Corsica – Overview

Corsica has been part of France for more than 200 years, but it doesn’t feel French. It’s only 50 miles from mainland Italy, but it doesn’t feel Italian either. Some say it looks like Sardinia did 30 years ago; we’ve even heard its inland wilderness – the legendary fragrant maquis - likened to the highlands of Scotland. But one thing is for sure: from its customs and its hearty cuisine to its constantly changing landscape, Corsica is one of a kind.

There are lots of good reasons for choosing Corsica.  It has better weather than the South of France, with hot summers and mild winters (you can still swim in the sea in October). It is superb walking country – you can walk nearly the length of the island on the famous GR20 route; it’s so good for cycling that in 2013, for the first time ever, it hosted the opening three stages of the Tour de France. And its 620 miles of coastline boast more than 200 beaches, some edged with chic promenades and smart restaurants, but most completely untouched by tourism.

And yes, Corsica was the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte. It’s also where Nelson lost his right eye. But it would be a great mistake to hold either against an island the French call L’Ile de Beauté.

Learn more about Corsica from our experts, discover the island's luxury trends or consider taking a twin-centre holiday with Cote d'Azure.

Read about our chartered British Airways flights to Corsica.


Figari (FSC), Ajaccio (AJA), Calvi (CLY) or Bastia (BIA)


2 hours 30 minutes


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Corsica – Location & Map


Corsica – Villas



Villa du Maquis

  • Corsica, 4 bedrooms/sleeps 8
  • Private location with stunning views
  • Spacious and stylish
  • Wifi and air-conditioning

Villa Palombaggia

  • Corsica, 5 bedrooms/sleeps 10
  • Stylish modern design
  • Rural setting, beach 10min walk
  • Wifi, Satellite TV, air-conditioned throughout

Villa Santa Giulia

  • Corsica, 4 bedrooms/sleeps 8
  • Retracting glass walls
  • Private heated pool
  • Stylish and modern design

La Luna

  • Corsica, 5 bedrooms/sleeps 10
  • Stylish modern design
  • Rural setting, beach 10min walk
  • Wifi, air-conditioned, Sky TV

Les Lofts de Palombaggia

  • Corsica, 4 bedrooms/sleeps 8
  • Wonderful sea views
  • Large grounds
  • Private heated pool

Villa Lou

  • Corsica, 3 bedroom/sleeps 6
  • Bijou boutique villa
  • Distant sea views
  • Wifi and air-conditioning

Villa Marinka

  • Corsica, 4 bedrooms/sleeps 8
  • Modern stylish villa
  • Wonderful sea views
  • Palombaggia beach 300m
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Corsica – Resorts


Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio

The historic towns of Porto Vecchio and Bonifacio, just across the water from Sardinia, are both fascinating destinations, their character fiercely Corsican, yet imbued with classical Italian and French spirit.

Corsica – Our Guide

Blessed with Italian warmth and French flair, this majestic granite island is the fourth largest in the Mediterranean. Corsica is scenically breathtaking, with two thirds of the land mass taken up by a single mountain range running roughly north to south, and over 200 beaches along its astonishingly unspoilt coastline. Although it lies closer to Italy than to France, Corsica is politically French, albeit with greater independence from central government than the mainland regions thanks to its official designation as a collectivité territorial. The islanders consider themselves Corsican foremost, and this strong sense of identity and cultural pride is evident in everything from language and traditions to music and cuisine.

Despite excellent air and ferry links, Corsica’s seductive beauty remains relatively undiscovered, especially by British visitors. There’s no doubt that it can feel as though ‘le Tout-Paris’ has descended to the most popular beaches in August, but it is quite possible to find many virtually deserted spots during the rest of the summer. And while there are a few pockets of designer shops and seriously smart restaurants, the majority of the island retains an authentic, relaxed and very family-friendly feel.

