Above and Below the World

What to do in Corsica

1. TREKKING

Corsica is undoubtedly an island to discover on foot with a backpack. It has well-marked trails and a network of shelters/huts adapted to the needs of hikers. We 100% recommend doing any route, since the island has multiple options, from great routes to one-day hiking or walks. Below some ideas:

Great Routes:

Day 10 of the GR20: Going down from the crossing hill to climb Monte Cinto towards Asco

The GR 20 is the journey par excellence and the longest of the great routes on the island. For more detailed information on this spectacular journey see our post summary of the GR20 EN 12 DÍAS.

The island also has shorter trails than the GR20 and just as beautiful and demanding; Mare a Mare center for 7 days, Mare e Monti South, for 5 days and Mare a Mare South, for 5 days as well. For more information you can check out the web corsica-hiking

One-day hiking:

We can say that there are countless day or half-day routes to do, but here are some ideas:

  • Climbing Monte Cinto, the island’s summit (2,706 m) or any other high peak of the island such as Paglia Orba (2,525 m) or Monte d’Oro (2,389 m) in any case requires a good physical condition and experience in high altitude mountain (The GR20 gives us the possibility to climb any of them).

Monte d’Oro summit (2.389 m)

  • Calanques de Piana. We carry out this simple but very beautiful walk, suitable for all audiences, which will allow us to discover beautiful coastal landscapes with the reddish cliffs of the Porto Bay and Scandola nature reserve, as well as passing through forests with monumental chestnut trees. For more information check our route at Calanques de Piana.

Views of the Calanques de Piana cliffs with Porto and Girolata natural reserves in the background

  • Chestnut trees route and Aitona waterfalls. The chestnut route starts from the town of Evisa, which can be extended to the Aitona waterfalls. The first part of the path begins easily, along rural roads between chestnut trees. Later takes a stretch of the ‘Mare-Mare trail’ that is a bit more complicated. For more information check our variant of trail running in this area (we did not go through the Aitona waterfalls).

Farm of corsican pigs in the chestnut trees route, from Evisa

  • Agriates Desert. If you visit the north of the island, this is a good option. Howerver in our case, we did not have time to go. Here we leave you 2 routes did by other people, one for each end of the trail; starting left and starting right

2. Diving and activities on the coast

Corsica has a wide network of protected natural and marine parks, so diving on the island is highly recommended. For more details, check out our GUIA PARA BUCEAR EN CÓRCEGA.

Morena asomandose en una grieta en las profundidades de la reserva natural del Golfo de Porto

In addition, the island has multitude of natural beaches where you can snorkel and practice other water activities. We loved Palombaggia where we enjoyed good dives there (see diving at Cerbicale Islands I and Cerbicale Islands II),  good snorkel, and a paddle surfing morning.

But there are also other magical places such as the Gulf of Porto and the Scandola reserve, idyllic enclaves where the mountains merge with the sea. Lavezzi Islands in Bonifaccio area, etc.

3. Charming towns and cities

It is nice to visit some of the towns and cities of Corsica as they still retain their aesthetics of yesteryear; the cities retain their fortifications and citadels with views to the sea, as well as small streets through which to stroll in the historic center. The inland villages are simply picture postcard, fully integrated into the natural and rural environment of the Corsican mountains.

Here we mention some we were able to visit.

Calvi

It is the northernmost city of the island and it is worth a day in this town and rest after the GR20, check out our summary guide of the GR20 IN 12 DAYS, if we do it of course from south to north, since it is located about 10km nrth from Calenzana.

It is worth a visit to the citadel and the port with its magnificent mountains behind, as well as its narrow streets with charming bars and restaurants, where you will enjoy a good dinner.

Citadel of Calvi

Vies of the port of Calvi with the mountains behind, from the Citadel

Bonifaccio

It is the southernmost city on the island and the one we liked the most, it is certainly worth visiting this city when we are diving in Bonifaccio, or just exporing this area, check out diving at Lavezzi Islands.

Boniffacio has white limestone cliffs that draw really curious shapes. It also has a fortification with medieval architecture and narrow streets, that we will really fall in love! It is also very curious to see its port at the bottom of the entrance making like an ‘arm of the sea’ that forms a spectacular bay surrounded by its white cliffs.

Views of the port of Bonifaccio and its fortification

White cliffs of Bonifaccio

Ajaccio

Important city in the southwest of the island, where we spent a day since the return ferry left from here. It also has a citadel, as well as beautiful coastal landscapes and a rich center full of shops and restaurants. It is perhaps the most modern city that we visit in the island. In this city you will find the Napoleon museum and boat trips to the ‘Sanguinarian Islands.’

