Get ready to have a blast! Let see all the best things to do in Corsica, this fascinating French island with amazing landscapes all around. No time to get bored, the most difficult part is actually to decide on what to do: take a boat trip? explore villages? soak on a beach? take a road trip?...
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About the best things to do in Corsica
Corsica island is a wonderful destination and an outdoor paradise. There is no way to get bored while traveling there.
You have paradise beaches, scenic mountains, charming villages, awe-inspiring viewpoints... The only thing missing is great architecture.
Before I tell you all aout the best things to do in Corsica, here is a short video to give you an idea of the amazing scenery you could admire while touring the island:
The article below sis listing what I believe are the best activities to do in Corsica. It does not list the best places to visit. To check out my 35 favorite Corsica places, check out my article here.
And now let's get started!
1. Road trip the island to find the most beautiful spots
The best way to explore Corsica is to hit the road.
Jump in a car and go for a road trip. There is so much to see. In the morning your can get up in the mountains to admire the summit of the Bavella Needles and in the afternoon relax on the paradise beach of Palombaggia.
Every turn of your drive can reveal amazing scenery!
I really can't tell you if you should go North or South for your road trip. There are fantastic roads all around.
Driving is not as difficult as some make it to be on the Internet.
Yes it is winding and I can count on my hand the times when we saw a straight road.
And yes it can be narrow in the mountains.
But generally, if you don't speed and plan your trip properly, you won't have issues (see my Corsica driving guide)
And you may take a turn and see that:
Some of my favorite roads to drive were:
- From Evisa to Porto with the red mountains
- The West coast of Cap Corse, where mountains plunge into the sea
- The Solenzara Gorge, from the emerald river to the views of the Bavella Needles
- The narrow canyon of Inzecca, up-close with the rock
- and the famous Restonica Valley with high summits (this one is a difficult drive, I will admit that)
To help you plan your road trip, you can check out my step-by-step article and use my eBooks to define your itinerary:
2. What to do in Corsica? Admire the island from the sea
After driving around to find the best spots, my other favorite thing to do in Corsica is to take boat trips.
I took 6 of them from different towns and every time the views were mesmerizing. I don't regret any of them.
Seeing the Corsica island from the sea and all the work of nature on the cliffs is fascinating.
Even if the weather does not look perfect, if it is raining, go for it. Sometimes the sea is even quieter and it makes for a better tour!
Below are the tours you can do:
Gulf of Porto
Boats depart from Porto. You can either:
- Sail along the famous Calanques de Piana (info here), those red cliffs descending straight into the water. A fascinating work of art by Nature - Book your boat tour
- or Sail towards the Gulf of Girolata and the Scandola Reserve. This is a longer tour where you can see the unique geological features of the peninsula and stop at the isolated Girolata village accessible only by boat or after a day hike. Book your boat trip
- And if you really love colorful rocks, you can do both in a row via the Scandola link after clicking Show availabiity
Desert des Agriates from Saint-Florent
Another area were there are no paved roads is the Agriates Desert. A short boat ride takes you from Saint-Florent to Lotu beach. And from there you can hike to Saleccia beach. Both have made it to my list of the best beaches in Corsica 🙂 So it is worth it!
Plus the views as you sail away from Saint Florent with its charming look and the mountains behind are great. On one side you admire the rocky desert with the Mediterraneean Maquis vegetation and on the other side you can be fascinated by the summits of Cap Corse.
A short but fantastic boat trip run by Le Popeye.
Cliffs and Lavezzi island from Bonifacio
Another fascinating place to take a boat trip is Bonifacio. It is even an absolute MUST-DO.
There is no better way to admire the chalk-white limestone cliffs sculpted by erosion and how the old city is built over it.
And you can realise the impressive angle of the Aragon Staircase!
There are 2 main boat tours:
- The Cliff tour where you sail under the town and along the cliffs, inside coves and if the weather permits, inside a cave. You go all the way to Paraguan, where the limestone cliffs of Bonifacio meet the granite plateau.
- The Lavezzi island tour - you can enjoy the boat ride along the cliffs, past Capo Pertusato and all the way to the Lavezzi island. There you can explore the giant boulders and pick the return you want.
- There are several companies running tours from Bonifacio. The largest one is SPMB
Sanguinaires islands from Ajaccio
From Ajaccio, there is a short tour to the Sanguinaires islands ('Bloody' islands) where you can walk around before sailing back to port. You can enjoy it during the day or tour it at sunset when the rocks turn red.
This tour also gives you one of the best views of the old town of Ajaccio which is not the most photogenic from land.
3. Play like a kid in large colorful rocks
One of the main reasons why I love Corsica is because there are giant boulders and rock formations everywhere. I love admiring this type of scenery.
The only problem is that I can't stop taking pictures!!!!
It is great for both kids and adults and you can find some inspiring locations both in North and South Corsica. It is even kind of paradise for the adept of the Bouldering sport (a kind of climbing).
Sometimes the boulders are big and sparse, of grey light colors:
Sometimes the rocks are red and sprayed low on the ground. They are even better at sunrise and sunset when the red becomes more vibrant!
And sometimes they are just everywhere around you with a mix of colors:
And sometimes they create sea stacks:
4. Daydream at the magnificent Corsican beaches
No holiday in Corsica is complete without spending some time at the beach. Once again, the difficulty is to decide which one. There are so many beautiful paradise-like stretches of white sand with turquoise water...
They are everywhere!!!!
And you can find my 21 favorite in this article. But here is a very brief snapshot:
I have not much to say about them. The pictures are worth a thousand words.
