The French-owned island of Corsica is tipped to be one of the most popular Mediterranean island destinations of summer 2013, and there are certainly a lot to choose from, with Majorca, Ibiza, Santorini and Corfu plus many more all gunning for the honours! Corsica’s nearest neighbour is Sardinia, and despite French ownership the local culture is a charming mix of Italian and French. Here is your crash-course on Corsica, whether you want to plan a trip or just look like you’re in the know!
Fly to: Ajaccio in the west or Bastia in the north – great news, there are even cheap flights to Corsica available with low cost carriers!
Flight time: Minimum four hours
Temperature: Mid- to high-20Cs between June and September
Holiday season: April to October
Currency: € Euros
Language: Corsican, although most people will speak French or Italian
Car hire: Possible to do without a car, you will get much more out of your holiday with one – traffic gets pretty bad in August though!
Calvi is best if you would rather not hire a car, and it’s also one of the island’s most picturesque spots. You will find a large beach, an imposing citadel, and streets crammed with cafes and boutiques, so you can enjoy the sunshine with a generous helping of café culture on the side.
Porto Vecchio is the island’s oldest holiday resort, and with eight miles of inlets and bays plus a charming Old Town and a fashionable marina it’s still one of its most popular. Great for families and couples, this resort provides the opportunity to explore a new beach every day without ever travelling very far.
Bonifacio boasts a dramatic port that’s the focal point for this resort, complete with luxury yachts and a restaurant-lined quayside. A great resort if you like to get out on the water – numerous boat tours exploring the caves and grottoes leave from here, and holidays are about relaxing in a pretty square and slowly taking in the sights.
On the “Island of Beauty”, as you can imagine, many of the must-see things are natural attractions. The Natural Regional Park of Corse contains astonishing diversity whilst the Calanques de Piana and Bavella Pass are two more highlights. If you prefer your sights to be indoors then the Palais Fesch has France’s largest collection of Italian paintings outside the Louvre, and the Oratoire de la Confrérie St-Antoine boasts some lovely frescoes. The Musée National de la Maison Bonaparte features plenty of memorabilia of this emperor – including a lock of hair!
The island boasts plenty of beaches, and quite frankly, most of them are gorgeous! Note that the vast majority don’t have lifeguards, even in peak season, so be careful and sensible! If you’re after seeking out the best of the best, then you probably need a hire car. Propriano itself has an unremarkable beach, but you will find Portigliolo, one of the prettiest beaches, just south of the town. The same is true of Porticcio which has two stunning beaches a short drive south. In Porto Vecchio you will also have to drive to the beach, with Cala Rossa and Palombaggia both popular thanks to their looks!
Other gorgeous offerings include Piantarella’s lagoon beach with has white sand, Rondinara which has a semi-circular bay and a spectacular setting, and Pinarellu, also outside Porto Vecchio.
Money Saving Tips
You could look to stay away from the main resorts in one of the central towns, such as Evisa, Lento of Sant’Antonino to save a bit over a hotel in a prime location. As an added bonus, you will also have more chance of dining on traditional Corsican food, often found served out of local houses.
As with many inhabitants of small islands, the locals have long been fiercely independent, and today this shows in the beverages. It’s much cheaper, not to mention more interesting, to try the local beers, wine and even the local version of coke, rather than the more usual alternatives.
For free water on the go, make sure you look out for the roadside springs where water trickles from the mountains – you will be able to spot them by the particularly lush greenery nearby!
Try self-catering, with plenty of properties in Calvi and Porto Vecchio to choose from – grab some of the local specialities of cheese and charcuterie and make yourself some slap-up meals!
Visit our dedicated Corsica guide to book your cheap flights, hotel or car hire and for more tips and hints!