Get inspired to visit Corsica with these 25 photos!
During my visit to Corsica, I hiked part of the GR 20, sipped wine while looking out to the sunset, kayaked clear blue water, dipped my toes in refreshing mountain streams, explored narrow cobblestone streets, and so much more.
The island of Corsica was acquired by France in the 1700s, however much about Corsica is uniquely Corsican due to the island's landscape, allowing many people to work in and retreat to remote mountains, and insularity. And the locals will be sure to remind you of the difference between the island and the mainland. Their menus, music, and architecture are a fusion of French and Italian, specifically Genoese and Tuscan, that have melded into something wholly unique. If ever you have the opportunity to visit, take it!
Here are some of my favorite photos from my visit to the Corsican island. Enjoy!
Beaches and Waterscapes in Corsica
There are over 200 beaches in Corsica - some are comprised of slabs of rock, others smooth pebbles, and more still pure white sand. I only had the opportunity to visit the beaches in Calvi and around Bastia, but even these were stunning!
Calvi's beaches are worth a visit, as they're a stunning blue and clean, have wonderful snorkeling, are close to the main town center, and they're easily accessible by public transport or on foot. Bastia's beaches and those around Cap Corse are fun to visit, as some have beautifully colored soft stones and clear blue water. The two beaches that get wonderful reviews (and unfortunately I couldn't make it to!) are Loto beach just a quick boat ride from Saint Florent in Cap Corse and Palombaggia just outside Porto Vecchio in the south.
The beaches of Pietranera, just north of Bastia via the #4 bus, are made of pebbles and stone slabs, making for a dramatic landscape!
Walking along the road, it's not unusual to find stairs leading straight down to the beach, where you can launch a paddleboard or kayak, or even just dip your feet in on a hot day.
The stone slab beaches of Pietranera create small pools of seawater, constantly being refreshed with the movement of the tide - small ecosystems exist in these little pools, where you can see crabs, shrimp, small fish, anemones, and more.
Arinella Beach is located just south of Bastia, which is easily accessible by free bus from the Visitor's Center in the middle of town. In July and August, paddleboards and sailboats can be rented, and boating school is even offered to those interested.
There are many places to kayak and paddleboard around Corsica, and Erbalunga is a great place to explore by water. The Port De Plaisance has a local kayak and paddleboard rental shop - Kayak de Mer et Paddles, Tel: 04 95 32 54 34 - give their number a call when you arrive, and you'll be out on the water for hours for a great price! They offer tours as well.
Mountains of Corsica
The majority of Corsica, approximately two-thirds in fact, is a large mountain chain that stretches from the far north to the far south of the island. These mountains are made of granite in some regions and volcanic rock in others, creating beautifully shaped, dramatic mountain peaks and vistas. Many of the peaks in this chain are over 2,000 meters, or nearly 9,000 feet, high, with the highest point being Monte Cinto at 2,706 m (8,878 ft).
The airport itself might not be anything special, but those mountains sure do call to you when you first land at morning's light.
Streams flow down from the mountains around Refuge Ciuttulu Di I Mori, creating the perfect swimming pools to refresh from a long day's hike.
The sunrises and sunsets in the Corsican mountains are special. There aren't many roads looping through the tall peaks, so they're often incredibly quiet (aside from the clicking of hiking poles from a passerby), and the redness of the mountain rock further illuminates every mountain face and crevice shadow.
Corsican pines are unique to Corsica, but have been exported to and planted in various parts of Europe for their timber. The GR20 red-and-white blazes mark the way for hikers heading into the mountains.
As you hike south from Refuge de Tighjettu, past the Refuge de Ciottulu di i Mori, the landscape begins to change to softer hills and valleys ideal for grazing land for cows and sheep. The Corsican mountains are ever-changing as you move along the route!
