There’s a reason the Mediterranean island of Corsica is nicknamed the Ile de Beauté (Island of Beauty). Lying between France and Italy at the tip of Sardinia, the island is a place of dramatic geographical diversity, with turquoise waters, forest-covered mountains and villages perched on hilltops.
For a long time, Corsica was only known as a sun, sea and sand destination. With over 15 hours of sunshine in summer and more than 1,000km of coastline, it’s easy to see why. But gradually the island is gaining the adventurous reputation it deserves, with those in the know hopping on the two-hour flight from the UK to mix walking with watersports and days of cycling with nights of local wine and island cuisine.
Read on to discover some of the best activities on the island...
Corsica feels as though it was designed to be explored on foot, with more than 1,500km of marked walking trails. Many are linked by mountain ‘refuges’ that offer a place to lodge along with a seasonal meal.
The 180km GR20 trail is an ideal challenge for walkers. Looping through mountains and forests, it can be completed in around two weeks at a leisurely pace. Taking it slow means you can detour into villages, stop for wine at sprawling vineyards and linger for hours at the top of tall peaks to take in the view.
Corsica is effectively a mountain range in the sea. There are 21 peaks that rise above 2,000m, which makes mountain biking fast and fun – pedalling through the craggy hills, up the mountain lanes and zipping down the other side. The roads are virtually all undulating, so prepare for lots of up and down hill cycling.
Along the coast the routes get a little gentler. You can wind beside the ocean, hopping from village to village. A great option is the near-200km route from Bastia to Bonifacio, which takes in some of the island's most picturesque coastline. Tackle it in one go or pick it up in stages, stopping for long, leisurely lunches on the way.
Corsica is laced with rivers, waterfalls and warm-water pools – great fun for activities like canyoning. The Richiusa Canyon at Bocognano and the Verghellu Canyon are both great places to have a go, where you can climb, jump and splash your way around the island.
Off shore, diving and snorkelling allow a unique glimpse into the diverse marine life below the surface. In places, you can snorkel directly from the beach – Arinella Beach is great for this, where the soft sand gives way to turquoise waters alive with magnificent rays, grouper and colourful reefs. There are also a number of interesting wreck sites that you can dive, from swimming around a small freighter that sank in 1965 at La Pecorella, to exploring a B-17 Bomber that was shot down in 1944 by German fighters.
As the most mountainous isle in the Mediterranean, Corsica is a great adventure playground. Activities range from paragliding and quad biking to horse riding and climbing. Soaring through the sky, sailing along the coast or galloping along the beach are all exciting ways to get active on Corsica.
But no matter how you spend your time, you should finish with a spread of Corsica’s French-Italian cuisine. Add a glass of local wine and a colourful sunset and you have the perfect end to an active day on the Ile de Beauté.
Main cover photo credit: RGantzhorn_Vaude
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