Our choice of hotels by the sea and in the mountains, and a brief guide to the island’s cuisine
Many visitors to Corsica head for the beaches and the warm, turquoise waters – especially in summer, when the island in general is at its busiest – so let’s start our tour of the Île de Beauté’s hotels there.
Right at the water’s edge in Porto- Vecchio lies the Hôtel Le Goéland with its own beach and beautiful seaview rooms. Overlooking the white sand beaches of the Route des Sanguinaires, west of Ajaccio, are two hotels offering a more contemporary vibe: the four-star Le Week End and the three-star Cala di Sole.
For something a little more quirky, try Hôtel U Capu Biancu near Bonifacio. It’s a little way off the beaten track but you are rewarded for your efforts with a swimming pool and great views of the beach.
Fans of boutique hotels and converted townhouses, meanwhile, should check out Castel Brando on the east coast of Cape Corse.
To appreciate some of the wild beauty of this island why not consider adventuring inland? Near Saint-Florent, at the base of Cape Corse, is the boutique hideaway hotel La Dimora, an emblem of rustic elegance. Inland from there, perched grandly over the hilltop village of Oletta, is U Palazzu Serenu. And westwards, at Monticello, is Hôtel A Piattatella, which won the 2014 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award. But our favourite has to be the Dominique Colonna near Corte, a stylish yet relaxed retreat among the pine forests and mountain streams of the Restonica valley.
For the best of both worlds, sea and mountain, and a few days of indulgence, try La Signoria in Calvi, where you can appreciate five-star Relais & Châteaux elegance on a historic estate with stunning views.
There are more than 1,000 restaurants in Corsica, ranging from Michelin two-star fine dining to beach-side barbecue stalls, so you will not be short of choice.
Everyday Corsican cuisine is heavily influenced by Italian tastes, so there’s plenty of wood- red pizza, pasta dishes and artisan ice creams. But there’s also a more rustic side that embraces the freshest local produce – seafood, chestnuts, honey, Brocciu goat’s cheese, wild boar, charcuterie and tasty grilled cuts of veal, pork and lamb. Beware: portions can be generous – which is great if you’ve been hiking all day! The local wine is affordable and very good. Look for reds from Patrimonio and whites made from Vermentino grapes. And finish your meal with a chilled glass of the limoncello.
There are international airports at Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi and Figari. Air Corsica and Air France are the domestic carriers, but there are also routes to the UK with British Airways, Flybe and easyJet. If you are flying from the US you should look to transfer at Paris.
Corsica’s main ferry ports are at Ajaccio, Bastia, Bonifacio, Calvi, L’Île-Rousse, Porto-Vecchio and Propriano. These connect with regular services to Marseille, Nice and Toulon. The crossing takes between 4.5 and 10.5 hours, depending on the route.