Corsica – History & Culture

Girolata Bay 

Known as Kalliste (the most beautiful) by the Ancient Greeks, Corsica has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and retains many notable prehistoric ruins. The Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires all took their turn at controlling Corsica until it came under the rule of the Republic of Pisa in the early 11th C and then Genoa from 1238.

There followed a massive defence building programme which included fortresses and watch towers along the coast to deter raiders from North Africa; many of these towers are still almost complete today. Italian rule had a big impact on Corsican culture, architecture and language, which was heavily influenced by Tuscan immigrants.   


After a brief period of independence in 1755, Corsica was conquered by France in 1769, coincidentally the same year that Napoleon Bonaparte, the island’s most famous native, was born in Ajaccio. It has remained French ever since, apart from a short interlude as a British protectorate in 1794 -96 and the German and Italian occupation during World War 2.

Modern Corsica remains resolutely proud of its history and ‘otherness’, though these days passions and energies are being channelled into protecting the unique landscape, ecology and culture of Corsica rather than demanding political independence.

Watchtower on the coastline

Corsica – Climate

Mountains form microclimates around the island

Corsica has a predominantly Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild, dry winters. However, the weather is affected by the high mountains that run the length of the island and which can remain snow capped into June.

The climate at altitude is more Alpine than Mediterranean, characterised by frequent storms in the summer and rapid, unpredictable changes of weather all year round. The mountains also create microclimate zones: the North tends to be a degree or two hotter than the South, whilst the East sees more rainfall than the West.      


Back at the coast, summer temperatures range from daily averages in the low 20s in May and September to the upper 20s in July and August, peaking in the 30s. The sea is generally warm enough for swimming from May to October, with water temperatures peaking around 23°c in July, though it does remain icy cold in the mountain rivers and streams.

The capital Ajaccio claims to be the sunniest place in France, with up to 12 hours per day in July. Rainfall is negligible in summer, though dramatic thunder storms are quite common in the early evening.

The sea reaches 23°c in July

Corsica – Activities

Explore mountain villages

From the soft white sands and limpid turquoise seas of the Porto Vecchio coast to the generous sweep of Calvi bay, Corsica’s beaches are clean, unspoilt and beautiful. The south eastern beaches have excellent water sports facilities, in particular Santa Giulia and Santa Manza, which is a mecca for windsurfers. Sea kayaking and sailing let you discover inaccessible caves and coves, and Corsica also one of Med’s premier scuba diving destinations.

A third of the island has protected natural park status, there are 20 peaks over 2000m and the famous GR20 high mountain walking route runs almost the entire length of the island. There are mountain bike trails for all abilities and plenty for keen road bikers too, especially since the Tour de France ran a stage here in 2013.      


For hiking, base yourself at Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio or the Valinco Gulf in the south and you’re within easy reach of the Col de Bavella, Forest of Ospedale and the mountain villages of Ste Lucie, Zonza and Zoza. Here you can experience the thrill of canyoning through rock gulleys on the Vacca, Purcaraccia and Polischellu rivers.

From cosmopolitan Calvi to brooding Corte, the bustling port of Bastia to the cliff-top citadel of Bonifacio, Corsican towns offer a fascinating glimpse into the turbulent history of the island and make for an interesting excursion when you tire of the pool or the beach. If you feel like getting off the island completely, it’s possible to visit neighbouring Sardinia for a day trip, or just take a boat over to intimate Cavallo Island for lunch.

Enjoy water sports off the rocky coastline

Corsica – Feasts & Festivals

Music festivals are held in towns across the island

During the summer you can enjoy a busy schedule of events celebrating the best of Corsican food, music and traditions. In May the Corsican love of cheese is celebrated at the Fiera di U Casgiu in Venaco, followed by an olive festival in Montegrosso in July. In August, the Balagne village of Aregno hosts a major almond ‘fair’, with tastings, art exhibitions, children’s events and cooking demonstrations.

