solenzara river is surrounded by dense vegetation and mountains in all directions.
Those 2 were easily accessible by car. But if you want something a little more adventurous, you can check out the canyoning options in the region.
Refresh in the mountains of Southern Corsica
The other advantage of traveling in Corsica is that you are never far away from the mountains.
South Corsica is no exception.
And the roads are actually less difficult that in other regions (see my driving guide).
One of the most famous mountain peeks on the island is the Bavella Needles. They are only 1h30 drive away from Porto-Vecchio.
They are fascinating rock walls with jagged peaks. The highest one reaches 1855m (6086ft)
You can stop at the mountain pass and go hiking a little or a lot to see them from different venture points.
However note that it is a very popular spot and the carpark is already full off-season, so I can't imagine what it looks like in the middle of Summer. Come early!
A bit lower and closer to Porto-Vecchio you can find the Ospedale forest and its lake. This is a beautiful area with lots of shade. Really enjoyable place to relax when it is really hot.
If you have the time I recommend exploring all the roads in the lower mountains of South Corsica, you can find a lot of magnificent views every time you turn:
Most beautiful towns in South Corsica
I know I write a lot about Nature. That's because this is what I prefer doing when traveling: seeing all the marvels created by the Universe.
I am not much of a town person, but I must admit that Bonifacio is clearly a MUST-SEE of any trip to Corsica.
I think I like it so much because it combines Nature with history and architecture.
In this region, the sea-front is made of white limestone cliffs eroded by the elements. On a long promontory, the medieval town of Bonifacio and its fortifications are still standing. Things to do to consider:
- You can explore the town on foot with its narrow streets and old houses
- Don't miss the impressive Aragon staircase to get down inside the cliff - 187 fascinating steps and a fun legend around it
- Or you can take a boat ride to see it from the water which is fascinating
Another town to consider visiting in South Corsica is Sartène.
It is midway between Porto-Vecchio and Ajaccio.
It is not as scenic as Bonifacio but it is really typical of Corsica (Whereas Bonifacio feels more Italian).
Sartène is actually considered the most Corsican of the towns in Corsica.
It has strong tall buildings and a great vibe.
I recommend spending at least a few hours to explore it.
Play with giant boulders & rock formations
Are you like me ? Do you love crazy rock formations ?
Well Corsica is paradise for that. And the Southern region has some of the best places to discover.
The most famous boulders are located on the Lavezzi islands (see more photos).
The whole island is covered with them! Pink, grey, black... they have different sizes and shapes but they are everywhere.
You can reach the island by boat from Bonifacio and spend some time exploring the land. It is quite fascinating.
The other area of geological interest is of course Les bouches de Bonifacio with the Limestone white cliffs.
And one of the best place to see them is Saint Antoine beach at Capo Pertusato. It is not an easy walk to reach it (but it is not a long one either).
At this location at the tip of Corsica, the elements have eroded the limestone and you get seastack and giant holes.
It almost look like another planet!
The access information are in my eBooks (The road trip guide - Corsica or The road trip guide - South Corsica)
One of the Top things to do in Porto-Vecchio Corsica, is to drive up to the forest of Ospedale. There is the lake and the Piscia di Gallo. But the whole region is fascinating with crazy rocky shapes and giant boulders. If you have kids who like climbing around, this is a great option (and for adults too lol)
Admire other marvels of the South Corsica Tourism
Evidence indicates that groups of humans settled in South Corsica around 8500BC. They were exploiting the natural resources of their environment (fishing, picking, collecting).
Around 6000BC another group of humans arrive in Corsica. This time they were farmers and breeders and they started getting organized in villages.
Later during he Bronze Age, fortified villages were built around the Alta Rocca area. This is for example the case of Cucuruzzu, my favorite prehistorical site in Corsica:
The 2h walking loop is a real pleasure with a forest that looks magical, giant rocks that were used as shelters and ensembles built a long time ago.
But there are many more places you can explore if you love prehistoric sites. For example, closer to the sea, you can also find evidence of old settlements with menhirs and dolmens.
There are really a lot of different things to do in Porto-Vecchio and in South Corsica, isn't it?
All the locations mentioned in this article and many more are included in my eBoos. They have created with Maps, Practical Info and GPS coordinates to facilitate the planning of your trip:
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