Exploring Bonifacio - Corsica's gem on the south coast

Updated on Feb 26, 2024 by Ella Brundle

Blog > Exploring Bonifacio - Corsica's gem on the south coast

Sitting proudly on the southern tip of Corsica, upon a limestone peninsula, is Bonifacio, a fortress town founded around 833, with picturesque views out to sea and quaint, winding streets to explore.

Starting at the bottom of the town by the marina, there are plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants to while away a few hours and watch the boats busying themselves around the marina. From here there are plenty of excursions to take by boat, or for the thrill seekers, jet skis and scuba diving companies can be found to help you explore the coastline in a different way. There is also a large car park next to the marina, for those who are travelling from further afield and wish to pay a visit.

Once you have explored the marina and taken in the chalk-white limestone cliffs, it is well worth the walk up the steep paved steps towards the fortress town itself. For those with small children or who may struggle with steep steps there is a little land train to take you to the top of the town where you will disembark at without breaking a sweat! The train runs every 30 minutes and until 9:45pm in July and August and then until early evenings at all other times. Once you arrive, you will be stunned by the beautiful views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Look out towards the limestone cliffs and you will notice a lighthouse in the distance, you can walk to this by following the coastal path, where you will be rewarded with even more amazing views, it really is a beautiful route to walk. 

As you enter the city’s walls (note the original 16th-century drawbridge), you will most likely be surprised to see a hubbub of winding cobblestone streets and small restaurants, bars, shops and crooked buildings bursting with character. Up in the town there is plenty to see and do, spend your time people watching whilst enjoying a drink, find one of the many churches to explore or splendour in the old walls and buildings sitting atop the cliffs, their balconies jutting out to sea. As you meander through the citadel, you will notice there are plenty of signs of its history, guns protrude the sea walls, signs of WW2. However, the citadel’s history dates back much further than this – with Romans inhabiting the area initially, before Bonifacio was founded by Count Bonifacio of Tuscany.

Another interesting stop to add to your itinerary is The Staircase of the King of Aragon, a must visit when in Bonifacio. This is an enormous staircase that runs up the side of the tall cliff face and is cut right into the limestone cliffs themselves. This makes for a spectacular view if you are getting the ferry to or from the island. Make sure to make your way to this spectacle for something very different to do! The story goes that the staircase was carved by hand, in one night by the troops of the King of Aragon in 1420 during the unsuccessful siege of Bonifacio. It's true reason for use is to reach the freshwater well (no longer in use today) and the cave located at the bottom. With a total of 187 steps, this attraction is only open to those with closed flat shoes. It is well worth the climb with 360-degree views out to sea and a real close up of the magnificent cliffs.

For those who wish to explore further, Sardinia is just a 50-minute ferry ride away and is well worth the visit! You can take your hire care onto the ferry, or for those using their own steam, foot passengers are welcomed too. There are three main ferry companies to choose from, each offering multiple crossings every day. As you head out of the port along the Strait of Bonifacio, make sure to marvel at the views as you trundle past the limestone cliffs, here you will get a great view of the citadel – it's certainly a beautiful sight!

There are plenty of wonderful properties to stay in during your holiday in Southern Corsica. Hôtel Cala di Greco is just 5km from Bonifacio and will provide a great measure of luxury to your holiday. A 4-star hotel with magnificent suites, two pools to choose from and bright and airy rooms to relax in at the end of a day of sightseeing.

NEW to our collection this year is the stunning A Cheda, just a five-minute drive from Bonifacio. With just 18 rooms all with their own style, this small but perfectly formed accommodation is ideal for food and wine lovers - it's on-site gastonomic restaurant has an amazing reputation serving local delicacies and prestigious wines.

Slightly further afield, 10km away from Bonifacio (just a 30-minute car journey) is Hôtel U Capu Biancu. Enjoy the stunning views out to the Gulf of Santa Manza from the luxurious infinity pool. All rooms are individually styled, and all have a private balcony or terrace. For days when you are not exploring the surrounding areas, there is a great secluded beach to spend the day directly below the hotel. From here you can hire boats, canoes and kayaks available for hire, or if you enjoy a spot of fishing or water-skiing this is the place for you.


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