Wine lovers flock to Luri in July for the Fiera di U Vinu, where the public can taste a range of wines and speciality local foods. Music is an intrinsic part of Corsican culture, with various events taking place almost every week from June to September including the Fete de la Musique, an island-wide series of free live music performances held on the 21st of June.  


The renowned Calvi Jazz festival, is held in June, followed by the Ajaccio Jazz Festival in early July. For pop lovers there’s the Notte Nere tribute band festival in Patrimonio in June, Calvi on the Rocks in July. There is a major open air music festival in Porto Vecchio over the final weekend of August.

For a more authentic experience, Estivoce runs from June to September in and around Pigna, showcasing Corsican music and art and offering a chance to hear the polyphonic choirs (generally 3-8 voices singing a capella) which are a distinctive part of Corsican culture. You can see more of this at the Rencontres Polyphoniques de Calvi in September. Finally, most Corsican towns will celebrate both Bastille Day on the 4th of July and the Fete de St Jean on June 24th with fireworks and processions.

Wine festivals are great for sampling regional produce

Corsica – Food & Drink

Corsica produces its own red wine

With strong French and Italian influences, Corsican food is at once familiar and distinctive, rustic yet sophisticated. From the wafer-thin pizzas cooked in wood-fired ovens to the ultra-fresh fish and seafood, restaurants here suit all tastes and budgets.

There’s a serious commitment to artisan food production too, which guarantees the origin and quality of the produce as well as helping to preserve skills, species and landscapes for the future. Market shopping is a great way to try some local specialities for a lazy lunch – look out for chunky salamis flavoured with maquis herbs, or the classic goats cheese ‘brocciu’ which makes its way into various sweet and savoury dishes.    


Slow cooked wild boar and lamb are the meat specialities, though can be a bit heavy for summer. For a lighter alternative, look out for river trout, or ‘huitres’ from the historic oyster beds on the east coast. Desserts are likely to be cream or cheese based – brocciu again – or made with chestnut flour, a typical ingredient from the Castagniccia region in the north west.

The best know wines come from the St Florent and Cap Corse region in the north of island, which produces reds and rosés from the little-known Niellucio grape, plus Vermentino whites. It is possible to visit and tour some of wineries, and many will allow you to bring your own plastic container or bottle to fill up for an extremely reasonable price.

Food is both rustic and sophisticated

Corsica – For Families

Powder soft beaches are great for children

Corsica is famous for its beaches, many of which are powder soft and gently shelving, perfect for little ones just getting used to the sea. The Italian influence makes eating out easy with children, as you can enjoy excellent pizza and ice cream in just about every village across the island.      


Take a boat trip to see the caves and cliffs around Bonifacio, or for older children there are plenty of water based activities to try, including diving, windsurfing, kayaking and SUPs. The mountains are a real adventure playground too – cool off in a mountain stream or hurtle through the rock pools on a guided canyoning expedition.

Take a boat trip around Bonifacio

Corsica – For Couples

Evening falls on the town of Calvi

Corsica has long been a favourite couples destination thanks to its rugged beauty, intimate scale and uniquely away-from-it-all atmosphere barely 2.5 hours flying time from the UK. Kate Moss and Keira Knightley both honeymooned here, seduced perhaps by the stunning landscapes and the refreshing lack of celebrity culture.

French women are world leaders in the art of taking care of themselves, so there is no shortage of top spas on Corsica. From soothing massages to elegant manicures, luxury spa facilities are available at the Hotels around the area.     


And rather conveniently, Porto Vecchio and Calvi are both excellent shopping destinations for everything from Italian designer swimwear to local speciality foods and wines. Almost all of the main island towns grew up around a central fort or citadel, essential protection from pirate raids and other invaders.

Today the citadel walls are often lined with excellent restaurants and dotted with artisan shops, but the old towns are still very atmospheric, and a wander around the back streets of Bonifacio after dark is a magical experience.

Sunset on the west coast