There are few views as peaceful as the sun setting over the mountains, where no roads lead and the only access is by foot or helicopter. The only sounds I heard as I fell asleep were the babbling of nearby streams and the calls of mouflon (wild mountain sheep) as they traverse the rocky slopes. This photo was taken at the Refuge de Tighjettu.
Cityscapes of Corsica
The cityscapes of Corsica are charming, to say the least, with ample trees and vegetation to shade from the hot sun and plenty of cafes to have a refreshing drink. There is also a ton of history in each city - walking tours are offered often at the Visitor's Center in the main parts of towns such as Bastia, Calvi, Porto Vecchio, and Ajaccio, Napoleon's birthplace.
Cafe tables set up outside bistros and cafes is a common occurrence throughout the islands - sit back and enjoy a local Pietra beer or a tasty coffee.
The various colors found on homes throughout Bastia make the views even more interesting. As a seaside city, the main reason houses are painted so vibrantly is to ensure fishermen could navigate their way back to the ports.
Cafes in Erbalunga invite passersby for a local charcuterie plate or glass of wine. Note the green hue showing through the chipped paint on the building - many structures on the coast in this region are made in part with Vert d'Orezza, or Corsican green stones, found all throughout the rocky beaches off the shore.
The marina and port of Bastia are a stunning sight at sunset, as seen from the hill on which the Citadel sits in the Old Town. The Saint Jean-Baptiste church, dating back to the 1600s, can be seen clearly as an important monument for the city.
Narrow, stone streets lead to beautiful apartments and homes, with color splashed outside homes on doors, flowerpots, and window shutters.
The buildings and structures found throughout Corsica are a result of thousands of years of different cultural influences, especially those from Italy and France. This, coupled with Corsica's place on the Mediterranean Sea, makes for a melange of architectural types.
The tower ruins of Erbalunga are located on a spit jutting out into the sea. Dating back to the 1500s, the Genoese built this tower, and others like it, all along the coast as defense posts.
Many churches can be found throughout the Corsican region - Eglise Sainte Croix is one of the most unique. It sits hidden down a narrow street, set back from the adjoining buildings, in the Citadel area of Bastia. It was originally founded in the 1500s to house a Christ symbol found by fishermen out at sea.
The original integrity of the structures found along the sea and into the mountains show the beauty of maintaining a way of life without the influence of tourism.
Green and red stone found throughout Corsica's mountains and coastline have been used to build many structures in the city, including homes - they can be seen under the worn-away plaster. The streets are made that much more charming with beautifully crafted wooden front doors.
Built in the 14th century, the Palace of Governors adjoining the Citadel of Bastia was the powerhouse of the city, with the looming tower looking far out over Bastia and the sea.
Restaurants in Corsica
Delicious local charcuterie and cheese. Creamy gelato and affogato. Fresh fish caught the same day. Wine made in Corsica. There isn't anything to dislike about the food scene in Corsica, especially the dishes being put out by traditional Corsican restaurants. They do fish right, and the land and sea shine through in the meals made.
Speaking of coffee... that tasty Italian beverage made its way to Corsica as a traditional treat - vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso and chocolate powder on top!
The nightlife and food in Bastia shouldn't be missed, as there's plenty to see and taste! Chez Vincent, in the Old Town of Bastia, overlooks the harbor, cruise port, and Mediterranean Sea - try out their pizza and one-of-a-kind burgers.
Corsica's location on the Mediterranean makes it the perfect place to get seafood and the mountains create other culinary opportunities, such as fresh sheep cheese and wild boar sausage. The local wine and fish of the day at L'Epique, along with this stunning view at sunset, are a must.
Enjoying the scenery and the colorful details of the wine bar and restaurant Le Coude a Coude in Old Town Bastia. There are a number of wine regions throughout Corsica that create distinct and delicious wines.
Corsica is a must-visit for anyone looking to mix adventure with leisure time and sightseeing of beautiful towns. Don't miss the opportunity to visit this incredible island!
Christa and Nathan