Want to discover the south of Corsica in seven or more days? This one-week itinerary around Southern Corsica has some absolutely must-see iconic locations.
You can fly in to Ajaccio or Figari, but my recommendation is the Imperial City of Ajaccio.
Day 1: AJACCIO
The city of Ajaccio
Ajaccio is the kind of town best visited on foot so you can discover its narrow, shaded streets, and really get a feel for the Imperial City. Here, you’ll spot commemorative statues of Napoleon.
The daily market in the Halles each morning is the perfect place to sample delicacies from this Isle of Beauty. Be sure to check out the ancient, 19th-century Napoleon I docks in Cesare Campinchi Square, where you’ll find the tourism office, which can provide a wealth of information and suggest different activities to do, both in Ajaccio and the surrounding region.
Next, take a stroll around the Tino Rossi fishing harbour after a stop in Foch Square, where you’ll find Ajaccio’s Town Hall. After that you can pay a visit to the Citadelle, which has been open to the public since 2021.
The city’s intricate streets are bustling with a very Tuscan atmosphere. Follow them, and they’ll lead you to the Santa Maria Assunta Baroque Cathedral where Napoleon was baptised in the white marble baptistery on 2 July 1771. There’s also a painting by Eugène Delacroix.
The Bonaparte House Museum, and its 23 rooms, are just a stone’s throw away. Check out the Musée Naporama, a unique museum located in the same district of the old town close to the Cathedral, that retraces the life of Napoleon through different scenes made out of playmobil!
If you’re passionate about baroque Italian art, the Palais Fesch Museum will be right up your alley. This collection, curated by Cardinal Fesch, is just behind the Louvre with over 400 works by Italian artists!
Ajaccio extends all the way to the Sanguinaires islands, who owe their name to their orange glow at sunset. They’re accessible by car, tourist train, imperial bus, or the no. 5 city bus. At some point along the 15 km journey by the sea, the desire to dive into that turquoise water and go swimming may become too much! Discover the Ajaccio Cemetery, “U Canicciu“, overlooking the sea on this route and the final resting place of Tino Rossi, singer of Petit Papa Noël.
Want to make an evening of it? I’d suggest dinner at one of the seaside restaurants as the sun sets over the Sanguinaires islands.
Day 2: THE CALANQUES OF PIANA
To access these calanques, you’ll need to visit the village of Cargèse. Its two churches facing one another – one Catholic, the other Greek orthodox – make this village unique.
The village of Piana is one of France’s most beautiful, so it’s also worth paying a visit.
The Calanques de Piana, whose pink granite cliffs tower 300 metres over the sea, have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The road leaving the calanques follows the sea all the way to Porto, a very pretty little port, and the hikes here offer extraordinary views overlooking the site – but that’s a topic for a whole different article! You can then discover the calanques by boat, and the contrast is striking.
Head back to Ajaccio for night two in the evening. I recommend eating in Porticcio, where you can enjoy a superb view overlooking the Gulf of Ajaccio.
Day 3: ALTA ROCCA AND THE AIGUILLES DE BAVELLA
Head south from Ajaccio into the mountain region of Alta Rocca. Travel through magnificent villages of granite houses: you’ll head through Aullène, Serra di Scopamène, Quenza, and then Zonza.
The Bavella Pass then takes you 1218 metres up, where an incredible view overlooking the eastern coast and the Tyrrhenian Sea awaits you. These tall, sharp rocks are the “Aiguilles de Bavella” (meaning ‘the Bavella needles’). The laricio pines make the experience a little surreal, as they sometimes grow from the side of the rocks. Hikes here are quite technical, but don’t worry – you can just walk along the side of the pass!
Head back down along the Solenzara river, marking the boundary between Haute Corse and Corse du Sud. You could even stop for a quick swim in the translucent water, in some of the area’s lovely natural pools.
But pay attention as you follow the road – cows, goats, and pigs roam mostly free!
Then from Solenzara to Porto-Vecchio the road follows the sea, offering a taste of the gorgeous Southern Corsican beaches to come. To enjoy the next day’s relaxation to the fullest, choose a hotel around Saint Cyprien or Cala Rossa.
Day 4: THE BEAUTIFUL BEACHES OF PORTO-VECCHIO
Beaches which wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean can be found between Porto-Vecchio and Bonifacio. You can choose from Palombaggia, Santa Giulia or Rondinara where you can spend a lazy day – and it doesn’t matter which one you pick, because they all have fine, white sand and turquoise water! I already talked about it in my article, Corsica’s most idyllic beaches.
Day 5: BONIFACIO
You can explore Bonifacio on foot and by boat, and you can experience the town’s limestone cliffs from the sea.
On foot, visit the marine cemetery facing Sardinia, stroll along the narrow streets of the medieval citadel, and discover breath-taking views at every turn. Don’t miss King of Aragon’s Stairway at the top of the old town, which will take you to the bottom of the cliffs in 187 steps.
The Bastion de l’Étendard is home to a subterranean museum where you can learn all about the town’s history, and there are 10 different viewpoints overlooking the town which you can access from the site’s gardens. Be sure to visit the churches around the old town, there are five in total. The Église Saint Dominique, which has been classed as historic heritage and is Corsica’s only gothic church, certainly stands out!
You can then navigate the Strait of Bonifacio by boat and enjoy a wider view of this town, which faces Sardinia and is built on the side of a cliff.
Sleep in Bonifacio so you can spend the night there. If you do, find the road leading to the Pertusato Lighthouse, where you can admire the sunset over the town and the cliffs. Enjoy the very “Saint Tropez” atmosphere of the Marina in the evening, and enjoy some Corsican sea specialties.
Day 6: SARTENE AND PROPRIANO
There are some amazing views along the road from Bonifacio to Sartène. The coast is very wild here because it’s a designated natural area, and should remain that way.
Our first stop is to the Lion of Roccapina. It’s a rock in the shape of a lion, turning to face the sea.
Prosper Mérimée said Sartène is the most Corsican of Corsica’s towns! This is where the most famous Catenacciu (Stations of the Cross) event takes place each year for Good Friday. In this granite citadel, you’ll find even more magnificent houses and narrow, shaded streets.
Discover the port of Propriano a few kilometres away. Spend a night in this fishing village, it’s a real treat! My favourite thing to do is to savour a good breakfast in the calm ambiance of the port the next morning.
Day 7: RETURN TO AJACCIO VIA THE COAST
We’ll take the Chemin des Écoliers route back to Ajaccio, and there’s even more gorgeous countryside on the way! Head towards Porto-Pollo, then the prehistoric site of Filitosa. This megalithic granite statue site was discovered in the scrubland in 1946. The massive statues and pieces of pottery discovered here are evidence that humans lived in Corsica 30 centuries before our time.
After that, take the 55 by-road to the Coti Chiavari Penitentiary. There are only a few untouched buildings left in this tragic location, but there’s an outstanding view overlooking the Gulf of Ajaccio and the golden beach!
IT’S TIME TO HEAD BACK…
This week-long itinerary to discover Southern Corsica will help you appreciate the area’s smaller regions, but I think you’ll agree that seven days is too short. Come back so you can take in everything the region has to offer!