Why have I never been to Corsica before? I mean, it was always ‘on my list’ but never quite at the top. And now it’s up there with my favourites..
It took (yet another) last minute holiday booking experience (read: this was the only holiday we found that ticked all our boxes…the main ones being (a) we can all get on the same flight and (b) there was accommodation available) to push us into going.
Well, you need never be pushed into visiting Corsica. You should leap at the chance. And here’s why…
1. The beaches of Corsica are amazing
I have been to a lot of beaches, and these are some of the nicest. We’ve all seen pictures of Corsican beaches with the claims of sparkling Caribbean-esque water. I am happy to say that the reality lived up to the expectation.
I mean, look at this – it was sooo lovely! The beaches were really clean – and the water was so clear and just the right temperature for swimming. All this and less than a 2 hour flight from Germany.
We stayed in Calvi and the beach was pretty near perfect…a long swathe of fine white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters. To one side there are the mountains and to the other the beautiful citadel. There are plenty of cafés along the beach and you can hire sun loungers. It wasn’t too busy – we could always find a spot – and, unlike some other beaches, it was patrolled by lifeguards so great for swimming. Perfect for kids too as the water is shallow for quite a long way out.
We also loved the beach at Arinella which was about a 15 minute drive. Be warned…at the end of the beach there were lots of people sunbathing au naturel. If nudy isn’t your thing, stay at the other end of the beach! Check here for lists of beaches where nudity is authorised or tolerated – so you can join in or avoid…
On our last day we had planned on getting a boat to the famous Saleccia beach which is not accessible by car, but unfortunately it was too windy. However we were more than happy to make do with this lovely beach, with views across the bay to the pretty port of Saint Florent.
Click here for a list of the 10 best beaches to visit in Corsica.
2. You can get back to nature
Corsica is a real back-to-nature place (I will avoid making the obvious joke about naturists…). The landscape is just stunning and 40% of the island is designated a national park. The island is remarkably diverse and there is so much to explore – beaches, mountains, forests, lakes and gorges.
It really is a hikers paradise…we didn’t do any hiking (too hot for us..and we only packed flip flops…) but I would love to go back and walk to some of the more secluded beaches.
A highlight for us was driving inland and spending the day at the river and jumping off rocks into the crystal clear pools.
We drove to the Fiagarella river in the Forêt de Bonifatu. This was a spectacularly pretty place and the drive was breathtaking. We had a lot of fun swimming in the pools which are perfectly clear…and just a little bit chilly!
We enjoyed it so much we spent another day at the river. This time we took the coastal road which was stunning (although not good for anyone who gets car sick….). We drove to the Fango river and spent the day working our way down it. The highlights were some of the amazing rock formations and swimming by the ancient Genoese bridge. Not brave/ stupid enough to jump off it though!
If you are heading to the river, pack a picnic and plenty of water and sunscreen. There’s not a huge amount of shade. At the river there was a fair bit of scrambling down rocks, so not really suitable of pushchairs…and flip-flops are not the best footwear, as we found out!
3. Corsica’s villages are pretty much picture perfect
Calvi is an absolutely stunning town and a great base for the beaches. We enjoyed wandering around the citadel – claimed to be Columbas’s birthplace – which is full of nice little shops and cafés.
L’Ile Russe is just up the coast from Calvi. Named after the pinky-red rocks that surround it, it’s another good place to base yourself and explore the surrounding beaches. We went there on the only overcast day we had and enjoyed walking up to the lighthouse on the rocky peninsula. This would be a perfect spot to watch the sunset…
Bastia is in the north of the island and is a commercial port. I didn’t expect much, but was pleasantly surprised – the old town and the old port are really charming and there are lots of nice places to sit and have a drink and watch the world go by.
We drove to Bastia from Calvi via the Desert Des Agriates…and what a stunning drive this was! It really gives you a sense of the magnificent landscape of this island.
4. Corsica is a great place to holiday with kids
This holiday was great for all of us because it was just so…easy. The beaches are perfect for kids – wide and sandy with shallow water. The kids spent hours looking for fish and splashing about.
There is a lot to do – or you can enjoy doing nothing at all.
There are tons of outdoor activities to choose from – horse riding, hiking, mountain biking – with tour agencies that can organise everything you need.
For me, it just felt really relaxed and laid back – which is just what I needed. None of the beaches were super crowded (although in high summer this may not be the case) and it was easy to just jump in the car to explore.
The kids enjoyed being outdoors all the time and especially the river swimming, which is something they hadn’t done before.
5. You are in France…so the food and wine are great!
We ate well this week…
As we were staying in a villa we ate at home a fair bit – so good thing that Corsica’s charcuterie is considered some of the best in the world! I don’t eat meat, but that was fine because Corsica’s goat’s cheese is fantastic and hugely varied…I ate so much I’m surprised I didn’t grow hooves. We particularly enjoyed Brocciu which is a bit like ricotta…and was delicious with the local figs.
I developed a liking for muscat, a local sparkling aperitif, and we tried a few of the local wines which were really good. I’m not usually a fan of rosé, but when it’s served over ice with a view of the beach…well, not sure it can be topped.
If you are catering for yourselves there are plenty of supermarkets. There are also lots of farmers stalls selling fresh fruits, vegetables and rotisserie chicken. Wine can be bought direct from the vineyards (we liked Clos Landry) and Annie Traiteur is a fantastic delicatessen in Calvi.
Eating out doesn’t come cheap… We had a couple of nice meals at the beach, but really it was the view and the ambience that made it. On Dine has lovely views and a great menu and La Licorne was another hit with us – it was nice to be able to sit while the kids played on the beach. However, our favourite meal was at L’Escale in L’Ile Russe.
We flew to Bastia from Cologne/Bonn airport and hired a car to drive to Calvi (approx 1.5 hours). There is also a small airport at Calvi, but the flights are less regular from here. Next time we plan to check out the south of the island…
We stayed at Villas Mandarine which was fabulous. By booking the whole thing (accommodation, flights and car) through lastminute.com we got a pretty good deal. The villa was so lovely we didn’t want to leave – and the hosts were really kind and helpful. They even delivered bread and pastries in the morning so we didn’t have to go to the shops first thing…
You will need a car if you’re planning to do any exploring. Be prepared for lots of twisty, narrow roads…not great if you get car sick. Or your kids get car sick. You might want to upgrade to a 4×4 if you plan to get to some of the harder to reach beaches.