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Corsica's Best Road Trips

For passionate (and courageous) drivers, road-tripping in Corsica can be rewarding. Choosing the right route is key and depends on your skill and comfort level driving on often narrow, winding roads (see a Note on Self-Driving, below). Here are some of the drives to consider:


  • Bonifacio to Porto Vecchio - almost all flat, no mountains
  • Porto Vecchio to Bastia - farmland, countryside, coastal road.

Most Scenic:

  • Saint Florent to Calvi - via mountain ranges but also along the coast.

Most Dramatic:

  • West coast of Cap Corse (esp. between Pina and Nonza) - gorgeous views, hairpin turns, steep cliffs (a bit scary)
  • Calvi to Piana - the Calanques de Piana are famous. The drive here is hairpin-turn central.

A note on self-driving:

The driving is doable for people who are comfortable driving in Europe/have driven in places like the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany etc. The roads are in good condition. Driving in the south is easier than driving in the north, though both have parts where the mountains offer some hairpin-turns. Cap Corse has some of the steepest drops right by the side of the road, with spectacular views but also some white-knuckle moments, especially when there is traffic. Be very honest about your driving ability when selecting whether to self-drive or hire someone to manage the roads for you.
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Corsica's Top Towns

When it comes to beautiful villages, Corsica has an embarrassment of riches. Many are located in hard-to-reach places, and unless you're solely after photo opportunities, not all are worth seeking out. Here are some of Indagare's favorites that are also relatively easy to access and visit.

Bonifacio The self-dubbed "most beautiful" of Corsica's towns, Bonifacio is certainly the most dramatic: its citadelle built atop a limestone cliff with incredible 360-panorama views. Touring during the daytime in the summer can quickly become hot and hellish, with lots of crowds, so it's best to time a visit either in the early morning or early evening (the light being most spectacular during those times as well). Do not miss the Marine Cemetery; walking through the massive gate; and taking a boat tour in and out of the grottos the sea has carved into the cliffs here (you can skip the Lavezzi Islands - there are better beaches elsewhere).

Bastia This northern town (the second-largest after Ajaccio) makes for an interesting stop en route to Cap Corse (and Domaine de Misincu). It is split into Terra Nova and Terra Vecchia. The former is located above the harbor and was the home of the Genoese governors. Don't miss the terrific Musée de Bastia, retracing the city's history; the imposing cathedral and the Rococo Eglise Sainte Croix. The more atmospheric neighborhood is Terra Vecchia, surrounding the harbor, with its small streets and wonderful Place Hotel de Ville. While in Bastia, stop in at Mattei, a shop that sells a selection of Corsican culinary goods.

Calvi A smaller citadelle than the ones of Bonifacio, Basti and Porto Vecchio, Calvi is nonetheless charming and makes for a fun morning of strolling and picture-taking.

Corte For cool breezes and a dramatically different landscape, drive inland to the mountain village of Corte, home of the national hero and freedom fighter, Pasquale de Paoli, and site of the island's only university. History buffs will enjoy the Musée de la Corse, a sprawling modern exhibition space perched on a cliff in the revamped 15th-century citadel that features art and artifacts of preindustrial Mediterranean society. Stop for lunch at U Museu or L'Appiattu.

Editors' Picks
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Desert de Agriats

With nearly 25 miles of coastline, this so-called desert is one of the longest stretches of protected nature in Europe. It’s wild, scrub-covered and studded with beautiful coves for swimming. Agriats can be reached on foot or 4-wheel drive, but the best way to explore is via boat, starting in Calvi, Saint Florent or L’Ile Rousse. You can go on hikes through the maquis, but most travelers just while the days away at one of the many beaches.

Golf de Sperone

This top-rated 18-hole course is located near Bonifacio, in southern Corsica, and is renowned for its views, especially Hole #16 which plays up right up to the sea on a spectacular cliff-side. The concierges at the top hotels in this area can reserve tee times.

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Route des Artisans

Day trip along the Route des Artisans, passing through such towns as Pigna, Lumio, Aregno, Algajola and Corbara, for discovering small workshops producing ceramics, olive oils and jewelry. This can also be combined with touring some wineries in this wine-producing region. If you have time, include Patrimonio, where the pottery workshop of Julien Trouchon is a highlight.

Editors' Picks

Summer Music Festivals

During July and August, islanders and tourists alike arrive en masse for two major music festivals: Patrimonio's Les Nuits de Guitare (www.festival-guitare-patrimonio.com) is held in a magical setting: a grassy moonlit seaside park near the illuminated 16th-century honey-stone church. It brings together international guitar virtuosos from the classical, pop, rock, Gypsy manouche, flamenco and jazz worlds. The Porto-Latino (www.porto-latino.com) takes place in the St.-Florent citadel and features a prestigious lineup of Latin music stars from Brazil, Cuba and the U.S.

For teenagers, there's also the Calvi On The Rocks festival, held in early July, which is a splashy electro music extravaganza held on the beach, featuring an international lineup of DJs and artists. The party rages on until the wee hours at nightspots all over town, like Chez Tao.

Editors' Picks
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Top Hike: Cap Corse

Pack a picnic and drive north past Bastia and up the eastern coast of the rugged Cap Corse. This tranquil finger-shaped peninsula of tiny fishing ports, old crenellated Genoese towers, unspoiled beaches and luxuriant green hillsides and vineyards is, perhaps, the least commercially developed part of Corsica and a trekker’s paradise. Begin the trail at Macinaggio, the last village at the tip of Cap Corse. Stop at the splendorous beach at Tamarone, then continue on the “customs” footpath (so-called because such roadways used to be patrolled by customs agents) that winds around the seaside cliffs and crystalline coves. A fragrant network of paths lined with myrtle, heather and juniper leads the traveler past cows and sheep grazing in the lush green meadows just behind the dunes. Maps are available at the Macinaggio Tourist Office.

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Wine Region: Patrimonio

The village of Patrimonio, located in Corsica's mini Napa Valley on the coast of the verdant Nebbio region, offers an official wine-tasting trail of thirty award-winning vineyards. (Maps are available at the Tourist Office.) The shallow rocky limestone soil of the Nebbio is ideal for Vermentinu, a white grape with almond and apple notes, and Nielluccui, a native, mellow, fleshy red grape with aromas of red berries, violets, apricot and licorice.

Some of the best ones to know are:

Domaine Yves Leccia One of the most exceptional vineyards on the island. Lieu-dit Morta Piana; Poggio d'Oletta; 33-04-95-37-11-35; www.yves-leccia.fr.

Domaine Orenga de Gaffory A winery that also houses a cutting-edge contemporary-art gallery. Look for the Cuvée Felice Rouge. 33-04-95-37-45-00; www.orengadegaffory.com

Domaine Gentile A local favorite with top-quality vintages, especially big reds. St.-Florent; 33-04-95-37-01-54; www.domaine-gentile.com

Clos Teddi Located in the center of St.-Florent and known for fruity whites that you will find on the menus of many restaurants up north. St.-Florent Rue Principale; 33-06-10-84-11-73; www.closteddi.com

Editors' Picks

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