Pietracorbara beach in Haute-Corse; Credit: Jazmin Campbell

Like many others in Luxembourg, I took advantage of the public holidays in May this year for a sunny escape. My partner and I opted for a week-long adventure in the French island of Corsica, and Napoleon Bonaparte's birthplace sure did not disappoint.

Whilst it was a delight to visit Corsica during the low season (fewer tourists, cars, etc.), there is no reason why anyone still looking for their summer holiday destination should not consider this Mediterranean gem.

We flew from Luxembourg to Bastia with Luxair - thankfully missing the airport security chaos that ensued a couple of days later (10 May). We rented a car, having heard that this is the easiest way to get around the mountainous island, and were glad we did. For the most part, driving went smoothly (albeit slowly), although we did make some unforeseen stops due to animals greeting us in the mountains and accidentally making an appearance ourselves at the carnival celebrations in Levi... We stopped to sleep in/near hubs such as Bastia, Bonifacio, Ajaccio and Calvi, splashing out on (3*) hotel rooms with a sea view - although there are no shortage of (free) sea views on the island!

One week was not enough to see everything, of course, but we tried (and mostly managed) to fit in everything we wanted to see and do, only really skipping parts of Cap Corse in the far north.


It was lovely to spend our first and last nights in Bastia, a pretty port town with a historic citadel. There were plenty of restaurants serving Corsican/Mediterranean dishes along the harbour, and we were sure to make a stop at the famous Glacier Raugi for dessert - they have a great selection of ice cream and sorbets. Interestingly, it was one of the only ice cream shops open late at night, but perhaps others closed earlier due to it being low season.

Southward bound: After a day of tackling some impressively winding mountain roads, we spent the second evening of our trip in Porto-Vecchio, another charming port town. The streets came alive with music and people just having a good time, and we enjoyed a top-notch traditional Corsican meal at the Gault&Millau rated Restaurant Furana.

We spent Day 3 (Europe Day / Ascension Day) in beautiful Bonifacio. It was definitely busier here, particularly in the citadel, but a trip to this charming coastal town is not to be missed! Both the views and the climb down and up the King of Aragon's Stairway will take your breath away (for various reasons)…

Seeking sanctuary from the crowds, my partner and I embarked on an unforgettable boat trip to the Lavezzi Islands, where we could take a dip in the stunningly clear but still fresh water and take in views of Sardinia (there are also boat trips going as far as this Italian island from Corsica).

Day 4 saw us explore the prehistoric sites of Cucuruzzu and Filitosa (both impressive but I would personally suggest going to one or the other, especially if tight on time) before heading for the Corsican capital and birthplace of Napoleon: Ajaccio. The highlight here for history lovers is surely the Maison Bonaparte, the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family. Ajaccio is a bustling Mediterranean port city with plenty to do, although I personally preferred the smaller/quieter parts of the island.

Heading north again, the highlight of Day 5 was hiking through the Gorges de la Restonica (with the help of a shuttle bus taking visitors part of the way), just south of Corte. Expect breathtaking views both here and in Corte itself. A good place to visit is the citadel which houses the Museum of Corsica and offers panoramic views of this historic fortress town in central Corsica. For an impressive view that includes the citadel, head to the nearby Belvédère panoramic viewpoint.

As we continued driving north, on Day 6, we made sure to stop and take in the beauty of the iconic Calanques de Piana - if you look closely, you can spot "the heart of Corsica" in the naturally occurring red rock formation. The calanques are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Later, we took a scenic short trail through the Gorges de Spelunca hiking area (there are plenty of hiking options in Corsica!) before travelling on to Calvi, a truly charming town which claims to be the birthplace of Christopher Colombus... Another Mediterranean meal and hard-earned good night's sleep were had, as our trip slowly but surely came to an end.

The final day of our Corsican adventure was spent discovering more of the island's immense natural beauty, as well as some architectural gems. These included an old Genovese stone bridge in Asco, a mountain village where we met a new friend (a donkey), and the historic, partially destroyed Ponte Novu bridge. Our brief history lesson was followed by a well-deserved break on a rare sand beach (Pietracorbara) in Cap Corse (northern Corsica). The slightly cooler weather meant we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves. It was then time for one last dinner along the harbour in Bastia.

We tried to see and do a bit of everything, but there are certainly extensive options for more hiking/active or beach holidays, depending on one's preference. The timing of our visit also meant we missed seeing the Northern Lights (although they did apparently make an appearance one night in Corsica) but witnessing the stunning sunrises and sunsets on the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean made up for it.

In terms of the language used, we mostly spoke French, although we also heard a lot of Corsican and even Italian (understandably considering the island's history and geographical location). It varies depending on the part of the island. Internet connectivity also varies from place to place (including wifi in hotels) but we had no problem getting around thanks to the Sat Nav in our rented car.

As for prices, food was a bit cheaper than in Luxembourg but not by much. Like anywhere, the more touristic spots (notably along the harbour) charge more. Fuel was more expensive than in Luxembourg, as is often the case beyond our borders, but the car rental experience went rather smoothly from start to finish - we booked in advance but travellers can also do this upon arrival at the airport.

All in all, I would definitely recommend a visit to Corsica, with its breathtaking scenery, its delicious food and its pleasant weather (just under or above 20 °C most days we were there in May).