Earlier in the year I did a wonderful eight-day roadie around Corsica and loved every minute of it. There’s a lot to see, so unless you are going to put your feet up in a resort, you’ll need a car. It’s an easy country to drive in with good road signage.
Things to know about Corsica.
So where is Corsica?
Corsica is a stunning island in the Mediterranean. Unlike the Italian islands to its north and south, Sicily and Sardinia, Corsica is French. But if you ask the locals they’ll tell you they’re Corsicans and proud of it.
It’s the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia and Cyprus with a population of over 300,000. It’s most famous for its diverse and scenic coastline, great hiking trails, old towns and citadels, smelly cheeses and excellent cuisine.
What does it look like?
The island is spectacular.
Mountainous craggy peaks that are arid and rugged drop dramatically into the Mediterranean sea making the landscape spectacular. Dotted along the extensive coastline are many old stylish coastal towns that have the sophistication of France.
In the middle of the island are large dense areas of forest giving the island a lush appearance. Much of this land, in fact 40 percent of the island is a national park with the aim of protecting the rich flora and wildlife. It provides a stark contract to the coastline. There are many great hiking trails, including the challenging GR 20.
What’s left of the island is planted in grapes, keeping the locals happy with production of their favourite wines.
Dotted along the coastline are a number of great towns that also need to be explored including, Bonifaco, Ajaccio Calvi and St Florent to name a few. They are all on the coast with wonderful citadels over looking the coastline. (Watch out for the next post – A 10- day itinerary with accommodation recommendations in Corsica.)
How long has it been French?
Corsica became French in 1768 after the Genoese ceded Corsica to the French King Louis XV. The island has since been part of France, except for a period from 1794–96 when it was under English ruled and during the German and Italian occupation of 1940–43.
What’s the Corsican food like?
The Corsican food is excellent and it’s difficult to get a bad meal. While Corsican food has a distinct style they haven’t let go of the Italian influence completely with pizza and pasta dish on many of the menus. The food definitely has French over tones with a lot of seafood, predominantly squid, octopus, tuna, mussels, bream and langoustine.
What is the best time to visit Corsica?
Corsica is incredibly busy in June, July and August with European visitors and the prices fluctuate accordingly. We were there in May and the temperatures were between 24-28 degrees, although the sea temperature was only about 20 degrees. My advice is to avoid the crowds and come in May or better still in September when you can guarantee the sea will be warmer.
How to get there?
There are a number of ways you can get to Corsica, either flying or by ferry. There are four airports in Corsica: Bastia, Calvi, Ajaccio and Figari. And six ferry ports : Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, Île Rousse, Porto-Vecchio and Propriano. However, many of the services only go to France. We caught a ferry from Bastia in the north of the island, back to Livorno on the Italian mainland.
How to get around?
The only way to get around is by car. We hired a car in Bonifacio and dropped it off in Bastia before we caught the ferry back to Italy. Road signage is good, but try and hire a vehicle with GPS as it will make it easier. Our vehicle didn’t have GPS so we bought some data for the i-pad.
How long should I stay for?
We were in Corsica for 10 days which I think was perfect. You could shave it back to 7 days, but I like to base myself somewhere for 2-3 nights so you are not always on the move.
What’s the currency?
The currency in Corsica is the euro.
To read more on Corsica and Sardinia click on these posts...