Traveling by public transportation especially in faraway countries with a totally different culture allows for mingling with locals on the bus, the train or the boat. Traveling via rental or private car allows freedom to stop and stay at your decision. However for some specific places, public transportation might mean seeing very little and hiring a car is almost paramount.
Corsica is one of those places. Most roads are winding, often narrow and sometimes in poor conditions and can only be reached by car or bike. The contrasts of the island are the perfect destination for a road trip. Explore hidden corners of the island with its wild nature and isolated villages and discover why the French call Corsica, Ile de Beauté.
Bastia, Ajaccio and Calvi are connected by boat from Italy (Savona, Genova, Livorno) and France (Marseille, Toulon). Flights to Corsica from France and other European cities must be checked as some of them are only seasonal.
Leg 1: Ajaccio to Sartène
From Ajaccio airport, you can go directly to car rental booths to pick up a rental car. Auto Europe, a leading car rentals and service provider offers competitive rates and is a trusted company. Start the road trip by heading south and inland, to Sartène.
Sartène offers views of medieval structure, narrow alleys and granite houses. As with all of Corsica, Sartène is perched atop the rocky mountains, secluded and somewhat unaffected by modern time passing.
Leg 2: Zonza and Bavella
From Sartène you can ride to the winding road toward the mountains and to Zonza village. Drive slow to enjoy and soak up the scenic views. Farther down the road is the Aiguilles de Bavella (the ‘Bavella Needles’), one of the most scenic mountain areas of Corsica. You can take a pit stop here and take a hike. The landscape is breathtaking with its peaks reaching up to the sky.
Leg 3: Corte and the Restonica Valley
From Zonza, you can head to Corte, the former capital of Corsica. The old town of Corte has maintained its pride and scrupulously kept their traditions, even after losing their independence. It is one of the most preserved places with narrow streets leading up to the citadel and authentic old houses on top of hills. It has also successfully preserved its spoken language.
The mountains and forests surrounding the town is part of the Regional Natural Park of Corsica. One of the places reachable only by car is the nearby Restonica Valley. The valley is well known for its beautiful hiking trails.
Leg 4: Corte to Ota
Past the mountains and winding roads, you will come upon the blue sea in Algajola. Breathe in air from the sea from the Gulf of Porto, sole UNESCO World Heritage Site in Corsica. Try some good fresh fish, and take a walk along its white sand beaches.
Going farther inland, you will come across Ota village, quaint and enchanting. The place is a popular stop for hikers going for daily excursions or stopping along the Mare e Monti hiking trail.
From there, Gorges de la Spelunca is a short walk away. If you’re more for relaxing in silence, stay a few days and visit the streets or at the bar. Enjoy a few drinks on terraces overlooking the mountains and spend the day doing as the locals do.
Leg 5: Ota to Ajaccio
Before leaving Corsica, road trip to the picturesque Calanques of Piana, its best visited during the time of sunrise and sunset when the sun shines and colors the rocks in shades of gentle yellows, oranges and reds, contrasting with the deep blue of the water beneath. From Ota take the road again, down to Ajaccio.
When driving in Corsica, take your time and enjoy what surroundings have to offer. Take note that Corsica is not a cheap destination. If you’re on a budget, staying at the Gites d’étape, it offers half-board accommodation in dormitories.