Corsica Travel Guide: Top Things To See & Do

girolata bay nature reserve
“The staggering geographical diversity in Corsica allows for a rich and adventurous trip, traversing mountain ridges, plush valleys, impenetrable fortresses, and luxurious beaches.”

Off the coast of mainland France and Italy is the culturally unique island of Corsica, a popular vacation destination with over 600 miles of coastline, 200 beaches, and innumerable mountains and forests. Famous as the birthplace of the likes of Napoleon Bonaparte and Christopher Columbus, Corsica is as rich in multifaceted history as it is in opportunity.

Whether you are a hiker, history buff, or love to relax on the beach, this travel guide will tell you all you need to know about your upcoming trip to Corsica.

Article Published: July 29, 2022
Last Update: August 6, 2022

Table of Contents

Top Things To See & Do on Corsica

Porto Vecchio Beaches

wooden jetty santa giulia beach, corsica

Porto Vecchio is Corsica’s number one tourist region, boasting some of the best and most accessible beaches on the island. From sunbathing to swimming, to trying out some watersports, here are some of the best beaches in Porto Vecchio that are perfect for all.

The Porto Vecchio Beaches in Pictures

palombaggia beach
Famous Pine on Palombaggia Beach, Corsica
palombaggia beach
Palombaggia Beach, Near Porto Vecchio, Corsica
santa giulia beach
Wooden Jetty at Santa Giulia Beach, Corsica
santa giulia beach pines
Coastal Pines on Santa Giulia Beach, Corsica
cala rossa beach
Cala Rossa Beach, Corsica

The Best Beaches in Porto Vecchio

1. Plage de Palombaggia (Palombaggia Beach)

double helix staircase Château de Chambord

The beach at Palombaggia is arguably the most famous, most popular, and finest beach on the island. It is easy to see why, with giant red granite rocks, vibrant green pine trees, fine white sand, and crystal-clear blue sea. It is the perfect place to just kick back and relax.

2. Plage de Santa Giulia (Santa Giulia Beach)

chambord castle facade

If Palombaggia is the best beach on the island then Plage de Santa Giulia is surely the most photogenic, sitting in a magical horseshoe bay. Its waters are pretty still and shallow too, making it a great place for children to have a swim.

3. Cala Rossa

cala rossa beaches

Cala Rossa boasts unique, red-tinged sand, majestic villas, and is backed by the stunning scenery of the Bavella Needles. If you want to try sailing or water sports, this is the pick for you.

The Porto Vecchio Beaches in Video

Maison Bonaparte

sign on maison bonaparte corsica

The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, this large but simple residence has been preserved by the city of Ajaccio since 1967. This house had a touching impact on Napoleon during the formative years of his early life. Here’s what you can expect from the Maison Bonaparte.

Maison Bonaparte in Pictures

inside maison bonaparte corsica
Mill and Tools Inside Maison Bonaparte
sign outside maison bonaparte corsica
Sign Outside Maison Bonaparte, Corsica
street outside maison bonaparte corsica
Street Outside Maison Bonaparte, Ajeccio, Corsica

Things to See & Do at Maison Bonaparte

1. What To See In The Home

inside maison bonaparte

Your visit to the Maison Bonaparte will begin on the second floor with an introduction to the history of Corsica. This is followed by four rooms that are dedicated to different members of the Bonaparte family. The first focuses on Charles and Letizia, the second, Napoleon and his siblings, the third which is thought to be Napoleons personal room, and the fourth details the family history.

The first floor contains the family’s various rooms, including the drawing room, Madame Mère’s bedroom, gallery, boudoir, dining room, and so on. In particular, you can see the room where Napoleon himself was born, and the trapdoor that Napoleon used to reach the port on October 6th, 1799.

2. Tours & Tickets

street outside maison bonaparte

To get into Maison Bonaparte a full price ticket is €7. The price is discounted to €5 for groups and non-EU residents aged 18-25 and if you are an EU Resident under 26, or a teacher with an Pass-Education, admission is free.

To get the lastest info on pricing and tours visit

Maison Bonaparte in Video

Bonifacio Citadel

bonifacio citadel

The first of the historical fortresses on the island that we will explore, visiting the Bonifacio Citadel is a once in a lifetime experience that you definitely cannot pass up. From unforgettable sea views to cliffside staircases, and even sneaking a peak at Italy, here are the top things to do after exploring the Bonifacio Citadel.

Bonifacio Citadel in Pictures

aerial view of bonifacio citadel
Aerial View of Bonifacio Citadel
view from bonifacio citadel
View from Bonifacio Citadel
view of bonifacio citadel
View of Bonifacio Citadel
king of aragons stairway
King of Aragon's Stairway (Escalier du Roi d’Aragon)

Things to See & Do at the Bonifacio Citadel

1. Climb up the King of Aragon’s Stairway

king of aragons stairway

The Escalier du Roy d’Aragon is one of the most iconic attractions in Bonifacio, and not to be missed. This steep staircase of nearly 190 steps dates back to around 1420, carved directly into the rock of the cliff face. Legend has it that it took King Alfonso V of Aragon’s soldiers just one night to carve them. As you ascend, marvel at the stunning panoramic views and the glittering light reflecting from the turquoise waters below.

2. Views From The Fortress' Terrace

view from terrace bonifacio citadel

Take a detour and climb up to the fortress’ terraces for the most breathtaking and unique views over the port and craggy cliffs. From this point you can even see the Italian island of Sardinia, which is around 16 kilometers away from Corsica at its shortest distance.

