Discover our villas

Language

Currency

Vacationing in Northern Corsica

Written on : 14 February 2023
By : Steve Dunne
Vacationing in Northern Corsica

Corsica is a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea, known for its stunning beaches, rugged mountain landscapes, and vast wealth of history and culture. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and water sports, as well as exploring its charming towns and quaint villages and sampling its delicious local cuisine. Corsica's unique blend of French and Italian influences, combined with its distinct Corsican identity, make it a fascinating and rewarding destination to explore.

The Isle of Beauty is separated into two regions: Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud (Northern Corsica and Southern Corsica, respectively). And while the south has many charms that are well worth discovering, including we will save them for another day. Today, it is the northern Haute-Corse that we shall explore!

The Haute Corse, a land of stunning beauty

The Haute Corse, a land of stunning beauty

Corsica's natural beauty is without doubt its biggest attraction. The island's paradisiacal shores, rolling hills, jutting mountains and rugged hilltops topped lush green forests of oak and pine provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and swimming. The island is home to some of Europe's most beautiful beaches and coves - with the spectacular view of Golfo de Porto in the south is rightfully recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage site, thanks to its jawdropping beauty. However, explore the rest of Corsica's vast coastline in the north and it is impossible not to be blown away by the dizzyingly gorgeous panoramas on show. 

Among our favourite spots are the hidden creeks of Punta di Spanu, the pristine snorkelling spot of Plage de l’Alga, the family beach of La Roya, the untamed Plage de l’Ostriconi and the beautiful beach of Barcaggio, a splendid white sandy beach with some unusual inhabitants: red cows, who often use the quiet beach as a place to rest a while. 

Further inland, Northern Corsica doesn't disappoint either, with its rugged hiking trails that cut a jagged path across lush valleys, stark mountain tops and oak and pine-blanketed hills, tickled by a vein-like network of trickling streams and paradisiacal gorges. 

Visit the historic coastal cities of Calvi and Bastia 

Visit the historic coastal cities of Calvi and Bastia 

Corsica is an island dripping with history. Throughout its long and storied past it has passed through the hands of the Phoenicians, Romans and Vandals, Genoese, Pisans, become a Papal state, the Pisans (again), even becoming an independent republic with close links to England before finally becoming part of France in 1796. The tumult doesn't end there, with its status during the Second World War once again in question, as it fell under control of the invading Italian and German forces. 

Nowhere is this rich history felt more keenly than in the bastions and walls of the historic citadels of Bastia and Calvi. Bastia, the largest town in Northern Corsica, with its chic marina area and famous local wines, is a wonderful setting in which to spend a few days wandering the narrow streets of its old town, ducking into little shops and galleries and visiting its historic Governor's Palace and Church of Saint-Jean Baptiste, the largest in all of Corsica. Built atop a 900-metre-high mountain, Bastia is the perfect place to admire some truly jaw-dropping views across the surrounding bay.  

In the north west of the island, chic Calvi, the capital of the beautiful Balagne region, boasts a rich architectural patrimony, evident from the moment you lay eyes on it. The old town, enclosed in thick imposing walls and blessed with an excellent vantage point, sits proudly on a promontory overlooking the bay, no doubt a guard against as well as a provocation for the steady stream of pirates and conquerors who down the ages had sought to possess it. Inside, its cobbled streets and refined restaurants and quaint cafes provide the scene for the perfect Mediterranean break, while its surrounding beaches play host in the summer to the popular Calvi Rocks electronic music festival. 

>>> Take a look at our selection of luxury villas in Calvi

Saint-Florent and its gorgeous beaches, the best place for setting off on adventures

Saint-Florent and its gorgeous beaches, the best place for setting off on adventures

The more understated charms of Sain-Florent are no less enchanting. The 'little St Tropez of Corsica' can be found at the end of the bay of turquoise waters and pristine sands, framed by the heavenly Cap Corse and the Nebbio mountains. The town itself, although modest in size, includes a picturesque harbour, lined by charming traditional small shops and cafes populated with friendly locals, while the laid-back air carries the scent of the sea mingled with the fragrance of the delicious local cuisine.

Within walking distance of the town lie the clear, shallow waters of La Roya beach, a perfect spot for younger children to enjoy the sparkling Mediterranean in an enchanting setting. There are plenty of heavenly beaches further along the coast with plenty of watersports activities available to try, including snorkelling, jet ski and kayaking. As you make your way further from the town, the greenery becomes ever more luxuriant and the beaches more heavenly still. This truly is one of the most magical areas of Corsica; home to the celebrated Saleccia and Lotu beaches, as well as the sublime Agriates Desert, where you can encounter a landscape of almost untouched, prelapsarian beauty. 

