What can you do in South Corsica in 7 days or more? Let me share the must-sees of South Corsica with you. If you spend a week in South Corsica, you’ll be able to explore its most emblematic sites.
You can arrive in Ajaccio or Figari, but for this road trip, we’ll start from the Imperial City, Ajaccio.
AJACCIO, CAPITAL OF SOUTH CORSICA
A tour of Ajaccio
Ajaccio is a city to be visited on foot. This will allow you to explore the narrow, shaded streets, and get a first-hand feel of the Imperial City.
The city’s most interesting attractions include:
- The daily morning market in the Halles is a place to taste the island’s culinary specialities. Be sure to admire the former Napoleon I quays of the 19th century port on Place Cesare Campinchi. You’ll also find the tourist office in this square offering a wealth of information and ideas on what to do in Ajaccio and the surrounding area.
- Place Foch, where Ajaccio town hall stands
- Tino Rossi fishing port
- The Citadel, open to the public since 2021
- The Baroque Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta where Napoleon was baptised in the white marble font on July 2, 1771. It also features a mural by Eugène Delacroix.
- The Bonaparte House Museum and its 23 rooms.
- The Naporama museum, which houses a very original collection. Thanks to enthusiasts, it traces the life of Napoleon with scenes created with Playmobil figures!
- The Palais Fesch Museum is a must if you love Italian Baroque art. Put together by Cardinal Fesch, this collection is second only to the Louvre with over 400 paintings by Italian artists!
Ajaccio extends as far as the Sanguinaires archipelago, which are named after their orange hues at sunset. You can get there by car, small tourist train, on the Imperial tour bus or by taking the No. 5 city bus.
The seaside road stretches along 15km of turquoise waters, which are sure to tempt you to take a dip! Along the way, you can visit Ajaccio’s cemetery, “U Canicciu”, facing the sea, with the tomb of Tino Rossi, who sang the French classic “Petit Papa Noël”.
If you decide to spend the evening in Ajaccio, I recommend dinner in one of the beach restaurants to watch the sunset over the Sanguinaires Islands.
THE CALANQUES DE PIANA, AN ESSENTIAL STOPOVER IN SOUTHERN CORSICA
On the way to the Calanques, you should stop at the village of Cargèse. What makes this village special is that it has two churches across from each other, a Catholic church and a Greek Orthodox church.
The village of Piana is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France.
The Calanques de Piana site is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The pink granite cliffs tower more than 300 metres above the sea.The road follows the sea to Porto, a beautiful little harbour. From Porto, I recommend exploring the calanques by boat. The contrasts are breath-taking.
Let’s go back to Ajaccio for a second night. I would recommend eating at Porticcio for a superb view of the Gulf of Ajaccio.
THE ALTA ROCCA AND THE AIGUILLES DE BAVELLA, SUMMITS OF SOUTH CORSICA
We head south from Ajaccio into the mountainous region of the Alta Rocca. We pass through gorgeous villages where the houses are built from granite blocks: Aullene, Serra di Scopamène, Quenza and then Zonza.
The col de Bavella pass rises to 1218 metres above sea level, affording spectacular views of the east coast and the Tyrrhenian Sea. The high rocky peaks are called the “Aiguilles de Bavella” (Needles of Bavella). The laricio pines, often perched on the rocks, add to this somewhat surreal scenery.
We then descend along the Solenzara river which marks the boundary between the Haute Corse and Corse du Sud regions. You can take a break to swim in the crystal clear waters in one of the beautiful natural pools.
Be careful on the road, cows, goats, pigs roam almost freely!
From Solenzara to Porto-Vecchio, the road runs along the sea providing a glimpse of southern Corsica’s fine beaches. To get the most out of the next day of relaxation, pick a hotel near Porto-Vecchio, around Saint Cyprien or Cala Rossa.
SOUTH CORSICA’S LOVELIEST BEACHES
The coast between Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio boasts beaches that will make you feel like you’re in the Caribbean. Whether it’s Palombaggia, Santa Giulia or Rondinara, I’ll leave it to you to choose the perfect spot for a laid-back day.
No matter which one you pick, you’ll find fine white sand and turquoise water on all three beaches! I’ve already mentioned them in my article Corsica’s most idyllic beaches.
BONIFACIO, CORSICA’S SOUTHERNMOST POINT
To appreciate the true essence of Bonifacio, you should visit it on foot but also by boat. The limestone cliffs can be discovered from the sea.
On foot you can:
- Explore the marine cemetery facing Sardinia
- Stroll through the narrow streets of the medieval citadel and take in the striking views around every corner.
- Walk up and down the 187 steps of the King of Aragon’s Stairway.
- Visit the Bastion de l’Étendard which houses a museum in its underground rooms. From its gardens, you can enjoy 10 different views of the city.
- Visit the churches dotted around the old town, five in all, and in particular the church of Saint Dominique, the only Gothic church in Corsica to be classified as a historical monument.
I suggest spending the night in Bonifacio to make the most of a leisurely evening there. For example, you can take the road to the Phare de Pertusato lighthouse to admire the sunset over the town and the cliffs. In the evening, on the Marina, you’ll find a very “Saint-Tropez” atmosphere to savour Corsican seafood specialities.
SARTENE AND PROPRIANO, THE GENUINE SOUTH CORSICA EXPERIENCE
The road from Bonifacio to Sartène will once again reveal splendid views. The coast remains unspoilt, and is likely to remain that way because the area is classified as a natural reserve.
The first stop is to see the Lion of Roccapina. A lion-shaped rock facing out to sea.
According to Prosper Mérimée, Sartène is the most Corsican of Corsican towns! This is where the most famous Catenacciu (Stations of the Cross) takes place every year on Good Friday.
For a change of scenery, we’ll move to the port of Propriano. This fishing village is a delightful place to spend an evening. But what I like best is the quiet atmosphere of a breakfast on the harbour the next morning.
BACK TO AJACCIO ALONG THE COAST
Let’s take the long way back to Ajaccio. First stop, Porto-Pollo, then the prehistoric site of Filitosa. This site of megalithic granite statues was discovered buried in the scrub in 1946. These huge statues have made it possible to date human presence in Corsica back to over thirty centuries before our era.
We will then take departmental road 55 to arrive at the old prison ruins of Coti Chiavari. Only a few buildings remain of this place marked by a tragic history. On the other hand, it offers a magnificent view of the Gulf of Ajaccio and the Plage d’Argent.
TIME TO GO HOME…
As you can see, South Corsica is diverse, and I tell myself that each spot is my favourite until I get to the next one! I think you’ll agree with me, and will have to come back to enjoy these gems a little more!