Best places to stay in Corsica
You can’t escape the presence of Napoléon when you visit Ajaccio and his birthplace at rue St. Charles is a must-see as is a visit to the Musée Fesch where the paintings are considered to rate second only to the Louvre.
The older part of the town is charming with ancient streets surrounding Place Foch which opens onto the sea front and old port. In the centre Place du Gaulle runs into Cours Napoléon where there are plenty of chic bars and brasseries offering local as well as international cuisine. Most evening entertainment is based around the bars and restaurants and there are no night clubs as such. There is however a casino in Ajaccio that is open from 1pm until 4am if you fancy a flutter. Smart dress is essential to be admitted.
To feel the essence of local life the produce market is on six days a week at Place César-Campinchi and it is a great opportunity to try out some of the locally grown foods on offer. Other shops can be found in the main street of rue du Cardinal Fesch where there is a good mix of local and international items for sale. Look out for the Produits Corse label which denotes items made on the island and usually exclusive to Corsica. Local gifts include pottery and wood carvings, leather work and original paintings.
Ajaccio is not really a beach resort although there are some small town beaches. St. Francois Beach is a ten minute walk from the port while Plage du Picanto or Plage du A'riadne are both recommended for families and are a short taxi ride away.
Accommodation ranges from the budget hostels that can be found round the ferry and port areas to luxurious hotels in historic buildings. There are no beach hotels as such and visitors wishing to stay close to Ajaccio in a beachside setting will have to head to Porticcio just south of the centre. There are many self-catering rentals in and around the town which are great for families or groups who prefer to be a bit more independent.
>> Hotels in Ajaccio
This resort really is the star attraction in Corsica as visitors come to admire the houses teetering on the edge of the limestone cliffs. The town offers a great mixture of history and shopping with really good places to eat and drink when you need to sit and rest awhile. Nightlife in Bonifacio is fairly sedate with most bars closing before midnight, a few in the marina stay open a little later if the demand is there.
The Old Town is a fascinating place to wander round and as well as a natural harbour the modern marina is home many luxurious yachts. The marina area is very smart and filled with chic restaurants, bars and boutiques that enhance this vibrant resort. Boat trips from the marina take visitors to the wild life reserves of Lavezzi where there is some great snorkelling.
Bonifacio is close to several stunning and unspoiled beaches where water sports aficionados can take advantage of the azure waters and wind conditions to take part in many aquatic sports. Fazzio and Paraguan are two of the nearby beaches but car hire is recommended or be prepared to walk quite a way to find the best place to claim your spot on the sand. Accommodation can be in any of the very smart hotels that are clustered around the marina area or a room in a simple hostel. There are also many private villa rentals available. Most of the accommodation in Bonifacio is expensive and for anyone on a budget it is essential to book well in advance.
>> Hotels in Bonifacio
A holiday to Porto-Vecchio offers visitors a mix of breathtaking scenery, idyllic beaches and a town with a vibrant mix of places to eat, drink and shop. Known as the St. Tropez of Corsica the resort is highly fashionable with Italian holidaymakers who come to relax through the day and then party all night.
The town centre has plenty of places of historical interest and there are more than enough bars, caféterias and high quality restaurants to keep even the most demanding of tourists happy. Shopping is in designer boutiques and the well-equipped marina draws in the international jet set in their impressive yachts. Night life is mainly around the marina area and winds down around midnight although there are a few night clubs that stay open until about 4am.
The nearby beaches of Santa Guilia and Palombaggia are simply stunning with pearly white sand and sparkling seas set against a backdrop of lush countryside. Inland the Alta Rocca region has plenty to offer with rock climbing, quad biking, swimming in rock pools and hiking or simply take a picnic and enjoy the beautiful countryside.
The majority of accommodation in Porto-Vecchio is in hotels with three stars and above with most of the more luxurious hotels being situated down by the marina. There are a few apartment options but these are set just outside of the main town.
>> Hotels in Porto-Vecchio
With narrow cobbled streets, a colourful array of buildings and a harbour side edged with caféterias and restaurants this gives a pretty good description of Calvi. The town is backed by high mountains that still have their snowcapped tips even in the summer and villages with Corsican character cling to the steep slopes. The beaches are crescent shaped with silvery sand and turquoise seas and have to be seen to be believed. Some of the beaches have full amenities and the beaches around the coast of Calvi and beyond are a mixture of the popular and the secluded.
From the beach you can see the citadel in the town but to reach it you will need to meander through the winding alleys and through the main area of bars and restaurants around the Basse Ville. Go shopping on the rue Artisanat in Calvi where just about anything touristy can be purchased. Knives are on sale everywhere as are dried meats and a bewildering variety of spices and herbs, honey and olive oil. The Italian influence is obvious but the shops and restaurants are definitely French with price tags that are almost Parisian, it is an island after all.
The nightlife in Calvi is good; there are plenty of opportunities for fine dining followed by dancing or just listening to good music. There are two nightclubs in Calvi. Acapulco is a restaurant, piano bar and night club all under one roof where some of the best DJ’s in Europe come to do guest spots. The second one Club 24 is unique as it has indoor and outdoor areas with a full bar and dance floor.
Trips out from Calvi include a trip to the Scandola nature reserve by boat as well as the tourist train to Île Rousse or Bastia.
There are many choices for accommodation in Calvi. There are hotels from budget to luxury and a vast range of privately owned villa and apartment rentals. From tiny studios sleeping two people to luxury villas that sleep ten or twelve in comfort the selection of places to stay is quite astonishing.
>> Hotels in Calvi
Bastia is one of the most thriving port towns in the north of Corsica and can be easily reached by ferry from the mainland. The town has an Italian flair and is known for its old harbour, the Vieux Port, its alleys and the St Nicolas Square where all the hustle and bustle takes place. Local amenities include tennis and golf and for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts there are more than enough walks and trails to go exploring the mountain wilderness dotted with tiny villages.
To get a feel for the history of the town wander along the tiny street of General Carbuccia where the houses were built over two hundred years ago for the noblemen of Bastia. The Sainte Marie church is a short walk from the centre and thanks to donations of silver from the townsfolk a solid statue made from that same silver is on view in the church.
Shopping in the town reveals a distinct lack of tacky tourist goods which is refreshing. Speciality shops sell olives oils, wines, honey, meats and herbs. Accommodation in Bastia is mainly in hotels of the luxury and boutique type but there is a fair amount of apartment and villa rentals as well.
There is a small town beach in Bastia but it is better to hop on the bus or walk the short distance to the prettier beach at L'Arinella. It is a family beach with good facilities and water sports and if you are driving there is plenty of room to park.
>> Hotels in Bastia