Corsica is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean and is located west of Italy, southeast of metropolitan France and north of Sardinia, from which it is just 12 km away. Corsica is also the most mountainous island in the Mediterranean – large parts of it are covered by high mountains, in which 50 mountains tower over 2,000 m high into the sky. Corsica also has an abundance of coastline: over 1,000 km. A third of it is beach, the other two thirds are rock … but the island is known (among other things) for its unique wealth of rock formations. Overall, the landscape offers a lot of originality – in the mountains and on the coast, but also with deep gorges, lush forests and wild rivers. A special piece of the landscape of the “garden of Corsica”. There, In the hilly hinterland between Calvi and the mouth of the Lozari, lemon, orange and almond trees as well as olive groves and vineyards shape the picture. What also characterizes the area are the picturesque medieval villages situated on hilltops. Just as nice to look at as the gem and artists’ village of Pigna, Loreto di Casinca, nestled on the slope of Monte Sant Angelu, or the fishing village of Porto. With the Bay of Porto and its fantastic play of colors, Corsica has – in addition to the Girolata Bay, the La Scandola Nature Park and the Calanche – also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also worth seeing in Corsica is Ajaccio, the capital and birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, and Bonifacio, the fortress town whose old town lies on an overhanging white chalk cliff, and Bastia with churches and chapels of different ages and styles, and Sartène, the most Corsican of all cities. And also the Roman city of Aleria, which is now uncovered, as one of many ways to explore Corsica’s long history.
The protected Îles Lavezzi are a true paradise for divers
The uninhabited French archipelago Îles Lavezzi lies in the Strait of Bonifacio between off the coast of Corsica. The archipelago has been a nature reserve since 1982. Beach holidaymakers are only allowed to visit the islets of Piana, Cavallo and Lavezzi. The most accessible island is Île Lavezzi, which is 65 hectares in size and after which the archipelago is named. Tourists can buy tickets for boat trips to the archipelago in the marina of Bonifacio. The excursionists have to take care of their own food. Boats also go from Porto-Vecchio to the Île Lavezzi. The Îles Lavezzi archipelago is an excellent diving area in which both beginners and advanced divers will feel very comfortable.
The Îles Lavezzi are a real Eldorado for active vacationers
The most famous dive site is Mérouville. Above all, impressive groupers can be observed here. A dive costs from 40 euros per diver. A hotspot for windsurfers is the Plage de Piantarella. Another highlight for active vacationers are guided sea kayak tours, which cost between 35 and 65 euros per person. If you want to kayak around the islets on your own, you can rent a kayak for 8 euros per hour. The Port de Bonifacio is an ideal starting point for a boat excursion to marvel at the breathtaking, chalk-white cliffs. The hour-long boat trip includes a detour to the Cave of the Little Dragon (Grotte du Sdragonato). The cave is filled with water and the cave roof is open at the top.
The panoramic view from the Pertusato lighthouse is breathtaking
A must for a visit to the Îles Lavezzi is a walk along the cliffs to the Pertusato lighthouse. From here you have a panoramic view that is unforgettable to be burned into your brain. The view wanders from Corsica to Sardinia, via Bonifacio to the Îles Lavezzi. The footpath is around five and a half kilometers long. The duration of the march, including the way back, is around two and a half hours.
Napoleon’s birthplace and a historic monument
The Maison Bonaparte on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica is the family seat of the Bonaparte family. Napoleon, who crowned himself emperor at the age of 35, was born here on August 15, 1769. The two-storey building, which has been in the family since the 16th century, was transferred from the heirs to the French state in 1923. The inconspicuous building has housed a museum since the 1960s, which is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Corsica.
Exhibitions on several floors give an impression of the life and times of the Bonapartes. A detailed family tree, numerous portraits of the various family members and audio guides in various languages inform visitors to Corsica about the history and relationships of the Bonapartes.
In the vaults of the first floor, which the Bonaparte family bought later, you can see an olive press and agricultural implements from one of the family’s estate. On the first floor of today’s museum is the furniture of Madame Laetitia, the mother of the future emperor. The second floor shows a collection with various original portraits of the emperor, his siblings and nephews. Among the numerous personal family treasures and mementos of the French emperor and his family members is a lock of Napoleon in a glass medallion.
Apart from December 25th and January 1st, the museum is open every day from Tuesday to Sunday. If you hope to escape the hot midday sun, you have bad cards, the Maison Bonaparte in Corsica’s capital, Ajaccio, is closed between 12 noon and 2 p.m.
The La Scandola peninsula is part of Corsica and is located on the Gulf of Porto. The unique landscape was declared a nature reserve in 1975, making it the oldest in France. Its location is unprecedented in the Mediterranean, as the peninsula, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can only be reached on foot or by boat.
The pearl of Corsica
The Scandola nature reserve has retained its original character, created by volcanoes, wind and water, and is therefore one of the most enchanting places in Corsica, if not in all of France. Reddish rocks protruding from the turquoise sea, small bays, bizarre rock formations and lush vegetation of heather, holm oaks or carnations as well as a fauna of remarkable diversity make the island equally interesting for recreational and study trips.
In addition to the symbol of the peninsula, the osprey, you can also admire golden eagles, herring gulls, cormorants, peregrine falcons and shearwaters. The underwater world also offers animal species that are rarely found in other places.
Go on a discovery tour on foot or by boat
The delightful area can be explored by land over an approx. Five-hour hike. The path begins on the coastal road between the towns of Porto and Calvi. Lined with typical Corsican plants and always with a view of the gigantic rocks of the peninsula, the path leads to the fishing village of Girolata. There are a few restaurants and simple accommodation in the village, which has only about 100 inhabitants. The village lies in the shadow of the ruins of a medieval defense system and can only be reached by hiking or by boat.
To enjoy the beauty of the peninsula from the seaside, take a trip on one of the numerous excursion boats from Porto or Calvi. The small boats can go very far into the bays and caves, especially in the grottos, very special impressions can be made in the dim light. Since the demand for these excursions is very high, it is advisable to make a reservation before you start your journey.
Calanches de Piana
Granite rocks in the bay of Porto – Corsica
If you follow the coastal road southwest of Porto in the direction of Piana, you will discover an almost surreal world of weather-marked pink granite. Another world of strangely shaped, red figures, which often plunge dramatically into the turquoise sea below. Some of the dramatic rocks tumble down to the water, others have heights of up to 300 meters, all are fascinating and beautiful, and provide the perfect backdrop. Located in western Corsica, this enchanting landscape by the bay is at its most beautiful – and most impressive – at sunset.
The journey through the Calanches de Piana follows the D81 southeast of Porto. It is one of the most important routes in Europe not to be missed when visiting this region of Corsica! There are several places that vacationers can stop to admire the views and rock formations. Some of the rocks form interesting shapes such as a heart-shaped hole. Because they are so attractive and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Calanches are very popular and the area can get very busy and busy during the summer months. However, the street is quite wide and there are a good number of viewing spots for any vacationer. There is also a bar along the route with a terrace overlooking the breathtaking views.
Enjoy bizarre views while hiking
Holidaymakers can really enjoy the calanches if they leave the car behind and take one of the short walks that wind through the red granite. A new spectacle or a fascinating rock formation unfolds for you at every turn.
The walks are best done in sturdy shoes, as the granite is slippery and there can be some steep sections. But at no point is it too strenuous or too dizzying for at least experienced walkers.