If you have a thirst for adventure, camping outdoors, road trips, long sunny days, wild pigs, trekking and beautiful beaches.....
Look no further, fill up your cup and drink it in!
You don't ever hear much about the French island named Corsica, and that is a good thing. This place is so incredible and must be seen before it trends, turns into every other insta-hot spot and is spoilt by an influx of tourism.
We named it "Contagious Corsica" because this place is going to spread like wild fire.
Corsica has to be one of the most underrated islands within Europe. We had never heard of anything about this picturesque place, until one of our friends told us what this island has to offer. It should be a MUST VISIT destination for every keen traveller heading to Europe next summer.
It’s the most adventurous/picturesque drive we think we have ever been on. Buckle up and get ready to be awed by mother nature.
The best way to visit Corsica is by far, driving it. It's the ultimate way to explore this paradise on a budget. The campsites generally range from about 15 - 20 euro a night. If you don’t have a camper van we suggest for you to kit out your own vehicle, pack your tent with all the essential camping gear and start planning. See the route we took at the bottom of this blog.
Tip: Keep in mind it get's really hot in the summer so adequate ventilation and mosquito nets would be ideal. We didn't have any nets and got by fine sleeping in our car. If you want to find out how we converted our small car into our little cosy home, check out our car build highlight on instagram.
We are fairly self sufficient as it comes to camping in our car. The one thing we don't have which would have been handy when nature called, was a toilet (it's funny because Nath is a plumber haha). Of course that depends on what camper you own or hire. Our car was great as we had no height restrictions and we could easily set up our campsite anywhere within roughly 10 minutes. We generally always camp within a camping ground that had these extra facilities we were lacking.
How to get there?
There are many different possibilities to get to this island via ferries. We came over via a car ferry from Livorno, Italy. We then went on a quick ferry to Sardinia afterwards. You can find different ferry options and book on Direct Ferries.
First of all how much time do you need to see the place?
We were there for a week and feel that this is minimum you need to really get a feel of the island. There were many places we didn’t even make it to with 7 nights so… of course, any extra days would be incredible to stretch your time in this lovely paradise. Now that we have visited here, 2 weeks would have been a perfect amount of time to not rush.
We found one of our top 3 favourite beaches in the world!
Tip: Get a European SIM card. As our French is basically non-existent, we struggled to communicate with some locals to find the best places to camp and visit for the day. Hence, google translate came in handy. It is also super useful to have google maps to get around.
Now, Corsica is such an epic journey so where do you start? Let’s take you around Corsica starting from the north in Bastia and take you around the island in an anticlockwise direction along the coast all the way to Bonifacio in the south.
Bastia to L'ile Rousse (via Cap Corse)
From Bastia we drove off the ferry and we were tossing up the idea of heading straight to the Cap Corse loop of the island (the northern tip). After a few discussions we decided to give that a miss as our days were numbered and we had plenty to see and do in the southern part of the island. From Bastia we drove up the D81 road into the mountain range and aimed to stop somewhere near Calvi for the night. As we started climbing up the mountains our plans yet again changed as we saw an epic view of the northern side of the island and decided to head that way for a look.
We drove as far as Nonza and pulled over in the town for a break. Walked up to Torra de Nonza (tower of Nonza), here you can get amazing views of the black sandy stretch of Nonza beach and there are plenty of places to grab a cold drink or coffee to keep you charged for the next leg.
The drive here is incredible. The road wraps sheer cliffs and around each bend is as good as the last. It has constant epic views of the coast with crystal clear water. We kept pulling over every 10 minutes to snap some photos. There are plenty of places to go for that dip your hanging out for. It depends on what time of year you are in Corsica as some beaches have limited parking. Stop for a dip at the Black beach or if you can’t find a park there head further south to Farinole beach or another one on the gorgeous coastline.
You’ll have ample photo opportunities along this trip (if you are driving it yourself). On the way to Calvi, you will find many isolated beaches, so it’s really up to you on where to stop for those tempting swim stops. Definitely have those camera batteries charged and ready to go!
We drove through Saint Florent and the trip was truly incredible. The road winds up and down, round and round and the landscape drastically changes from scenic coast to incredible mountainous views as far as the eye can see.
Our target for the first night was to find somewhere nice to stay along the coastline towards Calvi. Driving along we found the perfect campsite close to a small town called L'ile Rousse. Les Oliviers camping ground is located 2 minutes drive out of town or a 20 min walk.
This camping ground was perfect for us. The staff were awesome, the price was decent and the facilities had everything we needed. We had set up our car to camp for the night, organised our camping site with our outdoor pop up “kitchen” and camping chairs set in place. This camp ground has spectacular views for the sunset. It also has access to a private section of the beach which is really quiet and absolutely stunning. We loved it soo much that we decided to stay there for a second night so we had a full day to enjoy the beach and relax. You have everything you need there and if not, town is just down the road. If you are feeling lazy and don't want to cook, the campground has a restaurant.