Bonifacio Citadel in Video

Calvi Citadel

calvi citadel

Gazing upon the glistening sea and the snow-capped mountains of Monte Grossu, the Citadel in Calvi is a majestic spectacle to behold. Emerging from the long, white, sandy beach, boaters moor, and pine forest, this imposing fortress is rich in history and culture that is waiting to be uncovered.

Calvi Citadel in Pictures

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Aerial View of Calvi Citadel, Corsica
calvi citadel
Calvi Citadel, Corsica
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Calvi Citadel Streets, Corsica
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Calvi Citadel Sunrise, Corsica

Things to See & Do at the Calvi Citadel

1. Walking The Streets of The Historic Citadel

streets of calvi citadel

Visiting Calvi is all about taking a stroll along the winding streets of the historic Citadel. Take your time and wonder down quaint alleyways and admire the interesting wall art around the city. Though the walk to the top might seem arduous, it is most certainly worth it for the breathtaking views you will see along the way.

2. Enjoy an Interactive Tour

sunrise calvi citadel

Audio guided tours of the Citadel are available for adults and children in four different languages: French, English, German, and Italian, accompanied by a map that lists the 11 landmarks of the tour. Traditional music accompanies the story of the fortress and the many characters that have formed its reputation.

Calvi Citadel in Video

Calanques de Piana

calanques de piana

In the Gulf of Porto on the Central West coast of Corsica you will find the fascinating phenomenon that is the Calanques de Piana. Made from red porphyry, a magmatic rock, and sculpted by the wind and sea, the Calanques de Piana are breathtaking high cliffs and creeks. The rocks themselves have powerful overtones of pink, orange and red, which really intensify when the light hits them at sunset.

Calanques de Piana in Pictures

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Roadway Through Calanques de Piana, Corsica
watchtower near calanques de piana
Geneose Tower Overlooking Mediterranean, Near Calanques de Piana
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Hiking Calanques de Piana, Corsica
view of calanques de piana from a boat
View of Calanques de Piana From a Boat
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Incredible View of Calanques de Piana

Things to See & Do at the Calanques de Piana

1. Take a Road Trip

calanques de piana roadway

There is one singular road that cuts through the red cliffs of the Calanques, and the drive should take you around 2 to 3 kilometers along the Road D81. For the best colors, drive along the roads during late afternoon or sunset, and remember to drive it in both directions to see all the different views.

2. Embark on a Boat Tour

view of calanques de piana from a boat

The Calanques de Piana Boat Tour departs from the marina at Porto Ota, taking you all the way along the cliffs to under the tower of Capo Rosso. There are many different options to choose from, including small speedboats and a larger hybrid boat. The boat tours should last around 1 hour 30 minutes depending on the weather.

3. Visit the Calanques on Foot

hiking calanques de piana

The most famous walk in the area will take you through the Calanques de Piana: the château de Piana trail, or the tête du chien. It is worth noting that the château is not actually a castle, but a square rock. However, the views from here are stunning nonetheless. It is best to do this walk in early or late summer but be aware that the carparks can fill up quickly. The trail should take around 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes to complete.

CCalanques de Piana in Video

GR20 Trail

gr 20 trail sign

Winding along the central spine of mountains at the heart of Corsica, the GR20 is arguably the best hiking trail in all of Europe. Though the terrain is pretty rugged and tough in some places, especially the steep and rocky paths of the northern section, the GR20 is well within the capabilities of most backpackers and hikers of all abilities.

GR20 Trail in Pictures

amazing view along gr 20 trail
Stunning View Along GR 20 Trail, Corsica
petra piana campsite gr 20 trail
Campsite Petra Piana, GR 20, Corsica
rock formation Valley of the Bonifatu circus gr 20
Rock Formation at Valley of the Bonifatu Circus, GR 20
gr 20 trail sign
GR 20 Trail Sign, Corsica
Refuge i paliri  gr 20 trail
Refuge i paliri, GR 20, Corsica
hiking  gr 20 trail
Hiking along GR 20, Corsica

Everything You Need to Know About the GR20 Trail

1. The Route

gr20 trail map

The GR20 Trail runs from Calezana in the North to Conca in the South. It is up to your preference which way around you do the hike as there is no real advantage in going either direction. The trail spans a distance of 112 miles or 180 kilometers, with an average completion time of 11 to 12 days. However, the amount of time needed to hike the route can vary considerably from hiker to hiker. In general, fast hikers with light supplies can complete the GR20 in 5 to 7 days, whereas it might take some hikers 15 to 16 days.

2. Planning Your Trip

amazing view along gr 20 trail

The best time to hike the GR20 trail is between early June and late October for the best weather, as this makes the trail easier to navigate and spot its red and white blazes for directions. Not to mention, better weather means better views! Due to some areas of the trail being completely exposed to the elements, it can be beneficial to factor in an extra day or two just in case. It is also worth noting that the trail can become quite busy during the summer, so avoid July and August if you want to avoid the crowds.

3. Accommodation and Supplies

Refuge i paliri gr 20 corsica

There are many mountain huts, or Refugios, along the GR20 route that offer basic accommodation and food. Though it is a good idea to take a tent and supplies, the Refugios are a good place to stop and refuel, get a good night’s sleep, replenish your supplies, and check out the weather forecast.

4. Swimming

swimming hole along gr 20 corsica

On a hot day, there is nothing better than cooling off in one of the fantastic natural pools along the GR20. The crystal-clear swimming holes are adorned with little waterfalls and boast insanely good views of the surrounding rocky landscape.

GR20 Trail in Video