When asked where we were starting our adventure I was surprised at the number of people who hadn’t heard of Corsica, but then I only knew of it through the Astrix cartoon series. While exploring this captivating island I’ve noticed that the majority of visitors are french speaking and after doing a little research online I discovered that 90% of Corsican tourists are French with a further 5% Italian. Leaving just 5% of visitors from other nations.
This is inexplicable to me. The beaches are beautiful and safe, the climate warm and consistent, it is relatively inexpensive and just a two hour flight from the UK.
You really need to visit this captivating island before everyone catches on!
The beaches of Corsica – at least on the north and east sides of the island where we spent most of our time feature gentle slopping, sandy bottomed and warm, calm and safe waters. The east coast beaches stretch for miles and miles at a time and in the south you’ll find crystal clear, azure blue waters to rival the Caribbean. Palombaggia was our personal favourite – we drove 2 hours there and back to visit this beach twice during our stay. The road hugs the coastline, making the journey almost as enjoyable as the beach itself.
Clean and tidy everywhere
Corsica is very well looked after. There is little rubbish and everything is well maintained and presented. The sense of pride that the Corsica people have in their country is evident at every turn.
If you shop at the larger supermarkets and avoid the overly touristy restaurants you’ll find that Corsica is largely inexpensive, particularly in the north of the island. Flights from the UK are reasonable and Air BnB style accommodation is average for Europe in mid season. The only item we did find expensive was the car hire and fuel. Being a small island there were few options and all of these were expensive.
Despite the temptation to lie on a gorgeous beach and do very little throughout your time in Corsica there is also a huge amount of activities for the the more adventurous. I’d very much like to return to the island when the kids are a little older so that we can indulge in some of the more daring sports available. Due to it’s enviable year round sunshine climate Corsica has a lot to offer the adventure seekers, from every conceivable water sport to mountain biking, horse riding, canyoning, ropes courses, paragliding and plenty of walking and hiking – Corsica is home to the the infamously challenging GR20, the toughest long distance trail in Europe.
Stunning scenery and nature
I know I’ve already mentioned the beaches but that’s not the only beauty that Corsica can boast. Head inland and nature puts on a fantastic show that will take your breath away. There are waterfalls, spectacular mountain views, quaint villages, lush forests, rivers, flowers and wildlife.
Peace and quiet
With only 330,000 inhabitants Corsica is quiet and largely unspoilt. Although the main roads (as there are so few of them) can get a little jammed in the early evening you’ll otherwise feel and sense of space and peace throughout the island. We visited in the height of summer and only found the most popular tourist spots to be busy and even then there was never an issue finding a parking space or a table in a restaurant.
History and tradition
Corsicans are passionate about their heritage and protect their traditions and culture fiercely. The island has changed ownership multiple times and has a unique blend of French and Italian influences that infuse it’s undeniable charm. Corsica was declared independent from France in 1790 by the island’s hero Pascal Paoli, but Napoléon (who was born in the capital Ajaccio) reclaimed it as French just a few years later. The locals are warm and friendly and keep alive many traditional activities in arts, crafts, produce and music such as knife-making, jewellery-making, pottery and polyphonic choral singing.
The blend of Italian and French culture is also evident in Corsica’s cuisine but with its own unique flavours and ingredients. Local cooking is based around the locally produced dairy products such as brocciu (a ewe’s milk cheese) and chestnuts. Despite being an island with plentiful fresh seafood available Corsica is traditionally meat based, you can expect to see many varieties of cured meats.
Corsica also produces several very good wines, liqueurs, and honey which are almost exclusive to the island. Another unique quality of Corsica is it is incredibly self sufficient using a huge amount of locally sourced goods.
When travelling with kids I highly value the safety of a destination. Corsica has a reputation in France as a dangerous place due to its past political troubles and the presence of some organised crime, As a visitor there is very reason for concern. The level of petty crime is extremely low in Corsica and as a female I felt respected as was comfortable to go running on my own safely. We were also happy letting the kids play with children they met in neighbouring holiday apartments without feeling the need to watch their every move.
But did I mention the beaches???