The top 15 sights of Corsica: places you must see
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You must see these places in Corsica
The most beautiful places & sights in Corsica
Corsica is a real paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and photographers. The French Mediterranean island really has a lot to offer, from beautiful beaches to impressive mountain tours. Campers are also very welcome on the island. Unlike Mallorca, Corsica offers many camping sites. With the camper or a roof top tent, the experience intensifies – and you can save a lot of money. For us, Corsica is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Rugged coastlines, paradisiacal beaches and impressive mountains shape the image of the island.
One of the highlights is the 168-kilometre long-distance hiking trail GR20, which connects Calenzana in the north with Conca in the south via the Corsican high alpine zone. The best conditions for a hike are between June and October. But there are many other highlights that you have to see and experience in Corsica. In this article, we will show you our top 15 sights in Corsica.
By the way: if you want to take home incredible landscape photos, too, we recommend our e-book “101 Fotografien und die Geschichte dahinter”. In this book, we show you how to take good photos and what settings to use on your camera with more than 100 examples.
Where to sleep in Corsica
Well, the best town to sleep is Bastia – the main town of the island. The Hotel Central Bastia* is one of the most loved hotels of customers. The building is from the 19th century – good for photos. The Vila Melivile* is also a very good apartement to sleep. The Hotel Bonaparte* is a very nice hotel with balconies and terraces. The Hotel Pietracap* is in a very small town called Pietranera and has access to the beach. There you have olive trees in the garden and also a pool. The Hotel Port Toga* is a very nice hotel in the town Bastia. It has a nice terrace, where you can eat and sit. With a perfect view over the harbour.
Hike to Lake Nino
Lake Nino at 1743 metres is one of the absolute must sees in Corsica. In the beginning, the trail that starts at a parking site (GPS: N 42 17.066, E 8 55.265 → Google Maps) is relatively easy and leads through the beautiful high forest Valdu Niellu. The huge European black pines (subspecies laricio) are up to 500 years old and typical for this area. They can reach a height of up to 50 metres and their trunk a diameter of two metres.
The forest is very impressive, but the final ascent to Lake Nino is exhausting. The trail is pretty steep and leads over scree and slabs of rock. In summer, cattle, sheep and the famous Corsican pigs can be found on pastures in this area. That’s also why the lake is not suitable for bathing. For a picnic, however, it’s the ideal spot. The whole hike is about twelve kilometres and covers and elevation gain of more than 700 metres.
Hike to Lake Melo and Lake Capitello
The hike up to the two mountain lakes Lake Melo (1711 metres) and Lake Capitello (1930 metres) is a must. Even the drive through the Restonica Valley is breathtaking. The tour starts at the end of the narrow mountain road D623 (GPS: N 42 13.740, E 9 01.841 → Google Maps). With a length of 15 kilometres, the D623 covers an elevation gain of almost 1000 metres. From the parking site, the trail leads through the valley that is beautifully located between mountain tops.
It’s quite mellow in the beginning but it does get a bit more difficult after half an hour. However, even the more difficult patches should be no problem for families with children. After one and a half hours, you reach the picturesquely situated Lake Melo – one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Corsica. If you’re not out of breath yet, you can ascend another 200 metres to Lake Capitello in about an hour. This ascent is not that difficult either, but definitely more challenging than the tour to Lake Melo. Lake Capitello, however, is even more striking and dramatic than Lake Melo.
In comparison with Italian cities like Florence, Verona or Venice, Corsican Cities are relatively simple and plain. There are no pretentious buildings or grand works of art. However, especially Corte (GPS: N 42 18.372, E 9 08.899 → Google Maps) is definitely worth a visit. The small town with 6300 inhabitants is located in the centre of the island and is often regarded as the secret capital of Corsica.
The most noteworthy sight in Corte is the citadel. The fortress sits on a huge rock and is visible even from a distance. Cobbled alleys lead all the way up to the citadel. Corte’s city centre isn’t particularly big – after a few minutes, you’re already in front of the majestic castle walls. The fortress is in its original state and offers a glimpse into what life was like hundreds of years ago. In addition, the view over Corte from the citadel is just spectacular. When walking through the city, watch out for bullet holes in the old buildings that stem from the freedom fights around 1750.
The small town Bonifacio (GPS: N 41 23.257, E 9 09.677 → Google Maps) is located at the southern tip of Corsica. It is known for its harbour and the medieval citadel. Bonifacio is also one of the top photo locations in Corsica – namely because the town is situated directly at the rugged cliff coast. When the sun sets in the sea in the evening and illuminates the sky, the coastline with the city make for an incredible photo.
Capo Pertusato is located in close proximity to the small town Bonifacio on Corsica’s southern coast. From the parking site at a radar station (GPS: N 41 22.445, E 9 10.754 → Google Maps), a gravel trail leads down to Capo Pertusato. Even before you reach the lighthouse Phare de Pertusato, there’s a narrow trail on the right-hand side that leads down to the beach. You do need a bit of surefootedness, but nothing too dramatic. Capo Pertusato is known for the impressive rock formations that surround the beach.
The artificial lake L’Ospédale (GPS: N 41 39.615, E 9 11.864 → Google Maps) is also one of our favourite sights in Corsica. When we were there, the lake had almost no water. In front of us, there was only a huge, flat area with hundreds or thousands of rotting tree stumps. When walking through this surreal landscape, you almost feel like you’re on a different planet.
