The spectacularly beautiful French island of Corsica is in the Mediteranean – west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia.
The island has been fought over and occupied constantly for centuries but since 1769 Corsica has been governed by France – with a couple of interludes of British rule which didn’t last too long. Despite its French credentials the island retains its own character and has it’s own distinctive language and customs and has a very definite Italian feel to it.
Thanks to its tactical position the island was used by the US military in WWII to establish 17 airfields and was nicknamed “USS Corsica”. These days though the island is a tourist haven, much sought out by sun-seekers and lovers of beautiful scenery.
The island offers visitors an amazing variation of landscapes, a rugged sea swept coastline with more than 200 beaches, mountains the interior of the island enjoys deep forests, glacial lakes, gorges where you can walk, maquis-covered slopes and snow-capped granite peaks; wilderness areas attract walkers and nature-lovers – all this on an island of no more than 8,680 sq kms.
Tiny villages cling to the mountainsides like barnacles on a whale, exceptional baroque style churches abound, fortified seaside villages and cobbled streets combined with glorious sandy beaches and crystal clear water – Corsica is a holiday-makers paradise.
Driving on the island is easy and you can hire a car on arrival, there are no major complicated roads, the whole atmosphere is pretty laid back and that includes the driving.
Around 2 million people a year visit Corsica for the beaches are amongst the finest in Europe, the Mediterranean climate is inviting and the diverse landscapes offer something for everyone, but away from the main resorts there are peaceful mountain towns, quiet fishing villages and empty beaches. Tourism has not spoiled Corsica and there is plenty of scope to tour the island and find hidden sandy coves, cascading waterfalls, wonderful little restaurants in undisturbed harbour towns and more.
Why not go in April, May or June and beat the tourist rush in July and August. The weather can be beautiful in those months, the roads clear and you can have the beaches to yourself although some restaurants and facilities may be closed in early May.
In the north of the island, Bastia is the capital and boasts an almost intact 15th century citadel. There are little fishing villages such as Macinaggio and lovely little ports like that at St-Florent.
The west of the island has a marvellous coast line – major targets for holiday makers, which runs down to the town of Ajaccio, birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte.
There are prehistoric sites such as Filitosa and close by Bonifacio which boasts a fascinating citadel leaning out over the sea, a stunning sight against a sunset or sunrise.
You can reach Corsica by air or by ferry from Mainland France or Italy.
Best things to do in Corsica
See the unique carved faces of the Filitosa menhirs, Mediterranean archeological treasures
Calvi is Corsica’s hallmark resort, spectacular scenery and a 15th century citadel
Drink in the view from the cliff top seaside town of Bonifacio with its ancient houses, steep lanes and medieval battlements, then take a boat ride from the harbour
Relax on one of the stunning beaches
Take a trip on the amazing mountain train to get from one town to another (Bastia, Ajaccio and Calvi).