Ready to go to Corsica ??? Hopefully if you read my previous post series on Corsica, you are all excited and raring to go… If not, make sure to check out the full series starting with “Wonderful Magical Corsica“.
Practical Tips for Planning Your Trip to Corsica
I’ve been to Corsica a few times, so these are my own personal tips from my experiences traveling there. If you need more specific information, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to help!
Prices on the island almost double during July and August (as do the crowds), so try coming either in the spring or early fall.
- Ferries are great option and is and how I usually travel as I need to have my car with me. Pricing varies WIDELY depending on the date and time of departure, count on anything from 50 to 250 euros. For some incomprehensible reason, it seems the return leg of the trip is more expensive. Ordering your tickets can be kind of confusing… Once you pick your dates and exact times, you still need to add seating or cabins, add a car if you have one, and add meals if you would like that option (and don’t count on gourmet cuisine). From France your ferry choices are: Corsica Ferries, SNCM, and La Méridionale (CMN) . I usually book through Corsica Ferries, although they can sometimes run a bit late.
- Small commuter planes such as EasyJets fly to the main airport in Ajaccio and to Bastia.
- Your own private yacht… Can I tag along???
Public transportation in Corsica
It’s almost non existent…so rent a car if you can. There is however a fabulous scenic train service that runs from Ajaccio to the hilltop town of Corte and back down to Ponte Leccia called “The Trinicellu” (little train). It is a rickety slow narrow gauge railway that travels one of the most scenic train routes in the world. There has been talk of expanding the current 232km, but nothing yet confirmed. Check out www.corsicabus.org for information on the train and on available buses.
Driving in Corsica
Not to scare you, but… Rally drivers love this island and clearly there is a clear reason why! The mountain roads are windy and narrow with frequent hairpins.
There are also official Rally’s every June (Rallye Ronde de la Giraglia) and October (Tour de Corse Rally). Surprisingly and rather shockingly my son reported the streets are NOT blocked off during these rally’s but the roads are shared with all the other regular drivers like you and me (and my son thought that was the best thing EVER).
Even without the rally drivers, Corsicans love to drive fast and aggressively, similar to their Italian neighbors. Essentially, if you see Corsican License Plates then leave room for them to pass you by and expect so tailgating until then! Actually, this applies to both in Corsica and on the mainland.
Here are some approximate drive times that take into account those twisty narrow and slow driving roads:
The mountains roads, although beautiful and a great way to explore the back country, are poorly marked (if marked at all) and there is a decidedly lack of guard rails. Plus there are the cows in the middle of the road…
If any of this scares you, stick to the major travel routes or don’t drive at all. That rickety old train is starting to sound great isn’t it???
Some of my favorite accommodations from very basic to luxurious:
- Hotel La Caravelle (Bonifacio) from 103€
- Cala di Sole (Ajaccio) from 110€
- Hotel Central (Bastia) from 72€
- Maison Saint Hyacinthe (Bastia) from 38€. Set in an old convent and run by nuns, it sits on beautiful acreage with amazing views. This is a place where peace and silence favor rest and spiritual meditation (or sound sleep from the exhaustion of the stress of driving scary narrow winding roads).
- Tour Micalona genovese tower (Valinco/Porto-Vecchio) from 1000€. It can be rented by the week and even has a round stone rooftop pool for you to enjoy all to yourself! Pretty awesome if you ask me, and there are other interesting rental options available on their site like a shepherd’s hut and a rustic stone cabin. If your pocketbook is free-flowing, then the 6 bedroom Villa with its private pool, white sand beach, and amazing cliff side views is a complete bargain at just 7000€ a week during the summer.
Corsica has strong Italian roots, no surprise since it is closer to Italy than it is to France. The Corsican dialect “Corfu” is a spinoff of Genovenean, but only a small portion now speaks the language regularly. French is the primary language, but most tourist destinations accommodate English speakers. For translations from French to Corsu (in case you get lost in those back roads or run into the mafia), check out www.parlamicorsu.com.
Try these to get you started :
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Corsica
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Top 10: Corsica
- Corsica: The Finest Valley and Mountain Walks
- Guide des plus belles plages de Corse by Marie-Hélène Ferrari (Beaches – in multiple languages)
The adjacent island to Corsica, and just 14km away from Bonifacio, is Sardinia and is also well worth a visit. You can just hop on a ferry to get there if you are so inclined. Try contacting local expert Clelia Mattana of Keep Calm and Travel if you are curious and need more information.
That’s it! The last and final of my 5 part series on Corsica… If you do travel to Corsica, send pictures! I would love to share them on my blog for all to enjoy.
Happy Travels (to Corsica),
Girl Gone Gallic