Hike to the waterfall Piscia di Gallo
The relatively short hike to the waterfall Piscia di Gallo – in English “rooster piss” – is extremely popular with holidaymakers. Thus, the parking site (GPS: N 41 41.278, E 9 12.026 → Google Maps) is quite big and possibly still crowded in summer. The total trail length is 5.5 kilometres and, as this hike isn’t particularly difficult, suitable for families with children. The trail is marked very well and leads through the forest along the Oso stream in the beginning.
Only the last part down to an observation deck is pretty steep, but it is secured with ropes. You should be sure-footed for this part, though. The trail is always wet and slippery and there are some big rocky steps to overcome. If you dare, you can descend a bit further down for an even more impressive view of the Piscia di Gallo. You have to use your hands and be very careful – one false step might cost you dearly.
Mountain pass Col de Bavella
The mountain pass Col de Bavella (GPS: N 41 47.740, E 9 13.484 → Google Maps) is not only the starting point of many beautiful hikes, but also a top photo location in Corsica. It’s worth walking around at Col de Bavella – there are some spots from where you can take fantastic photos. Especially impressive photo opportunities might arise in the morning and in the evening, when Corsica is lying at your feet while the colours in the sky are exploding.
Hike to Lake Oriente and Monte Rotondo
With 2622 metres, Monte Rotondo is Corsica’s second highest mountain after Monte Cinto (2706 metres). Starting point is a small parking bay in the Restonica Valley (GPS: N 42 15.270, E 9 04.210 → Google Maps). The ascent through the forest initially requires pure diligence. After about an hour, the forest clears and you can catch a first glimpse of the surrounding mountains. In summer (July and August), it’s worth taking a detour to the Bergerie de Timozzu, where you can buy fresh cheese. After three hours, you’ll reach Lake Oriente situated at 2061 meters.
Directly behind the lake, the enormous massif of Monte Rotondo rises up to the sky. Until early summer, there can be a snowfield at the bottom of the scree field leading up to the peak that can cause problems. The ascent up to Monte Rotondo leads through a steep scree field, where you will often times need to use your hands. This trail is definitely only recommended for experienced hikers. The view from Monte Rotondo over the Corsican high alpine zone makes up for the struggle. The total trail amounts to 13.4 kilometres with an elevation gain of 1530 metres.
Hike to the needles of Bavella
The needles of Bavella are rocky spikes of red granite that dominate the hill of the same name. The hike starts at the mountain pass Col de Bavella (GPS: N 41 47.740, E 9 13.484 → Google Maps) and is quite challenging. To reach the needles of Bavella, you have to climb at some parts of the trail. It might be a good idea to turn the hike into a round trip. At the end of the tour, the GPS shows a total trail length of 12.2 kilometres and an elevation gain of 760 metres. The impressions you gain on the hike are absolutely phenomenal. The tour is highly recommended for experienced hikers. By the way, the Aiguilles de Bavella are also called the Dolomites of Corsica.
Hike to Capo Rosso
From the parking site (GPS: N 42 14.122, E 8 35.028 → Google Maps), a broad gravel trail leads to Capo Rosso. After about 45 minutes, you reach a pretty unremarkable path that branches off from the main trail. This is a rather challenging option to reach Capo Rosso with some easy climbing parts. This route is only suitable for absolutely sure-footed hikers. Everyone else should stay on the broad hiking trail that leads up to the rocky cliff quite comfortably.
The view from Capo Rosso onto the Corsican mainland is stunning. One of the highlights is an old watchtower. If you want, you can even go inside and onto the roof. The stone stairs are, however, pretty steep and not secured. The whole tour amounts to about seven kilometres and an elevation gain of 460 metres.
Défilé de la Scala di Santa Regina Gorge
The Défilé de la Scala di Santa Regina Gorge (GPS: N 42 21.500, E 9 03.506 → Google Maps) is traversed by the D84. The course of this road is marvellous. When you’re on holiday in Corsica, you have to drive here at least once. The road winds in sharp bends through the bleak, piny valley. Unfortunately, there aren’t many opportunities to stop your car.
Mountain hike to Punta Culaghia
The circular hike via Punta Culaghia is incredibly beautiful. However, this route is pretty challenging and requires surefootedness, stamina and appropriate gear. The ascent is steep and exhausting, the ridge walk demands surefootedness and the descent awaits with a lot of scree. The circular trail is 7.4 kilometres long and covers an elevation gain of almost 700 metres. The starting point is at the end of the Asco Valley (GPS: N 42 24.203, E 8 55.409 → Google Maps).
The sand dunes of Plage d’Ostriconi (GPS: N 42 39.741, E 9 03.678 → Google Maps) are a must see. In summer, this beautiful sandy beach can get pretty crowded. That’s no surprise, though, because its location is amazing and definitely worth a visit.
Col de Vergio
The mountain pass Col de Vergio (GPS: N 42 17.421, E 8 52.709 → Google Maps) offers incredible views. It’s definitely worth taking a break here and discovering the beautiful surroundings.
Numbers and facts about Corsica
- Corsica’s total surface area amounts to 8680 square kilometres.
- 330,000 people live in Corsica
- Monte Cinto is the island’s highest mountain with 2760 metres.
- In Corsica, there are 50 mountains that are at least 2000 metres high.
- In Corsica, the climate is typically Mediterranean. In winter, there’s usually a closed snow cover in the mountains
- Afraid of spiders? Well, in Corsica, you might encounter the Mediterranean black widow and the tarantula