Discovering Corsica with Friends

Once a year, my friends and I pack our bags and go on an adventure. One of the requirements of this tradition is that none of us has already been to the place selected.

The occasion is always a long weekend, so the trip has to take place within Europe. It’s not an easy decision, since every year the options become fewer and fewer. But when it came to Corsica, we were instantly sold.

Trip Prep

Don’t underestimate the logistical hassle of traveling with a bunch of peers.

After establishing a suitable time frame with all participants, it was time to book a flight. It turned out there weren’t as many connecting flights from Switzerland to Corsica as we’d hoped. In the end, we booked an Easyjet flight from Geneva to Ajaccio. We did manage to quickly find an Airbnb villa, even if the availability wasn’t an exact match for our flight dates. That was why we spent the first night in Bonifacio, which was reachable in a few hours by rental car.

Bonifacio in the South of Corsica

This picturesque little town is made up of two parts: a bay with huge yachts and pleasure boats, and a citadel with an endless number of little alleyways—the main attraction for tourists. On site, you have the option—for instance—of climbing up and down the steep King of Aragon stairway or of simply enjoying the view of nearby Sardinia.

There are a ton of restaurants, although we learned from experience that for the best places, a group should really reserve in advance. On the other hand, a table for two can be found on the spur of the moment. The menus mostly feature fish and shellfish. We got the moules frites at a restaurant on the harbor—very good.

Bonifacio took no time to see, although the surrounding area is wonderful for exploring, especially for swimming. There are a lot of turquoise-blue bays and lagoons, with mildly warm water and sand beaches, but there are also a ton of visitors. If you’re looking for picture-postcard subjects, you’ll have to get there very early in the morning.

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Our Airbnb North of Ajaccio

We still don’t agree about how to pronounce “Ajaccio.” And it’s no wonder, since Corsica belongs to France but is situated very close to Italy, which has had a strong influence on its language and culture. There’s also the Corsican language, which is promoted by the natives. You’ll often see street signs that have been painted over and now show the cities and directions in Corsican.

We found a beautiful Airbnb on the Gulf of Liscia, with an outdoor pool and a breathtaking view onto the sea. The drive there was a serious adventure and impossible to figure out without a more detailed description from our hosts. The place was perfect for relaxing and leaving the hectic pace of daily life behind you. There was a big table on the terrace and also a grill, so we would all often cook together and enjoy our evening meal outside as we watched the setting sun. We would buy our groceries at the supermarket and also at the small village shops.

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One thing we miscalculated was the long distance from the beach. We were looking forward to the wild bays, but the entire coastline was blocked by houses. The villas located on the water, with their lush gardens, had no through access, so we always had to drive to the official town beach. In retrospect, I would definitely be on the lookout for an Airbnb with access to the water.

The town beach is relatively big, and it’s not hard to find a place there. But there’s no shade at all, so it’s a really good idea to take along a beach umbrella. Aside from lying on the beach, you can also rent water scooters and rowboats, do boat tours, and go diving. One place that struck us as being a good potential base is Nautica Loisirs Plongee.

You have to go out to a fancy restaurant at least once, even if you have a dreamlike terrace at home. Right beneath the Airbnbs was the beach restaurant Castel d’Orcino, which served delicious food. You could also find Corsican specialties like fish soup on the menu.

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Hiking in Corsica

Corsica is not just a swimmer’s paradise but also hiking country, and there’s even boating there! On one particularly beautiful day, we took an excursion to Val d’Ese, and we were by far not the only ones to ask about the beautiful countryside, although it was a little strange to see the ski lifts already, since it wasn’t that far from the beach. The climate there is considerably cooler, and it’s a good idea to have a light jacket in summer as well. We had our picnic on a cliff with a view out over the mountains and valley, before heading back to the warmth.

Driving on Corsica

I absolutely need to point out that I’ve never had so much trouble driving as I did here. The roads on Corsica are very winding, and even though I drove slowly and carefully, I still had a hard time. Maybe it was because our adventurous bus trips in Peru were not yet that far behind us, but I would still avoid driving across the island next time. Unfortunately, that is the best and often the only option for moving forward and discovering beautiful places.

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A Secret Cove for Swimming

But we did discover a hidden cove near Ancone by sheer chance! The path was really well disguised, and we only noticed it because another car was parked there. After two minutes of walking down the path, we arrived at a gorgeous cove—perfect for swimming and hunting for small mussels. This is a good place to have a diving mask. So that you also have a chance to visit the cove, we gave it a name and marked the place on the map. You can find it on Instagram under the hashtag #vidiabay and also locally under the geotag Vidia Bay.

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