Discover the arts and crafts of the island's talented artisans

Found a little inland from the red rocks of the Ile Rousse, the charming town of Pigna with its blue shutters and cobbled streets, which overlooks the bay of Algajola, has forged a fine reputation thanks to the skills of its artists and craftspeople. Step inside the shops and workshops and discover the work of the potters, jewellers, luthiers and engravers who have set up home in Pigna.

The Agriates Dessert, among the best things to see on a trip to the Isle of Beauty. 

The Agriates Dessert, among the best things to see on a trip to the Isle of Beauty. 

To visit this protected area and natural marvel, there are a number of options available to you. For fans of hiking, you can walk the coastal path, which runs the length of the coast Saint Florent to Ostriconi. This would typically take a couple of days, and would be unadvisable during the scorching summer months, as there is little shade available. 

A more enjoyable option may be to embark on a boat trip from Saint-Florent where you can reach the soft golden sands of the region's paradisiacal beaches with little difficulty. Once there, the panoramas are truly breathtaking: unspoilt bays and mountain views, the perfect setting for snapping countless photos. It's worth noting that, although known as a desert, Agriates is in places overflowing with abundant vegetation. And given the difficulty in arriving at certain places, these beaches are never overrun by crowds of tourists in the high season. 

Some of the most rewarding hiking trails in Europe

Some of the most rewarding hiking trails in Europe

Corsica is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and fans of hiking and the northern region is blessed with some of the Isle of Beauty's finest paths. There is, of course, the now legendary GR20 trail, running from North to South and traversing some of the toughest terrain in the mountainous centre of the island. This is not necessarily advisable for beginners, and requires a certain amount of preparation before launching oneself into it. Given the physical challenge involved, it is not advisable to undertake the GR20 during the height of summer. However, the rewards more than match the sacrifices involved in conquering this gruelling route: those bold enough to attempt it will be treated to the exquisite beauty of many areas of Corsica, which can be considered among the very finest landscape in the Mediterranean.  

Those setting off on a long hike for the first time, or who prefer their hiking a little less ambitious, might opt for the Chemin des Douaniers, a twenty-kilometre trail around the tip of the Cap Corse, with awe-inspiring views of the coastline and the Finocchiarola islands. 

The Mare I Monte trails see you heading into the heart of the island (and, indeed, the middle of nature) from the north-western region of Balagne past the sweet chestnut trees and other vegetation towards the beautiful forest region of Bonifatu. 

The best time to embark on a bike through this or any other part of the island is during the months of May and June or in the Autumn, when the heat is pleasant during the day, without dropping too much as the sun goes down. 

A land of celebrated cuisine 

A land of celebrated cuisine 

Although its exceptional natural beauty is the obvious main attraction of Corsica, it would be a crime not to mention its mouth-watering traditional cuisine. This delightful blend of French and Italian influences as created a range of dishes to tantalize your tastebuds while providing the sort of hearty fare necessary for traversing the rugged terrain. 

As an island, it has abundant access to fresh fish and seafood, a characteristic reflected in its famous Aziminu seafood stew, a sort of Corsican take on bouillabaisse. Elsewhere, the hills and earthy pastures of its hinterland are represented by its famous Brocciu cheese, found in the typical Corsican dessert of Fiadone, and by meat dishes such as Veal a la Corse, made using local olives, and the island's celebrated wild boar Civet, found in restaurants up and down the island, from Bastia to Porto-Vecchio: a must-try for visitors to the island. 

Make the most of your holidays in Northern Corsica by staying in a luxury villa

Make the most of your holidays in Northern Corsica by staying in a luxury villa

Villanovo has created a select range of luxury villas across Corsica for you to explore. These exceptional holiday homes offer the finest in luxury and privacy, offering a diversity of styles to help you find your ideal place to stay in Corsica; from contemporary villas showcasing the latest in design, to rustic farmhouses offering a relaxed, traditional setting for your Mediterranean getaway. 

>>> Explore our handpicked selection of luxury villas in Corsica

 

Discover Villanovo's selection of luxury villas for Corsica

232 € - 910 € per night
-10%
6 3 3

Corsica - East coast of Corsica
560 € - 1 200 € per night
6 3 3

Corsica - Propriano