The advantage is that many beaches are not just a band of sand to lay on. Many are in coves or bay with mountains, historical Genoese towers and rock formations around. So you can hike, explore and snorkel around.
Note that in Summer, the easily accessed ones are sadly overcrowded. But off season, they are fantastic!
5. Get lost in the charming villages (What to visit in Corsica)
In the hills and mountains of Corsica you can find many small villages nestled everywhere there is water or protection.
Many of them still have their old center and old houses.
You don't really come for the architecture. They are quite square and not really ornate.
But you come of the scenery around and to explore those small alleys in search for a special feature, a view or a church.
This is Ota for example, protected by red mountains on one side...
And this is Pigna. Like many villages in the Balagne region is has been build at the top of a hill. This one has become quite touristic with its blue shutters and artists' shops. It is a really charming village to explore.
But the best part of those villages is to get lost in them. There are hardly any indications. So you just start in an alley, turn, get under a tunnel, turn, climb up steps, turn... and you don't know where you are! But is is fun 🙂 and don't worry the villages are not that big.
As you explore you can be surprised by special features from old times such as the tunnel under the church in Vescovato, or a viewpoint you were not expecting like in Speloncato.
Just pick a village and start walking!
6. Drive through the high mountains and gorges
If you need to cool down because it gets hot by the sea, jump in your car and go explore the mountains and canyons in the center of the island.
There are great options to admire the summits or to get down by a river pool in the shade of a gorge.
The mountains of Corsica reach 2706m in elevation. The highest summit is called Monte Cinto.
Actually a single chain of mountains covers 2 third of the island!!! All around the mountains, the area under 600m is considered the coastal zone. The rest is temperate montane and High alpine zones.
What's great is that even if you don't hike, you can see a lot. They are great drives to complete in those gorges to admire some of the most magnificent summits and forest the island has to offer. The problem is that you can't focus on both the road and the landscapes... so beautiful everywhere!
7. Taste Corsica with all your senses (what to eat and listen to in Corsica)
Corsica is also a place to appreciate with all your senses 🙂
Corsica offers French Cuisine with the flavors of the Corsica Region.
The most famous food to try are the local cheeses and the delicatessen (salty but very tasty).
And if you prefer sweets, you HAVE to try the delicious Canistrelli biscuits. Don't worry you can find them everywhere. Ohhhh I have eaten way too many of those...
And they come in many flavours: Nature, Walnut, Lemon, Anise...
Sometimes just a simple plate of meat and cheese with local wine makes for a wonderful meal.
Listen to Corsica
Another typical experience to have in Corsica, is to listen to 'Polyphonies Corse'. Polyphonies are singing experience where only voices come together to produce music.
In Corsica, the typical groups are only male voices. They sing in perfect harmony, mostly in the Corsican Language.
It is very powerful and they carry deep emotions. Even when you don't understand the words, you feel the song.
There are regular shows almost everywhere, often in churches. Just look for small board-signs attached along the roads.
For example, I had the chance to listen to I Campagnoli in a small church in Bonifacio. LOVED IT!!!!
8. Get your heart pumping - hiking, canyoning...
Of course, Corsica is great for all outdoors activities. If you want to move and get your heart pumping there is a large choice of things to do in Corsica.
Hiking in Corsica
You can find walks and hike for all levels around Corsica.
For simple walks, the 'Sentiers des Douaniers' are often good options. They are coastal paths for the surveillance of the island. They are normally in good condition with not much difficulty.
Be careful that sometimes walks are indicated simple but they can still be steep and hard on the knees.
This is the case for example for the waterfall 'Voile de la mariée' and the 'Chateau de Piana' walk in the Calanques. They are not long walks but they are not as easy as it is said to be.
If you are in intense hiking, there is a famous trail that allows you to cross the island over several days. It is called GR20 and you might take small section of it when doing smaller hikes (for example below on the path to Cascade des anglais)
Canyoning in Corsica
If you like intense activities, you might want to join a canyoning tour. Corsica has great gorges which are awesome for this kind of fun.
You can do it for example;
- In the Richiusa canyon, between Ajaccio and Corte for beginner levels - Check out activity and book
- In Gravona, enjoy Aquatic hiking which is also suitable for beginners (closer to Ajaccio) - Check out activity and book
- For more experienced traveler, you can try the famous Purcaraccia, the Vacca or the Rudda Canyons...
Corsica is also great for biking, rock-climbing, diving... your choice!
9. Limit your time in the cities
You might have noticed that I did not speak too much about cities.
Corsica is an outdoor paradise.
I am already not a city person, but the ones in Corsica have really not convinced me.
The 2 main towns are Ajaccio and Bastia, and I think one day in each is largely enough.
In Bastia, half a day to explore the Citadel, visit the Palais des Gouverneurs and tour the port is enough.
This was my favorite of the cities, but I would not have spent my holidays there. I'd much rather be in Nature.
In Ajaccio, sadly the Citadel is military ground. So you cannot visit it.
The town in itself is not fascinating to my opinion. The main interest to me was the boat tour to the Sanguinaires Islands.
If you like art, there is the famous Fesch museum and if you like history, you can visit the old house of Napoleon and its museum.
Corte is the main town in the center of Corsica, in the mountains.
It is the most scenic and photogenic of all of them.
However once you have walked the center and visited the museum, there is not much more to do in the city itself.
However if you like hiking, this is a great place to use as a base.
All the locations show in this article are included, which planning tips and GPS coordinates, in my eBooks:
Want to see more of CORSICA?
What are you looking forward to do?
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