We’ve wanted to visit Corsica for a few years now – its mixture of amazing beaches, Mediterranean weather and dramatic mountains are all the kinds of things we love, but we’d not been able to find flights before that were cheap enough or at the right times for us.
This year, we found some surprisingly cheap flights with Air Corsica and Easyjet, so, after some research on the best places to visit and stay, we booked up 16-nights split between Bastia, Porto Vecchio and Ajaccio.
If you’re headed to Corsica, or planning on doing so, hopefully our itinerary of what we got up to below will help you…
Using Google Flights, we found some surprisingly low fares to Corsica, flying from London Stansted via Air Corsica on the way out and Easyjet for the return journey.
Corsica has at least three airports that we know of (Bastia, Ajaccio and Figari) and the most convenient flight times and lowest cost for us were Stansted to Bastia.
We were flying on the very first day of the summer holidays which, thanks to a school inset day, for us was a Friday, meaning we could escape the day before the summer holiday rush. Although our accommodation in Porto Vecchio wasn’t available until the Saturday, it was still cheaper for us to fly on the Friday and stay one night in a Bastia hotel, before heading to our accommodation for the week the next morning.
It also avoided some major travel delays the next day; we were safely sat by the pool in Corsica by the Saturday, reading BBC News about severe delays at Stansted.
We hired a car for the full 16-days of our holiday. Searching on several of the car hire comparison sites, we found a deal via Europcar which was one of the cheapest car hire deals we’ve ever had.
Collecting the car was quick and easy – the Europcar desk was right by the arrivals gate at the airport and we got a virtually brand new Renault Scenic, which proved to be an ideal car for our family of five.
We booked a hotel for one night that’s literally at the exit of Bastia airport – called the Jardines de Madrague. It didn’t really matter to us what the hotel was like as it was just a one-night stop-over but, as it happened, it was a great little hotel with clean, air conditioned rooms, friendly staff, a pool and small kitchen / buffet area serving a decent breakfast, with several restaurants for dinner nearby. It was perfect for our requirements and highly recommended.
We only stayed in Bastia for one night so didn’t see much of what it had to offer, but first impressions are that it’s not ideal as a holiday destination itself. It certainly doesn’t have the same natural beauty or attractions as places further to the south and west of Corsica.
We drove the two-hour journey from Bastia down to Porto Vecchio in the south the next day; it was an easy trip – it’s pretty much just one straight road down the east coast. There are no motorways on Corsica and there’s a lot of driving on narrow, winding roads but this journey was an easy and pleasant one.
Zonza / Porto Vecchio
Our accommodation for the first week near Porto Vecchio was a ‘residence’ – which seems to be what most holiday accommodation is around this area. It’s a small collection of apartments with shared gardens and a pool.
We stayed at the Residence Marina de Fautea, which is pretty basic but we were happy with it, considering most of our days would be spent out and about. The rooms were a decent size and were all air-conditioned. The pool was excellent and the location was ideal.
We were about 20-minutes’ drive from Porto Vecchio itself, which is a notoriously expensive town, so we paid a lower rate but could still easily get in to Porto Vecchio and its surrounding sights and beaches easily.
There were a couple of other nearby towns with supermarkets, beaches and loads of restaurants. We headed to Pinarello for dinner most nights, which has a great selection of restaurants all positioned on the beach front.
Santa Giulia Beach
We spent our first day at one of Porto Vecchio’s two most-popular beaches, Santa Giulia. There are a lot of beaches around Porto Vecchio – and indeed the whole of Corsica – all of which are beautiful, but it’s Santa Giulia and its neighbouring Palombaggia which are the two most prestigious and beautiful of the entire island of Corsica.
- Read our full post about Santa Giulia beach here »
Col de Bavella and Cascades de Polischellu
Our next trip was out up in to the mountains which form the backdrop to the whole Porto Vecchio region. Although we love walking and climbing in mountains, the mid-summer heat certainly wasn’t the weather for that, so we drove up the Col de Bavella road, stopping off at mountain streams, waterfalls and viewpoints over the mountains and sea beyond.
- Read our full post about Col de Bavella here »
The next day was spent relaxing at the villa by the pool. We found the climate in this part of southern Corsica to be pretty much perfect in the July / August time we were here. It was hot and very sunny – temperatures always well in to the thirties but a cool breeze seemed to blow at just the right times to prevent it ever becoming unbearable.
In the evenings it cooled down just enough to be able to comfortably sit out and eat dinner and to sleep easily – and also to visit Porto Vecchio town, which is probably too hot to walk around comfortably in during the heat of the day.
Porto Vecchio Old Town
In the evening we headed in to Porto Vecchio Old Town itself and enjoyed wandering round looking at the fashionable, exclusive and extremely expensive shops. We managed to find a restaurant that was just about sensibly priced enough for us to afford for dinner.
If there is one drawback to Corsica, it would be that it definitely seems everything is particularly expensive, even outside of the glamorous Porto Vecchio, which is a favourite hangout of the rich and famous.
Restaurants, supermarkets, drinks, activities, accommodation – everything feels much more expensive than other European / Mediterranean holidays we’ve had in the past.
The island just seems to have the perfect balance of everything – some of Europe’s best beaches, mountain scenery, climate… It’s amazing, but it seems it comes at a price, one which people are apparently willing to pay as it’s extremely popular – particularly with French and Italian holidaymakers; we saw very few other British travellers anywhere we went.
- Read our full post about Porto Vecchio town here »
Rondinara Beach (Plage de Rondinara)
Our next beach trip was to Rondinara – a spectacular curved bay between Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio right at the far southern end of Corsica.