Les Oliviers campground facilities: WIFI, bathrooms with hot showers, café/restaurant, tour desk.
Time to head inland toward the Asco Valley. But first, let's cool off in the stunning clear water. We recommend heading south of town and pulling over at Ghjunchitu beach. You can park in the dirt car park for a couple of euros and go and enjoy the stunning beach. Once refreshed, we were ready for the next drive into the mountains. It’s an extremely pleasant drive. Pull over when you desire for those epic shots! The Asco valley was one of our favourite slices of Corsica. Drive all the way to the Asco village. Be careful, you’ll come around sharp corners and there could be potential livestock walking around and rocks on the road from the cliffs above. This place is amazing!
We pulled up and camped where our friends recommended, across the road from one of the turtle centres. It’s called Tizzarella. They have good facilities and are right next to a river, so you can go for a dip once camp is all set up for the night. If you are into hiking you could stay here for a few days. There are endless hikes you can do all around the Asco Valley. Totally up to you on which trail you take.
As we had limited time and it was very hot in the middle of July, we unfortunately missed hiking this time. But, here are some options that were recommended to us from our friends who are keen hikers:
- Restonica Valley - hike to Lake Melo.
- Corte is a beautiful town that we drove through but you can also stay here overnight to do some hikes in the surrounding areas.
- There are many hikes with amazing views to waterfalls along the D84 road towards Porto.
Make your way back to the coast along the D84 via Albertacce and Ota. Porto is a stunning port town and is very easy on the eyes, with these incredible red rock cliffs that sit along the perimeter of the water. The beach is a pebbly one. It's covered in spectacular small stones, rich of vibrant colours. The water is extremely clear and underneath the water you can see the colours of the stones dancing from the rays of sunlight, shining through the water to make them glow. Did we mention it's also a great temperature to cool off from that blistering sun.
Camping in Porto is a breeze. There are plenty of places to camp either up the very top of town or walking distance to the beach. For us, we wanted to be as close to the beach as possible and found this campground to be the cheapest and best for us. Camping Municipal was where we stayed, about a 10 minute walk from the beach and town. Be sure to set up camp before sunset. The sunsets here are world class.
This is by far one of our top 3 favourite beaches in the world and you have to get here. This place is absolutely incredible. From the parking area, you don’t really know what to expect. Once you walk down a small dirt path you will get a first glimpse of the bright blue water. Take your snorkel, food and beach umbrella. Do your best to stay as long as you can. It’s incredible.
Tip: To help you find hidden beaches like this have a look on google maps and check out the satellite, also the terrain map to score more isolated locations.
As we were running out of days, we needed to get further south. We weren't sure of our plans, so we started to drive towards Ajaccio and thought we might camp around there. As we got there, we found it incredibly busy and more like a big city. This was totally not our vibe and we had to get out of there asap. The place was lined with resorts and the beaches are extremely crowded. We decided to keep driving south.
Tip: This is not somewhere we would recommend if you are camping and want to avoid crowds. However, if you were on vacation, Ajaccio is full of hotels and an easy hub to get to with airport and big port.
We found a campground in Olmeto called Abbartello and it was really chilled. It’s how we wanted to end our trip in Corsica, without setting up our campsite and packing it away each day. We chose to stay here for two nights, really take it easy and just enjoy the coast while we can. This campsite was well priced. The only downer is it's next to the "main" road, so if you are a light sleeper, set up camp at the back of the camp ground. The beach is right across the road and there is a supermarket and restaurant not too far away either. It has a great sunset and the beach is quiet and also nice to snorkel at.
We wanted to check out Porto Vecchio as we heard from a local that the nicest beaches on the island were around here. We beg to differ, as we found the beaches overcrowded and very family friendly with water sports along them. I guess this is great if you are into that, but we preferred the private beaches that you can find all the way along the west coast.
Tip: This is a port town and popular spot for families. Although the beach is still pretty, it is not our cup of tea.
Bonifacio was our final destination in Corsica as we caught the short ferry to Sardinia after. It is a beautiful town to see. There are plenty of camp sites around here. We stayed 5 minutes drive out of town at La Pomposa. It was really cheap and had the basics that we needed. We went out exploring in town at the crack of dawn before our early ferry and highly recommend getting up before everyone else. Walk up to the old citadel walls and find a cozy spot for the sunrise. It’s a wonderful place to start your day.
Things to pack:
Snorkels - bring your own. They will pay for themselves on the first dive.
Sunscreen - in Europe it's crazy expensive.
Beach umbrella - there's not much shade at the beaches.
Water - with every camp, pack plenty of it.
An Esky or refrigerated bag - it gets really hot during the day, keep your food cool.
Car supplies oil etc - the road conditions are tough on the vehicles.
Bring supplies and check vehicles water/oil levels regularly.
Insect repellent - mosquitos at night are out for a feed.