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Which Towns Should You Visit While Sailing in Corsica?

Known for luxury yachts and dramatic landscapes, Corsica has some of the greatest towns on its shores
Known for luxury yachts and dramatic landscapes, Corsica has some of the greatest towns on its shores | © Marchal Jeremy / Getty
Photo of Nick Dauk
29 October 2021
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There’s sailing around France, then there’s sailing around Corsica. This mountainous Mediterranean island is a maritime lover’s dream. Dramatic landscapes and French-influenced culture creates a unique visit that pulls you into the shore. You can moor right in the heart of a fleet of luxury yachts or discover hidden beaches where the only flotilla you’ll find is that of seabirds and locals in the know. Chart a course for these lovely towns when sailing around the island of Corsica.

Explore Corsica’s coastal towns by renting a yacht from SamBoat.

Bastia

Architectural Landmark
Map View
The seafront promenade at Bastia, Corsica
© Imagebroker / Alamy
Get to know Corsica at its main gateway in northern Bastia. Mornings are for coffee in the Old Port while watching the fishing boats return with their haul – and afternoons are mini-shopping sprees for flea market finds at Saint Nicholas Square and designer digs on Napoleon Street. Good restaurants and beautiful Baroque buildings are easy to pencil in – but if you’re short on time, a walk to the citadel through the quiet Romieu Gardens is a fast way to tick a few sites off of your list without wandering far from the marina.

Saint-Florent

Architectural Landmark
Map View
A view of a small port in Saint Florent with sailing boats in Corsica, France
© Pawel Kazmierczak / Alamy
Though only 23km (14.3mi) by land away from Bastia, Saint-Florent will feel like a world away. Sail around the Cap Corse peninsula and stop when you hear the boules clanking together. It will seem like every sailor docked their luxury yacht in this former fishing village just to have a game. Some of the island’s best wines are made a cork’s pop away in Patrimonio, so grabbing a glass of red and people watching at La Vista’s bar qualify as the local experience to savour.

Bonifacio

Historical Landmark
Map View
The city of Bonifacio and its boat harbour
© eFesenko / Alamy
Bonifacio is another lively port town – so far down in Corsica’s southern tip that you can wave to Sardinia. No one will fault you for munching on canistrelli while cafe-hopping, but you may be too jaw-dropped by the cliffs to hold the sweet treat in your mouth. Whether you climb the steep rocky staircase down to the sea or ascend to the clifftop Golf de Spérone course, make sure you bring your camera. Our favourite views of the City of Cliffs? Watching them tower over the sea while sailing around the uninhabited Lavezzi islands, scattered across the Strait of Bonifacio.

Solenzara

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Hikers proceed on the path in the green woods of Col de Bavella, Solenzara, Corsica
© Robert Harding / Alamy
Swap your deck shoes for hiking boots the minute you moor in Solenzara. This seaside town is at the foot of the Aiguilles de Bavella mountain range, giving you access to hilly hiking trails. Tick off waterfalls, rivers and gorges as you hike up to find the perfect panoramic view. You can take your adventure to new heights with a guided canyoning excursion and reward your post-hike wobbly legs with a sweet treat at Glacier du Port ice-cream parlour.

Ajaccio

Natural Feature
Map View
An aerial view of the Citadel of Ajaccio in Corsica
© Alexandre Rosa / Alamy
No visit to Corsica is complete without stopping in its capital city, Ajaccio. The birthplace of Napoleon – and the central hub of culture on the island – consider this your city break when sailing. If you forego the temptation of visiting his childhood home Maison Bonaparte, you can peek into his half-uncle’s old residence Musée Fesch to scope out a stunning collection of works by Vasari, Michelangelo and Botticelli.

Aléria

Historical Landmark
Map View
The Musee Jerome-Carcopino in Aleria, Haute-Corse, Corsica, France
© Witold Skrypczak / Alamy
Long before Bonaparte became famous, the ancient capital of Corsica was Aleria. 8,000 years of history can be explored in the archaeological museum, but you’ll get a real taste for the land by popping into a restaurant. Fresh oysters are foraged from the Étang de Diane waterway and shucked onto your plate at Aux Coquillages de Diana, joining fresh fare, caviar and wines from the produce-rich region.

Porto-Vecchio

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Palombaggia Beach on the East Coast of Corsica, France
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy
Your yacht will be in good company among the many others bobbing in characterful Porto-Vecchio. It may be one of the few big towns on this end of the coast, but those looking for a casual place to beach-hop will love this coastline. Tamaricciu and Palombaggia are scenic hotspots, but if you’re kind to the locals, they may whisper the way to secluded Porto Novo beach.

Calvi

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Map View
An aerial view of the beautiful Corsica coastline and historic houses in Calvi
© Eva Bocek / Alamy
You’re already sailing around the Mediterranean with all the suave and style of 007, so why not order a martini at Plage L’Octopussy? Calvi’s crescent-shaped bay has plenty of ways for you to play secret agent – from chasing down pretend bad guys on jet skis to romantic rendezvous in dark grottos or keeping it short and sweet like George Lazenby with a lazy day on the beach.

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