- Read our full post on Rondinara beach here »
Bonifacio has a large harbour full of enormous super-yachts as well as other day-trip cruise boats and a ferry that makes the short journey to Sardinia.
Above the marina is the famous Bonifacio ‘citadel’ – an old town of narrow streets high up on the cliff face. This was our favourite town we visited.
- Read our full post on Bonifacio here »
The next day we headed away from the beaches again up in to the mountains and the lake at L’Ospedale. This is a large lake created by a dam and surrounded by forest with walking trails. The highlight however was on the journey up here – a viewpoint just outside the village of L’Ospedale with views over what feels like the whole of Southern Corsica – well worth travelling up to. The panorama viewpoint can be found on Google Maps here: https://goo.gl/maps/aFfUr67gBy22
On our final day in Porto Vecchio we headed for Corsica’s most-famous beach and it certainly didn’t disappoint. If you visit southern Corsica and don’t experience Palombaggia (and Santa Giulia), you’ve missed out in our opinion – none of the other beaches on the island compare.
- Read our full post about Palombaggia Beach here »
Travelling to Ajaccio
We often like to split up our summer holidays in to two different regions of a country, so we get to see different places and it also makes the holiday feel longer and fuller. This time, we’d arranged to stay near Ajaccio, which is the capital of Corsica and on the west coast – about 2.5-hours’ drive from where we stayed near Porto Vecchio.
The drive itself from Porto Vecchio to Ajaccio was beautiful – through Corsica’s mountainous interior and along some different coastlines with yet more magical beaches visible from the road above.
It was a tiring drive up and down very winding and narrow mountain roads and we stopped off a few times at viewpoints over hillsides and beaches.
Plage de Roccapina
One of the beaches on the journey particularly caught our eye – called Plage de Roccapina. It was an idyllic bay with golden sand, bright blue water and surrounded by cliffs with a small handful of boats anchored up.
We detoured from the main road and spent an hour here relaxing before carrying on the journey through yet more mountain scenery before arriving at our next destination…
Just like the first week, it was a perfect location outside of the main city, with beautiful mountain scenery, an amazing beach nearby, loads of restaurants – and only a short journey to Ajaccio itself.
We were pleased we’d chosen these two regions – the Ajaccio region in the west had a different feel to it from Porto Vecchio over on the other side of the island. The scenery was different, as were the beaches and towns – it was definitely worth experiencing both.
- Read our full post about Porticcio here »
On our first day here we headed over to Ajaccio town – a beautiful, historic town with a large port popular with cruise ships and an ‘Old Town’ section with narrow streets lined with restaurants, cafes and shops. It’s the birthplace of Napoleon and a lot of the town is dedicated to history, museums and so on – not something of huge interest to us particularly, but we spent half the day exploring and looking for other activities to do.
- Read our full post about Ajaccio here »
Agosta Fun Beach
About 10-minutes up the road from our villa in Porticcio was Agosta Fun Beach, with numerous water sports activities like jet ski hire, parasailing and inflatable doughnuts. We got the kids to do the doughnuts, which they thoroughly enjoyed.
- Read our full post about Agosta Beach here »
Point de la Parata
The following day, looking for something to do away from the beaches this time, we headed to the Point de la Parata – a nature reserve area with viewpoints overlooking the Sanguinaire Isles – a small collection of islands off a peninsula at the edge of the Gulf of Ajaccio.
- Read our full post about Point de la Parata here »
Plage Capo de Fino
There’s a popular beach about 40-minutes’ drive north of Ajaccio, a little more out in the wilderness than the other beaches around Ajaccio and Porticcio, which has beautiful countryside surroundings and a directly west-facing beach which means you get perfect views of the sunset. We came here in the evening to watch the sunset and were really glad we did.
- Read our full post about Plage Capo de Fino here »
Boat trip to Scandola, Girolata and Calanches de Piana
On our final full day in Corsica, we booked a full-day boat excursion to the nature reserve of Scandola, which also stopped at the village of Girolata and the huge cliffs of the Calanches de Piana.
- Read our full post about the boat trip here »
Heading back to Bastia and home
Although our villa was only booked to the Saturday, we’d booked our return flight on the Sunday (which was cheaper and at a more convenient time than the Saturday return flight from Bastia). This gave us time to drive from Ajaccio to Bastia – and stay one final night in a hotel a few minutes’ away from the airport.
Corsica is such an incredibly beautiful country, every journey you make is through spectacular scenery and lined with constant places to stop and enjoy the views. No motorways – and in place of roadside service stations, you get lay-bys with paths down to rivers, waterfalls or beaches to stop for rests and lunch. Even just driving around and through Corsica is a pleasure.
We had one final surprise with the hotel back in Bastia that we’d booked for the final night before our morning flight on the Sunday. We stayed at Mariana Plage, about 10-minutes’ drive from Bastia airport, and were not expecting such a high quality hotel. It had a beautiful garden with sun loungers directly in front of a huge sandy beach. There was a restaurant and bar overlooking the sea – and the rooms were superb, very modern, clean and spacious with great air conditioning.
I understand that the majority of flights to and from Corsica happen on a Sunday and the airport was certainly a great deal busier for our flight home than it was when we arrived on a Friday. So busy in fact that the queues almost caused us to miss the flight!
That one minor slip-up aside though, we had an absolutely fantastic time in Corsica – it’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever visited. It is pretty expensive – but it is absolutely money well spent!
- Read all our blog posts about everything we did during our time here in our Corsica category here »