Panoramic view of the citadel and coast of Ajaccio

Porto

Small town very well integrated in the reserve of the Gulf of Porto, base camp for diving in this area see diving at Portu Gulf I and diving at Porto Gulf II

Pequeño pueblo de Porto, des de su puerto

In its surroundings it is worth visiting the Scandola nature reserve (you can go diving in the area or there are day trips from Porto by boat)

It is also worth visiting Gradelle Beach, the last point where we can spend the night before reaching the Scandola reserve. This rocky beach is in a beautiful enclave in the middle of cliffs where you can go snorkelling or hiking through the forest. You can spend the night at the campsite of the same name, in the middle of nature. We loved this place for its tranquility, landscape and nature.

Views of the natural reserve of the Porto Gulf, from Gradelle beach

Evisa

Rural and small town in the heart of Corsican mountains, which both for the environment and its high mountain landscapes is worth visiting.

Evisa

From Evisa starts the route of the chestnut trees, which we have described before in the hiking section. Notice when we go up the road from Porto, that we will surely come across herds of goats and cows!

Beautiful panoramics of Sea and Mountains, from Evisa

4. Gastronomy

On the island we will have the possibility to delight with the typical gastronomy of each area, here are some examples of what we can find:

Corsican soup

Vegetables and potatoes with pieces of meat  based soup. It was offered to us in a multitude of gite’s during the GR20 as the first course, warm and delicious!

Corsican soup at Castel di Verghio, while GR 20 trekking

Cheese

They are all great! All kinds of goat cheeses are produced on the island, since they are grazed on the meadows in the mountains. We had the opportunity to try varieties of artisan cheese during the GR20 in the refuges themselves and in the ‘bergeríes’ (old pastoral settlements that still preserve their activity and sell cheeses to hikers).

We will find them in restaurants as starters, in salads, as an accompaniment to main courses and even as a dessert (very typical cheese for dessert in France) accompanied with some jam or quince.

Starter, corsican salad with melted cheese, Monte d’Oro Hotel restaurant at Vizzabona

Chestnut-based products

Chestnut jam, chestnut beer, chestnut cheeses, chestnut flour,.. Corsica has centuries-old chestnut trees, that for many years its ‘chestnut’ was our ‘wheat’ and thus it has multitude of culinary uses.

Beautiful chestnut trees near Vizzabona pass

Organic meat and sausages

Organic farm pork and calves, which are freely available on the farms or simply grazing in the surrounding meadows (we come across many cows on the roads and happy pig farms!) offers high quality proximity products

Dish of the day during the GR 20, at Coll di Verde (‘Green pass’)

Beer

A corsican beer cannot be missed out! Having a good Pietra or a good Colomba, and after the completion of the GR20, was priceless!!

We are not much of wine, so we cannot recommend here.. 

Pietra, typical blond beer

Hope you enjoy this magical island in the Mediterranean as much or more than we did!

Diving guide in Corsica

DIVING IN CORSICA

This island has different nature reserves such as Finocchiarola (north), Tre Padule de Suartone and the Cerbicale Islands (Southeast), Lavezzi Islands (south) and the famous reserve of Scandola and the Gulf of Porto (Northwest), declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Although due to lack of time we were unable to go to the Finocchiarola reserve in the north, we were able to go to the other 3 dive sites:

Loation of the best diving spots in Corsica

Diving on this island will take us to discover rich rock bottoms with posidonia, dive with groupers, moray eels, diplodus, jacks, … and many other species of the Mediterranean sea among spectacular submerged rock canyons.

Additionally, lovers of macro life will be amazed at the number of nudibranchs and other tiny species of flora and fauna that this island is home to. There is also the possibility of diving in shipwrecks around the island (although we did not have the opportunity to do any such dive).

lIST OF DIVING SITES VISITED:

Useful information:

  • We stayed 1 more week after doing the GR20 to dive and discover the coast of Corsica, the best if possible, would be to stay 2 days per area.
  • In the Strait of Bonifaccio the wind can blow a lot, so it is possible that the planned dives will be canceled, and in this case, better to have a plan B.
  • Call the diving clubs in advance to book your dives. We find the clubs through this website.
  • In summer the water Tº is 25ºC (up to approximately 15 / 20m), so a wet suit is enough.
  • We moved around the island with our camper car, spending the night in campsites and this gave us a lot of flexibility and autonomy, in addition to the fact that we love this way of traveling!
  • In addition to diving, snorkelling at Palombaggia beach (south of PortoVechio) and at Gradelle beach (in the Gulf of Porto, and spending the night at the same campsite) is highly recommended. Also the beaches around Bonifaccio are natural and very beautiful.

To complete the Above and Below Corsica travelling, keep reading the Above!

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