Corsica is only two hours’ flight from the UK, if you want to get away from it all closer to home. There, you will discover captivating contrast of scenic coastlines, deserted sandy beaches, lush forests and lakes, plus picturesque towns. So, whether you’re interested in topping up your tan, hiking on high, sailing the seas or simply sightseeing, Corsica is the ideal destination.
In addition, Corsica is fabulous for foodies too. That’s just what you’d expect from an island that’s officially been part of France for over 200 years. Local produce abounds and, naturally if seafood’s your thing, you’ll be spoilt for choice. But there’s much more to Corsican cuisine than shellfish. Corsican charcuterie is among the best in the world. The indigenous ‘maquis’ herbs deliver a unique scent and flavour to all sorts of dishes. Also, the cheeses are to die for and do look out for ‘sanglier’ – wild boar is the island’s signature, most celebrated dish.
Oenophiles will not be disappointed, either. Corsica produces a number of very good wines, little known beyond its own shores, from highly individual producers. And no visit would be complete without sampling the island’s herb-based, fortified Cap Corse. After all, it’s the most delicious apéritif you’ve probably never heard of.
Bang for your buck
In terms of size, Corsica is marginally larger than Crete. But its geographical diversity, and rich history and heritage means it can offer travellers plenty of bang for their buck. Beach lovers should head south to the sweeping bays of Palombaggia, Propriano and Portigliolo. And while you’re down south, a trip to the majestic old town of Bonifacio is an absolute must. The imposing citadel walls and houses rise up out of sheer limestone cliffs, concealing enigmatic caves and grottoes in the waves below. If you’re feeling energetic, why not scale ‘King Aragon’s Staircase’? This steep set of steps cuts into the actual cliffs beneath the old town itself.
Fancy a hike?
Furthermore, Southern Corsica is a haven for hiking fans. There are plenty of easy walks to sights such as the Piscia De Gallo Waterfall or the prehistoric Casteddu d’Araghju hill fort. Or head to the Restonica Valley in central Corsica. Its glacier-moulded gorges and towering pine forests are among the island’s most magnificent scenery.
There’s plenty for culture vultures too. Ajaccio (Corsica’s capital city and birthplace of Napoleon), Bastia and Corte all feature excellent museums, while the latter is home to the island’s university. Also worth a visit is sinister Sartene, known as the most Corsican of Corsica’s towns. Its imposing stone architecture and ambience exude superstition and vendetta, as befits its chequered history. Northwest of Sartene is Filitosa, an architectural site that showcases an impressive collection of preserved megalithic menhirs.
Despite being unsullied by mass package operators, Corsica is easy to reach via plane, or even a Eurostar/ferry combo. The winters are mild and the summers warm and sunny. In short, it’s an unspoilt, short haul hidden gem – start planning your visit there soon!